64 Tasting Notes
Continuing my extensive (two stop) tour of cheap 2005 sheng this weekend, we come to this tea from PuerhShop. My worry, after my previous Puerhshop experience, is that this tea will have had storage inside a bucket of DampRid and essentially turned into a pile of dust.
Fortunately, this was not the case. The storage was dry, but only in a clean and still punchy sense. This may have been a blessing after yesterday, lest my GI tract suspect I have been plotting to murder it. The tastes were rather variant, which made sense when turning out the pot post-session, as there were green leaves, red leaves, big leaves, small leaves, stems, and a partridge in a pear tree included. As befits an old recipe.
I oversteeped it once, which rewarded me with a harsh brew, but it recovered well. I got spiced plum flavors once, when I slurped vigorously. I recommend slurping therefore, especially if you’re around people who be highly affronted. Viva le slurp revolution!
Of the 4 PuerhShop teas I tried this was definitely my fave. Worth a sample if you like ‘em dry. Bang for the buck, I preferred yesterday’s, but I could easily see others feeling differently.
This tea, which comes from ChawangShop’s well renowned product line of “the more words in the title, the better the tea”, is astonishingly cheap for its age. From such a well known vendor, this often a portent of some sort of doom. What kind? Let’s find out!
The dry leaf had no shortage of odor, primarily of a musty variety. This does not lead me to believe we’re dealing with a genteel, floral affair here. This is some biker bar tea odor right here. Game on.
It becomes apparent from the first rinse that the 2005 do re mi fa so la ti do is going to be a very no-nonsense cup, which is fine by me. Having worked ten hours yesterday, I’ve had my fill of nonsense. Early infusions are thick and hearty, yet unrefined. The mouthfeel is excellent, but both Tibetan Flame pu bricks and Pigpen from Peanuts are looking at this tea askance and thinking it’s a bit dirty. Would have been a wise idea to employ a strainer.
I think if I were to try to describe the flavors, I would term them Gothic. In the “portentously gloomy” sense, of course, not the young girls wearing black dresses and ridiculously small hats sense. It’s old, it’s fermented, and was likely put up damp at some point, and it’s not going to hide any of it. Take it or leave it.
Lest I give the impression I wasn’t impressed with this tea however, I do feel that if you’re not looking for a focused detail tasting session by the koi pond of your Zen garden with guqin music in the background, but rather something to provide an excellent background chug while you perform your duties as a lumberjack or bear wrestler, the 2005 up down up down left right left right B A merits much consideration. Good longevity, decent flavor duration, not much progression, but if you want tea that does acrobatic tastes, you’ll be paying a lot more.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pluck some of these new hairs off my chest.
Tea with a Shapeshifter
Laying hands on TwoDog’s Privates
At the beginning of the session, I was worried. The W2T site notes that “There is some humidity that still shows up in early steeps…”, which is not unlike observing that the day after hitting the iceberg, the Titanic was somewhat damp. Granted, this could be related to my history of insufficient rinsing, which is being chronicled here with some regularity.
Thankfully, it only took a couple of steeps for these flavors to integrate into the proceedings instead of dominating them. Once this had occured, I found myself enjoying cup after cup of delicious brew. They just kept piling up, like clowns out of a clown car, well past the point where I lost track of the number. The relaxation afforded me by the complex yet reassuringly familiar sensations of this tea had me well past caring about things like steep number, duration, or water temperature, but the leaves carried on undeterred.
The flavor profile is a tricky one to describe, bringing so many different enjoyable notes for brief periods and changing them often. Also unhelpful for this section was Steepster going down right when I tried to write this up, leaving me with only the memories that lasted until morning to work with.
Another vastly enjoyable session from W2T provided you don’t fear the wetter storages. I think it was let back up to breathe before it drowned, but YMMV.
Another triumph, although I liked their tie luo han better. This is probably just my personal preferences in oolongs, though.
More beautiful leaf with a delectable dry odor, once again good for over ten solid infusions. I did notice the tofu note mentioned in the website, but only on steep one. After that the minerality picked up, and a floral arrangement that was quite pleasing. The flavor lasted long, and it had a rich, coating mouthfeel.
I must again observe that if you’re looking to treat yourself to a fine oolong, this would be a vendor I’d highly recommend checking out, at least for yancha. I have other oolongs from them as well, which I will dip into soon as the summer heats up – given my experiences thus far, hopes are running high!
This was a much, much cleaner tea than my previous liu bao experience. Its flavor profile was intensely earthy early on, and made me think of words I haven’t heard since various earth science and biology courses, like “loamy” and even “fecund”.
The soup was quite thick and satisying. There was decent, though not amazing, longevity. It was a tremendously satisfying free sample, which was all the more critical since EoT provided it with both my orders thus far. I would recommend this to anyone who likes very earthy shupu, or who wishes to reconnect with the earth.
Note: my tuo was purchased through Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company; given that most of their pu seems to be sourced through other vendors, I just added this one instead of creating a new entry. Should anyone have knowledge that this is a noticeably differently stored tea, I’d be interested to hear it.
This tea is reputedly from Lao Man’E, a region of some renown. It is famous for its tremendous strength and bitterness, and the dry leaf odor alone lends some credence to this claim, as it manages to smell like a kilo of tea in a 250g bag.
I didn’t leaf too heavily, this being the first Bulang I’ve had at all, and I didn’t want to have to spend my evening trying to find where my taste buds had landed after they’d been blown clean out of my head. I think I hit a decent proportion for a Bulang novice at about 1g/18mL, as the bitterness was certainly present in greater quantity than I would expect from a 9 year old sheng, but was not so bad that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the first few cups. Later infusions softened comparatively, but never backed down to the point that you could be sure you hadn’t insulted the tea’s lineage in a past life and it was out for revenge.
This all being said, I do believe this is from very young trees/bushes – it didn’t exhibit tremendous complexity or particularly pronounced aftertaste (though the ku hung around for a bit, somehow in a manner rather enjoyable). Body effect was non-zero, but not impressive. Wet leaves were reasonably intact – most of any leaf was there, but rarely all. As this was my initial crack into the tuo, this could be a covering leaves only phenomenon. Leaf size was rather small.
Overall it was an interesting experience – if I’d read my account of it beforehand, I’d likely have expected to have enjoyed it less than I actually did. Perhaps next time I’ll go big and see if I have an even better time, or just get knocked on my keister.
Likely worth a sample if you like teas that bite back – not that I’m sure anyone offers samples of it. But at right around 20 per tuo, it’s a good value for a “daily drinker” IMO.
Just watch what you say about its mother.
This tea is many things.
I won’t attempt to discern whether the tea is real CNNP, or real 1998, or even real tea.
It clearly still has some punchiness to it, and it has some noticeable hints of age, but is remarkably yellow for a tea from 1998. It has flickering hints of flavors, like a mimeograph of the tea it once was. Overall, it’s still an enjoyable drink, don’t get me wrong, but if this is what dry storage hath wrought, I’ll be keeping my tea in the steam baths from now on.
The mouthfeel is not terribly viscous, there is not much noticeable body effect, and while there is some persistent aftertaste, it’s rather muted, as if from far away. What’s that, Lassie? The 7542 fell down the well?
Best leave it a while, then, it might help.
First, I must apologize to Paul of W2T, Hobbes, anyone with the misfortune to read this, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel.
Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to drink of you again
Within my gaiwan I am peeping
Your liquor darkens as you’re steeping
And the flavors, that my palate can’t explain
still remain within the leaves of White Whale
Attention on the cup alone
Enjoy the tea, put down the phone
Within the shadow cast by my desk lamp
admire the color wrought by storage damp
Then my brain’s focused
as the brew shows me the light
my mind’s set right
drinking the leaf of White Whale
And in the morning light I saw
it go for twelve steeps, maybe more
I was tea drunk, so I failed counting
Too tea drunk for detailed tasting
Quite tea drunk, Two Dog
you’ve outdone yourself again
so much praise penned
about the leaves of White Whale
“Fools,” said Hobbes, “you do not know -
it’s so d@mn good your mind will blow!
Read my words that I might teach you
Buy these bricks, I do beseech you!”
And this fellow’s words, I weighed and I believed
and ordered these, my tasty leaves of White Whale
All the laggards grew dismayed
a higher price must now be paid
But Paul gave us all a fair warning
and the new cost befits its performing
And the heart says
“The path to true joy
is covered in fine puer leaf
Begin with leaves of White Whale
Note: I do not personally know any of the people mentioned in the above, and Hobbes never endorsed buying tea without sampling first.