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Recent Tasting Notes
I bought a blended brick through Emmett, and he was kind enough to send me a free sample of this tea. I brewed the whole sample in my 120ml jianshui pot, and got a fantastic result. Some of the strongest qi I’ve ever felt along with mouthwatering aroma and a robust, thick body. I don’t have the budget for a whole cake of this, so this review is written based only on the experience I had with my sample, not bearing in mind the price.
Flavors: Overripe Cherries, Plums, Raspberry, Wood
This is my second session with this tea. I wanted to give it at least two sessions and compare my notes before I wrote up a report. This tea is outside of my normal purchasing range. One thing I wanted to know was do I have the palate to distinguish between really good tea and OK tea. This one has a wide following as being very good to excellent, so I ordered a sample.
When I smell the dry leaves, it smells nice. I like this scent profile in teas. It is rich and dark and has that dark dried fruit aroma that I find appealing in tea. There is also a little smokiness in the dry leaf aroma.
The wet leaves smell more of younger sheng camphor and the smoke comes forward more. The dark fruits retreat. Smelling the lid after the first rinse is interesting. The lid retains the dark dried fruits smell and a little smokiness, but there is also a very bright and light aroma. Some might call it citrus. It’s like a very sweet lemon/lime. OK, full disclosure, it smells a little like Sprite to me. I’ll never get to join the inner circle of tea aficionados, now. Should have said lemoncello ;-)
First infusion — flash steeped for seconds in a clay shui ping. Liquor is amber. Taste is very sweet with no bitterness. I also get no immediate astringency. There is a bit of a cooling menthol effect. Coats the mouth. My lips feel as if I have lip balm on them.
Second infusion – 6 seconds. Liquor darkens slightly. High pour produces bubbles that last for over 30 seconds. Lid of pot smells of camphor and smoke now with some leather. Wet leaves smell the same. A little bitterness in this infusion. Mouth watering effect. A little astringency. Back of throat feel – slight. In the mouth, tea feels soft and medium thickness. Mouth becomes thicker and stickier after swallowing. Aftertaste lingers slightly bitter.
Third infusion – 8 seconds. Lid smells again of dried dark fruit and light smoke and leather. Leaves less camphor and more smoke. Liquor remains a darker amber. Very slight bitterness this time compared to the second infusion; however, it is more astringent. Menthol cooling effect is pronounced. Sweet but tempered by that slight bitterness. There is a new flavor, but I can’t name it. It is kind of malty but that isn’t quite right. Mouthfeel is still thickening. First two infusions I felt a flush of warmth, but assumed that was simply from drinking the hot tea. Now I’m getting a small amount of feeling in my head like I’ve just awoken from a nap and I’m a little out of it and groggy.
Fourth infusion – flavors and aromas remain unchanged. I’m getting more head feelings.
We pause for a word from our taster — I am using a 70 ml clay pot. I’m drinking alone. That means, I’m drinking almost two shots of tea every infusion. The first one I drink hot, the second has obviously cooled. The second cooler cup often is more flavorful and intense than the first hot cup of each infusion. This also means I’m usually getting lit up faster with a strong tea. Now back to our program…
Fifth infusion (tenth cup - my God!) – smoke is almost gone from wet leaves. Lid has that bright note again. ‘Bout dropped the lid. My fingers are tingling now. Hands feel tight. For the doubters out there, cha qi is a real thing no doubt about it. I’m up to about 15 +/ seconds now. It takes me a couple of seconds to fill the clay pot with my gooseneck pot. The pour takes another 6 seconds. Tea is sweet and smooth and no bitterness present. No astringency on this infusion. Still a little bit of smokiness in this. I was given some samples of Xiaguan recently, and it reminds me of their flavor profile at this stage. This infusion is easy going tea…on the tastebuds, that is. Inside my body, it’s a party.
Sixth infusion — cups 11 and 12. I have to call it here. I’ll continue using these leaves later this evening and see how far I can take it. Taste is getting a little sweeter as one would expect with leather and smoke fading. A little of the young sheng camphor is present again, but it isn’t overpowering. I do not get any hui gan sweetness with this tea. The sweetness is all in the initial taste for me. I do get back of throat sensations and some mouth watering and a thickening coating inside the mouth. I am literally getting somewhat bleary-eyed. Menthol cooling remains strong. Lips feel slightly buzzy like I’ve taken up my trombone and played after not playing for years. You old brass players know what I’m talking about.
My opinion only, but this tea is an all-star in the cha qi category. I’ve been sitting here now for about 10 minutes, and I’m floaty, relaxed, and a wet noodle. If you’re looking for a tea drunk tea, this one will fit the bill. This one also tasted “good.” Most of the young green sheng taste is gone, but not completely. It’s getting there on the aging. But is it worth around $2 a gram? For me, no. I have experienced teas that are similar for far cheaper and that actually had more complexity in the taste. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this tea. It was a nice educational experience.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Dried Fruit, Leather, Smoke, Sweet
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In order to learn more about aged sheng, which I know very little about, I joined one split order of YQH teas. One of them is Te Ji Pin, a tea that has had quite some reception in the community. I think I am still learning the best way to brew these teas, but now I might have settled on something that works. Today’s session was the best one I remember with this particular tea.
I find it to have quite a clean and woody taste that is definitely memorable. The qi is great and I also love the smooth, soft, and oily mouthfeel. Still, the price is probably a bit too high. I think I would be able to enjoy and appreciate it much more if I had more of a relation to the tea – which is the reason why I started aging pu’er early on in my tea exploration, even before I would know whether I even like aged tea.
The aroma is hay-like and nutty when dry. After the rinse, I can smell notes of cactus, smoke, pool, soil, fish, and garlic. It is a strong and complex aroma with a vegetal character.
The taste starts off light and creamy, but soon develops some refreshing bitterness and tartness. Second infusion has a strong herbal character like breckland thyme or lemon balm and a finish that reminds me of irn bru a little. Later steeps then show more smooth woodiness, honey sweetness, and a stronger, more rounded taste overall. I find the aftertaste to be really long and heavy throughout the session. It is sweet and spicy with notes such as nuts, cumin seeds, and cinnamon.
The body of the liquor is medium, but extremely soft and smooth. I get a numbing sensation in the mouth at times and the texture remains distinctively oily throughout. As for the qi, it is strong, but not over-powering. I get a warming feeling in the body and a defocusing effect on the mind.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Cinnamon, Coriander Seed, Cream, Earth, Fishy, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Mint, Nuts, Nutty, Smoke, Spices, Spicy, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Thyme, Tobacco, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wood
Full-bodied with an oily, heavy texture and the typical Yang storage character. In the beginning a lot of warm leather, wood and some tobacco (not smoky!) and if you tackle it a little harder also a good amount of bitterness. Compared to the 2007 Huangshan Qizhong a little more discreet in taste and character, but with more intense, relaxing Qi, although by far not as intense as the 2004 Tejipin.
Flavors: Bitter, Leather, Medicinal, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood
This tea is a rather wild blend: Youle, Yiwu, Gedeng, Yibang, Manzhuan, Mangzhi, both spring and autumn material. To the tea: Lots of leather and warm wood, accompanied by a discreet sweetness and with a nice soft heaviness. But the most striking is the typical Yang storage character, which is much more pronounced in this tea than in the 2007 Qizhong and has a slightly sour note at the beginning.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2005-cangliu-yqh
Flavors: Leather, Mint, Sweet, Wood
All in all a rather light tea, which shines through ts typical yang-storage note and a nice camphor note, despite the subsequent pressing fortunately not too “dry” and with a calm, warm character. However, as far as body and Qi are concerned, there is hardly anything that can be tickled out of the tea – with a proper dosage and a longer brewing time one only strengthens the astringency.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/1999-cangmi-yqh
Flavors: Camphor, Leather, Wood
Didn’t weigh this tea, just put in the “right amount” into the teapot. The teapot is ~110ml, yixing (modern, but well made from proper clay).
Used regular tap water (though the tap water is still fairly good here).
Rinsed once to wake up the tea.
My initial reaction to the first steeping was that the tea outshone the otherwise unworthy treatment of tapwater. (And i really should’ve gone get some more spring water instead of being lazy and just drinking it with tap water)
It’s an amazing teenage sheng, got that raw vitalty of a younger sheng but still a maturity to it and definitely the character of a really high quality tea.
Smooth, but with a pleasent astringency to it. Nicely smokey and woody with a camphory sort of character to it, in a way it sort of reminds me of holy wood. It has a bit of huigan
There is also a bit of sweetnes in it that is pleasant, it goes very well with the astringency and slight smokiness, making a very balanced and pleasant complexity. Yet the tea feels rather simple in the nicest of way, it’s just plain nice in a way.
The taste is faitly constant, though it also develops through the steepings, it becomes sweeter and the astringency fade off as expected but at a rather slow rate. The tea keeps on gicing for many steepings and even the sweet water taste lovely of honey with hints of the teas previous glory.
It reminds me of sitting with a friend in a cozy room enjoying the company of very relaxed and down to earth friends. The kind of friends that don’t care too much of the busy life of modern society, but just lives their life in peace and happiness.
I’m not a big fan of all the Sheng hype nor the more commonly available (young) Sheng out there nowdays. But this I can enjoy, it’s nice.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Smoke, Smooth, Wood
Sample from Liquid Proust. Moderate composted leaf litter and dampness on a stone aroma. Initial sweetness and light thickness in the first few steeps, but it doesn’t seem very distinct, maybe a hint of distant smoke, a cursory lick of light acidity. Needs to be pushed and hollows out very quickly. It’s one of the first shengs that tastes a little bit like modern shu, with some of the zookplantoniferous “wo dui” in a few places. Woody is probably the only shining quality here. This is what I think happens when you store mediocre sheng for 13 years and what I fear will become of all my teas in a dry climate, plainly woody and hollow. I feel that perhaps this sample may not have been stored well for some chunk of its life.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Drying, Wood
I was excited to find a sample of this out of the Sheng TTB. I’ve only tried one YQH tea before, and I greatly enjoyed it. This one is quite tasty too! It’s yeasty/funky in a Belgian ale kind of way, pleasantly tart, reminding me of red apples and cranberries. It’s just lightly earthy with a bit of leather and old book smells.
Flavors: Apple, Leather, Red Fruits, Tangy, Yeasty
Deep forests, happily not too dank. A trace of chocolate for the first couple steeps, too. Huigan is fairly mild, but ohhhh I’ve felt dreamy since the second steep or so. Not much of a flavor journey here, but I’m finding the qi strong so who cares – it’s just floaty dreamy forests forever.
Light flavours, with some mint cool feeling in the mouth and some “aged” taste. A fruity reminiscence, but really light. Liquor is clean and not very thick. Maybe I’d have used more leaf, but wanted to split the sample in two sessions. 98ºC/10 sec and increasing till 30s.
I had a feeling that was going to be one of those teas that hits you hard when on the third steep, with some feeling in my sinus, but that sensation disappeared from next steep.
At this point I’m trying to get aquaintance with aged sheng, so my opinion might vary with time.
my favorite YQH, I own many cakes, and keep buying more. Its my daily drinker. Since this tea is a blend, sometimes you get a session that’s a flop, but more often than not I get really good sessions. This tea is complex, sweet yet hits the lower register without being cloying or too rich, lingers for a while, and I never get bored.
This is also the tea I give to anyone who has never had puerh and they are blown away at what tea can be. So its safe to say this is a good tea for both beginner’s and experienced puerh drinkers. It can brew strong, but never gets bitter, just a bit leathery tannic which you can dilute with a bit more hot water. I actually prefer the deeper part of the cake closer to the bing hole, the more compressed part. I think the outer edges are too loose and aged too fast.
This is IMHO Yang’s best production and I’ve tried/own quite a few YQH teas. Yet this is the one I always come back to regardless of price or scarcity. Definitely worth a cake+
To bring out the best in this tea I brew higher leaf/water ratio. Around 7.5g in a 95-110mL teapot.
Steaming Aroma: Very nice roasted smokiness but not overdoing plus an exquisite old library scent, cold chestnuts, mineral stony, baked pears and a subtle hint of pineapple & mango! Later stronger herbal medicinal old library woodsy flair which transforms into something more leathery.
Tasting Profile: A bit lighter at the start. Wet Cardboard paper, something slightly steamed milky to it with an echo in the aftertaste of a slightly chocolate hint, nutty tart note of chestnuts, walnuts and a mix of grape seeds and sunflower seeds plus a sugar crane sweetness. A nice fruity mix of pears and peach skin. There is a nice sourly astringency to it which tingles the tongue and animates every tasting buds it can reach. Quite furry mouth feel. Not a total massive puncher generally it really develops its strength within its light compositions and Qi. In many other reviews I read a lot about “many steepings” at least around 12-20. I can’t say I experienced the same! From the start this aged Sheng is quite on the lighter side. In my opinion it is quite a nice Sheng for around 5 to max. 7 steeps but after that there is not much going on anymore! But the aftertaste of chocolate bananas is really outstanding and an experience of its own
I decided to start out the 2018 Sheng Olympiad with this one. On the balance, I found it fairly similar to the 2004 YQH Tejipin (of which I own a cake), albeit with less smoke, somewhat weaker qi, and a pronounced cooling note in the finish that occasionally made its way into the top taste on a few steeps. There was a bit of sourness in this tea, but nothing oppressive. Overall, an excellent tea, and a strong start to the series. If only it weren’t sold out basically everywhere.
Flavors: Menthol, Stonefruits
I haven’t been reviewing as much because of my involvement regarding puerh and my tea shop… anyways, Yang Qing Hao samples is a larger project I took on (in regards to longevity) in which I hope to offer everything within the next few years.
This beast came in the mail and when I went to break it up, I forgot it was 600g! Nice looking dark leaf with an aroma that doesn’t match the others in terms of strength. This smelled lighter from the start. As I broke it up, the consistency of the leaf throughout the cake was very enjoyable to look at and break with my hands.
Upon my third session, I’m really enjoying how this tea is softer than the other YQH teas. While there is still some astringency going on, the lightness of the taste is great. Not going to remark on flavors, but in regards to strength it isn’t at strong as the others and the body isn’t as thick but the astringency makes up for that as for the mouth feel.
This provides the kind of feeling as if you don’t want to move. A little light headed with no negative signs, but dang… I feel like just sitting here looking at my tea cup. Time is still going at the same rate but I promise you that I’m experiencing it at a slower rate right now. I like this : )
Ahh finally took the plunge and picked up my first full cake of YQH in Emmett’s last group order. I won’t get into too much detail because 1. It’s almost 3 am and I’m supposed to be studying and 2. I want to give the cake plenty of time to adjust to my environment before I decide how I feel about it. Visually this cake is beautiful! Super thick, healthy looking browned leaves with plenty of golden tips. The taste is very light throughout but with ample thickness. Light might not be the right word because I really dig the soft plummy sweetness but it certainly isn’t the most complex of the YQH. Qi is very nice and relaxing and there is a lasting throat feel/huigan. Overall I’ve quite enjoyed my first couple sessions!
Coming back to this note a couple months later…
I’m not as enthusiastically in love with this cake as I was when I first got it. It’s got nice flavors and decent qi though. It just seems to be missing something that the other top YQH teas have. It just doesn’t change much over the course of the session. Good but not super complex
Flavors: Caramel, Plums, Wood
This sample is from last year’s Pubertea group buy – apparently there was also some in this year’s, so I will have a bit more of it to drink later! This tea looks pretty nice. Dark and obviously aged. The dry leaf had a slightly sweet, leathery and woody aroma. After a rinse, I first picked up a bit of camphor, followed by a sweet, ever so slightly musty woody aroma which reminded me of a clean antique store. There was also a slight fruity note to the aroma, like a dark currant or berry note. Not super sweet.
The flavor starts off sweet and woody, with a thick texture. In the first steep or two, I did get a bit of sharpness to the flavor which was not entirely good, but that was out of the tea quickly enough. It never really shows up distinctly in the flavor, but I pick up a bit of a coffee aroma from the liquor of the tea on occasion.
As the tea moved past the slightly sour (though still pleasant) first couple steeps, it really came into its own. Earthy, thick, woody, and sweet. There was a lightly camphorous, cooling mouthfeel after I swallowed. The woodiness came out more distinctly as I continued to steep it out, presenting a really nicely clean woody flavor for the bulk of the session.
Around steep nine or so, I noticed some fruity flavor popping up – the dark fruity (currant?) note I smelled in the aroma off the leaves at the beginning of the session.
I did notice a bit of a calming qi while drinking this tea, mostly in the upper chest/shoulders. It’s not a qi powerhouse. Flavor and texture are very nice. I’m glad I have some of this tea! The tea can be had for $0.52/g, so in terms of the more typical 200g size from artisan tea producers, that comes out to $104. Based on these two sessions, I would probably not buy this tea at the price it commands.
Flavors: Black Currant, Camphor, Fruity, Leather, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Wood
Pulling out a YQH tea to drink while I go through Excel to see if I can manage to pay for some YQH to be in the 2018 Sheng Olympaid. Part of me struggles with not being able to do everything myself because I have up until recently with all the stuff in life going on… engagement ring and college, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH. However, I love life so these little things are bumps to learn how to coast over : )
From the rinse I got an unexpected Smokey smell.
First steep came out and had slight smokey taste like beers that are finished in barrels… if that makes sense, like a faded aroma that comes off with a taste in the background. Liquid doesn’t seem thick until you drink it; it seems to like to stick around for a bit.
Second brew has the light from the door peering at me as the astringency is about to be gone… even though this is somewhat dry, the long lasting lip smacking taste is splendid.
Some number… I forgot to write. This is like a smoked leather wrapped plum that sat around for a bit. It hits pretty well to; for those who want to now what means, it feels good.
Great stuff, I’m just exhausted and don’t have it in me to write… hope August gets better!
Heavy thick and smooth with a long lasting bitterness and a bit astringent.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2007-huangshan-qizhong-yqh
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Heavy, Leather, Smooth, Thick
Extremely smooth, balanced, warm and thick. Lethery notes in the first steeps with becomes increasingly sweet. Very relaxing Qi.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2004-tejipin-yqh
Flavors: Heavy, Leather, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Wood
So I started this tea about 6 hours ago which is pretty awesome!
Anyways, at this point I have tasted through quite a few different YQH productions and find that all of them have great storage, however that storage may not be to my liking all the time. Something that also stands out is the texture of these teas in general; a nice thick syrup like viscosity. There’s a clear connection with price per gram and enjoyment of the teas; a very subjective remark, but in this case I can back it up.
For a tea that is running $.41/gram, I find this to be a good deal as it will brew an entire day if you’d like for it to. It’s ready to drink now. Personally I think this is the kind of tea you drink over the course of years as it should only deepen which would be noticed by the owner as they get to know the tea. This one has more of the mineral rubbed fruit notes, very dark and dry, opposed to my favorite YQH cake the 2004 dingji yesheng.
A few notes of leather and old book hang around. Later into the brew this tea can take the three minute steeps and come out thick with the taste as if it is only in its 5th brew. Longevity and consistency.
Got in on a split of this a couple months back. The bit I received isn’t particularly compressed, and after a rest and sniffing several times since then, I don’t get too much of a scent off the dry leaf. Once wet, however, the leaves give off a smoky aroma with a light sweetness.
This tea steeps out to a golden color and—again, since I had nowhere for wash water (and this tea is one of the pricier ones I’ve tried)—I drank the wash. There wasn’t much flavor there but it didn’t give a distinct huigan, smoothness and a light hint of dustiness.
This ended up being a very easy to drink tea for me, with a flavor profile that remained fairly consistent. I didn’t get much qi from it, but I will look forward to exploring this one further, for sure!
Flavors: Dust, Smoke, Sweet