143 Tasting Notes

Dry leaves are intact and fragrant and brewed leaves are olive green with an orchid-like fragrance. The tea liquid is a cloudy pale yellow and is thick in body. This tea is sweet, vegetal, flowery, medicinal, and packs a strong qi. It leaves a long gentle sweet finish and a pleasing sensation in the throat. Definitely for those looking for a sweeter tea.

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One of the joys of pu’er is exploring the various terroirs of Yunnan. Hekai is right in the middle of all those regions in Menghai county that tend to be overpriced, and perhaps even over harvested. This tea seems to defy all of that—it’s inexpensive relative to 2015’s maocha prices (still at $36 for 200 g!) and quite pungent. Really, Hekai is where you can get the pu’er version of quality dry chardonnay.

The leaves on this cake are mostly highly fragrant, silvery plump buds. The aroma is dynamic and evolves with each steep—making it hard to place initially (perhaps sweet pistachio?). Around the 5th steep I smelled roasted peanuts. This is wonderfully full-bodied with a pleasurable mouthfeel, potent qi, nice huigan, and a bittersweet, dry chardonnay-like aftertaste that stays for quite some time.

Key flavors are cotton candy, moscato grapes, broccoli rabe and mustard greens, and in that order. It starts to fade at steep 7, but the leaves still give tasty cups of tea until they fade completely at steep 13 or so. What a great value!

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Thick, warming, and smooth, with notes of sweet forest floor, medicinal mushrooms, ripe plums, sandlewood, and a hint of smoke. The tea brews so dark and thick it’s practically shu pu’er—although with a lot more complexity. While I liked many of this tea’s qualities, the wetness of the tea was it’s biggest flaw, IMO. Too many of those mushroomy/fungal-like notes and sensations for my tastebuds. I think this tea would fare better with a few years of dry storage.

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Lately, I’ve been exploring affordable semi-aged teas and I’m quite happy with this one. It’s a great example of clean wet storage. Dried leaves are a dark purple tone and largely intact. Wet leaves have a sweet forest aroma after the rains. This is an easy-going tea. There are no off-putting flavors to speak of and the tea soup is clear and an attractive deep orange. It has a straight forward flavor profile of sweet forest floor(peat?), sandalwood, ripened plums and dried stonefruits. It’s very smooth, warming, has good energy, and develops just enough astringency (accompanied with fruity sweetness) in later steeps to keep the drinker’s attention.

Having had sessions with this tea before and after it’s acclimatized, using a gaiwan and nixing teapot, I’ve come to appreciate its reliability—which I attribute to well-sourced leaf and careful storage. Now that it’s lost some of that initial awkward storage flavor/scent (smoky/stewed prunes..yuck), I can enjoy it on a regular basis!

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What a gu shu this is! Thiiiiick body, active/pleasurable mouthfeel, powerful aftertaste, and impressive qi that had me tea drunk after the 3rd steep and does not give way until the 10th or so steep. The kuwei is excellent—turning into a complex bitter/floral huigan that expands to all corners of the mouth and throat, and remains long after the tea is drunk.

Unlike the 2013 version, there is virtually no smoke, so Mang Fei Shan tea’s characteristics are well showcased. Initial 2 steeps are surprisingly sweet with notes of raw honey and sugar cane, but are then followed by those infamous whisky-like astringent notes, sandalwood, and tobacco. This is a nice contrast to the more gentle shengs I’ve recently acquired. Should be fun to see how this evolves.

mrmopar

The 2009 is a good one as well. I tend to like these Bulang and Mang Fei and Lao Man E’s that I have tried. I like the bitter hit.

tanluwils

Fortunately, I can still afford Mang fei teas, at least for now. I haven’t fond any good Bulang teas in my price range yet.

mrmopar

The Guan Zi Zai from TU is a bit over $50.00 and YS has a 2013 Autumn in about the same price range. I think being close to Lao Ban Zhang has driven this terrior up in prices as well.

tanluwils

Have you tried the Ming Qian Chun Jian (Bulang Mountains 2008) from The Phoenix Collection?

mrmopar

Haven’t had that one yet.

JC

I need to buy some stuff from TU, but I haven’t got the money for now. I do have the Bulang from Phonenix Collection but you do have to consider that after 4-5 years, it is my storage you are tasting vs what they have.

tanluwils

JC, thanks for the note. I would like to try it for my own tea edification, if anything. Do you have your original notes from when you first tried it? I’m curious how it’s evolved since then.

I’ve also hit my annual budget hard as well after my last purchase, but you were right to suggest to purchase more of the huangshan before prices went up. I don’t regret my decision.

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This tea has received lots of attention, and rightfully so. It’s probably the most interesting teas I’ve purchased so far. I imagine this is what semi-aged raw pu’er tasted like before the advent over picking and of heavy fertilizers. The leaves are intact, have a dried fruit scent and when brewed release a pungent sugar cane/honeyed/high floral fragrance.

The first few steeps are bring up well-ripened black plums, pungent floral sweetness, brown sugar, minerals, sweet hay, and prominent menthol. The cooling effects are quite pronounced and very pleasant in the mouth. My friend who never had pu’er tried this with me. She and I both felt an uplifting energy spread from our mouth, inducing a very relaxed feeling (tea drunkenness). I used about 5.5 g for 100 ml of water—the tea leaves still release sweet fruity notes and a very long aftertaste accompanied by that pleasant cooling sensation in the mouth.

I’ve had this for about 1 year and there seem be increased fruit notes. I brewed this using a gaiwan, yixing, and nixing teapot and the aftertaste seems more enhanced with the nixing, whereas the yixing brings out more of the high-floral aromas. Considering the strength, unique character, and longevity of this tea, claims of wild tea trees origins don’t seem too far fetched.

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I’ve been sampling various teas today, but this one puts them in their place. So many good qualities I don’t know where to start! The dry leaves have an enticing floral scent which becomes more pronounced after the rinse. Initial steeps have an intense honeysuckle sweetness and notes of arugula, pistachio, and mustard greens. This one is very active in the mouth—-I noticed an interesting peppery spiciness. Very nice mouthfeel, lasting huigan, and body feel that continues through the steeps.

Its flavor profile reminds me of the 2015 YS Huang Shan Gu Shu, but I picked up some key differences. Structurally, the Da Qing has more up-front qi that moves upwards to my head whereas the Huang Shan’s qi settles and moves down to my core. Da Qing has more peppery spice whereas the Huang Shan is cooling/numbing and possesses more body, as well.

My cheeks feel flushed and my body is relaxed…almost to the point of feeling indifferent about the pile of work due tomorrow night. Almost.

Rasseru

I liked both these gu shu as well. Really nice stuff isnt it

tanluwils

It’s interesting to compare these two teas. I would purchase a cake had I not already grabbed a few HS cakes prior to trying the sample, but I think I made the right choice. Beyond taste, the underlying characteristics of the HS are more suited to my tastes.

jschergen

Nice review. I agree with your comparison.. I also opted for the HS but am quite fond of both. Had more of a stable base/body.

kevdog19

Huang Shan was eye-opening for me… I don’t look at the Da Qing with as much excitement or interest. Great review!

tanluwils

The HS and DQ both bring me to my happy place. Seriously, hats off to Scott for his pressings. They cover a wide geographic range and are by far the best value/$. He really does go off the beaten path to find these delectable hidden treasures.

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This is a powerful and aromatic tea layered with sweet fruity notes. It’s obvious after the first rinse that these are well-sourced and expertly-processed leaves. The dry and wet leaves are large, intact, and highly aromatic. Early steeps are of classic dried fruit/sugar plum, sweet hay, and a very subtle smokiness that accents the floral notes rather nicely. The tea then becomes more juicy in the way oolongs can be. It has that sweetness and texture of a well-ripened black plum.

There are strong floral notes in the huigan, very pleasurable mouthfeel, consistent body, and expansive energy. These qualities never fall flat, which lead me to believe the leaves were picked from older trees. The aroma of the empty cup is impressive.

It’s hit the 10-year mark, but dry storage has allowed the tea to retain those high floral notes and dark olive green tinge in some of its leaves. I’d say it’s cross between EoT’s 2006 Wild Peacock and Finepuer’s 2009 Wild Raw DaXueShan from Yong De. After steep 6, it reveals more juicy fruit notes and just enough bitterness to add interest. It’s a very easy drinker.

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Purchasing from different vendors has taught me about my storage preferences. I’ve had several sessions with EoT’s 2012 Qi Sheng Gu, 2012 Bao Tang, 2014 Long Lan Xu 2006 Wild Peacock, and their 2000 Green Peacock. They all share the similar aroma and strong initial flavor of smoky prune in their first 3 steeps. I’m not a fan. I can only assume this is a storage issue since the affects are the same across teas. This is unfortunate, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about EoT.

The tea soup starts out cloudy orange and gradually transitions to yellow, which I find interesting. The smoky prune aroma is a turn off and only begins to recede after the 5th steep when the leaves release a tingly/numbing sensation and subdued floral notes I associate with 2015 YS Bang Dong and some YS Jinggu teas. I’m a big fan of this characteristic.

I’m annoyed by the fact that the storage has dominated the flavor and overall experience of what is probably a lovely tea (and other EoT teas), so far. I hope to return to this tasting note with positive edits.

The Essence of Tea

Strange… the Wild Peacock and Green Peacock come from different places and have had different storage from the other teas. Maybe there’s one with this flavour that has influenced the others while being shipped to you, or maybe the flavour is coming from elsewhere in your tea brewing. Try airing them our for a week or two and see if it helps.

tanluwils

I initially suspected the Wild Peacock is responsible for this effect, but since the samples are sealed I suspect there is another unknown variable at play. I find I’ve been storing them separately for a few weeks now and that initial smoky aroma/flavor is just starting to wane. I’m happy with structure of this tea after the 5-6th steep, so I hope that comes to the fore as the storage smell/flavors dissipate.

mrmopar

Keep us updated as I have the Wild Peacock and another on the way.

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Shout out to Honza for including a sample of this in my last order. The other two Chawangpu cakes (Mengsong and Hekai) tasted a bit off due to shipping and the dry DC winter, but this sample doesn’t seem to be affected by its transcontinental trip or the environment.

The dry leaf came as one whole tightly compressed chunk and smelled like charred sandalwood with subtle hints of fruit. The wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of a smoky yesheng purple tea varietal without being overly so and with more sweet grass in the background. The leaves are mostly small and only somewhat broken due to my poor prying efforts.

Flavors:
Initial steeps are much brighter, lively, and savory than I expected. The smoke, though still there, moves to the background after the 3rd steep revealing classical pu’er flavors of camphor (some have interpreted as gasoline), dried fruit, sandalwood, sweet peas/grass, and other sharp savory/floral notes I associate with an unmanaged tea garden.

Sensations/textures:
The tea soup is very pure, bright, nicely thick, and oily. Good Bulang energy that stays in my chest instead of my head which I like very much. Not much in the way of mouthfeel, but pleasant savory/borderline floral aftertaste.

It’s a comforting tea. Not impressive, yet it’s hard to explain why I this tea as much as I do. It’s certainly worthy of drinking now or aging. Here, the smoky hint is actually comforting and interesting. If the price stays this low, I may just add this to my next purchase from Chawangshop.

Addendum: 9 steeps later, the tea leaves are still flavorful with good strong energy. I’m only now noticing the mouthfeel and cooling/tingling sensation that accompanies the huigan. This is good base material.

Ludovitche

As far as my sample went, the smoke taste never went away, no matter how many steep !
It’s a good tea only if you like smoky taste :)

But I do agree that the energy from this tea is in the right place.

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Bio

My ever expanding list of obsessions, passions, and hobbies:

Tea, cooking, hiking, plants, East Asian ceramics, fine art, Chinese and Central Asian history, environmental sustainability, traveling, foreign languages, meditation, health, animals, spirituality and philosophy.

I drink:
young sheng pu’er
green tea
roasted oolongs
aged sheng pu’er
heicha
shu pu’er
herbal teas (not sweetened)

==

Personal brewing methods:

Use good mineral water – Filter DC’s poor-quality water, then boil it using maifan stones to reintroduce minerals。 Leaf to water ratios (depends on the tea)
- pu’er: 5-7 g for 100 ml
(I usually a gaiwan for very young sheng.)
- green tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- oolong: 5-7 g for 100 ml
- white tea: 2-4 g for 100 ml
- heicha: 5-6 g for 100 ml
(I occasionally boil fu cha a over stovetop for a very rich and comforting brew.)

Location

Washington, DC

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