139 Tasting Notes

I agree with RichD: sweet, simple & smooth. A good daily drinker.

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We thoroughly enjoyed this shou. So much so, we consumed two 500g cakes in short order.

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Rishi recommends gong-fu brewing 8-9g in 150-200ml @212F for 45 sec for the first 4 steeps.
Per Rishi: “Smooth and silky with a deep fermentation taste and sweet and malty notes.”

I can confirm smooth & malty. There’s no obvious acidity or bitterness. However, there’s astringency that persists on one’s tongue long after the cup is empty.

Unfortunately, it’s not sweet, rich, viscous, or full-bodied.

I’ve tried 210F & 30 sec. I’ve also tried my normal brewing parameters. It was ok, but nothing impressive.

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drank Pu-erh Tea Cake by Rishi Tea
139 tasting notes

Pot-brewed per package recommendations & also by my usual gung fu method.
Cert. Organic, but lacking in flavor. There are much better choices available in shou pu-erh.


Nice to “see” you again, looseTman!


Thanks ashmanra! I hope all is well for you, your family, & all our Steepster friends?
Do you have a current favorite shou? Thanks!


I have been neglecting almost all of my puerh lately, but I have a few samples I need to try. I might get to one of them tomorrow!


Thanks, I look forward to your new pu-erh tasting notes!

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I agree with Rich: 2018 Lucy is “…a little more complex.” “It tastes of bittersweet chocolate …” “Very smooth, and moderate caffeine.”

Like Code, we tasted a little astringency. For me, when it was noticeable, it was on the front portion of my tongue. Perhaps it’s related to the notes of bittersweet chocolate?

Overall, intermittent astringency aside, Lucy is rich, smooth and provides 6 full-bodied steeps, 2 moderately full-bodied, with the last 2 being lighter-bodied, but still enjoyable.

At the current $50 regular price, the $/gram ratio could be better – $50/250 g = $.20/g, as Lucy is a 250 g cake as opposed to the traditional 357 g or larger 500 g cakes. With our steeping method, https://steepster.com/looseTman, this works out to be $4/day unless it’s purchased on sale.


Nice to see you on here, been a while hope you both are safe and well.


Thanks mrmopar! Yes, we’re both are safe and well. We hope all is well with your family too?


Yeah, all good at the moment. Hope you both have been well.

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If your tap or well water has impurities that must be filtered out such as high levels of hardness, or iron that necessitate a water softener and you then wish to remove the sodium introduced by the softener (because you have high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure) or, if there are any number of contaminates, a reverse osmosis system is frequently necessary. However, RO water is not the best for brewing tea:

“Putting aside for a moment the influences on tea before it is dried and finished, tea also goes through a second “flavoring” process as you brew it and sip it. First, you have to consider the water you use, and take into account all the flavors it offers. Straight reverse-osmosis water is never recommended in tea brewing, because it is so pure that it tastes flat. If you use a spring water or filtered tap water, the flavor of this water will come through, contributing sweetness, texture, or in undesirable cases, metal and chemical traces to your tea. No matter what, you are “blending” your tea with a water that you hope will help bring out the best that the tea has to offer.”
Published on April 26th, 2012 by David Duckler

If an RO system is necessary for your residential water and you want to enjoy your tea without hauling bottled spring water, then you may wish to consider adding a re-mineralization filter after your RO system such as the Impact Alkaline to bring your TDS level into the following range:

“Water with 50 – 150 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS) or 1 to 3 grains hardness provides the best results, according to the Tea Association of the USA." http://www.teaandcoffee.net/0609/tea.htm

The TDS of our RO water before the remineralization filter, typically measures ~24 PPM.

We use a HM Digital: DM-2: In-Line Dual TDS Monitor (https://steepster.com/teaware/hm-digital/100243-dm-2-in-line-dual-tds-monitor) to monitor how much the Impact Alkaline is able to raise the TDS level of our reverse osmosis system. Today for example, the TDS level after the Impact Alkaline is 84 PPM, which puts us right in the middle of the 50 to 150 PPM range recommended by the Tea Association of the USA. I track this metric over time.

Please be advised, that a number of factors affect how much a remineralization filter like the Impact Alkaline will raise your TDS including: age of filter, water pressure, water temperature etc. As they say, “YMMV”.

Highly recommended based on the taste of both our water and our tea.


Good to “see” you, looseteaman!


Thanks ashmanra! Hope you & your family are well.


Hey old friend. How are you guys? You plant that garden again? We are getting ours in finally. Weather has been unpredictable it seems.


It’s good to see you too! We’re alive & kicking! Yes, garden in progress, now 2x size – thus, I’m a little behind. Still enjoying shou every morning. Always looking for good shou at a reasonable cost.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
139 tasting notes

Even though I haven’t posted a review in quite a while, we’re still enjoy gung-fu Pu-erh (mostly Shou, some Sheng) every morning.

Today is something different, something special, something so special, I had to post a review. We’re enjoying our very last mugs of 2006 Special Dark using TheTeaFairy’s Western brewing method. 1 Tbsp. (5g) / 10oz / 212 / rinse / 5 min.

Rich, smooth, dark, warm, velvety, full-bodied, chocolatey, & relaxing – just perfect!

Zero bitterness, acidity, astringency, or any hint of fermentation flavor (as you’d expect in a 14 yr-old Shou) – just absolutely perfect!

Unfortunately, it’s N.L.A.( no longer available) & our bag is now empty :-(( – the end of an Era! God bless Garret & the wonderful Chinese people who grew it & made it!

Garret, any chance of S.D. 2.0?

Flavors: Dark Chocolate

Boiling 5 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

Good to “see” you, back, looseTman! Hope you and your wife are doing well!


Yes, it’s great to see Steepster olds show back up! And good to see you’re still enjoying tea even if you’re not posting about it.


Thanks ashmanra! We’re reasonably-well and extremely greatful not to have CoVid-19 like some of our fellow tea-lovers in China. We hope you & your family are also well.


Thanks tea-sipper! A day w/o good pu, is like a day w/o sunshine!

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Courtesy of an exceptional friend, we’ve tasted this 10-yr old shou twice. Briefly, we agree with Rich, this is a much lighter shou compared to most other Menghai Dayi shou.

“Hou Pu” (thick pu-erh) appears to be a complete misnomer! If you’re looking for a full-bodied, thick, rich, breakfast shou, Dayi offers several other choices.

Hou Pu is dark, smooth, and pleasant without any astringency or bitterness. It also provides a noticeable relaxing qi. And since this is a decade-old shou, there isn’t any hint of fermentation flavor. This unique shou would be a good choice as an afternoon tea when one has time to notice and enjoy the subtleties of this very refined ripe pu-erh.

9.2g / 205° / 60s preheat/ 60s warm / 10s rinse / 20m rest/ 5s /10/20/30/40/60/120/240 every two steeps combined. This session produced six reasonable steeps instead of 8 as with most other Dayi shou. I would recommend more leaf. Perhaps this is why Hou Pu is only available in a 500g cake?

9 g

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Thanks to a wonderful Steepster friend for sending us a sample of this very enjoyable young shou that we had for breakfast yesterday.

YS descibes Green Miricle as:
“Don’t let the tippy appearance lure you into thinking this tea is soft and sweet. It has some of that, but more as a returning taste. The upfront feeling and taste is bitter, thick and pungent.”

Very briefly, I think this is quite an accurate description. The upfront feeling and taste is amazingly thick and pungent despite its young age! To my palate, the sense of bitter was not as apparent. I also didn’t notice any obvious astringency or fishiness despite its youth.

This is a suprising young shou that’s bold and invigorating enough for that all important morning cup of motivation. I’m very glad I ordered a cake during YS’s recent shou sale just based on the very positive Steepster comments.
Well done Scott!

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Courtesy of a exceptionally kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this 13-yr old shou.

Color – Chocolate brown
Fragrance – Very faint
- Warmed leaves – Damp wet leaves
- Rinsed (10s) leaf – composted top soil
- Post 20-min rest – sweet fine pipe tobacco
- Brewed – Mild pu-erh aroma
Liqueur – Amber, initally a little cloudy

Taste – As one would expect with a 13-yr old brick, there wasn’t any bitterness, acidity, fishiness or funk.

It’s likely that I got off on the wrong foot with the Old Youle Brick by following the brewing parameters that have worked so well with many varieties of Menghai Dayi shou.

My first clue should have been immediately after the 20-min rest. I normally use a cocktail fork to loosen up the warmed wet leaves. Typically, this requires very little effort. In this case it wasn’t so easy. In fact, when I broke the chunk open, it was still dry on the inside. Since this was to be our first caffeine of the morning, no red flags occurred to me.

I typically don’t read other tasting notes before tasting a new tea, so as not to potentially color my impressions. Clearly, when trying a new (non-Dayi) shou, I need to check the Steepster recommended brewing parameters first.

Initially with a 10s steep, it was thin, flat, astringent and woody. The 2nd-round was very similar but improved to medium-body. By the third round, it was more mellow, but still woodie at the end of the sip. As I remember, there was a persistent woody aftertaste. (However, I didn’t make a note about this specific point.) Since woodiness isn’t a flavor I appreciate in shou, I lost interest in going any further.

Flavor profile: wood, bark

Impression – Since the brewing parameters used apparently weren’t a good match for this shou, I don’t think I can offer an accurate impression.

17.7g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 10s rinse / 20 min rest / every 2 steeps combined: 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30

18 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

Question: I noticed that stems were included in this shou brick. Are stems likely to contribute to a woody flavor? Thanks!


That is a good possibility. Sometimes the tea can look a bit rough.

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My wife and I enjoy shou that:
- is Full-bodied, thick, rich, creamy smooth
- produces a full-mouth feeling with a long pleasing finish
- w/o obvious acidity, astringency, or bitterness
- Retains this profile & is complex enough to enjoy for multiple steeps

Notes of interest:
- natural rich chocolate (as opposed to too bittersweet cocoa)
- honey, caramel, stone fruits, sweet potato, barley, fresh baked bread

Notes not of interest: Floral, vegetal, woody.

Cost-effective organic teas or teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit EUROFINS are greatly appreciated. Many people drink tea for the anti-oxidant health benefits. So why would health conscious tea lovers drink tea that contains pesticide residues?

Complete steeping instructions on the bag are greatly appreciated:
tsp. (g) / oz. / temp. / rinse? / min. for both Western & Gongfu brewing.

Our recent orders have been from: Yunnan Sourcing, King Tea Mall, Whispering Pines, & Arbor Teas. Kudos to them as they have all been extremely helpful.

Our cupboard doesn’t include the many greatly appreciated samples generously provided by Steepsters’s favorite tea suppliers and by several very kind Steepster members.

Current Gogng Fu Brewing Method:
20g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 5s rinse / 5 min rest / 5s / 5 / 7 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 /30 / 45 / 60. Every two steeps combined in a sharing pitcher.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/176233#comments.

#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with an Impact Alkaline re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO: https://www.afwfilters.com/drinking-ro-systems/6-stage-alkaline-zoi-zeta-reverse-osmosis-system-16.html
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Impact Alkaline Filter
All filters made in USA & NSF-Certified.
- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-2 TDS meter

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.


Mid-Atlantic, USA

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