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Recent Tasting Notes
Yikes, I’ve been very very bad about drinking tea lately, and even worse when it comes to sharing my thoughts on teas with you guys. Hm, I think I really need to get myself a blog, but until then this tea forum will have to do, haha. I’ll definitely keep you guys posted if I do end up making one.
So these past few months I’ve only really been drinking raw puer, and when I first started out in tea it was the opposite, I used to neglect the raw puer for the ripe. I guess I have a bad habit of just liking one tea for a certain time, and with this tea tasting, I decided that I should start drinking shou once more. It’s great when you find yourself not wanting to drink ripes to ease yourself into it with an aged ripe, as this will probably give you the complexity of flavour that you are used to with raw puer. The thing i’ve noticed with the two puers is that ripe puer is the best with texture, but is sometimes lacking with the complexity of flavor. It will always be so smooth, and relaxed, whereas raw puer will often times just have your normal texture, and you’ll have to play a very fine game of balancing the bitterness until it’s just right. I’ve found, that ripe puer is best for a lazy day, or in my case studying.
I’ve been neglecting tea for a while, because on weekends, when I usually drink tea, I’ll often times be studying, so that I won’t have to cram in the middle of the week. So ripe puer has reminded me, that it can be the perfect tea for when I don’t have time to focus 100% of my attention towards brewing.
[If you want info on the tea this paragraph is for you, haha]
So this tea is a very good ripe in my opinion. The name might suggest that it’s a weird tea, I mean I’ve never drank a Nonpareil tea before, but this tea is an absolute jem as regards to ripes. It’s the perfect balance between flavour in texture. It starts out, hen first opening up, very flavorful, and so smooth. These nubs take a very long time to open up, so if you have a lot of time on your hands, and people to share tea with, this tea is for you. I stopped at around 6 steeps, but looking into the gaiwan these nubs hadn’t even opened up the whole way yet. I’d probably guess that they could go until steep 15, or 18, it’s a tea that doesn’t give up. Since I hadn’t just drank the tea, I really couldn’t give you every flavour note, or how the flavour changed over time. What I can remember was the general consensus that this tea was very good.
From puerh plus TTB:
3g in a small gaiwan multiple steeps at boiling water. Finally getting back to these Puerh samples. This was pleasant with only a mild briney fermentation flavor and sweet fruity later steeps. No cassia though, which is a shame since that’s what made me pick this up in the first place. I think I might try adding some cassia cinnamon to my next batch of everyday shou to see what it would be like.
This tea made me a bit uncomfortably warm even with only drinking a 3g sample and not being able to steep it out completely before bed.
This is pretty solid for something I picked up on ebay as an afterthought when I was ordering a new gaiwan. I brewed it up in my Jianshui teapot and gave it a couple long-ish rinses to get the compressed chunks to open up – I think that’s the way to go with these Xiaguan tuos. The dry leaf had a pretty signature Xiaguan smoky/tobacco aroma to it, but I didn’t get much of any smoke in the flavor.
I didn’t take particularly detailed notes as I was busy talking to a couple teafriends as I brewed this out. There was a slight floral sweetness and I also got a fruity note that reminded me of apple interestingly enough. I once or twice got a touch of bitterness, but even when I accidentally oversteeped it by a decent amount, it wasn’t at all bad. I’ll definitely want to revisit this and pay a little bit closer attention, but I’m pretty happy with this one after this session.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Leather, Smoke, Tobacco
From the Pu TTB Round 5
Brews up a light amber color. Tastes of tobacco, peat, slightly smoky with mineral and warming spice notes. Slightly musky incense-like aroma. Not much green left, but moderate in bitterness and light sweetness. In short: tastes like Xiaguan. A good daily drink semi-aged sheng and I might need to pick up a tuo or two.
Completely unrelated and unusually blog-ish for me: Several years ago I fell in love with the sounds of North Indian/Hindustani music. I saved up a pile of money and bought myself a beautiful sitar. I started off really into it, but a major bout of depression caused me to lose interest and it ended up living in my closet.
I’m managing my depression much better now, and the other weekend I went to I really inspirational sitar concert by Ustad Shujat Kahn, son of Vilayat Kahn. I decided to open back up the sitar case and completely restrung it (takes hours) and I’ve been practicing from a book and DVDs daily. I knew from experience that I would need a teacher if I really wanted to learn, so I contacted the shop that sold my the sitar and asked for recommendations.
Last weekend I had my first skype lesson (good sitar teachers are few and far between) with the owner of the shop, and by his recommendation I’m going to take lessons from his teacher, Indrajit Banerjee, in the future. I’m really excited! Unfortunately I’ve been drinking less gong fu tea and doing more big pot brewing (hadn’t done that in a long time) haha.
Anyways, I’m really exited and feeling much more motivated in day to day life
Flavors: Mineral, Peat, Spices, Tobacco
This tea was quite inexpensive, $34.99 for a big 660g cake. It was also fairly tasty. Berylleb sells some good stuff. I don’t figure buying a whole tea without sampling it is too much of a risk with Berylleb. This one had a lot a fermentation taste left of course as it was a 2016 ripe tea. But it did not find that taste unpleasant or fishy. It seemed clean tasting to me. It was also somewhat bittersweet at the start. It slowly turned into a sweet taste. Not sure how to describe that note however. It did not seem chocolaty to me. It will be interesting to see what this develops into given a couple of years of aging. Overall it was quite good. It’s not for those with an aversion to fermentation taste though.
I steeped this twelve times in a 120 ml gaiwan with 10g 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 min. The leaves weren’t done at twelve. They would have gone a few more steeps if I wanted to continue but I rarely take a tea past twelve steeps.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
This is an excellent ripe tea with little bitterness and very little fermentation flavor. It did have some fermentation taste but it was not pronounced. There was a nice semi sweet taste from the beginning. While this was a highly enjoyable tea I didn’t notice notes of chocolate. I think you could say it developed a fruity taste in later steeps. This was a tea you could probably steep twenty times. I steeped it fourteen times and stopped there. But the tea liquid was still quite dark. I definitely would have gone a few more steeps. Lao Cha Tou Nuggets are known for their lasting ability in general.
I steeped this fourteen times in a 120ml gaiwan with 12g 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, 2 min, 2.5 min and 3 min. I really think it would have gone twenty steeps at least. This was a really good tea, one of the best I have had recently. Berylleb usually calls their highest quality tea by the name nonpareil and this lives up to that claim. It was not quite as good as the tea from 2003 by Berylleb but close.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet
Got this tea as a free sample with my recent order to Berylleb King Tea and I must say it is good. It was if anything just short of phenomenal. There was very little in the way of fermentation taste to it. Once the tea opened up a little crept in there but it was weak and didn’t last long. This tea is very nearly cleared. Not sure if I would say any notes of chocolate emerged but it developed a nice sweet flavor. This tea is hard to beat for a ripe puerh. It is as good as just about anything I have drank. There is something about Lao Cha Tou nuggets that I like. This one is definitely on my list of teas to buy. I think it is somewhat expensive but I may buy it anyway. Also, I didn’t find any negative flavors from the teas storage. It seemed to have been stored very cleanly by Berylleb or someone else.
I steeped this tea twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 11g 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 min.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Making another attempt at this tea. This time I lowered it to 4 tsp of leaf and it was improved over using 5 tsp of leaf. It still has a flavor I am at a loss to describe. Earthy, but not in the way of ripe puerh, not in a dirty sense and certainly not in a fishy sense. In the sense that you are drinking something that is more of the earth than other teas. It is fairly tasty as herbal teas go. I’m going to try resteeping the leaves and see how a second steeping is. Snow Chrysanthemum is many times stronger than Chrysanthemum without a doubt. With Chrysanthemum I routinely use twice as much tea and it comes out good. I tried more tea with this it was terrible.
I steeped this one time with 4 tsp leaf and boiling water in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper for 3 min.
This is my second attempt at this. The first was a miserable failure. I tried eight teaspoons with 16oz at 10 minutes. It was bitter and disgusting. I tried this time 5 tsp and three minutes with 16oz water. It is noticeably better. This is stronger in flavor than a normal chrysanthemum and has a similar earthy profile. Again, this is not the same earthy of ripe puerh. It is a completely clean taste. I’m hoping this relaxes me and I can get to sleep.
I steeped this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 5 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 min.
This is a puerh I bought from Berylleb a while ago and am just now getting around to trying. It is over the course of ten steeps fairly good. It had a fair amount of fermentation flavor and was initially bittersweet. The fermentation and the bitterness lasted only a few steeps and what was left was a sweet taste. I would call the initial taste bittersweet dark chocolate. The notes turned more into normal chocolate notes as the steeps progressed. Not sure if I would say this one developed a fruity taste or not. It was over all good. I am not sure if this one is still in stock or not. It was not real expensive or super cheap as I recall.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml Ruyao teapot with 13.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. The tea was not finished at ten steeps and would have gone on for a few more steeps if I wanted to continue. But I want to drink something else.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Sweet
Decided to take this one into work today after AllanK called me out on not reviewing it yet :P
Anyways, this tea is very smooth and quite consistent with its steeps. I ended up with a good 17ish steeps while at work with this tea and each time the taste was enjoyable. The interesting parts about this tea fall into three different comments that I would like to make:
This tea does not have any fermentation notes. This tea does not leave a dryness after drinking it for awhile. This tea has a slight sweetness to it which is quite nice for a ripe tea. I really enjoy that it is loose too because it makes it a quick fix at work (multiple times)
With all that being said, I’m unsure what cassia is suppose to taste like… but whatever, a good tea is a good tea right?
I’ll dedicate 100g to swapping so if anyone would like some just let me know :)
Decided to give this tea the proper gongfu treatment today. Last time I had not quite given it the gongfu treatment.This tea has pretty much cleared. There wasn’t much fermentation taste left, maybe a little. This tea was sweet. Gave this eight steeps today.
Steeped this eight times in a 85ml Yixing Teapot with 7g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec. 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
This is a tasty ripe from Berylleb King Tea. There is pretty much no fermentation flavor to it. At least I didn’t find any. Today I brewed this more or less Asian style but few steepings in a big 250g glass teapot. The write up on this tea says it has Longan fruit taste. There was a distinct fruity tasty to this tea. As to whether that is Longan fruit I don’t know because I have never had Longan fruit. I didn’t notice the notes of chocolate that people are forever looking for in ripe tea but it was good. An added note is that I didn’t taste any bitterness in this tea.
I brewed this three times in a 250ml glass teapot with 14g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and brewed it for 5 sec, 5 sec, and 7 sec. The tea was nowhere near finished and I will probably save the leaves for later on today. This tea is unfortunately now out of stock. I was surprised to have to put it in the catalog as I know Liquid Pruast has already drank it.
Flavors: Fruity, Sweet
This is a fairly tasty ripe from Berylleb King Tea with some good and some bad points. There was almost no fermentation flavor to this tea. It was around the fourth steep I noticed that I really hadn’t noticed any fermentation taste. It was fairly bitter in the early steeps. Not particularly sweet. This bitterness faded after about four steeps. There was also what I would describe as a negative note in the early steeps of this tea. I simply describe it as a negative note because I didn’t pin it down. I don’t know how to describe it. It did develop a sweet flavor in later steeps. Overall I liked this tea but there were some bad points to it. I would recommend anyone considering this tea buy a sample size first.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. While I stopped because I had had enough caffeine, had I wanted to continue I’m sure I would have gotten a few more good steeps out of it. The tea was not finished.
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet
This is a tasty ripe with a fair amount of fermentation flavor left. It began to clear around the fourth steep. It was sweet in nature throughout these steeps but got somewhat fruity in later steeps. This is a good and inexpensive tea from Berylleb King Tea on EBay. They just call it Yunnan Old Comrade but I believe it is a Haiwan Tea Factory production.
I steeped this eight times in a 180ml teapot with 12.8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. I think if I had wanted to continue past eight steeps I would have gotten another six or so steeps out of the tea.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Sweet
I ordered a sample of this tea because when Allan raves about a ripe and scores it at 100, I just have to try it. It is definitely a good tea. Typical Xiaguan profile, with prevalent smoky undertones. Quite clean tasting and smooth, with fruity tart-sweetness that holds out for a long while. Also offers a solid pick-me-up if you want a ripe pu with a kick. Xiaguan is not my favorite, so I will not be buying more, but I suspect Xiaguan lovers will enjoy this tea.
I won 50g of this tea on auction from Berylleb for only $4. It was a bargain. It is quite good as far as green tea goes. It is slightly floral and vegetal, but not overpoweringly so. There is a nice level of sweetness to this tea. In all this tea rates quite highly in my book and I’m not a big fan of green teas.
I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 2 min.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Vegetal
This tea is good. The first thing I noticed about this tea was a bitterness in the first steep. The second thing I noticed about this tea was a total lack of fermentation funk, fermentation flavor or any notes of its fermentation. This is amongst a handful of ripe teas I have drank that has totally cleared, no fermentation taste at all. Admittedly I didn’t start paying attention until the second steep. I suppose I could have missed something in the first steep but I don’t think so. The early steeps of this tea had notes of what I would describe as bittersweet cocoa. Another person might well describe them as chocolate. This developed into a nice sweet ripe puerh with fruity notes, not sure how to best describe them. This was one of the best puerhs I have ever tasted and I have drank over 300 ripe puerhs. It was perhaps not as complex and subtle as I would have liked, but it was good. Bittersweet cocoa in the early steeps followed by a fruity sweetness in the later steeps. Hard to improve upon. It was perhaps not originally of the very top tier of ripe puerhs but if anything a second tier of puerhs well above the dredges that is. I can only hope something like my 2009 Dayi Golden Brick tastes this good when it is a ten year old ripe.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 180ml teapot with 10.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I know a longer rest is beneficial but I didn’t have time. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 minute. Judging by the strength of the brew in the tenth steep I think this would have gone another five steeps with longer times.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Fruity
This is an excellent loose puerh tea from Berylleb King Tea. I admit though I have yet to gongfu it. I brewed it today western style as I am getting ready to go in for the late shift at work. This tea has a natural sweet note and a reasonable amount of fermentation flavor. For those with an aversion to fermentation flavor it is not very intense. It is hard for me to describe the sweet note in further detail, perhaps cherry or dates, hard to say exactly. I am just very glad I bought this tea. I think loose puerhs are best when you need to western brew a puerh. You don’t need to worry about the leaves breaking up. This on is on par with the best loose ripe puerh I have had from Mandala or Whispering Pines. I am not saying it tastes exactly like one of theirs but I think it is just as good.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 30 seconds.
Drank this tea today and a lot of it. For about a year I have been aging this tea, three separate bings stored in different ways. One was stored in cardboard, one was stored in my pumidor loose, and one was stored in my pumidor wrapped in plastic. Overall this was a good tea. There was some bitterness in the early steeps that turned into a nice sweetness. I did not use any sugar in this tea experiment. I normally find myself adding sugar to tea. This one was good. There are four other people who have to input their opinions as samples were sent out. I will refrain from saying which of the three aging methods worked best for me here. I just wanted to review this tea. It was good. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is available any longer.
I brewed this tea in three identical gaiwans, 100ml each with approximately 8g leaf and boiling water. I steeped them for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. In my excitement to finally try these teas I forgot to let the leaves rest. I did give them each a 10 second rinse.
This tea was fairly tasty. It was both strong and bitter in the early steeps. Despite being a 2005 tea it had a fair amount of fermentation flavor in the early steeps. This was a tea however with a strong start and a weak finish. It was very strong for the first few steeps but was quickly played out. I gave it ten steeps of which the last four were weak. This was not from lack of tea. I used 10.5g in a 170ml teapot. Using this ratio I have gotten other teas to go ten strong steeps but not this one. It did eventually lose its fermentation flavor and its bitterness. It was also played out too fast.
I brewed this tea ten times in a 170ml teapot with 10.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and let it rest for ten minutes. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth
This tea is quite good. I purchased this tea from Berylleb King Tea during one of their sales so I got it for 15% off. It sells for $30 or so and is worth every penny. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor that dissipated by the fifth steep. It was thick and sweet. I would even venture to say it has begun to develop a dates flavor that good ripe puerh will often develop. Is it really ancient tree? That is a question to ask. It tastes good enough to be ancient tree, but was it lasting enough to be ancient tree? I gave it eight steeps and it would have certainly gone twelve or more judging by the color of the tea in the eighth steep. How many steeps should an ancient tree tea go? I don’t know. It was a tea that I am glad to have bought the bing of, that is for sure.
I steeped this tea eight times in a 170ml teapot with 9.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave the tea a ten second rinse then let it sit for ten minutes. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec.
Flavors: Dates, Earth, Sweet
Bought this out of curiosity and because I was looking for caffeine free herbals. This tea is interesting. It is both sweet and sour and quite good with some sugar. It tastes a bit like apricots and not in the way sheng puerh is described as tasting. It is very tasty and I think I may want to eventually order more of it.
I brewed a fair amount of this in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper, about two tablespoons worth of berries for 3 min in boiling water. The webpage said 5 to 10 berry slices per 250ml so I think I was in the ballpark.
Flavors: Pleasantly Sour, Sweet