Wednesday, July 17, 2019

2016 Zheng Si Long Autumn Mang Zhi Dragon Balls Vs 2016 white2tea We Go High

It feels odd that I’ve never tired puerh in a dragon ball form ever.  Back in the day, it just wasn’t a thing, it didn’t exist back then.  I wonder who was the first to form puerh into a convenient ball size?  It has the same idea as the coin or minis idea … a modern incarnation of a coin.

This one is from the Mang Zhi region, an autumnal production (see Zheng Si Long Spring 2016, 2017, and 2018).  I recently mentioned that I am enjoying these productions of the famous Mang Zhi region.  The dry ball of puerh smell like slight woods with a candy fruit cherry sweetness.  I received it as a free gift when I placed my first order from Tea Encounter a few of these 2015 Zheng SiLong Wa Long.

I did a 30 second rinse and then put the lid on the pot for five minutes to break up these tight balls…

First infusion is still light and airy from the tight compression.  Watery and woody water with light floral and sweet sugar nuances.

The second is still just starting to unravel with icing sugar taste, slight dry woods, almost wildflower florals.  The mouthfeel is mossy and throat sensation starting to get stimulating.

The third infusion starts off with dry wood and icing sugar sweetness.  The sweetness is trapped in the deeper throat feeling and has a mild strawberry nuance to it.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling are very soft but show signs of being quite full and deep.  The Qi starts to pool in the head.

The fourth infusion starts off dry wood and with a nice fluffy cotton candy nuance.  There is a fruity middle and nice throat stimulating and throatfeeling.  The throatfeeling is deep and opening.  It makes you want to clear your throat.  The tastes are light and airy, sweet and woody.  The Qi is reasonably strong and heady.

The fifth infusion starts off with an unpretentious sweet woodiness that turns into a sour taste then into a mellow vegetal sweetness.

The sixth infusion has a sour woody and barely sweet nuance that transforms to floral wildflower and dry woodiness.  It is not very sweet but has a sour sweet edge to it.  The wet leaves are predictably aromatic and have a menthol like odour.  Qi has a mild but noticeably stuffy sensation in the head.

The seventh infusion starts with a plum fruitiness to it.  There is a menthol woody undercurrent throughout which turns into a noticeable wildflower nuance.  The throat feel is reasonably deep and mouthfeel sticky and mossy.

The eighth starts juicy almost sour like a mango like taste mixed with grapefruit.  The mouthfeel is mossy and the throat feel is pretty deep.  After the juicy sour fruit fades there is a woody dry nuance left in the mouth.  The qi has a mild headiness to it.

The ninth infusion has a sour fruity onset with an astringent woody finish.  The mouthfeel is mossy on the tongue and the top of the throat opens a bit.  You can almost detect some wildflower nuances.  There is a bubble gum nuance left on the breath minutes later.

The tenth infusion starts fruity and woody and sour.  The mouthfeel is becoming sticky and there is a lingering cotton candy nuance in the breath.

The eleventh infusion is full and nuanced fruity layers of sweetness arrive with mango, and grapefruit being most obvious.  The liquor starts to thicken up here and deliver a nice thick woody fruit with decent depth now.  The aftertaste is lingering faint candy.  The Qi is mild in the head.

The twelfth infusion delivers a dense liquor of nice thick fruity woody tastes.  The flavours are sweet, barely bitter, and significantly sour.  The woody taste is the deepest and the most ethereal is the lingering candy sweetness.  My mind saunters in a nice place from the Qi.

13th is a dense licorice, fruity and woody presentation in a thicker liquor.  They fade into a long candy like sweetness.  Nice meandering mild spacy qi.

14th infusion has that nice dense onset with simple but thick flavours that fade easily into a candy-like faint finish.  The 15th has that candy sweet taste in the initial now alongside fruits and slight wood.  The bitterness and sourness continue to recede with each infusion.

15th has a nice dense fruity onset with dry wood underneath.  A wave of sweet fruity tastes comes and goes and leaves a slight woody taste with the breath of candy.

16th is less sweet, more woody very interesting lingering sweetness.  17th is more sweet, dense liquor, fruit.  The mouthfeel is mossy and sticky in these later infusions.  Candy long fait aftertaste.

18th here we go into a woody apricot like sheng type of sweetness.  Nice long candy finish.  A creamy sweet finish.

It was coincidence that I had just drank another 2016 Autumnal production that was similar in some ways to this one, the 2016 white2tea We Go High.  I found these 2016 Zheng Si Long Mang Zhi Dragon balls similar in tight compression, in its thick fruity and woody tastes and textures.  2016 white2tea We Go High has a bit broader profile and complexity.  Although the Qi is actually quite similar, We Go High is a bit stronger.  2016 Zheng Si Long Autumn Mang Zhi has a more intense long candy aftertaste and deeper throat feeling.  Each had good stamina and are both nice examples of autumn puerh.  In my first sampling of 2016 white2tea We Go High I suspected that some Gua Fang Zhi or other Yiwu like material comprises a small amount of the blend.  Maybe its closer to Mang Zhi than Gua Feng Zhi?

This was a fun session.  I wonder if Tea Encounter will offer these?


Monday, July 15, 2019

2016 Zheng SI Long Manzhuan & Pastry Sweetnesses

I just came off a pretty impressive sampling of the 2016 Zheng Si Long Man Lin and wanted to sample the 2016 Zheng Si Long Manzhuan($150.85 for 400g cake or $0.38/g) close together for comparison.  They are of the same producer, same year, same price and same general region.  They were also both complimentary samples that came with my recent orders (here and here). 

The dry leaves smell of a deep pungent sweet rainforest smell.  The sweetness lingers and the pungent forest odour is penetrating.

First infusion has deep rainforest notes and fruity sweet notes right off the start.  There is a base of rainforest wood.  A very faint pungent then a bread like almost coconut type of sweetness.  The breath carries a sweet cherry note as well as a coconut note into the distance.  The first infusion is very smooth and soft .  The mouthfeeling is sticky on the tongue and lips.

The second infusion has a sweet rainforesty and very pastry and sweet bread taste to it.  There is a very mild pungent that comes and goes quickly to reveal long bread tastes and nuances of coconut and even cherry.  This is a very sweet tasting sheng right off the bat.  It has an almost cloying sweetness.  The Qi is mild and airy in the mind and body.

The third infusion starts with a very sweet bread/ pastry and rainforest taste.  The sweetness in here is very high cake pastry type of sweetness.  There is a quick and mild pungency then long almost bready and cherry fruity taste.  This tastes almost like icing sugar.  The liquor is lubricating in the mouth with only a faint astringency or bitterness the sweet taste has the full run of the taste profile here.  I can feel it pooling in the stomach with a mild youthful puerh energy.  There is a stickiness to the mouth and throat feel.  The throatfeeling is more mid and airy feeling.  The energy is felt in the stomach and makes the mind feel light.

The fourth starts with a rainforest and very sweet bready taste.  Then a very mild pungency then bready, cake, and coconut and cheryy finish.  Icing surgar permeates the profile.  The astringency is mild but building and I can feel it in my stomach, a natural young puerh feeling, but not too comfortable this morning.

The fifth infusion has a rainforesty, almost floral, but very bread- or cake- like sweet taste to it.  There is a fruity peach taste in there as the astringency is more apparent.  Overall the astringency is mild but seems to be pushing out more fruity tastes initially and throughtout the profile.  The aftertaste is long sweet bread, almost cherry plum, coconut.  The astringency beats at my empty stomach pretty good.

The sixth infusion starts more astringent with less bready pastry sweetness and more astringency and peachy fruity taste.  The mouthfeel is developing a slightly puckering edges to it.  It is pushing out a more dry wood taste across the profile.  It also seems to extend the aftertaste into a long very sweet cake and coconut cherry fruit.

The seventh infusion is smooth rainforest, a touch astringent cakey and bready more smoothed out here.  There is less intense peach sweetness and astringency.  More of a silky smooth mouthfeeling.

The eighth infusion starts of slightly astringent peachy, with a bready sweet undertone, the pungency seems to be gone but there still lingers a long sweet bread aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is more silky now. The Qi of this puerh is a mild airy relaxing sensation.

The ninth infusion starts watery, slight viscus peach with a mild rainforest taste in background.  The peach taste is throughout now.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling continue in this silky direction.  You can feel the youthful kick and astringency in the guts for sure.

The tenth infusion is a smooth, almost woody, peachy taste throughout that glides over the tongue in a mild astringency.  The Qi in the mind is mild.

The eleventh infusion is silky a touch astringent peachy before a very mild cools peeks and pushes a bready and peachy sweetness along.  This puerh has pretty simple tastes but lots of sweetness in there.

The twelfth is silky, slightly woody, slight fruity sweetness but not too much.  The thirteenth infusion is a bit more fruity and astringent with a more astringent mouthfeel.  These small leaves lose its stamina quickly and turn into a mild woody, peachy with just a touch of sweetness.  There is a slight touch of tannic roughness in the throat.

I call this one early and put it into an overnight infusion.

Overall, this tea has some really intense pastry, bread-like sweetness in the first handful of infusions with a nice rainforesty base.  To me this is some of that classic Manzhuan taste.  The tastes in this puerh are not overly complex with only a handful of nuances playing out and there is space between the flavours.  The Qi is unassuming and the mouth and throatfeeling are mild.  This puerh also lacks substantial stamina.  The lack of bitterness and slow to build astringency create open space for the intense sweetness to dwell undisturbed.  This has to be one of the sweetest tasting sheng puerh I’ve tried in a while.  Those who like it very sweet are going to enjoy this.  It’s a good example of that pastry or cake tasting sweet cloying character of the Manzhuan region.

For me I find the 2016 Man Lin way more interesting than this 2016 Manzhuan- the stamina is better, its less harsh and the Qi sensation is interesting, and it has a nice build throughout the session.

But for those who like it short and (pastry) sweet, this Manzhuan is for you…


Friday, July 12, 2019

2016 Zheng Si Long Man Lin & Slow & Spacy

This sample of 2016 Zheng Si Long Man Lin ($150.85 for 400gcake or $0.38/g) came free with the purchase of a few cakes of the 2015 ZhengSi Long Wa Long.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried any puerh from the Man Lin area before.  I’ve tried Man Zhuang area before but nothing this specific.  I wonder what this sub-region has in store…

The dry leaves have a dense perfume odour to them.  Floral, sweet candy and woody forest odours emit from the very tight pressing of leaf.  I throw whole chunks into the warm pot and the odour that they emit is beautiful floral, wild rainforest sweetness with a distinct odour of melon.

The first infusion delivers watery sweet fruit tastes of melon grasses and rainforest and mineral stone with an icing sugar sweetness.

The second infusion has a light watery icing sugar sweetness.  There are mild nuances of moss and rainforest, stone minerals, melon.  The tastes are refreshing and subdued as the chunks have not loosened in the pot yet.

The third infusion starts off pure icing sugar note very clean and crisp and cool in the mouth.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is faint and there is a wispy icing sugar that lingers on the breath.

The fourth infusion opens up more and has a creamy icing sugar initial taste that pop in a very clear watery broth.  There are distant nuances of cherry and wood but really this is a nice pure creamy, icing sugar sweet note.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel are mild and let these soft pure clear sweet tastes skirt overtop.  There is something very thirst quenching about this puerh on this overly humid day.

The fifth infusion has quick onset of fruity almost nutty flavors which glide into the aftertaste and end in an icing sugar taste.  The sweetness is that crisp, clear, clean type with almost no mid- or deep- base to it.  With just a mild astringency to the mouthfeel it leaves these cake-like sweet flavours unadulterated and long in the profile.  The Qi sensation is a bit mild but you can feel the cool youth of the leaves in my empty digestive system.  Subtly relaxing, matching the vibe of the taste.  I can feel a gentle pumping of my Heart.

The sixth infusion starts with a quick and distinct icing sugar sweetness there is a pop of fruit cherry but mainly just this ethereal long unadulterated thin icing sugar sweetness.  Simple but very yummy.  There is a subtle faint pungent coolness that is quite airy halfway through the profile.

The seventh infusion starts with icing sugar sweetness then a pop of cherry fruit which fades as a very faint almost unnoticeable pungent coolness skirts around the breath.  A long wispy icing sugar sweetness stretches into the distance.  The mouth and throat feel is quite faint with a mild astringency.

I step away from the tea table for an hour before returning.  The eighth infusion is more mellow icing sugar with barely creamy and barely fruit taste throughout.  The ninth infusion is much the same.

The tenth infusion shows mild fruity signs initially with icing sugar. There is that easy to overlook faint pungent then icing sugar sweetness.

The eleventh infusion I start steeping 10 seconds past flash and get a mild fruity sweet and underlying icing sugar sweet onset.  This is a very light tea with a bright ethereal nuance to it.  The qi is mild relaxing feeling to it with a mild chest Qi sensation.  This is an easy drinking puerh for sure with a touch of oomph.

The twelfth I add 20 seconds to the flash.  It gives me a touch more astringency up front with a dry woodiness and mineral that comes with it.  The mild quick fruit cherry and longer underlying icing sugar taste is still there.  The aftertaste fades into the breath without much fuss.  I space out under the mild Qi and even forget where I am… although mild there is something sneaky and spacy about this puerh’s energy.

The 13th I continue the trend of adding more time and do about 25sec steep.  The initial taste is a touch syrupy and malty wood with creamy sweetness and icing sugar sweetness underneath as well as a vegetal taste.  The wet leaves smell of roasted nuts.  I can feel the Qi racing the Heart and I feel a nice slightly spacy relaxation.

The 14th I continue to push.  I get a touch of astringency and even slight bitter if I push hard enough there are some mild fruits, mineral, dry woods, and lingering faint icing sugar.

The 15th is becoming a dense apricot sweetness with a woody note underneath.  A more standard sheng puerh taste with some astringency and bitter and a creamy buttery finish with icing sugar breath.  Nice expansive head feeling.

The 16th is put to a good 40 seconds beyond flash and pushes out thick apricot and woody tastes which disappear in the aftertaste.  The tastes here are decidedly sheng but thick and simple enough to enjoy with a faint touch of bitter and astringency in these longer infusions.  As the very compressed leaves release over the course of the session the flavor becomes more dense and fruity.

I push on for a few more infusions because the relaxation effect is still happening.  The flavors of dense apricot sweetness and wood doesn’t let up.  There is a thickness in the broth initially in the fruity taste that is pleasing enough and edges of bitter and astringency but not that much.  This initial taste kind of just glides away.  I am past 20 infusions now and still get some dense flavor out of this one.

Overall, this is a real simple and light sweet puerh that offers an unadulterated sweet sugary tastes.  It has almost no bitter or mid or low notes and just a touch of astringency.  It’s just this puerh light energy.  It has a nice relaxing spacy Qi with a touch of Chest and Heart body feeling that it creates.  The Qi was spacy enough for me to completely for get to get a photo of the spent leaves which I never do. 

Due to the fact that there is little to no bitterness or astringency and the fact that this has very tight compression, you can really push this puerh hard and push out some thicker flavor even late into the session.  The stamina and slow progression of this puerh is nice and keeps your attention to the end.  The way this one slowly unravels is something satisfying for this price.  There are going to be some people who really like this light puerh energy for drinking immediately… I like its stamina and slow release and options for diverse brewing.  Its Qi keeps the mind from getting to serious... this one is kinda interesting...


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Best of 2018: the 2018 Zheng Si Long Gedeng vs Fresh Maocha

The 2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng was a pretty memorable Gedeng area puerh experience.  It tasted very characteristically Gedeng without costing a crazy amount.  Its taste and energy still in my head for that price.  This 2018 Zheng Si Long Gedeng goes for$282.85 for 400g cake or $0.71/g.  Tiago of Tea Encounter provided me both the fresh mocha and cake sample before I purchased the full cake...

Here is what the tasting notes of the very fresh maocha of the same material looked like:

Intense fruity, cherry, foresty deep, sweetness, cherrywoods in the dry leaves.  Mild icing sugar onset, slight cherry fruit and mild cooling floral, cherry candy sweet finish. Dominating deeper forest woody base under less obvious high notes throughout. Deeper mid- throat feeling. Gripping mouthfeeling felt in back mouth fuller mouth covering. Medium astringent/ bitter.  Opening in throat.  Mild Qi in back of neck/shoulders. Nearly warming.  Woody tastes dominate high notes faint on the breath/ returning sweetness. Turns into mainly woody tastes.

Dry leaves smell of the dry leaves have a very sweet fruit balanced with a very intense pungent evergreen and deep forest odour.  The odour is quite penetrating and fresh but also grounding.

First infusion tastes of initial taste of minty vegetal green and slight vegetal depth.  There is a mineral taste and almost a seaweed taste but mainly this strong minty base profile which is nicely invigorating.  There is a touch of sweetness in the first infusion initially then it returns slightly creamy but the pungent mint taste is throughout.

The second infusion has a mineral green vegetal onset.  There is mint across the profile, some mineral, stone taste, there is a subtle sweetness that emerges in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is slightly slippery.  The pungent mint is throughout and lingers in the throat.  It has an invigorating taste.  The minty pungent taste in the aftertaste is long and cool.

The third infusion starts off minty and dry woody forest almost rock mineral.  The taste feels deep and layered with sweet and pungent mint and barely bitter wood forest and a savory rock mineral seawater type of nuance.  Shah8 describes this characer of Gedeng as halibut, and I think it’s a pretty good descriptor.  The mouthfeel is somewhere between slippery and sticky.  The throat is stimulated and feel sticky.  The Qi I feel it in the head and mind.  In the body a bit in the upper back and spine.  It’s starting to build in the body and open the spine.

The fourth infusion starts with a vibrant minty taste layered with mineral and wood and vegetal forest.  The presentation is really cohesive, not single notes floating on top of each other but rather like a thick dense package.  There is a creamy sweetness that is long on the breath.  The mouthfeel is a nice stimulating almost tingling feel with slippery and sticky and almost dry.  The mouthfeeling and taste work well together and result in a decent depth of flavours.

The fifth infusion start dense in the mouth with distinct minty character throughout along with dry wood, forest, mineral, seawater, and finishes in a long mild creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is gripping and full.  There is sweetness in the minty taste then creamy sweetness in the aftertaste but mild bitter and savory notes in the body.  Qi starts to give me a racing alertness.

The sixth infusion starts woody, savory, mineral, almost talc rose.  The mouthfeel is really thickening up nicely- it offers the mouth nice stimulation here.  The flavours are real stuck together and feel real full with the stimulating mouthfeeling.  The throat feels sticky almost dry.  The intensity of the Qi sensation is almost overpowering.  The chest thumps, mind explodes, and body is in a state of profound lightness, escape, calm. 

The seventh infusion starts more minty with wood being secondary and savory undernith that.  The aftertaste is less creamy sweet and more dry woody bitter and mineral with barly sweetness.  The mouthfeel is slightly gripping here.  The Qi is as big as it gets.

The eighth infusion has a minty rock like initial taste more pungent her and dry woody gripping almost.  Very stimulating mouthfeeling.  Soft pungent mint in breath.  Overall, gripping woody, minty, mineral rock.  The

The ninth infusion has an almost juicy onset, distinct pungent, long creamy sweet aftertaste under wood.  The mouthfeel is very nice almost on the edge of too gripping but I really stuffed the pot with leaves.  The Qi is strong and invigorating, I can feel it in the spine.  The Qi has a certain stimulating intensity on the mind.  Space between should blades opens up wide.

I have to walk away from the tea table for a hour or so the Qi is such that it almost overtakes me and I step back.  I come back to a 10th which is almost sour sweet, juicy and mildly minty, it has a juicy, fruity theme that comes out as mineral but also sweet and juicy, almost creamy with obvious vegetal nuance.

The 11th is much the same with only mild mint and more distinct dry wood with mineral rock but a distinctly sweet nuance throughout.  The aftertaste is a long creamy sweetness.  The sweetness really arrived after the hour rest of the leaves.

The 12th infusion starts almost bitter vegetal with mineral.  Less sweetness which shares room with very mild bitter vegetal wood and is creamy sweet.  There is a mild pungency throughout.  Nice full mouthfeel that holds in the creamy sweet finish.  Qi and Qi and Qi.

The 13th is a touch sour, vegetal, a longer mineral taste here, slight seawater, halibut, long creamy sweetness.  Full slightly tight mouthfeeling.  The mouthfeeling of this tea and the dense flavor presentation are great.  Big, big Qi.

14th infusion is more woody bitter vegetal and less sweet and nuanced minerality, sea tastes.  The minty quality just lingers in the back of the profile this late in the session.   Qi is strong, alerting, chest racing.  There is a warming qi and feeling in spine.

The 15th is nice juicy wood fruit with stronger mineral.  16th is much the same a bit more bitter woody mineral.  The subtle tastes of halibut and mint are much less here.

The 17th and 18th present with a slightly mineral taste and mild forest.  A nice creamy sweetness appears in the aftertaste.  Qi here is more spacey and alerting with a nice warmth and spinal release thing happening to me.

The 19th continues to thin out- the flavor just is not as dense and is a light mineral, almost floral thing with a nice mild sweetness prevails.

The 20th I push a bit with longer steeps and is nicely sweet and mineral and a bit woody bitter.  Its time to put this one into an overnight steeping. 

This tea has nice stamina, dense taste, nice stronger Qi and body sensation, stimulating mouthfeeling and throatfeeling.  This is another great Gedeng from Zheng Si Long.  Out of all the teas I sampled from 2017-2018 this puerh definitely has the strongest and most interesting body feeling sensation of opening between the shoulder blades and in the spine.  Warming body sensation as well. The whole package that this puerh offers with Qi and body feeling is really profound. Both times I’ve tired this Gedeng I have had to step away or be overwhelmed by the power.  I can highly recommend this for those who buy for the body sensation.  Overall, the Qi in here is really big and imparts a complex effect on the mind, chest, muscles, and spine.  Beautiful really.

Comparing this cake to the fresh maocha from a year ago…  well first it should be stated that I overlooked this one big time.  I think this might be to the voluminous maocha rendering me unable to pack the pot as good and less about this puerh’s progression.  What I found amazing was the body feeling and stronger Qi which I downplayed a bit in the more diluted fresh maocha.  I couldn’t even remember that the maocha had this feature until I looked back at the notes.  Boom!  There is was in the notes all along- but the strength wasn’t as obvious to me in these early underleafed notes!  The year aged cake had much more mintiness and pugentness to it but the overall taste of evergreen forest and mineral sweetness along with deeper mid throatfeeling and mouthfeeling remained more stable in both.

***It turns out that I purchased the last cake a month or so ago!  I really wanted to get this review out because there were some samples left but now it is completely sold out!  I was only privy to the same information on this tea as everyone else but after I purchased the last cake Tiago of Tea Encounter told me that this was the most popular Zheng Si Long and sold out in just months! This is not some limited run this is the full production selling out in a matter of months. I am fortunate to have purchased a big 400g cake of this and feel that its value is much much higher than this already high price.  A cake like this could easily sell for twice the price.  I have sampled a lot of tea since coming back a few years ago but none had a stronger Qi sensation as this puerh.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin vs Fresh Maocha

This was my pick of the early 2018 Zheng Si Long Maocha samples I tired.  I really like the Qi in this puerh and this made my selection of top 3 Zheng Si Long. It was my first introduction to the Xiang Chun Lin producing area.  Here was the tasting notes of the fresh maocha just months after picking:

New producing area for me.  Creamy sweet, slight vegetal-like intense berry fruity sweetness in the dry leaves.  Starts savory, seaweedy, rainforesty, long subtle berry fruit/creamy sweet finish.  Sticky full mouthfeel.  Berry taste pops nicely in very full sticky mouth.  Long sweet cooling berry aftertaste.  Feel qi on forehead and brow.  Slowness in the mind.  Heart noticeably beating now. Vigorous and relaxing very early in session.  Nice dizzying Qi.  Green tea-like, vegetal suggestions.  Reminds me of boarder tea.  Creamy sweet taste dominates with long cooling sweet menthol.  Slowly becomes softly astringent in mouth and mid-throat.  Fairly big Qi sensation in head- very relaxed but acuity strongly sharpened.

This is not typical of the puerh cakes I usually buy but I thought I would go based on the Qi and not as weighted on the taste.  After spending a bit more time with the sample from the cake I decided to pick one up at $199.00 for 400g cake or $0.50/g

Dry leaves smell of clear wildflower woods, almost mushroom sweetness, grasslands and grains and a deep pungent forest odour, slight berry odour.

The first infusion starts off a creamy clear sweetness.  It has a very subtle sour and soft mild creamy sweet pungent.  There is a faint touch of astringency and sticky mouth coating.  This first infusion is very light, ethereal, clear, bright, fresh, green.  Creamy sweetness penetrate throughout.

The second infusion has a more clear strong wildflower quick flavorful onset with nuances of dry wood, grasses, almost nutty, the fruitiness that is apparent in the aftertaste is strong, clear, and clean.  It’s a fruity sweetness the seamlessly transitions to a creamy sweetness.  There are interesting wildflower and fruity nuances in the distance.  Also a cinnamon sweetness, some warmth, barely noticed in the distance.  The Qi in the head is pronounced with this puerh.  I feel instantly focused, tunnel focused and relaxed.  My face flushes.  Qi is strongly spacy as well as clarifying at once.

The third infusion has a thicker more viscus onset of dense vegetal sticky rice in banana leaf and wildflower then melts into a clear fruity and wildflower finish.  The qi is super relaxing here.  Big relaxing qi and focusing qi right in the first infusions.  The taste is fresh and green tea, border tea tasting puerh.

The fourth starts with a thick dense wild flower sweetness there is a touch of astringency barely in there to give it some substance then a long creamy sweet finish.  The mouthfeel is thick and slippery and throat opens nicely.  This one is light and creamy in taste and thick in the mouth.  The big qi alerts the mind, pounds the heart, and pours on the relaxation.  There is almost a sour edge to this puerh.  The wet leaves in the pot emit a pungent, mint aroma.  The feeling in the body is interesting, like my arms aren’t attached to my body.

The fifth infusion has a decently thick wildflower onset, the coating in the mouth is slippery with nuances of wood far in the distance.  The mouthfeel is mildly astringent almost sour and pushes a nice sweet creamy taste across the profile.  Wildflower and slight tart fruit are in the long aftertaste.

The sixth infusion presents with a wildflower thickness once again.  There is very mild pungent mint then long wildflower almost creamy and not that sweet in the aftertaste.  I like the Qi in here.  Overall this tea is quite light in taste and moderately thick in texture.

The seventh infusion has a less flavourful initial taste but is mellow vegetal and wildflowers.  The sweetness is more wildflower and restrained now.  The mouthfeel isn’t as full but still coats the tongue and opens the throat a bit.

The eighth infusion tastes a bit thicker than last, the liquor is of decent thickness and coats the tongue nicely.  There is a little bit of squeakiness to it, a touch of astringency.  Qi is big relaxing type, mind is alert, can feel the heart pounding in the chest.  This duality of being super relaxing but yet physically stimulating is the kind of energy that I look for in puerh.

The ninth is starting to fade.  It becomes more astringent but really is very green tea/ border tea tasting.  Big Qi.  Tongue coating is less sticky and more astringent now.  The flavours have really dropped off and it tastes like steeped out green tea.

The tenth infusion I put in a minutes long infusion to try and push out some substantial wildflower sweetness… and it does along with thicker honey tastes and strong florals the bitterness is pretty non-existent with just barely some astringency in there.  This is true throughout the session as it is now.

So I push hard again… thick slight wildflower fruity edges, almost no bitter, thick on tongue and full mouthfeeling.

The overnight infusion is really interesting.  It tastes of super sweet honeydew melon, juicy and refreshing.  It almost taste like true candy in its sweetness. Yummy.

I like the Qi in this one… very light delicious and invigorating tastes.

To compare it to the fresh maocha…

It is actually quite similar but slightly deeper in taste.  There is a touch more complexity in the cake version but not overly so.  It is still a very green tea and boarder tea tasting thing although the cake has a deeper and longer floral taste in it. There is a bit more complex lighter tastes in there but overall is not overly deep and retains the light, green, ethereal essence found in the maocha.  The Qi is strong and pretty much unchanged from the maocha, as usual.  The mouthfeel and throat feel are similar as well, a bit thicker maybe but not that much.

There is actually anther similar feeling and tasting puerh to this one that I would like to compare, 2018 Tea Urchin Along the Boarder.  Just like this 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin, it was picked from a relatively close area, I think.  It shares a lot of its energy and taste profile.  I actually was sent some very early picked mao cha in a Spring 2018 order and enjoyed it.  They ended up pressing it and putting it up on their site a year later.  Out of the two I thought the Xiang Chun Lin was the clear winner but for half the price, I might pick up a cake of it to compare more deeply.

These two still are a bit too light, green, ethereal, border tea character for my tastes but I simply like the way they make me feel…


Saturday, June 29, 2019

2018 Zheng Si Long Ding Jia Zhai vs Fresh Maocha

I had generously received some 2018 Zheng Si Long maocha in the Summer of last year which I documented here on this blog.  Months later, the kind soul which is Tiago of Tea Encounter also sent some complimentary samples from the pressed cake of the same maocha.  I thought it would be interesting to take some detailed notes on these cake samples a year after they were first picked and compare them to my notes and memory of the very fresh maocha.  This is the first of 3 such comparisons…

This 2018 Zheng Si Long Ding Jia Zhai sells for $114.49 for 400g cake($0.29/g), which to me is a steal for Yiwu single origin material.  I liked this Ding Jia Zhai maocha as a value option runner up to my top 3 Zheng Si Long, there was something I liked about the way it made me feel.  The below is a detailed tasting of the cake sample.  This puerh had more changes than most over the last year, which is interesting to note, at times I even wondered if it came from the same pressed maocha…

The early maocha notes of the same material are as follows:

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

Dry leaves smell of a mineral wood very faint sweetness.

The first infusion starts off slightly mineral rock and with lots of green vegetal wood.  There is a very faint sweetness and finishes a touch spicy, vegetal, and bitter.

The second infusion has a strong fresh cut grass vegetables almost like a Japanese Sencha.  There is a bitterness to it as well as mineral.  The aftertaste has a vegetal floral nuance in the aftertaste.  Strong vegetal fresh grass, bitter, mineral, slight floral almost dry wood.  There is not much cooling in the throat or sweetness in this one.  It has a much more savory feeling.  The Qi is heady.  The mouthfeeling is a flat wet coating, like after licking a rock or stone.

The third infusion starts a creamy, vegetal fresh cut grass bitterness, the mid profile is wood and mineral, the aftertaste is vegetal almost floral.  No coolness, no sweet.

The fourth infusion starts with a nice thicker broth, the vegetal bitterness is less, there is a mild coolness then a creamy and slight pineapple sweetness, plumb and creamy faint long aftertaste.  There are still lots of mineral and fresh cut grass but the sweet aftertaste now stands out.

The fifth infusion starts with a savory vegetal onset in the thicker broth.  There is a very very mild coolness then a long creamy fruit aftertaste with mineral, slight wood, almost spiciness, barely floral and a distinct vegetal note.  The mouthfeel is slippery and the upper throat is simulated mildly tight and opening.  The qi has a nice body feeling of slow heaviness in the shoulders and lightness of the legs.  I can also feel a warm, chest knotting feeling.

The sixth infusion starts with a thicker soupy density with mineral, grassy vegetal, a nice floral note is coming out more distinctly here smooth vegetal, floral, faint creamy sweet aftertaste.

The seventh infusion starts thick and vegetal and mineral and ends with a ghostly pungent and long grass vegetal bitterness and distinct floral.  This profile reminds me of a high quality sencha in its grassy, floral and bitter-sweet profile. The body feeling is super interesting.  A warmth builds in the body.  The mouthfeeling becomes chalky now and the throat also opens to a mid-level.

The eighth infusion is very green tea like, very “green” as they say.  It has a moderate fresh grass, vegetal bitterness, suggestions of minerality, nice thickness not really sweet in aftertaste more like a green vegetal bitter floral thing.

The ninth infusion starts bitter sweet, vegetal then slides into a green tea like floral vegetal bitterness.  The qi of this tea is real nice, almost warming despite its bitter, vegetal taste. Body sensation is good, nimble, feel it in lower legs, shoulders, chest.  This qi makes me feel happy.

The 10th and 11th is thick feeling of vegetal faint florals and barely sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is a bit tight the throat opens at the mid upper level.   The 12th is much the same, the mouthfeel is a chalky tight feeling that comes off really thick and reveals fresh grass, florals.

The 13th infusion starts predictably thick very thick onset of vegetal grass, and ends in vegetal floral.  The mouthfeeling has a thick coat of paint on it.

The fourteenth has a nice sweetness to it.  A bitter almost creamy sweet alongside florals, mineral rock and fresh grass.  The mouthfeel is nice with a thickness of the liquor on top.

15th is starting to become a bit juicy thick but not in a sweet way, in a viscus and mild vegetal floral way.  The sweetness is starting to come out more in these later infusions.  It has a soft creamy sweet feel to it now in a thick broth.

16th is juicy thicker onset with a lingering creamy sweetness throughout.  Only a mild vegetal taste is present in these later infusions.  The profile now mainly consists of juicy thick body and mild smooth underlying creaminess.  17th is much the same, mild sweetness is a juicy thicker bodied liquor.

18th is still going with a nice thick feel and simple but distinct creamy sweetness with a barely detectable cool pungent on the inhale. 19th is still thick and strong feeling, not weak at all- this puerh has very nice stamina and really comes together nicely in these later infusions.  A distinct creamy sweetness in a rich thick liquor is nice.  The other flavor elements of vegetal, mineral, grass and floral are really faint and kind of pop up and disappear giving the puerh some depth this late.

I go on like this for a few more infusions and enjoy them like this…

Compared to the fresh maocha this 1 year cake sample has a way different dry leaf odour.  The fresh maocha is much more fruity and sweet where the cake was more savory and woody.  I said that the maocha had lots of movement of flavors and I think the cake is simpler but still enough change infusion to infusion.  The maocha was much more sweet and fruity and the cake sample was more bitter and vegetal tasting initially likely because I stuffed a lot more leaf into the pot.  The later infusions show more of the taste qualities that I found in the maocha.  The mouthfeeling was full for both but the broth felt thicker in a cake sample.  The centering and almost warming qi sensation doesn’t change.  Overall, there is lots of change in the 1 year aged cake.

Overall, I don’t really think the tastes of this Ding Jia Zhai is super interesting.  Whenever I think of Ding Jia Zhai I can't help but get the images of old corduroy recalling Hobbes say "Dingjiazhai is about as sexy as old corduroy".  None the less, this one is a puerh of nice stamina, slow to build and thick in the mouth.  I like these qualities of this puerh.  It has very nice savory and vegetal profile in a very thick broth that holds things together nicely.  Those who like a savory puerh will enjoy these tastes more.  It is most enjoyable at the 15-25 th infusions which speaks to its quality.  Mainly I really like the Qi in here and the way my mind and body feel.  This is why I consider it a runner up when considering the price.  Where can you get 2018 Yiwu puerh of this quality at this price?


Thursday, June 27, 2019

white2tea’s YES Nefi and Gawain & Aggressive Trigger Word Marketing

Haven’t you noticed a lot of YES showing up on white2tea’s social media???

Well, of course the answer is Yes!... hahahah…

I know, it’s all a part and parcel of Paul’s Taylor Swift style, shock everyone with positivity after a few years of sassy and nasty, positive energy all Unicorns and rainbows marketing direction.  I also understand that “Yes” is one of the most powerful marketing trigger words but I really wanted to look into how powerful the technique of continually barraging ones followers with this subliminal message can really be on the consumer.  What I found was actually quite shocking….

It turns out that the word “Yes” is one of the strongest marketing trigger words.  It’s also interesting, exactly how trigger words actually work.  They actually bypass our logical brains and speak right to our emotional brains urging us to act on a purchase.   They actually tell a customer exactly what to do next or describe something in a way that encourages the customer to buy it.  That’s so cool!

It’s interesting that Paul of white2tea has chosen to go with a hand written “Yes” on all of his Nefi’s this year (pictured above).  It’s actually brilliant because when people are photographing a puerh cake for review naturally they take a pic of the nefi as a way for others to authenticate a cake from a fake.  So basically, everyone who does this is continually transmitting the subliminal message of” buy this cake”.  The fact it’s a hand written “Yes” apparently makes it more emotionally salient because it personalizes the message in the same way using the trigger words like “You” or “U” does.  Double powerful!

On social media Paul has been flashing a gaiwan that has a bunch of “Yes” written on it.  He first comment that it was a special commission for himself only, very personal, rare, and very expensive.  Then more and more people began commenting that they want one… of course they do… it has one of the most powerful trigger words written on it… Even I started to want one…

Finally, under pressure from continuous requests, he tells everyone that he is going to commission some more… but only a limited amount… and he has already warned us all that it is going to be pretty expensive…. It’s basically from his personal collection.  These eager buyers are probably going to post their gaiwans steeping white2tea products on social media, sealing the deal (after taking photos of their Yes neifi, of course)  Oh, boy… I feel kind of silly for wanting one of these…

I also, quite accidentally, discovered something super interesting about the way Paul names his premium, highest priced puerh.  You know the ones we’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars for?  He always uses a trigger word in the title (with the only exception being Unicorn).… brilliant! 

Lucky Puppy – Of course everyone want so be special, to be chosen, to be lucky, right?  The title Puppy just wouldn’t cut it.

Is A Gift- That’s right, everyone wants a gift, it will make you feel special… I know I feel special... however, this trigger word is not as powerful as others below…

The Box & The Treachery of Storytelling – Apparently the most powerful of all trigger words is the word “The”.  It gives someone the impression of being better than others, or better than comparable products, … this is the one, the one and only… Box and Treachery of Storytelling just don’t seem powerful enough for a paying hundreds of dollars, I guess..

Fuck What U Heard- The word “You” is also arguably the most powerful trigger word (or is it The?)… in this case an extra emphasis is placed on the word because it is written “U” which makes the eyes while tracking focus on it more…. The word “you” or “U” gives the message a personalized touch…

Last Thoughts- the trigger word “Last” is also very powerful it plays on the fear of missing out.

This post just looks at the names of these cakes.  If you look at the actual webpage descriptions of the cakes or even the text on the wrappers you are bound to find many many more trigger words.  Of course, you want strong messaging in your products…

This year Paul has gone in a weird direction with the wrappers and even with a small selection of some cake names. I think he has done this partly as a response to the criticisms that he uses the wrapper and cake names as a marketing shtick and partly to address the criticism of his use of blurry messaging.  However, he has replaced one powerful marketing technique with an even more powerful technique- the use of continuous exposure to marketing trigger words.  Its as if he is saying look my wrappers are blurred and names are random so there is no aggressive marketing here, only to drop one of the most powerful trigger words, literally, into each and every cake pressed by white2tea this year.  It makes the gesture a bit shallow, albeit brilliant.

I also wonder this, if the consumer is given less actual information about the product, are they more susceptible to the use of trigger words?  Given the fact that white2tea gives us very little actual information about the tea itself, I wonder if the effects of trigger word marketing is all the more powerful?

I am hopeful and optimistic that Paul will one day reach, what I believe is his end goal of releasing a full season of whiteout cake wrappers with randomly generated names  …He has blurred some of them and even randomly generated some names, so he is part way there.  I think its a bit of a test to see if he can take it to the next step... I think he can do it sooner than later…. Yes he can… because in the end everyone knows that its the tea that counts... or to put it more positively, its what's inside that counts.