314 Tasting Notes
Another tea from Liquid Proust’s aged oolong buy that I couldn’t find in the data base.
They should call this thing the “everlasting gobstopper”. I’ve been drinking it for over two hours and it is still a brick. It comes as an 8 gram chunk and I tried to use my puerh pick to break it in half but literally couldn’t scratch the surface. I finally just tossed the thing in a pot, figuring it would dissolve after a couple of steeps. but I’m on my sixth steep now and while it is a bit fuzzy around the edges, it still has its shape and is very solid when I poke it with a sharp stick (OK, puerh pick).The first couple of steeps had a very nice, smooth body but I notice it less in later steeps. The taste varies, depending on the length of the steep. When the steep is on the light side it is very pleasant and moderately complex, with wood and tobacco notes, and a lovely, spicy nose. However, I find it easy to oversteep into a heavy roast that isn’t awful, but is a lot less enjoyable. Given the fact that it is gradually shedding leaves, it is hard to judge how long to steep. I started out with 60 s steeps, but started to judge the time by the color. Generally 40 to 90 s.
Not a bad tea overall. I was thinking it would work well grandfather style, but you would have to be able to handle the heavy roast flavor. When I got the steep time correct, about half the time, it was very nice. It could probably go for days, but it isn’t interesting enough for me to want to tie up my favorite tea pot for that long.
Update: After 2 days and about a dozen steeps, I was finally able to scrape the top layer off the top of the brick. I’m afraid to go further for fear of damaging my pot, but if I put it on a cutting board or some other surface I was willing to damage I could probably break it up with a sharp knife. The tea (60 s steep) is still quite good. Also tying up my larger pot.
A sad moment. I’m sipping down the last of my mist valley. Also, an embarrassing moment, since I discovered that I haven’t taken the time to write a review for Steepster.
This tea isn’t great, but is a very good, solid Darjeeling-style second flush tea from Nepal. It is resistant to oversteeping, so when I just dump some in a pot and then oversteep, it still comes out well. Classic Darjeeling taste with a bit of stone fruit.
Liquid Proust Group Buy of Aged oolong. I"m not certain that this is the correct tea, since there haven’t been any reviews for 5 years and this was a good-sized group buy.
1st is slightly woody, but the floral flavors are stronger. Rich roasted flavor appears on second sip. Very interesting tea: the flavor changes as it moves through my mouth. All of the different flavors are pleasant, but they range from light to heavy. Heaviest in the finish, where the roasted flavors dominate. 2nd: It’s obvious that the lighter floral notes are at the front of the mouth while the roast appears at the rear. Astringent at the finish. 3rd steep: Roasted aroma, and the roasted flavors hit earlier in the taste but are not overwhelming. There is still a sweet, floral note, which is strong at the finish. Later steeps became gradually less interesting as the astringency grew and the complexity lessened. I got about a dozen good steeps out of it before getting distracted and doing a 15 minute steep.
I used an unusual approach to steeping: 3 grams of tea in 50 ml with about 5 steeps of 20 seconds each before gradually increasing the steep times up to about 1 minute.
From the Sheng Olympics 2016
(10s): pale straw color. Taste starts light but builds impressive power for a 1st steep. Taste is straw with hints of wood and black pepper. 2nd (10s): Wow: very soft and sweet with grassy, somewhat floral notes. Very approachable, but not overly interesting. Fairly strong cha qi. Developed some structure (acidity and astringency) in 3rd/4th steeps. Still fairly straightforward, but more interesting than before. Gradually got more interesting in the next few steeps but I wouldn’t call it complex.
This would be an excellent introduction to sheng. It starts out gentle then gradually shows a bit more bite. Not something I’d want more of unless it was to put into the beginner’s TTB.
I’m digging through old samples trying to sip down some of my collection but it’s very slow going. When I first got serious about puerh a couple of years ago I figured that if the tea was meant to be drunk aged, I should try to buy stuff that was old. Since I was just getting into it, however, I tried to do it on a budget. The result is a bunch of teas like this one, made with chopped leaves and very, very smoky.
It really makes sense that the higher quality teas from over a decade ago wouldn’t be kicking around in the back of someone’s warehouse for more than a decade, but I keep hoping. Of course quality teas do exist, but I have to be willing to pay up for them, which I’m starting to do.
At any rate, this tea is a better than average example of the genre. It is no longer available but I bought a sample from Chawang Shop at a reasonable cost about a year ago. I was hit by a strong smoke aroma pretty much then the water first hit the leaves. I was surprised to find that it dissipated almost immediately and left a tea that was a light straw flavor with hints of tropical fruits. This was the first (and best) steep. After that, the smoke pretty much dominated for the next 4 steeps. If I didn’t like smoky teas, I probably would have dumped it and moved on. However, the finish was better balanced, and hinted that there was a good tea lurking under all that smoke.
I kept drinking and the smoke slowly faded, but the underlying tea faded at pretty much the same rate, and the finish began to get a bit of that ash flavor that smoky teas sometimes produce. Around the 5th steep, the tea developed a sweetness that was stronger than the smoke and the taste became more like leather, with smoke underneath. The finish also improved: no more ash, though somewhat bitter.
The later steeps were quite pleasant, but I had to pass through smoke and ash to get there. I probably rated this too high, but that first and later steeps were really pleasant, and I do like a smoky tea. One funny note: I didn’t really notice much cha qi, but the first time I had this tea I rated it high for cha qi. May depend on my mood?
I recently ordered a bunch of puerh wrappers from Wymm tea, and wound up spending more on add-ons than I did the wrappers. This sample was one of the add-on teas.
The dominant feature, at least for me today, is the strong cha qi. It makes it hard to focus on the tea, so my comments will be general rather than detailed. The tea is well-balanced with no obvious flaws. Taste is a straw/wood blend, with no off-flavors or bitterness. I have a fuzzy feeling at the tip of my tongue that suggests acidity, but otherwise not a significant amount of astringency or bitterness. If I had any complaint it would be that there isn’t much aroma. It’s more of a daily drinker than a special occasion tea, but it impressed me since most bricks aren’t this nice.
I had a second session about 3 weeks later in which I noticed an odd vegetable flavor in the second steep. Reminded me of a turnip. This only lasted one steep and otherwise I liked the tea pretty much as well, but I revised my rating downward slightly to account for this flavor. Also, the cha qi seemed a bit less strong that I said in my first review.
After reading Liquid Proust’s review of the YQH Bulang a few days ago, I decided to try it myself. This was my second session, and the first try was underwhelming (which is pretty much what he said). During the 1st steep, I got a bright idea and pulled out a 2006 6FTM Bulang sample from Tea Urchin to do a side-by-side tasting. These are my notes.
The dry leaf was what you would expect: the YQH had beautiful full leaves that came apart easily and the 6FTM was tightly compressed. The small bits and powder probably are more inherent in the tea than due to my technique in breaking off my sample. First steep (10 s): surprise: the older tea has significantly lighter color than the younger tea. Second surprise: They tasted quite similar; the YQH had more complexity but wasn’t as potent as the 6FTM.
Second steeps (10 s): The colors are now very similar. The initial darkness in the 6FTM is probably due to the powder that’s now in my strainer. Both teas have that smoked meat aroma I associate with Bulang. The YQH is stronger. The YQH also has more flavor. The 6FTM seems just a bit washed out after I tried the YQH. On an absolute basis, the 6FTM is fairly full in the mouth, has good flavor and a bit of complexity. I liked it well enough to buy another sample but not a cake (this is about my 5th session). When I go the the YQH, though, it is just a bit more powerful, has bigger mouth-feel, and is more complex. Kind of like that kid in school who did everything just a little bit better than you did. It’s a bit hard to judge the finish when you go back and forth, but the 6FTM seemed to have a very good finish. After waiting a couple of minutes to let it fade (though it was still pretty good after 2 minutes) I finished the slightly cool YQH. The taste had opened up to be a bit stronger than I remembered, and was showing some stone fruit at the finish. There is a slight astringency I didn’t notice in the 6FTM but otherwise the finishes are comparable, though the YQH seemed to last longer, though of course it is building upon the 6FTM finish.
3rd steep (20 s): This is usually my best steep. I waited 10 minutes for the finish to fade. Very similar visually. Excellent nose on the YQH; less on the 6FTM, though it is quite good on an absolute basis. I like the 6FTM a lot; it is showing some sweetness and the smokiness is less obvious. The taste glides gently into a smooth, pleasant, finish. The finish is slightly astringent, but not really bitter. The YQH is also less smoky, but I’m having a harder time finding the flavor: It is what wine drinkers call “closed-in,” which means you can sense flavor but it’s hiding. When I aerate the tea in my mouth, it shows a slightly vegetative flavor. For this round, I’m favoring the 6FTM slightly, just because it is more approachable. I’m noticing a big, astringent finish that I suspect is due to the combined effect of the two teas. Hard to separate things at this point. The qi is also starting to affect my judgement. Time for another break.
4th (30 s): 6FTM is really nice. Sweet and smooth with a bit of fruit. Fruit especially obvious in the finish. Some astringency. Probably wants even more age. The YQH is very similar to the 6FTM at this point. Slightly stronger, and more astringent. I think most of the finish is coming from the YQH, but it’s impossible to separate the effects, when the finish lasts for 10 minutes and I have 30 sec between tastes. The flavor of the YQH is a bit lighter, with citrus elements, while the 6FTM is more straightforward. I still have a slight preference for the YQH, but it IS slight.
Steeps 5-8: This is where I abandon myself to a tea-drunk to see which tea lasts longer. The 6FTM grew more bitter in later steeps, while the YQH just faded away gracefully.
Bottom line: the YQH is the better tea, but not by a wide margin. The 6FTM is definitely the better value.
Would you say it isn’t the best to draw thoughts on YQH bases on this specific cake? I know I have a few more samples, but as this was my only one I have tried it was like… ’eh
I’ve tasted several now (and bought 1.25 cakes) and my overall impression is that they are consistently good, but not thrilling in the way that some of the W2T teas excite me. I’m sorry for all the wine analogies, but these are kind of like aged Bordeaux, which is just good drinking but doesn’t excite the way a 3-year-old California wine might.
@LiquidProust this is a highly atypical one as far as YQH is concerned. 85% of their tea is Mengla County from 2004-2007. Try one of those and it should be far more indicative.
I think the difference in age 5 years I think can make a difference. In another 5 years the YQH will be more mature and have a fuller experience.
I received this tea as a sample add-in to an order of puerh samples.
The dry leaves appeared to be very heavily roasted, which was confirmed with my first whiff of the pot. Very roasted! I was therefore pleasantly surprised that my first sip was more fruity than roasted. The roast was there underneath, and was dominant in the finish. Still, a pretty good balance. The second steep (1m) had a better balance of fruit and roast in the nose, but not much fruit in the taste. Third steep was similar. All of the steeps were interesting, which I like, but in the end I’m just not into a tea that is this heavily roasted.
I’ll do that. This was my usual oolong semi-gong-fu method: 60 sec steeps rather than my 3 minute western method.
MrMopar gave me a sample of this tea to encourage me to add a cake to my next TU order.
It is hard to write a review, since this is one of those teas that sends me into the lotus position to just drift with the cha qi. After 3 cups (about 6 oz) I needed to take a 30 minute break to recover. So, A+ on the cha qi.
The taste is good too.It started with a straw favor with a hint of wood and the balance gradually shifted toward wood with each steep. By the third steep, the tea displayed a nice balance between young sheng and old. Hard to tell how much of this is due to MrMopar’s famous pumidor storage. I found both the young and old flavors enjoyable, and they didn’t really clash at all: just two aspects of a well-integrated tea. Speaking of well-integrated, the taste drifts smoothly into a very nice finish that I’m still tasting 15 minutes after my 3rd cup. While the tea has good classic flavor it doesn’t really display much flavor beyond the basic straw/wood balance. It does what it does very well but lacks that something extra that would make me consider it a special occasion tea.
My rating is based entirely on taste. My internal system adds a second rating for cha qi and this one scores 100.
I’ve had this several times. First session it was fairly sweet and reminded me of pecan pie, but without the pecans. Quite similar to the TU description of brown sugar. Next session was a bit more astringent and woody, with some fruit and spice: also quite enjoyable.
Both sessions had a big rich flavor with tons of cha qi and a big, long finish.