77 Tasting Notes
Yunnan Sourcing lists this as a medium-high grade. The quality of the leaves was excellent, beautifully flat-pressed and long with most leaves arriving unbroken from China. I should add a test tube to my tea ware. Tall and small is how I would have preferred to prepare this. I brewed this in uncovered glass. The leaves quickly become flaccid as they absorb the water. I kept infusion times short initially, but did try a lower temperature infusion for a minute as an experiment. I prefer the shorter infusions.
The dry leaves have a wonderful smell. It is a fresh, green smell, but it is not a bright green smell like fresh cut grass. There is a dried fruit richness to the dry leaves aroma like sticky and sweet oxidized dehydrated apple slices. Upon wetting the leaves, the aroma was still green, but now leaned more toward seaweed. After a few seconds, a breathed deeply from the glass and was taken aback by a sulfurous aroma like that of a salt flat marsh at low tide. Thankfully, that dissipated quickly, and was not at all present in the taste.
The liquor was very pale. Flavor was delicate and light, sweet, a bit floral, lightly vegetal, but not to the point of being brothy. Using the short infusion times, I experienced no bitterness or astringency. I could not find the dried apple in the tasting that was present in the raw leaf smell, and that would make for a wonderful green tea.I will try this again with double the strength. Perhaps I just need more leaf to water to bring out the dried apple in the liquor.
Flavors: Apple, Dried Fruit, Floral, Garden Peas, Seaweed, Vegetal
I started my day with Anxi Hairy Crab Mao Xie Fujian oolong from Yunnan Sourcing, and I’m finishing with Taiwan Monkey Picked Tie Guan Yin oolong this afternoon from Teavivre. This came as a free sample with my order. Thank you, Teavivre. The anxi hairy crab is much like the morning. Quiet and still. Easy. The tie guan yin is more like the afternoon, bolder, a bit of smoke in the air. Upon opening the sealed envelope and smelling the dried, tightly rolled leaves, the leaves have a lightly roasted scent on top of the fresh green note. This tea is similar to the anxi hairy crab I had this morning. In that review, I said anxi hairy crab was like tie guan yin light. The first few infusions of this tie guan yin have the roasted note, giving it a slightly nutty, grainy flavor, but also still a green note and floral, as well. I prepared this in clay gong fu style with near boiling water with longer infusions starting at 30 seconds. Liquor is a beautiful yellow in glass cha hai. There is a touch of bitterness in the finish. I get no astringency. A nice lightly roasted tie guan yin.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Roasted nuts, Vegetal
Today, I decided to stay with my favorite tea, the oolongs. This morning, I had the Spring 2017 release of Anxi Hairy Crab Mao Xie Fujian tea from Yunnan Sourcing. This is a very delicate oolong. The freshest green notes of green tea have been tempered, but it is on the opposite end of the spectrum from a dark roasted oolong. Floral, vegetal, delicate, sweet. Liquor is palest yellow. Indeed hairs are floating on the top of my cup. I brewed this gong fu style in clay. I could use short or longer steeps, and it didn’t change the outcome to a large degree. After about the fifth infusion, it became slightly more vegetal. No bitterness. A lingering sweetness and wet mouth. No astringency. Similar to tie guan yin, but more delicate — tie guan yin light.
Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Vegetal
This is a nice, smooth, creamy, mellow ripe pu-erh. It was received as a free sample with my tea order, so thank you Teavivre. The sample included two generous pieces of tangerine skin. I brewed this gong fu style with an initial quick rinse, then a first infusion of 10 seconds. That produced a light, sweet, mild and mildly earthy liquor, light in color, and containing no detectable traces of citrus to my palate. The second infusion, I went for 30 secs, and this time the liquor is much darker. It is still very smooth and only very slightly bitter at the longer infusion time. I do get a very subtle hint of citrus in this second infusion, but I really do mean subtle. If I didn’t know it had tangerine and wasn’t looking for it, I probably would not have noticed it. The second infusion finishes sweet and leaves a somewhat thick coating in the mouth and on the lips. Only after 5 minutes does a small amount of astringency appear. I wonder if the tangerine was more present when it was younger. I can imagine a bit of fresh tangerine zest in this tea would be delicious, but alas, I have none on hand. Third infusion, I’m letting it steep for a minute with just off the boil water that was poured high directly onto the tangerine skin. Can you tell I’m wanting that tangerine note? :-) This pu-erh doesn’t mind being steeped longer. The third infusion is mellow. No bitterness at all, which surprised me. Caffeine content must be pretty high. It’s producing a nice feeling. Fourth infusion I pushed to 3 mins. Still smooth and mellow, no bitterness. I checked the fridge once more, and found a mandarin orange. I added a squeeze to my cup to see how it would change the tea. Interesting— it was readily absorbed into the overall tea flavor and did not stand out prominently, so perhaps the tangerine has been present all along, influencing the overall flavor, providing a touch of sweetness, but never becoming a prominent note. For anyone wanting to a try a ripe shou pu-erh, but is put off by mustiness, this one is a good one to try. If you were to do a couple of rinses first, you’d bypass the old library book found in some shou pu-erh.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Cocoa, Earth
The first tea to start my day. It is a beautiful tea, very fine leaves, beautiful golden color. Brewed gong fu style in a porcelain gaiwan. 1 rinse, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, etc at 180-190 degrees F. The wet leaves are fragrant with a sweet potato scent and chocolate malt. The wet leaves are copper colored and the liquor takes on this bright copper color. This tea has a long lingering aftertaste of chocolate. There is just barely a hint of bitterness. It’s very mild. There is a bit of chocolate covered raisins in the aftertaste, and something nutty or perhaps pastry-like. This tea pairs perfectly with a bite of Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Almond nut bar. It is so good together.
Flavors: Chocolate, Nutty, Pastries, Raisins, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
I had an opportunity to compare this Big Red Robe back to back with Amazon vendor GOARTEA. Everyone has their own personal preferences, but for me, there is no contest. This Big Red Robe is much smoother and more delicious. Even brewing it gong fu style with 30+ seconds steeps doesn’t introduce any bitterness. I could make this a daily drinker. It’s very good oolong.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample. This tea makes me say ha cha cha cha! A number of people have reviewed this tea, but I think it has continued to improve in the last couple of years. This sheng pu-erh recently passed a decade in age. Even at 11 years old, this sheng still has a somewhat green tea character. After a rinse, the leaves give off a fresh green tea smell. I can’t say I recall any smokey character to the tea, though I had read older reviews where smoke was detected. Maybe the smoke has mellowed out of the tea. I did this sheng pu-erh gong fu style with a couple of rinses sacrificed. I’m not a sheng pu-erh expert by any means, but this tea did offer some notes I think most people associate with shengs. Initial infusions were sweet, hay/grass green, and a little bitter. Later steeps introduced a distinct sour note. When I licked my lips a few seconds after a sip, I was surprised by just how sour it “felt” on my tongue. There was a bit of earthiness in the tea early on, but it was light, and it did not last long. I kept drinking this tea all day. Infusions grew mild, but always remained sweet and bitterness subsided. I experienced no astringency in this tea. The bitterness that was present was in balance with the tea. A few years back, I couldn’t imagine myself enjoying a tea with bitterness, but it works in these sheng pu-erhs. Initially, this tea packed a punch. It’ll wake you up and give your system a buzz.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Green, Hay, Sweet, Wood