123 Tasting Notes

The infamous Golden Needle White Lotus. I acquired a cake of this a while back through Yunnan Sourcing and after giving it a few months to sit in my pumidor I finally decided to give it a taste. The cake is very similar to the Yong De Blue Label I reviewed a while back in that it consisting of predominantly very small grade leaves the bing feels like it’s going to come apart at any moment, and thus the bottom of the wrapper was covered in a record amount of loose leaves.

I prepared a fairly standard amount of 11.3g in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot and after a brief 10s rinse and a 10 minute rest I got to brewing. I did a total of eight steeps, for 12s, 12s, 12s, 18s, 25s, 48s, 90s and 2 min. 30s according to my mental clock. The smell of the cake, the dry leaves in a hot teapot and the wet leaves after the rinse were all extremely classic examples of a typical shu pu’er. The rinse liquor, however, had something atypical about it. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was interesting.

The first infusion brewed a cloudy reddish brown, like muddy lake water. It was a strong steep, with a dominant earthy character and a grainy texture. Some might say it tasted like muddy lake water. There was no sweetness. The next infusion brewed darker as is to be expected. There was less earth now, a hint of chocolate in the background, and the tiniest amount of sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea. Overall the second steep had a rounder, more balanced taste. The tea was still very strong, but a nudge below the first one.

The third steep was even darker reddish brown, but not even remotely close to black as I’d expected from such small leaf grade. The strength ended up being weaker than the last two, however, because I flubbed trying to extend the steeping time by a couple seconds and the infusions ended up being about the same time. But it wasn’t weak by any means, just weaker in comparison. The tea had a very distinct flavor of coffee, one that has stood on a hot plate for a while and then cooled a bit before drinking, but without the bitterness. The taste of coffee was especially noticeable in the aftertaste.

The fourth brew produced a clearer, less dark liquor with most of the cloudiness now gone. I was getting a very typical shu pu’er flavor now, with maybe a hint more sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea still. For the first time, and I think for the only time, there was now maybe a bit of body. I was disappointed at first by the sudden super generic flavor, but in the end the infusion wasn’t bad actually. As I was sipping the next steep and noting the flavor dropping off a tad, I recalled that I learned from brewing the Yong De Blue Label that I need to extend the steeping times much more aggressively with these really small grade ripes. There was nothing noteworthy about the steep itself. It was similar in flavor to the last one, but managed to be far less enjoyable.

Despite practically doubling the steeping time for the next infusion and the strength being adequate, the flavors were starting to get thinner. The tea had a very mindless shu flavor to it, with once again a degree more sweetness without being what I’d actually call sweet. I may have also noticed a bit of minerality pushing through in this infusion. Despite the front flavors being disappointing, the aftertaste was pretty okay actually. I can’t be sure about this, but I may have also noticed some very, very mild cha qi in my chest/temples.

For the next infusion I nearly doubled the brewing time again and now most of the other flavors had dropped off very sharply with a lot of sweetness emerging in their stead. Despite being actually sweet for the first time, the tea still wasn’t terribly sweet for a shu pu’er. Besides the sweetness, there was still some discernible shu base in the background. Flavor-wise this infusion was pretty decent, not great, but not terrible either. Like with the previous steep, I thought I may have noticed some qi building in my chest/head. The tea also made me sweat a bit at this point.

The eighth steep was the last I did. It had an acceptable level of strength to it still, but the flavors that now leaned more towards the darker end of the spectrum weren’t very appealing to me. The brief prior sweetness had nearly completely dropped off, although you did get some of it in the aftertaste. One could probably have continued steeping the leaves still, but I suspected I might not enjoy where this tea was headed or that it might turn flat out nasty, so I decided to stop here.

Overall this was possibly the most underwhelming shu pu’er I’ve had so far, but granted I’m still very new to ripe. It’s not bad, and I wouldn’t mind having it once in a while, but the flavor profile didn’t really appeal to me and at least in its current state the tea feels like it’s lacking something. For me that something is sweetness. This is clearly a quality product, but at least right now it lacks something that makes it stand out and feel special. To me some of the flavors feel perhaps a bit underdeveloped, which is something that will hopefully improve with some more age, but I will admit I have zero knowledge let alone experience about how shu pu’er can be expected to develop over time. I’m hoping this one will develop some sweetness as right now that is my biggest gripe about this tea. Granted I did not fully steep out this tea and I did a poor job of brewing it, but still even for a gong ting style tea this one seemed to not have that great longevity. I could be mistaken about that though.

I sensed more potential for improvement in this one than in some others, but at least in its current state I find this tea difficult to recommend based on my initial impressions. I will have to revisit this one at a later date, but I doubt brewing it better will make enough difference to change my thoughts on it. A couple more years of age will hopefully have a positive impact on this tea. Some small changes might make a difference.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Earth, Mineral

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This is the first Crimson Lotus tea that I’ve tried (I’m waiting for the 2017 sheng to come out). I’ve had the cake sitting in my pumidor for a month or two as I like to give pu’er plenty of time to make themselves at home. The bing itself is quite nice looking, with minimal amount of dust and debris sitting at the bottom of the wrapper. The cake is satisfyingly soft and easy to break thin, intact chunks from, but does not totally come apart on its own like the Yong De Blue Label I reviewed earlier.

I used 11g of leaf in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot, giving the leaves a brief 10s rinse followed by a 10 min. rest before I began brewing. I did a total of eleven steeps, for 13s, 13s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 80s, 2 min., 3 min. and 4 min. according to my mental clock. Like with the dry leaf, the wet leaves didn’t have a very strong aroma. Following the rinse, they had a smell of dark, sweet hay, which is within the typical shu pu’er spectrum.

As I was using primarily chunks that were about the size of a coin and didn’t rinse the tea for that long, the color of the first steep was still somewhat pale as was to be expected. It did have some body and a surprising amount of sweetness for a first infusion. At first the tea came across as a pretty typical shu pu’er, but as I was sipping my second cup, I felt there was something different about this tea. Part of it had to do with flavor, but more so it was about the sense I got from the tea. Hard to say if I was imagining it, but it felt to me like the tea may have had a slight cooling sensation and perhaps even made you feel slightly good. Especially for a first infusion, the steep was actually very nice.

The second steep produced a much darker liquor as one would expect. There was also more body and hints of coffee and maybe a bit of chocolate in the taste, with the tea leaving a dark chocolate bitterness lingering in your mouth. A nice infusion. The following third steep was almost totally black, with only a slight red hue revealing that it was in fact not coffee. The tea had much less body now, while the flavor had shifted back towards a sweeter profile with some of the coffee/chocolate still going on. There was also something in the aftertaste I didn’t quite recognize. I also noticed that the tea made your saliva taste sweet in your mouth.

The fourth infusion remained nearly as dark, with the tea having more body again. There was less sweetness and the flavors had shifted towards a darker part of the spectrum. I tasted slightly roasted and nutty flavors, with still small hints of the coffee/roasted coffee bean going on. I quite liked this infusion. It had a nice body and was very pleasing to drink.

The color of the fifth infusion was still quite dark, but not quite as dark as before. There was also less body than in the last steep, but still some. It kind of felt like the tea caused your saliva the thicken in your mouth. It had a different kind of sweetness to it than before, and as the tea cooled down a little it got even more sweeter and almost syrupy. The next infusion was still a fairly dark brownish red, but by this point the liquor was getting noticeably lighter. The taste now had a much more noticeable mineraly character, which even extends to how I would probably describe the sweetness. Again, I did not really spend time confirming this, but it felt like there may have been some mouth cooling going on. The tea was still performing well, but based on past experience, I got the sense that we were probably exiting the middle steeps and entering the late steeps now. The flavors were coming across as perhaps somewhat thinner without being watery or necessarily weak in strength. I have no complaints about this infusion, even though it wasn’t necessarily as solid as earlier steeps. The aftertaste was again somewhat mineraly in the beginning and developed into something quite nice over time.

Surprisingly the following infusion was still about as dark as the last one and it still retained a bit of body. The flavors changed again. I’m not sure how to describe the taste, but I liked it. While the tea tasted great, at the same time for me personally this infusion felt like it was more about things besides the flavor – how it felt and how it made you feel – attributes that I appreciate most about great tea. I must say this infusion was really darn nice, especially for a this late steep. Even though this tea offered many excellent infusions, I would say this one was definitely my favorite from this session.

The next steep was the eighth. It had a much lighter color. Despite this, the tea still maintained a very stable strength. Again the sweetness present in the tea was slightly different from before, although this infusion wasn’t predominantly sweet. I might describe it as a slightly berrylike sweetness, but I’m not sure. The flavors became darker in the next infusion. Less sweet, while still maintaining a good amount of flavor.

I happened to take a smell of the leaves before drinking the tenth steeping and they had a surprisingly pleasant smell to them. After some pondering I came to the conclusion that they smelled like nectarine, or at least I believe that’s the correct fruit. I haven’t had it since my childhood, but I’m talking about a fruit with a fuzzy skin and not an entirely sweet taste to it. The liquor itself had a considerably lighter color to it now, but in terms of flavor it hadn’t lost that much strength and it was still very drinkable. The tea had a prominent fruity sweetness to it now and it was quite surprising how sweet the tea actually was. The aftertaste that the tea left in your mouth was most definitely nectarine or whatever fruit it was that I smelled in the leaves. The tea may have still even had some body to it.

I did try doing an eleventh steeping, but although the taste wasn’t necessarily watery, the color was very light now and the flavors were starting to thin out considerably. There was however a huge amount of sweetness to the tea still, although the aftertaste wasn’t necessarily the most pleasant. I probably wouldn’t recommend stretching this tea too far, but your results may vary so experiment.

Overall this was a really excellent tea, and I’m really happy to say that about a shu pu’er. So far I’ve had trouble developing an appreciation for shu pu’er and finding a tea that I genuinely like, but this tea was a very pleasant surprise and excellent from start to finish. The tea is dynamic, interesting, rewarding, and the longevity is about what you’d expect from a ripe pu’er, if not slightly above average. I try to reserve the “Recommended” stamp to only teas I would buy more of myself if I ran out and I’ve only given it to one tea before this, but I’m happy to say that Lucky Cloud now joins that group. I will have to try out more ripe pu’ers to see what I like, but unless I find other teas that I like even way more than this one, I’ll likely be ordering at least a cake or two if not a whole tong, provided it does not sell out before then. Crimson Lotus did an excellent job sourcing this one and now I probably have no option but to sample their other shu pu’ers as well.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Fruity, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This bing looks like a bundle of worms wriggling around in dirt. Whether you find that aesthetically appealing or unappealing is up to you. Anyway, I thought I’d already drunk some fairly tippy shus (this is only my fifth, so make of that what you will), but this cake takes the… cake. The leaves are all of such a small leaf grade that it is virtually impossible for them to become entangled with one another and thus the bing is close to coming apart on its own. It’s not even necessary to use tools to pry leaves off if you don’t want and you can practically just rub the edges a bit to make the leaves start coming off. I noticed a smaller amount of dust and smaller particles than typical and most of the stuff that has come loose on its own and you find lying inside the wrapper is good to use for brewing. If you wanted to break this cake into loose form for daily drinking, I imagine it would take hardly no time at all.

I used 11.5g of leaves in my 160ml Jianshui teapot. My intention was to use 11g instead of the 10.5g I’ve been using in the past as I felt upping the amount of leaf a tad might yield better results, but when my scale said 11.5g I was too lazy to take some leaves out. I managed to include a couple of smaller chunks amid the individual leaves. The dry leaves had a typical shu pu’er scent, but while I was smelling them it occurred to me that since I’m storing my ripe cakes stacked atop one another in a box, I may very well be smelling the neighboring cakes when sniffing the surface leaves, which makes paying attention to the aroma of the dry leaves somewhat moot. In any case, after a brief 10s rinse the wet leaves didn’t display the typical manure smell I’m used to smelling in a lot of shu and instead I got a dark scent more akin to coffee beans, dark chocolate and the like. After giving the leaves a ten minute rest, I got to brewing.

I steeped the leaves nine times, for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s and 4 min. I am unsure whether the leaves could have gone on as I did not try. I don’t recall what the rinse had looked like, but the first infusion surprised me by being much darker than I’m used to. The taste was also much bolder than shu pu’er typically is in my experience. Both of these I attribute to the very small leaf grade. I’m bad at even attempting to describe ripe pu’er, but the taste was perhaps a bit sweet and it seemed to leave a similar aftertaste in your mouth as coffee.

The second infusion brewed even darker, yielding probably the darkest color I’ve seen in shu pu’er thus far. Unless you had a light source directly behind a transparent vessel, you could not see through the dark liquor. Only when shining a light through could you see that the liquor was actually red and not black, but the red was such a dark shade that it almost seemed to have a purple hue to it. The flavor remained strong like in the first infusion and the taste was akin to almost something like diluted coffee, which seems very common for the second steep of the ripe pu’ers I’ve had. I’m not really a coffee drinker, I may drink a couple cups a year if that, so flavor profiles like this are not necessarily something that appeal to me particularly, but my tasting notes say “not bad, not bad” nevertheless, so it was pretty okay. This infusion had the longest aftertaste I’ve encountered in shu thus far, and it remained very stable as well. The more I drink high-quality teas, the more I start to appreciate things like long, stable, enjoyable aftertaste that are not a given at all even in some really nice teas, and thus I definitely give this tea/infusion points for it. More so than the front flavors.

As I continued to flash brew the tea, the third infusion wasn’t quite as dark in color as the last one. While the strength of the flavor remained strong, the flavors themselves started to become lighter in nature. As I said, I struggle to describe the flavors, but if you’ve ever drunk shu pu’er they were pretty typical ripe flavors. I would not use the word earthy. The tea was sort of sweet without being actually sweet. Again, if you’ve ever drunk pu’er, you probably know the deal. After lengthening the steep time a little for the fourth steep, the color was once again very dark albeit not quite as dark as at its darkest in the second infusion. Like before, the tea continued to brew quite strong while the flavors themselves continued to get lighter in flavor. The exact same thing can be said about the fifth infusion, but now the tea was starting to taste better than in earlier steeps and the person I was drinking with echoed this sentiment.

From the sixth steep onward the color of the tea soup finally started to get lighter. The sixth steeping itself while not exactly sweet was beginning to get sweeter. Starting with the seventh steep the strength of the flavor started to come down as well. As the nature of the flavor continued to get lighter, it was difficult to tell if the tea was getting watery or simply lighter. As the eighth steep produced a much, much lighter color than before, more of a dark orange than a red, I decided to ramp up the steeping time for the last steep I did straight to four minutes. This, while yielding a bit more color than before, was nowhere near as dark as before. The tea soup had more sweetness now, and in fact I’d call it a mineral sweetness albeit not necessarily the same kind you typically get in many teas as they begin to steep out. The steep was pretty okay. If the tea still had more in it, extracting it would have probably required steeping the tea for closer to fifteen minutes if not more and so I just decided to call it there.

Overall the tea performs as you’d expect and you trade off longevity for strength of flavor. Objectively this is neither a good thing or a bad thing as it’s a quite fair trade-off. In my limited experience shu pu’er can be quite light when it comes to taste, so those seeking a bolder flavor and especially those not interested in stretching out a session may find a nice daily drinker in this one. Like certain other ripe pu’ers I’ve tried, this came across as a tea that might appeal to those who are coffee drinkers. I myself while thinking a couple of infusions were fairly nice still struggle to find an appreciation for shu pu’er, but I will continue to try.

This tea taught me that with ripes that have this small a leaf grade you need to start pushing them much more aggressively once they start to drop in color. How aggressively, I don’t know. Next time I’ll need to brew this one in a gaiwan so I can monitor the color before I pour. Flavor-wise nothing really jumped out at me about this one. Everything I tasted here I’ve tasted before in other shus. I will need to drink this one more to formulate a more conclusive opinion on it, but my first impressions of it were not particularly strong one way or the other. If you are a shu drinker, you will likely enjoy this one, but that is just a guess on my part.

Flavors: Coffee, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Yay, my tenth review! I received ten grams of this tea as a free sample with my order from Essence of Tea. The bag has been sitting opened in my pumidor for over a month so it has had ample time to air out and acclimatize. My sample consisted of one larger piece, big, intact individual leaves as well as some smaller ones at the bottom of the bag. The sample had an air of being prepared with care.

Since there weren’t enough leaves to fill up the rather large Yixing teapot I usually use for sheng, I put 8.9g of leaves in a 130ml gaiwan instead. The dry leaves had a much darker and aged smell than you usually get in a sheng of this age, which leads me to believe what I was smelling may have been acquired in storage. This was a non-issue, though, because after a ten-second rinse the dark aroma was gone and I was greeted instead by a sweet, vegetal scent. After a customary ten-minute rest, I got to brewing. I did a total of eleven steeps, for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 80s, 2 min., 3 min. and 4 min. respectively. The tea could have gone longer, but I gave up. I did all my drinking from a silver cup that I received from Crimson Lotus Tea the very same day, in case you are a believer in that silver makes a difference in taste. I have yet to do a direct A/B, but the potential influence on flavor is not why I bought the cup.

The first infusion had a thick, soft, creamy texture and a very prominent vanilla note, but also some astringency in the finish that I’m not used to seeing in the very first steep when brewing in clay. I hardly ever brew sheng in porcelain, so I can’t say if this tea is more astringent than average or if I’m just not used to it. In any case the first infusion was excellent. The second steep was less thick and in it the vanilla note was replaced by a creamy taste. It was also much more astringent than the first one or what I’m used to.

The third infusion was still creamy, but started to taste greener while still remaining reasonably astringent. The fourth one was the same, while having perhaps a bit more body and also possibly leaving a smoky tobacco aroma in your mouth. After that the creamy character dropped off and for the next four steeps the taste was green and astringent with some emerging green sweetness. Very typical young sheng flavor.

Starting with infusion nine the other flavors were finally starting to taper off, making way to typical young raw pu’er sweetness, although the sweetness wasn’t especially sweet. The tenth steeping tasted very clean while still maintaining strength really well. The eleventh infusion is where I stopped and that was probably the first time the tea was starting showing signs of dropping in strength.

All in all this was a good tea and a positive session. I didn’t like the tea enough to warrant a purchase, but my pumidor is already starting to get to a point where a tea has to be really special or interesting for me to be willing to devote room for it. If I were to magically acquire a cake of this, I would store it rather than drink it. The tea can be drunk now, but although the early infusions were nice, I think it’s still underdeveloped in other areas and tastes quite young. I found the tea quite astringent at every step, but even at its most intense it remained manageable. The biggest shortcoming I noted for the tea was a seeming lack of discernible cha qi. Normally I would regard this as a bigger issue, but I feel in this case the tea makes up for the seeming lack of qi with its seemingly excellent longevity and the way in which it maintains its strength extremely well throughout the session.

If you like creamy sheng and this tea sounds promising, I recommend trying a sample to see for yourself how you like it. For an Essence of Tea offering the cake is quite affordable and I think this is certainly a quality tea. The tea is okay to drink now, but frankly I think it would be a waste to do so. I can see this tea becoming very yummy in ten or fifteen years and drinking it now would be a waste of potential. I’m sure there are other creamy shengs out there that are more suited for immediate consumption.

In its current state I think this is a good tea. In the future I can see it becoming a great one. I’m trying to be conservative with how I hand out Recommended badges and reserve those to only teas I would buy myself or buy more of if I ran out, so therefore this doesn’t get one despite being something I recommend trying out.

Flavors: Astringent, Cream, Green, Sweet, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

You just need another pumidor….it will happen in time….

TJ Elite

I know…


MrM knows these things….

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This is a quite premium-priced ripe made up of a quite tippy blend of smaller and more medium-sized leaves. The cake doesn’t look anything special and the compression is neither too loose or too heavy. I was able to break off a single piece of the top layer that weighed almost exactly the desired 10.5g for my 160ml Jianshui teapot simply by inserting my pu’er pick from the side in a couple of places and then lifting up. I then proceeded to gently break this one large piece into a few smaller pieces by hand. I’d like to note that this cake has the cleanest-looking wrapper I’ve seen, that is to say when I lifted the bing off the inside of the wrapper only had a very small number of broken-off leaves and a few specks of dust here and there. I’m not saying this is necessarily any sort of indicator of quality, it’s just an observation I made.

The dry leaves have a very typical shu pu’er smell to my nose. Even in a pre-heated teapot the scent of the broken-off portion of the cake was very faint, however. I gave the leaves only one average rinse for just over ten seconds and let them rest for ten minutes before I started brewing. The scent of the wet leaves was somewhat surprising. There wasn’t any of the typical manure I smell in shu pu’er and instead my nose picked up hay which I associate more with raw pu’er and another note for which the closest descriptor my brain could come up with is warm raisin. That is not quite accurate, but it’s the best I could come up with. The scent was warm and familiar. Another note of interest is that even the smell of the wet leaves was much weaker than is typical for shu pu’er.

I did a total of ten infusions, for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 90s and 120s. Since I was using almost exclusively larger chunks without any individual leaves and didn’t do a longer rinse, the leaves had yet to come apart by the first infusion which in turn resulted in a somewhat lighter first brew, which I was fine with. The color of the liquor was a cloudy red-ish orange. This cloudiness is something I noted in the first and last couple of infusions. In the mid-steeps when the liquor was darker it was hard to tell whether the soup was clear or not or if the cloudiness had persisted. Typically I associate the clarity of the tea soup as being an indicator of quality to a certain degree, but I’m not sure if I’d say the inverse is necessarily true and the lack of clarity is some sort of sign of the lack of quality. You shouldn’t take it more than as an observation. As expected, the first infusion was quite light, but it tasted okay although it’s hard to really say anything about it flavor-wise. It was maybe a bit sweet.

The second steep brewed darker. It coated your mouth with a slimy coating similar to thick saliva. I’m making the guess that this sensation is possibly the one the name of this tea refers to according to the description. The flavors in this infusion were interesting, but also beyond description. They weren’t really reminiscent of any flavors you can find anywhere else to my knowledge and therefore came across as somewhat abstract to me. Besides the flavor and mouthfeel the tea had to offer, it also made me sweat quite a bit and I might’ve even detected some tightness in my chest. In my limited personal experience and based on what I’ve gathered from others, cha qi is not that common to come across in shu pu’er so I was pleasantly surprised to find it here.

Based on the trajectory of the first two steeps, I felt this tea had promise to be the best ripe pu’er I’ve tasted, but unfortunately the tea didn’t manage to live up to that potential. The third steep brewed a very dark red. Not a particularly gorgeous red, just red. It had perhaps some sweetness and perhaps the tiniest hint of a toffee note, but I wasn’t getting much from it. The earlier slimy mouthfeel was greatly diminished, but the tea was making me feel warm and I could feel the qi in my chest. The qi continued to be present for the next three steeps before dropping off, whereas the taste remained extremely basic throughout. The tea tasted clean, with the sweetness gradually emerging as the infusions went on. The slick, slimy mouthfeel was coming and going in nature making a small return a couple of times. The last infusion I did interestingly had possibly the most flavor out of all the infusions I did, but at the same time I got the sense the tea might’ve been on its last legs. I’ve seen the pattern of a tea giving one last decent brew before totally giving out enough times to develop a sense for it. Whether or not the tea still had more to give, I was forced to end the session there due to time constraints and also being quite adequately hydrated by that point. Flavor-wise the final infusion actually had something else going on besides the base shu pu’er sweetness, but I’m not sure if there would’ve been anything more of interest for me to discover had I continued with the session.

I really had my hopes up for this tea after the second infusion. For a ripe this tea has decent qi going on, but in terms of flavor the tea just came across as incredibly stripped down after the second steep. It doesn’t even actually have that much of the typical shu sweetness and instead simply presents this base underlying shu pu’er flavor that isn’t all that much. On the sheng front this reminds me of the Misty Peak spring 2016 sheng which had the qi going for it, but the flavors just weren’t interesting. If this was a raw, I’d stash it away for ten years and come back to it, but since this is a ripe I’m not sure if I can really expect any huge changes over time. I will have to try brewing this in slightly different ways as time goes on and hopefully get some better results. This wasn’t a bad tea, but it didn’t turn out to be the first ripe I could award the green Recommended stamp to like I’d hoped.

Flavors: Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

My first Menghai, my first aged ripe, also only my third shu overall. The bing looks quite gorgeous in person and as the 9 in the recipe suggests the leaf size is quite impressive. This being my first factory production ripe, I was expecting a potentially heavier compression, but instead the cake turned out to be incredibly loosely pressed. The bing is notably thicker than most cakes of this weight and the backside isn’t even symmetric in shape/thickness. Prying leaves off without causing additional breakage was a breeze and a pleasure.

I brewed 10.5g of this tea in my brand new 160ml Jianshui clay teapot. I’ve only had one session with it before, so it should be noted that it may not be performing optimally just yet. I rinsed the leaves for slightly over ten seconds and allowed them to rest for ten minutes before I started brewing. I did a total of twelve steeps for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 65s, 2 min., 4 min. and 8 min. respectively. The last steep revealed the leaves to be utterly spent. Overall the longevity was about what I’d expected, if not a tad better.

The first infusion was sweet, perhaps a bit earthy, and pretty smooth. Very typical base ripe pu’er flavors. It had a rosé color, whereas the rinse had an orange hue. Throughout the steeps the tea produced a remarkably clear liquor. The second steep was very dark and blood red. It tasted very smooth and clean, almost like diluted coffee. It wasn’t as sweet as before, but left a roasted coffee bean type of flavor in your mouth.

The third steep was again perhaps a bit earthy. It was sweeter than before, with an almost berry-like flavor. The tea was super clean and easy to drink. It also made me salivate a lot, which may have contributed to the almost honey-like sweetness this infusion nearly reached toward the end (in flavor, not intensity). The following fourth infusion was a step backwards, presenting very simplistic flavors and tasting very reminiscent of the first infusion with its basic watery sweetness. Steep five was more of this same typical shu taste, with a hint of those berries I thought I’d tasted earlier.

In steep number six I finally got much more of those berries and that infusion was quite nice. I’m bad with berries, but steep seven tasted like redcurrant juice or something to me. It was juicy, with maybe a bit of sweetness. Overall very nice. The eighth infusion was sweet, but the other flavors were seeming to start to taper off. The sweetness persisted in the ninth steep, but the tea soup was starting to taste watery.

The tenth steep I brewed much stronger and the taste I got was the same as the manure type of smell I smell in most ripe pu’ers. I don’t mind the smell, but as a taste I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. There was perhaps some sweetness, but not that much. Wondering if the leaves still had more to give, I doubled the steeping time again and the soup I got had a vanilla flavor to it. One could say there was perhaps almost a cherry note as well, which isn’t all that surprising as the two often go hand in hand. The infusion was quite nice actually and had a nice aftertaste as well. For the twelfth infusion I tried doubling the steeping time one last time, but the resulting tea tasted practically like water, sweet water. It tasted like drinking the remainders of a strawberry slushie where it’s just melted ice at the bottom of the cup with a hint of color and flavor from the strawberry. If you had a big bottle of it, it would be fine for quenching your thirst during summertime.

So what are my thoughts on this tea? I prefer teas that are interesting, dynamic and grab my attention. Therefore this tea was not very interesting to me in the first several steeps. It was only in the latter half that the tea started to feel more interesting. Even though the tea does present many different flavors over the course of a session, compared to other types of tea ripe pu’er does seem to present much smaller dynamic swings in my still quite limited experience, and this tea was no exception. It’s easy to drink and such an inoffensive tea you could probably serve this to anyone from children to elderly. They might not say they like it, but they are unlikely to say they can’t drink it either.

For me perhaps the biggest shortcoming of this tea is the lack of bitterness. I’m not saying other ripe pu’ers are necessarily known for having bitterness either, but toward the end of the session I really found myself yearning for some bitterness or something, anything, to give the tea some bite, edge and character. This was especially apparent since I’ve been tasting Yunnan Sourcing’s fresh spring 2017 black teas over the past few days and enjoying the wonderfully elegant kuwei in some of them. Those people who think bitterness is a bad thing need to drink more tea. A lot more tea.

Despite some of the criticisms I can find for this tea, this might be the best ripe out of the three I’ve had so far, the others being “The New Black” by Misty Peak and “Green Miracle” by Yunnan Sourcing. At the very least it most certainly proved that Menghai is definitely competitive when it comes to producing ripe pu’er. Had this tea been more interesting in the early steeps, it would have been easier for me to recommend. As it stands, it is a tea that is very easy to drink through the day without having to pay too much attention to it, but for the price there are likely to be many other ripes out there that are cheaper and possibly better. I’m not aware of what exactly age has brought to this tea, but I personally wouldn’t say that it is worth paying such a premium for the age at least in this case. This is not a price point I mind paying for a full bing of tea, shu or not, but you could get a pretty nice sheng for the same price.

My journey to find a shu that makes me fall in love with ripe pu’er continues. The next tea I review is likely to be a shu as well, but after that I may start to miss sheng. In any case I have many ripes in the pipeline for me to try out and with this new Jianshui teapot I’ll likely be drinking a lot more ripe pu’er on a regular basis. This tea made me curious toward ripes made from Bulang material and whether some of them retain some of that more fiery nature. Don’t be surprised if the next tea I review comes from that region…

Flavors: Berries, Earth, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

My first factory tea. Also the oldest sheng I’ve drunk to date. My tuo was acquired via Teepolku/Tea Trail based in Finland. I don’t know anything about its storage history. I’ve had mine for a while, but have wanted to get better acquainted with young sheng before trying it out. I’ve also been a bit afraid to try it, which is another reason why I’ve been holding off on it.

To deviate from my usual routine, I prepared nine grams of this tea in a 130ml gaiwan. I usually use my Yixing clay teapot which I love very much, but I guess I didn’t deem this factory production worthy of touching my beloved and my tuo also smelled very smoky so I kinda didn’t want it to impart some of that flavor to the clay. The bundle of compressed leaves was hard as a baseball and the small pieces of broken leaf and dust that primarily broke off didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The dry leaves smelled smoky and like aged raw pu’er and placing them in the pre-heated gaiwan didn’t really reveal anything new. After a brief 10s rinse the smell became that of intense smoke and ash, but after the first proper infusion the smoke pretty much disappeared from the leaves and the scent became more and more akin to typical pu’er smell over time. The liquor also had some smoke in the first couple steeps, but this too went away over time.

After a ten minute rest I steeped the leaves for a total of ten times for approx. 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s, 45s, 65s and 110s. The leaves would have probably been good for one more uberlong steep, but I didn’t see enough value in doing that so I decided to call it at ten. Throughout the session the tea produced a nice, clear liquor with an orange hue to it, denoting its fairly reasonable age. If you paid attention to it, the tea did have some minor body to it in the mouth, but nothing that drew your attention to it.

The initial steep was both a bit smoky and fruity. In the second one these were replaced by the taste of coffee. It had both the bite and bitterness of black coffee and if you let the tea cool too much the bitterness became extremely intense surpassing that of coffee. The taste of the third infusion was a bit elusive, seeming to slip off the tongue whenever you tried to latch onto it for even just a second. I detected a taste reminiscent of the flavor you get in many black teas in their late steeps. I’ve always called this a tannic taste, although I have no idea if it’s actually what people mean when they speak of tannin. After some searching, I finally found the green raw pu’er base you can taste in many young raws, a small remnant of this tea’s humble beginnings. In the taste left lingering in your mouth you could taste a combination of the green and tannic flavors, paired with some astringency.

In the fourth steeping some sweetness finally started to emerge. The taste was a bit fruity and there was perhaps even a hint of some vanilla flavor. Once again there was a small amount of astringency and the tea was perhaps also a bit drying in the mouth. If you forgot the tea in your cup for too long and let it cool down too much, it got extremely bitter. Steep number five had multiple things going on at the same time. A characteristic raw pu’er sweetness was starting to emerge while there were some other notes going on at the same time. I’m not sure if I’d say the initial smoky flavor was making a small resurgence or if something else was going on. This was the first steep that had very notable bitterness even when you drank the tea hot, but it remained just below the threshold where it would have become uncomfortable.

The sixth infusion continued to have bitterness and astringency while the sweetness increased. The seventh was sweeter still, with a large increase in the amount of flavor as well. The sweetness was actually quite nice and had a honey-ish character to it. Surprisingly, there wasn’t all that much bitterness and only a small amount of astringency. In the last three steeps the flavors were clearly starting to taper off and the tea was reminiscent of most other pu’ers on their last legs, presenting some sweetness accompanied by some astringency.

So what’s the verdict? I was dreading I might not like this tea, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. At the same time I held hope I’d learn a lot about how aged pu’er tastes from it and find it a really pleasant tea to drink. As was to be expected, the truth lay somewhere in between.

Despite the base material being what it is, this was not a bad tea. It’s not a great tea, but it’s quite decent. You can taste that the leaf material isn’t the best, but despite that this was a fairly interesting tea to session and also pretty decent flavor-wise. I did not expect any qi from this tea and didn’t get any either. I can see this tea improving gradually over the years, but it’s never going to suddenly become stellar after a decade or two. That being said, I don’t see it being worth to try to age this one and mine isn’t going back in the pumidor. I’m going to be drinking it as part of my active rotation. For that purpose it’s actually better that this one doesn’t have qi, because that allows me to drink it anytime I want.

I don’t know how much of it stems from the leaf material being pretty chopped up, but I was a bit surprised about the amount of bitterness in this tea. It may be due to the fact that I nearly always brew sheng in clay, but I’m not used to bitterness in raw pu’er. Astringency, yes. Bitterness, no. Makes me wonder how bitter this tea was when it went on sale. I’m not one of those people who think bitterness is bad, not at all, but this tea can get a bit nasty if you let it cool down. It’s the bitterness that held me back from pushing this sheng any harder in the mid steeps in fear of it becoming undrinkable. I will have to experiment in the future how much the bitterness correlates to the steeping time.

Despite this being a fairly decent tea, I find it hard to recommend because I simply feel there are better teas you could be buying at this price point. Even if you’re looking for a simple daily drinker, I still think there are many better inexpensive alternatives available. The tea isn’t forgiving enough for a pu’er novice nor interesting enough to satisfy a more seasoned drinker. It’s an okay tea, but with so many great teas out there it simply isn’t competitive enough in my opinion.

Flavors: Bitter, Coffee, Fruity, Honey, Smoke, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This is a cake I acquired via Teepolku/Tea Trail based in Turku, Finland. Thus far in my young pu’er drinking career I’ve focused on young sheng, and this was a curiosity buy I acquired a while back to act as my first foray into semi-aged raw or at least something close to that (I also have a Xiaguan tuo from 2004 waiting for me). According to Teepolku, Ju You is a small pu’er producer who specializes mainly in tea from the Yiwu area. As the name suggests, this tea is allegedly gushu material from Kunlu mountain. As both of these claims are difficult to prove and don’t really matter in the end, we shall not dwell on them any longer than this. I don’t have any knowledge about the storage history of this tea.

The cake is fairly loose and prying leaves off is quite easy. The color is indeed a few shades darker than the younger cakes I’m used to looking at and even the buds have gone from their young silvery appearance to a dirtier off-white. Still, there’s a fair amount of green shades left. The dry cake doesn’t smell all that different from your typical young raw bing, but in the pre-heated teapot the dry leaves start to reveal a slightly fruity scent. After the rinse the fruitiness becomes more pronounced and is joined by the scent of tobacco.

As per usual, I steeped around 13.4g of leaf in a 250ml Yixing clay teapot. I gave the leaves a brief 10s rinse and let them rest for ten minutes before the first infusion. I steeped the tea nine times for around 16s, 14s, 15s, 18s, 22s, 26s, 34s, 54s and 70s according to my own mental clock. The tea had nice strength in the early steeps, but then started falling off quicker than other raws I’ve had. I didn’t do a perfect job of trying to compensate for this, and in the future I will likely need to increase the steeping times in larger increments than typical. The tea could have probably gone for a bit longer, but I felt it didn’t have anything else to show me and there would have been no point in drinking it for the taste.

The first infusion presented light, clean flavors with a lightly floral nature to them and perhaps a touch of floral sweetness. I was reminded a bit of a white tea or at least the image people have of white tea. The next steep was more potent, with some slight astringency and a taste leaning more towards a greener color. The taste remained unchanged in the third infusion. What set it apart from the one that came before it was the way in which it coated your mouth, leaving hints of various flavors lingering in your mouth. You could also detect an interesting aroma in your mouth when you breathed out through your nose, but I for the life of me couldn’t place it.

The taste in the fourth infusion was less green, less astringent. It wasn’t sweet, but it had a note with a character that made you think of sweet. The steep also showed a small resurgence of the initial floral nature or something of that nature. I can’t be sure, but I may have also detected the tiniest hint of some mild qi. In the next two infusions the other flavors started to taper off while a characteristic sheng sweetness seemed to start to emerge. I could feel the qi very stealthily starting to creep up on me, and so I decided to take a small break from the tea and snack on something in case it was bringing my blood sugar down too much.

After the break I tried pushing the seventh steeping a bit harder, although brewing it for a couple seconds longer would likely have resulted in an even better result. I managed to extract some more flavor and somewhat unexpectedly the tea was actually less sweet than before. Drinking this infusion I could feel noticeable warmth in my chest and throat and my breath felt hot. Despite pushing the eighth infusion even harder, it wasn’t very flavorful and didn’t even offer any real sweetness to speak of. On the other hand the presence of cha qi was probably now more noticeable than before. Surprisingly the last infusion I did did once again have some flavor, but the astringency was also on a steep rise. The tea was still quite warming, almost causing a burning sensation in my chest.

This is the point where I decided to stop, because in my eyes the only reason to keep drinking the tea would have been the cha qi. After the session the tea made me feel very listless for a while and this was followed by my stomach being a bit grumpy for most of the evening, which is not something pu’er typically does for me (this is the first time). Despite it not being any warmer inside than normal, I was sweating a little all through the evening like it was early summer, and when I woke up during the night the legs of my pajamas were wet from light sweat, akin to breaking into a cold sweat when you are sick.

Throughout the infusions, the color and hue of the liquor were indistinguishable to my eyes from a young sheng’s and coupled with the flavor profile of the tea I would draw the conclusion that this tea has been fairly dryly stored. If this tea had been served to me without showing me the dry leaves, I would have pegged it down as a spring 2016 harvest. As I feel the tea is still a long way from even reaching semi-maturity, I will likely be slowly drinking it away instead of storing it. Next time I will experiment with brewing it in a gaiwan, which should allow me some more control over the brewing time, and see if there are nuances to this tea that were lost to me the first time around. The qi in this one didn’t seem to agree with me on first meeting, but hopefully we can get better acquainted over time and maybe find some common ground.

Flavors: Floral, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 13 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

To my understanding some question can this really be ancient arbor tea from Yiwu. This tea isn’t exactly cheap, but with the current maocha prices you would expect it to cost closer to double what it is going for right now, if not more. I judge based on taste (and qi and all that good stuff), so I don’t really care where the tea comes from, how old the trees are, etc. Of course we’d all prefer vendors to be as honest about the tea they sell as they can, but honestly you should take anything any vendor tells you with a grain of salt. Even if they tell you the facts as they know them, the farmer might be lying to them or send them a different tea than the one they sampled. I’ve never had Yiwu tea before, so I don’t have anything to compare this tea to. However, I do have some in my pumidor waiting to be opened, so in the future I will be more informed.

As is becoming standard for me, I brewed 13 grams of this tea in my 250ml Yixing clay teapot, so a ratio of around 1g/20ml which seems to work well for clay. I gave the tea a 10s rinse, followed by a 10 minute rest. I steeped the tea eleven times for about 18s, 17s, 20s, 20s, 23s, 27s, 31s, 34s, 44s, 59s and 94s. The tea showed no signs of giving in anytime soon, but I was confident I’d seen all it had to show me and frankly I’d consumed a lot of tea by that point so I decided to stop.

Even though the flavors in this tea were light, the tea was surprisingly strong from the very first infusion. Throughout the session it brewed out very consistently both in terms of color and strength. There never really was any noticeably body, which is a small minus. The flavors themselves were very basic and didn’t change dramatically over the course of the session. The first infusion reminded me a bit of hay and was perhaps lightly floral. It didn’t have any sweetness and made me feel a bit thirsty. The next one had maybe a hint of sweetness as well as some astringency, which you could not only feel in your mouth but also taste in the taste, if you know what I mean.

The third steep was slightly more astringent still, with a bit of a greener taste to it. In the fourth steeping the astringency went down and the sweetness up while still not being actually sweet. There was, however, a lingering aftertaste to this infusion that had a distinct sweetness to it that was not present in the actual taste itself. The taste of this lingering sweetness reminded me of the two Yunnan Sourcing Da Qing Gu Shus I reviewed recently. In the following infusion the sweetness was less present and the taste became “greener.” At this point the tea reminded me a lot of the 2014 Autumn Da Qing Gu Shu and the similarity applies largely to the tea as a whole in terms of taste. The difference is that this Misty Peak sheng lacks the autumnal leafy flavors I detected in the Da Qing and only has the most basic underlying flavors of that tea.

Going onward, the rest of the steeps were not much different. All had some astringency. Eventually all the other flavors began to taper off and all that was left was some general type of sweetness that wasn’t however a mineral sweetness that I’ve tasted in many other teas in later infusions. Notable exception is steep no. 8 which actually had a nice herbal nature to it, if that’s even the right word. In the context of this tea it stood out in a positive way.

Now let’s talk qi. Because the qi is probably much more notable about this tea in its current state than the taste. Already from the first infusion I was feeling some serious pressure at the back and sides of my head, but the second infusion was even more intense. I could feel the qi not only in my chest but in my whole body, which was a first one for me. I started to get seriously warm and had to slow down my drinking. I should note that the sensation wasn’t unpleasant, however. The rest of the steeps were less intense in terms of qi, but what’s notable about this tea is that the qi was very consistently present in each of them. The only real spike happened in steeping number six which hit me in my belly, made my muscles ache a little and caused some minor tea drunkenness. After the seventh infusion I had to take a little break from the tea, because it was affecting me so much and I was finding it too difficult to concentrate on it. At various points over the course of the session the sheng turned out to be a quite warming tea.

So all in all how do I feel about this tea? Taste-wise it is about as simple as it gets, reminding me of a slightly stripped-down version of the autumn Da Qing Gu Shu I mentioned. Not a bad tea, but relatively basic. The cha qi and the longevity are the things that stand out here. I could not steep out this tea, which is always a positive. The qi doesn’t hit you like a truck like the autumn Da Qing does, but it stays incredibly stable throughout the session, which is something I haven’t experienced before. Part of the reason why I quit prematurely was because this tea builds up so much qi over the course of a session that I had to admit defeat to this tea. My muscles were sore for the rest of the evening, so this is definitely not for those who can find young sheng to be too intense.

As mentioned, this is the first (allegedly) Yiwu tea I’ve had, but my experience with it seems to match what I’ve gathered from others’ general descriptions of tea from the region. It would help to be sure of the origin, because I feel this is a tea that’s more suited for storage than immediate consumption, and I’d like to be more certain it will age well as people say Yiwu tea tends to do. Whereas the autumn Da Qing Gu Shu was a slight disappointment due to my high expectations for it, this tea was a mildly positive experience since I had no expectations really. Taste-wise the Da Qing has more going on right now, but the qi in that was quite untamed and the longevity so-so. It’s a weird thing for me to be comparing these two teas in particular, but they reminded me so much of each other, especially after drinking them back to back.

I will be storing this tea away for now, but if I desperately need the space in my pumidor, I may end up drinking it. I also have the autumn 2016 counterpart waiting for me, but I’m a bit hesitant to try to consume it at a tender age of mere six months, so I may end up waiting a few months on that. All in all, not a bad tea in its current state. Not a great tea, but not a bad tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Green, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 13 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Last week I reviewed the 2015 spring version of this tea and now it is time to compare it to this autumnal offering. To the best of my knowledge both come from the same family’s trees, so this should be a true comparison between seasons. This is the first autumn-picked raw pu’er I’ve tried, so I was interested to see how much of an impact season has on tea picked from the same trees.

Due to this being an autumn harvest, the leaves are notably bigger than in the spring cake. The cake feels a bit harder to me and not as easy to break into. The leaves want to break off individually as opposed to larger chunks and I took my time trying not to break too many leaves. With the spring counterpart, I used 13g of leaf in my 250ml Yixing teapot, so a ratio of around 1g/20ml. This time I wanted to go just a tad bit heavier to try to experiment with the ratio and went with 14g. My finding was that that small increase likely wasn’t necessary and 13g should acts as a good baseline going forward.

I found the dry leaves to have a pretty typical young sheng smell based on my limited experience. I gave them a brief 12s rinse (I count from when I start pouring the water to when most of the tea is out), followed by a 10-minute rest. The wet leaves had a dark green smell that I couldn’t identify more specifically. From the first infusion forward the smell began reminding me of a meadow. The liquor itself had only a faint scent to it, still being stronger than the spring counterpart. The rinse was reminiscent of salt water, later infusions acquired a smell that was somewhat leafy to me. Smelling the empty cup provided a notably stronger aroma which reminded me of an artificial-smelling perfume that has an intentionally foul character to it to give it some edge.

The first proper infusion I did for 16 seconds. It had a noticeable amount of body to it, but nothing of the amazing thickness the spring cake had in its early infusions. The taste was very clean and kind of salty in a way, or at least it made you think of salt. I could also detect something of a character that I’d perhaps call floral. There wasn’t any sweetness, but there was perhaps hints of something vegetal.

The second infusion ended up being two seconds longer. The taste was still very clean. There was less body now, but still some, and perhaps I’m being influenced by the knowledge of this being an autumn tea, but the tea also started tasting more… autumnal to me. I also thought I might’ve detected a hint of the flavor that was most characteristic of the spring 2015 tea emerging, but I can’t be sure. This infusion felt to me like it was kind of in between flavors. It failed to leave much of an impression. I’m not sure about astringency, but this steep felt really drying on the tongue, with the sensation increasing over time. Fortunately it passed before the next infusion. It was the driest sensation any tea has given me to date.

The next infusion was the same length as the first. There was some sweetness now, with a green-tasting tinge to it, and quite a bit of astringency as well. The tea prompted blood to really start flowing in my tongue, making it feel really hot and like I’d burned it. This numbness that incurred made it hard to taste anything further about this steeping. The cha qi also began taking hold in my chest and stomach and made me feel a bit lightheaded for a spell.

I did not make changes to the steeping time for the fourth infusion. The result was a taste that was not weak, but light enough to warrant increasing the steeping time from there on. Once again the taste was very clean and somewhat sweet. There was also perhaps something savory about this steep, although flavor-wise it wasn’t anything special. It did make me feel a bit of qi in my chest and in my throat, though.

For the next one I increased the steeping time by five seconds, but the resulting soup was still a bit on the weak side. Flavor-wise it reminded me of a low-quality green tea, also making me think of piled leaves in the autumn. I proceeded to the sixth infusion increasing the steeping time again by five seconds and this time I got A LOT more sweetness. It was kind of honey-ish or like potent honeydew melon in flavor, reminding me of the spring cake but not being nearly as shockingly sweet. The tea still had the leafy taste present in prior infusions, as well as more than a modest amount of astringency, but not so much that it would have bothered me.

For the seventh steeping I bumped up the steeping time to 35s. The flavors were clearly starting to taper off now, but in their stead the cha qi hit me like a hammer – no, like a truck. Hard, hard, hard. My face was flushing, I felt a rush of cold sweat rise to the surface, and the feeling in my chest was real. The sensation did pass as quickly as it’d arrived, though. The steeping actually had a interesting herbal/leafy kinda taste to it, similar to an aged white tea I had once. Unlike earlier infusions, the tea soup left an aftertaste lingering in your mouth. Surprisingly, I quite liked this steep.

I pushed the tea harder for the eighth steep, taking it to 50s. Despite this, it did start to taste watery. The liquid had nice color and some taste, but not as much as I’d liked. Like a lot of teas when they are starting to become spent, the flavor was more mineral-y in nature and there was definitely some astringency as well like in most prior infusions.

The ninth steeping I did for 75s and this time around I was rewarded with more taste. In fact, I may have steeped the tea for a tad too long, actually. To my surprise, I did feel some cha qi from this late steeping, both in my stomach as well as some wooziness in my head. The tea had a touch of sweetness and bitterness, with definite minerality in the taste, alongside some astringency but less than you would have expected. That being said, there was nothing particularly interesting about the taste.

I believe the leaves would have had enough in them for one extra long steeping, but I felt they had shown all they had to offer so I decided to stop here.

What are my overall impressions of this tea? I definitely found it very different from the spring 2015 offering. After being very impressed by that tea, I must admit I found this one quite underwhelming in comparison. I didn’t dislike the tea, but at least in its current state I didn’t find it interesting enough or the flavor profile particularly appealing to me. If the tea had more top notes that made it more interesting when it was younger, they would seem to have dropped off over the past couple years or it is possible that my Yixing pot ate them. As it stands right now, I feel the tea needs to develop more depth and possible additional flavors for it to become more interesting to me. I have nothing to support this, but from tasting the tea, I got the impression it has potential to age well. For now I’m going to store the cake away at least until the 2020s. I have plenty of other teas to sip in the meantime.

For an autumn tea, this one might be stellar, but right now I can only compare it to spring teas and in that regard it did come across as mediocre. In comparison to the spring 2015 counterpart the tea doesn’t have any of the wow factor that one has. It lacks the beautiful long-lingering aftertaste the spring tea had in each infusion, and while this tea had probably the strongest-hitting cha qi I’ve experienced to date, the qi arrived in sudden bursts and never lasted very long. It had none of the beautiful structure of the qi in the spring pu’er.

In its current state, I can’t recommend this cake for immediate consumption as I feel it needs more age at this point. That being said, it could be that the flavor profile simply isn’t appealing to me. For whatever reason, as I was drinking this tea, I found myself thinking this might be a tea that people who like shu pu’er but don’t mind some astringency may like. But I’ve only tasted two shu pu’ers in my life, so what do I know.

I’m interested to see how this one will develop over time.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Drying, Honey, Mineral, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 14 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



I’ve been drinking loose leaf tea since around 2014 if I remember correctly, but the summer of 2016 is when I really became passionate about tea and I started brewing gong fu style at the start of 2017. While oolongs were my first love, I drink mostly pu’er these days. I do drink other types of tea with varying degrees of regularity as well, so I don’t discriminate.

I only review pu’er and don’t designate scores to any of the teas to encourage people to actually read the reviews and not just look at the scores. I tend to be thorough, so my reviews can run quite long, but I do try to always gather my thoughts at the end. These tasting notes are as much a record for myself for future reference as they are a review of the tea, so the format is something that’s geared to satisfy both.

You can follow my adventures on Instagram as tujukki.



Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer