Wednesday, October 2, 2019
This 2019 Zhang Si Long Ge Deng sample was kindly gifted to me for review (cake goes for $222.24 for 400g cake or $0.56/g).
Dry leaves smell of intense penetrating pungent deep forest odour with a lingering almost rose faint floral.
The first infusion starts with a slippery stone and watery onset. There is slight suragy notes in there is a faint woodiness and barely tropical fruit in the distant aftertaste…. Hasn’t opened up yet. The mouthfeel is silky and soft
The second infusion has a woody, almost pine forest taste nuance with slight floral suggestions. All tastes are mutted still. The mouthfeel remains silky and soft. Eligant first infusions.
The third infusion has a woody slight forsty almost mineral onset the mouthfeel is lightly fuzzy and dry. There is a faint floral lingering barely there in the breath. The infusion is again very soft and elegant. I can start to feel the Qi building softy behind the eyes. My body feels just a touch relaxed here.
The fourth has a sweet floral onset that has a slight mineral nuance almost seaweed tasting underneath. The mouthfeeling is silky and the throat doesn’t seem to be stimulated at all. There is this almost creamy, kind of sweet almost soft floral elegant note that skirts throughout the profile. The head starts feeling this hypnotic qi sensation, like a head wobble.
The fifth starts with a melon fruit and foresty onset with slight honey taste underneath. The mild taste is over a mild silky mouthfeeling which is becoming a bit astringent but mildly. The throat seems to be mainly ignored. The Qi in the head is slightly hypnotic.
The sixth starts with a sweetness that is almost creamy, kind of mineral and foresty with a distinct floral edge. The throat receives enough astringency now to push the saliva and trap it in the mid-throat along with creamy sweet notes. This infusion is filled with this delicious creamy sweet floral nuance. The Qi in the head is pretty strongly hypnotic. The Qi in mainly in the mind and the body feel light like it is levitating.
The seventh infusion has a fruity sweet almost nutty and persimmon and melon unique fruit taste for the onset there is foresty notes in there as well. The mouthfeel is a moderate sticky/silky with faint astringency. A melon sweetness emerges in the aftertaste. The throat doesn’t preform like the last infusion but feels a bit more open than the early infusions. A sweet floral fresh melon essence is through the profile.
The eighth onset is of creamy banana and slight tropical creamy fruits with a fotrest back taste. The mouthfeeling is sticky and silky. There are creamy fruity tastes faint in the aftertaste which also carries stone tastes with an almost floral edge. The aftertaste is mainly rubbery. The Qi is hypnotic in the mind and relaxing now. The body feels a bit light.
The ninth infusion start off with a not that sweet sugary almost fruity sweetness with a stone/ mineral taste next to it. There is a subtle fruity sweetness going on there as well. The mouthfeeling is a mild/moderate silkiness. The throat isn’t very stimulated. There is a flat stone aftertaste with has subtle edges of sweet floral.
The 10th starts off with a sweetness that is almost surgary but not that sweet which is supported with a stone mineral taste. The Qi feels real nice, relaxing, hypnotic. The aftertaste is a bit rubbery almost floral sweet. The tastes of this puerh are not super strong or overly engaging but the Qi is really nice. The weakest point is the throatfeeling which doesn engage the taste that much.
The 11th infusion has a fruity juicy taste to it of melon, pear, it is almost spicy here with a nice foresty back taste. The mouthfeel is more velvety and sticky in the infusion and the throat is felt this time. A faint creamy sweet and slightly rubbery aftertaste occurs as the mind relaxes deeply and feels like the mind slows.
The 12th infusion is faintly sweet like pear or melon but has a distinct stone base taste. The aftertaste is flat, with a stone and rubbery taste. The Qi is slightly hyponotic and for surely relaxing.
The 13th infusion starts stone tasting and as a subtle floral pear tasting nusnace in the aftertaste. The mouthfeeling is slightly sandy and thin. The 14th is even thinner with mainly a monotone stone taste with slight suggestions of floral and sweet over a sandy mouthfeeling.
15th 30 seconds above flash pushes out more stone taste initially and not much for sweet. There is a bit more stone but also slightly more barely floral. The Qi is relaxing here.
16th I add 60seconds to flash and it pushes out some fruit sweetnesses. The nice part about a puerh that isn’t so bitter or astringent, at least while drinking young, is that you can push it with longer infusion times. The taste is mainly fruity an almost peach but more Asian pear tasting sweetness with a background of stone.
The 17th I go 90 seconds and it pushes fruit out in mineral taste but the fruit is faint in the aftertaste.
I put this one to as long infusion and it comes out mainly stone, mineral and bitter.
The next day I drink the 2018 Zheng Si Long Gedeng as a comparison and I can see the similarities in them but there are also more differences than similarities…
Pictured below is the 2018 on the left with the 2019 on the right.
In order of personal preference of the 2017-2019 Zheng Si Long Gedeng offered at Tea Encounter with price/ value in consideration:
2018 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng- $0.71/g- Sold Out- Big bodyfeel, strong condensed taste, Nice Qi in the head, Classic Gedeng Flavors, engaging bitter astringency with solid mouth and throatfeeling. This one sold out fast worth much more than initial asking price.
2017 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng- $0.41/g- Sold Out/ Samples Available- This one is only better than the 2019 because it sold for significantly less, it has a very classic Gedeng profile and was super enjoyable to me. It has a more mellow relaxing Qi.
2019 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng- $0.56/g- This 2019 is better than the 2017 if price isn't a consideration, I think. It has some milder tight bodyfeel, but more of a moderate hypnotic Qi in the mind. I like the Qi here. Qi vaguely resembles the 2018. Has a weaker throatfeeling in some infusions and the mouthfeel is more approachable but less strength in it. The taste profile is less distinctly Gedeng but still some nice tastes in there. Overall, another nice Gedeng.
2016 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng- $0.40/g- Have not sampled-
Overall, these are all nice Gedeng puerh for what they are.
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
This 2019 Zhang Si Long Mango Zhi sample was kindly gifted to me for review (cake goes for $121.22 for 400g cake or $0.30/g) .
The dry leaves are a very punchy fruity odour.
The dry leaves are a very punchy fruity odour.
The first infusion is airy surgery, slight woody, with a vegetal and almost spicy nuance to it. The mouthfeel feels slightly tight on the tongue. There is a mild tropical fruity aftertaste. The mouthfeeling is substantial.
The second starts with a spicy woody, and sugar onset with slight fruit underneath. There is a slight gripping astringency to the mouthfeeling, slight sandy. There is a nice mild tropical fruity finish over a sandy mouthfeeling. The throat is less stimulated than the tongue and lips.
The third infusion has a woody, slight fruity onset, with a slight peach note. The full sandy slightly astringent mouthfeeling pulls the peach note into the aftertaste. The mouthfeeling is full but not excessive. It sits at a simulating fine grain sandy texture which feels quite nice in the mouth, the throat feels untouched. The wet leaves have a very strong freshly bit peach odour with emits from the pot. I start to feel the Qi in my body and my Heart flutters a bit. I feel a touch of energy flowing.
In the 4th the initial taste is of dense peachy fruit with tropical underpinnings. The dense fruit taste slowly fades into the aftertaste and overlaps with a creamy returning and more tropical sweetness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is fine grain sandy, almost chalky on the tongue. The cool sensation is felt on inhale but is mild in the upper throat. There is some mild bread notes in there and woody notes in the back ground. The progression of sweet taste is very nice here.
The 5th has dense peachy tastes right off the bat that hold in the mouth until they intersect with the returning creamy sweetness and tropical fruit. There is a faint bread and almost spice taste also faint woody underneath the performance of intermingling sweetness. The mouthfeeling is really nice a fine sandy/ chalky full feeling. The upper throat carries a coolness and creamy sweetness minutes later.
The 6th has a dense peace and creamy fruity nuance initially now there is less intermingling of separate sweet tastes and is more a layered sweetness from the initial taste which just stretches out in the mouth and into the aftertaste now. The mind feels relaxed, almost spacy from the Qi and the body feel a faint sensation in the chest.
The seventh infusion has a mellower fruity mixed with dry wood onset. Its sweetness is less dense here. Then it collides with a touch of returned creamy sweetness and seems to be inhaled a bit from that in the aftertaste where a subtle creamy tropical fruit nuance is found. The mouthfeel becomes chalkier slowly as the infusions go on.
The 8th is that same woody, almost bready, but less fruity onset that meets creamier sweetness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is chalky the throatfeeling is superficial. The sweetness is much less dense now but still shares sweetnesses with woody nuance. The Qi can feel heavy on the head a bit and a bit alerting and slightly euphoric. Nice.
The 9th infusion is much the same with just a bit more astringency in there and I notice more of an orange taste that comes out with the creamy sweetness. I would say the sweetness is balanced here with dry woody. The mouthfeel is real nice chalky, almost astringent, almost sandy but full. The Qi has a nice uppity feeling in the mind and you can feel it in the Chest/ Heart.
The 10th starts a more watery and juicy fruity wood then the sweetness transforms to a creamy almost tropical sweetness. The mouthfeel is chalky and the throat carries a mild coolness.
The 11th infusion has a more creamy sweetness to it throughout. It starts a bit watery/juicy then to almost woody then to a creamy sweet, almost tropical.
12th is becoming more woody and slightly astringent. There is mild fruit underneath. The Qi is making me move. The mouthfeeling is thinning into a more sandy feeling.
13th has a floral woody almost fruity taste initially then slightly woody sweet fruity finish.
The 14th is mainly woody with faint fruit underneath. The mouthfeel continues to thin out and become slightly sandy.
I take the 15th 30seconds longer than flash infusion it pushes more fruit out but also more astringent and almost bitter wood too.
The 16th I long infuse as well and it pushes out some sweetness with woody… some faint tropical something.
I put this in to the overnight infusion …
The next day there is a slight sweetness but mainly a bitter floral like taste.
In order of personal preference of the 5 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi offered at Tea Encounter with price/ value in consideration:
2017 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi – $0.29/g- has the best all round qualities of taste, Qi and mouthfeeling, A slower building Qi that is relaxing in the head and light body feeling.
2018 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi- $0.35/g- might have the best Qi sensation of chest tightening and knotting under the sternum sensation, slow moving and evolving creamy sweetnesses and some savory throughout the session, gripping more intense mouthfeeeling than others. (wait a minute... I think this is my favorite... hahaha)
2016 Autumn Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi Dragon Ball- $0.23/g- good example of autumnal pureh, long candy aftertaste with deep throatiness, good stamina and decent mind chilling Qi
2019 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi- $0.30/g- uplifting Qi with chest Heart body feeling, lacks the overall intensity that the 2018 and 2017 have overall, more woody but with layered tastes, peach and tropical early on, less intense mouthfeeling as 2018 and 2017 as well.
2016 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi- $0.38/g- very stable infusions, very pure and quite flavourful, lazy and relaxing Qi
They are actually all nice famous tea mountain Mang Zhi puerh… and they are the most stable out of the Zheng Si Long offerings year after year. I find them all quite satisfying and most offer a good balance of Qi, taste, and mouth/throatfeeling. The most notable aspect is decently good Qi in these Mang Zhi and many have a nice mouthfeeling as well. Out of all the Zheng Si Long samples, I usually end up drinking up the Meng Zhi first, the sample speed test… hahahah… with that said I still haven’t purchased a cake… Yummy.
Thursday, September 26, 2019
For the causal puerh drinker, no find is better than a puerh which you enjoy to drink which has been discounted due to some wrapper or other cosmetic issue. Marshal’N beamed about this in one of his comments about 7542 earlier this year. I too have somewhat recently took advantage of this discount. I ended up saving about $15/$20 per cake on these 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long when it was advertised that the batch had excessive tearing to the wrapper. This was nice considering it was on my list of puerh to buy anyway! I suppose the decision to offer a discount for cosmetic reasons can also be used as a bit of a marketing technique because it is a bit of a call to action.
The reality of it is that it is just the vendors being as transparent as possible about what they are selling so to ensure there are no surprises. Vendors like white2tea and Yunnan Sourcing don’t explicitly discount cakes with cosmetic damage such as tears or bug bites or staining or excessive dust. However, you can almost be sure that they acquired these cakes for a cheaper price and that price is being passed on to the customer. They will state the issues of concern as a matter of transparency on the product page such as in the description of white2tea’s Very Old Huangpian or recently in Yunnan Sourcing's 2006 Changtai “65th Anniversary of Tong An Teahouse”.
Interestingly, I had received a different puerh order this year from a Western vendor that I will not mention. The wrappers from this order were actually much more ripped up than the 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long wrappers but were not advertised as such! The puerh was around the same age. I didn’t see the reason to complain and felt silly asking for a discount because, really, I don’t care. The one thing that both of these puerh had was that they were not double wrapped and that they had a very thin type of paper wrapper.
The type of wrapper, thickness, and weather it is double wrapped makes a real difference. It also influences how the puerh will actually age and because each type of wrapping offers different benefits to aging, something that isn’t discussed much in the West but is a discussion point in Asia among teamasters. It also offers the puerh cakes protection from extreme humidity/dryness, pests, light, ect. That could damage the puerh. The type of wrapper isn’t just a marketing thing, it’s something that can be considered on a practical level ... but it’s never the primary consideration when buying puerh… usually just a bonus.
In my experience drinking puerh from the 80s and 90s, there was almost always some damage or cosmetic thing with these cakes. This is just natural and historically it was completely normal wear and tear. Remember that donkeys traveling the Tea Horse Road used to haul this stuff! Historically, it wasn’t kept in mint condition so why should we expect that now? I understand that for a collector of puerh, this thing might matter for resale, but for the drinker it’s all superficial anyways…
Sunday, September 22, 2019
The 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long ($161.63 for 400g cake or$0.40/g) is one of my favorite of the Zheng Si Long I’ve sampled over the last year or so. I was excited to try the 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long complimentary sample (the 400g cake goes for $129.30or $0.32/g).
Dry leaves are a deep dark foresty rubbery deep forest like underlying sweetness.
First infusion has a woody watery onset with underlying icing sugar sweetness. The mouthfeel has a tight mild astringency to it. The throat almost seems open for things to come. There are faint ghostly lingering fruits and florals in the far distance.
The second has a creamy sweet woody onset. The creamy sweetness has a milky richness to it and turns into a stone like sweetness. A fruity taste expands in the mouth in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is silky and has a faint astringency to it. The throat has a nice opening where creamy and fruity tastes feel like ghosts in the throat. The aroma coming from the throat is nice floral, creamy sweet and almost but not quite fruit.
The third infusion has a woody tart that traverses quickly to sweetness that is a bit plum fruity, almost sour, and a bit creamy. The sweetness pops in the mouth nicely then the aftertaste expands into a floral sweetness. The mouthfeel is faintly astringent and almost velvety. The throat opens to a mid-depth. The Qi starts to feel relaxing in the head.
The fourth infusion starts off sour and slight bitter creamy fruity taste like a plum that is not ripe enough to eat. There are mild layered woods underneath and a floral quality as well. There are lots of different taste dimensions in here. The mouthfeel is velvety and almost astringent and the throat feel opens to a nice mid-level from the faint astringency. There is a mild lingering cotton candy taste minutes later on the breath.
The fifth starts with an increasing tart and bitter nuance. The mouthfeel is mainly tart, puckering astringency. It pushes out floral and creamy sweetness and in the aftertaste a faint cotton candy taste. The astringency pushes the flavours deep into the throat. I would say floral wildflower and almost honey distinctly lingers there.
The sixth has a plum and green apple fruit onset that is somewhat bitter sour and bitter. The fruit tastes kind of expand into sour notes. The qi is somewhat relaxing with a heavy head feeling.
The seventh is a bitter, astringent moderately fruity green apple and plum taste under the stronger tastes. A strong floral sensibility expands in the aftertaste. The tastes are interesting and nuanced but cloaked in bitter astringency. The long sweet floral expansive aftertaste is enjoyable. Back to back infusions cause the mouthfeel to become pucker.
The eighth infusion starts with a sweet splash with bitter and sour underneath. There is a sweet creaminess which expands into a floral nuance. The taste is full and nuanced in the mouth. The Qi is stuffy in the head, mildly warming, and mildly relaxing.
The ninth infusion starts with an astringent pucker- you have to really space out the infusions to mitigate this, but let’s be honest, a tea like this is for aging. The sweet almost tropical fruity onset and creamy sweet finish is made complex by a deep floral layering and deeper throat feeling.
The tenth infusion starts creamy sweet tropical splash of quick flavor before astringency and bitter overtake. The foresty, floral taste layered with creamy and almost candy sweetness juxtaposed with bitter astringency gives this puerh lots of taste depth. The mouth is very puckered up but not at all throat choking. The head starts to feel spacy and floating.
The eleventh is a mellow tasting almost sweet fruit but more floral with bitter and astringency underneath. The mouthfeel is a flat tartness. The sweet floral taste is most obvious here.
The 12th starts woody, astringent, and bitter with a faint butter floral underneath. The floral almost creamy sweetness shares space with a dry astringent wood. The Qi is mellow and a bit warming.
The 13th has a fruity sweet starfruit onset with a sour and moderate bitter finish. The taste has very little floral here and is mainly a flat fruit sweetness. The mouthfeeling is slightly slippery.
The 14th becomes a bit more woody fruit moderate sourness and bitterness and a subtle candy nuance in the aftertaste. There is a sour fruity sweet note on the tongue and in the throat the floral taste is less now. Qi is a moderate/mild heavy headed feeling and relaxing thing.
The 15th has a chalky almost creamy mild fruit taste with sour and bitter tastes much less now. The mouthfeeling is slippery. The 16th is a bit more bitter and sour but there is mainly just this mild fruity sour taste with a mouthfeel that is becoming increasingly sandy.
I decide to put this one into a long overnight infusion next to the 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long that I conveniently drank the day before…
A bitter very floral taste is left in the broth the next day. There is an underlying melon fruit sweetness to it.
Left are the 2015 wet leaves and right are the 2019 wet leaves.
This is quite a distant comparison because the 2015 Wa Long underwent 4 years of dry Xishuangbanna storage. So really it’s at a different stage of aging compared to the ultra young, pressed just a few months ago, 2019. Also, it should be noted, that I quite like the 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long and purchased 3 cakes last year. It was the intense Qi sensation (the warmth, the alertness, and the chest sensation and Heart racing) that made this one a worthwhile purchase for me. This 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long has a more heady type of Qi, relaxing, more moderate-mild, and no stronger body sensation.
The interesting thing about this young 2019 Wa Long is the astringent bitterness and reasonably layered complexity of taste and deeper throat sensation (although this sensation isn’t consistent throughout the infusions). I image the 2015 Wa Long also had this type of astringent bitterness and stronger throat sensation when it was this young but it has aged out at bit into something quite nice. This is likely the reason that it didn’t sell out early- when it was young, it was probably a bit unpalatable, like this one. The 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long is basically for aging into something enjoyable, much like the 2015.
Friday, September 20, 2019
I was kindly gifted a box of 2019 Tea Encounter puerh goodies for review (many thanks again to Tiago aka Curigane). I think its quite smart that you can obtain the same sampling set for 12% off the normal sample price. I’m excited to compare some of these 2019 Zheng Si Long to previous years and hope to focus my reviews of these 2019 on comparison sampling. I’m also excited that Tea Encounter has started purchasing maocha and pressing them into their own Tea Encounter brand puerh cakes (a proper 357g of course). I hope to also review these here on the blog in the coming weeks…
The following notes are for the 2019 Zheng Si Long Yi ShanMo (400g cake goes for $161.63 or $0.40/g). I quite enjoyed the solid mouth and throat feeling and solid Qi sensation of the 2018 Zheng Si Long Yi Shan Mo ($167.01 for 400g cake or$0.42/g) and wonder if the 2019 has any of these qualities…
Dry leaves smell of sweet short pops of sugar and fruit. A light airy sweetness, a creamy sweetness to these over an almost cardboard almost faint barnyard odour maybe distant woody too. Lots of subtle depth in these dry leaves.
The first has a mild milky onset with a mild tart sharpness. Almost no flavour comes out here maybe just a distant floral and wood. The initial taste is like licking a stone then there is a bit of vacuous space than a mild custard finish. The mouthfeel is slippery and the throat feeling is immediately deep in a vacuous sense. Opening deeply. There is a faint coolness deep in the throat.
The second infusion carries a mild sour and almost yogurt taste with stone taste then a peachy and floral build up with some subtle cinnamon nuance. The floral sweet peach really builds nicely as the tea is swallowed and continues to expand in the aftertaste and in the throat minutes later. The mouthfeel is slippery and the throat has a deep vacuous opening feeling. Very nice.
The third infusion starts a touch sour, then cinnamon spice, but drops quickly into a long expansive floral and fruit with long and deep throaty pear and peach and apple nuances to in in the aftertaste. The throatfeelig is nice and deep here. Creamy sweetness are in there as well. The Qi is really mild and soft in these first few infusions. I can feel my forehead get a touch heavy. The mouthfeeling is slippery with slight faint edges of astringency.
The fourth has a sour fruity almost orange taste now initially, then the throat opens deeply with a very subtle cooling and gives off creamy sweetness, some astringency and wildflower. The qi is mild and relaxing. Throatfeeling is deep and hold a long aftertaste of fruity tastes of dragon fruit and pear minutes later.
The fifth infusion is thick and strong from the initial taste where there is slight sour but more sweet dense peachy almost orange like taste. The mouthfeel is full with a slippery almost chalky and astringent fullness. The fruit taste is really expansive and very long throughout the session. The Qi is mild and builds into a relaxing feeling. The body feels a touch light. Very long thick deep sweet taste of pear, dragonfruit, wildflower… the tastes is deep and delicious.
The sixth infusion has a very fresh peach and pear like onset with a touch of spice in the distance. There is a nice long fruity taste now. The mouthfeel is slippery and a stone taste is there as well. The fruity taste is very vibrant and long and rests deep in the throat. The Qi is mild and relaxing.
The seventh comes off very thick and fruity initially nice deep fruity taste with a very mild touch of astringency. This is a delicious puerh. The mouthfeel remains sticky and slippery with a deep throat which holds and expands the fruit, floral, honey now, and creamy sweetness. Qi heavy in the head.
The eighth has a milder pear and licking a stone type taste initially then there is a blank stone taste throughout with only mild edges of wild flower and distant sweetness. The mouthfeel becomes a bit sandy.
The ninth has much the same stone like tastes that are almost metallic then transition to a blank almost pear and almost wildflower nuance. The mouthfeel and throat feel are slippery and sandy but thinner now.
The tenth starts a bit tart/bitter with a stone like taste the fruitiness comes out as pear, apple, peach in the aftertaste and especially floral. The mouthfeel is sticky, slight astringent, and sandy now. The Qi makes the head and brow feel heavy. The body feels a bit groggy, like moving in syrup.
The 11th has a bit of a fruity bitter to it like pear peeling, and orange peeling. The bitterness has an astringency to it which overtakes the aftertaste which just has mild suggestions left in it.
The 12th infusion starts almost floral with a bitter and stone like taste to it. There is not much as far as sweetness left in this puerh.
The 13th has a quick mild drop of pear peeling and wood and stone. The faint fruit is out muscled by and stone taste and even slight woody taste the aftertaste shows glimpses of pear and wood but is mainly bitter. The throatfeeling her is more upper throat now and lack the long aftertaste. The Qi remains heavy in the head and body.
The 14th is becoming more watery, stone tastes, faint tastes and mouthfeeling slippery.
The 15th and 16th a bit more fruity but mainly stone, mineral tasting almost but not quite floral. These infusions lack a strong flavor this late in the session. There is a bit of a bitterness to it and the thoatfeeling is superficial here.
I steep it into a minutes long infusion now… it gives off a strong mineral, wet stone in the mouth taste with a slight dry wood, bitterness, and a subtle floral taste, but no sweetness really.
I had a chance to sample what was left of the 2018 Zheng Si Long Yi Shan Mo yesterday to compare, but these two Yi Shan Mo have really nothing in common. So no point in that really. However, they each have their charms...
Pictured below is the 2018 wet leaves on the left and the 2019 wet leaves on the right. Note how the 2018 has just slightly shorter but maybe longer stem leaves where the 2018 has slightly smaller leaves and slightly more buds, slightly... They are actually quite similar although everything else is quite a different experience.
Friday, September 13, 2019
Although most cities in the West don’t have a Chinese tea scene, there are a few places that are worth checking out to find some hidden gems locally. This is great advice no matter what city you live in. In fact, the more obscure Chinese tea culture is in your city, the more likely that there are treasures in clear view, that others are completely oblivious to.
In the past, I have found a pretty good haul of semi aged puerh, aged oolong, and even antique tea simply by asking around at the older Traditional Chinese Herbal markets and shops in town. The older the establishment, the more likely they might have some old forgotten tea kicking around somewhere covered in dust.
Every once and a while I search for used clothing or décor or art for my house on these local online garage sales, Facebook sale pages, or local online classifieds. Actually, more often than not, it is my wife doing this. Either way I sometimes manage to put the search words “Teapot” or “Tea” in the search field and usually not much interesting pops up. Last month, the search result showed something that looked like an authentic quality Yixing teapot.
Turns out it was! I paid $5.00 for this beautiful unused Shui Piao style yixing. I know enough about yixing teapots to know the thick walled clay is of excellent quality, it is handmade, and its style looks like something from the 1990s or early 2000s, that’s my guess. To validate my guesstimate, the other Japanese items for sale from this vendor are from this time period. I also suspect that it was first exported to Japan than gifted by a Japanese National- that is all the info I could get on this teapot from the seller. I could guess that a pot like this would go for at least $200.00! In many ways, this pot embodies much of the same aesthetic that my beloved (but cracked lid) Zen koan yixing teapot does.
Like the Zen koan Yixing, this pot is quite large and heavy and thick walled. The other was 250ML pot and this one is even bigger at 300ML. Also the style is much the same with an etching of auspicious bamboo on one side of the pot and the other side with calligraphy. Is it a beast though- heavy, holds heat much better than any pot I've had and a very quick pour.
This shui piao yixing calligraphy has such a beautiful meaning. A meaning that I try to embrace with each and every pot of tea I make. So it is fitting…
As far as I can translate such things, the calligraphy speaks of the preciousness of time and being in the moment and not taking the time we have for granted. It speaks of the analogy of the gardener and short lived peony bloom. I am unsure where the origin of the calligraphy comes from or whether it is a common phrase or certain philosophical school of thought…. I still have some homework to do… hahaha
Anyways, I strongly encourage you to do such searches in your local area. Do let me know if you find some winners! People like Marshal’N of a Tea Addict’s Journal didn’t buy his large yixing collection from teapot vendors, I’m sure. He basically found things, in the same way I found this shui piao, for dirt cheap. Its just that there is a lot more of this stuff to find in Hongkong 10 years ago … and this is the same way you will find one too, where ever you live…
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
This was the only one I decided to cake sample out of the lot of samples I ordered from Yunnan Sourcing a month or so ago. This Lucy wrapper always makes my children smile, I think it’s a beautiful thing and the reason this wrapper is one of my favorites. Of course, the wrapper is not why I purchased the puerh in the first place but rather the good reviews, a nice promotional tasting video by Scott, but mainly due to the fact that I am interested in the pressing of maocha that has been aged a bit before pressing. Did I mention that this puerh goes for $64.00/ 250g cake or $0.26/g.… that is pretty cheap… another reason, I caked this sample…
This puerh was apparently found (?) as maocha by Scott one year after it was picked in the Spring of 2017. Scott describes the taste as a very unique taste profile. He doesn’t state weather its plantation or gushu or anything like this maybe because he wasn’t directly involved with the production of it… I’m not sure, but it cleanly passed the pesticide testing….
Ok let’s see what this one is all about…
The dry leaves smell of intense almost Kobucha like sour fruitiness. There is a sweet and sour fruit odour that is deeply penetrating.
The first infusion has a sour and dough but not sourdough onset backed by a citrus almost grapefruit and peachy taste. There are other fruity tastes that layer this initial profile. The mouthfeel is thick and almost astringent in the mouth and throat and give the tea a thick and strong mouthfeeling in the first infusion. The throat sensation is strong and moderately deep.
The second infusion starts off with edges of fruity sour tastes thick thick thick in the mouth and throat. The fruity taste feels really strong and is dense and layered with sour, and bread-like tastes. There are edges of bitterness but more sour astringency than bitter. The throat and mouthfeel are quite stimulating. There is some mild pungency then sour fruity tastes. The thorat stimulation is strong, a sticky almost sandy but opening astringency.
The third infusion starts a touch bitter and touch astringent with a blood orange taste with nuances of peach and even strawberry. The fruity taste and the sour taste predominate. The mouthfeeling is thick and coating a bit griping. The Qi is pretty strong and pushes me into a sweat on the forehead here. The face flushes and the chest feels almost tight. My wife comments here, “this is powerful tea”.
The fourth infusion is mainly sour and has suggestions of grapefruit, strawberries, sour peach, fermenting sourness, delicious sour fruit. There is a touch of a woody thing but the sour is thick, just kicked out some mild pungent. Mainly sour fruit, distinct and thick.
The fifth infusion has a sour, almost bitterness happening. There is a nice creamy returning sweetness here under the astringency, and bitterness. The fruit note is thick. The mouthnfeeling and throatfeeling is almost sandy, sticky, and astringent. The throat is quite stimulated with the astringency there.
The sixth infusion is getting more astringent and bitter and the mouthfeeling is more astringent. The fruitiness is distinct. The astringency continues to build. The throat is almost gripping. The Qi is an alerting type with a tight feeling in the body, like a hug.
The seventh infusion starts of thick sour fruit, slight woody ferment base with astringency and bitter underlying. This tea is definitely engaging and strong… punchy. Thick mouthcoating. There is a strength about it that gets you going, an active qi type sensation.
The eighth infusion starts a touch more fruity and the astringency is a touch dry with less of a thick dense mouthcoating. It is almost an astringent dryness with a fruity tone underneath.
The ninth has a much stronger fruity explosion now. It paints the tongue in an astringent fruity note. There is some mild pungent coolness, then returning faint creamy sweetness and more sour fruitiness. I can feel the tight Qi in the body. A tight hug, some tight chest feeling, that is not at all bothersome but more soothing and energizing.
The 10th starts bitter but fruity and nice strawberry almost peach like sweetness. Sometimes this puerh tastes like cheap strawberry flavored wine. The mouthfeel is much less now, almost sandy.
The 11th becomes even bitterer and somewhat astringent with fruit notes lying underneath. The taste really flattens out here and never really recovers…
The 12th is bitter and sour fruit from the onset. The fruit note is definitely still there but the mouthfeel has lost its depth and there is an astringent flatness to the infusions now.
The 13th is the last I attempt before putting it into overnight infusions. It has a flat sandy mouthfeeling, astringent throat feeling and is subtly fruity and sour underneath.
Overall, it tastes a lot like Korean Balhyocha but with much more layered depth in the first infusions. The first infusions are very tasty and feel quite full in the mouth. Qi here is a tight body feeling and some stimulating power. The stamina here is not good leading me to believe that this is likely terrace/ plantation Jingmai. On the plus side, It comes with a really nice price tag and I quite enjoy the taste, mouthfeeling, and Qi of the first handful of infusions. It comes on strong.
The above session I leafed it real hard. I’ve had a chance to steep this puerh a few times and it seems to be better leafed a bit lighter due to its strength and bitter astringency. Overall a nice puerh, a bit unique for its price…