Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Teamasters’ Wild

This wild tea was a free sample sent with a recent order from Teamasters.  It currently sells for $388.00 for 200g cake ($1.94/g) or 10g at $25.00.  At this price it is the most expensive wild tea that I have sampled even more expensive than any fresh young puerh that I have ever sampled.

Dry leaves smell of very intensely sweet sugar cane and licorice/ fennel odours in a deep forest base.

The first infusion greets the drinker with a very smooth full mouthfeel and thick chalky throatfeel.  The feeling in the mouth and throat are wonderful but almost distract from the very light, juicy fresh lychee and floral taste.  There is a mild coolness in the throat as it opens slowly and deeply.  There is a very light floral lingering there minutes later.

The second infusion opens up with a mouthfeeling before a true initial taste comes along.  When it gets there, a turbid, foresty taste with a sweet slight sugary edge reveals itself.  It finishes in the throat with turbid barely floral tastes lingering there.

The third infusion has nice movement.  It starts with a bit of a vacuous taste, then subtle flat floral notes appear, then slight sugar, then turbid forest tastes, then slight cooling, then slight turbid floral.  Overall there is no base taste to root down these very light, transitioning tastes.  The qi is calming and very mellow.  It is very light on the body and relaxing on the mind.

The fourth infusion starts with a vacuous sweet taste which turns into a turbid foresty almost bubble gum sweet taste which sticks to the cheeks and tongue as it evolves into a floral taste.  All this movement is very very light.  Overall there is much movement within each sip but the tastes are not strong.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel of this tea are very nice.

The fifth has a more rounded juicy fruit feeling to it.  A lychee taste is present throughout now but it is very fragile and even simple.  The aftertaste slowly unravels into sweetness, slight coolness, and even floral.  The tea is very gentle on the body and probably would be best consumed immediately.  This is for sure a sweet wild tea.  Everything about this tea is subtle, gentle, and fragile.  The full, soft, chalky and sticky mouth- and throat-feel is the exception.  The qi of this wild is quite cooling and its cool thermal energy is noticeable.

The sixth infusion again has a defined initial taste of florals and rubbery barely fruit sweetness.  The taste has rounded out significantly with movement in the long subtle aftertaste especially in the throat but also later in the sticky coating in the mouth.  There are lychee fruits, florals, clean wild tea foresty-turbidity tastes minutes later.

The seventh infusion starts with a classic subdued gummy foresty floral wild taste before an empty dip.  The aftertaste is just mild coolness and barely forest notes here.  The eighth turns lighter into a foresty wild taste.  The ninth fades considerably with just ghostly flavours lingering in a gummy, forest wild tea taste.  A profound cooling sensation sweeps over my body.  This tea is by far the most cooling and refreshing of all wilds I have tried.

The tenth infusion I add 15 seconds more steeping time and some apricot and pear notes appear in the initial taste profile followed by a subtle pungency.  This infusion has more complexity to it.  The eleventh even more time is added and a much thicker mouthfeel is the main result.  In this thick mouthfeel are candy like subtle sweet tastes as well as some rubbery tastes.  The great thing about this sweet wild tea is that there is so little astringency and bitterness that you can really push it hard to get more interesting things out of it with longer infusion times.

The twelfth infusion is long and pushes out sweet gummy tastes, slight florals and barely cool throatfeels in a gummy rubbery wild base taste.  The thirteenth pushes out some berry fruity tastes initially in an more interesting wild base taste.  The aftertaste is now fruity and lightly sweet.

This tea is interesting in that you can really vary the steeping time to pull out lots of different flavors because you really don’t have to contend with bitterness at all.

So I do this for another few steeps before putting these leaves to rest.

This is an interesting wild tea because there are so many different steeping options available which push out a different dimension with each pot.  If there are those of you out there who are curious about how steeping temperature and time effects flavor in wild teas, this tea might be as interesting for you as it is for me. 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

white2tea: It’s All About the Blend, Stupid!

It really only took me one sample included in my order to realize that some of the popularity of white2tea puerh lies in its blends.  In a Western market educated almost exclusively in valuing single estate and single villages/ areas, white2tea found a gap in the market.  The good work of Scott of Yunnan Sourcing has educated us since 2009 about the value of single village/area puerh.  No doubt David from Essence of Tea has taught us how to appreciate a single tree or estate puerh.  However, it must have been the foresight of Paul of white2tea to see that there was a gap in the market for blended puerh.

For me, to determine the true quality of a product, evaluation of the raw unblended leaves seem the easiest and best way to make such a judgement.  This is exactly what I did with my order of 2017 Pussy.  It is probably the highest quality and maybe most expensive of all non-blended puerh that white2tea has sold and for me, it passed the mustard test.  However, almost all the puerh that I used to and continue to consume and around 95% of the cakes I own are blends of either producing areas or factories.  An exception is a few particularly exceptionally pure puerh and high quality cakes of Yunnan Sourcing Brand puerh and Essence of Tea as well as a few others.  I prefer the blended things or maybe I am just used to such things.

For the blender essentially they should be able to create more depth in their product at a lower cost by blending it.  For the drinker they are rewarded with much more complexity and depth presumably for a much lower price.  For white2tea, lower price is not always a guarantee with their blends and the rising prices of white2tea’s puerh is proof of this.  With that being said, I have never tried a blended puerh that was as chaotic, interesting, multifaceted,and unusual as I did with the 2017 4 am.

After just one session with 4 am I realized that I probably missed the point in my first order.  While sipping the fragrant deliciousness which is 2017 Pussy I chuckle to myself “It’s All About the Blend, Stupid!”


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tastes of a Real Korean Teamaster- Group Buy Kim Jong Yeol Balhyocha

I got an email recently that stated:

 Dear Tea Friend,

If you follow Morning Crane Tea on Facebook, you already know that I am making a very special tea offer.  Kim Jong Yeol is one of Korea’s finest artisan tea producers yet only two of his teas have ever been offered in the West.  To correct this, we made a special arrangement and are able, for this TeaBuy only, to offer six of his amazing teas at prices much lower than my normally discounted prices.  If you have tried his teas before, you know the exceptional quality of the teas he produces.  If not here is an unprecedented opportunity. 

Master Kim uses large nearly wild bushes organically grown with deep roots. They are hand plucked and hand processed by the master himself insuring outstanding quality.  This special offer ends December 9th at midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the USA.  Most teas will be shipped from the USA but If you are closer to Korea, we can ship directly to you.  Our goal is to get these teas to you in December.

If you are a tea company and want to purchase wholesale, these are our wholesale prices unless you buy by the kilo that would reduce the price slightly.

This is an unprecedented opportunity and another one of our tea offers from which we will make very little profit.  Morning Crane Tea is an educational enterprise not a tea company.

Please respond with your order to morningcranetea(at)


Arthur K. J. Park

Morning Crane Tea

I just wanted to re-iterate how epic Kim Jong Yeol’s Korean tea is and what a special opportunity this is to try Korean tea at prices below what you would actually pay in Korea.

If anyone out there is interested in what Kim Jong Yeol’s teas are all about please feel free to browse this stack of old posts on his teas that go back to his 2009 selection:

Or check out this recent video review at TeaDB:

It is a false statement that only 2 of Kim Jong Yeol’s teas have been offered in the West as Pedro (formally of Daotea and currently of O5tea) has been selling various grades of both his green tea and balhyocha since 2009 and continues to do so.  If you are lucky enough to live in Vancouver you can even try Kim Jong Yeol’s teas out in person or walk out with a bag before ordering at 05Tea.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Excellent Everyday Drinker Puerh: 2003 Teamasters “Private Label Spring Puerh From Private Factory”

This tea came in a free unsolicited package of samples from Stephane of Teamasters’ Blog.  I did something I rarely do and, on a whim, in my office I sampled this tea blindly without even looking at the label or knowing anything about it except that it was puerh and it came from Stephane.  It was the first of a handful of samples that he kindly sent.  What I discovered pleasantly surprised me…

Dry leaves smell of significant humid storage without being full out traditional wet storage.  This tea has a robust woody pine like odour which is somewhat resinous.  The storage, to me, is right on, not off at all- very humid clean dry stored puerh.

The first infusion a nice aged puerh depth is immediately apparent with a slight peach initial taste with nice dry wood like taste dominating the profile.  There is a mild returning coolness in a deeper aged woody broth.  The mouthfeel has a subtle dryness to it as does the top throat.

The second infusion starts with a nice almost buttery wood taste.  The middle taste is woody with slight aged dirt and decomposing leaf taste.  The aftertaste is mildly cooling wood.  There is a slight woody stickiness that is left in the mouth afterward.  This is classic woody sheng puerh is stored in a manner that is so familiar with me.

Third infusion is much the same but more round- still 90% woody aged dirt tastes maybe 10% buttery edge to the initial taste.   The mouthfeel is both slightly drying and finishes barely sticky.

The fourth again is much the same.  The fifth is developing a slight creaminess and has more of a cool edge as well.  The sixth again builds on more of a fresh woody taste edge to it.  There is a very slight fruit taste in the breath- dates.  The mouthfeel remains substantive but not overly drying.

In the seventh infusion the taste is nice and harmonious- woody depth, subtle freshness, barely coolness, drier fresher cut wood, dirt, composing leaves.  All of these are fairly standard aged puerh tastes.  The mouthfeel becomes more rounded as well and less dry.  The qi congests in the chest over the heart.  It has a mild path to the head and is mostly felt in the body.

In the eighth and ninth infusions the returning coolness is much stronger now giving the puerh a freshness to it.  There are some sweet edges in the coolness that weren’t as evident in the early infusions.  The taste doesn’t evolve too much and mainly presents with a dirt, woody, barely date taste.  There is a true warming qi with this tea as the body feels nice and comforted.

The tenth is starting to become more plum/date tasting with the woody taste just a bit more dominant in the initial taste as the sweet taste disappears.  A slightly drying wood in left in the throat.

The eleventh infusion starts to hollow out a touch and becomes more watery for the first time.  The twelfth feels full once again, it must have been the 60 second off boil water for the eleventh.  Suggestions of rose in this cup is a nice surprise.

Thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth give off a nice aged puerh taste. This puerh is steeped like this a handful more time.  These late infusions you are basically left to enjoy the very clean aged taste.  So nice.

At this point in time, I take a look at the label on the sample package.  I am surprised that it is a 2003- I would have guessed late 90s.  It’s very humid storage makes it feel like a late 1990s for me, even someone familiar with drinking this type of storage.  I go on to Teamasters’ online store and look up this tea.  I am again surprised that this tea is selling for $59.00 for 375g cake ($0.17/g).  In my head while drinking it, I figured a cake of this quality would be $150.00.  The only thing that really didn’t surprise me that it is from the Menghai region- it really tastes like this.  I see that there are only a few cakes left.  I put them all in my cart and check out- done.

This tea is simple and clean with a very aged taste for a 2003.  If someone out there is looking for a really aged puerh taste without having to shell out hundreds of dollars- this is the one.  The storage is excellent very humid but very clean storage.  Cakes like this are relatively rare for Western puerh buyers.

If you looked at this criteria for tasting puerh, this tea would be heavily weighted a great everyday drinker.  It feels clean and unsprayed.  It feels harmonious in the body and mind.  The qi sensation is warming and comfortable.  The taste is quite standard but substantially aged tasting.  The mouth and throatfeel are not the strong point of this tea but is not harsh.

The irony is this- the very first blog post I read on my return to blogging was no other than this post introducing this tea on Teamasters Blog.  All this time I was searching hi and low for an everyday drinker and there it was all along.

 It turns out that Stephane restocked this, there were 11 cakes a few days ago now it looks like there is only 8 left.  Those that are seeking an affordable but nicely stored everyday drinker puerh, you got it in this one.

I really could not agree more with the lone reviewer on the vendor page, Alex N, when they pointedly state, “With some age and clean humid storage. By far the best I've found at this age and price. Don't hesitate.”


Monday, November 27, 2017

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Puerh Sales

Like maybe many of you readers, I was hoping to purchase some puerh if the deals were right on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Things looked promising...

Out of the gates Essence of Tea did something kind of different and interesting that I never saw before.  They offered a 20% more tea offer where they would add 20% of the value of your purchase toward any tea you wanted (per gram price).  Very cool.  I looked though their selection- there was surely a few that I am interested in but just didn't bite.

white2tea offered a bit of true discount and a lot of marketing spectacular side show which I totally enjoyed.  They did offer free shipping and a free limited 200g Huang Pian cake on orders over $500.00.  They added a few new puerh to their 2017 line up (here, here, here) that coincided with the sale.  One that made me laugh out loud was their April fools special. I wonder how many suckers fell for that one.  I definitely gave it a double check.  You know what they say "You can't fool a fool!" hahaha  Brilliant.

Yunnan Sourcing offered a 13% off everything sale which will probably see the best discounts this whole year.  Anyone into puerh could probably find something they like.  I had my eyes on a few cakes in the weeks and months before the sale and was ready to buy.  I had some of those awesome loyalty points (cleaver marketing) sitting in my account for a while so really things seemed optimistic.  However, I was disappointed when some of the cakes I was eyeing were marked up since I last check their prices (in the days?, weeks? before).  Sigh... I looked and pondered but just could finish the deal.

Really I don't think I have it in me... There is something about these big sale days that I am opposed to... the whole idea of unhinged consumerism that these days are all about doesn't sit well with me...  but yet, I feel irresistibly pulled in.

In the end I actually purchased some puerh but it wasn't even a vendor that had any deal or sale at all actually.  They just had puerh that was, in my mind, an unmistakable value and always offer free shipping on orders anyways.  I compared it in my mind to even the discounted prices offered elsewhere and still hands down their puerh was, to me, still a much better value in the end.  They really don't make much of a fuss of it.

Anyways, there are still hours left for those procrastinators to get on board with the white2tea and Yunnan Sourcing sales.  Essence of Tea extended their sale to the end of the month.  I wonder...

Did any of you nab a great puerh deal on these days?  Are there any puerh vendors that I missed that had great or interesting deals?  Did any of you sweat it out without out dropping any cash at all (you are my hero and I am bowing to you right now)?  What do you think was the best deal of all?  How do these big sales influence your puerh spending?

So many things to meditate and contemplate...


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Often Overlooked: 1995 Teamasters CNNP Yiwu Brick

Dear Stephane,

I remember your Teamasters Blog was one of three that I used to read in the mid-2000s.  Effectively you inspired me with your posts to start MattCha’s Blog.  Your enthusiasm, kindness, and passion for transmitting what you have learned is contagious.  Thanks for putting your passion into this as well as the sale of teas that represent the extent of your tea knowledge.


When shopping for puerh Teamasters’ smaller curated selection is often overlooked in North America.  Certainly, I’m just as guilty as everybody else.  Luck for me, Stephane, was quick to send some unsolicited samples to this old blogger to try out.  I have been eagerly waiting for the cold winter to give them a try.  The warming qi of a nicely aged puerh cannot compare on these early Winter days.  I’ve tried Teamsters' puerh before and was quite impressed.  For me Teamasters’ puerh usually has nicer humid storage and usually has some quality aged offerings as well as a few more humid stored everyday drinkers.  This sample is one such example of the former.  At $750.00 per 500g brick or $20.00/12gsample, it offers us a glimpse of what puerh at this level, age, and storage should look like.  Let’s indulge, shall we…

The dry leaves smell of soft fruity and deep aged puerh forest and dirt depth.  The odour of the dry leaves immediately give away that this tea is should have lots of complexity to it.  It smells of clean medium humid dry storage with lots of fresh depth.

The first infusion has a very smooth buttery sweetness.  There are deep aged tastes with some suggestions of dried fruits in a very rich thick and viscus broth.  The mouthfeel is immediately thick like syrup.  It finishes lightly fruity with strong viscus depth.  There is a nice soft cooling in the mouth with indications of vanilla and rum.  You can feel the warm qi building in the chest and calming the mind.

The second infusion starts off more woody, and slowly transitions into more of a richness, a deep aged puerh taste.  There is a nice lightness that creates a beautiful dichotomy of thick rich depth and suggestions of syrupy fruit underneath.  The aftertaste is long the throat feel is lubricating and nice.

The third infusion has a pronounced wood note and a cooling aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is very nice and full with a nice finish of cooling throatiness.  There is less indication of fruitiness here and more deep thick aged puerh taste.  This infusion releases a nice euphoric head feeling.

The fourth infusion has a more of an earthy, dirt taste to it.  The aftertaste has a nice rich returning sweetness that has a very aged lighter fruit taste over a nice deep cooling.  There is a certain taste to this infusion that I have a hard time describing almost like a brandy taste to it.

The fifth infusion has a nice lively fruitiness to it balanced with deep aged puerh tastes.  The tastes are really nice here with the fruity tastes almost as distinct as the woody-camphor aged puerh tastes.  The throatiness of this tea is significant and hold the aftertaste nicely.  The qi here induces nice euphoria- I feel on top of the world.

 The sixth infusion has more of a woody camphor taste to it, the brandy alcholol note is in there now too.  The fruit tastes are gone now with just a ghost on the breathe with a slight bread taste as well.

The seveth is much the same as the sixth but now has a smoother compete taste there are hints of vanilla here.

The eighth has a high noted wood initial taste, I think this would be the way to describe it.  Then is smooths out over the profile and matains a deep wood taste.  The aftertaste is nicely cooling.  Straight camphor through and through in this infusion.

The ninth infusion again has some hints of fruit under the woody depth.  This tea really goes back and forth infusion to infusion showing off its complexity and depth.

Tenth once again presents light elements in dark.  The eleventh is quite smooth too.  Vanilla, camphor, woody, slight earthy dirt, a nice soft cool returning breathfeel.  Very smooth.

The twelveth has some buttery brown sugar notes in there as well.  There is a fresh robust taste to this infusion with touches of vanilla in the breath.  Mmmmmm… There is just as much compexitiy here than in the earlier infusions but the flavors are much more conhesive.  This tea has a nice rhythm to it.

The fourteenth infusion seems to offer basic woody tastes in a smooth mouth- throatfeel.  The fifteenth is more fruity and cincentracted all the while maintaing that aged wood taste.  Sixteenth has a deep depth of slightly different woody tastes here.

The seventh and eighteenth hold the line hear with light woody almost fruit tastes with a cooling aftertaste.

The nineteeth onward is pretty much just light camphory tastes with a cooling aftertaste and still somewhat full mouthfeeling.  What’s not to enjoy about this puerh?

I like how this tea pulls off the fruity lightness of Yiwu with the deeper aged tastes.  It really makes for a brilliant tea.  Overall there is much complexity to be found infusion to infusion.  The storage would be a medium-dry humid storage to me which I think has done this tea well in maintaining some high notes amongst manly just deep aged tastes.


Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea Yiwu GuoYouLin and Trusting Gushu Claims

These days are quite different that when I first started drinking puerh.  Back then nobody really understood what “ancient” “old tree” “gushu” really meant or how to distinguish between such stuff from even some factory produced puerh.  Yeah, it was that bad back then.  Nowadays, a lot of people have come to understand that most of these claims can be immediately disregarded.  I feel that Essence of Tea is an exception to that rule.  To me the care and strict oversight that David and Yingxi’s use to source tea = truth.  If David, says that his new Essence of Tea puerh is (fill in blank) than I have no doubt that it is (fill in blank).  I have the highest level of trust for David with his sourcing on his fresh puerh nowadays.

This kind of guarantee of authenticity however comes with a price.  This is only fair because to guarantee such claims must take an enormous about of time, energy, and effort on the part of David and Yingxi.  If I was both in a financial place where I could spend the money and was serious about acquiring young fresh pure ancient puerh of a famous producing area, I would be pre-ordering Essence of Tea’s 2018 puerh.  No questions asked.  But because I am not in such a place right now, I am simply humbled by a chance to sample such things and enjoy the experience which unfolds.  Please come along with me, sit down, and enjoy…

This tea came from a small selection of puerh trees protected in the Yiwu State Forest that were discovered in 2004.  Essence of Tea has given this tea the bold claim of “the best tea we’ve ever pressed”.  This tea sold out fast but used to go for $450.00 for a 400g cake.  It is the last of the free samples included in my last purchase from Essence of Tea (thanks again David).

Dry leaves carry a deep and rich odour of multifaceted fruits.  Concord grape odours in a slightly deep forest smell.  Many rich high notes are released into the olfactory.

First infusion has a slightly syrupy sweet fruit taste.  There is a nice crispness to the taste but also a depth to it.  The aftertaste is of high fruit tastes which don’t last too long before a sandy taste reveals itself.  Overall, this first infusion surprised me because I was expecting lots of top notes but wasn’t also expecting lots of grounding depth.  Right off the bat this tea has a full feeling to it.   The throatfeeling is subtle but deep.

The second infusion shows off more of this profile with an initial taste that is not too sweet nor that fruity but has nice slight fruit taste in a deeper profile of slight grains, forest tastes, bread tastes which comprise just as much of the taste profile, especially in the middle profile after the initial syrupy sweetness has almost disappeared.  The fruity sweetness re-appears stronger in the breath and in the aftertaste compared to the first infusion.  The mouthfeel has a nice, mild, almost sandy texture.

The third infusion has even less initial sweet taste but more of a mellow apricot bread taste to it.  The aftertaste is a thick blanketing taste of dried fruits and breads.  This tea has a very deep, heavy profile to it for such a young tea- very nice sustenance.  The mouthfeel develops a sticky, syrupy feeling to it to match the syrup taste. The throat sensation is opening, viscus, and thick.

The fourth infusion starts with slight fruits that are overpowered by a deeper foresty taste.  There is a nice spike of surgery returning sweetness before being dragged out into an apricot bread taste of fresh yeasty baking.   The bread tastes are the dominant ones, the mild initial sweetness is becoming less.  The aftertaste is of dry fruit.

The fifth is completely different which has a tingling suragry slightly cooling initial taste with a cool menthol like sweetness being more prominent here with the fruity sweetness now almost unnoticeable and this cooling pungent menthol surgary sweetness now emerging.  There is another depth to the taste which tastes of syrup.  This infusion starts to show signs of a woody taste emerging also.  The initial- and aftertaste is less exciting than the long thick middle taste.  The qi of this tea is actually very mild and is mainly felt as a light sensation in the head and a very clear mind.  It feels very unimposing in the body and is very mild and approachable for such a young puerh.

The sixth infusion is much the same with a deep evolving taste over a long profile.

The seventh infusion has a vegetal initial taste where there is a complete void of sweetness now.  That taste is the dominant which slowly gives way to some bread-like taste and a very faint returning coolness followed by bready and dried apricot fruit tastes in the aftertaste.  The aftertaste is now where the most action is.  The rest of the infusion is dominated by a slightly bitter and more standard vegetal taste.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is mild but full.  The throatfeeling is deep and mild achieving a nice complete but mildly stimulating sensation.

The eighth has a much smoother and harmonious taste, more blended together now- vegetal, bread, slight wood, barely dried apricot.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling becomes slightly drying here and is getting noticeably stronger.

The ninth infusion starts off with a dry and slightly puckery fruit notes over vegetal notes then transforms to a woody taste then to a nice bread-like returning sweetness with slight cooling.  The cooling sensation brings a wood and faint sugar notes.  Overall the profile is turning more wood-like and the mouthfeel and throatfeel start moving out of the medium-mild stimulating and more into the stronger slighty gripping stimulation at this point. 

The tenth and eleventh has a nice robust bread, wood, melon taste which is nicely blended throughout.  The taste is nicely harmonious here along with the mouth and throatfeeling feels quite satisfyingly complete.  The vegetal/ bitter note is gone leaving nice tastes left to thoroughly enjoy.

The twelfth has a grainy-cereal taste as the dominant here.  There are woody, syrupy edges to it here but it is grain tasting throughout.  The mouthfeel is mild to medium full- the throatfeel is deep and light. 

The thirteenth and fourteenth has much the same tastes.  There emerges a fruity mild returning sweetness in these later infusions.  Still very much enjoyable here.

The fifteenth and sixteen becomes even more mild but still enjoyable and harmonious.  I am still doing only flash infusions here with no need to add any extra time to enjoy this tea which I think could potentially just make it bitter and dry.  This tea has great stamina.  Overall, this tea has a very mild qi and very little bodyfeel.

The seventieth and eighteenth become more mild but still not really bitter and are enjoyed.

If acquiring true, pure gushu is the top criteria for your puerh buying then look no further than Essence of Tea.  However, based on taste/smell, qi, bodyfeeel/ mouthfeel alone, this tea would not be worth it for the average person.  Once providence is added to the equation and if you are one who values such things, this puerh is immediately worth it- especially in a climate where such things are becoming harder to actually and undeniably verify.


Steepster’s Tasting Notes and Commentary

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Short History of Wild Tea/Yesheng As I See It

Traditionally, wild tea/ yesheng was not aged like puerh tea.  This is a rather recent idea.  The qi of wild tea was to Clear Heat in the body and the leaves were consumed fresh by the minorities of Yunnan.  The more bitter the taste the more effective it was at Clearing Heat.

It is almost impossible to find aged wild tea or anything earlier than after around 2000.  This is because it was not readily consumed outside of Yunnan and there was not much of any market for this product outside of Yunnan.  Really, its history is that of a local medicinal (however, puerh tea also was historically thought of as medicinal).

My hypothesis is that its popularity coincided with two factors discussed below.  First was the steady increase in puerh prices to a point that was not sustainable and the resulting burst of the puerh bubble.  The second factor was the steady influx of outsiders trying to make money off of the puerh boom.

To me it seems like 2008 was the first big year in wild tea production (just based on what I saw that year and years previous not on actual data if such data even exists).  As those buying up fresh maocha for puerh encountered inexcusably high prices of raw material in 2008 people thought to buy and press much cheaper wild tea into a puerh like shape and market it as such.

So essentially, the puerh bubble marked the birth of modern wild tea/ yesheng as we see it today.  Ever since then wild tea has steadily increased in popularity and has also carried increasing prices to reflect this.  As reported in a previous post, the 2017 year brought very expensive prices for the wild tea of famous area Qianjiazhai.

Aging wild tea is therefore a relatively new concept.  However, the recent consensus is that wild tea actually ages quite well.  The jury is not 100% out on that one because I don’t know if there is anyone out there to sample truly aged wild tea but so far so good.  The aged wild tea that I have aged and sampled are doing quite well.


Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea Nancai Ancient And Finding Other Obscure Puerh Producing Villages

Has anybody ever heard of Nancai? Certainly not me.  Since my return to puerh there seem to be about a billion more puerh producing villages in our vocabulary.  Whenever I have no clue where an area is these days I refer to this all important list.  However sometimes areas are not even on that list!

Sometimes vendors either transliterate the Chinese name slightly different than what might be listed here (I had transliterated a lot of Korean tea vocab that had never been written in English) or maybe have done so deliberately so the exact area of the tea cannot be easily located.  I wonder if Nancai is the Nasai: on the list?

Either way it’s all about the tea anyways eh?

This one sticks out on Essence of Tea 2017 offerings as it is one of two more affordable options ( the other affordable puerh, WuLiang H Ancient).  The Nancai goes for $80.00 for 400g cake ($0.20/g) and the WuLiang H Ancient for $81.00 for 400g cake ($0.20/g).

Okay lets us meditate with this one for a while…

Dry leaves smell of very intense cherry notes over a deep pungency.

The first infusion has a surprisingly very creamy initial taste where it slowly unravels in the mouth from intense buttery/creamy sweetness and slight wildflower to slight fruit.  The mouthfeel is immediately present and nicely coats the mouth with soft astringency.  There is a slight cooling aftertaste that has a faint creamy sweet finish of ghostly sugar which pops and fades quickly.

The second has almost peppermint candy-like nuance with a sugary sweet finish over clean astringency.  The qi is light in the body and mind.

The third infusion has nuances of a deeper fruity taste with both deep foresty tastes and slight sweet tastes but neither are strong, nor are they dominant.  The teeth feel squeaky as the mouthfeeling clings to it too.

The fourth infusion roots nice cherry fruit sweetness and barely noticeable notes of pine wood in a mildly pungent foresty-deep subtle background taste.  The initial cherry fruit sweetness has more longevity now and clings a bit better to the aftertaste in the full and just slightly astringent mouthfeel.

The fifth shows off some buttery notes initially before softly astringent fruits start to take over.  The sensation and astringency is all in the mouth and less in the throat.  The throat feel is just mildly stimulated with a soft opening feeling in the mid throat.

The sixth becomes slightly watery and just a touch flat so more time will be added to the flash infusions.  There are still initial cherry fruit notes but the creamy edges are lost to an astringent wood note.  The qi sensation slightly dizzys and wobbles in the head nicely.

The seventh infusion has a slight rubbery, gummy fruit taste- the fruit tastes a tampered by a generic woody taste.  The sweetness dances slightly on the breath.  The eighth is much the same as this puerh has seemed to hit the ceiling.  In the eighth a new green grapy, dragon fruity taste emerges.  It is retained in the ninth as well but overall the taste is fleeting.

Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth still have some fruit tastes that skirt around a full astringency and a slight puckery mouthfeel.   Still worth pursuing late steeps for this tea because the fruit notes, although not complicated, nor strong, nor clear, are still very much present and enjoyed in the mouthfeeling.  This tea will not lay down yet.

Thirteenth and fourteenth infusions the fruit tastes are all but gone and a licorice and fennel seed taste is left in the mouth.  There are barely noticeable edges of fruit in the throat.  The rest is pretty much just flat puerh taste.  The astringency in the mouth never gets too constricting.  The qi feeling leaves the head shaking gently like a balloon in the wind.

For those who appreciate puerhs with a sticky astringency and stimulating mouthfeel without being too strong or off putting might appreciate this particularly clean puerh.  This tea is also very harmonious in the body with less harshness for a young puerh.  If there are those out there who like a stronger mouthfeel in young puerh without having to pay the price for it, this one might also interest you.

Overall this has characteristic of that good feeling Essence of Tea style that is just slightly rough around the edges but very pure, clean and harmonious.  Overall this tea is not overly complicated but is nice as an affordable entry point to fresh, young Essence of Tea puerh for 2017.  Hats off to David and Yingxi for offering something more affordable but that still has the overall feel and quality of Essence of Tea puerh.  I think in 2017 that is a lot harder to accomplish than it ever used to be.


Arek's (Puerh Blog) Tasting Notes


Friday, November 10, 2017

3 Top Western Vendors of Korean Tea

I have been meaning to update my large list of all places big and small that sell Korean tea to the Western world but have been putting it off.  Since my last update, I actually think less vendors are selling Korean tea.  If I were to shorten the list to places I have actually ordered from and would continue to order from it would only contain the below three North American (Canada & US) vendors…

1-      Morning Crane Tea- Arthur Park has been offering his group buys of famous Korean teas for years now.  His prices are what you would actually pay in Korea (or maybe even cheaper) and his list of producers range from famous co-operative collectives and old traditional tea producers some of which are featured on this blog from years ago.  Why look any further?  He has a group buy coming up in November here so please contact him if you are interested here:

2-      Good Green Tea- Sam of Good Green Tea set up this business for his mother who is a teamaster in South Korea simply to promote Korean tea culture.  Good Green Tea is the official distributor of Juro, arguably the most famous traditional tea producer in South Korea.  Jokro is one of my absolute favorites and Sam offers it for cheaper than you can buy in Korea.  This is classic Korean tea for prices you can’t get in Korea- you can’t beat that!

3-      O5Tea- Pedro has been personally sourcing Korean tea since 2009 and brought Western fame to producer Kim Jong Yeol.  I used to regularly drink tea with him upon his arrival in Canada and the most amazing thing is you can too!   I highly recommend sitting down with him (or his lovely staff) when in Vancouver to have some Korean tea proper at his teabar.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Appreciate Wild Tea (Don’t Compare It to Puerh)

1-      shouldn’t compare to puerh because it’s not puerh (see here and here)

2-      Those people out there who have compared wild tea to puerh, thinking that it is puerh or something puerh like, will likely be disappointed because it is really quite different (here and here and here).  However, those who maintain an open mild will enjoy good wild tea (here and here).

3-      Sweet wild tea is the wild tea which I am familiar and was almost exclusively the type of wild tea marketed and sold in the mid-late 2000s.  So it is this profile that I wish to explain. Bitter wild tea will have an intense bitterness that will appear in throat and tongue.  Bitter wild tea is blatantly and obviously bitter, if it doesn’t have this quality then, to me, it is sweet wild tea.

4-      Leaves- look different, purple hue or darker color almost purplish/ reddish colour, the dry leaf odour is usually much more perfume and fruitier than standard puerh, sometimes there is a subtle smoky odor that will usually dissipate as the tea ages.  The high notes in the dry leaf are much more intense than standard puerh.

5-      taste of sweet wild tea often feels weaker than puerh in the initial steepings, so there is an inclination for those who are unfamiliar with it to add more leaf

6-      The initial taste burst feels a bit ungrounded compared to conventional puerh with few deeper notes to root or ground the taste down.  These tastes are usually intense fruity tastes.

7-      The middle of the profile is always vacuous and empty feeling compared to standard puerh- this is not a sign of bad wild tea, rather, it is a sign of legitimate/true wild tea.

8-      The mouthfeel is always weaker than the throatfeel in good quality wild tea.

9-      The returning sweetness has a different profile than standard puerh.  Puerh usually has a strong cooling and sweet aftertaste where wild tea usually lacks a cooling aftertaste and tastes slightly rubbery or bitter with a much more intense fruity returning taste.  Wild tea usually induces salivation at this point and the degree to which it does, I feel, is a sign of quality because it makes the aftertaste in the throat fuller and longer lasting.

10-   Another sign of quality, for me in a good wild tea is the taste and strength of the flavor that gets pushed into the throat and therefore breath minutes or hours after swallowing.  This is a special feature of wild tea that puerh tea does not have.  The flavor, intensity, and duration of this lingering breath taste is a sign of quality to me.

11-   Both young conventional puerh and young wild tea is a bit tough on the digestion.  All young wild teas I have tried, if they have even a small bit of bitterness, tend to be a bit tough on the digestion.  This effect depends on your own body constitution and will decrease or go away as wild tea ages.

12-   Wild tea’s qi sensation is always stronger than conventional puerh and the body feel is often stronger as well.  To me wild tea is all about the qi sensation.

The above list is based on my own experiences with wild tea/ yesheng.  For those familiar with wild tea, what would you add to the list?  How do you appreciate the uniqueness which is wild tea?
I hope this list will help those just getting in to wild tea to appreciate it more.