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Recent Tasting Notes
195 Degrees F, Gongfu, 10 + 5 sec infusions
I could not get enough of this tea. So delicious. It was hard for me to put the tasting notes down, but it was very fragrant and knocked me out. I don’t normally love black teas, but this one may have changed my opinion. I would say that smokey floral notes take the lead here, but this tea is very complex and I love it. I got about 8 infusions out of it but I kept wanting more.
Xing Cun Xiao Zhong
Tong Mu, Fujian, China
PICKING & PROCESSING
Eyes- Dry Leaf: tiny dark buds
Nose – Dry Leaf: Intense sea salt, floral, fresh tobacco notes, smokiness
Nose – Wet Leaf: Super intense salt and chocolate, almost an umami note, rose petals
Eyes – Liquor: Dark golden brown
Mouth – Texture: Super smooth, light and oily
Mouth – Taste: Delicious, chocolate, tobacco, light smokiness, floral notes, roses
Nose – Empty Cup: Brown Sugar
Mouth – Finish: Super smooth and lubricatin
Eyes – Wet Leaf: Brown perfectly picked buds
Body Sensation: Slightly energizing, Happy
Flavors: Chocolate, Rose, Salt, Tobacco
Tea Swap Sample
I’ve been trying to get the samples given to me throughout the past year out of the way, so I can really start to tackle the “purchase shelf” teas. When observing the leaf of this one, I was pretty skeptical about whether this would be an appetizing session or not, since the leaf was in bits and pieces. I assumed that it was probably the “dust” and bits left from the stash, so I gave it a go anyway…
The dry leaf didn’t really have much of an aroma to it. I heated the gaiwan and put the leaf into it, so as to illuminate the smell of the leaf. I noticed a small amount of a jasmine/floral notes, but other than that, it really didn’t have much of a smell.
First Steep: Slightly bitter, but there was a bit of a “fruity” note present; although, I wasn’t sure what the fruit may have been.
Second Steep: Bitter, a bit leathery, & mouth drying.
Third Steep: More bitter & more astringent.
I had stopped taking notes there, however, there was a note made that it “went like this for a while (noted @ steep 6)” and I felt like this tea wasn’t doing it for me. I stopped at steep 8.
I hope it’s not harsh to say that it could’ve been the bits and pieces that gave it such an unpleasant experience; however, it could’ve been the hype of getting to try a Mei Leaf tea, and it just didn’t live up to the expectations…No idea…However, thank you, dear tea friend, for the opportunity. I apologize that it wasn’t my cuppa tea. xD
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Fruity, Leather
totally agree with your review! about 2 years ago i decided to buy the whole gushu experience (incl. Bloom Buster, Cone Bandit & Pip Killer), after seeing the videos about these.
yesterday, my girlfriend took out some of the Bloom Buster Leaves (NOT BROKEN) from my collection and my experience war pretty similar to yours.. disappointing .
wet leaf has an umami smell. about 7 steeps in, and this is certainly gripping of the mouth and throat, but not in an unpleasant way. getting orange, and a bit of pear flavour. i think the orange marmalade flavour is tied a little to the bitterness of this tea, in fact so far it is a little too bitter for me atm. going to throw this in the fridge to cold brew.
this was a good tea. wet leaves had a bit of a medicine smell to me, and honey. nice and smooth. there was some sweetness especially in the aftertaste. there was quite a bit going on taste wise, but i honestly could only identify the honey flavour. after about 15 or 16 infusions im going for the killshot. feeling a slight calm qi.
thaaaaaaat is good!
Dry leaves smells surprisingly of chocolate and mint.
Wet leaves are fragrant, there is a very dessert vibe to the smell, crème caramel, chrysanthemum and honey
the taste is soo soft, like soy milk, but there some very welcomed woody tannins. it makes you want more. the smell of the dry cup is outright intoxicating.
Second brews more tannic, tannic to astringent (more of a green taste) and i can relate to Don’s finding of walnuts taste.
It is so good.
Sample it and if you can afford buy it. I have a feeling that it’ll keep getting better.
Summer 2016 (June)
PICKING & PROCESSING
Bud and one or two leaves
Was going to have a silver needle tea, but since I have just had a curry I thought a more robust tea would be better.
Light brown tea. Aroma is tannin, some spice and earth. Taste is earth, tannin, wet wood and some hints of honey.
Less Earth in the aroma, more green leaf. Taste is a little more mellow, less tannin with some stronger sweet notes. More floral notes and in whole it’s a little more rounded. Refreshing.
Morefloral notes in the aroma. Taste is more sweeter and improved in my opinion. More balanced and less tannic.
Overall good Tea that develops through the steepings.
Huoshan, Anhui, China
PICKING & PROCESSING
Bud and one or two leaves
Pale yellow tea. Aroma is light floral, some nutty notes. Taste is nutty, sweetish and hints of fresh green leaf.
2nd Steep and 3rd Steep
More green in colour, taste and aroma. Loss of vibrancy pretty quick here.
Overall the 1st Steep was nice and delicate. After that, nothing outstanding.
I wasn’t planning on doing a review of this tea tonight, so I didn’t sit down at my session thinking about what to say, but after having it for just my second time I have to write something.I know all about the controversy regarding a tea farmer making a ripe gushu, and I’m going to stay out of the “is it or isn’t it” debate. I’m just going to comment on how this tea tastes, and this is BY FAR the best ripe puer I’ve ever had. I have many ripes that I absolutely love, but they don’t come close to the taste of Sacred Owl. I have a hard time even classifying it as a shou. It so unlike any other shou I’ve tasted. The leaves are very large. The compression isnt tight. I’m able to jiggle an edge of the cake to get what I need so I can keep the leaves mostly intact. There is not a hint of off taste, fishiness, nothing off putting at all. I’m regretting doing a second quick rinse as I usually do with shous. I may drink the first wash next time I have it. I don’t want to waste any of this. I’m horrible at describing flavors so won’t try. I will say that it leaves a tingly numbness throughout my mouth, and a sweetness that doesn’t go away. It’s been about twenty minutes since I had my last sip, and my mouth still feels as if I just swallowed it. It really is an amazing tea. I wish I knew what I know now about puer when I bought the cake. I would have bought at least five more.
I used 10 grams of leaf in a 150 ml glass pot. The water has been between 208 and boiling with each steep. I started with flash steeping, but quickly added time to them to make the steeps stronger.
I thought the Sacred Owl tasted like fermentation and wasn’t ready to drink! It needs a few years of good subtropical dry storage at least, IMO. I’m not sure using fancy leaves for shu is a good idea considering it’s pile fermented. I’m beginning to think the same of fancy sheng and aging; it might be better just to drink it fresh to relish the flavors since it’s all going to taste pretty much the same once the decomposers are done breaking it down!
Origin: Dehong, Yunnan, China
Type: Pu Erh
Approximate Altitude: 1700m
Steeped Western Style 300ml for 3 min at 85°c then 60 second increments.
Smells smokey and earthy in the pack, looks and smells good.
Slightly green yellow tea, no purple. Aroma is light smoke, woody, some pine wood.
Taste is floral, pine wood, some earth and a good sweet finish. Very good.
2nd and 3rd Steep
More earthiness in the aroma and taste and a little less vibrant.
Origin: Taimu Mountain Fujian, China
Approximate Altitude: 1100m
Western style 300ml for 3 min @85°c, then 2nd steep for 4 min.
1st steep. Tea is broken leaf, lots of debris. Aroma is just like regular tea in a bag. The taste however us quite refreshing, some mild tannin, light floral notes, fruity, and a little but. Easy drinking, one I could drink every day.
2nd steep, it all became watered down, freshness disappears, but the sweetness remains.
Overall a nice tea, but one steep is its limit western style.
Rate no. 2
Origin: Alishan, Chiayi, Taiwan
Type: Grands Crus Oolong
Approximate Altitude: 2000m
4gr in 300ml at 95 degree c. 2 min 1st steep then 30 second increments each steep.
Pale green tea.
Aroma is vegetal and milky.
Taste is vegetal, some sweetness, milk, some biscuit and green leaf.
Aroma is stronger vegetal notes.
Taste is green leaf, more cream than milk this time. The sweetness is a little less noticeable due to being overpowered by its greenness.
More of orange green tea in colour
Aroma has toned down on its vegetal notes.
Taste is more mellow on the green notes now, not as creamy either. It seems to have developed a little bit of pepper on the back of the tongue with some warmth. Once the tea has cooled a little the creaminess returns stronger.
Flavors: Cream, Green, Milk, Sweet, Vegetal
This is my second tasting of this tea. I did a rinse at 165 Degrees and 4 seconds to help wake the tea up. it seemed to work because the first infusion was rich and mellow. The liquor is dark and the taste teeters between honey and muscat. I’m also tasting a wet dock on a lake. not alot, it might be a personal observation, but isn’t it all? Not super complex, but great taste. Feeling slightly caffeinated / qi.
I think I’ll be feeling it for a while… not sure if I like tht muscat flavor.
Flavors: Honey, Muscatel, Mushrooms
This is an aged white tea from Mei Leaf, aka china life. I’m new to white teas, but the more I try them, the more I like them. I used five grams of tea in a 100ml gaiwan, and heated the water to 205 degrees. I started with flash steepings, and increased the time after about six of them. I drank ten steepings from the tea, and could have gone further. I think it would be a good one to make iced tea with using the steeped leaves. I can’t put how the tea tasted into words, but it was very smooth. Not bitter at all, and tasted really good. This tea has increased my desire to explore white teas.
90ml gaiwan. 5g tea. Nearly boiling water, probably mid 90’s Celsius.
The dry leaves are quite large and already fairly dark. Medium compression on the cake. Dry leaves in a damp hot gaiwan smell : a lot of high notes. A bit sharp. Strong.
One quick rinse. Smell: a little bit of smoke, top notes / sharp. Hint of roasted tobacco or paper that is just yellowed by a flame. Hint of cream, but not much. Floral too. Complex aroma. Is it possible to get a tea reaction / mild tea high to smelling alone? I feel like I have one, but I have been smelling it deeply a lot whilst I let the wet leaves rest.
Quick steep less than 10 seconds. Probably too light a steep. Dark yellow colour, a touch cloudy. Medium thickness no bitterness. Dry sensation starting on the tip and top of my tongue. Pleasant. Leaf in gaiwan smell: it really is quite complex and is now an enhanced stronger version of above. The flavour is lasting in my mouth quite a long time for such a mild 1st brew.
2nd steep, 10 seconds. stronger colour, clearer. Quite thick but still not a prevalent flavour. The smell is stronger than the flavour. Dry sensation on inside of lips and tongue. Warming at back of mouth and throat. This definitely has a physical engagement with my mouth on a tactile level, but the flavour is not a very attacking. I actually like that. Rather than just tasting floral or phenol or fruit or sweetness, this tea currently has a confident but steady taste profile with no real strong note. The leaf smell remains potent and strong, but this is not really coming through in the flavour, but absolutely in the physical interaction in my mouth. A mild Tea “head” is beginning to form. Aftertaste remains strong between steeps.
15 second steep. Water is remaining at the same temperature of mid 90’s.
More taste and more dryness. It feels like it will be easier to say what it doesn’t taste like! Not floral, not creamy (even though leaf smell exhibits aspects of this) not medicinal, not campferous, not sweet, not nutty, not….
20 second steep
This goes down very easily. It blends with the PH of your mouth and just disappears down your throat. I think I have to say mineral as the flavour.
One thing, I have been brewing side by side with yixing teapot and neutral teaware. Porcelain gaiwan to brew, then poured into glass jug. Half of jug into flavour neutral cup. Half into yixing for 10 seconds, then yixing to a second flavour neutral cup. Then side by side tasting. For whatever this might mean, I can’t taste any difference. I did this method earlier today with an aged sheng from xiaguang and the yixing really took the chemical phenol taste out of it (I used a different teapot to now)
22 second steep
The body has not gotten any thicker from the second steep and is now reducing. Still dry and mineraly. Sensation in back and side of mouth/ throat
40 second steep
Brew smell is becoming a bit creamy and rounded. Leaf smell still sharp but does not relate to liquor flavour. Mm a good one this. Maybe apple core, but with no sweetness. I’m taking my time but the tea really does just flows down SO well. Feels like it is in synch with you.
45 second steep.
The colour has remained consistent throughout, so has the flavour and body. It is very very consistent tea.
50 second steep
90 second steep. This one has a touch of sharpness that is present in the leaf aroma.
2 minute steep
3 minute steep
Wow the consistency is unbelievable. I think if you tasted steep 3 and whatever steep number this is, it would be very hard to distinguish.
5 minute steep. Still the same colour as always. Here you can taste it’s coming to the end. A bit watery. A bit like steep one!
Never once tasted over brewed or too harsh. Very steady and complex with exceptional consistency. Mild tea-head experience/cha chi/ caffeine headache. Dry lips and tongue(tip and top) sensation at back of throat and sides of throat.
I’m struggling to describe the taste, but the physical affects are clear and easy to describe.
This is my third time with this tea and I feel that I’m brewing it well. It withstands heat and brew length with no bad results. Happy to have it I’m my collection (I’d purchase it all over again) and looking forward to seeing how it develops overtime.
Brewed as recommended (2, 3, 4 minutes),
Pretty leaves minimally broken, smells fresh (white flowers, sweet greens).
wet leaves smells somewhat like green vegetables and honey,
the first steep reveals a sweet and smooth brew that finishes lemony.
further steeping enhances the acidity, darker vegetables comes to my mind but it is still very light and pleasant brew.
For some reasons i smell Burnt notes in wet leaves and (mainly) the first brew but don’t get much smoke flavors in the brew.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Sweet, Vegetal
For the very high monk.
Western style brewing produces an invigorating liquor where the sweetness of the ginseng blends with dessert notes (caramel/vanilla). I get peaches all around with strawberries joining in.
The ginseng has got that sweetness found in dehydrated roots such as ginger or maca powder, nutty and reminiscent of roasted parsnip. the licorice adds it’s peculiar mouth feel, very much like stevia, which lingers in your mouth.
Overall, the tea works wonders! it is very uplifting and even the taste itself forces a smile on your face