The Essence of TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
As part of my unhurried exploration of Meng Song area sheng puer, I’m having a Sunday afternoon sit-down with Essence of Tea’s 2014 Da Meng Long Gushu.
The dry leaf smells like fruit punch in the forest. Warmed leaf has a thick and rich date-caramel sweetness with faint wet smoke.
The tea is pouring golden orange with a brown tint.
At the lips, it’s rich with dates. There’s a bit of tang to the cup and early a quick bite in the throat. Bitterness is certainly there, structured, and passes at some point (who knows, I’m relaxed) after the swallow giving way to a strong returning sweetness. The aftertaste is drying and creamy, impression of cherimoya then apricot. After that fades, a metallic-astringent feeling/taste lingers; it’s pleasant, my tongue tingles far past the last sip. A comforting, expansive warmth in the throat and chest, a relaxing cool. Once the initial bitterness and astringency pass, the leaf needs to be brewed harder to elicit its hidden richness.
There is lingering depth of feeling to this tea. It rushes with a slow, smooth rumble and recedes like a warm wave break spreading across the sand, barely touching your toes before heading back out to sea. It courses and flows and grounds.
My first Bulang. Very enjoyable aroma: smoke, leather, spices, ripe fruits and something herbal/camphor. The camphor is very subtle and merges well with the other elements without being overpowering. I find this tea very solid and balanced, the qi is strong and gave me a grounding feeling. No tension, no faster heartbeat. I felt comfortably high and unfocused. The aftertaste is medium strong, with wood and spices. As the session goes on it gets more herbal, pungent with some vanilla. Bitterness and astringency are never off-putting.
At first a very creamy tropical yogurt aroma from the wet leaves. Mouthwatering.
Liquor mineral, creamy, fruity. Vegetal. Peach. Brown Sugar. Chestnut. Complex, warm. Mmh, interesting…
2 tropical, milky , a bit of bitterness/astringency. Silky. Sweet. Delicate flavours building in the mouth. Empty cup smells like burnt sugar.
Slightly Cooling, like a layer of fresh air coating mouth and throat. Heart beating faster. Peach Bellini.
Cooling feeling intensifies. Tingling in the throat. More astringency. Beautiful long lasting acidic aroma.
Complex acidic flavours.
Liquor is stable, more astringent. Not very thick. Very mineral. Keeps carrying the initial fruitiness.
I get this feeling of half relaxation and half restlessness. Maybe relaxation is 60%
More grassy-herbal notes appear, slight harshness. Drying. Less intensity.
Harshness keeps increasing but it maintains a memory of more innocent first infusions. I think of an innocent girl that few years later ends up being a prostitute.
My head feels heavy, it’s a nice feeling I guess. My body feels calmer now.
Something is changing, I get an alcoholic feeling, like soured bellini.
The liquor is weak. My body starts protesting for having too much tea.
Harsh but low toned dirty mushrooms kingdom. Not very sweet anymore.
Overall the tea is not the most powerful or long lasting but anyway it’s a very pleasurable experience.
The first times I had this tea I wasn’t impressed. Now this is the last bit of my sample and it became suddenly delicious. Is it because I’m more concentrated on writing a review? It’s the weather? It’s the silence of this room, the absence of sensorial stimulus? It’s because I’ve been cycling a lot and my body needs nutrients and everything taste better? Or maybe because I know this is my last session with this tea?
I already had a lot of tea when I stupidly decide to start a session with this one.
I’m feeling quite anxious. I’ve been very busy working in the last 5 days. And now it’s Sunday, I’m at home, and suddenly the awareness of my human condition hits me with dreadful thoughts, confusion, and feelings of hopelessness.
At some point in the morning I decide to start a session with this one. Maybe not a good idea, since my body it’s telling me to stop drinking tea. Anyway.
The wet leaves have a warm, low-keyed aroma. This is the last bit of my 25g sample. This tea feels like shadowy and unclear. A black pepper spiciness lingers at the roof of my mouth. Not super thick. Rough texture. On top of everything I found something that I may call “pekoe aroma”. Everything else is a sweet-dirty-roots kingdom. I start feeling some kind of pressure on my brain, and slightly stoned.
I don’t see much dynamicity here, there’s some floweriness like tiny flowers growing in a rotten tree trunk. Spicy aftertaste with “generic tea” aroma on the roof of the mouth.
Later steps: dryness. Cooling sensation. Herbal. Spicy. Sugarcane sweetness.
Actually as I’m writing this I’m feeling quite tea high. A paralysing heaviness. I like it. Now I’m gonna say the magic words that’ll turn me into a tea connoisseur: strong qi.
This wild tea is gloriously bitter. It reminds me of somebody. Beneath the bitter pill exterior there is a world of depth and insight; a powerful, dark and discerning, truth-revealing energy. A sniper skirting the fine line between good and evil with an intensely romantic preference for cherrywood stocks. Listen to some Deftones and it will make sense.
Anybody have a cake they want to sell? This question applies to anybody reading this note in the distant future — message me.
So EOT is offering 3 new Guyolin teas. 2 from 2020 and one from 2019. They recommend comparing the 3 here which I will do here. I blind bought a cake of the 2020 Tianmenshan because one of my favorite teas from last year came from that village in the form of dragon balls sold (bc there wasn’t enough material to cake) by Yiwu Mountain Tea and cost $2g, $1.50 on sale. The tea from EOT from this village this year is $1.20g so I took a gamble hoping they would be similar. They are. Same big oily tropical fruit and coconut oil notes, penetrating qi and both steep forever. The other new Guyolin is the 2019 Yao Zhu Di which has a balanced bitterness, nice balance between herbaceous notes and the signature Guyolin fruit notes. It has active grounding qi but to its detriment drops off rapidly after 6 steeps which is disappointing bc you want the session to go on twice as long. That tea is $1.10g and I would recommend it if it steeped longer…but…now for this tea…
This tea is a shapeshifting monster and the most expensive at $300 for a 200g cake. The first 2 steeps remind me of WanGong area border tea with big, potent evergreen forest notes and coconut oil thickness. From the 3rd steep onward this tea is almost identical to the tianmenshan with its big tropical fruitiness (I want to call it Manzhuan’s big sister). The qi is similar to the Tianmenshan as well but goes deeper. I can feel it in my bone marrow and it lasted most of the day. Not saying I regret buying the Tianmenshan cake instead of this because it’s an amazing tea but this offers everything it does and a bit more. Oh yeah and I lost count of the steeps. Not sure if I’ll cake this or not as the price is close to that of Chawangshu or Tongqingue which are my favorite gardens and I’m waiting to see if anyone releases teas from them this year before exhausting my tea budget but I am tempted. If you are a fan of the more attitudinal Yiwu teas, this is a must try.
Like Slumbering Dragon from CLT? My guess is that this is basically the same tea at 1/3 the price. Bitter gaogan yesheng from Kunlu Shan? Check. Medium light body with intense but smooth bitterness with notes of citrus peel and blueberries? Yep. Does it have the same spacy but energizing wi? OMG I have to be at work in a half hour. Do I intend to try to trade my remaining cakes of SlumberIng Dragon? …if anyone is still interested in that tea. Bottom line, if you like Slumbering Dragon buy this tea. 3 years ago when I was new to sheng I was smitten with it and bought a lot of it. Now I mainly drink it when I’m fighting a cold…
I got a sample of this tea recently as part of a surprise package from the lovely derk, thanks! ❤❤❤
It is my first encounter with Essence of Tea and it turns out amazing. The storage is somewhat reminiscent to Yang Qing Hao, but I find this one interesting overall than the few I’ve sampled from YQH. The character of the tea itself is somewhere between a Bu Lang gushu and a wild, forest overgrown Yi Wu sheng.
The aroma is intoxicating and I find myself sniffing the leaves as well as the empty cha hai continuously during the session. The taste is bitter, sweet and somewhat sour at times with notes of camphor, wood, cocoa nibs, spearmint, and many others. An interesting aspect is the mouthfeel, which is not too heavy, yet quite viscous. At first, it is a bit egg white-like, while later it becomes smooth and bubbly (maybe a bit more like lightly beaten egg whites lol). One is also rewarded with a long-lasting, cooling aftertaste with notes of aromatic wood, spices, and butter, as well as a strong huigan. The cha qi is mind numbing but not overly aggressive.
All in all, EoT’s Baotang is a tea that is fully capable of capturing one’s attention and not letting go easily; today I got 15 infusions before I called it a day.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oFnjWS4cpU
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Camphor, Cocoa, Coffee, Medicinal, Pleasantly Sour, Smooth, Spearmint, Spices, Sweet, Wood
2018 EoT Wuliang Wild brewed in a clay gaiwan. Light and refined woody ‘wildfruit’ and grassy pear taste with no smoke or bitterness. Active in the mouth with tangy minerality and drying/mouth-watering qualities. I can feel it going down. The straw-like astringency grows stronger and leaves a pleasant bite in the throat. Kind of nutty/mushroomy/very light iodine aftertaste. Camphor and mild returning sweetness are quick to show. Beautiful floral aroma — don’t forget to smell the lid.
This is a wild tea with a more ephemeral, contemplative almost oolong feel than the aggressive nature of others I’ve tried. That chest-forward energy is there, though; gonna say it’s not suitable as a night-time brew. I’m happy with this tea even if it is short-lived.
Edit: I oversteeped several cups and it still turned out lovely with only a mild background bitterness. I do want to compare brewing the leaf in a porcelain pot and again in the gaiwan with longer infusions. This tea seems like it has wiggle room.
Flavors: Berries, Camphor, Drying, Flowers, Fruity, Grass, Iodine, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nuts, Pear, Smooth, Straw, Tangy, Wet Wood, Wood
This tea is a very strong contender in the “pine/resin/astringent/drying” category. There is a surprisingly mild, yet very balanced array of complexity in the flavors of this tea. The body is smooth and viscous and the color is a nice deeper golden yellow. It is slightly sweet, slightly herbaceous, and has a reasonably sufficient amount of the astringent mouth-drying effect, but without the offputting bitterness – this is a character I look for in these types of teas, and value quite highly in evaluation. Overall, I’d say this is a lighter, more balanced, “little brother” version of the 2005 Shenlin YQH (a personal favorite of mine). The Baotang delivers in quality without the mushroomy/earthy notes and the more potent drying effects of the 05 YQH. I do recommend giving this tea a try, it is certainly high caliber.
Flavors: Astringent, Drying, Herbaceous, Resin, Sweet
Oh my belly. While I love upfront bitterness, this has a kind of flat alkalinity that my body can’t handle. Five years of EoT storage is apparent in the dark, dry leaf (plus one year in Mediterranean California climate) with notes of forest floor, grain and very faint smoke. The warm leaf smells spicy with pronounced baked bread, some type of citrus (maybe pomelo), licorice root, impression of cherry. Rinsing changes the profile into something very pungent and vegetal. Parsley and celery root come to mind, root vegetables in general, more forest floor, dark soil clinging to tree roots.
From there… eh… flat alkalinity is upsetting my stomach. Thin body, tastes are… eh… thin with that same forest floor, moving later to something more tobacco-leathery but still ever-thin; mild, diffuse bitterness. Mellow aged aroma with a touch of cherry-prune. Light camphor feeling. Aftertaste later is citric sour. This tea is giving me a drowsing, heavy limb effect similar to the other Bangwai sheng I’ve tried though too dopey for my liking.
Long Lan Xu, back to the crock with you.
I’ve had this tea for a while and rather neglected it. I was impressed enough by a sample that I bought a cake a couple years back. The fact that it’s semi aged Mengsong old arbor for $165 for 400g influenced my decision. It’s been over a year since I had this tea and I thought I’d check in on it’s progress. It also sounded like it would go well with my breakfast of chicken, gravy and eggs over duck fat potatoes. I know that some people shudder at the notion of pairing pu with food but I come from the beer world so get over it. Anyhow, the crock storage has been kind to this tea. When I last checked in it was what I would consider in the last phases of it’s awkward stage. It has now evolved into a powerhouse semi aged sheng. Thick and woody with notes of tobacco and earthy autumnal forest notes. I get 10 steeps pushing this tea and each had big long huigan. Bitterness is smooth and round. Beer comparison? Theakston Old Peculier or other Yorkshire old ale with treacle in it. As I drink this tea I scroll through the news and am saddened to learn that the King of rocknroll has just left us so I respond by firing up the stereo and putting on a record of all the Specialty era singles. The qi hits as Tutti Frutti comes on and I’m happily dancing around the living room picturing Richard jamming with Jimi and Willie Dixon in heaven. My muscles are relaxed and I’m quite content. The closest tea comparison I can think of is W2T 2005 Naka. While it has a tad more aged character and more drowsing qi, this tea retains more top notes and is slightly more energizing. In a way I rather prefer this tea and think it’ll only improve with age. Of course the same thing can be said of the Naka…but this tea is 40% the price.
If you’re looking for a great introduction into old-growth puerh, then this is your cake! Most “gushu” is very expensive and hard to authenticate, but this is the real deal and for a steal of a price! I bought this as a great travel tea and to brew for company. The cake is moderately compressed with some subtle aromas of live wood. The warmed leaf is quite sweet and fruit forward with nice aromas of apricot. The brewed tea is a little tricky to put my finger on, but it is very nice and soft! You can expect a medium body with clean tones of watercress, easy-going stone fruit, perhaps a background of vanilla. This is a wonderful relaxed tea to drink while working or studying. I’m glad I added this tea to my collection, and i’m curious as to how it will age.
Flavors: Chestnut, Freshly Cut Grass, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
I purchased this tea from Essence of Tea’s website. Brewed out of a medium sized gaiwan.
This tea overall is solid. I got 10 steeps out of my gaiwan with steeps ranging from flash to 5 mins. I get notes of grass, pears, and overall fruity flavors from this tea. The tea did have a considerable bitterness and astringency that wasn’t my favorite, but for the price it’s solid. The feeling I get from it was almost overly energetic, but I tend to favor more relaxing teas so this is more of a preference.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Pear
Song pairing first: Pachanga Boys — Time
In the spirit of nostalgia and friendship, today I brought this out for a session with a coworker who has a history of puerh consumption.
I think it was too bitter for him, at least in comparison to the 2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian we sampled first.
On the other hand, I was and still am at a loss for words. Nothing but wild associations with this sheng. At least there is often some inkling of shared subjectivity when describing sensate experience, of which I have some to offer but I feel it is inadequate.
This tea is a slow bewilderment that builds into a crystalline clarity. Something about winter in the high desert, pastel sunrises, icicles. It’s subtle beneath the balance of bitter, sweet and cooling. At times it’s woody, others leathery, or with impressions of cacao or fragrant desert wood or floral incense or frigid desert air. Lots of sweet vanilla-mint flavor. Mineral, tongue tingling, mouth-watering but still astringent. Pretty freaking amazing. Yeah, zing. Crystalline.
Thanks mrmopar <3 I bought a cake after trying it at the Great Table Commandeering.
I’ve tasted dozens of spring 2019 shengs from choppy terrace tea to gushu from Mansong and Tongqighe and at $68 a 200g cake it easily gets my bang for the buck award of the year. Even competing against top tier teas I’ve had from Yiwu and menghai I’d put this somewhere in the middle performance wise. That’s against teas 2-3x the price. This stuff is olive oil thick and super mouth watering. Early steeps start herbal with notes of sage and thyme with a mango/coconut finish that reminds me of a Manzhuan tea only not nearly as sweet. Wet leaves smell of white pepper and lemongrass. Later steeps see vegetal notes taking over the herbal character and bitter orange peel replacing the mango. Now when a vendor sources single garden tea from an undisclosed prefecture I usually assume it’s Puer or Lincang. This tea has some traits of Jiancheng teas I’ve tried but not quite as evergreeny. The tea it reminds me most of is Long Tang (the first Jinggu sheng to impress me) from YS although a tad less fruity and sweet and definitely oilier. This goes over a dozen steeps even when pushed final steeps remind me of fruitcake. The qi is grounding and puts me in tune with my surroundings. It’s serene and not of the slaphappy variety I get from some border tea. This is awesome tea, especially for the price and I have little doubt that hip western vendors could get away with dressing it a wrapper adorned with copulating skeletons and a snarky name and sell it for twice the price…
So I’ve been on a yin trip lately and have accordingly been drinking mainly Yiwu (and a bit of aged Lincang). I figured it was time for a little Yang and broke out a sample of this. Yang indeed. I was immediately transported to 1990 when I was 16 and puffing on a Camel light at the skating rink. The security guard handed me a Pall Mall non filter and said try this son. This is a MAN’S cigarette. Indeed it was, just like this tea, brimming with toxic masculinity. Actually this tea doesn’t so much remind me of a cigarette but of a Parodi cigar. When most people talk of cigar notes in a tea they mean nice smooth cedary notes you’d expect from a fine Dominican wet cured stick. Not this tea. It tastes for the world like a Parodi, the Italian dry cured cigars you see in gangster movies. Bitter, spicy, strong and manly. The soup is thick and bitter but not as much bitterness or returning sweetness as a Lao Mane but close. It also has the slate and fennel notes I get from Lao mane teas but less pronounced. It’s also thick enough to satisfy an espresso drinker. The qi is also powerful but not of the calming euphoric meditative type I get from an Yiwu or the bombastic stoner qi I get from an LBZ. This stuff makes me spacey, lethargic and dumb. Like I lost a few iq points. I find myself looking for my phone while talking on it and reminiscing about Pall Mall cigarettes. I get a similar effect from adolescent red mark teas so I wonder if they got their material from the same part of Menghai. If you like a tea that is simple, potent and zonkering try this stuff…did I mention it was potent?
Through the generosity of a tea friend, I am tasting my way through a number of samples of aged raw puerhs. I had also ordered a few additional raw puerhs to sample. When I first began drinking loose leaf teas, I tried everything (green, black, oolong, ripe, raw, etc), and gravitated toward mildly roasted Wuyi rock oolongs. However, I have always been curious if there are puerhs out there that I would love more if only I found the right ones. I already have a number of cakes in storage that were purchased several years ago with pure chance. With the help of a tea bud, I have already found a couple of puerhs I like in these samples, and I’m working toward sampling my way to my preferred sheng region, cultivar, etc.
I am creating tasting note placeholders here on Steepster as I go through the teas that I intend to come back later and add more detailed tasting notes. I was given enough sample material for at least two sessions (thank you!!) and so that will allow me get to know the outstanding character of each tea and those traits that are more common across raw puerhs.
So far I have tried:
2004 Yang Qing Hao “Te Ji Pin” Raw by Yang Qing Hao
2007 XiaGuan FT Shan 4th golden wrapper by Xiaguan Tea Factory
2008 Menghai “SPRINGTIME WATER” RAW by Menghai Tea
2010 “AUTUMN NAN NUO SHAN” RAW PU-ERH TEA BRICK by Yunnan Sourcing
2012 Baotang Raw by The Essence of Tea
Since this little summary of my experiment is posted under the 2012 Boatang Raw tasting note, here are my initial thoughts on this tea:
Brewed gongfu style in 70 ml clay pot with 5 gr of material. One rinse and very fast initial steeps of only 5 seconds, gradually increasing (very little).
Flavors/Aromas I pickup in this tea are a lot of sweetness. That’s very evident. I also get a little bit of cocoa in the early steeps, but it is nothing like the strong chocolate flavor that comes through with black (red) teas. It’s definitely tannic and possesses some bitterness, and in later steepings still reveals some young sheng characteristics. It’s smooth in the mouth and has very little astringency initially, but the tea does become more astringent after awhile. If I smack my lips, I get something like a blackboard chalk in the aftertaste.
In the 2010 “AUTUMN NAN NUO SHAN” brick, I felt some pretty strong qi or caffeine buzz or something going on very quickly. With this 2012 Boatang, I feel a little something in my body, but it came on slowly and is far more subtle.
Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Leather, Sweet, Tannin
When I got this sample it had sourish notes of a tea that had gotten too dry or was sealed in a sample bag too long so I did my usual trick of wrapping it in paper and placing it in a humidified canister with other samples in similar condition. After a few months I’d forgotten about this tea and reread the description on the eot site and remembered that I had some. First 2 steeps were smoky and sweet. Oddly I’m reminded of Korean bbq pork with perhaps a touch of pineapple and cardamom. Steeps 4-5 are among the thickest stickiest shots of tea I’ve had in recent history and have a thick brown sugar caramel taste that reminds me of a Belgian strong ale. Steep 6 sees an enormous drop in thickness and the emergence of the tart and snappy but thin tastes of semi aged Wuliang yesheng like that of YS. At this point the qi hits and is of the relaxing clarifying type. At this point I keep doing long steeps expecting the kill steep is near but I’m rewarded with a slight return to thickness and continual shape shifting flavors. Excellent yesheng.
Second time with this tea. The first time I had it, I didn’t really “get” this tea. But a second try has revealed its redeeming qualities. Loving the aroma on the lid of the gaiwan for starters, old tobacco and old rooms, filled with grandparents and comfort. The flavor and body are still perplexing to me, they’re so much lighter than my other liu bao experience, centered on a distinct and enjoyable candied pumpkin, but not much spice or fermentation, or seemingly depth or thickness. Likewise for the finish, nothing exceptional. But the feeling is fantastic, a giddy, calm joy, quite calming and settling, almost to the point of sleepiness, but not. Sometimes heavy qi teas make me feel very disoriented and disconnected, but this one feels light, clear, yet relaxed and happy.
Flavors: Candy, Pumpkin, Tobacco, Wood
Current count of yet to be tasted and written about teas in cupboard:
Pu erh: 11
And a bunch of pu erh samples, including this one.
I got a sample of this from Essence of Tea when I ordered some yixing pots from them a while back.
The next step in my pu erh adventure is to develop a more discerning palate. Right now I honestly have no idea how to judge the quality of a pu erh, be it sheng or shu.
In the packet, the sample smells like hay/grass/straw. All of the pasture elements are represented.
I rinsed and set this aside in the gaiwan for more than 15 minutes. Then I steeped at boiling for 5/5/7/7/10/10/20/30/40/60
The first steep was very, almost deceptively mild. I really couldn’t develop much of an impression of the tea after the first steep. It was sort of like my experience with some white teas. I can sense that the tea is there, but I can’t say that I really know what I’m tasting.
Subsequent steeps brought out the flavor, and a darker liquor that varied in shade from a lighter to a darker butter yellow with a tinge of brown at its darkest.
In aroma and flavor, this one spanned the gamut of things I’ve tasted in the other shengs I’ve tried recently. The second steep had a slight bitterness, but most of the steeps were the cocoa-toffee-coffee-white chocolate-butter melange I’ve come to quite enjoy. The fourth steep had some of the linen aspect that I noticed in my early forays, and was also, surprisingly, lightly floral.
The sixth steep made me notice a tingling on the tongue.
The seventh seemed sweeter than the others.
Can someone explain to me what qi is and how I know when I encounter it?
Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Coffee, Floral, Grass, Hay, Straw, Toffee, White Chocolate
When tasting the first steep my thoughts were like “oh great…another POLITE tea” as is was so mild and subtle. Funny thing is halfway through that steep my eyebrows became noticeably heavy…this was indeed peculiar. Second steep, notes of the Hawaiian Lehua honey my mom gave me began to emerge and this tea began to make sense. First steep had no notable huigan but this second steep made up for it. Third steep is thick with more honey and perhaps a bit of woodiness. At this point my whole body is limp and grinning at the floor pondering the patterns in the tiles. Now I’m at steep 10 and the tea is fading out as I ponder taking a hike as I have cabin fever from being cooped up with a stomach bug that’s finally relented after 5 days…will I venture out into the winter air or will I sit here and drink more tea? Decisions decisions….