64 Tasting Notes
Sometimes I wonder if I still have a little of that ornery soul most little boys grow up with where raining on everyone else’s parade is the height of wit.
Seven came before me and drank this tea, and essentially it received unanimous acclaim. So I got a sample since BTTC was good enough to show up to Midwest Tea Festival (thanks BTTC!) and today, I drank it.
With all the accolades, I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I found in my cup.
It was even better than they said.
If such notables as boychik and LP can’t capture this greatness in the limited format of mere words. far be it from me to attempt. But I echo what others have urged – try this tea if you like oolong. Try it if you haven’t had traditional processed Dong Ding, even if you’re not a fan of current style DD.
Or you know, don’t. It’ll leave more for me.
I cannot in truth explain the properties of this fine tea, for in has, in truth, gently turned my mind into soup. It is a splendid tea for relaxing, most excellent in longevity of flavor, if not as much durability.
I do not recommend having it if you intend to undertake strenuous activity or even partake in other teas subsequently.
There was a bit of storage in the early going, but it went away relatively quickly.
Pretty good value proposition due to being loose, I can see why he’s sold through various iterations of loose Da Ye over the years. Outside of storage it doesn’t progress overly much, but it does enough imo to keep focused attention.
And as you may have noticed, it can also cause rambling stream of consciousness. Well done, EoT.
This tea is an old, stately gentlemen, sitting in front of a chessboard, telling long, winding tales of a time few remember anymore. You haven’t a hope of winning the chess match, you’re just using all of your clock and a lot of delaying maneuvers to hear more of what he has to say.
And as he declares checkmate on you, the garrulous fellow stops in mid-sentence and looks up at the sun, nearly fully set now. He seems ready to stand, but looks into your eyes and reads what’s there. A smile creeps over his face, and he begins to replace his pieces in the starting positions.
When it took this out of the bag, it had a definite odor. What was it again?
Ah, yes. Camphor.
This dry leaf aroma is not even messing around. I was briefly concerned I’d accidentally brewed some sort of potpourri by mistake. There definitely was not attempt to hide anything in the name of this tea – it’s old, and it smells like camphor. So far, so good.
Early steeps taught me what the “leather” flavor I’ve occasionally heard mentioned is like. It didn’t make any sense to me as a descriptor not having tasted it before, and now that I have, the mental clouds have parted. So if you haven’t had something you’d describe in that manner, don’t assume it tastes like the rawhide cup in the Stone Age board game smells*.
The taste settled down throughout the steeps, which were many. There may have been a slight hint of storage aspect, but it definitely wasnt strong or overwhelmingly “moist” in nature. Just good humidity that helped the tea age well. It lasted longer than I had expected, since I figured loose sheng wouldn’t have the longevity of a compressed tea. Of course, age may have been the counterbalancing factor here, as I haven’t had much 90s compressed tea. What I suspect may be a product of the loose storage is a relative lack of complexity. Development really didn’t occur much. although every cup tasted quite good, it tasted very much like the last.
However, at the relatively low cost for something of this age, if you like a little camphor in your nasopharyngeal diet, you might do well to pick this up. If camphor is not your thing, one of Wilson’s tuos may hit the spot better – I intend to crack into my XG gold ribbon sometime next month, and will leave a note here when I do.
One thing’s for sure, I’m excited to see what other treats may be on offer from exciting new source of teas!- And the tasting note failure award for most unnecessarily obscure reference goes to….
“You can know a man by the trees he selects,” said nobody ever.
My primary impression of Mr. Feng is that he is a man who enjoys a well-aged scotch. The robust, thick liquor that the tea produces is smoky, and the flavor lasts a long, LONG time. It will punish you if you oversteep, much as you might be punished (though more belatedly) if you don’t exercise prudence with your scotch.
Other reviewers have noted that they feel this will become better with more age, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a rare case where I feel justified in stating that with several more years of quality storage, this will likely become a treasure.
As it stands now, it just tells us that Mr Feng likes his trees to be in it for the long haul.
Clearly this tea comes with a pedigree. When tea masters and discriminating connoisseurs Redford and SkyBlu immortalise your tea in song, you know you’ve made it. Well done Mandala.
I am not yet at the level of these esteemed sommaliers of Chinese tea, however, as I do not believe I have the capacity to enjoy this tea every day, as they have reported doing. It is a remarkably smooth drinker, yet with enough punchiness to retain interest, it’s true. But their refined palates must be grasping nuances beyond the ken of a beginner such as myself, to lead them to imbibe this on the daily. I do not think it could hold my interest at that frequency, though the fault is surely mine.
Yes, I will just come out and admit it. At best, I’d be shufflin’ monthly.
If they grew tea in the Garden in prelapsarian times, it would have been like this.
This tea is unforgivingly expensive; I mainly purchased it because it had effective “seals of approval” from both Tea For Me Please and Lazy Literatus’s blogs. Combining that with the effective minefield that is shopping for DHP as a relatively new westerner, and you’re ripe to overpay for something that isn’t at all as advertised.
So I figured that it was worth paying a lot for one session that would tell me what it is I should actually be seeking from DHP. And this tea delivered that in spades.
That being said, if reordering purely for pleasure, I’d do the Tie Luo Han every time. This was probably a hairsbreadth the superior tea – but to the tune of almost 4× the price? Not hardly.
To be clear though, I consider this more a sign of what a stonkeringly good deal the TLH is that this being overpriced. This is fully handmade, and something that you can’t really find here stateside. That being said, the convenience of single serving packaging and the ability to learn your preferences with minimal outlay are the largest factors in choosing this tea – not having tried EoT or Tea Urchin offerings, they appear to have similar teas with some bulk discounts (excepting the quite affordable TLH, which compares favorably at this outlet to top end competitors).
I have tried Tealet’s DHP (as offered by BTTC), and this was frankly superior. Whether it was enough so to justify the significantly higher cost is a decision I leave as an exercise for the reader.
May your cups be full of delicious tea.
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company stated everything accurately in their notes regarding this tea, but there may have been some attempt to “bury the lead” regarding the degree of storage flavor onboard.
Now, I’ll be perfectly honest here. I don’t have the most experience with the traditional or “wet” storage teas, so perhaps I’m a bit oversensitive. But if I had opened the pot lid after a few steeps and a kappa, a naiad, and a water elemental sprung out, the only surprising thing would have been the culture clash.
The early steeps, insofar as I could detect any other flavors, tasted like a smoothie made of turnips and a bit of raw radish. I’ve never had such a smoothie, so you may be wondering about the aptness of this comparison. Well, so am I. If you try the tea and have a better one, please do drop me a line, I’ll be curious to read it.
I have read in various locales that bought some aged oolongs and some wetter stored teas may have durability issues. This tea laughs at such reports, as I can say to my palate the storage taste was finally mostly off after a rinse and a mere ten steeps, but continued to produce reasonably thick and incredibly smooth brews for some time thereafter. The tale of a long, smooth steep out the website claimed was not exaggerated.
I’d say this is a tremendous educational tea, as it exhibits something I would call “clean wet storage”, which to some folks probably makes less sense a tall midget or a caring politician. I also found it a deeply soothing tea to drink, once it had progressed past the point of me wondering if swamp water was safe to ingest.
I intend to air the remainder out for some time. If the storage clears, I suspect this is a bargain at the price. If not, then those with a taste for such things should still enjoy it. I found my enjoyment increasing the more I drank, but whether that is relative to accustimization to the flavor profile or merely its lessening will require at least one more session to determine.
However, in what is perhaps a final telling arbiter in my overall thoughts, I look forward to that session.
(Reviewed in the 10g “coin” format)
First off, this tea is just the cutest. I want to hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him, and call him George. But probably not squeeze him TOO hard, his compression isn’t all that tight.
The dry leaf aroma is enchanting. I double checked after steeping, and I did in fact use artesinal spring water, which I was wondering if I hadn’t accidentally swapped with water from the river Lethe. I drank several steeps without having any particular memory of this tea.
I think the biggest flaw here, to my tastes, is that this production is the epitome of “all right”. The very definition of “okay”. If there was a Best Choice or Great Value brand for sheng, I’d expect it to taste pretty exactly like this, only less cute and without the great dry leaf aroma.
The wet leaf actually looked to be in very good condition, and leads me to wonder if perhaps the smaller quantity pressing here has led to faster aging, causing a tea that should still be relatively young to mimic the “awkward phase” of sheng where it’s neither young nor aged but just sort of… there.
Or it could just be I had an off day.
Either way, though, if I’m buying something youngish from Bitterleaf, Secret Garden, 24K, and Winter Wings were all stellar choices. This however… unless you’re planning a sheng tasting for 500 newbies and need something to be inoffensive to as many of them as possible, I’d stick to their other options.
Stinks to give a review like this to a company I’m very fond of, but if I don’t “call ’em as I see ’em”, these notes are useless to everyone.
Fortunately, I still have many other of their teas on my radar to order. Release your new teas Bitterleaf… pretty please? <3
…in pre-Cambrian times, teas like this were know to crawl out of the muck and attempt to form new species. This particular specimen had, to its advantage, a rock-hard carapace that could deflect teeth, claws, picks, knives, and in a truly remarkable feat of evolutionary foresight, small arms fire as well.
It hung on to its bitter disposition once making it to dry land, and intruders upon its space were dealt with harshly. Regardless, due to its delicious flesh, it was preyed upon by many and was believed to have gone extinct by January, 2014. (See Emmett et. al.)
Should you find yourself encountering something you believe to be an early to mid 2000s Traditional Characters, you should also keep in mind that various reports have indicated that “this sucker never dies,” thereby rendering a frontal assault generally effective in producing many, many tasty liquors.
Rumors have indicated that there is a reasonably large reward out for specimens of this, should any still exist, but it’s fundamentally unclear who is expected to provide them.
Should our grant come through, we intend to further our knowledge in this field by studying in some detail its evolutionary predecessor, the 2001 Xiaguan recently discovered by one Mr. Wilson of Yunnan Sourcing, in the hopes that a comparison may prove enlightening.
Thank you for attending today’s panel. Were there any questions?