Friday, November 30, 2018

2013 Shuangjiang Mengku “Yi Pin Quan” 1 KG & Good Mengku vs Bad Mengku


I purchased this sample along with this tong of 2008 ShuangjiangMenku Arbour King  from Yunnan Sourcing about a year and a half ago.  I took a few other Shuangjiang Mengku samples along for the ride on the order as well.  I ended up purchasing a quite a bit of Shuangjiang Mengku while it was quite cheap at this time.  Without a desire to purchase more, I didn’t try this one which now goes for $210.00 for 1KG cake ($0.21/g)… a big one!

Dry leaves smell of mushrooms, honey, distant floral, slight pungent odour, sweet overall.

First infusion has a soft peachy and honey approach with soft wood underneath there is a soft cooling returning sweetness with pungency.  The mouthfeel is soft but tingling on the lips.

The second infusion has a nice soft honey approach with suggestions of peach and even butter scotch underneath.  There is a nice long pungency and a soft sticky tingling mouthfeel feeling especially on the lips.  The menthol aftertaste reaches deeper into the throat along with sweet butterscotch and suggestions of peach.  The mouthfeel is quite nice.  I can start to feel the qi softly in the head and warming on the cheeks.  The odour from the leaves are an interesting grainy aroma.

The third infusion has a licorice and wood taste along with butterscotch sweetness.  The initial taste has mild astringency and a touch of bitterness.  There is a leathery note in the aftertaste that overtakes the long cooling sensation.  I was getting real excited about this puerh until I hit this steeping.

The fourth infusion is more of this woody/ leathery taste which dominates now.  There are hints of peach in the returning aftertaste along with menthol and butterscotch.  The bitterness and astringency is enough to beat at the digestion a sign that this one still needs a bit of aging left to be enjoyed.  The Qi of this tea is of that very strong/ almost jittery factory style.  It is nicely warming in the body and makes the head feel wobbly and light but the mind is like a chattering monkey.

The fifth is this licorice/ leathery barely sweet, somewhat medicinal with edges of sweet malt, grain, licorice, almost floral, butterscotch.  The bitter astringency and licorice/ leather dominate.  These notes are a sign of much less exciting Mengku material.  That common leathery and licorice profile is what I consider less desirable Menkgu.  The high notes of butterscotch and almost floral sweetness and vibrant expanding tastes are more desirable Mengku qualities.  This tea seems to have more of the former.

The sixth infusion is much the same tastes.  The mouthfeel is now an almost dry and slightly grainy texture along with tingling lips sensation.  It is moving more toward dry and slightly sandy with each resulting infusion.

The seventh infusion is a bitter more creamy and sweet throughout less bitter woods and leathers more long butterscotch and menthol in the returning sweetness.

The eighth is kind of a balance of the leather/ woody astringency and the creamier sweeter butterscotch slightly sour with a sandy mouthfeeling astringent returning tastes.

The ninth again a balance of sweetness, leathery/wood even grainy wheat, with a butterscotch flavoring and longer menthol.  These last infusions are balanced and taste nice.

The tenth and eleventh infusion is a mild leather, wood, grains, and sweet buttery flavor and has a cool finish with a butterscotch finish.  The Qi is a big caffeinated factory qi experience.

The twelfth infusion turned out pretty sweet with a dominating soft buttery sweetness.

The thirteenth infusion was a bit more leathery and woody but sweet tastes still are the most dominant here.  The fourteenth takes a more bitter/ astringent turn but is still mildly buttery and sweet. The mouthfeel in these late infusions is a bit buttery.

15th is a more grainy sweetness the 16th is much the same under longer infusions with still a long cooling taste and slightly sweet bitterness.  This tea lasts much longer than I would expect.  It probably could keep going…

This tea has good stamina and is complex enough and has that strong robust Qi I often enjoy.  You can taste some Bang Dong or similar quality material in there but has too much of that common/ lower quality/ unexciting Mengku tastes especially in mid-profile.  This is not a bad tea for the price but neither is it a good tea.  Personally, I really dislike that common licorice/ leather low note in puerh teas.  There is definitely better Shuangjiang Mengku other there for a low enough price.

A few days later I decided to finish the remainder of the sample using less leaf and got a pretty soild drinking tea over the course of a day.  The sweetness is really pronounced and the qi is factory strong.  I enjoy this tea on some level, it has enough in it to be enjoyed for the price.  I just think I can find better…

Peace

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Storage Issues: Cheap Hygrometers

It’s a good idea to spend a bit of money on these things if you really want to know about humidity.

Peace

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Aftermath: 2018 Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Were the Biggest Ever for Puerh Lovers!


I had a feeling and hinted before the sales that this year’s Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales might surpass last year.  Then the sales were announced and most were significantly better than previous years.  In the following post I declared that, in fact, these sales were the best that Western puerh buyers have ever seen- ever.  It turns out, from what the vendors are telling us, that I was probably right and people were buying them up fast!

In my last post I declared Yunnan Sourcing’s sale the best one this year- 15% off everything!  Apparently, it really paid off for not only puerh buyers but for Yunnan Sourcing as well. I just got an email from Scott of Yunnan Sourcing which stated:

Wow! So many of you took advantage of the sales! We had many more orders than last year! Once again, we want to thank you all so much for your continued support. We also welcome all the new customers and look forward to getting to know you all better!

We got 10x more than our normal order volume during the 4 days of sales (Fri-Mon).  Being a small company with just 7 fulfillment staff (6 in China, and 1 in the USA) means that even working longer than normal hours, it could take us awhile to catch up.

I wasn’t planning on an order but like many of you couldn’t resist this sale and picked up some cakes I’ve been contemplating.  Great work Scott on a stellar sale.  Next year, 16% off Ok… hahaha…

I think the sale was also a big success for Paul of white2tea as well.  There was a promotion where white2tea was giving away a free tote bag for the first 50 orders of $200.00 or more.  He announced on social media 24 hours later that the bags were gone:


That means within 24 hours of Black Friday $200.00 x 50 = at least $10 000.00 sales were made.  Impressive!  Considering that white2tea’s sale was mainly just free shipping which actually targets smaller purchases not larger ones, you can imagine the sales volume.  Probably closer to $20,000 in 24hrs, would be my guess.  Good sale Paul, a step up from last year for sure.  Thanks in advance for drawing my order number for the 3 KG Qing bing giveaway, I appreciate that.

I think there were many cakes to completely sell out this year as well.  I ended up purchasing from 3 different vendors this year while managing to stay on budget.  Two cakes I purchased from two different vendors had quickly sold out.

I haven’t heard anything from the other vendors but I can imagine that everyone made off in good shape.

Thanks for an amazing sale and interesting marketing experience, you guys are the best.

For those of you that never got close to spending your allotted puerh budget this Black Friday/ Cyber Monday (yeah right), Tea Urchin is offering something different.  Tea Urchin, whose prices are already pretty reasonable, decided to skip Black Friday and do a December month long  10% off sale.  Nice.

Peace

 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Puerh: Vendors Stepped it Up!


Although I am torn about the commercialization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I find it most amusing to watch the marketing machines of our dear puerh vendors in overdrive.  In the West we are, of course, buying tea but I think a lot of what we buy into is actually the marketing.  Over the course of this sale, we get to see their marketing at its finest and it really does speak to each vendor’s brand and the core of how they present themselves- their brand identity.

Like last year, there were some vendors that didn’t have any markdowns at all on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday.  I think these are the “take it or leave it” or “our fair price is just that” type of matter of fact vendors.  I really find this refreshing in this day and age.  Last year, I chose to go down this route with my only Black Friday puerh purchase from Teamasters. For those looking to avoid the marketing hype and mind games of Black Friday, look no further than Teamasters, Bitterleaf Teas, and Chawangshop to name a few.

Last year, I stated that the Essence of Tea’s “20% Free Tea Sale” was probably the best deal of them all.  This year they are trying to emulate greatness by offering it again.  This time they put a few restrictions on it by restricting the age of tea you can select for free.  Last year you could select any tea as your free tea but this year you can only select 2008-2018 years.  This is totally understandable because they have listed a bunch of very expensive older teas from the 80s and 90s and other antique teas that they probably don’t want to dispense 1g of.  So this makes sense to me.  The Essence of Tea vibe is “you support our business, we would like to give something back to you”.  I resonate with the message in this sale.  With so much old tea on the menu these days, it would be cool to see a future Black Friday sale with some kind of giveaway/ promotion/ draw with some really rare old stuff though… that would be interesting and work with their marketing, I think.

The most interesting and arguably the most aggressive marketing is the sale at white2tea.  Last year, I think I overly criticized their Black Friday sale.  To be fair it was a little weak on actual deals.  It was mainly just a release day of new cakes with free shipping. I was especially harsh about the criticism of the limited 100 cake run of the $15.00 2017 Snoozefest.  This cake was a response to common criticism of white2tea. Over the last year, with no new sheng puerh prices anywhere close to being as cheap, I now see this promotion a bit differently. 

I think it was a bit of a surprise to everyone that Paul of white2tea released a limited 100 200g cakes of the $15.00 2018 Snoozefest this year.  This lightening sale that almost crashed the website and left the site moving at a snail’s pace for hours and hours (this again).  It sold out in a few hours.  The 2018 wrapper contains the same wording as the 2017 with new words like “Stoked” and “W2t reppin” that conjure up positive excitement for this surprise limited release.

They also used the sale to release a 50 cake limited run of 2018 Tunji for $89 that sold out Friday morning and a bunch of other not as limited, non-sheng puerh cakes that have been teased on social media for weeks now.  Besides this, they offered free shipping when you spent $20.00 or more, a free tote for the first 50 people who spent $200 or more, and $500.00 or more got a free December Tea Club membership.  Overall, not that much discount but a lot of hype- an improvement on last year’s sale though.

I think that Paul uses the stage of Black Friday to respond to some of his critics.  This year, I feel that he redeemed himself a little and is more on point with his response…

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I am not a fan of Xiao (small) bings of puerh and have criticized white2tea for perpetuating the popularity of this size of puerh.  I have also stated and hinted a few times that one of the Western puerh vendors has to press a Qing (Large) bing to make it right.  Of course, leave it to white2tea to respond to this criticism in dramatic fashion… I love this…

As a response white2tea is putting all orders during Black Friday and Cyber Mondy into a draw for an obscenely large, one of a kind 3KG shu puerh Qing bing … Paul is now, officially my hero!  The neifi cleverly states “pressed in 2018 by the corporate hellspawn :)”.  This phrase is in response to the increased demonization of puerh vendors that we have seen over the past few years.  Paul partly addressed this criticism rather well on his blog post here a few months back.  Also there has been others like James of TeaDB to speak out on this issue as well.
The neifi continues to state “This tea my not be good but there sure is a fucking lot of it.”  This comment is a response to the criticism mentioned above about the xiaobinging of the puerh industry.  It is a sarcastic statement that basically makes the argument that white2tea makes tea that is very good but in a smaller size- a statement about quality over quantity.  Also, apparently, since he has only made one of these and has not actually tired it, it has some blunt truth to it- he won’t get to taste it before sending it off to that lucky person.  I’ve stated on my blog before if anyone will press a Qing bing, I will put my wallet behind this endeavor.

My choice for best sale Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale this year is at Yunnan Sourcing.  It is big, bold, and simple- 15% off everything!!!! And do they ever have a lot of everything.  Easily you can find something in their large selection.  I had a feeling Scott might up the ante last week, and he did.  What could beat that?  It speaks to Yunnan Sourcing’s big presence in the Western puerh scene, a very big sale.  The best sale for sure!
I also got to tip my hat to those smaller vendors that probably have less wiggle room in the profits to offer big cuts this weekend but still offered something fun as an incentive.  Crimson Lotus is offering 10% off everything- that is pretty significant for a smaller vendor- good job.  Farmerleaf is offering cumulative/ stacking promotions of rare and small puerh productions depending on how much you spend.  Check out their website, for details on these interesting treasures they are offering. Tea Encounter is offering free, limited samples.  Teas We Like decided to release a few new cakes.  Its good fun that even these smaller vendors are offering what they can.

Overall the sales are better than last year and probably better than ever for puerh this year.  It had me purchasing from a few of these places and enjoying this spectator sport of brilliant marketing.  You lucky readers get to see me slowly and gradually sell my soul... hahahaha... Good job vendors!

Hopefully you got the deal you were looking for or at least enjoyed the marketing mayhem…  if not, all these sales are still running for another few days…

Peace

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Pre Black Friday Puerh Sales/Hype


There are a few cakes of puerh out there that I have had my eye on over the last few years which I am considering for purchase over Black Friday.  I promised myself after buying the tong of Qizhong and cake of Qixiang in June that, if I don’t purchase any puerh until Black Friday, I will buy some higher priced stuff when this year’s sale comes around.  Turns out it only took two months to break that promise with a small order from Tea Encounter (here and here).  I have not made a puerh purchase since this time.  So, if the sales are big enough, I hope to buy some nicer sample cakes.  But, from which vendor????  I have my eye on a few.  Where I spend my money depends on how cleaver their marketing is and how deep their sales are.

Last year I didn’t pay close attention to the run up to Black Friday/ Cyber Monday and failed to notice the price increases made in the months before the sale.  It turns out I ended up purchasing only a few of those cakes in a small Yunnan Sourcing order (here and here) last winter.  This year, I have been paying closer attention to the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  It is interesting isn’t it?

Most interesting is watching the marketing moves of Paul of white2tea and Scott of Yunnan Sourcing.

Yunnan Sourcing decided to get ahead of everyone and do a Pre-Black Friday Sale from Nov 15-20th (on now!) with 10% off everything and a bunch of free bonus gifts.  That is a pretty good sale.  But honestly, will it be better than the Black Friday sale next week? I think it is more of a hype marketing thing.  I like it.  Last year Yunnan Sourcing Black Friday sale was 13-20% off.  I wonder if he will push it beyond the 13% off?  That would be bold don’t you think?

White2tea is doing their brilliant social media teasers of a bunch of new cakes they will drop next week in what they are describing as “Black Friday Week”.  This includes these rad slow motion videos of a limited release of possibly autumn sheng puerh (my guess?) they are calling Tunji.  I like it.  They offered a decent sale on Halloween a few weeks ago that featured 2 free samples and Orders of $150 or more receive $10 off, Orders of $250 or more receive $20 off, Orders of $500 or more receive $50 off.  Decent.  Last year white2tea really just offered free shipping and a free brick on orders over $500 on Black Friday.  I wonder if they will just use the event to hype new products or will they offer more substantial discounts?

All other vendors seem tight lipped about this year’s Black Friday deals.

What do you think?  Are you looking to buy?

Peace

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2017 Zheng Si Long Yibang Purple Leaf


This sample was gifted to me by Tiago of Tea Encounter, currently it has not been offered on the site…

Dry leaves are tightly pressed of fresh juicy fruits, a creamy fresh odour, pencil shavings with grape and blueberry odours

Vacuous strawberry, thin slight rubbery mouthfeel that gets very full quickly, a thin veil of tight sticky astringency, slow subtle expanding strawberry aftertaste, gentle, subtle, soft tingles, big grape tastes, slight sour if pushed, almost bread tasting edges, muscatel delight,  heavy-headed Qi, muscles twitch, spacey.

Had a nice little session with this one today.  Haven’t consumed too much of the purple leaf Yibang in the past but my experience with this one suggests it’s a nice example.

Peace
 


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Release Dates of Semi-Aged Puerh


Have you ever noticed that a lot of Western puerh vendors list their semi aged puerh finds in September/ October or late Winter/Early Spring?

This is something I have picked up on lately from mere observation. It makes sense for a few reasons.

During the Spring and, to a lesser extent, the Autumn puerh picking seasons our trusty vendors are probably too busy at work pressing their own branded materials to spend time trying to track down other products.  It’s in the off seasons that they might have extra time to attempt to find some semi aged treasures.

By the time late Winter/ very Early Spring comes around, puerh buyers have gotten quite board viewing the same years products for the last many long winter months and are eager for some new puerh to look at.  Basically, we get the springtime itch.  I think, it’s only natural to crave tea in the spring time- this is just a natural harmonious craving here.   The problem is that the new springtime puerh won’t be ready for release until Summer.  And they wouldn’t want the release of any semi-aged cakes to interfere with their bread & butter.  So, it is smart, from a vendor’s perspective, to release what semiaged finds they have dug up over the slower winter months in the early spring.

The second release season for semi aged puerh seems to be in the Autumn in Sept/October.  After we buyers have scooped up all the newly pressed vendor puerh that we have been waiting for all year and are feeling just about finished with our puerh buying, out drops a few interesting semi aged things!  This conveniently occurs in the weeks before Black Friday and months before any autumnal pressings are usually released.

Of course there are other vendors, Yunnan Sourcing, who pretty much just release them randomly throughout the year.  There is a giant selection found there at any time of the year which is pretty sweet.

Have you noticed these tends on releasing semi-aged puerh or is it just me?

I think these trends might change in the future as vendors like white2tea and the Essence of Tea make available their own delisted brand products at their liking.

Peace

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2017/2018 Spring The Essence of Tea Drinking Report


In an attempt at replenishing my dwindling stash of puerh, I really appreciated seeing the drinking reports that James drafted at TeaDB.  With that being said, I really am happy with my older style of tea review that I used for many many years here on MattCha’s Blog.  The reviews really focused on simply reviewing the tea itself- the isolated and intimate experience with it, without comparisons, opinions, and value overshadowing the tea experience. 

However enjoyable those old reviews are, I realized that this style of review is not very good at helping my readers both understand the tea, make judgments of its value, and give them any idea if it’s something they would want to purchase.  Many years ago we knew a lot less about puerh than we know now and I thought it would be pretty foolish of me, at that time, to make sweeping authoritative statements about the tea I was drinking.  If you look back at other bloggers old reviews that are very opinionated, they sound quite silly now that we know a lot more about puerh.  I essentially dogged that bullet.

I too have sometimes relied on the reviews of other bloggers to guide my puerh buying in the past and to some extent and more so over the last few years.  It is impossible to sample all puerh so reading reviews, especially of someone who you feel enjoys a similar style of tea, is one way you can at least narrow things down.  In my return to blogging, I promised myself that my reviews would give my readers something a bit more tangible.  I personally found James’ drinking reports the most useful in analyzing a bunch of reviews without having to go through hundreds of single reviews.  My first report was on the Zheng Si Long from Tea Encounter.  This one is on some of the new spring pressings from the Essence of Tea and I hope to publish another I am working on soon. 

The following report is based on all the complimentary samples I received in two separate orders from the Essence of Tea.  They represent about 1/3- 1 /2 of their Spring selection of each year so it should give you a good idea of what’s on offer at the Essence of Tea.

2018 Spring Gua Feng Zhi (Sold Out)- not typical Gua Feng Zhi but interesting, nice noticeable depth added with a small amount of huang pian, lots of deeper pumpkin/ nutty/ woody/ bread taste paired with mild returning sweet and pungency, relaxing/ floating body mild-medium qi sensation, slight dry/ constricting throat with not too much stamina

 2018 Spring “Piercing the Illusion” ($128.00 for a 400g cake or $0.32)- first wild tea/ puerh blend from Essence of Tea, tastes like it contains more wild tea than puerh tea, blended likely for qi sensation which has a fairly strong downer/ sleep qi sensation, mind slowing qi, has mild taste characteristics of wild tea fruitiness and minutes long aftertaste, as well as vacuous mouthfeeling, mild puerh tea taste in returning sweetness/ camphor and woodiness

2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu ($560.00 for 400g cake or $1.40/g)- composed of state forest material, very full satisfying astringency which holds flavors very nicely, nuanced sweet woody with a candy-like sweetness at the edges, depth of initial sweet tastes, full mouthfeel and deep throat feeling, penetrating deep, thought slowing Qi, favorite cake I’ve tired from Essence of Tea

2017 Spring Yiwu Gouyoulin (Sold Out)- nice syrupy bready sweetness, fruity-woody-menthol, mild but deep throat feeling and mouthfeeling, mild qi sensation, tastes are very nice, doesn’t compare to 2018 above.

2017 Spring Nancai Ancient- (Currently delisted probably in Malaysian warehouse , $80.00 for 400g cake $0.20/g when last listed) – creamy slowly unraveling sweet taste with top cherry notes, woody base, slight roughness, nice mouthfeeling astringency, not that much stamina, simple puerh tastes, mild head floating qi sensation.  Strength is the mouthfeeling/ astringency but not overly complicated puerh.

2017 Spring Wulang Wild (Currently delisted probably in Malaysian warehouse)- sweet candy-fruity taste without bitterness, buttery cherry and melon notes, very soft flavours, cheerful Qi feeling, recommend as a nice intro to wild tea for those who enjoy Wu Liang puerh.

The whole bunch of these teas are very pure and very agreeable in the body as the Essence of Tea’s puerh exclusively are.  Still haven't been able to seal the deal with a purchase of any of these young puerh though.

Peace

Friday, November 2, 2018

Composting Puerh


I have been cleaning up and attempting to better organize my tea storage lately and thought to give these 2 cakes and 1 brick a toss.  One was a gift given to me from someone who was gifted puerh and doesn’t drink it.  That cake tastes horrendously dry and rough and maybe even pesticide sprayed.  The other two were purchased as sample cakes in a search for cheap everyday drinkers last year and I found them intolerable.

I am not a wasteful person nor do I think I am above the taste of cheap tea.  However, these teas exhibit a taste and feel which suggests that something is not quite right about them.  As a result, they will be returned to the earth.  I have a few other puerh cakes that I can’t tolerate but that others have claimed to enjoy and so I intend to send some of these out to those people sometime.

Peace