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Recent Tasting Notes
And the final Chawangshop Liubao from White Antlers’ Swedish Death Purge.
Very fine leaf pick clearly shows how small the sinensis varietal leaf used for Liubao teas is. The leaves are tiny curls reminiscent of biluochun green tea. Really a sight in comparison to rougher grade liubao. The fragrance of the leaf is this ethereal mix of baby powder, very softly smoked dried jujube, and the tanginess of a deep and dark TCM broth. Warmed is the same though more intense with the TCM character.
Aroma is soft and sweet, sometimes with hints of chocolate. The wet leaf presents quite green despite being 10 years old and that is evident in the mouth. Taste is perfumey almost, heathery and of cool-bittersweet purple flowers such as lavender followed later by an airy – not fruity – jasmine. These flow through the main taste which is warm and light with tones of hay, dried moss, pumpkin seed and TCM broth. The upfront bitterness spreads and penetrates, it feels like stippling on the tongue. Not like the bitterness of assamica pu’er at all. Like a sheer curtain. A juicy swallow is soon followed by faint campfire smokiness on the backend before an apricot aftertaste presents and lingers with the florals throughout the infusions. If the liquor is left to cool, I can taste vanilla in the finish. Something about this reminds of a heathery whisky. Energy and character leans a little more toward cooling than warming.
This is an elegant and refined liubao! It takes long, hot steeps with grace. Despite still being green, the profile and structure is mature without having any muddled or overt masculine character. Really special stuff. Chawangshop offers some spectacular liubao and I’d highly suggest checking them out if you’re wanting to explore liubao. Too bad these teas from White Antlers are no longer in stock; without question, I’d spring for 3 of the 4 that I had the pleasure of sampling.
Flavors: Apricot, Baby Powder, Bitter, Bittersweet, Campfire, Chocolate, Dates, Drying, Floral, Hay, Jasmine, Juicy, Lavender, Moss, Perfume, Pumpkin Seed, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vanilla
I decided to gongfu this ripe today and results aren’t so good as I have thought. Thank you Michelle and Rich once again.
Probably, it has faded a lot, because while it is perfectly drinkable, it falls a bit flat for me. Rich described it well: “Deep and rich, hearty and earthy, a little sweet, not too complex." and I have to agree with one exception. It’s not rich much anymore. Needs longer steeping times.
Alkaline and creamy, subtly betel nut spicy. Hay bale and raw pumpkin seed flavor with touches of dried black olive, dates, smoked meat and cacao. Comfortable drying and tongue-tingling then playful numbing sensation. A purple-blue floral bitter aftertaste rises from the throat and sticks to the tongue. It feels like exhaling the scent of blueberry skins and violet with the tiniest bit of lavender through the nose. Fairly neutral energy temperature but leans more toward cooling.
Aroma, taste, texture, energy — all working together to create a very comfortable tea!
Thank you, White Antlers <3
Flavors: Alkaline, Baby Powder, Bittersweet, Blueberry, Cacao, Creamy, Dates, Dried Fruit, Drying, Floral, Grilled Food, Hay, Lavender, Mineral, Nutty, Olives, Petrichor, Pumpkin Seed, Seashell, Spicy, Violet
When the sun goes down in November, the cold penetrates to the bone. No better tea to banish the chill and flood the body with warmth than a good aged tea. Feeling grateful for a lot of luxuries right now.
An aged tea does not usually beckon one to admire the leaf. Here, the leaf is surprisingly large and in tact. It looks well processed and cared for. Nor does an aged tea usually beckon one to admire the leaf aromas. When dry, it smells like a powdery soft vanilla root beer, soy sauce, BBQ and wintergreen. Warming brings hard and dark wooden furniture. Rinsing brings back the root beer and wintergreen, now with earth-encrusted tree roots and petrichor, a general TCM feeling, tobacco and bread dough.
The liquor has a surprisingly strong wintergreen and BBQ pork aroma. The aged taste, less concentrated than the leaf aromas, begins with straw, wintergreen, campfire and a hint of butter, transitioning to a clean and crisp wintergreen woody tobacco root beer. I’ve never had birch beer but it makes me wonder if this is close. A slight cherry bark undertone comes into play.
The mouthfeel is generally smooth and mineral with some moments of juiciness followed by an alkaline impression in the back of the mouth. A little bit drying, some tingling of the salivary glands. The overall feeling, especially in the mouth and throat, is warming/cooling, much like the pervasive wintergreen character.
I read from both of the other reviewers that this tea is rather energizing, however those experiences were from 7 and 5 years ago, so maybe some of the caffeine has degraded with time. I was acting goofy and singing stupid songs to my cat (she’s almost 21!) and an imaginary crowd before sitting down with this tea; now I feel warm and relaxed, quieted. Bedtime is when I realize I’ve had a strong tea too late in the evening. If that’s the case, thankfully it’s Saturday.
White Antlers — your presence is missed. Thanks for passing this one on.
Flavors: Alkaline, Bark, Bread Dough, Campfire, Cherry, Dark Wood, Drying, Earth, Grilled Food, Mineral, Root Beer, Roots, Salt, Smooth, Soy Sauce, Straw, Tobacco, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vanilla, Wintergreen, Woody
From White Antlers, thank you :)
Simple tea with aged, wet storage taste. There are no rough edges here nor is there any soil murkiness, however, one probably needs to appreciate damp notes to enjoy this tea. Most notable is its silky, almost oily, texture; also its comfortable, expansive mouthfeel. It’s not often I experience a mouth-filling tea.
The profile is somewhat alkaline and very rounded with mostly a basement-cavern-petrichor note followed by dry root cellar, once-wet wood, very mellow TCM, some fleeting fruitiness and a clean, mineral finish with non-existent aftertaste. Of the four steeps, the last two revealed the leaf’s hidden smokiness and pine wood.
I added a few tea seed shells from Liquid Proust to the pot without having tried the tea on its own first, so I do wonder how they contributed to last night’s perceptions.
Going to the SF Tea Fest for the first time in 4 years next weekend. Most excited to chat with UC Davis Global Tea Initiative, which 4 years ago I had hoped to join should I have attended UC Davis for a grad program but life swiftly led me in another direction. No regrets. Old Ways Tea will be there, too, and I wonder if Tillerman Tea will make an appearance.
Flavors: Alkaline, Earth, Mineral, Petrichor, Pine, Roots, Round, Silky, Smoke, Tannin, Tree Fruit, Wet Rocks, Wet wood, Woody
Part of the gifted shou box from Rich, thanks!
This one started off strong, dark, chocolately and a hint of sweetness. I will experiment with times and amount of leaf, but even the last weak and watery 20 min steep is nice. A bit of camphor comes through in the last steeps and the chocolate has fled. What a nice shou puerh!
Finally getting around to the Chawangshop teas I purchased maybe 3 years ago.
An exploration of Mengsong pu’er. The Mengsong here is blended with Jingmai material.
I’ve been nursing this over the course of the day since past experience with Jingmai teas has often left me feeling spun. It’s been forceful yet kind.
The tea makes its first impression with a cooling eucalyptus overlay. Stonefruit and citrus tones. Deep, and buttery-cooked-plum sweet. The sweetness is moderate, not as rich as Yiwu teas can be. Underlying astringency becomes more pronounced but never out of control. Initially, it lacks bitterness but it develops at an adequate pace. Like the astringency, never out of control.
Maybe this tea gets its punch and strength from Mengsong, but the flavor profile reminds me more of Jingmai. The aroma is developing and the liquor is pouring a brownish-orange color. The dry leaf is darkening. It seems like it was pressed medium-tight but water loss has made peeling layers off an easy task. This is a solid tea. Nothing amazing but for where it is in its age, it’s doing mighty fine :)
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Citrus, Eucalyptus, Fruity, Peat Moss, Plum, Smoke, Stonefruit
When dry, this tea’s aroma reminds me of juniper berries and fireplace. After the rinse, it is musty and earthy with a touch of oak. The liquor has a buttery and bubbly texture and a sweet & savoury profile with strong minerality and grape flavour.
Flavors: Berries, Earth, Fireplace, Grapes, Mineral, Musty, Oak, Sweet, Whiskey
I’ve not had a wide variety of these Hubei Green Brick teas. Having drunk through two bricks of others and a brick and a half of this, I think I have a general grasp of the category’s outlines. All of these I’ve had share some common characteristics: Rougher/chopped leaves, heavy mineral sweetness, and dried fruit and woody flavors.
This one in particular takes a bit to open up as the compression seems to be higher than others I’ve tried. It starts out as a dried fruit bomb with lots of dark sweet aromas. The next thing I notice is a raisin-y-toffee-wood flavor that will be with the tea for the rest of the session. Once it really opens up it is pretty consistent steep-to-steep.
Low/no bitterness or astringency. Nothing of note with the texture. This is the most interesting green brick I’ve tried. While it i doesn’t really blow me away, it is always a safe and reliable tea to reach for. Really easy drinking stuff. If you’ve been run off by cheaper, bland, super chopped up, Hubei heicha in the past and are looking to give the catagory another chance, this seems to be a good option.
Flavors: Caramel, Raisins, Red Fruits, Tobacco, Toffee, Wet Rocks, Wood
This is probably a sacrilege but I blended it with below
Anytime I had this type of heicha, it brings me back to Malawian satemwa white. I could definitely recommend it to someone who is making brave steps from greens towards shengs.
Didn’t buy originally from this vendor but it is fair to include here to avoid disappointment with customer service anywhere else. It was very viscosy but not in a thick way. High quality just wasn’t my type as sent me to sleep almost simultaneously. Another trick, the cubes didn’t fit into opening of thermos so had to leave it half soaked in a cup to break a smaller piece. Could be compared to sweeter version of this
I just noticed that I created duplicate entry. Thought I checked if it was listed. Maybe it was with space in name. Or maybe one picture. Whatever. Will be careful next time as if there was not enough cleanup around to create my own trail of mess. It is not my review per se, more relaying what newbies introduced to it told me. I don’t expect them to review anything, so I am voluntarily stepping in for this honorary delegation duty. It is one of forms I only sent to others direct from vendors as these are more taste friendly. I do drink a lot of liubaos so I kind of know whom might benefit from it, medicinally. Anyways, I dump 80% of my blind buys so opportunity to give someone tea seems more aesthetic than compost legacy. This person were into oolongs which seems to be a marijuana of teas. The gateway. So all they had were ripe tuochas, dogwood berries, gotu kola, Hainan kuding, apart from that they are fermented liver diet proponents. So their report is that this guangxi chenpi is facilitating contemplation and “flushed in the face”. Moldavite flush ? How do I introduce someone to green brick. Tough. There is a site I bought few times called “liu-art-tea”, it could be my obsolete tablet of workplace setting but I can’t copy/ paste text and/ or images. Not sure when I feel enthusiastic to print descriptions and type them manually. Maybe at next eclipse ? But I checked, and they do have orange liubao brick. Pricey. Shipping from Germany costs as much as DHL from Kunming. So my plan is to roll-out tianjian, mojun and old tree liubao instead. I still think it is intuition that is guiding people towards tea. And their body immediately knows it is good. And then it is just tweaking of nuances. Myself prime example, was sceptically eyeing my ex Czech gf years ago having white tea in a plastic bottle that she would occasionally heat in a microwave. I was into scotch whiskey at the time. So there is time for everything. Like seasons in politics. Hope they never run out of fruit to stuff heicha with. I mean, 6 billion people, 6 million dolphins, what is ratio of tea to tangerines on this planet ? If there was a war between tangerines and tuochas, would we have northern Irish style of make love synergy ? Is it silence, is it breeze tumbleweed emptyness, is it a snowcoated cockroach melting inside my head. Oh, brewing, they don’t have gas, which takes 45 mins to bring slowly to boil from cold, which is my new fav as it super economical. I mean 5g for 8 cups. So they had electric hob and it took 20 mins. I would push it for continue boiling for 20 mins, but that’s me. Accidental discovery when got fresh as opposite to dried gotu kola that smelt gorgeous but wasn’t as oily when brewed. So boiling from cold took care of that. And it works for lots bearable brews. Not sure what metallurgy behind it. Maybe it is additional kill-green processing ? Who knows, will see if it gets it artificial intelligence cookbook in 200 years from now.
I would say this is way biased but it started more than few days ago. First, somehow I didn’t finish two decades old liu bao in work last Thursday. Mad idea, knowing that will be back today, just le n thermos. That means drinking cold first thing in the morning while waiting on blend of shu minibrick and gotu kola to brew. Worse, grabbed sugar free grape fanta in local minimarkt. On top of that, kvass offered by eastern European colleague. Then packages started coming in. Two liubaos, sample of shu, and then this. It was intense. The only shous i really was drawn to procure were either bricks or loose. If this was my first liubao, I would have been scrambling for the wrong one, probably would have stumbled into green brick and maybe hubei one. But looking forward to drop a chunk of it into mirror glazed thermos tomorrow morning to see if I was just having detox aftershock trembles. The trouble is, the lastbtea I got today was Sichuan brick and I left it brewing in thermocup as had to leave work earlier than expected. You can’t plan these things, it will be cold in the morning, then thermos grandpa brew of what is being reviewed and then 2nd gonat Sichuan. If I don’t make it thru the day, the autopsy will be inconclusive. That’s the best legacy.
Expected a bit more punch and creativity but got traded for really mild taste and slumber. Needs more leaves to achieve taste than most but price point makes it a good deal. Unlike others, doesn’t need to be boiled from cold at ultra light heat for 45 mins. Below average mirror lined thermos, made in India, from IKEA is sufficient to brew properly. Kills food cravings, sends to bed if accompanied with two cans of Irish stout beer. Wonder if mixing it with young raw puerh would give it a bit of tanginess and/ or caffeine kick. Although proximity to Vietnam is mentioned as a source, a totally different experience from so called border version. Curious how Malaysian storage would factor in here. Definitely in its own category.
It is very mild, not viscous like hua zhuan or sandy as hei zhuan. Maybe closer to qian liang but feels more complex and subtle at the same time. Actually reminds me single origin ropes but really aged, maybe like in Singapore. It is as different from any heicha I had as Macau to Borneo storage for liubao. It has weird contrast between how unoily it is and the warmth it sending from stomach to lungs. I went thru half of 350g pack of raclette cheese meant for cooking while drinking liabaos and files for last few hours this morning. Now this one halted this madness. So good for not munching. Can I drinkmit at work ? I mean, is it a day tranquilizer. If so, I can value volume 5 times from aged liubao. Maybe this is the future of post-pandemic investment. Now will have to monitor my dreams. Will I wake up on different planet ? I am getting tired of waiting for mother ship to take from this planet anyway. Maybe it’s a shortcut. Chawangshop is your place to go for pressed tickets to inter dimensional travel. One way for me please.
I could have added profile picture from their website. But maybe someone else wants to do it with actually how it looks in a bag. Not much of a drinking note, more what goes thru my mind while drinking it. Got a free huaning cup so experimenting with that. Not sure if should get matching gaiwan, Japanese style. It is close to traditional style of liubao. Looked at nixing teapots, not sure how to combine by brutalist thermos brewing with aesthetics of teapot. I mean, it should at least look like something I want to hold in hand. I was just thought if I was on a yacht, what kind of clay would be best to absorb sea air. What kind of tea I would like to have after drinking craft beer the night before, while sitting at a terrace looking out on a beach, waiting for omelets to be ready. Maybe get eggs from seagulls. Maybe catch a crab. Maybe put a seaweed into my thermos. Thank god I am not in position to make any of these life defining decisions. One observation. I recall reading about yak butter tea that it was custom to fill it up to the drink and refill after few sips. I do it with most teas. This one, no. As if it needs to be cooled and drank from the bottom. I guess that’s normal. My issue with anything but porcelain/ glass that I can’t see colour of the brew. This one is beautiful in a yellowish speckled cup.
I do try lots of teas and my taste shifts with cravings for other consumables. So this is not strictly a review rather than my observation as why I was drawn to it and why it is worth considering as a sample. I am very messy person and even grandpa brewing leaves collateral damage. I am still amazed that I have no insects nesting on my floor considering layers of stems and dried berry stones covering it. So my only way to brew is mirror lined thermos. I did try clay lined thermos but to no avail. The only other way I try to brew tea is boiling them from cold which works for qian liang and liu bao. I progressed from oolongs to raws and onto liubao. So any other buys are incidental. But this one is something. It smells like oolong but brews like raw. The taste reminds me of white chenpi. I know you are disappointed with the depth of lame detail. I just think it will appeal to anyone into stoney greens or light oolongs. Not sure about body feel because I am buzzing from blackthorn that was boiled in fu brick. Another tea that comes to mind is Hainan green. Anyway, it’s subtle and unique as expected from vendors description. Just recalled years ago I was into golden key oolong but this one has flowerer aftertaste. The good thing it doesn’t make me sleepy or hungry and in fact has subtle chelation effect as if you chewed dried dogwood berries. I thought Tahiti was on my bucket list but even in good flat earth times it was more than 24 hours flights. I think this just changed to the teahouse I got it from. They are very generous with samples from their private stashes, the ones that are not on sale but something that is a treat for guest. Now I am thinking about adding few tea leaves to jam jar for soaking. It means I have to reboil the tea and see what other rogue ideas are being broadcast in the aether.
An unexpensive yet well balanced tea. It doesn’t seem to have aged a lot as it tastes a bit younger than the tag. But the truth is that I don’t feel any outstanding flavors or aromas that need much more polishing to be enjoyable.
Bright, greenish, herbal, bitter and slightly astringent. Soapy bitterness that leads to a quick huigan slap. In the nose there are aromas to lime leaves and capers. Some chaqi but not much. The material has a fair amount of whole medium leaves and twigs.
Flavors: Citrus, Flowers, Green Apple, Soap, Umami
No notes yet. Add one?
Gongfu from last weekend…
Really nice tea – I drank it in bed, and snacked on Niagara grapes in between the steeps. It was sort of that type of Gongfu session where you’re just deeply in the moment and not very aware of exactly what you’re tasting, more just how that tea makes you feel. That feeling, for me, was cozy and safe and maybe even a little nostalgic? I did make an instagram post for this tea but even there I didn’t capture a lot of the flavours the day I was drinking this tea – in fact here’s the general three statements I used to sum this one up:
- Deep earthy body
- Smoke and ash notes
I’d add in a bit of leather, thinking back on it as well.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sXTLkjF8bI
Yes, a good one!
Not much to add to the other reviews here. It’s a good harmony of flavours and aromas, doesn’t have the potency of other shengs but it gives a well balanced, floral, fruity and medicinal tasting drink with hints of grass and wood. Cup melified instantly and is easy to drink, because is on the softer side.
The lingering aftertaste is quite long and it reminded me of albariño white wine.
Quite good value at $24. Moar! :)
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Grass, Spices
So I wasn’t going to write up anything about this one I was just going to drink it….Then I got tea buzz and I wrote a 5 stars review in my head….Now It’s gone and I don’t know what to say or think or feel…I think feel good tho lol.
This is one of the most Extreme Tea Drunk Buzzy feeling that I have had in a long time, maybe ever.
It reminds me of my earlier years of tea drinking, I stayed tea drunk often both accidentally and on purpose and I really enjoyed it, This time was an accident but I am still enjoying it.
Really tho the force is so strong with this one, it will hit you like a ton of bricks, at one point I wasnt sure about it myself, i was really like WTF!! there for a minute, Very Intense!!
I see you 2 still have this one in your cupboards here on the steepster, taste it, i need to know how it made you feel lol
Gonna go drink more and enjoy my bliss :)
Thank You MzPriss, I think you sent me this one a while back and I’ve been sitting on it.
I’ve just tried a few Chawang Shop teas and this wasn’t a favorite, but it has an interesting character and potential so I’ll mention how that went. I think now (in 2019) it’s right in between losing the last of it’s younger-range character and picking up aged attributes, even though it’s a 2008 version, 11 years old now. The flavor is as subtle as I’ve ever experienced in sheng, which has actually came up before in trying aged Yiwu versions. The thickness of feel is positive, and although the flavor isn’t pronounced the wood and mild floral tones are positive. I think it will get there, it will just take a few more years. For value this is off the scale; it was priced at $40 for a 250 gram cake, and I think it will be subtle but quite decent aged tea within 2 to 3 years. Note that the tea is yellow-golden in these pictures; I think that along with the flavor aspects will change over that time, darkening in color and moving onto warmer tones, maybe even very mild dried fruit range.
The review post goes a lot further with all that and cites a couple of related reviews to support more speculation about aging pace and general character of related versions: