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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve just tried a few Chawang Shop teas and this wasn’t a favorite, but it has an interesting character and potential so I’ll mention how that went. I think now (in 2019) it’s right in between losing the last of it’s younger-range character and picking up aged attributes, even though it’s a 2008 version, 11 years old now. The flavor is as subtle as I’ve ever experienced in sheng, which has actually came up before in trying aged Yiwu versions. The thickness of feel is positive, and although the flavor isn’t pronounced the wood and mild floral tones are positive. I think it will get there, it will just take a few more years. For value this is off the scale; it was priced at $40 for a 250 gram cake, and I think it will be subtle but quite decent aged tea within 2 to 3 years. Note that the tea is yellow-golden in these pictures; I think that along with the flavor aspects will change over that time, darkening in color and moving onto warmer tones, maybe even very mild dried fruit range.
The review post goes a lot further with all that and cites a couple of related reviews to support more speculation about aging pace and general character of related versions:
It was interesting comparing this impression with the two reviews here from 3 years ago, since this tea is 13 years old now. It’s still not really completely fermented. As for aspects it tastes a lot like cigar tobacco, including smoke, with decent sweetness and flavor complexity and really good intensity. Bitterness is still pronounced, although astringency is moderate. Mineral taste is notable too, along with floral range or maybe dried fruit; that part is harder to tease out for bitterness, smoke, tobacco, and mineral standing out as much as they do. I think it just needs another 3 years or so in a humid environment to really push over into being a very good tea, and in 5 or 6 might be exceptional, but it’s pleasant as it is now. It’s definitely not in some subtle, quiet “teen years” phase; this tea is intense.
I forgot to mention compression; that’s the part of this tea’s story that account for why a 13 year old tea isn’t aging normally. Of course that makes it harder to split off parts to brew as well. It’s still worth the trouble, and will be even more so later on.
A pleasant, though mostly unremarkable, young sheng. Good buttery texture in the mouth with some bitterness and a bit of a sticky feeling, especially in the early steeps. A mostly floral flavor with some hints of vegetal stuff going on in early steeps. The last few steeps were clean and semi-sweet floral.
At first, this tea was pretty subtle. It took a while to open up; I rinsed it for almost 20 seconds first, and the water barely got darker. The first cup was very subtle, with dominant woody taste. Still fairly light in color. It was the second steeping where it really came alive! Then I smelled a distinct smoky aroma, and the flavors really came out: a little smoke, some rich roasted flavors like toasted rice, shiitake mushrooms, earth. Utterly delicious! Maybe my favorite ripe puer so far (I’ve tried about five or six so far, and have been drinking nothing but puer for several months). Great bargain at $6 for 125 g mini cake at Chawang Shop. Highly recommended!
This was the tea that got me in to Pu-erh. These tightly packed little cakes are packed with flavor. A little bit of fishy aroma, but not overly strong or unpleasant. The brew is dark and rich, very earthy, and almost caramel like. I loved it and used it all up before even digging in to the other teas I ordered.
Another sample from the 2016 Chawang sample group buy I participated in earlier this year. This one was definitely dominated by bitter/astringent notes in my experience. The two sessions I did with boiled water were not particularly enjoyable. I was getting almost no sweetness cutting through the wall of tannic astringency.
I finally was able to get a better read on the tea when I did a session with 200F water. Still had a pretty sharp astringent edge, but I finally started to get some nice floral sweet huigan coming through. This tea is nice and thick and has some pretty good energy behind it as well.
When I try young teas, most of them fall somewhere into the category of “this is good now, but could improve with age.” This one really isn’t worth drinking now, but when that astringency starts to soften, I think it could become something really nice. Would I pick up a cake depending on that to happen? Most likely not…but I bet it would turn out well.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Vegetal
Brewing this up tonight. I remember sampling a bit when it first came in to see where to store it.
I pulled 10 grams out to brew with. Cake is looser now that it has had time to settle a bit. I tossed the leaf in a warmed brewer and it gave an almost sweet alfalfa note. I rinsed it and got brewing.
First infusion quick steep, comes across sweet and aromatic. Light on the palate as it is still opening up. Let it sit about 30 minutes after this.
Second infusion, a bit more punch to it . Some astringency, maybe a hint of tart and metallic. Let it cool slightly and the sweetness comes back. An almost mint note to it.
Third infusion, still quick steeps. A little more bite/bitter in there. Sweetness still on the last note on the tongue. Gets thicker and has the lingering in the throat a bit. Seems to be good material. Not sure about pricing since it has climbed since I purchased it.
Part 4 of my 2016 CWS review. First steep had a pleasant straw/apricot flavor. Slightly sweet. Silky in the mouth. 2nd (10s): Straw/tobacco nose. I’m already feeling the cha qi from the first steep. Nice tobacco/straw flavor and silky texture; Similar to first steep. 3rd(20s): Still rich, but the flavor has shifted from sweet and silky to slightly bitter, tannic and acidic. 4th (30s): Initially sweet, then bitter, then sweet again in the finish. Very powerful finish. Strong cha qi. 5th was an oversteep (90s). Strong without excessive bitterness.
This tea is what I think of when I thing of Chawangshop teas: solid and good value, but not the highest quality. Having said that, I have to note that two of the teas I’ve tried so far, were in fact of the “highest quality” according to my rating system >=90.
After finishing my review I read other reviews that talked about the bitterness of the tea. It certainly became more bitter in later steeps, but I didn’t find the bitterness excessive. I also found that the bitterness was reduced if I used shorter steeps in later cups, yet the straw flavors still came through nicely.
I’ve been tasting my way through the entire 2016 ChawangShop line, thanks to a group buy. This is my favorite so far.
The first steep was disappointing: light straw nose and taste. The 2nd steep started light; mostly straw. However, as the tea cooled, it developed more flavor and texture in the mouth, particularly near the finish, which was long. I’m not noticing much cha qi at this point. The 3rd steep was when it started to shine. It was very full in the mouth. The taste was a mix of broth, weeds, and leather with some bitterness at the finish. Long, long, finish; the finish is definitely the best part of this tea, though the texture in the mouth is a close second.
In the 4th steep I was finally feeling some cha qi. The nose and taste are weedy, with hints of grass. Really full texture in the mouth; slightly astringent. For me, a tea normally peaks in the 3rd steep, but I liked this steep better. I want to just keep rolling it around in my mouth. Then, the finish keeps it going. 5th steep (40s): The nose is full and rich. Taste is too. Huge finish. The 6th steep finally showed a bit of weakness; still quite good, but less so than the 5th.
This was my second tea of the group buy tasting. I didn’t like it nearly as much as the Jinggu You Shang gushu.
The first steep had a weak nose. Sweet straw flavor is light in the mouth. This may be partly because the cake was relatively solid, so I did a poor job of breaking it. Waited 15 minutes for next steep to let the chunk loosen. After 4 steeps, it was fully separated. The tea never really developed: decent flavor but straightforward, and slightly astringent. A longer steep just produced bitterness. I gave up after 5 steeps. Not really a bad tea, just average, which is no longer what I am hoping for.
Been airing this one since I got it. I grabbed about 11 grams out to brew with. I gave it a good long rinse. First three steepings are smoky, bitter and strong. I think this is one to just put away and age. Material looks decent for the price paid. There is some floral hayish lingering in the mouth a bit after drinking this one.
Flavors: Bitter, Hay, Smoke
I am going to have to say that this at the moment is too dry and astringent for me. The material is compressed on the tighter side but there would need to probably be some storage adjustment with this one so it develops over time to something I would like… no sweetness which is a downer for me, but not all tea with have a sweetness and that is fine because not all tea will be for my taste buds.
This is an interesting tea. It is a border tea, produced in Myanmar, and is very cheap at $12 for a 200g cake. It is definitely good, but certainly rougher than typical young sheng we’ve all probably been tasting in recent years. It’s kind of tart, somewhat bitter throughout, and very green. It is also very strong, both in body and in qi, and was very long lived. I think those who like strong and bitter would find this tea interesting and appealing and well worth a try at this price. Chawangshop says that this kind of border tea is often used as a mixer in high end blends, like Lao Banzhang. I can see how that would work…
Randomly threw some of this into a gaiwan and began a session that was bleh.
Very basiic raw puerh with some umph to it in regards to bitterness.
After 12 steeps I was like… this is not on the same level as the other at all ; ‘what the heck mayne???’
Well… $22 cake, I suppose that answers my internal thoughts; not to say cheap tea is weak or weak tea is cheap or expensive tea… yadda yadda
After around 12 steeps on this tea I decided to take a step back and think to myself: A newer raw puerh has to REALLY set itself apart to be looked at again in the near future opposed to potential for down the line.
With that train of thought I came to conclude that this was was quite similar to the majority of spring jingmai cakes that I tried from 2016 to the point that this didn’t really interest me much afterwards which is fine, however the question is how long the sweetness will last in this tea before it mature and takes on a possible new road if that happens.
Not on the bottom, not on the top, probably somewhere in the middle.
This tea was one I did not like that much. It was sour in the initial note and astringent for the first four steeps. It wasn’t actually terrible it is just that the initial notes were unpleasant and I only steeped this eight times because it was already late in the day for me to have caffeine.
I steeped this eight times in a 75ml teapot with 5.9g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
Strong astrinent and flora.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2006-myanmar-kokang-mei-hua
Flavors: Astringent, Floral
Spicy, herbal and slightly bitter.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2014-laos-ban-payasi
Flavors: Bitter, Herbs, Spicy
Finally starting on my Chawangshop group buy sheng. This one was good. There was just a little bitterness but not much. I persisted for maybe six steeps. There was a fair amount of astringency to this on. It quickly developed a sweet note although I do not think I would use the word apricot, it wasn’t quite that sweet. This one was good and is one I would consider picking up the next time I order from Chawangshop.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 7.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 minutes.
This is the first tea I got to sampling out of the recent Chawangshop group buy put together by Andresito. I was a little worried about it after reading Dr. Jim‘s tasting note, as I am not a big fan of really smoky teas. I sort of figured I’d try this one first and “get it out of the way” before moving on to some of Chawang’s other shengs. The dry leaves did indeed sport a bit of a smoky scent, along with straw and maybe some tobacco. After a rinse, the smoke aroma was more noticeable, I’d say at a moderate level, but I could also smell some sweeter notes underneath.
The first couple steeps were visually unattractive, being a bit cloudy. There definitely was a smokiness to the flavor, especially in the first 3-4 steeps, but it was not overpowering or gross. Instead of tasting mostly like smoke, the smokiness lent a savory layer to the tea’s flavor. The finish was slightly woody with a fast and sweet huigan (I think that’s exactly what it says in the tea’s description on the site, but it’s true). Steeped as carefully as one might normally brew a young sheng, bitterness was never an issue, though around the third steep, right as the smoke was starting to fade from the flavor, a bit of astringency started to build up in the front of the sip. It reached a peak around the fifth steep, and dropped off from there. I took this tea probably around twelve or thirteen steeps, and even near the end, it could punish with some bitterness if I accidentally let it infuse too long. That suggests it probably had a bit more to give than when I stopped it. The sweet finish and huigan lasted throughout as well.
I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. I didn’t find it too smoky, though the early steeps are not the most pleasant to my palate. This cake comes in at a very good price, and if others’ experience with the same tea in past years holds true, the smoke should be gone within just a couple years. I certainly believe that, based on the character of it in my sessions with this tea. I imagine it would age decently well, with the smoke contributing to a greater complexity of flavor, at least in the short(er) term.
Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Wood
First thing I have to say about this tea is that new material can still be found at a great deal like this cake here. $55 for 200g for what this is… great deal.
Now I have to get on to some other thoughts that I’ll make concise.
1) I disagree with Chawangshop about this tea having a bitterness to it.
2) The ‘fast huigan’ is a real thing with this, no way to not take a sip and not realize how quick it hits
3) There’s a good blend going on with what was pressed here. I found a three leaf and a bud in my first session with many 2 leaf one bud as well.
4) Very clean, but the astringency builds upon itself as the mouth is bombarded with hot liquids :p
5) I should of drank the lower end prior to the higher end… woops
It’ll be hard to not buy a cake of this before I get through trying the others though as this is something I think is my type of newer material.