12 Tasting Notes
Right off the bat this is one of the thickest blacks I have had. The nose is floral but the taste is much more fruity and creamy, with undertones of cinnamon and sea salt, and a bit of Ruby 18-style mintiness. There’s some noticeable astringency, and the finish is long and dry. The flavor dies off earlier that I would have hoped, but the texture remains strong. At 50 cents a gram I can’t quite say it’s worth the money, but it’s at least quite a nice tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Cinnamon, Floral, Mint, Salty
This is a very mellow and approachable young sheng, one that I have been burning though because it really seems best drunk sooner rather than later. It’s a pleasant contrast from the 2019 autumn Lao Man’E cake I bought along with it, which is a promising but powerfully bitter tea that will need to do some hard time in storage to temper it. Individual flavor notes are hard to pin down, but the texture is silky and perfectly astringent and the hui gan is very pleasant.
My order came with a 20g sample of the 2018 version of this tea, which I have not yet tasted. I’m curious to see how that one handles aging further.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Sweet, White Grapes
Tastes like a slightly weaker and more astringent Drunk on Red, which isn’t a terrible place to be. Chocolate is prominent, but it’s drowned out by a somewhat camphorous taste I associate with Taiwanese blacks, as well as a very strong hibiscus note. I picked this up from the .us site when pickings were slim, and all things considered I’m happy with it.
This is a complex and interesting tea, but not the sort I want to drink very often. The nose is overwhelmingly of suntan lotion, a note I haven’t encountered elsewhere. The taste is disconnected, with very little of that coconut lotion coming through- finish is long and dry, and there’s some sourness as well as sweetness, but the dankness of age overpowers.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Coconut, Sour
This one really surprised me. The nose is robustly roasty, almost chemical, and that roast definitely translates to the cup. Taste is unexpectedly sweet, at times resembling some sort of coffee ice cream. The hui gan is remarkable- thick and lingering. My boyfriend, a much more casual drinker than I, tells me this is the best tea I have shown him so far. At $62/357g the price is remarkably good for a sheng this distinct.
Flavors: Almond, Coffee, Roasted
This was the only white from its YS order that disappointed. The flavor isn’t bad, but the astringency is immediate and intense, oddly so for a white tea. Maybe it would be better brewed some other way, but it’s not great gongfu style.
Edit: I considered throwing out the rest of my supply, but instead have been adding some to rooibos whenever brewing the rooib a second time, and it does a decent enough job of perking things up.
I ordered fifty grams of this pretty early on in my (good) tea journey, when three or four shous and maybe two young shengs were the extent of my experience with fermented tea. Initially I was put off- it was nothing like the pu’ers I had tried, tasting not unpleasant but definitely alien, and for a while I rarely ever pulled it out (it didn’t help that it’s very tightly compressed and a real hassle to chisel out).
Eventually something clicked and it became quite nice; it has a strong, uniquely sweet aroma and an intense cinnamon-sugar taste. On the other hand, it’s something of a one trick pony, and even with more than a decade on it, there doesn’t seem to be much underneath that slightly exotic sugar sweetness, and little changes from brew to brew.
Overall I’m very happy to have tried it and to have given it a second chance. You could do a lot worse if you want to branch out into non-Yunnan heicha, though I have a hard time imagining going through the whole kilo of it that is a full-size brick.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon
While nothing much stands out as remarkable about this tea, it was one of those I constantly reached for, and I finished off my supply in near record time. The most impressive thing about it was the leaf quality; after they unfurled, I isolated some of the largest and most intact leaves I have ever encountered in an oolong. All in all, this is a good quality, aesthetically pleasing green oolong, and it should be approachable for drinkers of all stripes.
One of the more intense shous out there, Year of the Snake turned off a few people I shared it with, especially the early steeps, which are the darkest I have seen a tea get. I didn’t detect much outside of the standard ripe pu’er profile (particularly dark chocolate), but what was there felt turned up a notch in potency. This isn’t terribly complex, but when you get the urge for something strong, or want to show a tea newbie that tea can in fact pack a punch, it’s a very solid option.