Sunday, March 17, 2019

gushu? 2016 Chawangshop Manmai Selected Gushu

I really like this one but some reason can’t justify purchasing more…

I snuck a sample cake of this 2016 Chawangshop Manmai Selected Gushu in my order of 2016 Chawangshop Bada.  A few days ago all the prices of these Bada puerh increased.  This rather nice one now sells for $69.00 for 200g cake ($0.35/g), got mine for $60.00 last month.

Whenever I hear the word it always makes me chuckle... it reminds me of a time in the history of puerh drinking when everything was apparently “Gushu” but yet no one really knew what gushu puerh actually was…. Hahaha the good ol days…

Let’s see why I like this one so much…

Dry faint distant dry woods and grasses and florals.  A distant meadow kind of odour.

First infusion starts off with a tangy sweetness and straw taste and a slightly buzzing/ tingling mild mouthfeeling.  The aftertaste is at first mild menthol then mango then a long cotton candy sweetness.  The mouthfeel is sticky and slippery.

The second infusion starts off complex with wheat, sweet, and pungent tastes all at once the mouthfeel is full and stimulating.  The aftertaste is an arm of this pungency but the sweet taste turns into a longer cotton candy like taste on the breath.  There is a bready almost warming spice/ baked apple pie faint base taste in the initial and mid infusions.

The third infusion starts of very viscous and full with dry woody, bready and sweet potato notes, the tea liquor is very thick and there is a warm pungency in it as well.  The aftertaste turns into candy floss.

The fourth infusion starts off slightly astringent and almost bitter with a thick viscous liquor that fills the mouth.  The initially flood of density gives way to a long cotton candy finish in the mouth.  The mouthfeel and tea liquor are intense and full.

The fifth infusion is very full in the mouth, it has a certain intensity to it but it’s not overly bitter or astringent but rather feels like a thick blanket in the mouth.  The initial taste is slightly vegetal and slightly hay and sweet potato.  The aftertaste is very long and sweet.  Bread notes and warm pungent notes a faint but interesting.

The sixth infusion starts off licorice, viscous, and oily thick.  There is a mild wave of cooling and then bread, pudding, homemade baking and a long sweet candy taste.  The Qi is stuffy in the head and makes the eyes feel blurry.

The seventh has a juicy dense dried fig taste upfront now with a thick and slightly bitter density throughout.  The aftertaste is at first sweet baking then into long candy.

The eighth taste more dense sweet upfront, and with long dried fruit tastes sweet cereal grains, sweet bread taste and a candy pop in the aftertaste and longer sweeter candy finish.  The mouthfeel and viscosity are nice and dense and thick.  The candy taste is minutes long on the breath.  The qi feels stuffy in the head.  This qi makes me just stare out into space.

The ninth infusion has a real thick oily onset of dried fruit sweetness in turns into bread then slowly into a candy taste on the breath.  These last infusions have lost some of that intensity of mouthfeel and slight bitterness and now feel very full but not overwhelmingly so.

The tenth has a high noted sweet onset then drops to a lower, almost dried fruit/sweet potato sweetness, then breads, then long candy breath.  The taste and density is real enjoyable here.

The 11th has a high noted pungency to it right off the bat.  It has sweet potato, and breads in there too.  The breath is long, slightly grainy sweetness and candy.  The aftertaste is real long.

The 12th has a buttery slightly bitter onset the mid profile is a nice bread taste then goes into a cool menthol on the breath.   Candy long lingering minutes later.

The 13th infusion is much the same with the sweet bread note more prominent as well as the cooling pungency.  The bitter is gone here.

The 14th infusion gets real smooth bready malty smoothness with nice cooling and long sweet taste.  Thick viscous liquid.

The 15th infusion is very juicy sweet fruit, an abundant splash of sweetness, almost dry fruity like raisin, then mild cool, then sweet bread tastes, then candy.  This puerh is brilliant in these later infusions.

16th is much the same delicious really.  Very full in the mouth very sweet, layered, and long.

I haven’t the time of day to continue to steep this one but I have faith that it would easily go 20+ infusions with amazing tastes.

Overall, this selected gushu is really enjoyable for its price.  Comparing it to the enjoyable 2016 (not selected) this one is considerably better even when the extra price is factored in.  Comparing it to the standard Bada these are both good and cheap in their own right.  There is a subtle thing about these selected leaves that doesn’t make me feel as good as it should and I chalk that up to mainly its youth and maybe its purity.  There is something in this puerh that makes me keep coming back to it despite this- it’s probably because of its thick viscous feeling, vitality, and nice qi.  Don’t let the price fool you, it checks out as gushu in my books.


Friday, March 15, 2019

In Search of Bada & 2016 Chawangshop Manmai (Not Selected) Gushu

Oh, to be not selected… do you remember what it felt like to have your hand up in class and to be not selected by the teacher?….

…So in many ways I feel kind of bad for this free sample of 2016 Chawangshop Manmai (Not Selected) Gushu that was sent along with my recent order of 2016 Chawangshop Bada

Wait a minute… it was selected as my free sample… that has to count for something?…

This is coming from someone who has a long history with Bada area puerh but who has never been able to close the deal and select it…

In my mind it goes back quite a while actually…

My search for a good Bada area puerh was first piqued back in 2006 and 2007 when I tried the famous puerh mountain cake series by Douji in those years.  While I ended up going for the Yiwu cakes instead, their examples of Bada were pretty good and left an impression on me.  As time passed I convinced myself I need some Bada puerh in my drinking repertoire but this proved to be no easy task.  Firstly, because it’s hard to find quality Bada and secondly, very few Western puerh vendors sell Bada (even the might library of Yunnan Sourcing onlybrings us 3 such Bada area cakes ).

One of the best Bada’s in my memory has to be the famous 2010 Essence of Tea Manmai.  This one sold out and was at a time that I was not really buying too much fresh young puerh. However, as time went on I seemed to crave the simple satisfying Bada profile more and more.  One time in 2012 or 2013 I got quite desperate and rather weak and my puerh drinking buddy in Victoria had to twist my arm in an attempt to prevent me from overspending on a measly 2003 Bada toucha (thank you my friend)… but in the end I was still left without any Bada.

I think part of my yearning for Bada has to do with Hobbes continual hyping (maybe even exaggerating) of very economical Bada cakes on this blog around this time.  He highlighted many Bada from Chawangshop which were priced at $17/$18 for 200g cake at that time.  He is also credited for the speedy selling out of the 2012 Bada (I never tried that one but did sample their 2013).  His sketch of the Bada profile depicted in Star Wars images is forever seared in my mind when thinking of Bada as well.

Today I choose this 2016 Chawangshop Manmai Gushu ($40.00 for 200g cake or $0.20/g)…

Dry leaves smell of weeds, dandelion, cut grass, salty seaweeds and creamy sweetness.  Vegetal sweetness is the phrase that comes to mind.

First infusion is very light hay and dry grassy notes almost ghostly icing sugar taste in a very watery light broth with very faint coolness and, dry hay sweetness returning.  Very mild here in this first infusion.

The second infusion starts with more strength in its icing sugar sweetness.  Icing sugar is the base taste here.  It stretches out long on the breath.  There is only faint hints of hay in the distance.  This is mainly just delicate and pure long sweet icing sugar taste.  The taste is very long on the breath.

The third infusion is much the same pure and strong icing sugar taste.  There is a faint note of string beans in the background.  The mouthfeel is juicy feeling and moderately lubricated feeling.  The sweet pure aftertaste is very long.

The four infusion has a very very mild touch of bitterness which is just a blip to induce sweetness in the mouth.  A quick grape-like sweetness pops and recedes quickly there very faint sweet hay.  Very nice icing sugar sweetness along with a creamier, more solid sweetness over top.  Qi is very mild relaxing type.  Mainly in head.

The fifth starts with an astringent glimpse then a creamy, malty almost caramel sweetness, almost cookie like, there is a longer grape note and returning coolness with layered sweetness of grape, icing sugar, and creamy sweet.  There is a certain clarity and purity to this tea.  The aftertaste somehow gets trapped in the mid to deep throat but the mouthfeel is so subtle almost mossy.  The aftertaste is very long. 

The sixth infusion has that same quick astringency then unravels into creamy malty sweetness.  There are very mild notes of dry hay in the distance.  This profile is dominated by sweet layers.  The mouthfeel has a mild astringent feel to it now.  The sweetness is denser now as well. The qi can be felt nicly fluttering in the heart as well as giving the head a mild spacy sensation.  The long mild pungent coolness drags these sweetness out.

The seventh has a bubble gum, almost grapey taste initial sweetness that has an almost juicy almost hay and woody undertone.  The grape sweetness is the most pronounced in the initial taste and the creamy sweetness is the most pronounced in the aftertaste icing sugar sweetness is the most noticeable on the breath.  It’s a layered, pure, vibrant sweet layer thing going on her.  The qi is starting to build and excite the mild making the world rush around me.  My heart flutters.

The eighth infusion starts with a grassy but juicy almost grape fruity burst.  Just as above, the sweetnesses take their turn unraveling.  The mouthfeel is mossy, mildly sticky.  It is mainly felt on the lips.  The throat opens deeply.  The aftertaste is very long.  The qi sensation is really nice.  I can feel it in the superficial face, like it’s numb.  I feel quite high from this one.

The ninth infusion starts with a quick moving astringency, then grape, then wild mint, then creamy, slight malt, then icing sugar.

The tenth infusion starts with a more drawn out almost citrus like astringency with a buttery taste underneath.  The creamy and icing sugar sweetness play out in the aftertaste/ breath.

The eleventh infusion is sweet and buttery almost hay sweetness.  The mouthfeel is sticky and almost sandy.  This infusion has lessened in the initial taste but the aftertaste remains long and very sweet.

The twelfth infusion is almost dry wood and hay with a buttery sweetness underneath.  The returning sweetness is strong and unwavering pure long sweetness.

Thirteenth infusion turned out a bit bitter initially with a dry woody aspect.  Might have not got all the tea liquor out of the pot.  The aftertaste is much the same.  This tea makes me break a sweet.

The fourteenth is more buttery and flowery along with an increasing and lasting bitter astringency.  The aftertaste is stable and nice.

The fifteenth is buttery and hay tasting with long sweetness over a bitterness and slight dryness that now enters the aftertaste.  A returning coolness is trying to punch through.

The sixteenth I put to a 30 second infusion and push out more buttery and layer sweetnesses in both the initial and aftertastes.

The seventeenth I put into a long infusion and get a deep dense dark honey sweetness with some bitter and astringency.

I ended up steeping what was left of the sample today with a much fewer grams of dry leaf and got a completely different session out of it.  Today’s under leafed session was very grassy, weedy, and dandelion.  The bitterness was much less but the icing sugar finish was almost unnoticeable.  This tells me that this puerh need to be pushed hard to a point that it is slightly bitter so there is a strong returning sweetness.  I also question how this one will age out give then weaker presentation today.

Overall, this one has decently nice Qi, a nice long aftertaste, this puerh is real crisp and nicely processed.  I feel a very very mild itch in my body so I wonder about the purity but overall it feels pretty good in my body.  I won’t be ordering this one but for $40.00 xiao bing it’s a decent enough deal as this one is significantly better than its price tag, I think.
Surely, a solid choice for the budget drinker looking for something of quality on the cheap.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Best of the Cheapest: 2016 Chawangshop Bada

Chawangshop seems to have a great reputation for pressing puerh that is cheap but of good quality and value.  So in a time when people are looking for value in puerh why is no one is talking about or reviewing Chawangshop these days?  Have a look at #chawangshop and see how long it takes you to see a picture of a chawangshop puerh wrapper on Instagram and yet #white2tea there are daily pics.  Why exactly is that?

While I suppose the answer is many…

First, Chawangshop’s marketing, social media, and online presence is pretty quiet.  I know they have Facebook page which they seem to update regularly and Instagram but they use it rarely and they don’t even have links from their webpage.

I guess their check out system seems a bit less straightforward because they calculate the shipping based on the actual price instead of doing flat rates or free shipping… But this shouldn’t turn you off from an order, they are just ensuring that you pay exactly for the shipping no less and no more… that sounds fair to me.

I know Hobbes used to make Chawangshop’s puerh a regular on his blog but no recent bloggers seem to be writing much about their puerh lately.  I kind of missed out from sampling Chawangshop as they seemed to open as I was drifting away from the puerh scene in 2011/2012.  Cwyn N drops their name every once in a while (link Splendid), I think the last time a blogger featured Chawangshop it was this Death By Tea post on the 2016 Chawangshop Hekai Gushu.

Perhaps another reason they have not gotten much attention lately maybe because of push back on some blunt comments they made in 2016 when Chawangshop owners were telling their customers a bit too bluntly how to drink, buy, and age their puerh.  Maybe the response was a dialed back social media presence too, who knows.

Another possible reason for less attention is that Chawangshop tend to release their yearly pressings much later (about a half a year later) than most vendors.  By the time they release their cakes the spring hype is up, black Friday is over, and eager puerh drinkers are already looking to the year ahead.

Last year they released their 2017 line late and only pressed 5 cakes.  In 2016 they have all 16 cakes still available.  So, I suppose they are less present because they are offering less, that makes sense too.  It seems like they have been focusing a bit more on Liu Bao over the last few years a move that Essence of Tea has also made over the last few years.

Another reason that they may not be on everyone’s radar is because they stopped offering samples.  You got to by the full cake to sample, but that’s fine for me because I consider those 200g Xiao Bings pretty much a big sample anyways… ahahah

Well, I am just as guilty as you, my readers and have never even tried any Chawangshop puerh before this very first order.  I think their passive marketing attitude just didn’t grab me, that’s all and no one on social medial has really drummed up support for their puerh recently.  Overall, I feel that Chawangshop might simply have been overlooked by many puerh drinkers.  But in my quest for the best cheapest fresh sheng puerh, I just couldn’t resist Chawangshop- this is basically what they are famous for!

I picked up a 1 kg tong of this very cheap 2016 Chawangshop “Bada”(200g cake at $20.00 or $0.10/g, a price that hasn’t gone up since release) to make it worth the shipping.  It is a recommendation from a bunch of old experienced puerh drinkers on Steepster (link) who did a cake splitting sample between them.  It should also be differentiated between other Bada area cakes they sell.

Dry leaves smell of grassy plains with faint but distant wild florals.

The first infusion starts with a woody, grassy onset, there is some peppery taste then it converts into a grassy woody sweetness, almost chalky fruits and florals linger on the breath.  There is a subtle bitterness underneath it all.  The mouthfeel has a slight stickiness even the throat feels sticky.  The liquor doesn’t feel flat at all but has a touch of thickness right of the go.  An interesting first infusion shows signs of promise.

The second infusion starts grassy, woody and sweet there is a flash of bitter before converting into wild flower floral tastes.  There is even a candy like sweetness lingering on the breath.  The mouthfeel is real nice a very sticky full sensation in the mouth and even opening the upper and even mid throat widely.  The sensation creates a real long candy like aftertaste.  I can feel the Qi pooling in the head and brain.  It feel heavy and stuffy in the mind.  The body feel tight and relaxed at the same time.

The third infusion starts grassy and dry woody bark with a grassy sweetness that turns to a quick bitterness then opens the long sweet candy like aftertaste.  There are some salty tastes in there as well as an almost seaweed like note, these come in the initial taste and disappear once the bitterness hits.

The fourth infusion starts with a licorice and grassy onset.  The mouthfeel is very nice and full very sticky and stimulating.  There is a lingering sweetness after the bitter pops.  The bitterness is stronger here but the long wildflower floral and candy sweetness is quite long.  The Qi is real heady and stuffy in the thoughts.  I feel like popping and cracking my joints and it feels good.  This qi is a stress reducer, I feel nice but energized.

The fifth infusion starts off with sweet grassy and licorice sweetness, there is a quick pop of bitter before turning into lingering candy sweetness on the breath.  The mouthfeel is very full sticky and astringent even in the upper and almost mid throats.  It opens the throat nicely.  Apricot sweetness is found in the aftertaste here.

The sixth infusion has a grassy and licorice approach.  There are some mild minerals, dry tree bark and almost seaweed/ pond flavours in the initial profile which is reset quickly by a pop of bitter and long now pronounced sweet fresh apricot sweetness in faint wildflower florals.

The seventh infusion has a mellower almost fruity juicy onset with grass, dry bark, and licorice in the background the bitter pops and there is almost a coco edge to the bitter.  There is some lingering floral and some more faint apricot sweetness.  The coolness isn’t obvious but take a breath in and you can feel it in the throat.  The apricot taste lingers and crest minutes after swallowing.  The mouthfeel full and the qi is heavy in the mind and urges the body to release tension.  You can feel the body qi in the joints of the body, the limbs.

The eighth infusion has a sweet onset of fruity florals, nice expansive coolness, opening throat feeling.  The pungent coolness, fruit apricot taste, and long candy aftertaste is featured here.  The licorice, grass, and wood tastes are faint now.  Very nice.

The ninth infusion has a woody almost buttery, metallic and apricot onset.  The bitterness pops and delivers cool pungency, fruity apricot and soft candy in the distance.  The mouthfeel is full and stimulating but never drying.  Very nice.

The tenth infusion is full of interesting wild floral notes.  These are the most distinct here.  Its starts of a bit grassy sweetness, a touch fruity then bitter quickly returns to a long sweet floral apricot taste.  The candy like sweetness lingers in the mouth.

The eleventh infusion starts off with dry woods, almost buttery tastes, and after bitter tastes a woody fruity sweetness.  The candy like taste lingers on the breath.  This infusion gets a touch muddled, just slightly here.

The twelveth infusion is more bitter and woody initially.  The initial tastes are become less vibrant but the aftertaste remain fruity and long.  The mouthfeel is chalky and sticky here.  There is still significant cooling on the breath and fruity/ floral aftertaste.

Thirteenth taste fruitier and more floral now.  These tastes are found in the initial as well as aftertastes.  This infusion is better than the last few and displays high noted deliciousness.

Fourteenth starts of a touch watery and light.  It has a light fruity taste throughout.  It tastes refreshing with a slightly sticky mouthfeeling and long almost but not quite tropical fruit taste.

The fifteenth infusion is much the same.  This tea is washing out a bit but what is left to enjoy is nice with a cooling returning sweetness and sticky full mouthfeeling.  Sixteenth and seventeenth are much the same.  The aftertaste continues to be quite long and enjoyable.

I put it into 20 seconds beyond flash infusion and get an almost sour wood onset with a faint floral sweet aftertaste.  The 19th I put into 30 second beyond flash infusion and get a woody mainly bitter infusion with cooling aftertaste and buttery floral finish.  The dry woody bitter lingers throughout.  These leaves were pretty much done after the 13th infusion but these later infusions are still enjoyable enough to drink, so I do.  The Qi in these late infusions have a mellow relaxing feeling to them.

Overall this is a really enjoyable left to be wild plantation Bada puerh.  Its main downside is exactly that that- it has a nice characteristic Bada area profile.  Bada is one of the famous puerh mountains known often for blending material similar to (Bulang is another such area).  But this one is a really nice example of Bada plantation none the less. Where else can you get southern Xishuangbanna puerh from one of the famous puerh moutains for $0.10/g?  It has that slightly empty onset of grassy/ dry woody taste but it’s easy to set aside with this 2016 Chawangshop Bada because its processing is so clean, and its energy pure.  The mouthfeel and throat feel are solid and the bitterness adds a lot of depth to what is there but is never too much.

At $0.10/g how does this one compare to other puerh in my search for the cheapest fresh younger sheng puerh???

The only other single estate puerh I’ve tried in this recent search was an entry from the Essence of Tea, their 2018 Bamboo Spring ($0.16/g).  These teas are very different other than both being single estate  and Spring material.  The 2018 Bamboo Spring is very ethereal and light with no bitterness or low notes.  Its strength is the beautiful light Wuliang character and vibrancy.  But the price of this nice character is almost double the price of this Bada.   Also the 2018 Bamboo Spring is apparently non-plantation material and this 2018 Chawangshop Bada is straight terrace puerh (very good plantation), I’m pretty sure.  This Bada has many more layers to it- grassy/woody, seaweed/pondy, even interesting flavours of peppery and metallic, then there is the apricot and wildflower tastes in there which form the main enjoyable flavors but the moderate bitterness and solid stimulating mouthfeeling is what give this one legs.  I’m sure there is enough here to age nicely but it wasn’t harsh to enjoy now.  The 2018 Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring, I think is easier to enjoy now.  Altough the 2018 Bada doesn’t have that “wow” finish, its more interesting even at half the price.

How does it compare to the other super cheap $0.10/g or under selections in my challenge like the 2017 white2tea Snoozefest ($0.08/g) and 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Impression ($0.08/g)???

First, these other two are Autumn blends and are both currently sold out.  The blends really do different things compared to single estate.  2018 white2tea Snoozefest also has a distinct floral note and nice stimulating mouthfeeling.  The difference between these floral notes is that the Bada is a more wildflower and the Snoozefest more of an orchid type.  The Soozefest floral is more separate and singular and the Bada is usually mixed with a fruity almost apricot and other complex taste.  The Snoozefest has more of a varied mouthfeeling from it being a blend but it lacks throat simulation like the Bada which I feel is what makes the Bada better here.  The throat feel and bitterness which changes to sweetness in the mouth when drinking the 2016 Chawangshop Bada is much better than the Snoozefest.  The Bada just has a very nice and long profile throughout were the Snoozefest is more of a spurt.

Comparing the 2016 Chawangshop Bada to the 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Impression.  The Impression is a more complex blended thing and is cleared completely pestiside free too.  The Impression has a more fragrant and flavorful and complex profile but the Bada is much longer and nuanced.  The biggest weakness of the Impression is that it’s pretty much completely done after 9 infusions but the Bada lasts a handful more.  They also both have good Qi but the Bada is more active and stimulating and the Impression is more relaxing to me.  There is something about the Bada that is a touch harsh that can probably be aged out while the Impression is harmonious enough that you could almost drink it now.  Overall, I need to do a speed test with these two, I’m not sure which I would prefer, it would be close.  But since the 2017 Impression is sold out, I will say the 2016 Chawangshop Bada has won by acclimation and is the best of the very very cheapest fresh sheng puerh (at or under $0.10/g)!

But wait…. How does it do compared to the 2018 white2tea Splendid the reining champ for the Best Cheapest Sheng Puerh???

The 2018 white2tea Splendid seems to be more processed to drink now although I stated that it will probably age decent.  The 2016 Bada has real crisp processing that it more typical that you’d see for aging puerh.  With that said, I think if you were planning on aging out both, the Bada might edge out Splendid in this regard and likely display more typical aging.  The thickness and blended complexity as well as the strength of 2018 white2tea Splendid has it still defeating the Bada, I think.  The Splendid has a bit more stamina too.

However, it should be noted that the Spledid costs 40% more at ($0.14/g) but I think is still better even if you include the extra costs.

So there you have it, the 2018 white2tea Splendid is still the Best of the Cheapest Fresh Sheng puerh but I would say that this 2016 Chawangshop Bada is the best of the Very Cheapest Fresh Sheng Puerh.  To put it one way, to get a 1Kg tong of 2018 white2tea Splendid you could get a 1KG tong plus another 2 cakes for the same price!  You can’t beat that.

In the end I'm still left wondering why nobody is paying attention to Chawangpu?

Maybe its time for everyone to "Wang their Chawangpu"???


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Wow! 2006 Rong Chang Hao Yiwu Qiao Mu and Thoughts on 2006 Spring Yiwu Productions

Once in a while, a puerh sample will just stop me in my tracks.  Its rare these days and happens very infrequently.  Usually, it is something that I have no preconceived perceptions of, maybe a factory, production, or area I have never heard of before.  Sometimes it’s a blind sample or a Zhongcha that I have underestimated.  The following is once such instance.

I wasn’t planning on a serious gong fu session with this one.  I was just planning a casual drink throughout the day and not take any notes type of puerh.  I have never heard of Rong Chang Hao before so I just assumed that this was a transliteration error, an English is not my first language kind of mistake.  I thought the writing on the sample stood for “2006 Rongshi Qiao Mu Wang” the complimentary comparison sample that logically paired with the 2003 (Rongshi) Mengku Shuangjiang Wild brick .  Because I already have a lot of the 2006 Shuangjiang Mengku Arbour King, I was just intending to casually sample the Malaysian storage.

After smelling the dry leaves you can be sure it is not this tea…

Dry leaves are intensely creamy sweet layered odour.  This smells of very nice Yiwu material.

The first infusion starts off with creamy dense sweetness slight woodiness almost metallic.  It arrives in the aftertaste along with layers long cooling creamy sweetness and woods.  The mouthfeel is very nice even in this fist infusion.  It gives off a full feeling in the mouth and deeper into the throat.  It finishes slightly herbal medicine.  The flavor is very woody and very creamy sweet.

The second infusion has a very dense and layered Yiwu wood sweetness.  The mouthfeel and throat opening are top notch.  There is a creamy almost candy like sweetness in the aftertaste after the pungent cooling opens the throat wide.

The third infusion is very sweet with more wood bark almost astringent bitter edge now.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel are very good and pull the long pungent very candy sweet sweetness along.  The mild astringency pulls saliva into the throat.

The fourth infusion has a dense fruit and long wood taste.  This is very nice classic Yiwu with a very full mouth and throat feeling.  Thick is the word.  The aftertaste is long and stretches out nicely in the mouth.  There is a medicinal soft pungent feel to it as well.  Brassy almost like a Scotch.

The fifth infusion starts off very sweet and woody.  The returning sweetness is really intense here with a creamy almost malty caramel edge but also cotton candy and woody brassy copper.  The Qi is nicely warming in the digestion and very comfort and reassuring Qi sensation.  Deep toffee breath.

The sixth infusion is even sweeter woody very yummy.  Woods.  A long cooling penetrating sweetness which is deep in the throat and long on the breath.  The flavours here are delicious and straightforward, deep, and long.  Its taste is very stable infusion to infusion suggesting single mountain origin.

The seventh has a velvety woody taste to it.  It has a fruitiness in its woodiness but is more wood now.  A smooth and creamy at times wood with slight almost dry wood edges and astringency.

The eighth infusion starts vibrantly fruity plum a powdery kind of sweetness.  Candy like in the aftertaste.  Good unmistakably Yiwu tastes here.  The ninth infusion is much the same.  There is lots to enjoy here.

The tenth is coppery slight smooth wood with underlying fruit sweetness.  The eleventh has even more of a dry woody overture turning the one full simulating mouthfeel into an almost dry sensation.  The candy like sweet aftertaste is faint now and feel like it’s on the teeth and in the breath.

The tea is starting to wane a bit here.  I wasn’t expecting to give this puerh so much deserving attention on this busy day.  As a result, I have no daylight left to squeeze out another infusion although this tea could probably go for another few.

The next day I long steep it all day long probably 6 or 7 more infusions.  The resulting liquor is thick dense oily fruity syrup.  This is absolutely delicious stuff.

Overall, this is surprisingly a very nice Yiwu comparable to other more premium factory Yiwu teas of 2006.  In my opinion the 2006 Spring harvest in Yiwu was one of the better seasons for Yiwu puerh.  This is a very nice rounded single origin example, I enjoyed it a lot.

Just going on the production date and my experience above and knowing nothing about Rong Chang Hao I would say a 357g bing could sell for $350-$500.

Thanks KL Wong for being the Teapal he is and sending it.  This tea really made my day.  I had never heard of it before and it really stopped me in my tracks today and gave me a rewarding session.

Check out KL Wongs impression of this peruh here.  I wonder if he will sell some of this stuff?


Friday, February 22, 2019

2003 Shuangjiang Mengku Da Xue Shan Wild Puerh 250g Brick

KL Wong of Teapals makes a bold claim about this 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku (Rongshi) Da Xue Shan Wild ($39.15 for 250g or $0.16/g).  He states, “If not better, it’s as good as 2006 Mengku Rongshi Qiao Mu Wang.”  This is the line that hooked me on this tea because personally I feel that the 2006 Mengku Arbour King brick is one of the best productions that Shuangjiang Mengku has ever produced.  This is coming from someone who has also tried a lot of Shuangjiang Mengku.

Ok, let’s go back a bit.  Since, returning for my onslaught of puerh buying, this has been my only purchase that I have been tipped off by a kind email (thanks friend).  He no doubt flagged this wild tea down for me because it has a lot of qualities that I look for in a tea.

First, it’s from one of my favorite factories that is known for cheap and good quality puerh.  Shuangjiang (Rongshi) Mengku is also well known for pressing wild tea and have been doing it for a long time before any of the other factories.  Secondly, I like wild tea though drink it infrequently. The Shuangjiang Mengku Da Xue Shan wilds are some of the most famous factory production wild/ yesheng out there.  This is a very early version of these.  Thirdly, I highly value very tight/ iron compression which these bricks are.  Fourth, as stated above I’m a big fan of the 2006 Shuangjiang Mengku Qiou Mu Wang.

Seems, like this completely Malaysian stored brick has everything I like… so I ended up ordering the last 4 bricks but the big question is…

Is it REALLY better than 2006 Shuangjiang Mengku Arbour King???

Dry super compressed leaves smell of the dry leaves is of vibrant fruits in wood and slight dirt.

Slightly watery, fruity, distinct date and plum skin onset with cooling light finish on the breath.  The mouthfeel is a bit vacuous in this first infusion with a touch of barely noticeable dryness in the throat.

The second infusion starts off more earth peat mixed with date and overly ripe cherry.  It has a watery and almost tart quality reminiscent of wild tea profile.  There is a slight bready finish with moderate cooling on the breath.  The mouthfeel is sticky especially the lips and this throat mildly opens to the obvious cool menthol.

The third infusion starts with pops of dense and thick syrupy fruity vibrancy, cherry and plum initially then is swept away by a moderate cooling returning yeasty bread sweetness.  There are mild layers of wood underneath.  This infusion excites me.  The qi is starting to kick in the upper neck, down the spine effect is felt as if the head is wobbling on a swivel.

The fourth has a woodier and cherry and rum like taste, a bit like rum and raisin flavor and dried cherries.  The woody taste is not as prolific as the fruity.  There is a wave of cooling and beadlike sweetness and even dark chocolate covered dried cherry aftertaste.  The profile is pretty long and reasonably complex.  It tastes like a drier storage, I wouldn’t have pegged it as typical Malaysian.  There are lots of crispness, woodiness, and fruitiness in here more typical of drier storage.  This is likely due to the iron like compression on the brick.

The fifth infusion starts off with a yeasty bread like sweet and sour dominating with sweet fruits layered under that and wood notes even deeper.  There is a mineral taste in this one as well before cooling and converting into a long fruity and bread like sweet taste on the breath.  The mouthfeel is slight tart and astringent enough to give the layers of wild flavors traction.  The qi is powerful in the mind, spacy.  Do I still even have a neck attached to my head, I wonder?  The tart mouthfeel forces the saliva to retreat deeper into the throat.

The sixth infusion starts off strong, dense, thick fruit, wood, cooling,  The taste is real full and strong here. The Qi is real strong in the head too.  I almost feel like I can’t think straight.  I can feel qi pooling in my eyes and spine.  This is a powerful wild tea.

The seventh infusion starts with a pungent fruity bready taste, it’s almost bitter here and more woody with a more pronounced cooling throat action.  The sweeter and fruiter tastes are less.  The eighth infusion is identical with a touch more bready sweetness.

The ninth infusion has more of a sour fruit onset and strong pungent coolness to finish.  There are long bready sweetness and fruits in the breath here.  The Qi is very powerful almost dizzying.

The tenth infusion is a nice balance of dry wood and date/cherry it has a tartness underneath.  The pungent coolness reaches deep into the throat from the astringency here.  I can feel the qi beating in the chest now.  The Qi of this tea is very nice.  I clear out some pieces that have clogged my teapot filter a bit and things change…

The eleventh infusion has an almost floral sweet fruit approach, slight tart, much less bitterness and astringency and a smoothness to it.  It has a talc mineral nuance to it as well.  A subtle mineral soil taste, like licking a rock.  Still distinct coolness and long sweet bready and fruit aftertaste.

The twelfth infusion has that same floral and berry taste now.  It is somewhat refreshing in these infusions, cooling and replenishing feeling but warm in the body and face.  The aftertaste is pungent cool and long fruity breads.  This tea feels very clean and pure in the body.  My mind melts under the Qi’s presence.

Thirteenth infusion is of mahogany wood with layered fruits underneath.  Deep rich dried cherry, cooling pungent.  My energy explodes in my mind and I break into a sweet.

The fourteenth is beautiful cherry florals with a Saskatoon berry taste.  It tastes like Saskatoon berry pie with the pastry bready edges now.  A sweet fruity mineral aftertaste is enjoyable.

The fifteenth infusion is more berries and wood and mineral.  A pungent fruity long aftertaste.  The sixteenth is still at flash and delivers.  The sixteenth is fruity and long cooling pungent it is simple now but the qi is still strong and the sweet fruit note is predominant.  The seventeenth is sour, fruit, woody base really tastes like younger wild tea here.

The leaves are still very tightly rolled at this point as evidence in the picture.  This is the kind of tea that easily gets steeped for 2 days in my house.  The overnight steepings are surprisingly woody, a touch bitter, and a bit brackish.

Conclusion: I have had a chance to sit down for a few good sessions with this one.  I have found a lot of variance in session to session with this wild.  This is due mainly to the amount of dry leaves used.  You actually get the best result when the session is leafed a bit on the lighter side.  If you use too much leaf it can get bitter and astringent and turn out more woody and less fruity.

The best sessions, like my first session in the above notes, are close to the brilliance of the 2006 Shuangjiang Mengku Arbour King but really the teas are so different it’s hard to compare.  Other than the same factory and compression, the material and harvest year gives off completely different taste, feel, and energy.  I really like this 2003 wild, a wonderful tea for the modest price tag…

 With that being said, I still don’t think it compares to the brilliance of the 2006 Arbour King.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Any Tea Can Be Aged, I Suppose

In Korea many years ago it occurred to me that any type of tea can be aged into something different and potentially interesting.  I came to an understanding that it doesn’t even have to be the typical type of aged tea or hei cha (puerh, liu bao, liu ann) to be aged.  I came to this revelation earlier than some, influenced by the different types of tea produced in Korea many of which can be aged.

I also remember that others were also coming to the same conclusions.  I remember this article in A Tea Addicts Journal, where Marshal’N pretty much reaches the same conclusion about Darjeeling Second Flush- it actually ages quite well.

The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver was early out of the gates selling aged white tea.  The first in the western market, I do believe.  I think, it was an early influence on Char of Oolong Owl who is an avid drinker and ager of white.  I ended up sampling a bunch of this stuff from them in 2010.  I ended up buying up a couple KG of fresh Yunnan white teas at that time to age.  Actually, they were a year old and discounted heavily because at that time, people didn’t understand the aging potential of white tea.  I ended up giving most of it to a family member who loved white tea and drank some of it up.  In the end I didn’t even have any left to age out.

Times have changed especially over the last few years.  For tea dealers there has to be a market for this stuff before they can sell it.  Nowadays due to various market forces, aging of white and black tea seem to have taken hold.  But for dealers to offer this tea in the first place a certain groundwork has to be laid.  First, people have to be aware of the fact that they can age a particular type of tea.  However, once there is a public understanding that a certain type of tea can be aged, then there is room for the tea vendor to sell more of it compared to a tea that must be consumed fresh.  They can sell some to customers for current consumption and to others for later aging or maybe to the same person willing to both drink now and age.

Currently, white2tea is effectively pitching this to tea drinkers and backing it up with some white and red teas that people seem to be excited about.  This is, no doubt, in response to the increasing price of puerh, mainly, but also, I believe, to changing tea drinking trends in mainland China.  The last year or so white2tea have been focusing on pressing white tea.  Pictured above is a complimentary sample of 2018 white2tea Turtledove Mini that I received in my Black Friday order.  Turtledove uses material from Yunnan.  I wasn’t a big fan of it but to be honest but I haven’t sampled pressed white tea enough to make a real educated option.

This year white2tea has also put an emphasis on red tea (aka hong cha or “black tea”) even in pressed form.  I haven’t tried any from white2tea this year but pictured below is an interesting hong cha from the Essence of Tea.  Most of these Hong cha are using Xishuangbanna puerh material but are processing it as lightly oxidized hong cha.  This 2018 Essence of Tea Spring Da Xue Shan Wild Red Tea which I received complimentary in my Black Friday order is rather interesting though (pictured below).  The material is yesheng/ wild material but processed as hong cha.  It is very vibrant, intensely fresh aromatic and has a smooth very complex fruity body.  I highly recommend it for those looking for something different in red tea.  Too bad it wasn’t pressed into a cake.

For me, in the end, white or red tea doesn’t come close to puerh.  Sure, you could age it, but really it has a different energy to it, a different qi, and effects the body differently.  Well, really, you can age any good tea- I certainly have some really interesting aged tea in storage.  Even some crazy expensive green teas that were selling for $1.60/g in 2006 … who says you can’t age and re-roast green tea?  But will it ever be as complicated, nuanced, harmonious, and feel as good as aged puerh…

I doubt it.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Rough & Elegant: Two Interesting Yesheng/ Wild Tea Samples from Teapals

Last month I put my very first order through at Teapals.  I picked up what turned out to be the last of these 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku Da Xue Shan Wild puerh bricks (I haven’t tired them yet) and in the order I received a few interesting complimentary samples of wild puerh by Mr. Teapal himself, KL Wong.

I believe these came from KL Wong’s personal collection because I don’t see them for sale on his website.  Usually, I don’t write about samples that are never offered for sale in the Western market but these two are both a bit unique in their own ways.  One of them is one of the most ethereal and elegant wilds I have tried where the other is from Western Xishuangbanna, the Naka region, an area that we don’t tend to see a lot of yesheng.  So I thought, for eduational purposes, I would type some notes up on these two interesting wild teas.  Why is most yesheng/ wild that reaches western markets from Northern Xishuangbanna or from the Yiwu/ Western Xishuangbanna producing areas?  This, I don’t know?

2008 Teapals Small Factory Naka Yesheng

The dry leaves smell of hay and distant woody sweetness.

The first infusion has a buttery entry with a soft and woody base with a creamy sweetness.  There is a faint cloud of fruit sweetness on the breath- almost like a tart cherry taste but not really even tart.

The second infusion I taste a more woody less buttery taste.  It has a straw almost dry wood with a layer of sweetness.  The moutheel is mildly sticky the breath is of fruits of faint strawberries and wild cherry, it’s more of a creamy sweetness almost candy floss.  The tastes are faint and delicate but are supported in the woody base.

The third infusion is a touch more woody with a pungent almost wood bark with a long faint fruit aftertaste layered into faint candy floss.  This infusion has a bit of a brackish/ smoke tinge to it.

The fourth infusion starts a touch smoky and wood.  The mouthfeel is mainly on the tongue.  The Qi is pretty mild with a soft warmth generated in the body the spine feels nice and loose.  This infusion gets noticeably smoky and slightly rough with a baked apple sweetness and candy floss covered in a woody slight smoky taste.

The fifth infusion has a nice woody, deeper slight smoky, layered dry apple nuance.  Has a slight cooling taste.  The qi is mild and a bit relaxing now.  I can feel it behind the eyes.  This tastes like a pretty traditionally processed wild.  Has a bit of a fruit aftertaste lingering there.

The sixth infusion starts a bit smoky with nuances of wood and almost fruit sweetness.  The qi is quite mild but warming in the body.

The seventh infusion is a bit warm fruity smoky onset slight sandy tongue feel.  Lingering smoke and slight fruit aftertaste.  Long slight sweet, slight smoky taste.  Mild Qi sensation- warming in body and can feel energy in the diaphragm.

Eighth is much the same.  With a faded talic berry nuance. Energy feels clean and natural.

I steep this for a few more infusions and get a nice smoked plum flavor in an almost sandy tongue feeling.

This is standard enough wild for an everyday drinker, clean in the body, but no other overly apparent strengths and an old-school a traditional processed vibe.

I enjoy this tea for what it is- nice little traditionally processed wild from a region I have not yet sampled a wild tea from, Naka.

2018 Teapals Early Spring Wild Yiwu

Dry dark coloured leaves have a heavy dense deep floral syrupy sweetness with lingering candy odour.

The first infusion arrives with a light water vacuous onset with faint icing sugar sweetness and faint woodiness.  The taste is delicate and the minute’s later aftertaste is a mild woody coolness with distant long creamy sweetness.

The second infusion has more sweetness in its approach and a soft and elegant long dry woodiness that stretches into a faint bubble gum flavor long on the breath.  This tea is very elegant and long tasting.  Its mouthfeeling is very soft and mildly viscus on the tongue.  It feel like it reaches deep into the throat but with graceful simulation there. The Qi in here is very nice, happy feeling, light-floating head sensation, lax body, smiles. 

The third infusion starts off very faint, almost woody with a faint underlying bubble gum sweetness and icing sugar.  The profile is very long, subtle, graceful, super mild.  A soft returning coolness in the deep throat.

The fourth develops some depth with a soapy bubble gum almost grape Thrills gum like taste that pops initially before embracing the thin dry wood tastes.  This initial taste is strung out slowly in the aftertaste and breath.  Deep relaxation you can feel it in the heart slowing- Qi is very very nice.  Big relaxing and gooey body sensation Qi here.

The fifth infusion has a woody almost icing sugar onset with dry woods to follow.  It develops a fluffier cotton in mouth feeling and has a woodier almost briny woody and faint floral suggestion.  Deep long faint sweetness of bubble gum on breath.  Floating.

The sixth infusion is developing a subtle chestnut richness with thin dry wood taste and faint long barely bubble gum tastes.  The taste is still very elegant but I wouldn’t say it’s weak or thin but rather fine.  The seventh is much the same as the flavours develop a warmer almost nutty wood nuance.  The mouthfeel is soft, fluffy, and barely sticky.

The eighth and ninth have a richer nutty wood taste with a barely creamy sweetness.  Overall the taste is sweet but hard to explain like the sweetness is coming from the nuttiness.  Faint creamy sweetness in breath.  The mouthfeel develops a mild astringency now.

The 10th and 11th have a more round, almost metallic woody taste and deep faint long sweetness.  There is faint floral lingering- the mouthfeel is more astringent here.  The taste is mainly woody now slight astringency with metallic and faint breath sweetness.

I had to step away from the tea table very early morning and, unfortunately, didn’t return until sunset.  This one seemed to start to fade before I stepped away.  I put it in an overnight infusion and got some really nice dense, rich, syrupy fruit stuff.  I put it in another overnight infusion and got much the same which tells me this one could have probably steeped out nicely.

This wild had real nice qi, it was one of the most fragile wild tea I have sample so far.  Much more delicate than any other Yiwu wild I have tried in the past (here and here).  Nice to drink now… love the qi in there.