Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng & Thoughts On the Gedeng Producing Area

Well, I lost this 2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng sample about a month ago.  Tiago, the owner of Tea Encounter, kindly included this in a recent order.  It goes for $164.32 for 400g cake or $0.41/g, but is currently sold out.  Tiago assured me that his stock gets regularly replenished so watched for its return if this review peaks your interest…

Dry leaves smell of mellow cherry fruits and of distant mountain dew, a rocky and almost forest like odour.

The first infusion has a mineral, rock-like taste, almost like literally eating a rock initially with a slippery almost sticky mouthfeeling.  There is a mild cooling and slight sugar and distant fruit.  The fruit element slowly expands in the mouth and shows subtleties of a more tropical fruit taste.  The mouthfeeling is reasonably long and still carries the mineral rock taste that is a touch forest like.

The second infusion has a very nice and full mouthfeel that is like a dense coating of slightly astringent paint over the tongue and mouth. The throat takes note and opens to such suggestions.  The mineral rock taste is there but along with distinct florals in the background as well as subtle fruits.  The feeling in the mouth and throat is really nice off the go here.  Subtle fruits and floral stretch long into the breath.

The third infusion has much of the second its mouthfeel is nice and strong, thick feeling liquor in the mouth the mineral, rock, mountain top, taste is distinct and dominating throughout.  The high notes linger in the back ground distant wildflowers and almost tropical fruit suggestions.

The fourth infusion has a nice full mineral, rock taste with edges of forest and opens up to a more distinct menthol taste with a hallow sugar finish with slight wildflower and honey.  The returning sweetness is a nice exaggeration of this with touches of tropical fruit.

The fifth and sixth were much the same the astringent up front mineral and forest base taste is interesting and a signature of Gedeng.  The sweetness is all on the back end in the form of almost buttery wildflowers and edges of clear tropical fruit tastes.

The seventh infusion has fruit tastes mix with forest.  The mineral, rock taste is less now and the fruity taste with a bit of slight astringency is found throughout.  The returning sweetness swells with a touch of cooling in the throat where tropical fruits appear. This infusion is much more sweet and fruity now.

The eighth and ninth is more mellow fruit with slight cooling and edges of astringency.  The fruity taste becomes more dominant now.  This tea is becoming very fruity and approachable with a distinct cooling aftertaste and long fruitiness.  The fruitiness is not that vibrant over powering thing, instead its a mellow almost foresty thing.  The qi of this tea is not ground breaking but soft and gentle you can feel a fluffiness in the head but nothing too much.  A touch relaxing, a touch alerting- nothing to strong, a mellow qi.

The tenth has a creaminess and sweetness to the fruity flavours which now dominate.  The eleventh still has a thicker viscus feeling, slightly astringent.

11, 12, 13, 14 it starts to weaken so I push harder but mainly enjoyable fruity tastes are pushed out.  Still a mild menthol, a mineral rock forest is mainly found in the aftertaste now still worthwhile and tasty.

There is lots to enjoy about this puerh mainly in its taste progression throughout the session.  There is interesting depth in this Gedeng due to its astringent mineral forest taste that at times is almost or barely bitter which helps to balance the interesting mild fruits and florals that wriggle themselves out especially later in the session where they dominate.  It offers a mild qi sensation, mellow.  Another thing that might interest people is its very characteristic Gedeng profile.  This might be worth a sample for those out there that want to get familiar with this famous (but not that common) classic six mountain puerh producing area.  The thing is, I have never really been a big fan of this area.  Either way, this is a great example even if just for education purposes.


Friday, September 14, 2018

2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long & Productive Qi

When you say “Wa Long” my mind thinks immediately of intensely sweet Yiwu material with basically no bitterness and miles of deliciousness…. Mmmmmm… I wonder if this Wa Long can satisfy my presumption about this growing area?  This Wa Long goes for $156.24 for 400g cake or $0.39/g.

The dry leaves smell of creamy intensely sweet woody Yiwu-ness.  The odour has a fruity cherry character to it as well as a candy like sweet smell…

First delivers an intensely creamy icing sugary sweet fluffy cotton candy intense sweet deliciousness.  There is a long cool faint menthol that hangs out mildly in the background as not to disturb the intensity of the sweetness.  This is intensely and beautifully sweet stuff.

The second infusion at least half of the sweetness has vaporized in its volatility but still there is enough of that to go around.  The very distant wood note, like a rainforest, lingers throughout.  The mouthfeel is light and stimulates the edges of the tongue, it has a tingling feeling to it not at all vacuous.

The third develops some dragon fruit and pear taste as a layer to its intense sweetness.  Very Faint woodiness is almost overlooked completely over draping, very distinct Yiwu sweetness. The Qi is big in the head very weighty and muddling, happy and energizing.  In the body it can be felt in the heart.

The fourth infusion has a fruitier than sweet onset- pear, plum, distant tropical.  There is a slight almost sour/bitter wood taste underneath.  The mouthfeel is thin but slight sticky on the tongue.  It’s more on the tongue than the throat.  The aftertaste is a continuation of sweet fruits.

The fifth almost has a pungent menthol initial taste which swells in the mouth and tongue.  There is a subtle woody, rainforest taste throughout.  It has a sweet bready yeasty finish indicating a few years of more humid storage.

The sixth infusion has a woody, plum, and slightly sour taste to it.  The tongue develops a chalky bitterness to it, which is mild.  The aftertaste is bready, fruity, woody and has a yam note in there as well.  Nice mild menthol finish, more fruitiness trails off.

The seventh has a woody plum and tropical edge taste presenting initially.  The intensity of the first few infusions can’t be found any more but a faint trace in the aftertaste.  What remains are classic Yiwu woody, plumb, foresty tastes.  Slight bitter and sour but very faint.  A sweet bread finish in the mouth.

The eighth has more of a malty woody plumy fruitiness.  The tastes of this tea have some depth to them in the stimulating but mild tongue coating.  The throat only opens mildly to welcome these flavours in.  The Qi is heady, alerting, cloudy.  In the body it races the heart slightly and you can still feel it in the stomach.  It makes for a very productive day…. This is that Qi that makes you want to get stuff done.  It gives you a sort of clarity and focus but also a nice surge of energy especially mental energy.

Ninth is nicely woody, plumb, almost soapy sweetness with a ghostly edge of that intense sweetness almost gone now as it lingers with fruits in the aftertaste.

Tenth has a nice deep mellow fruity woody Yiwu thing going on.  The fruit flavor is complex enough in the mouth.  Slight menthol lingers.  A good Yiwu profile, yummy!

Eleventh and twelfth is steeped with a good 15 seconds longer than flash and much more tropical fruits are pushed out the wood is mellow in the background now. Tropical fruity with a menthol background.

13th & 14th are pushed longer and a woody dryness with fruity edges so very Yiwu.

This tea has such a wonderfully productive Qi to it.  Its effects leaves the mind in a profoundly focused state.  I imagine I could have done a few more steeps out of this one easy but instead I was way way too busy getting stuff done!



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Making Sense of Your Tea Drinking

I recently read a comment on TeaDB that made me reflect on how to think about my puerh drinking.  In the comment section of this article on justifying the purchase of shu puerh James places his tea drinking into logical categories with rationale as to what teas make most sense for each category.  He states:

For me tea drinking falls into three basic categories. (1) Casual brews I drink/make for my wife. (2) Teas I drink gong-fu throughout the day. (3) Teas I drink with other people.

Ripe pu’erh tends to do very well in category 1 and depending on the audience category 3. It doesn’t make sense for me to be brewing something fancy for category 1 and for whatever reason I just about never want to drink ripe as my gong-fu session for the day. That just leaves category 3, and I’m not sure I’m at the point where I can justify fancier boutique ripe sheerly to serve guests. I’ll admit to having considered but I’m not quite there for myself. I also certainly wouldn’t fault the person who chooses to buy it.

For me, even a few years ago, my tea drinking was very very different but for the last year or two it has been pretty consistent mainly due to stable life circumstances.  My tea drinking falls into (1) morning gongfu I drink/ make for wife and family. (2) Stored productions that I bring out of storage to drink with my family on a rare occasion. (3) Teas I drink with other people. (4) Everyday drinkers I one cup steep at work. (5) better teas I gong fu at work.

Over the last while category 1 tends to be aged sheng of increasingly decent quality but also can include shu puerh, Korean Balhyocha, or Oolong.  My children regularly drink tea with us so I make sure it is of a certain base level of quality.  My wife will not tolerate anything overly harsh or unusual and if its sheng, it better be aged.  She has an increasingly discerning pallet when I’m gong fu brewing.

Category 2 tends to be sheng puerh that I have lesser quantities of and I am trying to hold on to-expensive or cheap, old or young.  Usually, it has some quality of rareness to it preventing me from putting a cake into my regular rotation thereby preventing me from drinking through it on a day-to-day basis.  It also has some level of quality to it, otherwise I would just drink through the cake in Category 4.

Category 3 tends to be similar to category 2 but is sometimes Darjeeling which my wife enjoys as well but that I rarely consume these days.

Category 4 tends to be a lot of factory sheng that I have acquired over the last year.  If I’m simply looking for caffeine after lunch and my day is too busy to deeply appreciate such things it could be some lesser quality sheng that I have a sample cake of or some cheaper Menghai Factory stuff.  If I’m feeling like something of better quality, I go up the quality ladder without hesitation.  I will even consume fresh sheng samples as well at work.

Category 5 tends to be nicer aged sheng or samples where I can spend some time with and enjoy and often blog or write about.

Anyways, I think that helping to categorize your tea drinking is another way other than measuring your consumption that can help guide your future purchases.  This is especially true if you consider yourself more of a puerh drinker rather than collector.

In my case, I have amassed enough tea to satisfy categories 2-4 over the past year and from years before.  So, right now my buying is focused more on high quality drinkers that satisfy Category 1 and maybe for some more special stuff that satisfies Category 2 & 5.  Currently, my generous onslaught of samples are satisfying these categories nicely without me dipping into my stored cakes.  I am also wondering if I should take the plunge into buying more shu puerh?  I really prefer sheng but my wife also enjoys shu and doesn’t really pay to much attention to weather its sheng or shu anyways, as long as its good.  I also feel that my purchasing is slowing down because I have enough to last me many many years.

I hope that this reflection has helped you evaluate your own drinking needs.  I wonder what your drinking categories are and how that influences your purchasing, if at all?

Hummmm…. Something to meditate on…


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2015 Zheng Si Long Yi Shan Mo

And back to my onslaught of Zheng Si Long samples.  I hope you have been enjoying my current deep plunge into Tea Encounter's puerh catalogue...

This is a new tea area for me although it’s entirely possible I would have tried something like this before… It seems like the Yi Shan Mo area is pretty far off the beaten path.  This is one of two 2015 Zhang Si Long at Tea Encounter this one sells for $156.24 for 400g cake or $0.39 /g.

The dry leaf delivers deep rich pungent dried apricot odours in a heavy whiff of sweetness.

The first infusion has a watery floral, icing sugar- like opening, faint wood, then cooling retuning finish, ending on a melon taste on the tongue.

The second infusion starts on a caramel note transitioning to a slightly pungent dry woody taste.  The cool menthol is noticeable.  The mouthfeel is elegant and flows to the edges of the mouth and tongue.  The mouthfeel is nice and the quaint throat sensation is deep where menthol flows.  Slight melon aftertaste.

The third infusion starts off as a dry woody, fruit melon taste then dry wood fades and the melon swells then menthol arrives.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling is very gentle but nice.  There is a long melon and floral sweetness that lingers minutes later.

The fourth starts with significantly pungent, dry woody notes which give way to melon then menthol.  There is a sweet-sour, almost mango-like, taste in there prominent as well.  Long melon and floral note lingers along with wood.

The fifth infusion is much the same as the fourth but much more pronounced.  The mouthfeel becomes thicker and stickier in the mouth.  With no bitterness around, there is almost a cloying melon sweetness while the woody taste is really becoming more pronounced.

The sixth is continuing to build slowly into a slightly syrupy woody melon fruit taste with a long camphor wood cooling finish.  The mouth and throat feel slowly build in the mouth and become a sticky, almost dry.  The finish is long melon and wood.  The aftertaste is quite nice.

The seventh infusion is more menthol and pungent now.  That has to be the dominant falvour.  The pungent taste is throughout, it’s long.  Initial it shares space with woody and slight sweetness.  In the aftertaste with melon, sweetness, slight honey, and floral.

The eighth infusion has an interesting soapy floral taste as the dominant taste now.  Tastes like Thrills gum.  A sticky almost grapy taste in the mouth is there as well.

The ninth shares this interesting taste.  There is woods and florals and sweet melon fruits in there as well.  It has suggestions of a faint cotton candy sweetness under the fruit sweetness.  A nice sticky mouth coating.  The Qi of this tea is very mellow.  It strolls throughout the body without much fuss.

The tenth has a woody melon initial taste with distinct menthol underpinning.  A long floral melon stays along in the aftertaste.  The eleventh has more powerful creamy cotton candy sweetness in there compared to previous infusions.  This taste seems to be the dominant one now.

The twelfth has a more pronounced fruity sweetness thing going on with the cotton candy floss underneath.  Layers of light nuanced sweetness. Faint wood. No bitterness.

The 13th and 14th have ten seconds over flash infusions and offer a dense thicker broth of fruits and thicker florals, a long creamy sweetness, light menthol.  The mouthfeel is nice but not standoffish.  This tea has great stamina of flavor and gives off a lot of depth when pushed a bit more.

I push it a bit harder to 30-90 seconds and it gives off thick fruity creamy menthol wood tastes.  Nice.  I feel a bit bad at stopping this session at 18 infusions because I think it has a lot more to offer- great stamina.  It’s getting late in the afternoon and I have no other choice, least I’ll be up too late.  I put it through a few more days of overnight steeping and the result is very thick fruity tastes.

This puerh has the Yiwu fruity and woody with more of a boarder tea melon almost green tea like taste at times.  The flavours are very nice, this is a flavor tea to me with a certain thickness to it.  This Yi Shan Mo is a slow moving puerh with lots of stamina.  The Qi sensation is very mild in both the body and mind.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Puerh Semantics: When to call it “Aged Puerh”?

Last week I came across two interesting publications that made me want to publish something about the semantics of sheng puerh aging.

The first one was from a puerh blog I have really been enjoying lately, Dead Leaves Club.  In this article they really attempt to break down the language used to describe the different stages of puerh aging and maturation.

This article made me think of how this language has changed over the last few decades.  In the early/ mid 2000s I think puerh drinkers thought of this differently than they do now, at least my puerh drinking friends and teamasters in Korea at that time.

Back then I think there were really only two terms of maturity discussed.  The first stage was “fresh / young puerh” and the second was “aged puerh”.

“Fresh young puerh” was puerh that still had qualities of youth in taste and aroma.  More importantly, they were teas that possessed bitterness and astringency and that felt disharmonious in the body and still contained a harshness or coldness inherent in them.  They would adjitate the digestion, cause unease, loose stools, bloating, and/or soreness.  Overall, puerh at this maturity would, at the very least, contain Cold energy.

“Aged puerh” was puerh that qualities of warmth and harmony.  They were teas that feel comforting and harmonious in the body.  They were inherently warming in the body and made the digestive system feel comfortable and in balance.  They possessed an aged taste profile rounded of harshness.  Overall, puerh at this maturity would contain Warm energy.

The level of humidity puerh ages under will influence how fast it moves from fresh puerh to aged puerh.  The more the humidity of storage, the quicker a puerh will become aged.  Traditional Hong Kong storage would be classified as aged much quicker than dry Kunming storage.

However, the second factor that determined whether a puerh was considered “aged puerh” was how it felt subjectively to the individual consuming the puerh.  Puerh that was on the edge of being aged puerh consumed by two different individuals could be considered either “fresh young puerh” for one individual if it felt harsh to them and “aged puerh” to another if it felt harmonious.

Interesting to note is that there was no talk of “semi-aged puerh” or “awkward stage puerh” or “adolescent puerh” back in the day.  I think this language was actually first created by vendors in Asia that were sitting on tones of puerh patiently waiting for it to mature so they could sell it because traditionally puerh would never be consumed fresh like it is nowadays.  Fresh young puerh has too much Cold Qi and will damage the Spleen Qi.  Remember, that puerh tea was just as much a traditional medicine than it was consumed for enjoyment at that time.

Nowadays, the language used to describe a puerh maturity has more to do with the process of fermentation that puerh undergoes than how it feels in the body.  This shift is likely due to a much better understanding these days of how that happens.  It also has much to do with the shift away from drinking and more toward aging, storing, and collecting puerh.  However, by doing this, we remove the individual and essence of puerh from the equation.

The other publication that made me think about this is the recent release of Basics Puerh Tea Sample Set by white2tea.  In it there is a “2014 Aged Raw Puerh Tea” …. Hummm… I don’t know about that?  I guess technically it “has aged” but to call a puerh “aged” after 4 years in an educational set… I really think it will just cause more confusion to new drinkers more than anything…

Or maybe it was Hong Kong Traditionally stored and really feels aged in the body…

That’s a stretch.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

2008 Fangmingyuan Nannou, Revisiting an Old Friend

Creamy, slight floral, slight aged tangerine peel, sticky in mouth, slight mahogany wood, slight watery, distant florals, menthol, sticky and slightly drying, relaxing head qi, becomes woody/menthol, very relaxing, almost sleepy even, inconspicuously alerting.  Not very thick but fruity, woody and menthol with nice qi.

I end up ordering one of these 357g cakes at $99.67 or$ 0.28/g as a comparison to the dry stored one I have.


Friday, August 31, 2018

2010 Fangmingyuan 0842 “5 Year Anniversary” and Thoughts on Old School Blends

This tea was likely made to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of Fangmingyuan with their own take on the classic 7542.  From the name I wonder if there is aged mao cha in the blend?   This 500g Qing bing goes for $55.22 or $0.11 /g- crazy cheap!

Dry leaves smell of a vibrant pungency and menthol like sugary sweetness.

The first infusion has a muddled initial taste then gives off some hay and mild woods before building into a nice clean menthol sweetness.  It peaks then slowly and strongly transitions to a long creamy sweet aftertaste.

The second infusion again starts kind of muddled and slightly turbid as it slowly transitions to menthol then to a long creamy sweet Nannou like deliciousness.  This tea a very light watery viscosity and is mainly felt on the tongue as a sticky resistance there.

The third infusion starts with a more slightly bitter woody peony odours taste then transitions to a sweet returning menthol with hay.  The long cottony creamy sweetness lingers in the aftertaste.

The fourth infusion starts with a mucky initial taste with a woodiness in there it transitions to a hay menthol taste then to a long creamy sweetness with a decent astringency in the finish now.  The tea viscosity is on the lighter side with some tongue stimulation and a middle deep opening throatiness.

The fifth infusion has an almost fruity suggestion in the initial taste along with mild bitter then taste moves predictably to menthol and woods.  The aftertaste is now slightly smoky before it gives way to creamy sweetness later on.  The qi is a bit of floating distension behind the temples.  A touch euphoric and relaxing stuff too.

The sixth infusion starts off with the aftertaste now and feels much denser in the mouth.  Things coalesce here and taste of a mix of wood, hay, creamy sweetness, barely floral and fruit, and faint smoke.  The Qi is building in the head and the euphoric feeling is backed up in line.

The seventh, eighth, and ninth have a smoky slightly bitter backbone woody nuance and creamy sweet finish.  Mild menthol lingers in the throat.  The mouthfeel becomes slightly gripping on the tongue and the throatfeeling is now more superficial.

The tenth has a distinct fruity melon note initially then goes to hay and wood before a menthol like returning sweetness and mild creamy sweetness.

In the eleventh infusion I notice more grain qualities and woodiness with still a lot of the above attributes.  Little bit of fruit in there as well.

This charming puerh reminds me a bit of the simpler, blended, early-mid 2000 puerh that have enough interesting aspects to them but in an uncomplicated taste and mouthfeel and in an older processing style.  I have a few cakes of puerh like this and really enjoy them for what they are.  Overall, they are blended enough that the tea offers some different qualities in there but the processing of the maocha isn’t always as clean.  When drinking these types of cakes you can kind of tell that the leaves have a certain level of quality to them.  This “5 Year Anniversary” offers a stronger almost Nannou back bone and nicer qi than most in this category.  Very drinkable for that price point.  I can't imagine anything from a Western vendor that is this cheap and still enjoyable, and trust me, I spent a year looking. 

 I like the Qing bing 500g size too!



Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2013 Fangmingyuan Nannou: Cheap and Good

This tea goes for $60.61 for 357g cake or $0.17/g.  It’s rare to find a decent Nannou for this these days…

Dry leaves have notes of pear and pomegranate, florals underneath.

The first infusion has a sour and peach like taste with woody notes in the aftertaste and layer into a slightly creamy sweet, slightly floral and slightly woody aftertaste in mild menthol afterpinnings.  The mouthfeel is sticky and the liquor is reasonably thick.

The second infusion has woody, florals and peach notes in a thick mouthfeeling and broth.  The mouthfeel wonderfully paints the mouth and tongue in this consistency. There is a more complex interplay of layered flavours in the mouth here.

The third infusion has a roasted sweet nut onset with woody notes underneath.  The woody taste is throughout with florals and slight creamy sweet in the aftertaste over woody notes.  Qi knows the shortcut into the brain for sure, sharpening it under its influence.  Relaxing the mind as things slow.  It has a warming feeling in the body and even the face starts to sweat.

The fourth infusion has a sour peach, fuzzy peaches, taste to it.  The floral note in this infusion is more perfume and obvious.  It has a more pronounced menthol taste as well.  Nice and thick in the mouth.

The fifth infusion starts off with a strong sour fruit taste of grapefruit and citruses.  The floral sweetness caps of the end in the aftertaste.  This infusion is fruitier.

The sixth and seventh infusion have a dense woody bitterness with fruity and floral tastes that comes out more in the aftertaste.  The dry woody profile is found throughout.  A medicinal cooling returning sweetness drapes over woody notes.

The eighth I had horrendously over stepped it. So that’s that!

Overall a nice and thick plantation Nannou-ish thing.  It shares some characteristics of Nannou that I have encountered before but are not the typical Nannou profile such as citrus notes as well as some astringency.  I don’t think I would have guessed it to be Nannou origin but it does display some of the typical floral, creamy sweetness and thick cottony mouthfeel which I enjoy from a good Nannou.  I would have guessed more Northern, I think.

Out of the three Fangmingyuan for sale at Tea Encounter, I like this one the best for the price.  This tea has a pretty intensely simulating mouthfeel for something so inexpensive.  $0.17/g you can’t get anything close to something as stimulating and interesting in the mouth for that.  This is a tea for the mouthfeel for sure, but Qi, bodyfeeling, and flavor are solid enough for the price.  For that reason, I picked up a few cakes of this.  It currently looks like it’s sold out but more should be on its way from China.  Keep watch if this sounds like something you would be interested in.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fangmingyuan: Hobbes Old Finds/ My Old Friends

Many years ago now our beloved puerh drinking chap, Hobbes of the famed The Half-Dipper blog, introduced us to a small outfit he visited while in Beijing, Fangmingyuan.  Actually, it was an old recommendation of Marshall'N.  Hobbes not only gave Fang Ming Yuan puerh the “thumbs up” but conveniently point us right to the Taobao vendor.  For those who read the Half-Dipper back then, Hobbes’ specialty was signaling out the good and cheap puerh.  Fangmingyuan, I believe fits this profile (see here, here, here, and here).

Back in 2011 I bought a bunch of this stuff through that direct contact.  The 2009 Fangmingyuan JingMai- I drank completely though that pleasant cake!  The 2008 Fangmingyuan Bama, is one of my favorite cakes.  My tea drinking pall in Victoria contacted me years back and told me that this one sells for many hundreds of dollars more than we modestly paid for it.  I have very little of this one left and have tried unsuccessfully to find something similar and cheap.

Then there is this 2008 Fangmingyuan Nannou which I just reviewed about a year ago although I have drank through a few of these cakes.  In that post I lamented, that the webstore was closed and I couldn’t re-order such acquired tastes… or could I?

Last week a packaged arrived at my door step from no other than my favorite sample pushing chap, Tiago (aka Curigane) of Tea Encounter.  The day before, I saw them go up on his site.   So before I even opened it, I knew what my destiny held in store for me…

Please join me in reviewing these Fangmingyuan in the next week here on this very blog.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Harmonizing Patina, Dao of Yixing Care

Humanity rests in the space between Heaven and Earth

Humanity follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows the Dao, and the Dao follows what is natural.

The care of a yixing teapot is really, pretty simple. It is nourished with tea, the Yang, and water, the Yin.  To bring yixing into harmony it requires the touch of man or woman.

Mr. Kim, my teamaster, said that we should only clean yixing with the natural oils found in our hands.  Every day we should rub the pot with our fingers and palms.  This regular contact with the clay is beneficial in my ways.  Firstly, it cleans the pot from tea stain build up and scale.  It is also a way to bring us into a greater understanding of the teapot.  Most importantly, it is the best way for us to harmonize our energy with it.

The use of the teapot with water and tea leaves along with our touch completes the patina of the yixing teapot making it shine brilliantly full of Qi.

In this way our



and teapot

are in harmony within ourselves.

The Dao.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Have You Ever Lost a Tea?

Well, I feel kinda bad about saying this but I lost a sample that was sent to me recently.  This has never happened to me before.  Sure, I have misplaced teas and I have found teas I forgot I even had to begin with…  But losing a tea… that’s new for me.  And the story is kind of fishy…

The last time I saw it was next to my gongfu set up at work in the staff lounge.  I had both the 2017Zheng Si Long Yibang and 2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng next to each other and was deciding which of the two I was going to indulge in.  I was in the mood for something lighter so went Yibang.  The 2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng was RIGHT there next to my tea set up the whole time.  That is the last time I saw it.

The tea set up is right up there on the dining table and all my wonderful and trusted colleagues know that it is a sacred space, an island of Zen, smack dab in the middle of the fast pace rigors of work life.  But they wouldn’t have took it…

So I searched over and over all of the possibilities of where it could have been moved or maybe where I would have logically moved it in a moment of absent thought... But nowhere could it be found.

I wonder if one of my colleagues maybe tucked it into their lunch bags or boxes or what have you in a moment of cleaning up after eating lunch?  Or worst, thrown it in the garbage?

Anyways, I have to let it go.  It’s been over one week and still has not shown itself.  2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng… the one that got away.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

2017 Zheng Si Long Wan Gong (famous puerh producing area these days)

Wan gong is an area that is pretty famous these days but one that wasn’t very known when I was heavy into drinking puerh years ago.  My experience is that it is a really light profile riddled with many high notes.  Let’s try this 2017 Zheng Si Long Wan Gong ($219.54 for a 200g cake or$1.10 /g) and see how it goes down….

Dry leaves smell of piercingly sweet fruit pineapples and mango with a soft fresh foresty smell lingering underneath.

The first infusion starts with a beautiful peach and pear fruit flavor.  In a mouthfeel that is very soft and immediately full.  The sweetness of gentle fruits shares a sugar cane returning sweetness.  This tea tastes like the sunrise at the beach.  Soft, subtly energizing.  The throat opens deeply.

The second infusion has a sweet bread initial taste the fruits come mid-profile and there is a creamy fruit cake/ Christmas cake type taste in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is sticky and the thickness of this tea is evident despite any bitterness.  There is almost a nutmeg or subtle cinnamon spice note that work well with the peach and pear nuances.

The third infusion starts with fruit cake type taste with the fruitiness dominating the profile.  The sticky fullness of this tea in the mouth is noted.  The throat opens deeply to let pear, peach, apple taste arrive in a bready like, fresh bun out of the oven depth.

The fourth infusion starts with a more forceful splash of almost tropical mixed with peaches, pears, and apple like tastes.  It has a touch of barely astringency now and displays a green forest base taste.  The bready tastes are subtle and underneath now.

The fifth infusion has a bready onset with a fist full of nuanced fruit tastes.  The mouthfeel is very full but soft the throat feeling is quite deep.  There is a nice banana like flavor that pops mid profile.  Very nice.  The fresh forest taste is the base at which these fruity flavours bounce from.

The sixth infusion has a dominating bread like taste again with fruit at its backdoor.  The fruit is more tropical now and has drifted away from a peach/ pear which is still there but faintly.  Ghostly, lingering menthol behind the sweet fruits returning.  The mouthfeel is notable very full, deep throat.

The seventh infusion reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling minus the muscatel/grape and replaced with pear, peach, even fresh prune plums.  It has a nice bready base and the thick feel hold nicely here.  There is this taste that is quite yummy, like a sourdough raison loaf a local artisan makes.  This lingers long on the breath with very distant menthol.

The eighth infusion is similar with a fruit bread taste.  The fruit/ yeast taste is quite complex.  My tastebuds are shopping in a pastry shop today.  The body feel is in its light neck and should feeling for me.

The ninth and tenth I allow to cool before consuming and I am rewarded with a woody, more classic Yiwu-like base with breads, fruits especially long in the aftertaste.  A mandarin orange aftertaste predominates along with more complicated woody notes.  The Qi of this tea is so happy, it will make you smile, giggle, get giddy- it’s a strong qi but in an uplifting and gentle way.

The eleventh and twelfth retain that fruity woody Yiwu vibe.  The aftertaste is where the fruitiness lingers but it is much less now.

I add 30 seconds to the flash infusion to give it a hefty push.  It pushes out lots more fruits but a measure of astringency and bitterness as well.  Interestingly, there is a strong roasted nutty nuance that appears as well.

I do a few stronger, longer infusions and there is still lots of fruit in there but it is less vibrant and more generic feeling, the woody taste is the more dominant now.  I drink this for the next few days under hour long infusion times.  It has this light fruity full deliciousness in it still...

And I am happy for a good few days...


Thursday, August 16, 2018

2017 Zheng Si Long Yi Bang and Thoughts on the Yibang Producing Area

I never think of myself as a big fan of Yibang but I got enough Yibang area puerh in storage to suggest otherwise.  I think what I like most about this area is its strong, euphoric, theanine induced, relaxing head feeling type of Qi that is common from the typically smaller leaves of Yibang.  Also I feel Yi Bang area puerh has enough astringency to balance the plethora of high notes that usually present.

So today, after clogging my pot early with this 2017 Zhang Si Long Mang Zhi, I regroup to pack my pot way too full of this 2017 Zheng Si Long Yibang ($118.53 for 200g cake or $0.59/g).

The mix of small and larger dry leaves smell of a bouquet of flowers, distantly pungent, slight forest edge, faint icing suragry sweetness, slight deeper forest and less fresh odour.

The first infusion has a very delicate onset presenting with outstretched arms full of high notes.  Sugar, floral, slight woody, rice taste.  Very faint watery wood underpinning.  Soft floral finish.  Soft, sticky mouthfeel to edges of cheeks.  Spacious head feeling immediately felt here.

The second infusion initially presents with wild flowers, slight surgar sweetness over a thin veil of woody, rice like base.  The mouthfeel is very gentle and has patches of stickiness.  A sight astringent mid-profile holds the light tastes close.  Qi in the head is pretty expansive. My head floats like a balloon to the sky.

The third infusion presents with a slight sour astringency with fruity blackberry and cherry thick base.  The fruitiness sticks to the mouth.  The astringent sour is strong here so I remove some leaves.  Lots of power in here.

The fourth and fifth infusions deliver dense array of floral sweetness in a sour astringent base. The sticky rice taste appears briefly.  The sweetness returns with a faint cooling before hiding amongst wildflower nuances. Slight sticky, wildflower honey aftertaste.  A soft chalky mouthfeel and opening deep throat nuance hold the high notes for minutes.

The sixth infusion initially starts with a chalky floral honey sweet initial taste.  There are distinct grape, muscatel notes in there as well.  This infusion tastes very grapey and floral.  The seventh is more rounded, and tastes of bamboo, rice paper, slightly more drying but mainly soft and chalky in mouth.  Some citrus in the aftertaste.  Very relaxing head feeling.

The seventh infusion starts to display a sweet hay like initial taste with longer wildflower middle.  This infusion is fruitier and the fruit taste intermingles with floral in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is slightly puckery.  The fruity floral taste is long.

The eighth infusion is back to a more muscatel base taste with florals and hay.  It seems like the infusions with increased astringency seem to push more of the grapey tastes out.  Head is too floating now.  The ninth has more bamboo, hay, astringency.  The mouthfeel becomes drier now.

The tenth infusion has more of a floral juicier fruity vibe.  It is interesting to me how varied this tea is from infusion to infusion.  More interesting than most Yibang I’ve tired because of that.  The eleventh has more of a floral, fruity but also light wildflower honey taste.  The astringency here keeps the flavors really tight.

Twelfth is turning into a fruity brew that still carries a subtle cool returning sweetness.  These later steeps are full of lighter notes still held nicely by a slight sticky mouthfeel and decent astringency.  I steep a few more times yielding some similar tastes.  I’m still keeping these infusions at a flash infusion and yield a durable flavor.  When I push it any more than a flash, I get too much astringency for my liking.  So is the nature of steeping with teapot really stuffed full of leaf.

A nice Yibang.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2017 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi and Teapot Clogging

After rapid firing through some 2018 maocha, I decided that this 2017 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi ($111.79 for 400g cake or $0.28/g) would be the first actual product from Tea Encounter reviewed.  I liked the 2018 Mang Zhi maocha, a nice example of Mang Zhi, and thought I was in the mood for this sport.  I decided to gong fu this at work through my erratic work day.

The dry leaves smell of a candy, licorice, chicory, slightly, woody frosty sweet mineral.

The first infusion delivers a creamy sweet initial taste with slight fruit and floral.  The creamy sweetness ebbs and flows through the profile and sometimes resembles cotton candy in its finish other times a floral tropical fruity taste initially.  There is an interesting, mineral, almost rainforest, base taste.  A long cooling aftertaste of sweet creamy tropical fruit after the cooling arrives.

The second onset is creamy tropical sweetness with mineral and rainforest tastes.  The sweetness peaks three times- in the initial, returning sweetness, and long aftertaste. The mouthfeel is soft and simulates the tongue softly and opens the mid throat nicely.

The third infusion has a sweet and slightly bitter buttery sweet onset. It expands to a mineral, forest taste before returning to creamy, almost tropical, sweetness and slight cooling.  The mouthfeel continues to expand on the tongue coating- a slightly gripping, slightly sticky coating.  This infusion is more mineral a forest then sweet.

The fourth infusion is a nice mix of bitterness, buttery caramel sweetness, light foresty, slight astringency, slight mineral.  The juxtaposition of a dominating caramel sweetness with slight astringent and bitter minerality is nice.  The tea has a nice medium oily viscosity to it.

The fifth infusion starts off initially mineral, then caramel sweetness comes in with slight bitterness.  There are some tastes of fresh green pea and tropical fruits under these base tastes. 

*******The sixth infusion the pot clogged completely rendering the resulting infusions moot.  Darn.  Didn’t catch it until it was too late. Sigh…

Anyways it gives us a glimpse into a cupping style infusion to see what this Mang Zhi is made of.  Deep buttery caramel sweetness dominates, slight floral aspect, interesting mineral taste, almost wood florals, nice full mouthfeel that mainly gripping and slightly soft/sticky but not off putting.  Nice coolness in throat.  The qi is slow to come but felt lightly in the head.  Very relaxing and very mild euphoria.  Leaves the body nimble.

The following infusions show signs of a more tropical fruit profile, with slight rain-foresty in a mild bitter astringent backbone.  The sweet tropical dominate when the pot starts pouring flash infusions again.

Although this tea is only 2017, it is obviously stored in rather humid conditions of Xisuangbanna as evidence of its caramel taste and light brownish liquor.  The storage is very clean though.  I can image all of the Tea Encounter’s Zheng Si Long will have these charms.

This tea offers a nicely balanced taste of a solid sweet base with medium notes of minerality and rainforest.  Many subtle but different sweet tastes can be found in here.  However, this tea has enough strength in its medium bitter and astringency, medium thick viscosity and full mouthfeeling to offset the sweetness and make for an interesting session.  Qi is a slower builder and mainly relaxing in the head with some subtle power.  The bodyfeel is nibble and whimsical feeling.

I kind of like this one and should try it again with the remainder of the sample.


Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 Mr. Zheng’s Selected Maocha

It has been a while since I sampled a decent number of puerh this fresh.  These five maocha samples were personally selected by Mr. Zheng of Zheng Si Long.  I can imagine him matter-of-factly rejecting hundreds of others as he did in that video.  It was passed on to me that they may or may not be the actual maocha used in his 2018 line up.  Nor do they represent the processing end product of the puerh he did chose to select.  Rather, they are used to give us an indication of the quality of these puerh producing areas this year and, for me, the skill and character to which Mr. Zheng selects for his puerh.
Thanks again to Tiago (aka Curigane) of Tea Encounter for sending this treat.  There is no time more natural then the peak of Summer to drink such young raw puerh.  I imagine the 2018 line up will be up for sale in a few weeks/ months.  I hope to also review the actual 2018 Zheng Si Long puerh samples when they arrive. But for now, let me present this teaser…

2018 Yibang Maocha
Pungent, fairly intense sweetness, honey, floral, rainforest smells, less high and deeper than some small leaf Yibang dry leaf. Icing sugar, floral finish, sweet, foresty, top sticky mouthfeeling, very yibang character, nice mouthfeel sticky mouth roof, soft flowing qi, subtle tropical fruit and floral finish, mild cooling, interesting faint fruit finish, subtle, can feel some head floating, qi behind eyes, Qi goes to the head. Clean. Slight sticky cheeks. Slight floating feeling. Release eye tension.  Vision sharpened.  Thoughts clear.  Very mild astringent.

2018 Ding Jia Zhai Maocha
Distinct fruity odour of cherry, fruity, creamy sweet, slight pungent noted dry leaves.  Round fruity aroma, woody mid-profile then sweet strawberries.  Tongue coating.  Distinct fruity cherry/ strawberry/ wood taste.  So Yiwu.  Lots of complex movement of tastes in the profile.  Lingering fruitiness. No bitterness. Spacy Qi.  But centering feeling.  Comfort in Stomach.  Full feel in mouth and mid throat, fine sandy slight squeaky feeling.  Soft cooling fruit sweetness returns.

2018 Xiang Chun Lin Maocha
New producing area for me.  Creamy sweet, slight vegetal-like intense berry fruity sweetness in the dry leaves.  Starts savory, seaweedy, rainforesty, long subtle berry fruit/creamy sweet finish.  Sticky full mouthfeel.  Berry taste pops nicely in very full sticky mouth.  Long sweet cooling berry aftertaste.  Feel qi on forehead and brow.  Slowness in the mind.  Heart noticeably beating now. Vigorous and relaxing very early in session.  Nice dizzying Qi.  Green tea-like, vegetal suggestions.  Reminds me of boarder tea.  Creamy sweet taste dominates with long cooling sweet menthol.  Slowly becomes softly astringent in mouth and mid-throat.  Fairly big Qi sensation in head- very relaxed but acuity strongly sharpened.
2018 Mang Zhi Maocha
Incense, foresty-mossy, slight sweet, savory, almost seaweed, distant floral dry leaves.  Very savory, seaweed-like, with monotone sweet note, thick slight drying mouth coating in front of mouth and lips, slight wood, slight briny.  Barely floral/ menthol finish. Floral finish builds and become more distinct.  Woody base taste, floral finish. Mild, Slow to build Qi.  Gripping mouthfeel.  Slow to develop taste but nice when it does.  Sweetness slowly builds up. Wanted to keep going.  Distinct chest knotting Qi under sternum.
2018 Ge Deng Maocha
Intense fruity, cherry, foresty deep, sweetness, cherrywoods in the dry leaves.  Mild icing sugar onset, slight cherry fruit and mild cooling floral, cherry candy sweet finish. Dominating deeper forest woody base under less obvious high notes throughout. Deeper mid- throat feeling. Gripping mouthfeeling felt in back mouth fuller mouth covering. Medium astringent/ bitter.  Opening in throat.  Mild Qi in back of neck/shoulders. Nearly warming.  Woody tastes dominate high notes faint on the breath/ returning sweetness. Turns into mainly woody tastes.