Friday, May 17, 2019
Comparing Storage: 2003 HK Henry Conscientious Prescription Taiwanese Dry Storage Vs Malaysian Humid Stored
I was sent this sample thanks to commenter Spatulab. This Taiwanese dry stored version comes from Teas We Like and sells for the same $130.00 cake but has very different storage than the more humid Malaysian stored Essence of Tea version that I purchased and reviewed here. The Malaysian cake went through an interested change since trying it about a month ago which I documented in an edit to that initial post. You can check out that post for all the background about this famous puerh. Lets taste and compare this dry stored version, shall we?
The dry leaves have a much sweeter creamy wood penetrating odour than the much more humid stored Malaysian storage offered at the Essence of Tea.
First infusion starts a touch creamy sweet with a vegetal taste initially there is a mild cooling suggestion then a slight creamy sweet dry wood finish. Very clean, tight dry storage off the bat.
The second infusion starts with a slightly creamy dry wood onset, there is a vegetal base with mild cooling then longer pungent dry wood aftertaste. The mouthfeel is mildly sandy and mildly astringent here. There are light creamy woody sensations long on the breath.
The third infusion starts off with resinous pinewood, creamy sweetness underneath, vegetal taste deeper in the profile, then a pungency rings out with nice creamy sweetness balanced with woody pine notes. The profile is clean and clear and crisp. The qi is mildly relaxing here and mildly alerting. I can feel some qi pooling in the head. The mouthfeel is slightly sticky and barely astringent.
The fourth infusion starts off pine wood, almost vegetal, resin, there is a mild pungent coolness that opens up a little sweet creamy woody taste which attempts to stretch out on the breath.
The fifth is more piney and resinous throughout, a slight pungent taste comes through then slightly creamy sweetness. The pine wood taste dominates all the way through. The taste is clean, crisp, and long in the mouth. Good clarity. The mouthfeel has a tighter smoother feeling but not as gripping or deep feeling compared to the Malaysian stored.
The sixth infusion is very pine, resin, almost sour and astringent stimulating throat now a touch, pine dominates profile, some mild cooling and sweetness trying to push through pine taste. The sweetness is more distinct and untouched in this Taiwanese dry stored version but also the resinous pine note is more dominating- it is really dominating.
Taiwanese dry storage seems much more pure and true to the original material but in its purity it looses some complexity than a more humid storage brings out. The 2003 HK Henry Conscientious Prescription has pretty simple and clear profile, it isn’t super complex so this can be seen as a positive or negative here. Or to put it another way the more humid Malaysian stored adds complex storage humid nuance to the original materials.
The seventh infusion starts off with an almost vegetal pine taste with an almost soapy creamy sweetness underneath. The pine is less dominant in this infusion and the sweetness has almost a plumb and candy edge to it which is more distinct and long in the aftertaste here. The sweet plum taste is quite nice.
The eighth infusion carries a pine incense taste now slight pungent returning arrives then a clear woody long plum sweetness. The returning coolness and pungency is less in the dry stored version compared to the Malaysian but the sweetness in the aftertaste is now much more distinct, pure, and vibrant. The mouth and throat feeling is different as well. The dry stored is more stimulating the tongue and mouth with a tightness and mild stringency but is just mildly opening in the throat where the humid Malaysian stored has more throat feeling than mouthfeeling and a deeper throat feeling. The qi is mildly relaxing and it pools in the head, slightly alerting the senses, and visual acuity.
The ninth infusion nice pine wood profile, creamy sweetness lingers underneath, clean pure, simple taste, sweetness comes out a bit more in the aftertaste. Cooling pungency is mild here. The Qi starts to make the head feel like its floating. The qi of this Taiwanese dry stored is slightly less warming but seems to have more bodyfeeling in the head slightly.
The tenth infusion starts off with a touch off pine incense then to just pine wood then to a mild pungent then to wood over mild creamy sweetness. Pretty woody here. There are no earthy, foresty, soil tastes in this very clean dry stored version at all. Simulating sandy and tight coating on the tongue mild but deeper throat opening.
The eleventh infusion the mouthfeel becomes stronger and gripping, almost drying, a distinct dry wood onset then there is a woody resin returning with mild pungent. The sweetness is less here the pungent cooling is more with the stronger, tanic mouth and throat feeling. The Qi is quite relaxing now. The odour of the wet leaves smells of red Korean ginseng but it doesn’t show in its taste.
The twelfth infusion has more of a creamy sweet plum onset with wood that emerges slowly. The mild creamy sweet taste is still more apparent here. The thirteenth is more woody and dominating but still the sweetness is mild but throughout and more obvious than in previous infusions. Wood and creamy sweetness- simple tastes in these infusions but enjoyable ones.
14th is woody, creamy sweet, this tea is fading here if not the last few infusions. Plum note is clear and the mouthfeeling is milder here. Nice fruity wood. 15th is mellow fruity woody enjoyable thing with a touch of cool pungency.
15th infusion I push it with a 60 second infusion but get much the same maybe even a slight sour note in there as well. Woody more pine and resin. More cooling pungent.
16th I do a long infusion and it pushes out a lot of pine, more resin and some incense notes which mask any sweetness underneath. The cooling pungent is more obvious with this push the sweetness shows up a minute later. Nice.
17th I do another minutes long steeping and get a very resinous pine taste with cooling pungent aftertaste with no sweetness found. I enjoy the pine woodiness.
It’s put into an overnight infusion and comes out quite fruity plum after a few days. The Malaysian stored comes out tasting just dirt in these days long steeping.
Overall, I feel that this drier stored Taiwanese version is better at preserving some of the teas original essence and is will be a better option for long term aging in people who are looking for a slowly evolving puerh with age. It is closer to a Qing Bing type of storage and feeling and its stamina and flavor has not been pushed out by humidity.
However, I prefer the Malaysian stored version which is warming and harmonious to drink now. Will it age more interestingly than the dry Taiwanese stored version? I doubt it, but right now on these unseasonably cold Spring mornings I seem to be going to it instinctually and this dry stored version didn’t satisfy me in the same way. Part of this preference is my history of drinking similarly more humid stored cakes like this weekly around the tea tables in Korean teahouses. I still think it would be interesting to pick a dry stored one up to see how it will fair in 10 years.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
I had my eyes on some Gao Shan Zhai from another vendor over the last year but still haven’t purchased any. The Gao Shan Zhai region in Yiwu is known for some pretty delicious puerh being higher altitude relative to other regions in Yiwu and all. This production ($114.49 for 250g cake or $0.46/g) is a collaboration between Zheng Si Long and Chen Xi Hao of which the wrapper bears its name. It was kindly sent in a complimentary care package by Tiago (thanks again)...
Dry leaves smell of perfume florals, subtle fruit, and woody rainforest floor.
First infusion is a woody almost flat syrup taste there are almost floral notes in there as well but strong predominating dry wood tastes. The mouthfeel is slight sandy and astringent, slightly bitter.
The second infusion has a flat dry wood, slight malty taste with slight brown sugar taste. The mouthfeel is fairly stimulating slightly dry and astringent. There is a very mild cooling then a long brown sugar and dry wood aftertaste which lingers on the breath.
The third has a more cohesive dry wood, slight malt, and brown sugar taste which plays out in the aftertaste. The taste profile is pretty simple and obviously single origin material. The mouthfeel is slight dry and slight astringent pretty simple as well but enjoyable enough.
The fourth has a distinct deep malty sweet, almost syrupy medical herbal taste. The menthol returning is more pronounced and there is dry wood underneath everything. The thickness of the liquor here increases its viscus feeling and it makes for a denser taste. The Qi is mild and relaxing.
The fifth has more of this malty, herbal medicine taste with wood underneath. The liquor remains medium thick now and the aftertaste is long carrying some of the initial tastes of wood, malt, and herbal medicine but in a mild wave of menthol and in a brown sugar sweetness. The taste is long on the breath and now has a nuance of complexity and charm.
The sixth infusion becomes denser and more complex still with a dense layering of herbal medicine, woods, malty butterscotch but now there is a pronounced tropical fruit sweetness that lingers throughout it almost has a bubble gum sweet edge to it. The Qi starts to mildly alert. The mouthfeel is slightly oily but mainly mildly astringent- the dryness is gone. This infusion the sweetness becomes quite apparent.
The seventh infusion is dense and malty sweetness, mild wood now and herbal medicine tastes. It has a nice medium to thicker feeling and long menthol sweetness with slight tropical fruit and almost bubble gum sweetness.
The eighth is becoming heavy on the menthol/eucalyptus from start to finish. There is more woody taste in the initial and sweeter taste in the aftertaste with a strong medicinal herbal quality throughout.
The ninth is very menthol, malty sweetness with topical sweetness under heavy camphor much the same as last infusion. This infusion seems to be more licorice tasting.
The tenth is strongly menthol/eucalyptus in taste so much that it drowns out other aspects of the profile.
The eleventh is almost creamy menthol onset woodier in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is significantly astringent, almost but not really dry, slight pucker. The Qi of this tea is mildly relaxing with a bit of head sensation of lightness of the brain.
The twelfth infusion is strong menthol/ eucalyptus through and through. The tea is becoming more astringent to in these later infusions.
The 13th is much the same this infusion is a bit more sweet wood and menthol. The profile changes very little from initial to aftertaste.
The 14th shows signs of sweet woods, herbal medicines, and an underlying tropical sweet taste under medical notes. The taste is quite bold even now but is not as sweet as it is astringent and pungent menthol. The pungent menthol is really something.
The 15th has an almost peachy sweet onset now, woody, slight licorice, almost herb, long cool sweet aftertaste. Still lots going on here, much to enjoy. 16th is a touch bitter and astringent but similar tastes, more wood almost a sour grapefruit taste. Faint tropical fruits.
The seventeenth is sweet peach, woody, almost herbal medicine like before shifting to a slight cooling and long sweet aftertaste. This puerh has some great stamina with the taste complex and full late into the session.
The eighteenth and nineteenth give off sweet tastes, medicinal tastes, woody tastes, long sweetnesses.
I really stuffed the teapot with these leaves but this tea could go on for quite some time, I suspect. I overnight steep it and a greeted the next morning with a very viscus and dense butterscotch/ caramel sweetness. It’s so full that I decide to put it though another few day-long steepings.
This tea has what I consider “harmonious Qi” it doesn’t overtly feel relaxing or simulating and to someone with little experience almost feels like no qi but in the end this qi makes you feel good. If you are tired, you will feel more alert and if your simulated it kind of makes you feel relaxed. I think this puerh has this type of energy to it. It can easily be overlooked by those who are less sensitive.
Tastewise, this tea is a winner. It has much to enjoy as far as tastes go. It’s a bit unique in how pungent it is. This feature will do it well 10 years down the road.
I believe that the storage is clean moderately humid Xishuangbanna Storage. I remember a time that Xishuangbanna storage was a dirty word in puerh circles. It was synonymous with poor storage or forgotten tea. It’s my understanding that Mr. Zheng of Zheng Si Long has been instrumental in elevating the profile of Xishuangbanna storage of which this cake seems to be a good example of.
*I ended up trying to replicate this type of greatness a few days later and was unsuccessful at pulling together a great session like my first experience above. The second time didn’t have as much pungency, depth, or stamina, Qi seemed weaker too. Might have to pick up a cake to investigate further when I finally do an order of Zheng Si Long from Tea Encounter.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Over the last few years, I’ve taken the time to look a bit at the marketing and branding behind Western puerh vendors here on the blog. Since returning back to puerh buying, I noticed that marketing has become a driving force these days. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, in fact, I enjoy the marketing on display. However, I have sometimes openly questioned whether we are buying the puerh or just buying into the marketing.
I recently read this article about how we rate a wine label influences how good we perceive and rate the wine. It talks about the research by a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia.
The article is titled “Like the label? You'll probably like the wine, says UBC researcher”. The subtitle proclaims, “Masters candidate Darcen Esau says people want wine that matches their personal identity”.
I got to thinking that you could easily replace the word “wine” with “puerh”.
His research look to answer these questions: "With so many options available, why do some labels appeal to some people but not others? And then taking it a step further, does that label actually impact the wine drinking experience?”
The research essentially had different parts to it such as an online survey and a taste testing.
For the taste testing, he employed a triangle design with 3 glasses of wine and 2 of the 3 were the same wine. Esau also used two types of labels in his research: a contemporary design and a traditional design. No single design was found to make the wine taste better. However, if the person identified with a label they would perceive the wine as actually tasting better.
Do you think, as I do, that this result could easily be reproduced among puerh drinkers in the West?
Do we really like the puerh we are drinking or are we just unconsciously picking the Western puerh vendor and/or puerh wrapper that matches our personal identity?
Thursday, May 9, 2019
One of my favorite blog posts is this article by Marshal’N’ of A Tea Addicts Journal where he introduces The Speed Test as “a more honest and straightforward method of determining whether you like a tea or not.” Its method is simple- the teas you drink through the fastest are likely the teas that you enjoy the most.
I find there is a lot of truth to this measure. I really like it to the point I’m considering publishing how much of certain cakes I drink through in a year as a measure of their value. Actually, I have even came up with my own straightforward/ practical metric that follows from and increases the reliability of The Speed Test, The Re-Order Test (see comment here). The Re-Order Test is also practical way of assessing the subjective value of a tea.
Anyhow, there are a few consideration about The Speed Test that you might want to take into consideration for it to be a more valuable measure…
First, the tea that you are speed testing has to be readily available for daily consumption. It can’t be locked away in some complex storage vault. It has to be easy to get at.
Second, it has to be something that can be easily re-ordered. If you can’t ever re-order it again and you really like it and want to age it, you might be more reluctant to drink through it as quickly. As Marshal’N puts it in that article, “I have to control myself from drinking, lest I run out of it.”
Thirdly, and most importantly, you have to consider the stamina and potency of the tea you are drinking.
What do I mean by stamina? - How many enjoyable nfusions can you get out of the dry leaf?
What do I mean by potency? - How many grams of dry leaf do you need to get the maximum amount of enjoyable infusions?
The above considerations will drastically impact how quickly you drink through your tea. It might even skew the results of the Speed Test. I know it influences how fast I drink though my puerh.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
I got this complimentary sample from Tiago of Tea Encounter (the cake sells for $124.95 for 350g cake or $0.36/g) in a care package a few months ago. An interesting thing about this puerh is that it has been stored in the drier more Northern Heibei province of China…
Dry leaves are small, likely plantation, and quite tippy. They have the odour of strawberry yogurt with slight wood.
First infusion has a slightly sour almost fruit like onset, barely dusty old puerh taste before it arrives at a mild almost minty peak. It then becomes slightly creamy and sweet. A strawberry fruit note comes to mind here. The sweetness is long and creamy. There are pops of various fruit tastes in the aftertaste as well as a bubble gum flavouring. The overall feeling and tea liquor suggest pretty dry storage.
The second infusion starts off just mildly astringent like the skin of a grape with slight dusty aged note before it becomes barely minty and cool with a nice bubble gum taste in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is slightly tight and astringent. The storage is nicely dry. The long candy finish is uninterrupted by other nuances and is long on the breath. The qi is pooling in the head and the body feel relaxed, the joints nimble. The qi is sedating and tranquil as things slow down around me.
The third infusion starts a touch astringent, dusty, almost sour grape peel before it goes into a short mild mint and long distinct candy breath. The bubble gum sweetness is long and obvious on the breath. The mouthfeel is slightly tight and tart. The throat feels open at the mid-level. This puerh is not overly complex but rather pure and obvious in its presentation of grape, dust, mint, and bubble gum progression. Almost a red wine like taste and odour in there as well.
The fourth infusion starts off almost legume like, almost coffee or coco mild bitter and oak barrel then transitions to mint and long clean bubble gum finish. The Qi is real nice I feel a bit euphoric now with my bubble gum breath. There is a oak aged wine like taste to this, almost alcohol. The dry storage finish is nice.
The fifth has an almost merlot onset that is simple and pure almost oak barrel then barely/ not really minty then long bubble gum. The merlot taste is throughout. The profile is real simple, crisp, nice very dry and compressed storage. There is some faint floral and fruit that is hard to pin below the surface. The mouthfeel is slightly astringent and sticky on the lips.
The sixth infusion has a nice oak barrel wine merlot taste, more woody now with a very faint lingering creamy sweetness. The mouthfeel is a touch tart. Sweet bubble gum finish.
The seventh infusion has a velvety mouthfeeling now, a touch dry. There is a subtle smoke oak taste in these initial tastes that melt well with mild grape tastes, then mint then a creamy sweetness appears more the bubble gum. The sweet taste is uninterrupted and long.
The eighth and ninth infusions have an oak barrel merlot taste to it then eases into a long bubble gum sweetness. Qi feeling is gently sedating here. The sweetness on the breath is long. The flavours are simple and enjoyable and clear.
The tenth has a slight pungent medical wood touch under oaked wine, mint, and creamy sweetness. The eleventh is back to the same profile. The 12th shows signs of slight medicinal again along with the other tastes. The simple consistent profile is evince of single estate. The mouthfeel is slight astringent almost velvety. The tea liquor is slightly thinner but consistent broth.
The thirteenth is similar in profile the grape skin of early infusions is gone and there is a touch of medicinal tastes in there the finish becomes merlot like. The profile is simple and enjoyable.
In the fourteenth the initial taste is dry wood and slight cherry fruit there is some very mild cooling mint then a long merlot wine sweetness. The fifteenth is much the same with more of a creamy sweet finish than wine. The slight bit of astringency in this puerh gives it some substance despite the thinner, dry stored broth. It feels very pure in the body, the Qi seems to wear off by mid-session.
The next few infusions are dry wood with slight wine profile and long slight sweet finish. I decide to steep it a few more times.
I enjoy this simple, clean, pure, example of dry storage. The clean merlot taste and long bubble gum aftertaste is quite enjoyable.
The long dry storage bubble gum sweetness is also described in China as the plum taste but I have tasted plum before and it really is more like bubble gum or cotton candy too me so I usually describe it this way. A nice long dry machine compressed storage is sure to bring about this note in a reliable puerh. The last cake I purchased with this note and similar long dry storage was a cake of the sold out dry Shanghai stored 2003 CNNP Small Green Mark Iron Cake from Yunnan Sourcing which also has this characteristic. This 2003 Ban Zhang is a bit different in its profile but for those who enjoyed that cake and storage I would recommend this one.
So the question remains: Is this really from the famous Ban Zhang area? Well, it’s always possible but also probably more unlikely than possible. Part of these older “Ban Zhang” are just the fun of imagining that they may in fact be from somewhere in or near Ban Zhang… most likely not Lao Ban Zhang but it’s always possible that it is some plantation fixture from nearby, I suppose. Hahahah…
Certainly this one is much more possible than some Six Famous Mountains Factory Banzhang cakes I have or my cakes from Laomane Menghai Banzhang Factory. This 2003 is far far more enjoyable that a comparison to these factory cakes doesn’t do this Yuanjiutang any justice!
I actually blind sampled this one that was labeled “2003 Banzhang” and appraised it at $200-300 for 357g cake. So in my eyes this cake is at least a 30% value.
Monday, May 6, 2019
A surprise from Tiago of Tea Encounter. Dry leaves smell of sweet misty rainforests, distant sweet berries, sweet woody odours. Sweet very pungent taste very cooling finish. Pungent camphorus wood and a creamy long sweetness. The storage seems drier than other Fangmingyuan puerh from Tea Encounter . Sticky lips and tongue feeling. Faint bubble gum breath. Relaxing qi even spacy and floating body type of qi. Nice apricot and wood in late infusions. At $88.89 for 400g cake or$0.22/g , I think I should buy this one again …
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
I quite like tasting the selection of Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi puerh at Tea Encounter. So after receiving this sample in a complimentary care package from Curigane (Tiago) of Tea Encounter I make this 2016 Zheng Si Long at $150.85 for 400g cake ($0.38/g) the first of the bunch to sample…
Dry leaves smell of a very sweet, kind of faint floral fruit with a mineral rock like odour.
First infusion has a mild sweet honey and woody almost grain onset with wood bark and almost cherry tastes in the aftertaste. The tastes are crisp and pure the mouthfeel tight.
The second infusion has a soft onset of dry wood, grains, almost grass with a subtle fruity nuance. A candy-like aftertaste lingers on the breath. The mouthfeel opens gently and the mouthfeeling is slightly taught and sticky.
The third infusion has a malty grains and woody sweetness. There is a long sweet, date-like, malty sweetness and noticeable camphor pungency in the returning sweetness. The aftertaste displays different layers of sweetness- malty, date, and faint candy floss.
The fourth infusion starts off sweet and fruity with dry wood in the distance. The pungent camphor aftertaste sets off a long sweetness the trails into the breath. This sweetness is maltier and grain-like initially but has a candy-like nuance in the aftertaste.
The fifth infusion starts off mainly sweet malty, grainy, almost date. There is pungency then long sweetness. The mouthfeel is slightly tight and slightly sticky but not overly stimulating. The throat is mildly opened. The profile overall is quite sweet with dry wood- very Yiwu in profile. The Qi is mild and lingers heavy in the head, behind eyes, makes me feel pretty relaxed, almost dopy. I’m looking for an energy boost this morning but am give only dopiness and relaxation and a heavy head.
The sixth infusion starts off balanced between dry wood and malty, grainy sweetness. The onset of camphor sets into motion a long sweetness. Sticky mouthfeeling.
The seventh infusion is a nice clean woody, malty sweet taste. There is less sweetness now and more of a light balance between dry woods and malty sweetnesses. The camphor returning taste is there and the sweet tastes are long, if not becoming less obvious now. The long candy like breath taste is holding though.
The eighth infusion has a more intense pungent camphor taste but less obvious initial taste. The pungent camphor in this tea is very nice as is its long aftertaste. The tastes are one dimensional but pure and flavourful. The qi continues to relax and sedate.
The ninth is more wood but still contains all the same flavor elements in there. The mouthfeel is becoming more sandy and less sticky now.
The tenth is loosening a bit of strength now, its mellowing out into a nice sweet/woody/camphor thing. The eleventh is sweeter now, but its harder to define the sweetness. The taste remains pure and unmuddled here but not as intense or nuanced as early on.
I add 10 seconds to the flash infusion in the 12th and get a nice fresh, crispier woody sweetness. In the 13th I add 20 seconds and get much the same mellow woody sweetness but the longer infusion pushes out more candy aftertaste that still lingers in these leaves. I feel spacy and lazy.
To lazy to do more, I do a few more longer infusions with enjoyable fruity/ woody tastes in a mild sandy/sticky mouth- and throat-feeling.
This puerh has a very stable infusion to infusion session but what is there is very pure and very flavourful. Its single estate pedigree is quite obvious. Very Yiwu tasting. The mouthfeeling/ throatfeeling and qi are not bad too. A very solid tea for those who like the Yiwu taste and single estate but don’t want to pay crazy for it.
I go to compare the 2018 and 2017 Mang Zhi but I drank them up…. Too delicious to keep around too long, I guess… I’m starting to really enjoy these Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi. My favorite out of the bunch is the 2017.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
I thought it would be a good idea to go over all my 2018 Black Friday purchases and free samples. This year I put myself on a budget of $500.00 for Black Friday and did a good job of sticking to it. I was also swayed by the sales offered by vendors and went out of the sale not exactly how I intended going in. However, the puerh which I purchased was all very good and good value. Many of which are now sold out.
I went into Black Friday to purchase a cake I’ve read a lot about over the last few years, this 200g cake of 2016 white2tea We Go High. I was also keen to test the waters with the bottom of white2tea’s brand in trying to snag some promotional cakes to compete in a search for the cheapest fresh young sheng… if that is how it was going to go down… and it did. In the end I ended up with some free samples and a free tote.
Complex fruity layers, interesting range of notes, nice stoner qi, good stamina, not sure about value still but liked it enough to purchase another cake. Nice raw material. I enjoy both the stamina and Qi in this one. Price went up just a nudge to $152.00 for 200g cake or $0.76/g.
Decent mouthfeel that hold complex blend of interesting notes together nicely, good diversity of tastes throughout the session, good stamina, depth of taste is lacking, tea liquor is a bit thin, still quite a good value at the price. Sold out in a few hours. Not sure if I would go for it next year, if offered.
Smooth grainy sweet taste, wheat, mild coco, mild cognac taste, tight mouthfeeling pulling throat, wood. There are better shu at white2tea.
Fresh bamboo suggestions, toasted grains, deep milky coco shu taste with nice coolness in the breath, nice strong and alerting Qi. Rich and Velvetly mouth- and throat-feel. Nicest bamboo puerh I’ve tired.
Overall some nice teas put out by Paul at white2tea… great job!
The Essence of Tea
I noticed that David and Yingxi re-stocked some Malaysian stored 2003 Hong Kong Henry Conscientious Prescription in the lead up to Black Friday. I missed out on these when he offered them a year before and was hoping they would stay in stock long enough for any Black Friday promotions… and they did!
I was going into Black Friday thinking that I would pick up 2 cakes but only ended up going with one of these and a mini cake to get me to the free shipping. I was offered 20% free tea promotion which I spent on the 2010 Da Xue Shan Wild 1KG Brick and ended up landing a free sample as well, sweet deal!
Clean/pure more humid Malaysian stored, interesting sour fruit and pine wood taste, simulating mild gripping throatfeeling with solid menthol taste. Slight thinner liquor, with mildly dizzing and somewhat heavy headed Qi sensation, simple in some ways but delicious, easy drinking aged puerh. Not sure if I will pursue another cake.
Nice fresh drink now spring Wuliang area puerh, very green tea-like production that is full of light refreshing puerh energy, easy to drink enjoyable value puerh. Slight astringent if pushed, nice relaxing fluffy qi. I’ve almost drank up the bing!
Excellent wild tea. Heart pounding/ Spaced out Qi. Sweet fruity/ juicy taste is quite strong and long with the throat capturing the saliva minutes later into a long dense sweet aftertaste and breath taste. One of the best wild’s I’ve tired.
Vibrant, intense, freshly aromatic, with a smooth complex fruity body, deep rich unfolding hong cha profile. Very interesting hong cha from very good raw material.
These Essence of Tea purchases are all above mark, they are all very different and I really enjoy all of them. When I purchase from Essence of Tea, this is what I usually expect… and they usually deliver.
I wasn’t planning on purchasing from Yunnan Sourcing but Scott’s 15% off sale lured me in. I ended up buying a stack of the now sold out 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Impression.
Very nice blend of Autumn and Spring puerh. Flavours early on are great- very fragrant, juicy tropical fruit, creamy sweetness, some other vegetal notes. Qi has an alerting yet dopy effect as is decently strong. Poor stamina but overall a real winner for the price. Will there ever be a blend this good and cheap again?
Overall, very happy with all of these Black Friday buys. They are a decent enough reflection of the puerh I enjoy with an emphasis on cheaper/value puerh. Most of the teas I went for are sold out so the purchase was a timely one.
Monday, April 1, 2019
Reason For Fame: This puerh was the first well documented instance in English of a young puerh that was initially very impalpable and undrinkable aging into something very enjoyable. The details can be found in this blog post by Hobbes on the famous Half-Dipper here and here.
There are many different transliterations of the name of this cake out there but they are all referring to the same cake. Here are some alternative names with the links to articles which used them:
2003 HK Henry “Conscientious Prescription”
2003 Hong Kong Henry “Conscientious Prescription” 7542
2003 Menghai Hong Kong Henry 7542 (“Scholarly Tea”)
2003 Henry Trading Co.HK Ltd."Seriously Formula" Ching Beeng 7542
2003 HK Henry Specially Ordered 7542 Menghai
As mentioned in the Half-Dipper post, this tea was for sale at Hou De Asian Arts in 2007 for $78.00 for 357g cake or $0.22/g. Back then this tea was really expensive, and probably a bit overpriced for its age at that time. Remarkably this cake now sells for around $130.00 and can be found with varying storage options and from various vendors.
Teas We Like feature a dry Taiwanese Stored version of this cake for $130. The Essence of Tea offers a Hong Kong then Malaysian stored more humid version also now priced at $130 which is currently sold out but may possibly be re-stocked. I have also heard that it is sometimes available from the Taiwanese Facebook puerh auctions. The options on this cake are many mainly because I think this puerh is actually more famous in Western puerh circles than it is in Asia because of the above reason for fame.
The lesson it taught me was this: if a puerh initially has a “Burning Acid in Throat” taste and throatfeel this quality will likely turn into an enjoyable “Stronger throatfeel with Sour aftertaste” with some moderate to heavier humid storage behind it. Last year I read some similar tasting notes on a different puerh and I bought a bunch of this up and is it ever tasty (I need to post about this one other one soon I think).
Anyways, as you readers may or may not remember this very tea sold out on me before it was quietly restocked by Essence of Tea before Black Friday. I think the re-stocked price was even cheaper than the price they originally marked it at (or maybe the exchange is just more favorable now). Either way, good for me. It was included in my order which also included this, this, and this- all nice teas by my estimation.
Ok, redemption time… let’s see what Hong Kong/ Maylasian stored HK Henry is all about.
Dry leaves are greyish typical of heavier humid/ Hong Kong storage and smell of old library but more sweet and grainy.
The first infusion starts with a slightly sour smooth woody onset which catches me off guard at first. Its tea body is slight watery here and a mild cooling camphours aftertaste with mild creamy sweet base. It tastes more light and deep and almost fruity.
The second infusion has a sour almost dried and candied grapefruit taste, if you can imagine it. It has a smooth pine tree base taste and a faint creamy sweetness underneath. The pungent camphor is cooling in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a bit gripping at the throat.
The third is smoother and more cohesive. It starts with some sour notes over an increasingly woody pine aged leaves base taste. There is that grapefruit sourness thoughout. The tea liquor is light and spacious. The mouthfeel is slightly drying, slightly coarse on the tongue and gripping in the throat. Menthol on breath. Long dried grapefruit aftertaste of slight sour\ bitter. The Qi is slight heavy in the head and behind the eyes.
The fourth infusion delivers a smooth slightly sour onset with an aged grapefruit like taste with pine woods and old leaves taste. The sourness apparent in this puerh gives this medium humid stored and aged puerh a fresh zesty feeling which makes it unique.
The fifth infusion starts more creamy sweet wood along sour grapefruit. The pine taste is stronger on the breath than body and the cooling camphor taste is there too. There is a mineral stone like taste in the infusion also. The liquor and body is light and almost dry but mildly gripping. The Qi starts to feel mildly dizzying.
The sixth infusion is almost bean tasting along with less sour in the initial taste. There are still wood notes under there as well as grapefruit. This infusion is become less sour and drier wood overall. The cooling camphor aftertaste brings the most fruity grapefruit tastes out long in the aftertaste.
The seventh infusion is watering out a bit. The viscosity of the liquor is not the strength of this tea. There is an interesting incense note, pine wood, camphor. The fruity grapefruit is very faint in the aftertaste only now. The throat feel has a mild gripping sensation.
The eighth starts woody, incense, pine wood, long mild apricot and grapefruit taste under camphor wood. The ninth is much the same. The profile of this puerh is relatively simple but pretty delicious.
The tenth I add 10 seconds to the flash infusion it results in more woody tastes being pushes out. The mouthfeeeling and throatfeeling are more watery then gripping here but there is a little of that. This tea develops kind of a smoothness here. The aftertaste is mildly fruity.
11th I add 20 seconds to the flash and get aged but nicely refreshing pine woods, and dried apricots with not as sour tastes now but a little in the aftertaste. Although this tea is not overly complex, it is interesting enough, clean, feels nice in the body and makes me feel light.
12th I add 30 seconds to the flash and it really is much the same with a slightly more gripping mouthfeeling. The long fruity taste is nice here. The tastes are really clean in here.
13th infusion is about at 60 seconds past flash and delivers more fermented autumn leaves, woods up front with some bitterness. There is that same camphor and slight fruit in there.
The 14th is another long infusion pushing out mainly woods and autumn leaves, there is some barely fruity sweet under some bitter and some sour. A fresh clean menthol remains.
I long steep this one a handful more times. I get some nice but not overpowering woody tastes with menthol and dried sour fruit.
Overall, this tea is really clean and pure, it has an interesting and unique sour fruit and pine wood profile and simulating mild gripping throatfeeling and solid menthol aftertaste. However, its liquor is on the thinner side even with the teapot stuffed with leaves and its change from infusion to infusion is slight. I enjoy this one for the smooth and easy drinking for sure. I can only imagine that this more humidly stored version was probably closer to being stored in a way that this cake was originally intended when Hong Kong Henry Co. Commissioned it.
I think I would have been pretty content with more of these but I don’t think I will seek out more…
…Maybe just a cake of the Taiwanese dry storage just for some fun comparison...
Edit May 16, 2019: When I initially sampled my cake and made the notes above I hadn’t opened it from the sealed bag the cake arrived in until just before sampling. After making the above notes I just added a touch of humidity from the steam of the kettle into the bag then sealed it up again. I tried this puerh about 5 weeks later and the sour taste was completely gone. The other tastes that interacted with the sour kind of transformed as well. For instance, the pine note was much less in the second tasting.
Overall, this second tasting was very warming, more roasty earthy, and deeper tasting. With the loss of the sour/ grapefruit note the flavours, it felt much more harmonious however it seemed much less interesting and complex. Overall, the qi felt more warming and the session was much more comforting. Personally, I really liked the sour in there and wonder if shrink wrapped storage would have preserved some of it. Perhaps it was just a fermentation note working its way out from the sealed bag (it wasn’t “aired out”. Or maybe it was my addition of extra humidity after a period of drier storage. Either way this bing cha transformed more in just a few weeks than many of my cakes do over a period of years.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
I choose some of this in Essence of Tea’s Black Friday promotion of 20% free tea.
I have to admit, I was excited about this 2010 Essence of Tea Da Xue Shan Wild ($0.26/g) right from the start…
What’s not to like about this?
It’s from one of my favorite vendors, the Essence of Tea.
It’s of yesheng material and I do like wild tea.
It’s very tightly machine pressed, exactly the way I like high noted tea.
It’s stored on the drier end of the spectrum, most often optimal for wild tea I suspect.
It’s material is from Da Xue Shan, an area which I always seem to enjoy.
And last but not least,
It comes in an over the top 1KG Brick!
Really, it checks all the boxes for me.
The oily purple hued dry leaves give off a delicious odour…
The first infusion starts with a watery, empty taste with a slight vegetal, slight turbid\ barnyard taste there are just glimpse of juicy fruity, barely there as this compression needs to release more. What is most noticeable is the long breath cooling and faint almost cotton candy sensation. This wild will be quite nice, I think.
The second starts with a subtle smoky and mainly juicy fruits and subtle sour onset with layers of almost tobacco and woody notes. There is a long cool lingering returning undulation and creamy sweet breath, slightly talc with almost cherry tastes left on tongue.
The third infusion starts off with punchy tangy fruity tastes with a nice astringent feel. Then there is slight woody layer, tobacco and slight smoke then long cherry returning taste with decent cooling. The slightly forest, slight wood, slight creamy taste is long. The mouthfeel is nice and astringent but not overly so. It’s mainly felt on the tongue and cheeks as well as mid throat. Nice full feel for a wild tea for sure.
The fourth has a woody, juicy fruity taste with very mild smoke then to a building pungent cooling in the throat. There is more of a full onset with woods and fruits layered in. The mouthfeel is nicely simulating for a wild tea, much more full than even the better yesheng I’ve had.
The fifth infusion becomes very thick right from the onset. The liquor is quite viscus and denser layers of wood, slight sour, barely noticeable barnyard/turbid taste, thick dried fruits, slight juicier fruits which stretch into the aftertaste and breath. The long ring of cooling pungent taste makes this wild special as well. Very refreshing. The throatfeel paired with the sour slight astringency pushes saliva into the throat along with the deep, dense, layered flavours. The Qi is very floating but my mind feels quite sharp, a very nice qi.
The sixth infusion starts off in a vibrant soapy guy (Thrills gum) taste and turbid/wild/slight barnyard taste with woods and fruits under this almost grapy sweet soapy taste. The long pungent returning kicks in and rolling creamy talc sweetness. The mouth/throatfeeling are nice and do a nice thing with the saliva. I feel so floaty but clear in the head.
The seventh starts layered, dense, complex with layering of woods, sweetnesses, chalk, forest, fruits, juicy, and is capped with a strong pungent coolness and long creamy, talc sweetness with mild dancing fruits in the distance. The sweet taste is quite strong and long. The throat does a capturing of taste with the saliva even minutes later.
The eighth infusion is a thick dense onset. The thickness of the liquor and mouthfeel really make the complex interplay of flavours hold. Instead of coming one at a time flavours come all at once. The Qi makes my heart pound with a certain intensity but I feel slightly spacy. Like I have lots of energy but don’t know what to do with myself.
The ninth infusion is sweet, almost juicy smokey, dense, onset, with creamy menthol sweetness long on the breath. The taste is barely sour, faintly astringent, long dense sweetness, long cooling. The interplay and complexity of this wild make it special, I think.
This tenth and eleventh infusion is more watery fresh almost fruity juicy type I’m more familiar with. There is a mild juicy fruity taste throughout. The deeper tastes and rolling pungency seems less here. This is more like a solid and more typical wild presentation but this one is especially nice.
The 12th is smooth fruity and woody to start plumb and blackcurrents come to mind. There is a wave of menthol coolness then a long woody and subtle sweetness. I would say the wood note is the dominant here.
13th has a slight sour tart onset with a choke cherry like initial taste there is more of a slightly sandy and dry mouthfeeling now.
13th starts woody mainly with fruits underneath capped by a menthol taste. Some sweetness and fruit in the aftertaste. 14th is much the same.
The 15th is brilliantly fruity and long the mouthfeel is a touch slit-like. The Qi pushes me into a sweat.
I end up long steeping this one for a few days and get brilliantly viscous fruity flavors. It goes for a few more days like this and I quite enjoy it.
Overall, this wild is really enjoyable, it really does have everything I look for in a wild tea. So will I be buying up a few bricks? I’m afraid not. Why?
The reasons are many but are mainly personal reasons.
Firstly, despite what you read here on this blog, I only drink wild tea/ yesheng infrequently. I only go for it maybe once a month, that’s it. The other times I’m downing puerh.
Secondly, I already own over 3KG of wild tea probably enough to last me a lifetime considering how infrequently I consume it.
Thirdly, I just picked up a KG of a very similar wild from Teapals, a 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku Da Xue Shan Wild 250g (very compressed) brick for($0.16/g).
Fourthly, although I consider this 2010 Essence of Tea Da Xue Shan Wild one of the finest example of wild tea but I have a very similar tasting (although admittedly inferior) dry stored, very tightly compressed, factory-esque feeling, and similar Qi pattern. Mine is maybe ½ as delicious, though.
Overall, this has got to be one of my favorite Northern Xishuangbanna wilds…
I just can’t rationalize buying more…