Xinghai Tea Factory (Yunnan Sourcing)

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Recent Tasting Notes


This tea has grown on me. Still has that fishy, musty flavour in the first couple of steepings but when I really push it in the fourth infusion it opens up into this lovely, mellow, comforting old friend. Love that “clean leather” aroma. Might consider buying a full cake of this if I don’t find anything else that catches my eye.

Rating: 74

Flavors: Fishy, Leather, Musty

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Whoa. The aroma of this tea is almost exactly like that of the old shoe closet in my parent’s house. The smell of leather that is clean, but worn in a humid environment.

The flavour of the tea is smooth, with a bright cacao bitter chocolate flavour.

Not so good with milk. Doesn’t pair so well with savoury food or sweet fruit (lychee), but I might try it with desserts in future.

While I can see how some people would love this tea, especially those looking for a more “aged” and distinguished pu er, I think I’m still too early in my pu er journey to be able to appreciate this and it doesn’t quite fit into my lifestyle.

Rating: 65

Flavors: Cacao, Dark Bittersweet, Leather


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I have a sample of the 2004 batch.

Rinsed once.

First infusion:
Pleasant sweet aroma, like fermenting rice. Goes superbly with milk.

Second infusion:
This smells so “fresh” and “bright” compared to a lot of the classic Menghai Pu Ers i’ve been sampling. Truly lovely.

Unfortunately, sold out on Yunnan Sourcing’s website.

Flavors: Rice, Wet Earth


Sirentian, I don’t know if you’re still active on Steepster, but YS does have this in stock, both as a 25g sample and as whole cake(s). It’s been 4 yr since you reviewed this tea, so maybe worth another shot!

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After reading reviews for this ripe I bought a brick , happily the people who wrote about it were spot on, the tea is clean and delicious.

The price has increased over the years but it is still a good buy.

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No review, just a brief note to myself that I found this to be a clean (maybe a vague mushroom quality without a first rinse, but no fishiness, or other off notes from the fermentation), mellow, earthy shou with plenty of longevity (10 – 15 infusions over 2 or even 3 days) and moderate caffeine. Probably better as part of a meal, but not bad on its own. The first ripe puerh I’ve considered picking up a cake of (which ended up being sold out in any case)…

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Gongfu Sipdown (602)!

Finished this one off last weekend – and I actually took notes for the session so I could remember what to write when I reviewed it! I’m very impressed with myself for doing so. So here are my notes from the session, just typed out – but not altered from what I originally wrote down:

10 Second Rinse & Rest

Steep #1 – Earthy but clean/smooth. Sweet & fruity finish + aftertaste. Feel it in the back of the mouth/tongue, like a peach puree or that same ‘tingle sweet’ sensation as pineapple.

Steep #2 – Similar, but less of that lingering tropical note that is so pleasant but out of place feeling.

Steep #3 – Leather/saline top notes over earthy body. Fruity stonefruit/peach undertones still.

Steep #4 & #5 – Ditto to the above, but less fruity gradually. More of a lingering “dankness” in the mouth…

Steep #6 – And back to that lingering sweetness/tropically fruity note mixed w/ musky earth notes and leather. Similar vibes to sweet blackberry leaves in terms of sweetness?

Steep #7 – Brief interlude to reboil water. A little weak; need longer steep times going forward. Clean finish – 1st cup thus far to have a clean finish to the sip.

Steep #8 – Longer steeped drew out even more fruit (stonefruit) and saline. Still clean finish to cup.

Steep #9 – Weak! We’ve hit the “flavour decline zone” quite hard.

Steep #10 – More of a malted cereal sort of vibe – earthy. But also a light cup/kind of flat.

Steep #11 – Last infusion; just super soft/weak. No life left in the leaf.

Also, thank you Veck for the share! It was a WEIRD, but ultimately very good, session.

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Thank you Veck for very thoughtfully sending this one to me – sorry it’s taken a while to get to most of the teas from the Slack Secret Santa exchange. They’ve not been unappreciated, though!

I did this one Gong Fu because that seemed the only respectable way to go about brewing it. The session was actually quite long; something like 12-15 infusions. However, I really only took notes for the first four or so before my laptop died and I finished the rest of the session jot note free. That was weeks ago, and unfortunately I’m struggling A LOT to remember the specifics of the other infusions apart from just feeling really, really tea drunk overall. It was a good session though.

Anyway, here are the notes that I DID take:

Started w. a ten second rinse and a rest…

Infusion One/Ten Seconds
- Mineral, dark cocoa, molasses, dates, earth
- LOTS of earth

Infusion Two/Fifteen Seconds
- Super murky and opaque liquor
- Dark, dank wet earth and mushrooms/dark cocoa
- Mineral, undergrowth and date undertones
- Saltier/umami finish!?

Infusion Three/Fifteen Seconds
- The same but sweeter?
- Has this lingering ‘honey nut’/grainy kind of thing going for it
- It’s hard to describe really, reminds me of cereal sort of though?

Infusion Four/Twenty Seconds
- Ditto, but somewhat roasty/woody too

Infusion Five/Twenty Five Seconds
- Very lingering mouthfeel and taste
- That honey/nut/grainy kind of cereal quality is REALLY strong/intense
- Also all kinds of earthy
- The Qi/Tea Drunkeness is definitely beginning to hit me as well…
- Still sort of reminds me of dates and mushrooms too…

And that is where the laptop died and I stopped taking notes.

Honestly, though? This was a GOOD session, but also a very weird one filled with a lot of more abstract flavours and, consequently, flavour descriptions…

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Gongfu, with a gaiwan. Sample from a “puer starting pack”, courtesy of Liquid Proust. used full sample, which is quite large . I don’t have a scale, but dry leaves fill half of gaiwan. Lots of twigs, but this is to be expected.

Steeps: rinse, f, f, f, f, 10s, 10, 30, 1min, 1.30, 2, 4, 6, and finished grandpa style.

1&2 : faint forest floor aroma, slightly smoky. No funky smells. Lovely dark red liquor, somehow harsh in the back of the mouth. Drying feeling.
3: More viscous. Taste and mouthfeel, which were a bit flat before, are getting more complex. Slightly sweet and malty. Found a hair. At least it’s not curly (That joke has been done to death by now).
5&6: As dark as a stout. Surprisingly clean taste. Bittersweet aftertaste.
9: Bitternes is coming forward (due to longer steeps), leaving a chalky aftertaste. But maybe the insanely hard water over here has something to do with it. I would prefer a bit sweeter brew, but I don’t mind trading sweetnes for a thicker liquor.
12: It is getting thin, sweetnes is back again.

After 12 steeps I am finishing this grandpa style. Overall, I liked this tea. Hard to say anything substantial, since I haven’t had a lot of shou yet (and this is why I am not rating it). I would have liked some more depth and sweetnes, though.

Flavors: Forest Floor, Smoke

Boiling 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Bought this a while ago and didn’t remember where I got it. But luckily Boychik was able to ID it for me. This is a pretty tasty ripe. It was a very dark and rich tea throughout all twelve infusions I gave it. I really think that this tea would go twenty infusions if I had the patience for the long steeps. There were some notes of chocolate in this but bittersweet. The bitterness only lasted a few steeps maybe four of five. It was replaced by a sweet note that I do not know how to properly describe. It was quite good overall. For a tea that only cost $30 it was really quite good.

I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 10.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. It was still pretty dark in steep twelve. With longer steep times I think this might go twenty steeps, sixteen at least.

Boiling 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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2/10/16 Update:
Brewed in my larger gaiwan this time with about 7grams of tea. After drinking the tea and then reading my first review I have to say this tea hasn’t really changed, It’s nice and smooth but a bit on the thin side with no special qualities as far as qi or mouthfeel go. A nice shu but nothing special. Changing my rating from 82 —> 79.

Not a full review, just impressions from my first session.

Good body and mouth feel, qi is a bit light but warming. I brewed the tea about 8 times before switching to long brews and eventually boiling. The main profile was woody with a light hint of chocolate-like richness. A bit thinner than expected after about 4 brews. I’ll up the amount of tea next time for sure. There was a distinct spicy aroma that lingered even through boiling. along side it was the oatmeal note I get from most 10-20 yr old shu’s. I’ll update this after I’ve brewed the tea one or two more times.

Flavors: Chocolate, Oak, Oats, Spicy, Stonefruit, Wet Earth

Boiling 6 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Deleted my review by mistake. doh.

So i’ll do the short one:

Was very smooth, no fish or funk, but still, ripe & aged pu just tastes to me like mud with a bit of chocolate. Its nice mud & chocolate.. – OK nice dry mud & chocolate, but still. Theres maybe a hint of fruit in there… The taste stayed quite consistent throughout the session.

I cant recommend as I have no idea if its nice or not – I dont do things like black forest gateau / chocolate/earthy & fruit so ripe/aged might just never be for me.?

There is some hint of fruits in there, but hidden in amongst this flat solid mud taste. You ripe pu drinkers are weirdos.

I just dont get wowed by dark pu, actually now I think about it I dont drink much dark tea full stop any more..

Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Mud

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I tasted this tea from a sample I received from Yunnan Sourcing. In the first session, I liked it a lot, but in the following sessions, I noticed wet, moldy, metal, flavors that I don’t usually enjoy. I gaiwan gong fu style with flash brews. When increasing the steeping times the moldy flavors felt more prominent to me.

Flavors: Plum, Wet Earth

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea is the sort of tea lovers of ripe puerh are always looking for. It is both delicious and cheap. This was really tasty. It had partially cleared as far as fermentation flavor. There was a little I noticed in the first couple of steeps but not even much then. There was little or no bitterness to this tea. There were some notes of chocolate in there and it did develop a fruity flavor in later steeps. It was dark and rich in the early steeps. This tea is so good I am tempted to buy another brick. At $13 I think it is it is a steal. There are no off tastes or storage flavors to this tea. This tea qualifies as a find.

I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 10.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 5 second rinse and a 15 minute rest. Gave it a longer rest than usual because I was on the phone to be honest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. Judging by the color of the leaves in the tenth steep I’d say I could certainly get a few more steeps out of it if I hadn’t hit my caffeine limit for the day.

Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Sweet

Boiling 10 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

Fill your boots!

Simon Sim

I just got a brick from YS. yes, it is good for the price though I paid $21 now.

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Trying my second Xinghai ripe today after sampling the 2008 Bulang yesterday. This tea tastes very similar to me. You know how you can tell a factory’s distinctive shu flavor? Dayi and Langhe come to mind. Xinghai seems to have its own. Burnt coffee and slight perfume come to mind here. This tea was not so different from the Bulang, just a little smoother, probably due to age, and a hint of fruit in the first steep or two. This tea doesn’t justify the $60 price tag to me, I’d just as soon buy something like the 2008 which is just as good and much cheaper.

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I really enjoyed this tea. It’s got almost zero fermentation flavor to it. It has a little bitterness in the beginning. It’s got some nice sweet notes. There’s a hard to describe note in there too. Not an unpleasant note. I’m thinking maybe dates but that is just an impression. I gave it eight steeps and it’s got a fruityness to it in later steeps. This is a moderately expensive shou. I was taking a risk ordering without sampling first at $62. Luckily I figured I could trust Scott not to sell me something terrible and it wasn’t too expensive.

I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 8.8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. If I hadn’t hit my caffeine limit for the day I’m sure I could get four or five more steeps out of it.

Flavors: Bitter, Dates, Sweet

Boiling 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

If you use “stonefruit”, you seem like a pro even when your “date” is someone elses “plum” or “cherry” :)

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