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Recent Tasting Notes
Shou relaxes me, steeped Gongfu, probably more than any other tea – it actually makes me feel sleepy more often than not. So, I have a feeling I’ll be brewing a lot of shou Gongfu over the next little while…
This is very smooth and consistent with sweet earthy notes. It’s not very complex/nuanced, but makes up for it with the rich body and clean finish. As expected, given its name, I got a good number of steeps out of this one before it lost intensity and body. I know that these dragon balls are basically meant to be Grandpa brewed and not made Gongfu, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever not steeped this Gongfu!?
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb6Scz-5YOs
I am a sucker for shou/citrus mixes, so the bias is here but I think that it is not just a pleasant tea but is also a stand-out in its class.
The pu-erh is solid: mild, smooth, no fishiness. The citrus certainly plays the leading role, though with clear notes of tar, pine needles and citrus zest. Some sweet maltiness in the background rounds it out.
Overall, it’s bracing, fresh and energizing, with a looong tarry aftertaste. This shou can stand to multiple steepings but could be fairly easily over-steeped.
Those who enjoy mild and the ever-changing complexity may find this tea too simplistic and overbearing, but I appreciate boldness and, unsurprisingly, liked this tea quite a bit.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Earth, Malt, Pine, Sweet, Tar
From the Nov 2018 tea club – sipdown
I was a little scared to try this. But I think the delay caused the roast level to die down. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have a lot of variation for me. Solid roast and earth, not the roast – sour I sometimes get. Consistent for with both gaiwan and western.
Flavors: Earth, Roasted
Gongfu Sipdown (824)!
Steeped this at work this morning; it’s been weirder readjusting to being back at the office than I expected it to be post vacation. I’m nearly caught up now though, and getting to have a nice, sloppy session this morning while working on projects helped kind of get me back in that work mode/normalize being in the office again.
This is a really intense and full bodied shou with bitter, muddy earth notes and a coating, medicinal citrus note from the chenpi. Maybe not the most approachable chenpi for those looking to dip their toes into this style of tea, but if you like full bodied and thick/medicinal then I think it’s excellent, & I imagine it could be an excellent tea to keep in rotation for cold weather and sick days. I steeped this coin over a dozen times during the course of the morning and it just kept going! Munched on a little bit of blood orange as well, which added a nice subtle & complimenting sweetness to offset some of that medicinal profile.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy3706vJ4Ng
Like the 2018 Arbor Red, I steeped the white version over the course of two days, though I did not take notes.
At this point, the oxidation is developing well and the tea is veering into malty white territory. It has a distinct character different from the few other white tea cakes I’ve tried, not so much red fruit tasting. First several steeps were the best, being thick, heavy, and sweet, with a creamy and floral component that was almost coconutty. Autumn leaf and malty backbone and hints of apricot and tropical fruits. One infusion was pure, dark honey. Tonal tea overall. A western steep of 2g in 8oz water off boil fell very flat in comparison to gongfu.
A great tea, especially for those looking for depth and complexity in a white cake. I agree with White2Tea’s description that Arbor White deserves an immersive session. Thanks so much for the sample, Togo :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Coconut, Creamy, Floral, Heavy, Honey, Malt, Metallic, petrichor, Sweet, Thick, Tropical, Vanilla, Wood
Certainly one of the most interesting red teas I’ve tasted. It’s soothing and sits so comfortably in my body, even when drank on an empty stomach in the morning. Thick and sweet with deeply vibrant woody-tobacco-sweet medicine-red fruit complexity. The 8g sample from Togo steeped gongfu over the course of 2 days. Check out the other reviews here and around the web. Well worth a sample if not a whole cake. Initial thought is 97 to 100 — exceptional.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Campfire, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Creamy, Dates, Floral, Herbs, Leather, Medicinal, Oak wood, Plums, Red Fruits, Sweet, Thick, Tobacco, Vanilla
I had this one earlier in the week, and was surprised and impressed by it. It’s quite a unique blend of four yancha varietals. I got six really nice steeps from this session, with some very interesting flavour notes. The most striking of which was a toasted sesame oil note, complete with coating and slick liquor. Additional notes through the session were mild smoke, some minerality & wood, ginger, roasted pandan, and dill. Very unique profile, but gooooddd!!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syXGn3CZbts
See, I thought I had reviewed this long ago. I guess I was wrong.
This is pretty much my only experience with Puerh. As in… ever. I refuse call whatever it was I had from Adagio puerh or even tea for that matter. So, out of all my teas and samples, this is one of only two I have.
I’m gonna say it. I like this tea. For a Pu, it’s simple. Break off a chunk, brew, drink, repeat. It’s easy to manage and I don’t have to fiddle with my scale and make a mess. I know, my need for quick and simple probably makes me sound like a heathen, but I like simple. It’s one of the reasons I tend to brew everything western… and yes that includes this. It was brewed for 25 seconds for 12 oz water on first steep (once I got the leaves to unfurl).
As far as the taste of this goes, it’s pretty good. I’m still learning to appreciate this type of tea, and still feeling it out, but I’m liking this. It has a nice peat/wet earth flavor to it. I can also taste autumn leaf pile. I can’t think of any other way to describe it, and yep, it’s a flavor and here it is. Now, I’m not going to lie. There is an ever so slight fishiness to this. Slight. But it’s there, and I would be showing favoritism by not mentioning it. I want to be fully upfront and honest here. That said, it isn’t enough to make me not like or enjoy it. If anything, it’s a background note.
Once the cup cools down a bit, I’m tasting a bit of vanilla and caramel sweetness to it that I wasn’t expecting. Also, I’m getting hints of tobacco as well mixed in there – you know, that lovely turkish kind I used to love. It’s pretty good stuff, and I’m just hoping I can stay awake long enough to finish this session. (I never do.)
Overall, I like this. I like it a lot. For my first real foray into puerh, it’s pretty tasty. It’s nothing fancy, and I’m sure someday, if I can get over my Gong Fu hesitation, I will be able to enjoy far greater cakes than this. For now, this is fine. I’m almost out though, so that makes me sad. Sometime soon, I will need to make a new W2T order. Oh my aching wallet…
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Fishy, Peat, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wet Earth
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