647 Tasting Notes
Shou and black tea doesn’t sound like the weirdest combination, but I still wouldn’t expect it to turn out as well as this tea performs. It is fairly well integrated and balanced overall with more savoury character than a straight black tea would have.
Dry leaf aroma is an funny mix of fish, wooden cabinet, black cherry, and crickets. Throughout the session, the smell has some of more familiar notes from dian hong – malt and chocolate – as well as some notes of fireplace, hazelnuts, maple syrup, and grilled peach.
First infusion is fairly sweet and medium bodied with a creamy texture to it that is a staple of the session. The dominant flavours are in the neighborhood of chocolate and autumn leaf pile. Second steep is more woody with notes of corn syrup and peanuts. The next then brings the savoury and umami aspects, as well as a prominent nutty cocoa bean flavour and hints of cannabis.
The aftertaste is a little biting and this is where the shou character tends to take over the show somewhat. After a short while, the expected earthiness emerges, as well as some vanilla and hints of sour fermentation notes.
I really like the cha qi too, which is very relaxing and (body and soul) melting. I personally wouldn’t bet on this performing great if aged, but what do I know. In any case, it is a lovely tea to drink now.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Biting, Cannabis, Cherry, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fireplace, Fishy, Hazelnut, Malt, Maple Syrup, Nutty, Peach, Peanut, Sour, Sugar, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Wood
This Ta Fu Hou has a classic Dan Cong aroma that’s a mix of floral and stone fruit notes. Various flowers and parsnip emerge after the rinse, but it’s nothing fancy. In the empty cup, I can mostly detect wood and honey.
The taste is quite nice, but once again not overly complex. The profile is nutty, grainy and vegetal with notes of butter and honey. It is similar to a raw pu’er in a sense. The aftertaste is sickly sweet with alcohol-like burning sensation and a bitter bite that turns into lasting and more pleasant sweetness. There are also some malty and yeasty hints emerging over time.
The mouthfeel is bubbly and viscous, but with a lower surface tension that makes it fairly easy to drink, coupled with the fact that the astringency is not over-powering.
The most remarkable is the cha qi, however. It is very strong and heady at first. After a while a strong warming sensation spreads throughout the body as the tea makes its presence felt. It’s a good tea to get lost in your thoughts to.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Flowers, Grain, Honey, Malt, Nutty, Parsley, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vegetal, Yeast
My impression of this tea mostly parallels Nate’s review. This tea is as good as the best aged shengs I’ve tried thus far, but it is a tad more expensive than those. It also seems to lean a little more on the sour and fruity side of the spectrum. I actually found the mouthfeel to be quite nice – plump and colloidal – especially in the first half of the session. However, the most memorable aspect is the fast, introspective cha qi for sure.
The one thing I found lacking in comparison to some other teas at similar and higher prices was the fact that after steep 6 or so, the tea lost most of its dynamicism and the session became a bit dull. Also, don’t expect an immortal tea, one can push it to get about 300ml/g, but not really more than that.
The taste is sweet and tart throughout, with a leathery and woody undertones. There are notes of sea buckthorn juice, cumin, fireplace, oak and citrus zest. Aftertaste is very long-lasting and not overly sweet. Indeed, the sour flavours linger for quite a while.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fireplace, Fruity, Leather, Oak, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Wood
Over the last year or so, the tea has really come into its own. It has a lot of character and pungency in early steeps especially and carries a slick, creamy texture throughout. The mouthfeel is indeed quite engaging, which is underscores by the mildly abrasive finish. To be honest, the astringency is very well in control though. Today, I found the tea to be quite upsetting to my stomach, which is not something I generally experience, so that’s something one may have to take into account when drinking it.
The dry leaf fragrance is meadow-like, while wet leaves smell of freshly cut grass, sea, banana, nuts, green beans, and just a touch of peat. Taste is sweet, floral, and juicy initially. There is a decent umami as well as a thyme-like herbaceous aspect to it. The sweet vegetal notes remind me of green bell peppers and sugar snap pea. Aftertaste is mineral with a good huigan to it.
It’s a nice autumn tea that reminds me a little bit of Mengku tea at times due to its crispness and the high floral notes. It also lasts for a while, today I got 250ml/g without really pushing it.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp251kcTARY
Flavors: banana, Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Green Beans, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Honey, Marine, Mineral, Nutty, Peas, Peat, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick, Thyme, Umami, Vegetal
Even 4 years old, this tea still has a little bit of a youthful character to it. Nevertheless, the astringency seems to now appear only towards the end of the session and a lot of the floral notes are receding.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet with notes vanilla, cognac, definitely quite distinct from a fresh silver needle. After the rinse, it smells somewhat metallic. There are notes of thistles, dry earth, pumpkin and cape gooseberry.
The last one is prominent in the taste as well, especially in early steeps. One can still clearly detect basic hay and dry grass notes. However, there is also more fruitiness in the mostly sweet and sour flavour profile. Beyond that I get a light woody and spice (black pepper) flavours, as well as some hint of funky acidity. The aftertaste is a little bitter and carries a strong cooling sensation.
Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Brandy, Dry Grass, Earth, Fruity, Hay, Metallic, Pumpkin, Sour, Spicy, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla
I haven’t had many Ban Pen teas, so I was happy to get an opportunity to taste a fresh one with BLT adding 8 Ball to their 2020 line-up. It’s quite a masculine tea and not really my absolute favourite type of a profile. It is, however, distinct from most teas in my collection. Maybe the closest one would be Jiu Tai Po – a Jinggu tea with a similar bitter, grainy, and nutty character.
Objectively, this is undoubtedly a high quality tea. It is processed slightly on the greener side, as is quite common for Bu Lang sheng as far as I can tell. The huigan is very pronounced and the full-bodied liquor has a very soft and plump texture to it, coupled with a numbing and slightly abrasive sensation at the back of the mouth. The cha qi is creeping slowly, but ramps up to facilitate an all-encompassing peaceful state at its peak.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral with a hint of gasoline and dry earth. After the rinse, the smell is more nutty and grainy. The dominant notes I pick up are musk and fenugreek leaves, but there are many others too.
First steep is already quite pungent with a lot of breadth. It is mineral, nutty, and bitter with an underlying sweetness to it. Floral and vegetal aspects arrive soon, as well as a nice sour tinge. In the first part of the session, there are flavours such as sunflowers, chard, alcohol, various seeds, and hops – the latter especially in the aftertaste.
Going towards steeps 6-8, I get more bassy impression with more of a typical punchy and granular Bu Lang profile carrying a hint of tobacco. Some floral and dry grass flavours with nutty undertones return subsequently, such as acorn or eucalyptus. Some fruitiness reminiscent of quince comes to the fore around the 12th infusion too. The crisp aftertaste has consistently floral character to it, mixed in with some bourbon too, interestingly.
I end the session after about 18 steeps which is just short of 300ml/g, a pretty good longevity for a young tea. I can definitely recommend the tea to anyone interested in getting a solid tea that showcases a village that’s maybe not as commonly found on the western market as a couple of neighboring ones. I can’t speak to how representative it is, but I think one gets their money’s worth, just about.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Dry Grass, Earth, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Grain, Hops, Mineral, Nutty, Plants, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal, Whiskey
I don’t have much experience with young liu bao. This one strikes me as above average production with very good longevity and complexity, but time is going to be the judge of that ultimately.
At the moment, the dry leaves have a fairly strong fermentation aroma, which, after the rinse, turns into an earthy, woody and slightly sweet mix with a nice lichen note.
The taste is more savoury and medicinal than other liu bao I’ve had. It does have the characteristic earthy and nutty notes, as well as the woody sweetness to a lesser extent, but they don’t dominate the experience. On top, there is also an interesting floral kind of bitterness a bit in the way of endive and mint. Hints of dry wood smoke and honey can be also found underneath.
The liquor has a very smooth, creamy texture that has a palpable thickness to it and induces a faint numbing sensation. Aftertaste is dominated by woody sweetness that really comes to the fore over time.
Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Forest Floor, Honey, Medicinal, Mint, Moss, Nutty, Peat, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Wood
[Winter 2019 harvest, light roast]
A free sample with my recent order, this is a very respectable oolong that carries a lot of freshness and sweetness to it. It also has a very smooth, buttery texture and a mellow relaxing energy.
Upon starting the session, one is greeted with a sweet floral aroma of fruit orchard coupled with that of freshly cut grass. The taste is rather a touch more savoury and tart than the aroma would lead one to believe initially, but in the aftertaste a lot of caramel-like sweetness unravels along with a strong mineral feeling. Otherwise, there are flavours of fresh coconut / coconut water, orchid, grass, nectar, rosewater, mussels and blueberries to be found in this mixed bag of a tea.
I like it on all fronts, but ultimately it isn’t more than “real nice” in my book.
Flavors: Blueberry, Caramel, Coconut, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Marine, Mineral, Nectar, Orchid, Rose, Sweet, Tart, Umami
Today I had a lovely virtual tea session with an old friend of mine, who is actually the one who inspired to me to get into pu-erh in the first place. I brewed up this tea as it has been a while since I checked up on it.
I didn’t make any detailed notes, but the tea is performing great. It has quite a dark orange colour for such a young tea. During the peak of the session, the taste is pungent, nutty and sweet with sugarcane finish and some high florals. Towards the end, more subtle fruity notes raise to prominence instead.
The aroma is reminiscent of forest floor, moss, and mushrooms in the middle. However, an unexpected and persistent raspberry scent comes forward subsequently. That was a real surprise to me an gave the end of the session a nice twist.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Forest Floor, Fruity, Nutty, Raspberry, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet, Thick
I had a pretty much the same impression of the tea as Nate described in his note. It is indeed a very clean and smooth tea with mostly woody character. Brewing the whole 10g in a 150ml gaiwan gave about 20 infusions, which was a lot to drink in one day, but at least it was the only tea today for me.
The aroma is comforting. It reminds me of wooden cabins, moss a lot, to a lesser extent also dungeons and apricot pie. Taste is sweet and woody with notes of cedar, forest floor, fireplace, and a camphor-like finish. Towards the second half of the session, I also found notes of sourdough, nuts, earth and garlic. Liquor has a medium body and a slick, slightly metallic texture.
Flavors: Ash, Camphor, Cedar, Earth, Fireplace, Forest Floor, Metallic, Moss, Nutty, Smooth, Wood