77 Tasting Notes

87

I received a small coin of this in the W2T club. It’s a strong young tea. I kept getting fruity notes when smelling the lid. I had cut up a honey dew melon earlier in the day and the fruit smell reminded me of that melon. Of course, that fruit note is light, and the dominate note of the wet leaves is young green sheng. There is some nice sugary sweetness that returns, but to get there, you will go through bittervillle. It’s rather intensely bitter even with very short steeps. I think this one has good aging potential. It is thick in the mouth, good lasting sweet aftertaste. Astringency is very low. As for caffeine or qi, it’s strong. I felt my face get heavy, I had to squint my eyes a few times to shake it off, and developed a sweat later into the session. Toward the end of the session, the bitterness did settle down.

Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Fruity, Melon, Sugarcane, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 70 OZ / 2070 ML

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I ordered a sample of this to try. It’s a clean semi-aged raw. I found it to be very straightforward. There is some Qi in the tea. I felt it in my head and especially around my temples, but for me, it wasn’t all that pleasant. This isn’t a knock on the tea. It could have been me. I have been drinking tea all day, so maybe I just hit my limit. The tea does not contain a lot of complex tastes that I can detect. I get some woody tannin bitterness, but also some sweetness. There is also some of the leatheriness you get with a lot of raws. I did not experience much hui gan. There was some lingering bitterness but not any returning sweetness that I could detect. I did not have any aftertaste. After writing my notes, I went looking for reviews and found Matt’s (Mattcha blog) notes about bubble gum, and I was like say whaaa? So, I went back and practically gargled the tea warm and cool to try to find some bubble gum. I might have found what he describes. It brought back an old memory of Bazooka bubble gum and how it was sort of chalky and sweet when first chewed. I needed his suggestion and a lot of searching to detect it, though. This is named Ban Zhang, but even Tea Encounter throws in a disclaimer, so it probably (almost certainly?) isn’t. I’m going to pass on this one even though other reviewers rated it highly.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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95

I’m drinking the Qi Lan 2018 harvest of this from WuYiOrigin.com. The dry leaf smell on this is incredible. Orchid scent and fruity but also rich and dark like a brownie and it makes you wish you could eat the tea. This batch is highly aromatic. When pouring the rinse into the glass pitcher, I could smell it a couple of feet away. The wash from the rinse smells floral and a little smokey. The wet leaves smell great, too. I was expecting to smell roasted notes, but it’s not in the least. What I get is the strong orchid aroma and some grapefruit tanginess in the aroma.

The first infusion is very sweet and delicate. The orchid aroma is so strong, it permeates the tea taste. Not all teas taste like they smell, but this one carries it off. Smelling the lid, I get what I would describe as something similar to buttered popcorn. That doesn’t appear anywhere else. The wet leaves don’t have it. The liquor doesn’t have it, and I definitely do not taste it.

Second infusion and the unexpected buttered popcorn is no longer to be found on the lid. The wet leaves still smell heavily perfumed. Wow! I mean this is knock your socks off perfume heavy. Tea liquor is a light amber color. Super sweet in the mouth. Still comes across as delicate and thinner, which for this heady orchid scent works well. It’s very smooth and not watery at all, but it is not very thick and viscous. After swallowing, there is some menthol cooling effect and the mouth remains very wet. It is not a drying tea. The aftertaste lingers with the orchid aroma and a little bit of the grapefruit tang. It’s definitely heavily sugared grapefruit and not sour in any way.

Third infusion – losing a little orchid aroma now. The leaves smell slightly more roasted but the orchid aroma is still very much present. The tea is delicious. The taste is remaining constant. This is a tea that should be enjoyed slowly, I think. The orchid perfume is so dominate, it can act much like a strong perfume or cologne on a person, and can be overwhelming if not careful. I can get a headache from some colognes and so taking it slow keeps the aroma from becoming overwhelming. Slowing down also gives one the opportunity to enjoy this tea’s long lasting aftertaste.

I went back and put my nose back into the dry leaves bag, and it is so awesomely good. Where the tea stays in the higher perfume register, the dry leaves go richer and darker.

Fourth infusion — just amazed at how long the sweet orchid aroma is lasting. It just keeps giving. Very long lasting aftertaste.

I recommend this one heartily. It’s a winner.

Flavors: Char, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Orchid, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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90

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

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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82

I had heard a few good things about this tea, so ordered a sample with my last YS order. It’s a nice semi-aged raw puerh. I didn’t have any strong body reactions to this one. It had some slight bitterness but the young rough edge has come off. I noticed the same menthol cooling effect another Steepster mentioned. I found that this tea had a drying effect on my mouth and made me thirsty after the session. It is no longer available on the YS US site, but is still available on YS China. I wish I had found this one earlier on when the price was lower.

Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Leather, Oak wood, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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80

It was in the mid 90’s F in an unusual spring heatwave when this tea arrived last week. The tea cake was warm and smelled fantastic when I removed it from the bubble wrap. It had a sweet dried fruit raisin-like aroma. I let the tea rest for a week and gave it a try this afternoon.

The cake compression is not extremely hard at least on the edges. I was able to loosen some material from the edge of the cake with only my fingers. I freed up 6 grams of dried leaf and did a quick rinse. The primary smell of the wet leaf reminded me of a mild roasted tea. There are some sweet tea notes above the light smoky notes.

The first infusion yielded a tea soup that tasted sweet with some mineral and light roasted notes. It did not seem particularly thick or posses any standout characteristics. It was smooth with no bitterness and no young sheng tastes. Astringency was completely absent.

The second infusion was much the same, but now there was more sweet tea coming through, and it was thicker feeling in the mouth. Still, pretty uniform in flavor.

The third infusion was a little more astringent and very mildly bitter, and after drinking the third infusion, I began to heat up. My wife had tried a few sips of each session, and she too said she was getting warm.

The fourth infusion the astringency wained, so maybe I overdid the third infusion just a bit. Now, it was just very sweet and mineral. Thicker now in the front of the mouth, and my wife said that she felt a little vibration or tingling near the front of her mouth. More heat coming on in my body, and my forehead got a little sweaty.

After the fifth infusion, I was cooking. For me, this was a very warming tea. The tea continued to be thick in the mouth and remained sweet, mineral, and lightly roasted in taste. Even though this was stored in humid Xishuangbanna, it does not have any ripe earthy, damp characteristics. It’s clean as can be. For me, it much more closely resembles a milder roasted version of a da hong pao. This review makes two back to back reviews of raw puerhs that I’ve compared to oolongs. That’s not something I normally do, but I think it is appropriate here. If I were blind tasting this, I would guess it is a mild roasted oxidized oolong that isn’t green-leaning.

For an aged Yi Wu raw, this is a pretty good value. For Yi Wu fans, I think it could be a good daily drinker if you don’t mind the warming qi. I had to stop at five infusions, but will revisit this tea in the near future and see if I get similar results and will extend the infusions to see how it changes in later steeps.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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85

I ordered a 25 gram sample of this 2018 raw. When I opened the foil bag, I found a nice unbroken outside edge of a beeng. When I smelled the dry piece of cake, I would have sworn I was smelling a tie guan yin oolong. It was floral and had some bright sweet aroma. The bright sweet notes could be described as fruity or could be interpreted as something like a light sweet honey such as sourwood or locust tree honey. Sweet and sticky is what comes to mind. There was some muted hay aroma but this was slight. Sweet and floral are the dominate aromas.

I did a quick rinse and the cake looked so clean I decided to drink the wash. I’m glad I did. The quick rinse produced a light sweet taste that was very much in-line with the tie guan yin smell of the dry leaves. The soft yellow tea soup was also very much like tie guan yin. The next infusion was kept short and again the tea produced a sweet floral oolong-like tea. For the third infusion, I let it go for 20 seconds. That was enough to bring out some bitterness. It also produced a very nice hui gan in this third infusion. Sweetness kept coming long after the slightly bitter tea was swallowed as well as a mouth watering sensation that lasted for minutes. For the remaining infusions, I drank this with dinner, and pushed it a little harder to bring out more flavor to better stand out against the meal I was eating. It will produce bitterness if steep times are extended, but with the bitterness, you get the nice hui gan. I went long, but did reduce the water temp to around 195 F.

If steep times are kept short, this raw puerh is surprisingly sweet and drinkable now, or if you don’t mind some bitterness and want a more intense experience, it works now. I would love to know how this one will age.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Orchid, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 70 ML
Togo

I also got a sample, can’t wait to try it myself :)

HaChaChaCha

That’s great. I’m looking forward to your experience with this tea, and the tasting notes you get from the tea.

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I took a break from my aged raw puerh marathon to give this tea a try. It sounded interesting when I read about it on Yunnan Sourcing, and I ordered three 100 gr cakes. One for testing and the other two for additional aging, though having now tasted the first cake, I’m not entirely sure additional aging will change or improve the tea. The “cake” is highly compressed. It’s in the shape of a cake, but it isn’t actually a cake. The compression is more like what we think of with tightly compressed bricks. The true shape is a puck. If you try the tea and don’t like it, you can always use it as a coaster under your sofa’s feet As you might expect, the first couple of rinses/infusions don’t yield much with this high of compression, but after it gets going, it brews up very dark even with fast infusions. Giving a rinse and letting it sit with the lid on after draining the pot helps immensely.

If I were blind tasting this, I would guess that it is a ripe. It has some of that flavor, but it also shares some similarities to a well-aged raw and it packs a punch in the caffeine department. Its lack of strong earthiness, barnyard, leaf pile taste make it taste different from many ripes. It’s very clean. There is some front of the mouth sweetness and it feels thick and viscous in the mouth. I don’t get any bitterness when drinking the tea, but the aftertaste has some bitterness. I tried pushing the tea early on to over a minute with boiling water, and it doesn’t change that much, so brewing parameters are not that much of a factor. There is a little back of throat feel for me after I have stopped drinking. There is very little fragrance to the tea soup or the wet leaves. I get a little dark chocolate scent from the wet leaves, but even that is light. The tea packs a punch like a can of Red Bull. Just a few 40 ml cups into the session, and I could feel the tea’s effect.

I’m on the fence on whether I would recommend it or not. It’s extremely clean, but it’s also (for me) one-dimensional. If one were wanting to try ripe puerh for the first time, it’s not a typical ripe, so I don’t think it would be the best introduction. If one had never had an aged raw, it could give a hint of that, but it’s not quite like the real thing, so is almost there good enough? If someone likes a smooth, thick, creamy, somewhat bland ripe, this might make a good daily for them. It could be that my aged raw marathon is influencing my review of this.

Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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