167 Tasting Notes
I ordered a 25g sample from Yunnan Craft. They sell an entire cake for $53* (edit) as of 6/30/2018. Their description of their particular cakes follows: “Very well stored tea cake. Scent of the walnuts crushed on the old wooden table comes out from gaiwan within first brew. No any unpleasant taste or throat feeling of dry storage. The dark ruby red tea liquor is thick and sweet with very slight citrus sensation on sides of your tongue which gives nice boost of existing nutty flavor. Tea can be steeped many times. This tea comes from an authorized Da Yi supplier!”
Overall, the sweetness is noticeable – fig, molasses, chocolate toffee. It is a taste I only associate with Menghai ripes. This particular cake has a very developed and multifaceted sweetness. However, I did find the aftertaste to be remarkably light and fleeting. It is a good tea, and an excellent candidate to get to know the Menghai ripe flavor profile.
Dry leaf – molasses, stewed plums, cherry wood, chocolate toffee. Noticeable syrupy sweetness on nose
Smell – hazelnut, prune, dried fig, fig newton, molasses and chocolate toffee, coffee grounds. Fruitiness is noticeable
Taste – fig newton, hazelnut and Brazil nut, chocolate toffee. Creamy in mouth, finishes dry with light woody nuttiness. Aftertaste is light and fleeting
Overall, a nice, creamy ripe. It has notes of vanilla and bourbon cask, some dry chocolate notes, raw Brazil and hazelnut, and cherry pit and cherry wood flavors. There are the slightest hints of horehound in the aftertaste. It has a creamy flavor, although I wouldn’t necessarily describe the mouthfeel as creamy – it felt a bit light for me, although I tend to like really thick motor-oil ripes.
I couldn’t detect much of an aged taste, although there was a certain “fusty” dustiness that popped up very subtly in the finish. No camphor notes or other flavors that point to more progressed aging. On the topic of age, I appreciate Yunnan Craft’s addressing the purported age of this tea with what they consider to be more realistic.
So, a nice tea if you like ripes on the lighter end of things, and the flavors are very good. Decent value for the price.
Loose-leaf gong ting grade material that was picked and processed in 2017. Despite its youth, this is exceptionally clean and easy to drink. Deliciously nutty with dry chocolate notes and noticeable molasses sweetness, followed up with date-like fruitiness. No unpleasant flavors – there is a bit of fishiness present in the smell of the dry leaves, but this does not carry over to the liquor or taste itself.
I was surprised to see this much going on in such a young tea, particularly in only a single-grade ripe pu’erh. I really enjoy the gong ting grade in general, but this is a great one, and will likely have even more to offer once it ages a bit. Excellent product.
Dry leaf – some fishiness, dark cocoa, hazelnut, Brazil nut, hints of cherry wood and coffee grounds. In preheated vessel – pungent sweetness of blackstrap molasses present
Smell – Brazil nut, dark molasses, nutty woodiness, hints of dried dates
Taste – arrival is fairly soft, with Brazil nut and hazelnut. Development includes light coffee grounds, cocoa, molasses. Finish is clean, with nutty dryness. Aftertaste of date, molasses, nuttiness, even hints of slight floral.
A nice, savory green tea. Notes of roasted nut and corn are balanced by consistent lemongrass notes and hints of fruitiness. There are subtle hints of more complex flavors like Mexican chocolate, dried mango, and macerated blackberries.
I generally prefer sweeter green teas, but this is a great option for those who prefer more savory greens. The roasted notes are not overwhelming, and the savory flavors are well balanced.
First time with gyokuro here folks, so proceed with caution!
The long-and-short of this review is buy some of this tea. Absolutely delicious. Great balance of sweet and savory, and its complexity blew me away. Amazing development with an incredible range of flavors.
It certainly didn’t blow my head off with umami, although that could be easily achieved with a bit more leaf and slightly higher temps. It arrived as a delicious nori and herbal arrival that transformed into vegetal and corn sweet savoriness. Then, beginning with the finish, the notes become fresh, fruity, and sweet. A joy to drink all-around.
Also, given the regular cost of gyokuro, this is an absolute steal. Of course, I can’t speak to how it compares with more expensive options, but you certainly can’t go wrong with this offering by O-Cha.
Dry leaf – butter cream frosting, sweet corn, pineapple, coconut, honeydew melon, grilled corn
Smell – buttercream, buttered greens, pineapple, spice cake
Taste – nori arrival, dried parsley/cilantro, spinach, edamame, sweet corn development, chlorophyll and fresh parslely and sweet corn in finish; raw almond, watermelon rind, pineapple rind in aftertaste. Mint in long aftertaste
I jumped the gun and pre-ordered this as a shincha. I wanted to get slapped in the face by fresh spring grass, and this didn’t disappoint. When I first brewed it, I was actually a bit taken back by the grassiness, but it was because I eyeballed the proportions and took my best guess on the temperature.
The second time around, I followed the instructions, and the flavor was much more subdued and sweet.
However, the more the I drank it, the more I kept pushing the brewing parameters by increasing leaf and even using slightly hotter water because I found myself wanting more grassiness and umami. The tea responded incredibly well. I was really happy with how much I could manipulate the experience to my liking – more sweetness sometimes, more umami other times, etc.
Overall, the tea has a nice pineapple and coconut sweetness followed by fresh parsley that lingers as parsley and minty aftertaste. In the background (which you can bring out more with stronger brewing parameters), there is a backbone of steamed spinach, edamame, and marine umami.
Dry leaf – grass, honeydew melon, pineapple juice, roasted corn
Smell – roasted corn, cooked spinach, melon sweetness
Taste – spinach, roasted corn, pineapple rind, coconut, salted melon, fresh grass, chlorophyll savory sweetness, fresh parsley
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So, this is one of those legendary teas that costs an arm and a leg, coming from a region known for producing “gift teas.” I got it as part of a package generously provided by Liquid Proust (who, I believe, acquired it through TeaPals, who supply Chen Yuan Hao products). If you want to really see what hard-to-find pu’erh is all about, you have to check out his offerings. He makes the exclusive stuff very accessible (and affordable, at that.)
Overall, this tea is fine. It’s a hay-ish, floral, and citrusy tea with some fruit notes that remind me of what you find in a Dayi 7542. Tasty, unassuming, soft – very Yiwu-esque.
I’m not going to beat up this tea, but it’s hard not to be critical when it claims such a price ($1000/cake) and you find yourself really honing in on what the tea offers. I’m really happy to have had the chance to sample such an exclusive tea and to better wrap my head around what is claimed to be some of the “best” pu’erh. Again, it was an enjoyable session.
That said, for those of you on a tight budget who don’t drink $1000 cakes, or even $100 cakes, don’t think that what you are consuming is crap. In fact, the teas that I would give top marks to are actually some of the cheapest teas I own. Literally all of the expensive teas I have tried (from $200-$1000 a cake) have been good, but notably average and easily compared to teas that sell at a fraction of the price. That may tell you more about my own palate than tea quality, but take it as you will.
Anyway, suffice it to say that if you are curious about what this tea offered, I seriously would recommend another hay-ish, floral, and sweet tea offered by Yunnan Sourcing – “Chen Yun Yuan Cha” ($56). I compared both, and the YS cake had more powerful floral aromas and a thicker body. The sweetness of the YS cake is more honeysuckle and honey, while the CYH cake has more gummy fruitiness. The YS cake also has some very faint char notes, but it comes out more of a subtle smokiness, and is not at all unpleasant. Put side-by-side, I would likely grab a cup of the YS cake over the CYH cake.
There you have it. Again, this is a good tea, no question about it. It certainly has high praise from tea bloggers. I just think hyping these things up is a disservice for new pu’erh drinkers. You don’t need super old or super expensive boutique teas to have a quality pu’erh session. Quite the opposite, in fact. Personally, now that I have gone out and sampled 20-30+ year old teas, several Lao Ban Zhang’s and Bing Dao’s, a number of gu shu’s, and other “premium” pu’erhs, I am relieved to find that the experience of these teas is very easily found elsewhere in cheaper and more accessible teas.
Dry leaf – lemon/citrus, floral, peach confectionery, blackberry pie filling
Smell – light, sweet floral, some lemon notes, lemongrass, gummy fruitiness (Juicy Fruit), hints of blackberry. Icing sugar and spice cake in empty cup
Taste – lemon, floral, gummy fruit, hay, lemongrass, hints of spice cake in development, hints of slightly tart red apple in finish. Aftertaste is very light. Hints of floral and white pepper
See others’ reviews here:
TeaDB – https://teadb.org/2015-chenyuan-hao-mansong/
Cwyn – https://deathbytea.blogspot.com/2017/01/2015-chen-yuan-hao-mansong-yibang.html
Maybe I’m just a cheap date…
First, thanks to Liquid Proust for making old pu’erh available at an affordable price. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to expand their experiences and palate.
There is a lot of discussion out there regarding storage. Most people talk about humid vs. dry storage, in addition to how exactly they attempt to create their little pu’erh microclimates. That’s all good, but no one really ever talks about how long they plan on storing this stuff. There is a general perception that older is better. I would simply say that older is just different. And so, depending on your palate, older might just be worse.
That said, I think this is a good tea to sample to see if, for you, older is better. Do you like those earthy, vegetal pond flora notes? Do you like a cereal savory-sweetness? Do like the fragrant and pungent aroma of camphor? If so, then I guess you better start clearing some space for your stash, because you, my friend, like old pu’erh.
Personally, I find older pu’erh interesting, but not superior. For me, the optimum age for pu’erh is 7-12 years, under dry-ish storage conditions. But that’s because I like tobacco notes and dried fruit and spice cake sweetness, with some floral notes that give it some zest and pop. Stuff like the 1990s Guangyun is fun – and I have to say that the camphor experience is unique for sure (sort of like a peaty Islay Scotch malt – not delicious, per se, but fascinating and complex).
If you think you do like old pu’erh and are lamenting your expensive tastes and lack of storage, I really think you have some cheaper options. First of all, earthy, woody ripe pu’erh is a damn good approximation. You’re not going to get the fragrant camphor notes (although I have had one or two ripes that have it – more expensive than run-of-the-mill ripes, but much cheaper than aged sheng). Also, I think Fu Zhuan hei cha also gives an interesting “Chinese medicine” sort of experience that you get with old sheng. I don’t know – maybe mix the two together and see what happens?!
Anyway, this tea is mighty tasty, and certainly worth the low price LP offers it for. I just think that people need to be real about putting old sheng pu’erh on a pedestal. People are dropping loads of cash for teas that (I’m sorry) taste like a $50 wet-stored ripe.
Don’t take my word for it. Get some of this tea and see what you think.
Dry leaf – pond flora, compost, forest floor, wet wood. In preheated vessel – cereal notes arrive
Smell – pond flora, cream of wheat, camphor, wet hardwood
Taste – pond flora, cream of wheat, wet hardwood. Hints of chocolate in finish. Aftertaste has fragrant camphor notes arrive, lemongrass, poppy seed, lemon pith, with secondary notes of prune and rum-raisin sweetness that linger in the background.
This has a really nice flavor profile – thick caramel and marshmallow sweetness with pecan nuttiness, with roasted nut and slight campfire smokiness. There are notes of chocolate and even slight waxy fruitiness that carry along as secondary notes throughout.
The balance and complexity are outstanding. Later steeps develop minerality and syrupy fruitiness that reminded me of the syrupiness in Trappist ales.
I tend to brew things hard, but I got three infusions with the flavors above, with another two or three that tended towards more mineral flavors. Overall, this is a re-purchase for me.
Dry leaf – caramel, milk chocolate, praline, honey roasted peanuts, some peanut shell, hint of waxy red fruit (mulberry), hints of white pepper
smell – dark/burnt caramel, roasted pecan, marshmallow sweetness, waxy red fruit, hints of campfire, chocolate digestive biscuit and graham cracker
taste – dark caramel, roasted pecan, burnt marshmallow, substantial wet-rock minerality in aftertaste (almost Wu Yi like), some mulberry notes in aftertaste, bits of cocoa and chocolate appear throughout, especially in arrival and then again in aftertaste