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!

Peace
 

 

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.

Peace

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.

Peace

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

tea,

water,

and teapot

are in harmony within ourselves.

The Dao.

Peace

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.

Peace   

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...

 Peace
 



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.

Peace

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.

Peace

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.
Peace

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tea Encounter, Mr. Zheng, and Zheng Si Long: Introducing New Western Puerh Vendor


Before you read any further watch this video if you haven’t already….

 

I find this video super interesting.  It is simple enough.  A local Yiwu man, Mr. Zheng, in search of the best tea in Yiwu to press in his modest home for his own private label, Zheng Si Long.  There is a few things I find super interesting about this video.

One is how you can really sense that Mr. Zheng is actually searching for the best mao cha for the price.  Many local people near and far come to him to sell their tea leaves.  But he also does drop in visits of local residences in search of good tea to buy from nearby families.  He is very straightforward and choosy about the raw material he is looking to purchase.  This leaves me with the impression that his product has honesty, integrity, and is, through his own hard work, good puerh.

I think what proprietor, Tiago (aka Curigane), of Tea Encounter is offering to the Western puerh drinking audience is very unique.  He is basing his business model/ brand of Tea Encounter on the man who is meticulously sourcing and pressing the material, Mr. Zheng.  I don’t think I’ve seen this model for Western puerh vendors before and I find it unique.

I wonder to myself, Why we have never been told this narrative before by Western puerh vendors?  A plausible answer: fear of competition.  I think we sometimes forget about this as puerh drinkers.  Rarely do vendors reveal the full personal identities of those who source their materials and press their cakes or the exact families who pick their tea.  But here we have some of this direct connection to these people with the help of Tea Encounter.

In the end, despite magnificent story lines and marketing, it’s all about the tea.  Over the next few months I hope to be reviewing these teas heavily here on this blog.  Exploring Zheng Si Long for the first time and taking you along for the ride.

As a matter of discloser, almost the whole line of Tea Encounter was offered to me.  It is actually a matter of coincidence, in that I had reached out to blogger Curigane to offer him some free samples of some puerh that he was curious about on my blog.  Following a successful recipe of Western puerh vendors before him, Tiago has maintained a sustained tea blog presence over the last little while before opening shop online.  As I reached out to send him some samples, he informed me that he had just weeks ago opened an online puerh outfit called Tea Encounter.  As we do, I googled it and there is literally nothing written about Tea Encounter or Zheng Si Long puerh in English.  It’s that new!

Please join me in our first encounter with Tea Encounter…

Peace

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tea Ceremony Art Installation at UofR

Attended the mediation group tonight...





If you are near Regina, Saskatchewan, this is a rare opportunity to take in tea ceremony curated by  graduate student Lin Liu.  The artist in question grew up in a monistary in Taipei, Taiwan.  Very beautiful stuff here people.

Peace

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Toddler Yixing Teapot Throwing Tantrum

Yesterday,while I was at work, I was given some ominous news.  Apparently, in a tantrum, my toddler climbed up on a stool, to the tea table, grabbed the item with the most emotional reactivity, my new 1990s "fang yuan pai" yixing teapot (seen seasoning in this post here), and threw it at the hardwood floor.  Certainly, my little firecracker knows how to get a reaction out of us... hahahaha

My wife explained to me that the pot didn't break.

I said, "How didn't it break?"

She replied, "I don't know, it must be your lucky day..."

"It didn't break?"

"No"

"Is there any damage to the teapot?"

"You'll have to look at it when you get home from work."

"She threw it at the hardwood floor and it didn't break?"

"You'll have to put away the tea set from now on."

Sure enough, when I got home from work I inspected it over and over and there was no damage at all.  Not even a chip or scratch.  I guess its not that surprising.

One of the criteria I had in replacing my broken yixing pot from a few months ago was that it be of a sturdy and durable form.  I think its already past this test.  Hahaha...

My teamster, Mr. Kim, told me that Yixing pots were made famous when explorers sought them out for their durability.  He said that they were the only teapot that wouldn't crack to pieces when the temperature was near freezing and boiling water was poured into them to make tea.  Although, yixing teapots are not made of steal, for being made of clay, they are incredibly resilient and durable...

Thank God!

Peace

Friday, August 3, 2018

2006 Yang Qing Hao Shenpin Chawang and Extinct Puerh Blends


What I found most interesting about this puerh is that there is not really that much written about it (see below).  What is out there on the internet is pretty scant and brief and you can’t really get the feel of what this 2006 Shenpin Chawang ($375.00 for 500g or $0.75/g) is really about.  Sure, it is #4 on a list of Emmett Guzmen’s personal favorite Yang Qing Hao, but even the vendor page has almost no information or reviews.  It simply states “Blend of Bohetang, Chawangshu, and Wagong”.  That alone is pretty impressive but more on that later…

Let’s get to this sample that came with a recent order of Yang Qing Hao (this and this)…

The dry leaf has a creamy mellow intensely sweet icing sugary creamy sweetness.

The first infusion starts with a light, fresh, creamy-cream, sweetness, there are soft nuances of florals in a round developing cotton candy sweetness over faint aged woods.  The sweetness is such that it is expansive in the mouth and throat and tumbles on for a very long time in the throat.  The mouth and throat feel are very deep but also very light and ethereal in this first infusion.

The second infusion has a very interesting onset of very light but complex tastes.  The delicate interplay is beautiful florals, high fruits, layers or waves of lighter soft and creamy sweet notes.  They expand like a cloud on the light mouthfeel.  The aftertaste is nuanced floral, light sweetness with a soft soothing coolness in the mouth.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel are very full but very subtle.  The effect on the mind is relaxing.  There is a glance of cinnamon in there briefly as well.

The third infusion delivers a creamy creamy very intense gentle sweetness.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel are very deep and light.  Intense creamy sweetness prevails then unravels in the mind.  The mouthfeel and throat feel are very very nice in this tea.  There is a beautiful harmony among this feeling, the very light sweet creamy sweetness and the soothing qi.  Very harmonious.  The throat holds creamy sweetness for a long long time.  It is a deep throat feeling, like a ball of saliva stuck in the deep throat holding the flavor there.  This tea has a certain subtly about it that is sustained, captured like a butterfly in a net, by the throat and mouth.

The fourth has a slight sour woodiness building in there now the dominant flavor of creamy sweetness comes later and undulates like a wave over the profile.  There are wildflower tastes and almost chicory medicine tastes in the background which add depth here.  This is paired with the very mild returning cool sweetness.  The returning sweetness is soft and comes and goes gradually without much fuss.  The mouthfeel becomes chalky and full in the mouth.  The creamy sweetness dominates.  The qi is very relaxing and soft.  There are some significant body sensations that replicate this nuance.  The shoulders feel heavy and like there is no joint.  The qi makes the joints feel very light and nimble.  The body is very light and relaxed in a profound way.  This qi makes you want to stretch your body.  Like a cat in the sun but without the warming of the sun. Stretch.

The fifth infusion has an expanding medicinal woody initial taste even slight fruity tastes now like raisons in there the woody taste is not really that woody but more foresty-wildfloweresque.  The sweet creaminess dominates/ expands in the very sticky mouthfeel and deep throat feeling.  With a depth of taste developing, this tea is becoming very interesting from many different angles- qi, bodyfeel, throat/mouthfeeling, taste.  This is another interesting one. I feel very happy and light.  A mild warmth is felt on the face.

The sixth infusion has that long dense sweetness in the very sticky mouth.  Before that there is the initial taste of foresty, wildflowery, raison/prunes as well.  This mouthfeel is becoming very thick and sticky.  The sweet flavor lingers for a long time.  Muscles in my face start twitching and releasing.  The tea or its mental effects seem to be unraveling the tightness in my body.  Like a forced meditation or a massage.  The body feeling is profound.  The qi is like a muscle relaxant especially targeting the face, shoulders, neck.

The seventh infusion starts with sweet pear tastes which pop and fade to more mellow woody tastes.  The creamy sweetness comes later now as the flavor builds up in the mouth.  The body is nimble- a feather.  Mouthfeel loses some of its more intense stickiness but remains full and light.  The throat feel holds the line.

The eighth is more intensely creamy almost tropical notes even cherry note pop and disappear initially.  Forest notes linger in the mid-profile and the medicinal notes/ fruit raison notes are not really present here.  Minutes later there are edges of a prune like taste in the aftertaste.  This tea doesn’t have any bitterness but feel full and stratifying.

The ninth infusion is deliciously creamy, light, floral, a slight touch of talic in the mid-profile then long creamy suggestions of very mild forest even plum but mainly fresh almost tropical creamy sweetness.  This tea is nicely harmonious.

The tenth has a wild-flower light honey like sweetness initially which turns into a floral long sweetness with some light wood underneath.  The creamy sweetness comes later and is long.  The camphor coolness is so subtle with this tea.  The body and mind is so nimble and light.

The eleventh infusion has a chalky mouthfeeling now wildflowers seem to dominate this infusion.  The mouthfeel is becomes a touch sandy in the mouth but very full.  The deep throatfeel remains.  There is woodiness in there but the creamy sweetness is less here.  The bodyfeel is the best quality of this puerh, I think.  So light in the joints, it pulls the mind to lighter places.

I start to pull the infusion a little longer than flash infusion here adding 5 seconds to the pots pour for the twelfth.  This infusion is still lighter.  It has a round light wildflower honey taste which is the dominant now.  Slight wood in the aftertaste as well as creamy sweetness.  The creamy sweetness popped initially but is more obvious in the aftertaste.

Fot the thirteenth infusion I add 10 seconds to the flash and get much the same maybe a bit woodier and even slightly more tangy which is kind of new.  A tangy sweet fruit like mango comes to mind.  The mouthfeel resumes its sticky feeling after adding a bit more time.  There is still a long wildflower sweetness.

The fourteenth I add 20 seconds and it gives off a forest, barely woody, slightly sour-astringent watery wildflower sweetness.  The mouthfeel and throat feel are dropping off fast.  The fifteenth is much the same.  The mouthfeel is weakening and the taste profile is becoming more monotone or streamlined.

The fifteen is a long infusion and pushes our sour wood and plum like tastes with a more pronounced camphor taste.  The wildflower finish is prominent in the cooling throat feel.  The mouthfeeling has a long stickiness to it minutes later.

A longer sixteenth and seventeenth infusion brings about a Yang Qing Hao house storage like taste with remnants of plum, forest-wood, and mainly wildflower sweetness.  The stickiness in there remains.

I put it into a few rounds of overnight infusions which deliver a thick syrupy wildflowery fruity taste.

These mid-priced blends are really interesting to me.  To me this is a very harmonious puerh blend.  Best parts are body feeling in the joints and face and neck.  This is a tension buster to me.  Like doing yoga in a teacup.  The throat and mouthfeel are deep but feel light.  The taste is mild but has enough to keep it interesting.  However, the taste is definitely not this tea’s strength.  I like this one a lot and wonder if the price will prevent me from acquiring a cake…. Hummmm… not sure.

Overall, this puerh is quite special.  When will we ever be able to taste a blend of Bohetang, Chawangshu, and Wagong ever again?  Blends like this are pretty much extinct and were only a product of a very small window approximately 2004-2007.  Before this date these areas were unheard of or pretty much unexplored.  After this time Bohetang, Chawangshu and Wagong each became very famous growing regions for puerh in their own right and as a result the price of puerh from these areas shot through the roof.  These types of blends then became unrealistic because the raw materials are all so expensive that to blend 3 famous areas is now virtually unheard of now.  This blend offers us a snap shot of what could be.  Personally, I like what I see.

Peace

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang and the Classic Grandiose Wrappers of Yang Qing Hao


I arrived at work a few weeks ago to my administration staff at work gathered around a package they had opened that arrived from Emmet.  In it was a tong of 2007 Huangshan Qizhong, a complimentary sample (next post my friends), and this 500g single Qingbing of 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang.  The staff was pretty much ignoring the tong and sample (I was more curious about what sample arrived) and were handling and discussing the sealed clear Mylar bag which contained the Qixiang cake.

They made comments like “it feels so solid and heavy”, “it looks like it should be framed and put on the wall”, “this is like art”, “it’s like something out of an old Chinese movie”.  I found these comments interesting because none of them had ever tried puerh tea.  They were simply giving me their honest opinions on the look and feel of the wrapper.  In their innocence, I think they pretty much summed up the Yang Qing Hao brand without even trying or knowing anything about the tea.  This is why I think Yang Qing Hao’s wrappers, tickets, packaging is the most brilliant of all.

Yang Qing Hao wrappers are, to me, some of the most interesting in all of the puerh world.  They purvey a sense of grandiose, elegance, classic and timelessness, preciousness, solidness, something worthy of appreciation or appraisal.  The above comments attest to this feeling.  From what I know about graphic design, having so much going on in one wrapper without looking like just a wrapper full of random words and designs is very hard to pull off.  But, pull it off they did.  Genius.

Anyways, let crack this cake and find out how it’s doing, shall we?...

The dry leaves smell of, well, Yang Qing Hao storage smells, and a nice floral and distinct plummy aroma. 

First infusion has a mellow juicy fruity overtone which hangs in the mouth and throat over a slightly viscus and salivating mouthfeel.  A mild returning camphor coolness sweeps by but then leaves more fruit to be enjoyed.  A return of fruit tastes ensues even hits at warmer notes of cinnamon which barely penetrate the lighter display of fruit tastes.

The second infusion has a more active and intensely fruity onset which turns into a mild cooling then there is a nice frosty sweetness which arrives later.  Fruit tastes return.  The tongue is mildly stimulated like a very fine beach sand.  It is enough to give these tastes traction despite of an almost complete lack of bitterness.  The depth of fruity tastes is interesting, complicated enough, and deep.  There is just a mild astringency in here as well.  Qi is a very relaxing one, pleasant and happy.

The third infusion the fruit tastes become more mixed in with very mild pleasant astringency almost tartness.  They splash the back of the throat which seems very mildly stimulated.  Then a mild sweep of cooling washes over the taste then more complicated interplay of fruits.  The mouthfeel is filling out here and becomes stickier and slightly sandy on the tongue tip.  Qi is in the head, floating, wobbling, good head feeling.  Relaxing Qi.

The fourth starts with some mild astringency mixed with intense layered fruit it traverses to a mild icing sugared sweetness along with mild camphor coolness.   There is a touch of woody notes in there too.  The icing sugar and wood are new here as the character is changing.  The mouth and throat feel is stickier.  The tongue is especially stimulated.

The fifth infusion has a chalky fruit sweetness initially.  There is a powdery feeling in the mouth- a cool returning sweetness reverberates.  Saliva is pushed from the throat into the mouth.  It finishes with a slight floral suggestions and sweet dates and cherry finish.  Overall, this tea has a nice full impression in its profile and in the simulation of the mouth, throat, and tongue.

The sixth infusion starts with a slightly sourish, barely astringent, almost tart, dominating fruit taste. It becomes a bit pasty almost chalky and almost woody but mainly fruity.  There is a fainter icing suragy sweet returning taste and now the aftertaste shares woody and fruity notes.  The qi is becoming pretty big here- it pushes me into a fine moist sweat.  I feel warm.  I feel spaced out, things slow but I’m not detached.  Overall, I feel calm.  The relaxation is very profound- I start to feel heavy headed, warm.

The seventh infusion starts with a fruity, woody mix, this is classic Yiwu stuff here.  The mild returning cool sweetness is there followed by fruity tastes.

The eighth and ninth is much the same slight sour/ astringent mainly just good deep fruity, some woods, cooling returning sweetness.  Lots of significantly dense fruitiness.  Sometimes there is different fruitiness but none is too overly light nor is it the deep dried fruit tastes either.  The qi is profound for me.  Would be better if I could just stare at the wall instead of work under its influence… remember to do work today, I note.

The ninth infusion has this interesting mix of vibrant fruits and slight wood.  This tea is really nicely balanced.  Very good Gushu, definitely no plantation in here- guaranteed.  Its too Qi heavy, with no bitterness, full of flavor, interesting blended stuff. Yummy.

The tenth is much the same.  I marvel at the Qi- it is really something.  I can’t believe that some people can’t feel this- it’s really unavoidable.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are also solid enough to hold the flavor but are not overdone or overly stimulating.

The eleventh infusion has some nice fruit but the returning coolness is actually the strongest part of the taste profile here.  This qi is also very very warming energy.  Without any bitterness in the profile, this tea has a warming strengthening character to it.

The twelfth feel more light and fruity and less depth of fruity if that makes any sense?  The wood is mild and slowly saunters very lightly beneath.

The thirteenth I still have at flash infusions here.  When the pot is stuffed full of leaves and the mouthfeel remains very full, pushing for longer infusions has a risk of too much dryness in the mouth and throat.  But with no bitterness in sight I might just try this in the middle infusions next time.  The fruitiness here is less more mellow with slight wood.

The fourteenth I add 15 seconds to the infusion.  It pushes out a considerably more fruit tastes than the last few infusions.  The fruitiness, sweetness, and cool returning taste is stronger but the mouthfeel remains about the same. So I push again.

The fifteenth infusion with about 30 gives about the same.  This tea is fruity and the fruit turns quite heavy with these longer infusion times here.  The returning sweet coolness is longer too now.  The sixteenth is also much the same.  The fruit tastes are robust and full.

Overall, this tea is a good example big gushu style qi in a body of mainly fruity tastes. The qi really puts you in the clouds.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel are solid throughout.  There is no bitterness in here so the mild astringency and sour-tartness pull the tastes through the profile.  A nice tea.  Close to some of the Yiwu blended stuff I used to drink a lot of.  Probably better than what I’m used to.

I had another session and it was really savory and tart…. Very interesting stuff.  The second session I had with this tea was very very different but interesting, more than just Yiwu fruit and wood.  Just on a 3rd session with this tea today and I find that using different water and teapot really brings out different qualities of taste but the Qi remains stable.  This 2006 Qixiang is priced at $260.00 for a big 500g cake ($0.52/g), it is a bit pricy for some budgets but I still feel like you are getting lots for that price- this is not a simple standard puerh in qi or taste.  It has something interesting to it that I’m just beginning touch on in these first few sessions.  It has only doubled in price over the last 7 years when Houde was selling it for $135.  For what you are getting, the price is reasonable, if you compare to modern productions (which you probably shouldn't do), this tea is a deal.

The Qi of this tea seals the deal with me.  Its qi is characterized by being focused on the head, very relaxing, and quite warming in the body.  I really like the qi in here- it is very comforting.  The second session I had was first thing in the morning and it really woke me up but in a very gentle sort of way.  I really like the subtle warming body feeling I get from this puerh.  I think this tea would be nice to drink in meditation, as I would do all the time years back.  Even after the first session with this puerh, I’m convinced I will get at least a cake more, … I haven’t decided yet.




Peace