Bitter End Xtra 2019 Laomane Bitter Varietal Raw Puer

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
Ingredients
Pu Erh Tea Leaves
Flavors
Apricot, banana, Bitter, Black Pepper, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Licorice, Metallic, Oak wood, Straw, Thick, Creamy, Earth, Sweet
Sold in
Bulk
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by TJ Elite
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 oz / 95 ml

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From Our Community

2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Bitter End Xtra is undoubtedly a high end tea. It gives almost neverending sessions and with passing years, it should brew even longer and display more complexity. Today I got 21 steeps (that would...” Read full tasting note
    95
  • “Lao Man’e is my favorite pu’er producing area, so I always jump at the opportunity to try a new production from there. Last year Bitterleaf only offered this bitter varietal loose; this time...” Read full tasting note

From Bitterleaf Teas

This tea will kick your ass. Now that we’ve established that, let’s move on.

Made from the bitter varietal of trees native to Laomane, this tea’s most dominant characteristic is its bitterness (surprise, surprise). However, it’s not a one trick pony. The material used is still excellent quality gushu, which displays a thick texture and array of flavours that still shine through.

While this tea is incredibly powerful (if you’re after body feeling/energy/chaqi, then look no further), it’s more enjoyable than most might expect. Compared to our 2018 version, this tea is slightly sweeter, likely due to extra picking of nearby “sweet” varietal trees. The differences between the varietals are often indiscernible for tea pickers, so consistency from one picking to another varies.

We highly recommend picking up this tea in conjunction with our Bitter End regular (sweet varietal), as well as Bittersweet huang pian in order to experience the full range of Laomane teas.

Picking window: March 29 – April 7

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2 Tasting Notes

95
503 tasting notes

Bitter End Xtra is undoubtedly a high end tea. It gives almost neverending sessions and with passing years, it should brew even longer and display more complexity. Today I got 21 steeps (that would be almost 300ml/g), but it is clear that one could push it even further.

The dry leaf aroma is fairly standard as far as young sheng goes – it is sweet and metallic with a strong dry grass character. After the rinse, I get the impression of a forest with a sort of cooling sensation. Over the course of the session, the aromas then become quite complex and elusive until they settle into a mix of fruits and flowers towards the end.

As expected, the tea is bitter, although not in any particularly negative way. The bitterness is far from overpowering. As TJ Elite mentions, it is not abrasive. I would say that there are two kinds present.

In the first quarter of the session, there is a fast grapefruit-like bitterness that subsides quickly. Other flavours include licorice root, straw, apricot pits, and beech wood, with some black pepper and grapefruit notes in the aftertaste. The liquor is very active in the mouth and there is no astringency whatsoever. The cha qi creeps up fairly slowly and at this point it is mostly energizing.

Later in the second quarter, there is a very long-lasting woody bitterness that can linger on for more than an hour after drinking. The texture is buttery and reaches peak viscosity. I also get a notable apple flavour around these steeps. They carry the strongest mind-numbing sensations accompanying the drinking. The effect of the tea seems much more meditative than before.

In the second half, bitter flavours recede, allowing other aspect to come to the fore. The third quarter of my today’s session was actually the most flavourful! Fruity and floral flavours dominate with notes such as banana and yellow beans. Mouthfeel is more on the oily side, although not as full-bodied anymore.

Around steep 16 is when some astringency finally appears. From then on, the flavours gradually weaken and the overall character becomes increasingly floral with no bitterness left.

Flavors: Apricot, banana, Bitter, Black Pepper, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Licorice, Metallic, Oak wood, Straw, Thick

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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98 tasting notes

Lao Man’e is my favorite pu’er producing area, so I always jump at the opportunity to try a new production from there. Last year Bitterleaf only offered this bitter varietal loose; this time they’ve gone ahead and pressed it into cakes. I used my standard parameters: seven grams, 100ml gaiwan, freshly boiled water, sub-five-second rinse, five-minute rest. As expected, the wash was strong, hella strong. Mineral, creamy. I followed up with a dozen infusions, the timing for these 5s, 4s, 5s 8s, 8s, 8s, 10s, 12s, 18s, 30s, 50s and 75s. The tea could have easily kept going, but I was well hydrated by that point and decided to call it there.

As you’d expect from a Lao Man’e, the tea is strong, with the characteristic grapefruit note present. There is certainly bitterness, but it does not persist and typically only last for a matter of seconds. Honestly, I would hardly describe this tea as bitter, while many factory productions, etc., I’d certainly characterize as hella bitter. But I might have a very different tolerance and affinity for bitterness than most, so you can certainly take that statement with a grain of salt.

This is one of the fruitier Lao Man’e I’ve tried, with minimal dryness or astringency and instead a juicy, salivating effect. While it is a very good representation of your typical Lao Man’e, it is at the same time one of the more unique ones I’ve had. It is both a lot creamier in the early steeps than I’m used to, later revealing a strong earthiness in the mid-to-late steeps. The bitterness does become increasingly prominent as the infusions progress, but this is countered by sweetness, creating an enjoyable dynamic.

The overall experience is surprisingly smooth for a Lao Man’e, having unexpected parallels to the Crimson Lotus “Danger Zone” which I reviewed recently. I finished up my sample at work and can say that this tea would make for a nice daily driver for me were it not for the price. And I say that as someone who does not like drinking the same tea more than once every month or two at most. The cha qi is also positive in nature, helping to energize you without being aggressive or too overbearing.

For a bitter varietal Lao Man’e, this one has a surprising amount of depth and isn’t boring or one dimensional like many of them can be. The bitterness is playful but not abrasive, which is exactly what you want to see. All in all a tea I can recommend and one that is in my view a vast improvement over last year’s Bitter End Xtra.

Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Earth, Fruity, Grapefruit, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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