143 Tasting Notes
In recent years, there’s been a bit of noise around liu bao on the online tea universe. For those who have never had, it’s quite similar to shu pu’er, but still quite distinct. The “golden flowers”, aka good mold that this genre – heicha – is known for, was a turn off for me at first, as I thought it was either a marketing ploy for poorly stored tea. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s a good thing and their growth is natural and intentionally triggered. There’s plenty of literature out there for those interested.
I’m an openminded guy, so I ordered a sample without expectations. This is not a pretty tea, BUT it has grown on me fast. Dried tea chunks smell like old furniture, which makes sense for 16 years old leaves. Wet leaves smell of wet leather. Interesting.
The tea soup is an aesthetically pleasing reddish hue and very clear. The initial steeps are thick, lively, complex, and almost spicy. Lots of wood notes, leather, and hints of paprika that linger on the tongue. It looks and tastes clean. Especially after airing it out. 5 g will yield about 9 steeps, depending on how you brew of course.
This one is very comfortable going down, yet still interesting on the palate. I ended up purchasing more. I find airing out the tea upon arrival for a week or so will help it settle, improve sweetness, and produce a cleaner taste.
This sample has been lying around unsealed my tupperware pumidor for over 1 year. I’m not the biggest fan of blends, as I am sort of a purist. I also don’t purchase autumn harvests, but here we are.
The leaves came apart from the bing chunk without much effort. It’s practically maocha. They have a strong dried apricot and peach fragrance after the rinse. The leaves are quite long and thick and some are still slightly olive toned. The tea liquor is a deep gold with an orange-like hue. Very clear.
First few steeps are much fruiter in the front than I expected — some honey, wood notes, and quince jam. At first, this seemed like it would be a sweet autumn tea (yawn), but by the 5th or so steep there is healthy, refreshing bitterness that rings in the back the tongue and lingers for a while. I liked where this is going.
There isn’t much body at all. Instead, the tea has good qi and a remarkable warming affect I feel coming from my solar plexus. It’s a dynamic little tea.
Multiple roastings combined with well-sourced leaves make for a complex and well structured tea. The tea is very present in the back of the throat and solar plexus.
Nice subtly sweet granite/mineral base, complex cedar notes, and layered depth similar to wild blueberries, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and roasted grains. Later steeps reveal more floral and fruity notes.
I’ve had only a few teas like this, but for a much higher price, so I definitely intend on grabbing another bag of this one.
This came with a few other yanchas from Wuyi Rock Tea Factory (don’t know why the first person added the “shan”, but there you have it). Skyping regularly with Cindy has given me a better idea of her wealth of experience gained from her family’s multi-generation tea making business in Wuyi. It’s also allowed me to continue to practice Mandarin – a rare opportunity in my current weekly routine!
This is my first Qi Lan. Her yanchas are grown exclusively in either the Banyan or Zhengyan areas. It’s highly floral yet subtle in its crystalline rock/mineral sweetness. The roasted notes are still there, but will fade in a year. The taste is pure and quite straightforward. There is a thick body and depth to this tea. It has good clarity and a certain cleanliness, not just in the glass pitcher but also in the mouth.
It goes for 6 to 7 flavorful infusions, but could go a bit more had I added more leaf (this time just 5.5ish grams). There are no prices listed on Cindy’s website, but if you contact her yourself she’ll give you a good price. That might not be some folks’ do business, but that’s how it’s done in China.
This is very young tea, but a good one that’s easy on the stomach yet not compromising on qi. Yeah, I’ve been knocked out since the 2nd steep. The tea liquor is as clear as golden citrin and the leaves are mostly large and dark olive green. They have a high floral fragrance which remains present in the empty cup.
Early steeps are syrupy and dominated by honeysuckle, irises, and daisies. The lingering mouthfeel is outstanding and the huigan has a cooling element to it too in the back of the mouth. Somewhere midway, high florals are accompanied by acorn, bitter dandelion greens, spicy raw Brussel’s sprouts, and smoky mustard greens. This is reflected in the aroma as well.
Here, mouthfeel, huigan, and qi increase in potency. My cheeks are flushed and my entire mouth cavity is pulsating with peppercorns in the back, floral intensity (sweet, bitter, and spicy at once) on the sides and the top, and qi in my head and spine. The tea remains stable even passed the 10th steep. Earlier I found mid to later steeps too vegetal for my liking, but the tea is settling nicely, as these green notes develop and add to its complexity.
This is just what I needed after a long day of work and slightly chaotic domestic situation. I don’t regret this purchase. Not one bit.
This is the first Shui Xian Wuyi I’ve had. I thought I would do this right by grabbing a sample that is claimed to be sourced from Jiulongke, a small patch of tea gardens within the Zheng Yan scenic area. I’m still learning about Wuyi teas, but I have had true cliff Wuyi oolong before and this one seems to share some their characteristics.
These are large black, intact leaves that are highly floral after the rinse. I can’t recall any Wuyi with such a strong floral aroma. The first few infusions are thiiiiiiiiiick, smooth, and powerful. Very nice qi and strong mouthfeel that forces me to recline as I slowly sip. All the typical Shui Xian notes of prominent umami-like florals, cannabis, roasted barley, and sweet minerals (reminiscent of MSG) that cover the entire mouth almost like toothpaste. This sweet mineral note and strong mouthfeel linger for a some time after drinking.
This one goes strong until steep 8 or so. While it’s already enjoyable now, waiting at least a year or more for the flavors and textures to develop would pay this tea the respect it deserves and heighten the drinking experience. I could see this resulting in a richer tea liquid with some sweeter fruit notes.
The poundcake is the young pop star of pu’er in the West for obvious reasons. I’m not one to embrace trends, but I’ve been curious what all the hype was about. This is my second session with this tea. The attractive long dried leaves have a sweet sugary/grassy scent which is enhaced with a spash of ripened passion and mango aromas after the first rinse. What’s not to like?
Steeps are consistently vibrant and active in the mouth with some throat action going on there too. This one has a nice buzzing qi that grabs my attention. Typically expert processing here: mercifully light compression respecting leaf integrity; pure and clean tea liquor and taste; and no burnt specks to be found. Tropical fruits, sweet florals, and milky oolong continue into later steeps with just a hint of astringency.
There’s a metallic finish (all too prolific in W2T’s shengs) at the roof and back of my mouth that takes points off in my book. This can be overcome with more dynamic flavor characteristics, which isn’t the case here considering the softer profile and lack of edge of this tea.
I can see why this would be attractive to beginners with a decent tea budget, but having tried at least 5 of W2T’s Yiwu-like shengs, I find myself unwilling to put up the cash for this xiao bing. Instead, I chose to pay $15 more for their 357 g 2009 Yiwu Gushu Bing, I suspect shared very similar characteristics in its youth.
This one deserves another review. Sampling this one that had undergone mrmopar’s storage motivated me to order an entire cake to air out in my pumi for a few years. My other cakes have responded well to my plastic container storage, so I figure why not.
Upon smelling the wrapper, I knew I wouldn’t have to wait at all. Perhaps having had over 2 full years to acclimate in Malaysia has resolved the issues I had with the storage smell of EoT’s sheng cakes. There’s nothing off putting here. Instead, the undesirable prune-like smells are replaced by soft cedar and dried fig notes in the aroma.
The tea vibrates in the mouth, leaving behind pleasurable and pronounced cooling and tingling sensations that spread in the mouth and throat, which lasts far into the later steeps. This is my favorite characteristic of this tea, and EoT believes this is enhanced by Malaysian storage. I don’t feel the qi on this tea as intensely as others do, but I do feel its clarifying and uplifting effects. It’s a young tea, but it already exhibits mid-aged notes of complex woods (cedar, sandalwood, oak), green apples, dried figs, cloves, and leather.
I’m happy to be able to finally enjoy this tea as it is.
Pretty good stuff. It has taken me to the next level of dancong scrumptiousness. These beautiful and delicate laves are smaller than I expected. After the first rinse, my nose is met with a complex and intoxicating aroma of ripened cherries, muscat grape skins, orchids, nutmeg, and juniper berries, among other tasty notes.
There’s a lot of mouth activity going on and a definitive structure to the tea. It’s pure and has a velvety texture. During the initial 3 or so steeps, I’m getting prominent muscat grape with perhaps a few orchids thrown in there. It leaves a floral sweetness and slightly numbing sensation on the tongue as it lingers.
After the 5th or so steep, sandalwood and sweet mineral notes take the stage while the florals and muscat linger the background. By now, the tea has filled my mouth with sweetness as well as tingling and drying sensations. With my typical leaf-to-water ratio, I’d say I can get at least 8 tasty steeps. Nice qi in this one too!
BigDaddy graciously had my wife and I join him for this session. This was a real treat. The dried leaves smell like velvety dark chocolate. True artistry went into the processing of these leaves. Wet leaves have a thick aroma of stewed peaches, milk chocolate, and roasted walnuts. It brewed a clear orange tea soup with a thick, velvety texture. I was impressed the aroma was carried over into the tea soup.
The initial steeps are highly floral and fruity with hints of maple, vanilla bean, and chocolate in the background. These background notes moved to the front, competing with the ripe peach, apricot, and floral notes for my attention. I could smell the fragrance while the tea sat in my mouth. Syrup-like viscosity continued with each steep without showing signs of waning until the 9th steep. This is something to set some time aside for and really savor.