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Recent Tasting Notes
Had this one a little while ago on an online tea session with several tea friends where we all pulled out this cake and each drank it from the comfort of our own homes. Since we were more engaged in conversation and spending time with one another I wasn’t paying mind to the intricacies of the sheng, but I do remember it being quite sweet and syrupy/fruity – sort of a peach jam kind of vibe.
Nice – and in line with what I’d expect given my experience with the other years’ pressings.
Couldn’t resist trying something from my W2T Spring order last night; it was raining pretty heavily so that was enough of a sign for me to bust out 2020 Good Man In A Storm!! To keep simple, I thought that this tasted really phenomenal and left me, by the end of the session, with a really warm feeling throughout my body and sense of calm. Describing the flavour has proved challenging; it started sweet and a little fruity but then progressed into something richer and creamy with a mix of more umami and vegetal flavours; at one point I described it as “the best cream of celery soup ever” – we’ll see if I can nail down that description in future sessions!! Based on this session, I think this tea was well worth the cost – even more so knowing that all of the proceeds went to support Black Lives. However, it’s also just a good tea independent of that fact.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R0EidUCAJI
This has become my go-to special occasion shou, I should probably order more. Worth leafing hard because the flavor is subtle but delicious: very little bitterness, some hazelnut-vanilla kind of sweetness. As promised, the texture is impressively thick and creamy. I think it’s often the texture that elevates a fancier shou above a cheap one. This tea makes for a great session in a small teapot but is washed-out and underwhelming in a thermos.
Flavors: Creamy, Nutty, Raisins, Vanilla
One of last night’s tea sessions! I really enjoy the Milan Maocha so I was excited to taste Carbolic Soap, the other compressed dancong carried by W2T. I found this very robust in body and long lasting w/ consistent strong astringent wood notes carried throughout & softer floral undertones with a hint of more bitter grape skins. It was nice, but my bank account is definitely very relieved that my preference is for the more budget friendly Milan Maocha…
Thanks bittersheng and dresdenmarc for the virtual tea hang out last night!! It was a great time!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d0FQm5Cx50
Lazy, so copying my post from the pu-erh of the day thread, with a few modifications.
Still early into it (ended up not brewing it out). I can’t smell anything right now, so no idea about aroma. Full sweet flavor and body, oily, cooling in throat, brassy metallic, plenty of green bitterness like dandelion greens, some astringency and huigan, Not picking up an aftertaste. It reminds me of the 2018 Flapjacks raw mixed with a drop of strawberry preserves. Fairly smooth, eye-opening caffeination.
I’ve never tried to purchase this cake since I don’t tend to hop on hype sales. From what I know, this goes for a low price and it’s probably worth it for those that like an initial hit of syrupy sweentness with subsequent bitter brews. So thanks, Togo, for providing me the opportunity to try one of the Snoozefest pressings :)
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Dandelion, Flowers, Grass, Green Beans, Herbs, Honey, Jam, Metallic, Mushrooms, Nutty, Pancake Syrup, Stonefruits, Strawberry, Sweet
Cupped some of this last week, in this little outdoor alcove with a mix of construction materials and plant overgrowth, after being inspired by several tea friends on instagram pulling out their Snoozefest samples.
I was already a few tea sessions in for the day, so I didn’t want to add another one on top of that so I just stuck with the cupping set. This was actually my first time trying the 2018 pressing – I’ve made good progress on the 2017 cake and sampled the 2019, but somehow managed to not try this one prior to now. Maybe it was the prep method, but it stands out in my mind as being quite a bit sweeter/stickier in terms of mouthfeel with a really syrup fruity note – like some kind of fruit cocktail syrup but if it was good fruit cocktail, y’know?
These photos double as proof that I am out here drinking sheng in the middle of a construction site…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_jHc_n0p9c
People really seem to love this one, so after reading the reviews I eagerly bought a sample, but unfortunately, for the price, I’m not that impressed with it.
It’s certainly an interesting tea. You can surprisingly clearly taste the pu-erh origins, in addition to the more traditional flavors of a chinese black.
The young sheng-like bitterness (and the tiniest bit of sour) provides an interesting complementary bottom layer to malt and sweet sugarcane flavors. Smoke is immediately noticeable but not overwhelming. In the later steeps of a gongfu session suddenly a hint of blueberries appeared, which was a nice surprise. Astringency stays very low throughout, making it a very comfortable drink. The leaves last a long time: I did 10 steeps in a gaiwan and left it overnight in a lidded mug (which turned out excellent), and I think I could’ve gotten even more out of them.
I didn’t find the taste to be particularly complex though. Everything’s relatively upfront. It does very succesfully combine flavors from both raw pu-erh and black tea, but mostly the standard ones from either category. Nothing that would make either stand out. I’m missing some higher notes.
Another tea this one reminded me of is WuyiOrigin’s 2007 aged lapsang souchong. The very mellowed pine smoke there functions in a similar way as the pu-erh material does here, providing a deep bitter, sour, earthy bottom layer and a hint of smoke. Fans of this tea might want to give that one a try as well.
Arbor Red’s a good tea, no doubt. It’s original, very relaxing, and it has the balance of a premium tea, but you’re also paying a bit extra for the novelty.
I just wish it was a little bit more somehow. I was ready to get blown away, but my socks have remained firmly on my feet.
Flavors: Malt, Smoke, Sugarcane
Broke into this cake today. I was able to easily break off small pieces off with my fingers, 7g worth. A quick rinse, starting at 185F and later going up to 205F. A bunch of 5s infusions, maybe up to 15? I just keep going and going hehe.
The cake has a grassy, hay, slightly flowery aroma. I’m not really good at aromas TBH. The liquor is medium to deep golden color. The taste at first, started off somewhat bitter and slightly astringent. The first two steepings, aside from a little bitterness and astringency, had a remarkable sweet taste, that of honey or more like sugar cane. The next few steeps, more flavors came out, layers of them. It’s not a boring tea. It has a super thick mouth feel yet a nice finish with lots of peach notes. Super creamy feeling in my mouth and throat. With each successive infusion, it kept bringing out fruity notes, more on the side of stone fruits, such as apricots and peaches, but also citrus notes, and later add in a little metallic and mineral notes here and there. Complex tea.
In the beginning, I did find it to be slightly bitter but that went away and the pleasant dryness throughout adds to it, doesn’t ruin it. Towards the middle-end, the fruity notes, such as apricots and peach notes subsided and the last layer came in, almost an umami, savory, vegetal taste along with spices, a little heat and minerals.
Throughout the infusions, it was always pleasantly sweet and gave a thick, creamy mouthfeel that won’t quit. The stone fruit notes remained even at the end. I would say that if you’re into sweet sheng and like the mouthfeel experience, I would highly recommend this one to you.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Grass, Honey, Peach, Stonefruits, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
“A Low Self-Esteem Self-Portrait”
Unassuming and mute until you prod her.
Her hopes, dreams and fears are packed away tightly.
You wonder if lengthier conversations and a gentle touch will offer some degree of success.
She has potential. She seems sweet enough.
Even still, all efforts to get her to open up are met with a perfumed air of arrogance that permeates your space.
What lies beneath is the bitter pill of reality.
Perhaps she’s less substantial than you thought.
Song pairing: Soul Coughing — White Girl
Flavors: Bitter, Fruit Tree Flowers, Hot hay, Malt, Medicinal, Melon, Perfume, Powdered sugar
This is wonderfully aromatic with a good amount of complexity. It’s primarily fruity, lots of florals too. The mouthfeel is almost oily, as usual for Dancong. It tastes best to me with slightly less tea than you’d expect to need flash steeped with boiling water, although it can take longer steeps just fine if that’s what you prefer; this seems to be pretty low on bitterness for a Dancong no matter how it’s brewed.
Flavors: Apricot, Fig, Floral, Pineapple, Raspberry, Tropical
I initially used a stronger ratio and flash steeps, and it gave the impression of a generic young sheng: vegetal, astringent, fairly bitter. Removing some leaves and steeping longer revealed more of the tea’s character. It’s mellow and slightly fruity, with hints of apricot and berries. Lots of caramel as well. There’s a bit of vegetal bitterness to balance all that sweetness, and some intermittent spiciness that I love. The mouthfeel is quite thick for the age; it’s almost like a syrup. The best part is probably the desert-like finish. I need a cake of this to see how it ages.
Flavors: Apricot, Berries, Caramel, Peppercorn, Toffee, Vanilla, Vegetal
I had this one during a virtual tea session last night with an instagram friend, and I picked it because I’ve been in this intense black tea mood lately and the W2T website describes this tea as super intense, full bodied and strong. So, I was braced and ready for a black tea that would basically kick me in the ass. I was surprised, and a little bit saddened, that my experience really didn’t match that at all…
I got about four steeps from the tea, but I found all of them tasted almost exclusively of bamboo – with just a hint of a roasted note to them. The liquor was a bit thin as well, and in general I just thought that the tea needed a lot more body and tannin to be interesting to me at all. I also don’t love the taste of bamboo scented teas – I mean, I’m not against it or anything but it’s not a flavour that I like enough to want it to be the only thing I’m tasting in a tea.
Next time I will drastically increase the amount of leaf I’m using and see if that makes a difference…
This tea has improved so much over the past couple years! The leaves are long and stout and loosely compressed. You can easily pick up floral tones and a soft fruitiness from the leaves. Your gongfu session will begin with a soft and sweet Citrine liquor that will evolve into so many different things. In a short span of five steepings, I was able to pick up white pepper and kuwei to floral and apricot and on to bok choy and cream. This is a varying tea with a lot of layers. The clear constant is a thick mouthfeel with some nice viscosity. I noticed this puerh does best when pushed slightly, so you may want to add a few additional seconds on your steeping. I also found that the qi is quite varying; one moment I’d have high levels of energy, and the the next I was lulled to relaxation. This is a unique brew that I had a lot of fun tasting. I’m not sure if I’d seek a cake out, for I feel the price-point is a bit high. This is only due to my own personal preference; I’m sure others would jump at grabbing this cake!
Flavors: Apricot, Bok Choy, Brown Sugar, Floral, Pepper, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet
I HAVE DRUNK SO MUCH TEA TODAY O_O
This was my first huangpian and it was just ok. Kind of a heavy gut bomb but with good flavor up until it became unpleasantly bitter at about 6 or 7 gongfu steeps. I’d be wary of brewing these leaves grandpa. The taste had a base of green-turning-orange bell pepper mixed with prominent fruity notes of ripe apricot, peach and orange and a brassy dry grass tone. Somewhat floral, a bit of menthol. The tea can be thick but part of that is gritty. There’s a different kind of energy with these leaves that I can’t describe…
I like to think I slew some demons today but I honestly feel like I opened the portal instead. Last Sunday, I asked for a leadership position, in any form, because I have so much energy to devote to such an endeavor. Today, it arrived and not where I thought it would. I was invited to join a new pastoral care team at church that’s in its infancy. Basically, the needs of our community are far greater than originally anticipated. Our small group of people is trying to develop a sustainable infrastructure used to help specific groups of people who are in need during this pandemic. Thinking about how far into the future the pandemic will impact our community and in what ways has really put into perspective a lot of how I have lived my life since becoming an adult and that I no longer want to continue on that path, basically one of a scarcity mindset and of selfishness. I have immense respect for leaders working with the conceptual after an hour-long Zoom meeting today. I feel like my entire worldview has changed in a matter of hours. If all that sounds fuzzy, it’s because I’m still background processing.
And that is what I’m wrestling with after drinking Demon Slayer.
So, Togo, thanks.
And that makes 600.
Flavors: Apricot, Bell Pepper, Bitter, Dry Grass, Floral, Fruity, Heavy, Honeysuckle, Menthol, Metallic, Orange, Peach, Vegetal
I am drinking the 2017 Turtle Dove and the Bamboo Dove from the same year. These are two white teas from the same material, with the distinction that the latter is pressed into a bamboo and roasted.
Both are pressed very tightly, and it shows. The turtle dove, despite being more than 2 years old, drinks much like a younger white tea. It has a light body and a very floral character with herbaceous and fruit tree flower aromas. There are also hints of apricot, wood, spices, and honey.
The aftertaste is a little more sweet. It is also somewhat cooling and expansive. Overall, it is a simple and satisfying, but not too engaging tea. There’s nothing in it that would make me want to get more, other than maybe the fact that with the tight pressing, it could age quite well.
edit: Towards the end of the session, after it properly opens up, the aroma of spices intensifies and is quite pleasant to be honest. Also, when pushed hard, the texture is a bit thicker, so maybe I was a bit too harsh on it.
Flavors: Apricot, Cinnamon, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Herbaceous, Honey, Spices, Wood