485 Tasting Notes

I got a sample of this tea a little while ago and just finished it off. Based on when I ordered it, I believe it to be the Winter 2016 crop. The leaves are vibrant and green, and the aroma from them is floral and buttery, with just a bit of a savory character to them.

The tea starts off with mostly vegetal flavors, kind of kale-ish with a buttery texture. The finish is more fruity or floral, and the tea has a mouthwatering sweetness. It is very easy to drink.

As the session went on, I found it getting more juicy and/or crisp, and the finish became more buttery. The tea went on and on and on, easily 16 steeps, maybe up to 20. It seemed like no matter how many times I steeped in in the last half of the session, it just kept on giving a nice and pleasant creamy flavor. Not as flavorful as earlier infusions, but very drinkable and tasty.

This is an awesome green TW oolong. I will definitely be ordering some when I make my next order from BTTC (hopefully soon!).

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Kale, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Didn’t realize this was an iron-pressed cake when I bought a sample of it. Those normally annoy me greatly, but this one wasn’t too bad. It took some work to chip a piece off the sample and then get that piece to break up in my gaiwan, but nowhere near as much as some of these other highly compressed cakes I’ve tried. The aroma after my rinsing didn’t please me too greatly – a bit leathery and acrid with a bit of a camphor-y aroma. Not damp or musty though.

The first steep was a little unpleasant – leathery, cloudy liquor, but there was some pleasant woodiness underneath which gave me hope for the rest of the session. The leaves also look a lot better than most highly compressed tea I’ve seen. Not too great of quality, but not absolutely lawn-mowered.

The rest of the session got better for sure. Mostly woody sweet notes, with maybe a bit of a floral touch in the early part. The texture was milky, but did not really fill my mouth, and the flavor did not linger a long time. I didn’t pick up any qi off of this one either.

Seems to be simple, decent tasting aged sheng. Not a lot going on though, so no chance that this would be a full-cake purchase for me.

Flavors: Leather, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
MadHatterTeaDrunk

Mmmmm, lawn mowed tea. :P

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Finished off my sample of this one western style. I didn’t take much of any detailed notes, just what I remember. The first cup was nice and rich, a bit of chocolate, malt, and honey. From this cup alone, I was convinced that Western Style was better for this tea than gongfu, but the rest of the session made me less sure. The tea dropped off a cliff both flavor and intensity-wise after that first steep. It was still good, but more of just a light honey sweetness like when I was brewing it gongfu. Even when I accidentally let the third steep go for nearly 30 minutes!

Seems to be a black tea on the lighter side of things. Easy sipping.

Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 6 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Just tried this one for the first time last night – I brewed it up gongfu. Pretty nice looking leaf. It smelled chocolatey and a bit malty when I sniffed the dry leaf. The flavor simple. Just got some honey sweetness and a bit of sweet malt. Pleasant though. No astringency or off-flavors or anything. I’m going to try to brew the second half of my sample Western-style and see if it yields anything more interesting for me.

Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I got a sample of this tea months ago in a reddit swap. Yellow tea is not something I have encountered a lot of – the only other one I’ve tried came from Teavana. This tea was pretty nice, but I had trouble describing the flavors I was tasting. The dry leaf had a slightly salty and sweet aroma, reminding me of pretzels and raisins, oddly enough. After they took a bath, they smelled buttery, grassy, and almost smoky for some reason.

The flavor started off light with some grassy notes and a sweet finish. The finishing sweetness intensified as the session went on, while the front of the sip became more of a dry grassy/straw flavor. I could not put my tongue on what exactly the sweetness reminded me of. Some things I wrote down included fruity, candy, cotton candy, and spiced cake (that was only on the last couple). I’m not sure what I would really compare it to, but it was a pretty strong sweetness. The texture was thicker than most green teas I drink, but didn’t really approach the viscosity some puerhs give to the brew.

One that I enjoyed drinking and am glad to have tried, but not anything which I need to buy more of. It also hasn’t really convinced me to go seeking out other yellow teas.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Fruity, Straw, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea tasted alright for the first few steeps. It was roasty, a bit chocolatey, and sweet. Sometimes it got a little bit sour, though that could have been because I put the whole 8g in my 100mL gaiwan. Halfway through the session there was a bit of a nutty flavor which developed as well. The tea started to die after around 6 or 7 steeps. I didn’t find it particularly interesting or fantastic tasting. It was alright, but there’s much better Da Hong Pao to be had.

Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g

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Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Sweet

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I was fortunate enough to get a sample of this tea (along with its “white wrapper” counterpart) in a swap with a kind and generous new teafriend. From the minimal amount of research I have done, it seems this is a coveted cake which has received a lot of positive press in the online puerh community, and is thus now sold out of many sources and goes for pretty incredibly high prices otherwise. I brewed this tea up at 1g/15mL, as I normally do with sheng. The dry leaves had a nutty (walnut) note to the aroma, with some light sweetness. After a rinse, the aroma was sweeter, but notes of leather and wood also emerged.

The first steep had a slight leathery note and was a little bit sharp or rough in the front of the sip. The finish was woody sweet, with what I thought was a hint of dark fruitiness – this huigan was long-lasting. I took my time between sips, as the flavor lingered for minutes at a time in my mouth. I started to feel a little bit of rising energy in my chest as I let the huigan play out after this steep. The texture was already pleasantly thick.

Any sharpnesss was gone for me in the next steep. It was sweet and woody, though a touch drying. Huigan was woody sweet and again lingered long after swallowing. I started to really feel the qi at this point – my arms felt simultaneously heavy and light.

The next steep was instantly mouthwatering, very sweet, and I was sure this time that there was a bit of fruitiness to the aftertaste. Not the bright, apricot fruitiness more common in young sheng, but a dark and deep fruity note that danced over my tongue and in my mouth. This steep was incredibly warming and started to make my mouth feel tingly and numb. The qi also moved its way up to my forehead, where I felt it sitting there.

The fourth steep had more of a dry woodiness with a sweet woody, nutty, and fruity character to the still powerful and lingering huigan. It reminded me slightly of the oakiness you get on the finish of oak-aged spirits or wine.

By the fifth steep, I was starting to feel a bit slower and fuzzy, less coordinated. I had to focus to not spill my tea all over the place. The flavors were much the same as the last steep, and they continued this way through around the twelfth steep. The qi continued to build for this whole period. It was a little bit difficult to carry on the conversations I was having with teafriends on Slack, and when I got up to use the restroom at one point, I remember feeling rather light and almost floaty.

Around the thirteenth steep, the flavor started to taper off. I squeezed out another five or six steeps, which still had good woody sweetness to them. As the flavor waned, so did the qi – I felt mostly normal by the end of the session, so it didn’t mess me up past when I was finished or anything like that.

Final Thoughts
This was an excellent session, probably the most pleasant and strong feeling qi of any sheng I’ve tried to this point, and the flavor was excellent as well. That said, it isn’t good enough to warrant the price of a full cake – I don’t really think there is any tea I would consider paying $1000+ (or $600 or whatever) for. If I was in a much different financial situation, then I would absolutely consider going for a cake(s) of this! I would definitely recommend people who are into sheng attempt to track down at least a sample of this tea.

Going into the session knowing what I did about this tea makes me wonder how much my mental state affected the session. If I went into sessions with other teas knowing that others (whose opinions I value) consider the tea to be a “face-melter” or to be known for strong qi, would I have similar experiences with them? How much of my opinion is colored by preconceptions going into a session? To be honest, at this point in my tea-journey, I’m certain that my experience is colored very much by my preconceptions. It makes me think I shouldn’t read up on teas before I try them, but of course how would I narrow down my options if I didn’t? Sampling every tea sold myself is obviously not feasible. This paragraph is kind of rambling, but I guess it’s just something I wondered about after having such an enjoyable session with this tea. Then again, whether enjoyment comes from your own experiences alone or your preconceptions (or both of course), it’s still enjoyment, right?

Flavors: Fruity, Leather, Nutty, Sweet, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Haveteawilltravel

I love this tea. It’s a fantastic bing. I’ve yet to try the yin.

Matu

I am a big fan of it as well and am looking forward to trying my little sample of the yin. :)

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I picked up a small sample of this with my first order from BTTC. It is one of the sweeter shengs I’ve tasted to this point. The dry leaf had a sweet and sugary aroma – it smelled like icing to me. After I rinsed it, the aroma became a little bit less sugary, boasting some sweet floral notes and a bit of a vegetal scent resembling kale.

The flavor was mostly green and floral sweetness. The first steep had a sweeter, almost caramel vibe to the finish, and for a few steeps there was the slightest hint of apricot to the finish. The texture was silky smooth, but not supremely thick. Bitterness was effectively nonexistent in this brew. I accidentally forgot about the tea at one point, allowing it to steep for ~5 minutes well before it was ready for such long steeps, and the resulting brew was decently bitter, but still quite drinkable. For most young sheng, that sort of steep would be undrinkable. With so little bitterness or body to this, I’m not sure it would age into anything of note, but it was a pleasant and easy drinker in its youth.

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Green, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is the first tea I got to sampling out of the recent Chawangshop group buy put together by Andresito. I was a little worried about it after reading Dr. Jim‘s tasting note, as I am not a big fan of really smoky teas. I sort of figured I’d try this one first and “get it out of the way” before moving on to some of Chawang’s other shengs. The dry leaves did indeed sport a bit of a smoky scent, along with straw and maybe some tobacco. After a rinse, the smoke aroma was more noticeable, I’d say at a moderate level, but I could also smell some sweeter notes underneath.

The first couple steeps were visually unattractive, being a bit cloudy. There definitely was a smokiness to the flavor, especially in the first 3-4 steeps, but it was not overpowering or gross. Instead of tasting mostly like smoke, the smokiness lent a savory layer to the tea’s flavor. The finish was slightly woody with a fast and sweet huigan (I think that’s exactly what it says in the tea’s description on the site, but it’s true). Steeped as carefully as one might normally brew a young sheng, bitterness was never an issue, though around the third steep, right as the smoke was starting to fade from the flavor, a bit of astringency started to build up in the front of the sip. It reached a peak around the fifth steep, and dropped off from there. I took this tea probably around twelve or thirteen steeps, and even near the end, it could punish with some bitterness if I accidentally let it infuse too long. That suggests it probably had a bit more to give than when I stopped it. The sweet finish and huigan lasted throughout as well.

I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. I didn’t find it too smoky, though the early steeps are not the most pleasant to my palate. This cake comes in at a very good price, and if others’ experience with the same tea in past years holds true, the smoke should be gone within just a couple years. I certainly believe that, based on the character of it in my sessions with this tea. I imagine it would age decently well, with the smoke contributing to a greater complexity of flavor, at least in the short(er) term.

Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
tanluwils

Nice review. This one wasn’t too smoky for me at all. Nicely robust tobacco/bitter base and good longevity.

Matu

Thanks! I agree – not too much smokiness and good flavor/longevity.

tanluwils

I think this tea is instructive to newbies in the young sheng puer world. Huigan is actually more important than initial flavor since it will stay with a tea through the aging process, whereas taste will evolve within just 6 months!

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Bio

A bit about myself: 22 years old, college grad (Double major in Anthropology and History). I plan to make a career of archaeology and hopefully travel (much of) the world in my days.

I enjoy many things aside from tea, including gaming, mixing cocktails, reading, watching anime, and painting miniatures.

My favorite type of tea is sheng puerh. Particularly younger stuff, if only because I haven’t gotten the chance to taste much of anything aged. I also really like oolong (Taiwanese, Wuyi, Dancong, etc.) and Japanese Green Teas. I do also enjoy most other kinds of tea, but they aren’t what I normally buy. I’m not a huge fan of shou puerh, black tea, or flavored blends, with few exceptions.

I really like interacting with the tea community, so if you ever want to talk or swap teas or anything, feel free to shoot me a message or something. Follow me and I’ll follow you back. Probably ;)

You might also see me on reddit as /u/Matuhg

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