10 Tasting Notes
It’s a very light and smooth shou puerh, which is so light and delicate, yet dark and tasty… I think that I can finally convince my Mom that although it is as dark as night, it really has no caffeine and will be a great before-bed tea.
I really enjoy the aroma most of all… very sweet, almost like baked bread. It’s very smooth and balanced. As always, difficult to describe in terms of foods and flavors that are familiar, but I believe that this qualifies as a tremendously smooth and easy entrance into the world of shou puerhs, and would be great for new tea drinkers and connoisseurs alike.
Bada is an area familiar to me for sheng puerh, and I know that the raw materials are good, so while I’m surprised that more punch isn’t jumping out of this leaf, something about the region, Jeff’s sourcing, and knowing that a robust underlying leaf brings me comfort and enhances the cup!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cookie, Creamy, Wet Earth
Although I’m not a huge shou puerh (ripe) drinker, I can definitely appreciate a good one for a combination of its smoothness and the nostalgia it brings to pot after pot of puerh that I’ve consumed post-dim sum in Hong Kong… This Ba Ka Ngoi “fermented puerh” is a great example of one that I can drink for hours on end with very little change in flavor and a smoothness that is unlike some lower quality ripened leaves…
I often struggle to find tasting notes for a ripe puerh — simply, well because, it tastes mostly like a ripe puerh. Few things quite have that unrecognizable palate of flavors that make up the general flavor of this nostalgia tea (at least for me)… Oftentimes, I think that a lower quality shou will taste like cardboard, and a higher quality will taste like the sweet earth… this is definitely example of the latter.
I’m about 8 steeps in with a small gaiwan and while the mouthfeel and body of the tea has changed and become lighter, the flavor and color are fairly consistent. Again, I’ll steep this until I remember that I want to switch to a raw puerh, or maybe an oolong, but overall, it’s a GREAT tea and I recommend this for reading before bed, slowly waking up, or basically anything in between.
If I must place some notes on it, I’d say a sweet baked wheat aroma with a hint of charcoal (almost like a smoldering campfire)… The taste is gentle, smooth, silky-smooth in fact, and tastes something like a post-dim sum concoction of shou puerh and dried tree bark!
Flavors: Bark, Earth
This is really a fun tea, especially as I introduce it to new tea drinkers or those that have never seen it before… Not only is it curly and “snail-looking”, but it’s also orange and has notes of malty chocolate. It’s a great way to introduce Yunnan blacks to those that LOVE Indian leaves.
So anyway, I really like the aesthetics and could go on and on about how it unravels and the leaves are consistent and the cup is a deep orange, instead of the heavily oxidized reddish color…. BUT, we’re here to drink tea, so lets talk flavor:
Yunnan teas are well known for their chocolatey, malty, mocha flavors… This leave is no different. I definitely got a lingering hint of honey and perhaps another sweet note, caramel and/or dried fruits. None of these are overpowering or dominant, so it’s nice to find balance here. I was able to steep several times (5-6 in a medium sized gaiwan) and noticed that a gradual shift to grains and less sweetness ensued.
Really a pleasure to sip overall and I think that it’s worth revisiting the fact that the appearance for new tea drinkers will blow minds! A beautiful takeaway from the famous green tea, Bi Luo Chun, of Jiangsu Province, for those that don’t know…
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Wheat
It’s a very bold leaf with lots of stimulating effects if you drink it long enough… I’m able to get several infusions as the twisted leaves unravel, which is unusual of course for a green tea. I really think that this could replace coffee for caffeine addicts, as it’s boldness is no joke.
The appearance almost looks like a Guangdong oolong, albeit a bit on the greener side… It’s flavor definitely nods to some Chinese greens: roasted, buttery, corn notes… For people that think that India only produces good black teas, think again… This is a great and unexpectedly delicious green tea with medium-higher astringency and again, an unbelievable ability to provide several infusions.
I came at this with too much time in the pot the first time, and perhaps a higher temperature than is necessary, and since have dialed back to find my personal sweet spot at about 175F and no more than 20-30 seconds per infusion. This allowed me to prolong my sipping session, as well as gradually introduce the caffeine into my body, which is not a problem for most of us, but something to rightly consider….
All in all, I LOVE that Hari Muskan has more flavor than some of the finer, lighter Chinese greens, and I love that India is producing some real quality these days as a distinct alternative to Chinese and Japanese greenery (NOT that I don’t love them, but who doesn’t love some variety).
My girlfriend claims that this ices well in a cold-brew style of preparation, but I haven’t ventured there – especially now that it’s chilling out in Chicago!
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Grapefruit, Walnut
I should preface by saying that I am addicted to unfermented sheng puerh, so my palate is not only accustomed to the bold astringency and stimulative qualities of a fresh sheng, but it actually craves it… Not everyone is into shengs (but they should be!), but for fresh puerh loves, this Meng Hun has all of the raw characteristics of a tea that you will want to age, but you won’t be able to because it’s ‘that’ good right now…
I was taken back at the overall balance of flavor and bold aromas of this leaf… I received this with my monthly does of 100g cakes from Jalam teas. Jeff does a great job sourcing teas that otherwise might have never made it into our cups, so much credit to him for finding this one and opening my eyes (very wide).
It has a lot of the usual flavor notes of a good sheng: hay, straw, honey, corn, etc… You get a bit of each, but unlike many shengs which I enjoy, this one has a naturally sweet flavor that accentuates its very un-sweet notes. It’s really nice! Reminds me of cornbread sort of.. Is that weird?
So although I would LOVE to age this baby, and I’m sure that it would age quite well; sadly, it probably won’t survive the next month, let alone this weekend. Highly recommended, if you can get your hands on some…
Flavors: Corn Husk, Hay, Honey, Straw, Wet Earth
Attention Jasmine lovers!! If you crave the soothing flavor of jasmine blossom, you’re going to love this silver needle/jasmine combo… I’m not really a big scented tea drinker, but the unmistakable scent and flavor of jasmine is very nostalgic for me. It takes me back to my early tea discovering days in Hong Kong, when I would travel with a small pouch of ever-convenient jasmine pearls, soaking in the culture and exploring tea houses in search of something new…
The notable point that I would like to make about this tea is its lack of astringency, especially compared to the more common Jasmine Pearl green tea, which is often slightly bitter. When sipping the green variety, I often find myself wrestling with the dichotomy of the jasmine — which I love — with the bitterness of a base green tea — which I do not love… Some people enjoy the bite of astringency though, so that is just my personal opinion.
In this case, the jasmine comes through very clearly… Truthfully, it’s hard to even taste the silver needle white tea, which is a shame, but who cares!
I tried this before and found that shorter infusions are better for extending the infusion potential (# of times) of this leaf. Jasmine releases quite quickly, so 30sec – 1min for the first 2-3 infusions is fine, with longer infusions following that.
Flavors: Honey, Jasmine
A unique bouquet almost bursts with so many flavors, it’s difficult to narrow down exactly what is being tasted… The obvious notes include various types of honey — I taste buckwheat, tupelo, wildflower, but I’m quite certain that my honey palate is hardly delicate enough to make those claims, but anyway..
When I asked a grower why the process of producing Gui Fei went so deep into the summer, he answered quickly… “Oh, well of course, because we have to wait for the bug bite.” I thought that was hilarious. Wait what? The bug bite?? Was he joking? No. The “bug bite” he was referring to was the invasion of green leafhoppers, which alter the chemical composition of the leaf, and apparently impart its unique flavor profile.
Also, I usually give it a rinse and then jump in with 20-30 second infusions, noting that the 2nd and 3rd infusion result in a unusually thick liquor which is sweet and carries a fairly impressive hui gan… Later infusions, say 4-6 will bring more floral and spicy notes, but the sweet fruits lay off a bit.. Also, the leaves don’t seem to want to unfurl, so I’d add 15-30 seconds in subsequent infusions beyond the 3rd.
So all in all, its an oddly addicting oolong, and highly unique, so please try and let me know what type of tasting notes you are able to pull out, curious to hear!
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Honey, Nuts
This particular Da Hong Pao — a legend among legendary Chinese teas — is definitely a lower roast that most others… which seems to deliver a bouquet of various fruits, hard to even say which (maybe apple, cherry, peach, apricot, stone fruits?)… It’s a very popular and easy drinker for newer tea drinkers. My parents and grandparents love it, you really can’ t go wrong!
Flavors: Apricot, Dates, Honey, Peach, Plums, Stewed Fruits, Stonefruit
A fine transition for curious Puerh drinkers between the potency and raw vegetal notes of a sheng and the earthier, mellowed smooth notes of a decades-aged puerh leaf. I definitely recommend short infusions and many… I can get 10-12 without much loss of potency, frequently more.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Pine, Seaweed, Stewed Fruits, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
Honestly, can’t think of a bad thing to say about the digital Zojirushi water dispensers… I actually have a different model, the 5L size in the same color, and I have run 2 of them side by side at 175 and 205 degrees. It just makes it so incredibly easy to infuse tea whenever you want… Highly, highly recommended (although I do agree, these are NOT cheap!)