314 Tasting Notes
This is as much of a confession as a review. I went nuts back in November 2013 with a huge order from Upton tea. I’m still drinking down that order, to the extent that i just opened this tea in May 2016. The amazing thing is that the tea is still very good!
The dry aroma from the bag was really pleasant. in the cup, the tea smells of citrus fruit and melon. the taste is similar but with a bitter undercurrent that detracts a bit from the taste. The finish is long and pleasant, with the fruit easily dominating just a hint of bitterness. i’m not going to give this a numerical rating since i have no idea what it tasted like when it went on sale. All I can say is that it is still very good.
I’m drinking this as part of the “week of tea exploration” suggested by Lion. Good idea Lion!
I’ve already reviewed this tea, but decided to add a review because the tea is a bit of a chameleon and wanted to capture this session.
The first steep had sweet straw and tropical fruit (or apricot?) dominate the nose and the taste. Very pleasant. Good long finish. After a few sips I notice a darker element lurking underneath. Medium-light body; no bitterness. Good cha qi. 2nd steep: The taste is now more woody, with less fruit or sweetness and a moderate bitterness ppears, especially in the finish. The fruit and straw are still there; they just have to share the stage. I’m really starting to feel teh effects of the cha qi. 3rd steep has a strong new flavor I just can’t describe. I want to say vegetable, but it’s like no vegetable I’ve ever had. 4th steep: Really good, but i’m getting tea drunk.
Every steep of this tea was different from the last in some way, yet with recurring themes. Like a good symphony. very complex and interesting. I rated this an 89 before but am bumping my rating up a notch because I am really enjoying the tea. Wish I had more.
2009 From Liquid Proust’s aged oolong sampler.
I tried this tea twice: first gong-fu, and then a cross between gong-fu and western style: 60 s steeps of 3 grams in 6 oz water. I preferred the second approach.
The dominant flavor of this tea is the heavy roast, which hits you as soon as the water hits the tea. In the gong-fu session, this was pretty much all i got, but in the semi-western session, there was a stone fruit hiding under the roast, which peeked out at various times; in the finish during the first steep and as the tea cooled in the second steep, and again in the finish of the third steep.
I prefer my oolong roasted, but this one was a bit too much for me. My rating is an average of the first session (81) and the second (85), which was high largely because the tea was fairly interesting, not because it was a pleasure to drink (though there was nothing unpleasant about it, at least for me).
On a personal note, I’m a terrible tea hoarder. Despite my participation in two travelling tea boxes and 3 of Liquid Proust’s samplers, this is only my 21st sipdown of the year. the worst thing is that this one was accidental. this sample was in a bag of teas that I didn’t think I had tried. My usual modus operendus is to save the last portion of a sample pretty much forever. i need to change this.
I’ve had this for a year, and tasted several times, so shame on me for waiting so long to post a review.
This style of puerh is unusual. Comparing this to most puerh teas is like comparing Champagne to Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very light, delicate tea, with flavors of straw and light tropical fruit and/or melon. Really closer in flavor to a white tea than it is to most puerh. However, it does have a depth of flavor and mouth feel similar to a high-quality puerh. The taste was light straw and tropical fruits, but with a hint of bitterness in the finish in later steeps, which caused me to drop my rating by a point.
I got the bright idea of tasting this side-by-side with a similar tea:
Turns out this was a bad idea. The yubang made this tea taste weak, while this tea made the yubang taste crude and inelegant. Either alone was much better by itself. Kind of like Champagne and cabernet.
A note on storage: This tea is so subtle that I worried about storing it in my pumidor. I have 4 teas of this style that I keep in a zip-locked bag inside the pumidor, periodically airing it out. This seems like a reasonable compromise between drying out and losing that subtle flavor. The teas did spend a few months in the pumidor, which may have caused them to lose their freshness, though that may just be age. I also steep at a lower temperature (190 F vs 200F).
I wanted a special treat today so broke out my sample bag. It was disappointing. The first time I had this I absolutely loved it; best tea I’d ever had! Now, it is still good, but seems to have lost a lot of what I loved about it. It may just be that it is in the awkward stage between that fresh young flavor and maturity. Still very good, but just not great.
I’ve been drinking through a bunch of old YS samples this weekend and this was the next tea up. The sample bag has been open (tied with rubber band) in my pumidor for seven months.
My first impression on sniffing the cup is that it smells a bit like cinnamon rolls. The taste is spicy, rich, and sweet, with lots of spice in the finish. Hints of raisins. Thick; feels almost chewy in the mouth. Feeling some cha qi. 2nd steep: the nose is still spicy. The cha qi from the first cup is really hitting me. Taste is similar to 1st cup but not exciting me as much, perhaps because I’m so anxious to taste it that I’m drinking it too hot. 3rd steep is much more integrated than the earlier steeps. Hard to describe the flavor, but it evokes baked goods, though with an apricot fruit hiding underneath. Very good texture and big finish. Lots of cha qi. Shows a slightly bitter astringency at the finish. 4th (30s): Now that I’m looking for it, I detect a hint of apricot in the nose. Taste is smoother and sweeter and the finish isn’t as astringent. The cha qi is powerful: I’m taking 20 minute breaks every two steeps to let it die down.
This is the type of tea that I prefer: slightly fruity, not bitter, with complex flavors. All three components (smell, taste, finish) work very well together and the texture is excellent.
After I posted this review I discovered a prior review from 7 months ago. I suspect the differences between the two reviews is at least partly due to the pumidor storage, which makes me feel good.
As I was recording my tasting notes for the 2014 Autumn Mu Shu Cha, I discovered that I have the Spring version as well. I couldn’t resist doing a sequential review.
The difference was surprising. The Autumn tea tasted of straw and wood, with hints of fruit underneath. This tea is all about the fruit. The first steep showed a sweet, tropical fruit flavor with hints of straw underneath. I immediately felt a powerful cha qi, but it is building on a base from the previous tea, so wasn’t sure how much is due to this tea. 2nd steep had the same tropical fruit flavor at the beginning of the sip, but builds up a strong astringency going into the finish, which is dominated by the slightly bitter astringency. REALLY feeling the qi. By the fourth steep, it was still fruity, rich and sweet. There is a bit of wood underneath the fruit that adds depth, much as a bassoon does in an orchestra. Still too astringent in the finish, which detracts from an otherwise really good tea. Still tons of cha qi.
I’m a fan of young sheng, and this one was clearly the better choice for current drinking. It was fresh and fruity, with enough hints of other flavors to be interesting. The Autumn version wasn’t bad, but was just a slightly above average woody sheng. Of course you pay for quality: as of May 2015, this tea was $118 per cake vs $45 for the Autumn.
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I’ve had this tea twice with slightly different tasting notes. The constants are a blend of straw and wood flavors, with the wood becoming stronger in later steeps, and a strong astringency in the finish that falls short of being bitter but for me detracts from the overall effect.
The first time I had the tea, I thought it had hints of smoked meat and spice. This time around, I thought I detected a bit of apricot underneath the straw and wood. Yunnan Sourcing raves about the cha qi in their write-up, and while there is obviously some effect, it was not nearly as powerful as many other teas I drink regularly. I rate cha qi on a scale of 1 to 110 and give this one an 87. While the tea isn’t spectacular, it was very enjoyable on a rainy Saturday morning, and is a pretty good value at $45 per 400 g cake.
From Dark Matter 2016
I really couldn’t get into this tea. After a 10 s rinse, the first cup tasted extremely bitter, with dirt underneath the bitterness. Second steep was pretty much the same. Third steep, I could detect a bit of cherry, but it mostly tasted like dirt. I’m now suffering from the extremely unpleasant aftertaste.