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Recent Tasting Notes
I found Ariel’s review of this tea pretty much on the mark. It does start off pretty bad: I prepared it gongfu and first several steeps were very astringent, metallic and mineral. There was also a lot of apricot but, regrettably, the unripe kind. And not much of an aroma.
By the 5th-6th steep this tea underwent a pleasant transformation. First, it acquired an agreeable aroma of wood, fallen leaves and fallen needles. Second, the apricot ripened, the metallic astringency turned into cranberry and all of that was balanced by honey and floral sweetness.
Unfortunately, all of that lasted only a couple of infusions, after which the tea rapidly gave up. The last steepings were rather undefined, with strong notes of pine and citrus.
Overall – meh. Too much work for a couple of decent steeps. On the other hand, it does have a character.
Flavors: Apricot, Citrus, Cranberry, Floral, Honey, Metallic, Mineral, Pine
I’ve learned the lesson from the 2016 pressing that this is better Grandpa than Gongfu, so I’m applying that learning to this pressing. The tea is just one of those teas that just really excels as a daily drinker! Smooth and forgiving, with malt, hot hay, wildflower honey, black pepper, and autumnal leaf notes…
Nothing amazing, but good to keep some around for when you want to drink something over a longer period that doesn’t require attention.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this tea. I was told by a tea friend that it was a unique one, but they never explained on how it was unique. The dry leaf has a typical ripe smell, but I noticed a touch of citrus. The wet leaf kicked me in the face with the citrus rind, spices, and hint of ripe puerh notes.
The flavor profile is very much like a spiced wine—heavy on the citrus and with heavy spice notes lingering in the mouth. I’m glad that I gave this a go, since I’ve been suffering from nausea/headaches since Sunday. It’s quite relieving to have something that both packs a punch and can ease these symptoms on a small scale.
Flavors: Citrus, Spices
Had this one today because I was craving shou and I realized that I had yet to try any of the new shou from my most recent W2T order…
My initial thought is that The Great Divide is like a box of cracker jacks, only the box is filled with really heavily salted chestnuts and it’s a piece of twine at the bottom of the gaiwan and not a prize (I had a thick piece of twine compressed into my sample). In all honesty not a bad shou, but right now it’s not quite my thing so back into storage it goes to be revisited in the future!! Basically a nutty (chestnut) and heavily saline profile layered over a full bodied earthy base flavour, with a thick soup and hint of citrus in the finish. Just too saline for my liking at the moment.
You can see the twine in the photo!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnAj7VFfOus
After realizing a lot of my sheng samples are probably too dry sitting in sealed bags in a drawer, I put them in their own storage separate from my cakes. Same system, though. Simple and lazy — open bags in a crock with a terra cotta saucer on top that I fill with a puddle of distilled water. Keeps the humidity around 60-65% until the saucer dries out, at which point I refill. Keeping the temp high enough is a different story this time of year (both crocks are sitting at about 62F) but I’m too lazy to do anything about it. No mold growth. I’m not concerned with the lack of consistent metrics.
My sample of 2016 teadontlie drank maybe 2 weeks ago was I think too dried out, I stuck all my older unknown/multiple origin samples in the new crock. They’ve been getting that good moisture for over a week. Last Thoughts being one of them.
I’ve been having gongfu withdrawal, being away from home dogsitting, so I went back to my place this evening. Mechanic friend was there alone with my girl sleeping on his lap. He appreciates what sheng I’ve shared with him so that was reason enough to bring out Last Thoughts for the first time. Twelve grams in the 200mL duanni clay pot (whether it’s legit, I don’t know but it is by far the soundest clay pot I have and at $55 from Healthy Leaf I couldn’t help it), boiling. No notes, just friendship.
First thought: this has to be Yiwu region.
Following thoughts: Thick fragrance. Great texture transition from sip to swallow. Sweet and thick on sip, smooth with fast tannins and lingering bittersweetness in back. Rounded and heavy but fills the whole mouth. Slides like silk out of existence when going down my throat, leaving a camphorous ghost of itself to rise from my chest and into my sinuses. Complex, swirl of tastes of overripe, sticky sun-warmed plum and melon oozing sweet powdered sugar onto a bed of dried but damp meadow florals, antique wood, grain, nut. A shy, fruity warm spice I can’t place wraps itself within and around the plum with gooey, gossamer threads. Apricot brightness becomes prevalent later.
Cha qi was definitely there, deceptively subtle in strength, leaving me one minute running my fingers through the basket of beans I’m drying and getting lost in their cool feel and sound; to the next minute lost in transition, only to find myself again a bit later kicked so far back in the kitchen chair that my neck was resting on the top of chair back and my rear at the place I know best, the edge of my seat, with legs outstretched. Friend commented on how soft my face and demeanor had become. He, too, had mellowed out into some flow state. Haven’t steeped it out yet.
Last Thoughts: lyrical liquid legato
This tea really transformed over the year. If I were writing a review even 3 months ago, I’d agree with most of the other reviews. Unfortunately, I’m drinking the last of this cake right now and I get overwhelming sweet stonefruity Orchid. There is the usual young sheng flavors, but not a ton of bitterness or astringency. The mouthfeel is thicker than most other teas I own, but also a little drying when getting into the later steeps. Shoulda bought a tong…
I got a coin of this with my W2T order. I noted that it was bitter, astringent, punchy, and had a hint of pear notes. The leaf was very choppy, but I managed to pull a full leaf from the pile. It opened up nicely, for how small the coin was from the start. I got about 8-9 steeps in before moving on to the next session.
Strong strawberry jam (with seeds) notes, following a crystallized honey flavor. There is a period of slightly bitterness and astringency, but the overall flavor profile remains as the jam/honey notes.
The energy from the leaf is quite powerful. I’ve noted that there’s tea drunk and then there’s tea hammered.
I’m. Tea. Hammered.
Flavors: Honey, Jam, Strawberry
This is the sheng that I brought with to my manager’s house over our holiday break to be shared with him – since it was so limited edition I knew he hadn’t snagged one of the cakes of it, but I was still very curious to get his opinion. He actually led the session, and was the one brewing – though we made some adjustments to the brewing lengths as we got our sea legs with this raw pu’erh…
I think there’s a lot to unravel within this tea, but at least so far I’ve been really into the process of doing that.
Definitely sweet and fruity, with a quality that reminds me of spun sugar/fairy floss – especially in the little bit of bitterness lying beneath the sweet surface notes. A pleasant astringency in the back of the mouth; I didn’t find the liquor to be all that thick so this astringency is a welcome benefit to the texture of the tea. I also feel like this #sheng has the potential to easily pivot between lingering sweetness & abrasive bitterness depending on how much you want to push your grams and/or steep time. I’m really liking the steeps that sit right on that line…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbGuRZlrMMk
this is a bold tea. Funky on the nose: wet dog’s hair. And there is a lot going on taste-wise: metallic, sour, rust, autumn leaf pile. But there is also some pear, apricot and spiciness.
The young shou was mixed with some old material and the blending was a success. This tea reminds me of a big-boned puppy: rough, awkward, over the top with the ebullience but unquestionably charming and promising to turn into an impressive big dog in the future.
Which is to a nice way to say that it needs to age. Still, it has a lot of character – as is typical with the white2tea blends.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Fishy, Metallic, Pear, Sour, Spicy, Sweet
One of the few non-puehr reds that White2tea started offering in the last couple of years. I have never been disappointed with their pu so decided to try their reds as well.
The dry leaves are large and wiry: their texture almost compels you to touch them and play with. The dry leaf aroma is not very intense but pleasant: malt and dried stone fruit.
The Western-style brew that I prepared was quite satisfying. Dark honey, dried apricots, bananas and dried plums dominated, but there was enough of a malt/cocoa backbone to prevent it veering into the excessive fruity cloyness.
The aftertaste is quite malty, but not in a jarring way that is too common for many Assams.
This is not a complex tea, but it is well-balanced and smooth. This dianhong kept growing on me as I went through my pot and then made it again the next day. A good choice for the every-day tea.
Flavors: Apricot, banana, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Plums, Stonefruits
Finished off the sample after letting the open bag soak up moisture. The ‘rehydration’ seems to have brought the tea to a more stable and sweet middle ground, toning down the sharp and lofty florals and muting some of the bitterness. Still, I couldn’t find much to enjoy about this sheng. I wonder if it’s just retreating for a time.
It seems I already drank most of this sample but when, I don’t know. Based on my lack of notes, I may have found this sheng forgettable at worst.
I brewed half of what was left in my mini gaiwan. This tea has a great aroma – incredible dry florals – but I found it to be lacking in texture. It’s a very lofty tea, hanging out in my sinuses and head without much happening taste-wise on the tongue. The most prominent parts of the tea besides the aroma are its distinctly floral bitterness and the long-lasting floral-fruity aftertaste with a note of buttery apricot preserves. Astringency is present early but fades away.
Overall, I find the tea to be mostly floral and refined but not for me. It’s anxiety-inducing and has given me a slight headache, both of which I have experienced from highly floral aromatic sheng before. I’d suggest reading others’ positive reviews.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Floral, Fruity
Drinking this now. I was so excited to see this when they posted on Instagram. I could not wait to order it as Lumber Slut is a favorite of mine. I did order a ton when I got the chance.
Brewed this Gongfu Style and got about 7-8 infusions from it. The first few infusion the soup had a lot of body.
The smell: Very Earthy and smell of petrichor.
Taste: A little disappointed as it did not live up to their 2018 lumber slut. The taste is not as earthy as that. There is a bite that the lumber slut has that is missing in this.
Going in, I couldn’t get the Lumber slut out of my head and it did bias my opinion a little. Lumber slut aside. The lumber balls were like your run of the mill pu-erh that you drink when you cannot decide what you want to.Honestly some days that is exactly what you need or want. I am glad I bought it and I am going to enjoy drinking the rest of this. It is not a bad puerh by any means but it is nothing too special either. Also curious how this would be brewed grandpa style .
Flavors: Earth, petrichor, Wet Moss, Wet Wood
Steeped this fuzzy little 2019 Tiltshift Mini from W2T for a gentle, early morning tea session today!! Smooth and approachable; with a mix of floral, timothy hay, and creamy notes: seems like it would be good brewed grandpa style as well, if only to take advantage of the forgiving nature of the leaf and need to really let the flavours build up from where they naturally want to steep!! Nothing fancy, but could be an excellent everyday tea! Definitely more delicate than anticipated though and tightly compressed, so I did have to help it along by breaking up the ball after the rinse & first few steeps…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWd2ZxToFUY
Tasting note 8,888 – that’s a fun number!!
Gongfu from earlier today!
I don’t tend to love bamboo teas but I really love chenpi so I decided to take the risk and order this tea; I’m glad I did – I was blown away by how much I loved it this morning/early afternoon.
It’s rich, pretty smooth and very earthy/mushroom-y but still has a sweetness to it. Strangely, sometimes I feel as though I’m actually getting toasted marshmallow notes from the steeps, especially in the sweetness that lingers in the back of the throat after swallowing. The chenpi/orange notes are lovely too; consistent throughout the sip with forefront sweetness and a pleasant medicinal undertone. This feels very complex to me, and I can tell it’s going to be something I gravitate towards often…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eE8fcoUYLs
Back to back Flapjacks, this time a shou cookie instead of a sheng wafer. Brought to my cupboard by Kawaii433.
My experience was strikingly similar to BrewWhatThouWilt’s, who gave this tea more justice than I could: https://steepster.com/BrewWhatThouWilt/posts/388193#likes
Dry cookie smells like brownies with walnuts, caramel, mushroom, grain.
Good body and initially oily. Savory — so much walnut, brown mushroom broth, cooked grains, rainforest floor, wet wood. Thin mineral sweetness, light bitterness. Nutritional yeast and slight wet pile show up when it starts thinning out. The aroma is similar but I also pick up on hints of spearmint, coriander seed-citrus and spicy wood.
Kind, good quality shou for anybody who doesn’t mind the lack of overt sweetness or even prefers such.
Teafriend tea! From the lovely Kawaii433.
The most striking aspect of this sheng is the liquor color. I love when the tea soup has a tinge of pink that reminds me of champagne. It’s Initially oily and sweet with honey butter and syrup, nuttiness, some nondescript florality, green bean-grass undertones and a metallic quality. Citrus surprise in third steep like white pomelo. Rough tongue astringency is there along with bitterness which presents by the second steep and later lingers superficially on the back of the tongue, tonsils and throat. Peach-osmanthus aftertaste presents early and is very short-lived.
Overall, this tea has a standard young sheng profile. Probably good for people new to puerh but even then I’m apprehensive about recommending it in its current state. Maybe give this one some age and approach it as a daily drinker in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Citrus, Flowers, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Metallic, Nutty, Osmanthus, Pancake Syrup, Peach, Sweet
It took me quite a long time to pick up and brew this one. I have it for half an year at least.
But anyway, quick rinse, 4 grams per 85 ml gaiwan.
That brings menthol aroma. Then some hay.
1st steep, 15 seconds long
Refreshing, mellow, smooth tea. I still notice somehow the menthol notes and hay. Maybe bit floral too.
2nd steep, 30 seconds
Thick. Sweet notes. Maybe little bit similar to jasmine. Little bitterness, certainly not astringency though. Drying in mouth a bit, need slow down the brews. I have tried to loose chunk a bit and it seems I was succesful, it it quite loose now. Nice brew. But hard to describe. Because as it cools down, it gets herbal?
3rd, 30 seconds
Very similar, bit softer, less drying.
4th, 40 seconds
Another smooth, but now with fruit notes! Apricot? Peach? I don’t know. But those orange fruits. Fuzzy, soft, fruits. Quite sweet.
5th, 50 seconds
This one is not bad at all, but somehow without distinctive notes. It is just common sheng. Maybe it is finish line.
6th, 1 minute
It is. Very similar to previous one. Nice, but not distinctive notes. Clean sheng.
Conclusion: Well, it is nice one – but somehow not so great, not so much brews to be made, but at least it is not astringent, or somehow with bad notes. It is just okay – nice brews, but nothing great.
Flavors: Apricot, Drying, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Menthol, Peach, Sweet
Here’s the thing that I wrote on instagram since this was my last Gongfu session of 2019:
Possibly my last tea & tea session not only of the year, but of the decade!! As many of my close friends & coworkers know, I really like to have symbolic or themed teas on holidays and special occasions & I spent a good portion of the afternoon today trying to decide what tea could possibly be “worthy” of being the last tea of the decade. Would it be an aged tea from 2010? There was something poetic in the idea of a tea from the start of the decade closing it out. Maybe some champagne flavoured, as a celebration!? I don’t think anything would have REALLY felt ‘right’ though, and I realized that heading into next year I want to shake the idea that I “need” to find the perfect teas for the right occasions; the time spent thinking about what might be the “best fit” is time often wasted where I could have just been having a nice experience regardless. Just having a nice session or mug of tea should be enough. So I picked something arbitrarily, and I’m doing my best to be ok with the fact it doesn’t have any significance…
Ultimately, I didn’t end up liking this tea all that much. Maybe a full coin was too big for the 100ml glass pot I was brewing in? Maybe my water was too hot or my steeps too long? Or, possibly, it’s just not my thing…
I gave it five steeps before I decided I was done with trying to make it work; I just found the infusions incredibly tannic and bitter along with a strange mix of tobacco/cannabis and toasty grain notes that were NOT sitting well with me. It was like drinking skunky marijuana and burnt toast, with some rocks tossed in for good measure.
I’ll try it again with an open mind – but it just might not be my thing. That’s fine too; you can’t really love everything and it’s crazy to expect to…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_OwQQF_3qU