Friday, September 13, 2019

Shop Local for Yixing

Although most cities in the West don’t have a Chinese tea scene, there are a few places that are worth checking out to find some hidden gems locally.  This is great advice no matter what city you live in.  In fact, the more obscure Chinese tea culture is in your city, the more likely that there are treasures in clear view, that others are completely oblivious to.

In the past, I have found a pretty good haul of semi aged puerh, aged oolong, and even antique tea simply by asking around at the older Traditional Chinese Herbal markets and shops in town.  The older the establishment, the more likely they might have some old forgotten tea kicking around somewhere covered in dust.

Every once and a while I search for used clothing or décor or art for my house on these local online garage sales, Facebook sale pages, or local online classifieds.  Actually, more often than not, it is my wife doing this.  Either way I sometimes manage to put the search words “Teapot” or “Tea” in the search field and usually not much interesting pops up.   Last month, the search result showed something that looked like an authentic quality Yixing teapot.

Turns out it was!  I paid $5.00 for this beautiful unused Shui Piao style yixing.  I know enough about yixing teapots to know the thick walled clay is of excellent quality, it is handmade, and its style looks like something from the 1990s or early 2000s, that’s my guess.  To validate my guesstimate, the other Japanese items for sale from this vendor are from this time period.  I also suspect that it was first exported to Japan than gifted by a Japanese National- that is all the info I could get on this teapot from the seller.  I could guess that a pot like this would go for at least $200.00!  In many ways, this pot embodies much of the same aesthetic that my beloved (but cracked lid) Zen koan yixing teapot does.

Like the Zen koan Yixing, this pot is quite large and heavy and thick walled.  The other was 250ML pot and this one is even bigger at 300ML.  Also the style is much the same with an etching of auspicious bamboo on one side of the pot and the other side with calligraphy.  Is it a beast though- heavy, holds heat much better than any pot I've had and a very quick pour. 

This shui piao yixing calligraphy has such a beautiful meaning.  A meaning that I try to embrace with each and every pot of tea I make.  So it is fitting…

As far as I can translate such things, the calligraphy speaks of the preciousness of time and being in the moment and not taking the time we have for granted.  It speaks of the analogy of the gardener and short lived peony bloom.  I am unsure where the origin of the calligraphy comes from or whether it is a common phrase or certain philosophical school of thought…. I still have some homework to do… hahaha

Anyways, I strongly encourage you to do such searches in your local area.  Do let me know if you find some winners!  People like Marshal’N of a Tea Addict’s Journal didn’t buy his large yixing collection from teapot vendors, I’m sure.  He basically found things, in the same way I found this shui piao, for dirt cheap.  Its just that there is a lot more of this stuff to find in Hongkong 10 years ago … and this is the same way you will find one too, where ever you live…


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2018 Yunnan Sourcing Jingmai (2017 material)

This was the only one I decided to cake sample out of the lot of samples I ordered from Yunnan Sourcing a month or so ago.  This Lucy wrapper always makes my children smile, I think it’s a beautiful thing and the reason this wrapper is one of my favorites.  Of course, the wrapper is not why I purchased the puerh in the first place but rather the good reviews, a nice promotional tasting video by Scott, but mainly due to the fact that I am interested in the pressing of maocha that has been aged a bit before pressing.  Did I mention that this puerh goes for $64.00/ 250g cake or $0.26/g.… that is pretty cheap… another reason, I caked this sample…

This puerh was apparently found (?) as maocha by Scott one year after it was picked in the Spring of 2017.  Scott describes the taste as a very unique taste profile.  He doesn’t state weather its plantation or gushu or anything like this maybe because he wasn’t directly involved with the production of it… I’m not sure, but it cleanly passed the pesticide testing….

Ok let’s see what this one is all about…

The dry leaves smell of intense almost Kobucha like sour fruitiness.  There is a sweet and sour fruit odour that is deeply penetrating.

The first infusion has a sour and dough but not sourdough onset backed by a citrus almost grapefruit and peachy taste.  There are other fruity tastes that layer this initial profile. The mouthfeel is thick and almost astringent in the mouth and throat and give the tea a thick and strong mouthfeeling in the first infusion.  The throat sensation is strong and moderately deep.

The second infusion starts off with edges of fruity sour tastes thick thick thick in the mouth and throat.  The fruity taste feels really strong and is dense and layered with sour, and bread-like tastes.  There are edges of bitterness but more sour astringency than bitter.  The throat and mouthfeel are quite stimulating.  There is some mild pungency then sour fruity tastes.  The thorat stimulation is strong, a sticky almost sandy but opening astringency.

The third infusion starts a touch bitter and touch astringent with a blood orange taste with nuances of peach and even strawberry.  The fruity taste and the sour taste predominate.  The mouthfeeling is thick and coating a bit griping.  The Qi is pretty strong and pushes me into a sweat on the forehead here.  The face flushes and the chest feels almost tight.  My wife comments here, “this is powerful tea”.

The fourth infusion is mainly sour and has suggestions of grapefruit, strawberries, sour peach, fermenting sourness, delicious sour fruit.  There is a touch of a woody thing but the sour is thick, just kicked out some mild pungent.  Mainly sour fruit, distinct and thick.

The fifth infusion has a sour, almost bitterness happening.  There is a nice creamy returning sweetness here under the astringency, and bitterness.  The fruit note is thick.  The mouthnfeeling and throatfeeling is almost sandy, sticky, and astringent.  The throat is quite stimulated with the astringency there.

The sixth infusion is getting more astringent and bitter and the mouthfeeling is more astringent.  The fruitiness is distinct.  The astringency continues to build.  The throat is almost gripping.  The Qi is an alerting type with a tight feeling in the body, like a hug.

The seventh infusion starts of thick sour fruit, slight woody ferment base with astringency and bitter underlying.  This tea is definitely engaging and strong… punchy.  Thick mouthcoating.  There is a strength about it that gets you going, an active qi type sensation.

The eighth infusion starts a touch more fruity and the astringency is a touch dry with less of a thick dense mouthcoating.  It is almost an astringent dryness with a fruity tone underneath.

The ninth has a much stronger fruity explosion now.  It paints the tongue in an astringent fruity note.  There is some mild pungent coolness, then returning faint creamy sweetness and more sour fruitiness.  I can feel the tight Qi in the body.  A tight hug, some tight chest feeling, that is not at all bothersome but more soothing and energizing.

The 10th starts bitter but fruity and nice strawberry almost peach like sweetness.  Sometimes this puerh tastes like cheap strawberry flavored wine.  The mouthfeel is much less now, almost sandy.

The 11th becomes even bitterer and somewhat astringent with fruit notes lying underneath.  The taste really flattens out here and never really recovers…

The 12th is bitter and sour fruit from the onset.  The fruit note is definitely still there but the mouthfeel has lost its depth and there is an astringent flatness to the infusions now.    

The 13th is the last I attempt before putting it into overnight infusions.  It has a flat sandy mouthfeeling, astringent throat feeling and is subtly fruity and sour underneath.

Overall, it tastes a lot like Korean Balhyocha but with much more layered depth in the first infusions.  The first infusions are very tasty and feel quite full in the mouth.  Qi here is a tight body feeling and some stimulating power.  The stamina here is not good leading me to believe that this is likely terrace/ plantation Jingmai.  On the plus side, It comes with a really nice price tag and I quite enjoy the taste, mouthfeeling, and Qi of the first handful of infusions.  It comes on strong.
The above session I leafed it real hard.  I’ve had a chance to steep this puerh a few times and it seems to be better leafed a bit lighter due to its strength and bitter astringency.  Overall a nice puerh, a bit unique for its price…


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

2015 Yunnan Sourcing Mu Shu Cha and A Bit On the Mother Tree Puerh

What exactly is Mu Shu Cha (aka Mother Tree Tea)???  Well, it’s a bit of a puerh oddity that seems to be only produced in the Mengku producing area.   They are some old large leaf varietal that is often referred to as “Primordial”.  It is my understanding that they are called “mother trees” because they are they ancient varietal which gave birth through selection the common puerh varietal.  They also seem to only be found at reasonably high altitudes.  They kind of have their own separate flavor, mouthfeeling, and Qi profile.  I kind of think of them somewhere between a wild tea/ Yesheng and puerh.  During my recent sampling of the Yunnan Sourcing Brand I thought to pick up some recommended Mu Shu Cha to see if it sparks my interest in a deeper exploration of this unique type of puerh….

I actually have quite a long history of sampling and drinking Mu Shu Cha.  I remember sampling the Shuangjiang Mengku Mu Shu Cha releases when they first came out in the Mid-2000s.  I believe 2005 is their first production and I’ve never even heard of Mu Shu Cha productions that pre-date these Shuangjiang Mengku.  It’s a bit of a different profile and I never really fell in love with its very unique character.  A sweet taste and euphoric Qi is what I remember most from these.  This is kind of like wild tea/ Yesheng and shouldn’t be judged next to more standard puerh varietals, Mu Shu Cha has a different stereotypical profile than other puerh.  I had never tried aged or semi-aged Mu Shu Cha.  This sample will be 4 years of age in completely Dry Kunming storage at Yunnan Sourcing’s warehouse. Although I have tried the Yunnan Sourcing 2011 and 2017 version of Mu Shu Cha in the past, this sample (a 400g cake goes for $192.00 or $0.48/g) was to test the waters as to whether I want to explore more Mu Shu Cha for purchase…

Dry leaves smell of intense strawberry, raspberry, and airy sugary sweetnesses.

The first infusion has a slightly bitter onset with a flat grainy taste that follows there is a low lying fruity nuance underneath a cereal taste.  The mouthfeel is slippery and there is almost a metallic finish in the mouth.  There is an almost non-existent mouthwash aftertaste in the mouth along with edges of dry dirt and grains.

The second infusion has a grainy almost raspberry dry dirt and wood nuance to it.  It’s an unusual single note taste that has more of a grain and berries taste in the finish.  The taste is real muddled in the initial taste then becomes this interesting grainy fruity strawberry taste in the aftertaste.  The Qi is migrating to the mind and it becomes at ease and relaxed a bit euphoric even.

The third becomes more fruity sweet strawberry.  That sweet note is there initially with mild bitter, dry wood and dry dirt muddle and a more clear barley grain taste.  It then becomes clear and vibrant and almost pungent in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is slippery and almost sandy and the throat feeling feels empty.

The fourth has a slightly bitter and more cherry fruit taste initially.  The bitter cherry taste is strong and vibrant.  There is a slight sour astringency developing.  The mouthfeel is slightly gripping now and the throat is stimulated.  There is a hollow fruity nuance in the aftertaste.  The Qi is dizzying now and starting to build on being euphoric.

The fifth infusion starts a bit buttery bitter and vegetal there is a distinct fruity cherry note with some muddled vegetal, rubbery, dry dirt like base.  There is some bitter cherry and almost beetroot sweetness in the aftertaste.

The sixth infusion starts with a moderate bitter fruity onset with a muddled beetroot base.  The mouthfeel is slippery/sandy with an open/ vacuous throatfeeling.  The sweet cherry-strawberry almost vegetable taste is then found in the aftertaste over a muddled, beetroot base taste.  The Qi is spacing me out my mind floats away.  Profound clam is found within.

The seventh infusion starts with a thick syrupy sweet cherry sweetness. There is a quick lingering candy sweetness in the aftertaste.  This infusion is very thick and distinctly sweet with any of the base tastes all but disappearing under heavy sweet fruity syrup.  Very nice infusion.  The mouthfeel is slippery and almost sandy the throat opens mid-way in a vacuous manner.  Qi has a nice euphoria going on.

The eighth infusion starts off brilliantly syrup thick dense sweet fruit note.  The note kind of trails off into a fait candy like taste with a very faint base of slight sour and biter and muddle beetroot tastes.

Ninth infusion has this thick syrupy fruity taste that transitions into a long candy like taste.  The mouthfeeling here is slippery and the throat opens mid-way to a sweet candy faint coolness.  These infusions are super delicious with a grounded dense syrupy sweetness which transitions to a distinct candy on the breath.  The base tastes are non-existent here but the sweet tastes are thick and full.

10th starts a touch bitter then syrupy dense and thick fruity cherry syrup sweetness which transitions slowly into a candy like sweetness.  The mouthfeel is sticky and slippery and reasonably full giving the sweet tastes a completeness.  The Qi continues to be heavy in the mind, slight euphoria.

11th is much the same as the last handful infusions a super enjoyable thick dense syrupy fruity sweetness than transitions to candy and faint pungency in the throat.  Big head qi.  Slippery full mouthfeeling.

12th has a velvety almost syrupy fruity cherry sweetness that trails into a candy like sweet aftertaste.  The repetition here indicates that there is a really stable streak of infusions with optimal taste.  The Qi continues to relax with mild euphoria.

13th has that same dense strong syrup sweetness that turns to candy but in this infusion the candy taste is coming quicker and lasting longer.

14th is much the same syrupy sweet dense deliciousness there is a touch more bitter in there now which overshadows the sweet candy finish.  I feel very relaxed just sitting here drinking tea and staring out the window.

15th infusion is much the same. The tastes is so dense, and obvious, and unchanged infusion to infusion that this post is really sounding redundant.  The Qi is making me feel sleepy in this relaxing feeling.

16th is much the same.  The syrupy sweetness is real delicious and thick but monotone deliciousness for sure.  The mouthfeel also remains stable after many infusions.  The Qi becomes very sleepy and tranquil feeling.

17th is holding stable.  I’m totally impressed with how long and stable the taste and mouthfeel is here.  It tastes solid.

18th, 19th, 20th the taste is stable and thick syrup fruity sweetness with suggestions of candy in aftertaste.  I’m totally impressed with the stamina of flavor for this one.

I run out of daytime to drink this and it is put into an overnight infusion…

Stamina of taste, thick unwavering juicy sweetness that converts to candy on the breath is impressive.  Movement of Qi in the mind throughout the session is also notable.  Its starts relaxing then moves to a touch of mild euphoria then to a sleepy feeling.

I ordered this Mu Shu Cha to see if I want to sample more extensively to look for the best option.  I really like Yunnan Sourcing’s Kunming dry storage and what it has done to this cake and will likely do to the Mu Shu Cha series.  I’m just not too sure if I really am in love with the general profile of the Mu Shu Cha…

I wonder if you have ever tried any Mu Shu Cha?  How did you like its profile?


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Yunnan Sourcing & Exploring the Encyclopedic Depths of Puerh

There is only one thing, from the very beginning, infinitely bright and mysterious by nature.It was never born, and it never dies. It cannot be described or given a name.

Zen Master So Sahn

Old time puerh drinkers like me know the answer to this question is Yunnan Sourcing… hahaha….

The Good Ol’ Days & Keeping With the Times

No seriously though, even for someone who has been drinking puerh as long as I have, there was always Scott Wilson and Yunnan Sourcing and there still is and there probably always will be.  I just can’t imagine the Western puerh scene without Yunnan Sourcing and Scott.  To me, some of this is nostalgia, no doubt.

Throughout the many changes in the world of puerh tea over this time, I feel Scott and Yunnan Sourcing have remained authentic to themselves while changing with the times.  This is hard to do and they are the only one of these first online English puerh vendors that have done more than survive, but rather they have flourished.  This no doubt speaks to the genius who is Scott Wilson.

Over the years, Scott has opted to strongly empower the puerh drinker by being as transparent as possible with each product he sells and presses.  For years he would dump as much information as he possibly knows about each product on the website description.  Way back in the day some of these were direct translations of puerh factory descriptions that may not have always been completely truthful.  Scott has always put as much information out there as possible and left it to the drinker to decide.  Later when Yunnan Sourcing took to pressing its own Yunnan Sourcing Brand cakes, one of the first to do so, Scott took great pains to provide the customer with unprecedented information about regions, families, mountains, outputs, geographical locations, general qualities of the regions, specifics of organic testing, … the list goes on and on.  As a result Yunnan Sourcing has been instrumental at educating the Western puerh drinking public.

Yunnan Sourcing Aggressive Conventional Marketing

Over the years the Yunnan Sourcing online puerh shopping experience has also shifted from a decent size selection of factory puerh in its early days, to the encyclopedic experience of the overflowing and difficult to navigate old red and gold website.  I likened the old site to browsing an enormous library of puerh and puerh knowledge.  I don’t know when but sometime he opened a Yunnan Sourcing. US site based in the USA which offers those in the USA sometimes a cheaper option.  And some time thereabouts he opened Taiwan Sourcing, for oblong lovers.  The starkest change to the brand happening in 2017 with the closure of the old website and the opening of the handy new Shopify site.  No longer did we have to pour over hundreds of pages of puerh without the use of those handy Shopify filters. 

Over the years the marketing focus has also changed.  Scott’s marketing has been described by other bloggers as aggressive conventional marketing which I pretty much agree with.  It really has 5 elements to it...

The first is their website descriptions which I mentioned a little bit above.  They have also included teaser videos and increasingly professional staged photos as the years have gone by.  Another cool thing about the website is the popular review option which is used more than all the other Western puerh vendors combined.  The review allows you to get 5% off coupon.This really creates community within the umbrella of the massive website.

The second is extensive use of social media with a unique focus these days on You Tube videos.  I think Scott doesn’t use social media as good as other vendors but he really nails it with his You Tube videos.  I think Scott is a bit uneasy about aggressive social media.  The You Tube videos continue to get better, I think.  It also contrasts himself from other camera shy Western vendors.  Great Job!

The third is a pretty aggressive email marketing campaign including small print marketing.  This is totally optional as you can opt in and out as you please.  But many find this to be the most annoying out of Yunnan Sourcing’s marketing.

The fourth is the 13% off sale which over the last year has mainly shifted to 10% off.  On the plus, the much bigger Black Friday sale has shifted from 13% to 15% off last year as more weight has been shifted to the one big sale, I think.

The fifth is the loyalty points program.  This is my favorite marketing option.  The fact that you can let it really accumulate is awesome.  I got a $50 coupon I'm just itching to use...

All in all the marketing is pretty standard and transparent stuff.  Of course, the sales and discounts from loyalty points are built into the larger picture of the actual cost of the products.  I know lots of people don’t think about it that way, but these marketing strategies are pretty transparent just like the product it promotes.  Nothing too crazy or controversial here but definitely a multifaceted, sustained, and persistent marketing strategy.  The totality of it all is a lot.  The most interesting thing is how the competition, white2tea, almost has no overlap with its aggressive marketing style.

Yunnan Sourcing & Scott Wilson & Xiao Yao

I think the one part of Yunnan Sourcing that is a bit controversial is Scott Wilson the president and owner of Yunnan Sourcing.  I really think that he gives Yunnan Sourcing this larger than life and at times unrestrained quirky persona behind this more serious restrained look and branding.  I think this is what breathes a bit of life into the Yunnan Sourcing brand.  I always love when Scott says it like it is or speaks his mind even if it is not always the most appropriate thing to say or do.  In these moments he makes things feel more real and less scripted.  I feel like he gives the brand a human face, faults and all, and I respect the humanity in that and like the energy it brings to my shopping experience at Yunnan Sourcing.

I think of Scott Wilson as an eccentric librarian of this huge repository of puerh tea and puerh history and knowledge, like one I had once met in real life working as a librarian in an old library.  He has been in the puerh scene for so long and has such an established reputation.  He is almost like that one family member who sometimes says inappropriate things but whom we all know and love.  Plus Scott has kind of always been this way if you look back like 15 years ago (the big hair days) on some forms you can see him there.  I remember in the early days his insistence of the merits of Kunming dry storage and warning of the evils of wet stored puerh.  Hahahha…. That’s classic Scott! I know there are some out there that feel different than me, and I can respect that.  I also love the invaluable contrast/ counter balance that his partner Xiao Yao provides Yunnan Sourcing.  She adds to the rich depth of Yunnan Sourcing.  Personality aside, as far as business transaction of buying puerh, they sell volumes of puerh daily but I’ve never hear of any major problems.  That is always the way it’s been, and I can’t see it changing anytime soon.

I think another criticism of the Yunnan Sourcing brand is how intimidating and immense it is, for new puerh drinker and old alike.  They sell a lot of different puerh, for sure.  Scott doesn’t play games by taking things out of stock and putting them back at a later date.  I respect this super high level of transparency.  What you see is what you get and that level of trust is maybe the highest with puerh drinkers new and old alike.  He also doesn’t play favorites with his puerh, and demands that each is judged on its own merits despite all the information that he willingly supplies for each puerh.  This approach allows for a deep self-discovery of what puerh is to each unique individual without him dictating to the customer what they should consume.  Yunnan Sourcing uses a more traditional business model of selling puerh but that model seems to work good for Yunnan Sourcing and customer alike.  For the rookie customer and veteran alike, the overall experience at Yunnan Sourcing is an educational one, a journey, a self-discovery of puerh and of self.


2018 Yunnan Sourcing Xiao Shui Jing vs 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Long Tang Gu Shu

I ordered this in a large sample order last month.  It was one of two 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Brand Spring Jinggu area productions.  First let’s sample this 2019 Yunnan Sourcing Xiao Shui Jing which goes for $78.00 for400g cake or $0.20/g.

Dry leaves are very spicy and pungent with rainforest and sweet notes underlying.

First infusion starts creamy, smooth, vegetal, woody, and spicy.  The spicy flavours slowly emerge in the aftertaste where bready sweet notes reside and expand in the mouth.  There are mild tropical nuances on the breath… this will be an interesting session…

The second infusion has a sweet orchid taste to it initially then a chicken broth taste to it then there are dry woods, sweet breads, lots of mushroom notes and a faint fruity lingering sweetness in the aftertaste like melons.  The mouthfeeling is slight mildly velvety and sticky.  There is a lingering very mild cool pungent in the throat.

The third infusion has a thick feeling of mushroom and dry woods there is some bread sweetness, chicken broth, even floral taste.  The taste here is unique and with a lot going on.  The qi starts to come in and make the head heavy.  The mouthfeeling is chalky and slight sticky on the tongue.

The fourth starts with a thick broth of mushroom sweetness that pops into a very sweet fruit taste then moderate cool pungency then a nice creamy sweet finish.  There is some vegetal and woods that faintly lye in the mid profile.  The Qi has a stuffy feeling in the head.

The fifth infusion starts off with a mild quick bitterness, then a sweetness, mushrooms, creamy sweetnesses in the aftertaste.  There is lots of interesting and unique taste in here. Over a velvety, almost chalky mouthfeeling and vacuous opening throatfeeling that seems to carry a bit of pungent cool.

The sixth infusion starts moderately bitter then moves to a bright fruit and creamy sweetness then there is faint wood and vegetal then a moderate lingering pungency then long sweet taste. The thickness of the liquor in moderate thick and the mouthfeeling is a bit chalky.  The qi lingers in the head and mind.

The seventh infusion starts off with a moderate bitterness with fruit trailing behind.  The bitter and fruit pair walk together for a while before a mild pungent wave crests bringing a returning sweetness of wood, creamy fruit, and even a touch a faint pepper.  The mouthfeel is moderate and chalky.

The eighth infusion starts with a moderate bitterness paired with distinct fruity sweetness.  This infusion gets a touch sour and astringent in the finish which stimulates the mouth and throat.  There is a creamy sweetness and fruitiness and the bitter lingers throughout a bit more here.  There is a sweet creaminess that lingers on the breath.

The ninth infusion starts with a bitter sour note with distinct fruit and mushroom thickness undernieth.  The tastes are really bold and distinct here with the help of a moderate bitter and even sour nuance.  It gives the thicker broth of mushroom and pear fruit space to expand.

The tenth infusion has a juicy fruity onset now with woods and even fruity florals the bitterness is more in the background and a distinctly fruity note is throughout.  A bit of floral enters the picture here.  The mouthfeel is a slippery and a bit chalky feel to it.  The fruity sweetness is found even minutes later.  The Qi is pretty mild in this puerh mainly a slow to build in the head type of thing.

The 11th infusion has a nice orange, pear, and floral sweetness.  The fruitiness is robust and the mouthfeel is a sandy chalky type of thing.  The throatfeeling is empty but opening in the upper throat.  A cooling pungent lingers in the upper throat.  The Qi is relaxing.

The 12th infusion is a bitter bitter and sour but less now and mainly a long fruity pear tastes dominate.  The mouthfeel is really full, sticky, and chalky.  The qi is mild, and makes me feel content.

The 13th starts with a banana tropical fruit nuance and some faint wood.  There is a mild bitter and sandy mouthfeeling here.  The 14th is more tropical fruit again its sunny and enjoyable, if not a bit simple in taste, feel, and qi.

I steep this a few more times thinking that it is fading away but am proven wrong.  This puerh continues to hold on to juicy fruity tastes in a reasonably thick liquor in these late infusions.  I increase the steep times as the bitterness and astringency drops off and can really push the fruitiness out of these leaves quite nicely.

I eventually put this one into an overnight infusion and tons of fruity juicy and viscus taste is pushed out the next day so I put it into another overnight infusion… great stamina for these juicy fruity tastes for sure…

Overall, this puerh has enough going on as a single estate puerh to not make it boring, this is an above average Jinggu in taste, but on the other hand is not overly engaging especially in the Qi deparment either.  However, the Qi had a happy simple feeling to it.  Its mouthfeeling is enough and the taste profile and thickness of the liquor in the first handful of infusions is kind of interesting.  In the mid-session the flavor profile turns sweeter and less mushroom, foresty, spicy, chicken broth.  There is enough change throughout the session to make it an enjoyable Jinggu area puerh for the price.  The stamina and fact you can steep it longer than your average sheng is a big plus.  I think the biggest issue is I had this a day after the 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Long Tang Gu Shu

They are both Jinggu area and both similar price but that is all the similarities they seem to have with the 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Long Tang Gu Shu winning in all areas.  The one thing that this 2018 Xiao Shui Jing has over the Long Tang Gu Shu is its unique profile in the first handful of infusions which I really enjoyed.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sold Out Vibrant Jinggu: 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Long Tang Gu Shu

I rarely like to sample puerh that I can’t re-order but I was very curious about this 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Long Tang Gu Shu from Jinggu.  It used to sell for around $88.00 for 400g cake or $0.22/g, I believe, before it quickly sold out.  I purchased this 25g samplefor $8.90.

Dry leaves smell of creamy fruity floral nuance.  There is a bright vibrancy about the dry leaves.  The smell of the rinsed leaves are incredible a deep sweet bread odour.

The first infusion starts with a creamy, velvety sweetness.  This tea is very sweet.  The sweet taste is a pastry or cake or sweet bread kind of sweetness that stretches out on the breath.  There is some mild vegitialness there as well.  The mouthfeel is sticky in the mouth.  There is a faint pungent taste then long bready like sweetness.  The flavours are amazingly bright and clear.

The second infusion starts very creamy bready sweet with a more nuanced vegitalness underneath.  The sweet taste is very distinct and very long throughtout the profile.  The liquor is pretty thick in the mouth.  The mouthfeel is sticky and the throat has a noticeably cooling to it.  There is just a mild astringency in the finish.  The lips are dry.  I can feel the Qi in my body even in the first infusion.  It kind of feels like a lump in my diaphragm and feels like my neck needs to be cracked.

The third has a bread and almost cinnamon raison like sweetness to it.  The mouthfeel is sticky and stimulating.  The vegitalness comes on strong following the sweetness.  The astringency is fairly strong creating a strong puckering effect in the throat and strongly stimulating the mouth.  The Qi is felt in the Stomach, diaphragm and chest.  There is a finish of sweet bread and melon.  The raw puerh energy beats at my empty stomach pretty good here.

The fourth infusion starts with a bready sweet onset there is a vegetalness and even now a slight woodiness in there too.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is very gripping and stimulating.  The mind begins to relax as the Heart beats stronger.  There is a long bread sweet with melon taste in the aftertaste.  The taste profile is not complex but strong and clea but the stimulation in the mouth is quite strong.

The fifth infusion has an almost tart cherry note that comes and leaves quickly leaving bread sweetness in the mouth.  There is a very faint pungent then an almost bland milk taste then creamy bread sweetness and melon.  The liquor is less thick here but the mouthfeel and throat feel is strong.  Different taste nuances are pushed out.  The Qi in the body and mind are of mild-moderate intensity in the body and mild intensity in the mind.  The result is making me feel like popping my joints but also a tiny bit restless.

The sixth starts a touch cherry fruit and then bread sweetness then some vegetal and woodiness but mainly sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is strong.  This is a solid mouthfeeler puer for the price.  I like this dimension of this puerh.  The aftertaste is more cherry tart fruit sweetness and melon now and less bread.

The seventh has a buttery floral onset with some faint fruit in there and much less bread sweetness.  There is a more bland and slick mouthfeeling with a sandier drier residue now.  This infusion is more fruity but not overly so.  The aftertaste is starting to become more muted.

The eighth infusion starts with a juicy cherry burst then slight vegetal transitions to bread sweetnesses after a faint pungent quality.  The aftertaste is more muted and more vegetal mixed with faint fruit and faint bread.

The ninth infusion has an almost bitter sour fruity quick burst then it descends into vegetal then mild pungency then tart fruits, slight melon, and bread.  The astringent and sticky mouth feeling starts to build up again.  The Qi is relaxing in the mind and slightly vigorous in the body.  The heart beats stronger.  Qi is starting to build and strengthen in the mind making it peaceful.  It takes a bit to build definitely more of a moderate-stronger relaxing feeling now.  Sweet fruit taste on the breath minutes later.  Very nice strong relaxing Qi now.  I like this.

The tenth lets this very nice clear fresh tropical fruit note ring out.  There is a nuance of cherry and banana.  The fruit nuance plays into the aftertaste.  It is long and taste.  The mouthfeel is slippery and full.  I feel warm from the Qi, nice Qi.

The eleventh infusion has this nice bright tropical fruit nuance to it as well.  The sweetness here is of cherries, banana, tropical and energetic.  It is long in the aftertaste, very delicious.

The 12th has a strong tropical fruit taste.  The Qi really builds slowly in the session but it also is really pronounced relaxing now.  There hasn’t been much body sensations here but the breath is definitely slow.  Really long lasting even 10, 20 minutes later tropical sweet fruit taste.  This puerh is very clear and unmuddled flavours.   Nice relaxing Qi.

13th starts with a slight quick moving bitter then bright tropical fruit taste the taste seems to compound in the mouth after the mild pungent return and lingers long on the breath.  The taste is strong, clear, tasty, long.  The mouthfeel is less stimulating but not empty, I feel an opening in the mid throat where mild cool pungency lingers.  The tropical fruit vibrancy is really nice.  The mind relaxes.

14th is oh, man. This fruitiness, pure and clear is really really nice tastes.  Just long and intense delicious fruits.  Very long.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling are not as stimulating now but that taste almost turns bubble gum, very intense fruity, this is a real delicious puerh.

15th lots and lots of bright fruity flavor.  It feels like there isn’t anything but fruity sweet taste but the taste is so vibrant and full in a weird way.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling suppor this clear vibrant note that kind of morphs into various fruit tastes in the mouth.  A distinct candy taste is developing in the mouth.  Qi is kind of energizing and the heart beats strong.  This Qi is nice.  Really nice puerh.

16th, 17th, 18th very bright fruit in a session with great stamina in maintaining these bright tastes.  The taste changes very little in these past 8 infusions.  What’s not to love though?  Long sweet full fruity flavours pure and strong and independent.  There is a bit of creamy candy sweetness long on the breath.  The sweetness is quite long even in these late infusions.

19th, 20th, 21st lots of stamina of fruity taste.  The mouthfeel drops off a bit so it is not as deep or long but past 20 steeps… great stamina.

Oh man, this is a good one for the price… It has a certain vibrancy to it that really makes it shine.  It has a nice engaging throat and moutfeeling and better than average qi sensations.  I think it might have been hard for me to pass this one up for the price it was offered, even though it is not typically the type of puerh I buy in quantity.  For people who like to drink their sheng puerh fresh, this one is really nice and might age decent as well.  I haven’t had a Jinggu with the vibrancy of this puerh yet.  It has great stamina and overall is quite enjoyable. 

This almost really tastes like a Yiwu to me in its style of sweetness however the vegitaliness reminds me that this is of Jinggu origin.  I think I might have blind guessed this to be Manzhuan it has suggestions of this not quite but I can see it, which I’ve recently sampled from.

Good job those out there that picked this one up, it defiantly punches higher than its price tag.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

2019 Spring Puerh Releases (Part 2)… They’re All Out…

There was something simplistic and brilliant and meaningful about the way the Essence of Tea dropped their whole 2019 Springtime puerh line up…. First they almost completely removed themselves from the cycles of endless, shameless, and tireless social media marketing.  It was to the point that there was lots of underground hype as to what exactly, if anything, would be released this year from the Essence of Tea.

Then, in the middle of August, when all other vendors had released their line ups in full, they drop just a single cake named “2019 Boundless Ancient tree puerh”.  The description goes on to brilliantly describe an ancient tree production from an undisclosed location.  What a name… Boundless what?... from what?  From that which binds us?... Meditate a bit on that one…

Yunnan Sourcing’s 2019 line up is revealing a bold new direction, I’ll congratulate them in advance for this feat.  Over the last few weeks Yunnan Sourcing has been trickling out their always super extensive puerh line ups but this year there is a different feeling to the puerh, for sure.  More than in years past there is some tangible excitement brewing.  After the Yiwus came the Bang Dongs with over the top cute wrappers of little pigs in each step of puerh production.  Something super interesting that Yunnan Sourcing is doing this year is doing these area blends.  They are the only Western puerh vendor big enough and transparent enough to do these things and they probably know it.  The 2019 Yunnan Sourcing Bang Dong Impression blended cake offers puerh drinkers complete transparency as to which areas of Bang Dong were blended into which proportions.  This is unprecedented in a Western puerh blend so far and a super interesting statement on transparency in the puerh industry, I believe.

After the Bang Dongs came the premium single village shu puerh productions Bu Lang, He Kai, Ba Da, Lao Man E and then a few preimium shu blends An Xiang, Ba Wang. Scott and Xiao Yao are really going in an interesting place with these shu puerh productions. This is going to be a really interesting year for shu thanks to this release. A Wild tea blend, huang pian blend, it just keeps coming.  Scott and Xiao Yao really cover all the bases…

Then they dropped their line of Jinggu puerh which includes an old arbour blend called He Xie.  There is a mix of areas they have been producing from for years, some new areas, and some favorites from 2018 that sold out quick like the Long Tang Gu and Ai Lao Secret Garden.  Yunnan Sourcing is well known for its very tasty yet affordable Jinggu line up and this year won’t disappoint.  They just recently dropped their Mengku/ Lincang line up which includes some new areas close to the famous Bing Dao which don’t include Nan Po Zhai.  Personally, I’m really excited about these Mengku productions (I think the Mengku sunglasses pig wrappers are my favorite out of the bunch).

Quite possibly the most exciting part of Yunnan Sourcing’s spring line up, something that is generating a ton of hype, is their more premium sheng blends and their greater focus on Menghai area.  I’m talking about their premium 2019 Yunnan Sourcing ”Spring Impression” blend, 2019 Yunnan Sourcing “XY Blend”, 2019 Yunnan Sourcing Pasha, and 2019 Yunnan Sourcing “Bu Lang Secret Garden”.  This is, no doubt, a challenge to white2tea’s brand which is mainly known for these type of productions.  So not only has Scott and Yunnan Sourcing verbally challenged white2tea, but they have introduced a Spring 2019 line up which also directly challenges white2tea with a competitive product…

white2tea responded to both Yunnan Sourcing’s verbal take down and product challenge by themselves stepping up their game big time….

Frist, in classic white2tea fashion, Paul releases his third diss wrapper to date, the 2019 white2tea Budget Bitter.  The name and wrapper is a clear dis to Scott of Yunnan Sourcing and addresses his comment that white2tea markup their puerh higher than other vendors and the controversy surrounding his comments.  I think the meaning of this one flew over a lot of people’s heads which made me chuckle even more.  Brilliant.  If anyone out there things they can pull a fast one on Paul, they should think again (trust me, I know)…. Hahahhah

The Budget Bitter was released in the second and final wave of Spring 2019 sheng puerh releases that dropped with a promotional email that, to me, seemed a bit unhinged.  It was kind of all over the map and came off a bit crazy to me…. But here we are… the western puerh world is pretty crazy…  Paul’s promotional emails alone have become a bit of an attraction in and of themselves.  This latest one which was sent out July 5th uses a bit of self-deprecating humor by poking fun at the marketing format of these promotional emails.  The last part makes fun of the fact that white2tea never offers a sale but often calls his promotion a "sale".  The tone of this email is a response to criticism of white2tea’s aggressive marking style.

As for the releases themselves, white2tea released: 3 limited pressings 2019 white2tea Budget Bitter (100 cakes), 2019 white2tea Gold8 (100 cakes), and 2019 white2tea Road2Nowhere (30 cakes), some white tea and black tea cakes, and a limited edition “Yes” tea ware.  The 2019 white2tea Road 2 Nowhere cake was reviewed here by Cywn N.  A few people commented that they were quite surprised that it took so long to sell out.  I think it speaks to buyers fatigue (there is only a certain amount of puerh someone can consume), marketing fatigue (if too many things are limited the effect wears off), and simply releasing it in the Summer when people tend to pay less attention (think it caught some off guard).  I had a chance to purchase but took a pass on it for the above reasons, because the marketing rubbed me the wrong way, and because I just purchased up a cake that I determined is of better value with a similar description.  I am actually most interested in the 2019 white2tea Undercover, a blend of sealed maocha from 2014.  Great job TwoDog on keeping things interesting this 2019 Spring.

I think the second way white2tea is coming to the challenge of a more competitive Yunnan Sourcing is releasing some pretty amazing puerh this Spring.  I sampled the 2019 white2tea Dangerfield soon as it came out and it was pretty much as described as a poor mans Naka.  When I think about it I am still amazed how much the tasting notes resemble another famous Naka from years before.  I also purchased the 2019 white2tea Is A Gift, another super great offering.  I have had a chance to sample this a few more times and after comparison tasting my entire slate of Yibang cakes I came to a similar conclusion around the same time as Shah8.  This is most likely a very good Yibang (which was one of the hypothesis I was going on after my first taste of it).  Nothing screams “competitive spirit” like the release of high quality product that’s for sure.

I feel bad (because I did the same thing last year) by completely forgetting to mention the first Western puerh vendor to release in the spring, Farmerleaf.  Farmerleaf specializes in Jingmai puerh but the last few years this 2019 Farmerleaf Ao Ne Me cake has been quick to sell out and very popular.  The Weekend Sessions reviewed a sample and noted that they are doing a second pressing this year (very cleaver marketing here).  He also reviewed their 2019 Farmerleaf Jingmai Miyun a local blended cake.  I have never tried Farmerleaf but enjoy their branding and marketing from afar.  One of these days…

Speaking of Western puerh vendors that I’ve never tried but are very very popular… I’d also like to send my love and good energy to Crimson Lotus and Bitterleaf Teas.

Bitterleaf Teas released their 2019 Spring line up around the time of my last report.  Something I really like is there Try’Em All 2019 Puerh Set where you can sample their whole line up for $55.00… it begs the question, Why haven’t I?  Cody of theoolongdrunk blog reviewed the 2019 Bitterleaf Teas Big Old Ass Tree Hekai, a new offering this year.  They were brilliant in striking something that was lacking in the Westren puerh market last year with their focus on Lao Man E puerh.  White2tea has released a bunch this year as competition.  Sometimes I think Bitterleaf Tea and white2tea probably vie for a similar demographic with their Instagram and social media heavy marketing.  This year they have released 2019 BitterleafTeas All of ‘Em single region Huang Pian set as well as individuals.  They feature a removable postcard on the wrapper- very cool!  This again is very white2tea, they totally beat them to the punch again.  Very forward thinking from the folks at Bitterleaf Teas!

Crimson Lotus Tea was one of the last to release their 2019 Spring puerh line up.  They dropped a 2019 Crimson Lotus Yiwu Guoyoulin, 2019 Crimson Lotus Lao Man E Blend, 2019 Crimson Lotus Danger Zone (Hekai), and some maocha area samples.  The most exciting has to be their 2 Spacegirl blends (Cosima and Fiest) that follow up their very popular and quick to sell out 2016 Crimson Lotus Space Girls brick!  Their line up competes with similar cakes from Bitterleaf Teas and blends from white2tea.

Another vendor that I sometimes forget to mention is  I had a chance to try most of their 2013 line up and would have purchased the Naka cake had it not sold out.  They don’t press much and their stuff sells out quick.  They aim for higher end gushu type things and with the Essence of Tea only pressing a cake this year, I imagine their stock will sell out pretty quick.  They also do a sample set which is probably the way most go when buying puerh of this caliber.  Their 2019 line up consists of Huazhu, Naka, Bakanan, Mansa, Lao Mansa, Mannuo, Mannong (Rareness4), and YiwuGuoyuolin (Rareness5).  Sounds like beautiful stuff as I have come to expect from  Cody from theoolongdrunk reviewed two Mansas!

I just wanted to also put a shout out to two Western vendors who don’t press their own puerh but feature famous Chinese vendors which also released some 2019 puerh. Teas We Like brought in 2019 Bi Yun Hao Lishan Gongcha, 2019 Bi Yun Hao Mansong, and 2019 Bi Yun Hao Yiwu.  I believe Marco is a fan of these young puerh from Bi Yun Hao.  Tea Encounter brought in 5 Zheng Si Long cakes last month.  The lineup closely matches their 2018 line up with Ge Deng, Ma Hei, Mang Zhi, Yi Shan Mo, and back by popular demand a Wa Long.  The 2019 Zheng Si Long Ge Deng has sold out their initial order- likely people jumping on the fact that the Zheng Si Long Ge Dengs have been getting progressively better, year after year and selling out quickly.  The site claims that more are on their way.  The 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long is following up their popular 2015 pressing from this area.

All this going on in the puerh world and I keep thinking about that single 2019 the Essence of Tea Boundless….

Boundless what?...

Bound to what?....