Monday, March 23, 2020

Making Sense of Drinking Tea in “My New Normal”

Everything we know has changed forever and so has my tea drinking!

The first thing to change about 2 weeks ago is my when I stopped using my gong fu set up at work.  With the coronavirus starting to emerge, I determined that there was some level of risk with the gong fu set up because the little cups don’t have handles and they are small enough that your fingers are going to come in close contact with the lip.  And with it being in the open office others could easily sneeze or cough on it.  And with the amount of times I go back and forth from the table in a daily session, what if I forgot to wash my hands?  So much risk assessment over something so not risky… So I just started one cupping and grandpa brewing puerh instead.  Maybe this is why Marshal’N seems to do this while social distancing as well? Or maybe he just really loves the grandpa brewing?  Either way, I missed my gong fu at work… but at least I had work… now the government has ordered that I stop working this week…

In a way it’s nice because my only real chance of a proper daily gong fu session is the one I share with my family.  We load up the big pot or maybe the other not as big pot too.  These days the good stuff is being drank up because you only live once as they say.  The last few days we have been drinking lots of gushu type puerh especially the ones that profoundly relax, gently harmonize, or string you out into a relaxing contemplative high.  Gone is the need for the strong puerhs, the “energizer bunnies”, the rough stuff, and the factory puerh.  These are not the days for such energies in our house.  I find it funny that I recently stocked up on Bulang… hahahah…. How things change quickly… about a month ago I was busier than ever at both work and with family life and needed the big boost of a Bulang, especially in the laziness of winter, I required such things, craved such energies.  Now, its all about keeping calm, introspection, taking it slow…

My wife and I joked over tea this morning that it doesn’t count as minimalism if you have no money… hahahah… tea minimalism just the same.  As we joked toddlers and babies got a hold of a somewhat cool cup of 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang and managed to chug down a whole mug… they were actually pretty good after imbibing that calming qi.... hahaha

Check out this 2018 post where I lay out how I’ve made sense of my tea drinking:

For me, even a few years ago, my tea drinking was very very different but for the last year or two it has been pretty consistent mainly due to stable life circumstances.  My tea drinking falls into (1) morning gongfu I drink/ make for wife and family. (2) Stored productions that I bring out of storage to drink with my family on a rare occasion. (3) Teas I drink with other people. (4) Everyday drinkers I one cup steep at work. (5) better teas I gong fu at work.

It was pretty much like this up until the last few weeks now I mainly indulge in (2) & (1).  Numbers (3)-(5) are out of the question there is none of that happening anytime soon.  How things change so quickly!  So much in life often depends on how stable life circumstances are… everything is now in a state of flux but I’m not concerned…

I have a happy family and good tea.  What else is better than that?

Here is a list of other puerh bloggers take on COVID 19:

It’s first mentioned in a puerh blog by Wilson of traveling teapot when he wishes us a “Happy Chinese New Year”.  He mentions resuming travel to China later this year.

Then Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please as the question, “Can You Get Coronavirus from Chinese Tea?”

Cwyn makes us smile about how it is affecting her “No Buy Anxiety”.

I predict lower prices in 2020 and a possible puerh bubble pop in “Coronavirus (COVID 19) Pandemic & Puerh Consumer Confidence”.

Marshal’N gives us some hope and encouragement and reminds us to enjoy the little things in this time of social distancing by “Staying Home”.

Cwyn reminds us that “We’re Really Lucky” to be able to be surrounded by so much good tea and teawear in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.


Monday, March 16, 2020

2006 “Rustic Zhongcha” from Teas We Like & Nostalgia Puerh Trends

There is something about this description that laid down a bit of a challenge which I couldn’t resist…  So far every tea that has been offered for sale on the hyper curated Teas We Like have basically been ready to drink.  Either aged out or at least pushed past any harsh or awkward stages for this we are all grateful.  The description of this one is subtle but suggestive, “Highly recommended for further aging.”… Unable to turn off such curiosity I purchase one of these ($165.00 for 357g cake or $0.46/g) in a re-order of the 2005 Nan Qiao Double Lion Bulang.

There is a recent puerh trend of puerh nostalgia I just want to touch on here.  Basically, a renewed appreciation for traditionally processed puerh that used old production methods and left the end product sometimes smokey and sometimes with charred leaves and even other burned wood stuffs or other random stuffs (hair, plastic from processing bags, other plant leaves, ect) pressed into the cake.  There are going to be people who will never get why you would want smoke and char in a puerh.  Those people, I guarantee, were not drinking puerh back in the day when the material was of much better quality that you can generally acquire today but the processing methods were not always perfect.  I suppose there are also those that have never tried these old school puerhs and are new to it all but find something alternative in a rustic puerh.  This is the lure of these nostalgic puerhs.

Right away this puerh gets extra bonus points for “authentic rustic” when the unwrapped bing has a thread of plastic that is sometimes common in older factory puerh.  These strands usually come from falling off the tarp or bags used to transport tea leaves.  I also find a long black strand of hair also very very common in older puerh cakes - double bonus!  This stuff doesn’t faze me because some of the best aged tea I’ve tried had some of this… truly rustic.

The very distinct mesquite odour of the dry leaves comes on strong then a bunch of depth is revealed in the smokey overture.  Faint autumn leaf, creamy sweetness, cheery fruitiness, woodiness, slight humid storage basement note.  Very complex with strong and subtle notes presenting at once in the nose.

The first infusion has a surprisingly sweet onset a vibrant, tangy sweetness that has a tingling pungency on the tongue and feels surprisingly vibrant and fresh and mainly sweet with a subtle mesquite then a bit of pungent than a long vegetal sweet potato sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and soft.  The throat opens nicely and deeply.  There is a very long tangy cherry sweetness and almost a vegetal like sweetness minutes later.  Overall, this first infusion can be described as quite acrid, cooling and pungently sweet.  The Qi is strong in the chest almost immediately.

The second infusion has a sweet mesquite onset that reminds me of BBQ sauce in its thickness.  There is like a port wine like nuance to this puerh’s taste.  Like a deep, rich sweetness of grapes.  There are also other layers of sweetness like blackberry, sweet potato, even a vegetal sweetness.  The pungency is fuzzy and stimulating.  This puerh seems very vibrant but yet coated in some faint smoke and depth.  The smoke is faint not strong.  This puerh is very tasty and complex in its layers.  It has a deep in the throat reach and numbing cooling sensation in the mouth.  The Qi is very alerting

The third: A thick caramel sweetness comes fast then a slight mesquite then a pungency pushes a creamy sweet and almost fruity nuance deep into the throat.  The mouthfeeling is numbing and there is an overall feeling of vibrant and active pungency and out right numbing.  The puerh feels very pure, despite its questionable processing.  There is an uplifting, re-energizing overall feeling to this puerh.  The Qi is making the mind sharp and body restless.  The sweet aftertaste is very long and sometimes like port wine or sweet potato even Chinese date taste.  The storage of this puerh is really interesting and does well for something like this.  It feels dry stored- the leaves are still olive green but it has a suggestion of deeper humidity.  It works really well to bring out the polarities of depth and lightness of this puer.

4th comes off with a chalky, powdery sweet taste, there is nuances of caramel, potato, vegetal, date that is trapped in a blob of saliva in the mouth.  There is a under-reaching pungency in here that pushes out a long returning sweetness- some woodiness, port, slight oak, and mesquite. The smoke is throughout but is mild.  There is a richness to the taste here as well like a roasted coffee subtle bitterness that comes out on the breath.  It has a mineral taste to it as well almost like a Yancha (cliff tea).  The mouthfeeling is silky and chalky and sticky.  The Qi is vibrant and energizing.

The 5th infusion has a caramel apple date like onset.  It has a robust rich almost coffee like vibe to it.  The flavor really stays long in the mouth, throat, and breath.  There is nuances of chestnut, minerals, dates, woods, faint smoke throughout.  The smoke is not upfront just faint.  The sweetness is rich and long.  This puerh is really dazzling, vibrant, active, and rich in these first infusions.  The Qi is warming in my body and is not harsh.  I would say this is sufficiently aged for most to drink now and doesn’t necessarily need to be aged anymore to enjoy.  The Qi in the head is starting to feel floating and expansive.

The 6th infusion has a sweet, rich, almost nutty, roasted coffee like feeling.  There is some bitterness still in here but it is integrated into a roasted nutty bitter like nuts can be bitter.  The belly feels an intense warming sensation.  The mouthfeeling is almost sandy, oily, sticky feeling.  The taste really stays in the mouth, throat, and breath for a long time.  There is a chalky sweetness up front as well that has glimpses of melon high notes and pear skin still present.  The strength and length of taste is profound and surprising really.

7th starts with a incense woody subtle charcoal with a creamy sweet finish there is some mild pungency, woody, there is more of a woody creamy sweet thing going on now with much less pungency and more of a subtle creamy sweetness, woody incense charcoal and the mouthfeeling, throatfeeling and aftertaste is starting to wane a bit now.

The 8th has a mesquite sweetness with incense the sweetness is a vegetal sweetness with a long creaminess that comes out in the aftertaste.  There is faint smoke throughout and a full sticky, almost dry, coating in the mouth.  There is a bit of rich nutty sweetness in the aftertaste.  The Qi is more relaxing in the mind now and heavy in the body.  The length and complexity of this puerh seems to drop off fast in typical factory style.

The ninth I leave in the cup for a while and come back to a cup that has a woody incense taste with a subtle creaminess.  There are suggestions of Chinese date in the returning sweetness.  The taste is still sunny but not as full or complex and much more incense, woody, charcoal now.  It can’t seem to get deep into the throat so I’m going to push it with a 20 second stepping now…

The 10th oops I flashed steeped it again out of habbit… hahahha.. this one has a more rich nuttiness to it also a sweeter mesquite tastes.  Lots of woodiness comes out of here in the end.

11th is at 30 seconds and pushes out a thicker creamier sweeter broth- the sweetness dominates throughout here. Some incense and woody base.  Creamy almost yeast-bread sweet aftertaste.  The pungency was also pushed out more giving this one a fuller and longer sweetness now.

12th is at 45 seconds and pushes a pungent sweetness out nicely again.  There is lots of creamy sweetness pushed out and a deep pungency.  This puerh needs quite a bit of nudging earlier on than most but the result is really nice as not much bitterness comes out.  There is a distinct incense base taste.  The Qi gives up quite early too and now is a bit stuffy in the chest and floaty in the head.  A long creamy sweetness can be found here.

The 13th I push longer… and it gives back nice camphor woody pungent and sweet notes with a sticky mouthfeeling and pungency that tries to go into the mid throat.  Creamy bread like sweet finish. 

I long steep the 14th and out comes a sweet and woody with a resounding pungency of cool.  This infusion starts to get a touch dry.  The smoke is faint here.

I put this one into an overnight steeping…

I like this tea and it’s a factory production to a fault.  Very tasty early on with a very active stimulation in the mouth but poor stamina typical of factory puerh.  I think it will age into a very date tasting and camphor tasting puerh. Better than Menghai factory stuff of the same age.  Very nice stuff.

I’m happy to have one and if I hadn’t just ordered a bunch of Double Lion I might have even bought another.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID 19) Pandemic & Puerh Consumer Confidence

*I wrote the rough draft of this last week before the world was flipped upside down.  Some of this is a lot more obvious now that a week has passed…

There was a wave of initial posts debunking the idea of the Coronavirus being spread in tea orders.  Common logic further supported by scientific probabilities make this one a real long shot.  However there are many deeper topics of discussion about how the Novel Coronavirus has already and may continue to impact the world of puerh…

The shipping delays must have impacted business.  This was the first and most obvious impact of the outbreak.  The Western vendors that seemed hardest hit, from what I can tell, are white2tea and Tea Urchin.  Famous tea wearhousing area Guangzhou has been the second hardest hit province with of course Wuhan being the first.  White2tea’s warehouse is in Guangzhou, the only of the Western puerh vendors to be located there.  The authorities prohibited white2tea to ship for weeks and this must have hit Paul’s bottom line.  Tea Urchin also put up a warning that their packages are shipping out much slower.  Other vendors like Yunnan Sourcing in Kunming seemed much less affected at this time.

There is also the problem of brand association to the Coronavirus.  There have been hundreds of articles posted about the effect this is having on Corona Beer although the results don’t seem to be as clear as the early articles suggest.  In a broader sense all things “Chinese” could be effected this includes Chinese tea such as puerh.  The effect is unconscious as people illogically attach a perceived threat to the pictures they first saw of Wuhan.  This could slightly impact sales but is unlikely to cause much damage.

Then there is the damage that could be caused by a more direct association of a specific brand to the Coronavirus.  This is maybe the threat that white2tea was under especially during the shipping ban.  They ran the risk of being labeled “the Coronavirus puerh brand” if the brand starts to be associated with completely unrelated negativity.  Paul did something super interesting and just basically pulled the plug on all his social media for weeks on end during the peak crisis and shipping delay.  From a business and marketing perspective this seemed like the right thing to do to avoid continuous chatter and association to the Coronavirus.  It also goes to show that social media isn’t just fun connections to the customer.  For Paul, its mainly simply marketing otherwise he would have continued the chatter.  No question Paul was fielding lots of questions in private messages and emails out of public view.  I think puerh drinkers are too smart for these negative associations and I hope they will come out strong to support white2tea in its spring release.

****Looking back now with consumer confidence quite low this week, I wonder if Paul regrets not aggressively marketing at that time.  He might have sat idle during an opportune calm before the storm?***

The Novel Coronavirus is starting to effect markets.  It wouldn’t surprise me this year that the pressure the virus outbreak is putting on markets might actually result in lower prices for 2020 maocha.  This would be the first time since the puerh bubble popped and I think it might happen.  If the season produces a good product some Western vendors might take advantage of the lower maocha prices and stock up if they have the funds to ride things out and the stomach to dive head first into the risk.

The other thing is that consumer confidence might be impacted and sales of puerh might suffer.  Puerh is a luxury.  No one needs puerh to live and luxuries are the first thing to suffer as consumer confidence wanes.  Alternatively, brands like Dayi might go up in value as they may be used as a hedge as a commenter mentioned a few years ago.

I’ve been through this sort of thing before during the Great Recession (Dec 2007-June 2009).  The one thing that really annoys me when people talk about the puerh bubble bursting is that they never put it in the wider context of what was going on at the time, which was the biggest recession of our generation.  Yeah, of course you should have bought up a bunch puerh at that time but consumer confidence was the lowest in decades.  Back in 2008, 2009, 2010 I pretty much stopped buying tongs of puerh and drank up some aged and semi aged puerh.  If you look back on my blog I was drinking lots of Korean green tea and Balhyocha and even Darjeeling.  Anyways, my point is that I was buying way, way less tea and spending way way less money on tea during this time.  I was buying more drink now tea and less tea that required aging (although the young kids these day will drink that stuff young now).

Its feels like it’s all happening again… I don’t know if the bubble will burst but definitely things are slowing.  Personally, it’s starting to financially affect our family as we are bringing in 15% less the two weeks before last.  Last week is 25% down and well this week aren’t looking good either.  It’s enough that I didn’t go through with a puerh purchase that I was planning… and at a time when I’ve already said that I probably have enough puerh to last me a long long time… this might be the straw that broke the puerh buyers back… hahha…

If it’s happening to me, it’s probably happening to others too…

***There is nothing like a little consumer confidence issue to get our beloved puerh vendors back on their A game.  Two vendors came out fast over the last few days.  It seems like our favorite Zen monk, David and always awesomely pleasant, Kathy, from the Essence of Tea got things going with a puerh cake give away.  Paul of white2tea did an amazing job at putting together a much more user friendlyand practical site.  We got to support these people and the other vendors too if we feel we can…

There is lots to think about… like the fact that there are many people who will lose their lives from this… this makes the whole topic seem pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things I suppose.

I going back to the tea table and drinking me some good puerh…

Stay well.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

2011 Yang Qing Hao Guyun Bulang: Fail!

I just received my sampler of bottom to less popular mid-range Yang Qing Hao puerh from Liquid Proust Teas.  I wanted to include this 2011Yang Qing Hao Guyun Bulang ($225.00 for 500g cake or $0.45/g) as a part of the Bulang sampling I have been doing here as of late…

Very very tight compressed dry leaves smell of familiar Yang storage smells and some mild creamy sweetness and a vegetal like foresty odour.  There almost looks like there are some purplish leaves blended into the mix as you can see from the photo.  The purple leaves immediately remind me of the 2012 Yang Qing Hao Ye Gu…

The first infusion has a creamy milky sweet onset with a flat milk almost bitterness throughout.  There is a muted sweetness and a slight tingling chalky mouthfeeling especially on the tongue.  There is a mild creamy almost powdery chalky sweetness on the breath that has some very vague suggestions of fruits.  The mouthfeeling is interestingly thin but tingling chalky.  There is a rolling moca like chocolate milk finish off this one that is really delicious.

The second infusion has a milky sweet foresty onset that slowly crests into something sweeter.  Simple tastes.  There is a clear purity to the taste not muddled.  The creamy sweet milky note is long and deep and very satisfying.  The mouthfeel is thin but chalky and tingling. The throat carries a deep and very faint pungency.

Third steep… pot clogged about 1/3 way through the pour and the tea sat in there for a good minute… this will be a stronger one… yes… quite strong.. there is a coffee ground onset bitter and roasted like nutty taste with a deep medicinal Traditional Chinese Medicine bitterness.  There is also some sweetness nutty sweetness and creamy bitter milk sweetness.  A peaty musky depth to it.  The mouthfeeling is tart on the tongue.  The mouthfeeling isn’t that thick nor is the throat feeling that stimulating.  There is a faint deep reach which gives this tea something.  There is a lingering returning sweetness in the breath- a milky flat sweetness. 

The fourth infusion has a coffee mild bitter nutty almost but not really toffee like onset with a long milky sweet note that fades out into the aftertaste.  Milky smooth sweet with a coffee, nutty bitter with some faint TCM nuances.  The taste has a certain simple shallowness to it.  The Qi is really subtle and not very Bulang like at all.  It has a more typically Gushu like relaxing thing going on.  Almost like a gentle rocking soothing feeling.  I can feel my face puffy.  I feel relaxed and happy.  The Qi is mild and subtle.

The fifth infusion has a flat sweet blank faint sweetness that transitions to a creamy milky sweetness.  There is a storage taste that is pretty strong and a faint buttery taste.  The tastes are very mild here.  The forest base is the strongest but it feels more like a background taste.  There is a faint bitterness in this one as well.  The mouthfeel is thin and kind of mossy.  The throat feel is faint and weak but reasonably deep.  This one reminds me a lot of 2012 Yang Qing Hao Yegu like budget Yegu but the divide between the two is vast.

The sixth infusion has a dirt like taste with storage onset that slides into a more typical but very muted bitter sweet creamy Bulang suggestion.  The mouthfeel is chalky and mossy but fuller here.  It ends in a foresty storage tastes with a faint thread of the bitter sweet.  This puerh is really neither bitter nor sweet but more medicinal forest.   A mild relaxing Qi.  Can feel it just a touch in the chest.  This puerh is filled with mild and simple things.

The seventh has a rich nutty foresty dirt like onset with a longer bitter coffee grounds almost nut like not that creamy sweetness. There is a forest and dirt like edge with a mild mossy mouthcoating with faint, almost non-throat feeling.  The Qi is relaxing and tranquil.  Not to much going on with this one.

The eighth infusion has a foresty almost dirt and storage taste with a touch of bitter herbal medicine nuance.  There is a subtle creamy bitter sweetness but it is faint.  The taste is shallow and simple.

The ninth infusion is very soft muted barely sweet barely bitter barely medicinal and forest tasting.  The Storage taste is probably the strongest taste here.  The next infusion I will push harder…

The 10th infusion I put to a minute long infusion and it pushes out some coffee ground tastes, some bitter milk tastes even some low lying pungency.  There is an overarching forest taste as well as coffee bitter.  The Qi is mild and relaxing almost sleepy.

The 11th infusion I do a few minutes long infusion a longer one and get a bitter coffee grounds bitter almost nutty flat dirt bitter.   There is a mild pungency but with a thin mouthfeeling and absence of throat feeling- this taste doesn’t do that much.  There are some vague suggestions so milky sweet…

The 12th infusion is very long infused and pushes out much of the same…. Something kind of funny happens here… I notice a faint and unusual euphoria lingering in my mind… I kind of feel a bit lazy but also high in a not that obvious sense… The Qi is sneaky but it’s most definitely doing something…

My guess is that Yang was trying to press a unique possibly a wild like forest production much like his 2012 Yang Qing Hao Ye Gu.  But this one kind of failed, I think.  The purple leaf material is very nice much like the 2012 Ye Gu.  I have no question that this is gushu, it just doesn’t do much.  Overall, its uniqueness is accomplished as I would never guess to be Bulang and I would say it is almost more like a medicinal tasting Bulang.  It has a typical gushu like Qi sensation that seems foreign compared to a usually powerful Bulang Qi.  I can kind of see where this tea was going but I just am not a fan and don’t think that this one will age into anything very exciting either.  Just like I said before all vendors press both very good puerh and not as good puerh…. Everyone knows that Yang presses some of the best but sometimes nature dictates that things just don’t turn out as planned.  Even Yang probably knows this by now- you can’t win em all.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

2005 Nan Qiao Double Lion Bulang: Classic Bulang

James and Denny’s review was what spurred this whole search for Bulang mission back into motion.  Really, it was Denny’s reaction (this is really what sells teas) which suggested to me that this was a rather strong one with a bit of smoke.…

Dry leaves smell of mainly smoke but some plum fruits and wood odours as well.

First infusion has a subtle smokey, woody, plummy taste in a watery base.  There is some coolness with a nice long sweet plum aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is soft and slightly tingling.  This first infusion is surprisingly sweet and fruity tasting with no bitter.

The second starts with a mild coco sweet fruity faint bitterness which expands in the mouth.  The nice coolness pushes a very sweet plum and creamy sweet long aftertaste. There is a faint lingering plumb mixed with ghostly smoke.  The mind feels very calm but the heart begins to pound.  The mouthfeeling has a thicker fullness to it.  Roasted nut nuance can be tasted in there as well.  This is a really nice Bulang.

The third infusion has a smokey sweet fruity slight bitter start.  These tastes are pretty vibrant and alive and kind of converge into the slight bitter note. Then comes a nice long cool pungent with a sweet plum returning sweetness with a creamy sweet underbelly.  The mouthfeeling is full, a thick chalky coating.  The smoke more comes out in the end in the aftertaste.  The throat has a mild deeper opening feeling.

The fourth infusion has a smokier onset with a balance of plum sweetness and slight bitter.  The smoke recedes then a cool menthol like smoke slides into it and out comes a sweet plumb, woody, and slightly creamy sweet taste. The mouthfeel is really thick and chalky and full. The throat opens mildly but deeply.  The Qi is peaceful but strong and makes the chest beat in a nice but obvious rhythm.  A warm surge of energy engulfs me.

The fifth infusion has a nice woody, slight muted smoky and plum onset the bitterness is mild.  The tastes are mainly over a creamy sweet base- the cool pungency accentuates the creamy sweetness.   The mouthfeel continues to be very full chalky thickness which starts to reach down into the throat now.  The aftertaste is long and sweet with faint smoky nuance.  The Qi is very focusing, almost peaceful but very powerful, warming the body and flushing the face mildly.  The heart is mildly and rhythmically stimulated and the overall effect is beautiful.

The sixth infusion starts with a creamy plum sweetness with faint smoke and faint bitterness underneath.  The mouthcoating is thick and the taste is sweet and creamy with a lingering coolness and long creamy sweetness.  This is yummy puerh.  The Qi is focusing now and keeps the heart on beat.  A nice focused energy.

The seventh infusion starts with a sweet wood, sweet creamy and smokey balance, there is a faint bitterness that linger, a cool menthol comes in and leaves a long creamy sweet aftertaste.  The mouthcoat is full and chalky and a faint touch gripping.  Nice Qi.

The eighth infusion is a full creamy sweet profile much like the last.  There is a touch of smoke and woody along with sweet creamy almost plum.  There is some cooling then a long creamy sweetness and slight coco nuance with faint smoke.

9th is more coco creamy sweetness with just a faint touch of smoke to add a bit of interesting to it.  The infusions are becoming sweeter coco as we go here with the bitter dropped off.  A nice cooling with coco finish.

10th infusion is much more of the same.  The smoke is still faint but compounds as you drink infusions closer together and recede with a bit of space between infusions.  This is standard stuff with the smoke.  Nice relaxing Qi sensation.

The 11th is the same a bit more wood, a touch of astringency, slightly more bitter and smoke.  Coolness in throat with a sweet coco, and now a woodier finish.  Nice peaceful warming Qi.

The 12th is really nice a sweet bread like coco taste through and through. Nice coolness then finishes sweet creamy and long. Faint, very faint smoke.

The 13th is a bit more woody, astringent, bitter but mainly just sweet.  The taste of most Bulang is rarely complex this late in the game- neither is this one but I usually just push through.  Nice relaxing feeling now.

The 14th is a touch fruity and watery sweet.  The mouthfeeling is lessening here as is the bitter.  What’s left is a very sweet easy drinking thing.

The 15th is more woody and astringent but still quite sweet coco and some faint creamy sweetness.

This is an excellent classic tasting Bulang!  The drier Malaysian storage is right on.  I just can’t imagine a better storage on this Bulang.  It’s humid enough to tame its smoke and bitter but yet dry enough to highlight the sweetness that this Bulang has a lot of.  This has it all… but it also isn’t cheap at $225.00 for 357g cake or $0.63/g…. Darn…. I actually have no clue about how to apprise something like this.  A classic Bulang with a modern price…. I think it’s at least fair for something of this caliber for something that is likely the gold standard for at least judging Nan Qiao factory if not mid 2000s factory Bulang.  Although I wouldn’t say that this is a deal at this price it does have many positives such as its perfect and ideal storage and true classic feeling.  It wouldn’t surprise me if a cake like this doubles in price in the next few years due to this really authentic Bulang essence that this cake presents.  I feel like a very classic tasting factory Bulang like this will become a bit famous years down the road.  I like.

To compare to the 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang King. Pictured Left is the 2005 and right the 2004 and in the middle this 2005 Long Yuan Hao Bulang.  The 2004 Bulang king is much more of an herbaceous type of Bulang and doesn’t exhibit the classic Bulang taste profile as much, at least not yet in its aging. The 2005 Long Yuan is nicely Kunming dry stored and is much more fruity and sweet and is more obviously plantation material compared to the others but it has the right storage for what it has but really a different Bulang.  The 2004 Nan Qiao has much more intense bitterness as well as much more intense Qi than the 2005 Nan Qiao.  Overall the 2004 is in many ways more powerful than this 2005 which surprised me (I wonder what Denny's reaction to the 2004 would be).  The 2004’s weakness is that it lacks a more substantial creamy sweetness or that much sweetness at all.  However, the 2004 is more unique and complex in its tastes.  From what I’ve read, it also seems like a more typical, but perhaps best example of, house Bulang that Nan Qiao tends to produce (which seems to be more herby and medicinal with less sweetness).  This is all I can gather from what I read not personal experience.  The storage on the 2004 also tells some of the story- it’s really pretty dry stored for Bulang.  However, a more floral sweet type of Bulang would probably be better suited for this type of drier storage such as the 2005 Long Yuan Hao which really benefited from its Kunming storage.

I picked up a handful of cakes of this 2005 Nan Qiao Double L:ion Bulang which is close to prefect classic Bulang for me, its weakest point is actually that it could be a touch more powerful…. Can’t have it all…

Rating 8.6


Saturday, February 29, 2020

2000 Hai Lang Hao Bulang “Mushroom Tuo”: Nice Aged Kunming Dry

Kunming dry stored for whole life- check.

Super crazy tight compression- check.

BuLang Bulang-E-ness- check.

While this one checks a lot of boxes for me.  The description on Yunnan Sourcing’s site says that good ol’ Hai Lang picked this up in Menghai in 2000.  It currently goes for $102.00 for 250gmushroom or $0.41/g a price determined by Hai Lang Hao and passed on to us by Yunnan Sourcing.  Yunnan Sourcing has many options for Bulang puerh.  This one seemed to be the most interesting to me so I picked up a sample…

Dry leaves smell of classic smokey barely sweet fruit odour.

First has a nice mellow very faint smoke with mainly sweet tasting thin layer of dried pear, and a base of wood.  The mouthfeel is slightly sticky and sandy with the sensation more on the tongue than in the throat.

The second has a nice sweet approach with a very faint mild woody smokiness left. The taste is mainly this monotone sweetness that is almost a woody, grassy, and non-distinct almost not-really there dried pear taste.  There is faint smoke on the breath.

The third gains a bit of strength as a slight bitterness where a sweet grassy woodiness comes out.  The sweet fruitiness is overtaken by bitter and woody grass here.  There is a nice powdery dry storage nuance in here now.  There is a deep underlying menthol that start to generate over a flat sandy stimulating tongue feeling and less active throat.  A very faint candy breath can be found.

The fourth develops a rich nutty sweet onset that is mainly sweet but in a nutty and rich woody type of way.  There is a deep underlying pungency which pushes an almost cherry like sweetness out in the breath.  The mouthfeel is this almost sandy full tongue sensation that is not overpowering but still significant.  The aftertaste turns into a longer running sweetness.  The smokiness is pretty much non-existent now.

The fifth has a thick mushroom almost pecan onset with grassy woodiness underneath.  The overall taste is sweet but it’s hard to describe it almost like a dried/ dehydrated pear sweetness that melds with the mushroom, nutty, woody and grassiness.  There is a slight richness to the taste.  The mild building pungency is apparent in the aftertaste that pushes out a mild candy sweetness.  The smokiness is pretty mild and more in the aftertaste.

The sixth infusion has a mild bitterness with woody and mushroom and it turns into a nice sweetness.  The sweetness is almost a nutty rich sweetness like how a nut butter is sweet.  The mouthfeeling is full and kind of a dry tight mild coating especially on the tongue.  The throat is more opening at the top and mid level.  There is an extension of the sweetness in the aftertaste as a powdery almost cherry like and very faint candy lingering on the breath.  The overall taste is rich, warming, clean, woody and mushroom almost but not really dried pear.  The Qi is mildly relaxing.

The seventh infusion has a woody rich menthol onset with a strong nuttiness in there as well.  There is barely any bitterness here more of a grassy woody menthol type with a strong clear almost plum richer sweetness. There is some candy on the breath and a good powdery-ness in there as well. 

The eighth infusion has a very woody lumber rich taste to it.  There is a honey almost smoked maple syrup edge to it.  The mouthfeel is slightly sandy and dry on the tongue but feels somewhat full. There isn’t really a bitterness now its more of a drier, sharper finish.  This infusion has a nice mild powdery cherry nuance. The Qi is a moderate harmonious Qi not a typical strong Bulang Qi sensation. 

The ninth has a sandalwood taste with mushroom and sweetness to it.  The sweetness is hard to describe it taste so blended into the profile it feels like sweet wood.  The mouthfeel is slippery and thicker.  The menthol incense wood nuance is nice and echoes deep into the throat.  Dry menthol wood and mild sweetness.

The tenth has a sweet dense dry woody presentation.  The taste is almost a syrupy maple syrup taste intertwined with wood tastes.  The mouthfeel is a powdery, dry, sandiness on the tongue.  The Qi is super mild but really harmonious it is a touch alerting and a touch relaxing.  The tea feels really nice in the body, gentle but I can feel something relax my face.  It has a cozy aged warmth to it.  Smoke is gone now.  The fruity aftertaste is long on the breath.  There is nice cherry powdery fruity tastes here.

The 11th infusion has woody sweetness, at times it almost seems like dry pear there is this low reaching pungency to the taste which pushes out a faint sweetness on the breath.  Overall this puerh feels somewhat dense, full and complete but harmonious in the body and mind. 

The 12th infusion has a strong woody with faint smokey nuance.  The taste is full and tastes of woody notes and chestnuts.  The Qi makes me feel good.  Relaxed and content. 

The 13th infusion has a pine wood taste to it with a pungent sweetness that emerges in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is really stable throughout all the infusions it remains full and a sticky powdery sandy on the tongue.

The 14th has a fruity mainly woody mushroom onset.  Still full mouthfeeling with a low rising pungency and a bit of sweetness under wood mushroom to finish.  There is a flat woodiness throughout now. 

The 15th infusion has a pine woody sweetness the taste is really dense and feels full on the mouthcoating.  This is a nice harmonious jincha.  The low lying pungency is nice and pushes some sweetness out of the woodiness.  There is a nice peachy sweetness pushed out somehow.

I put this one into overnight steeping as I run out of time in my day…

This one tastes like a bit of a sweeter, lighter Bulang with a mild suggestion of a more bitter and sweet with distant smokey classic Bulang nuance.  This is partly because the bitterness and smoke have aged out a bit and the dry storage and compression is favorable for the sweetness.  This Bulang has a really mellow Qi sensation even for a two decade aged Bulang.  The Qi is not typical of my experience of Bulang.  Either way it works nicely..  for a nice easy drinking dry aged puerh.

In some ways this mushroom reminds me of a bit of the Bada puerh producing region with a mild sweet profile and nice mellow Qi.  I don’t know that I’ve ever tried an aged Bulang that tasted this mild and smooth.  There is something satisfying about this.  On the plus side the dry storage tastes of candy and sweet flavours are nice to behold in something like this due to its nice dry storage.  The storage of this mushroom is ideal Kunming dry storage.  Nicely tight compressed.  I think the storage and compression work well for a lighter and sweeter Bulang like this.  I think this is fair price for what you get considering this is 20 years aged nicely dry Kunming stored puerh.  For me it’s an easy drinker Bulang- just not exactly what I’m looking for.  Anyone interested in clean dry storage on a truly aged Bulang with a smooth mild presentation should give it a try.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

2004 Nan Qiao Bulang King: Strong Qi!

This ($110.00 for 357g cake or $0.31/g) is a drier Taiwanese stored Bulang option sourced by Teas We Like from Nan Qiao’s inaugural year.  Nan Qiao factory is most famous for its Bulang and is also famous for using lots of cleaner and organic certified material.  If you look around, a lot of vendors actually carry puerh from Nan Qiao Factory.  This should be some of the top of the brand, literally the King (Chawang) of Bulang…

The very tight machine pressed dry leaves smell of a very peat mossy type of smell with a very faint incense almost smokiness.

First infusion is a slightly fishy seaweed and incense with a peat fresh wood-chips-like taste.  The taste is kind of unique and finishes with a faint pungent and sour wood finish.  The mouthfeel is tight and the throat feel hasn’t really been activated yet- just mild sensations in the top throat.  There is not really much bitter here surprisingly no smoke.  The first infusion tells me that this was really nicely processed for a Bulang.  I like the tight compression on this one too.

The second infusion has a richer incense almost bitter coco suggestion with a slight pondy fishy nuance in the back ground.  There is a distinct salty taste to this puerh throughout.  There is a very faint pungency on the breath then suppressed coco tastes in the aftertaste along with wood chips and faint pond/ marshland.  A subtle bread-like sweetness is hard to grasp at here.  The Qi starts to build in the mind and I can feel the warmth of this puerh start to generate internally.  This will be strong…

The third infusion starts with a woody incense taste with the fishy pond nuance becoming less here.  There is a long salty base taste then a sour wood taste.  There is a soft pungency that pushes wood chips, faint coco, almost a hard to grasp milky coco taste, wood chips, and incense.  There is a lingering bread like sweetness like raison bread. There is a kind of soft flat bitterness that kind of comes much later after swallowing.  The mouthfeel is nicely full and tight, the throat has a upper-mid level opening.  Saliva is kind of trapped at the top of the throat extending these unusual tastes for quite some time.  The Qi is pretty strong here and makes the head and body wobble and heat is generated at the core.  I can feel my chest start to pound loudly.

The fourth infusion has a bitter incense woody onset the pond/ marshland is almost gone and the initial taste is mild bitter wood chips, incense and coco bitterness.  The full tight mouthfeel tugs at the throat and fills the mouth.  The Qi is very very strong and I am flushed in the face, I feel almost dizzy, like I could faint if I exert myself.  The heart pounds.  This is very strong Qi.  The aftertaste has a bread like sweetness to it that emerges under the bitter.  This infusion is still quite salty underneath.

The fifth infusion starts with incense, slight pond, wood chips, and moderate bitter.  It turns slightly sour and salty then a faint but building pungent coolness.  The aftertaste is bitterer than the initial taste and there is a mix of pond, wood, incense, faint coco and bread sweetness.  There is a lingering metallic taste in the aftertaste as well.  The Qi is big, staggeringly large in the mind.

The sixth infusion starts with a strong bitter taste with wood and coco and incense.  The pondy fishiness is gone.  The aftertaste come after an undulating coolness hits and expands.  The result is long bread and coco bitter sweetnesses.  This infusion hits the spot.  Big Qi along with bitterness slows me down considerably and I consider removing leaf from the pot…

The seventh infusion… Ok I didn’t remove leaf (I will not admit defeat quite yet) just took a 40 min rest… the first has an almost raison and faint coco onset that is balanced bitter and sweet.  The taste is a flat coco with incense, saltiness, woodiness much more background.  The taste here is nice with a lingering coolness and incense and bread sweet type of finish.  The mouth feeling is now chalkier.  The aftertaste is also mineral here.

The eighth infusion starts a nice smooth almost milky sweet onset with bitter less here and incense in there too.  This infusion has a classic Bulang onset.  It stretches into a mineral milky flat bitter.  A pungent coolness then sweet bread. Not much coco here and much less bitterness.  The bitterness is receding.  The Qi races the chest, pounds it hard.  This one really tastes like classic Bulang.

The ninth has a slight creamy milky flat sweet and subtle pond/ marshland.  There are faint suggestions of coco and a nice long creamy sweetness.  The coolness is less and pushes a stronger sweetness out of the flat milk tastes.  There is a faint bit of mineral and even less saltiness now.  Overall this infusion is milky sweet with touches of mild bitter and coco.  The mouthfeeling becomes more chalky and full.  The throat feel is not too deep with this one but it mainly gets stimulated with the intense bitter early in the session.

The tenth is milky sweet initially with a mild woody flat bitter and a mineral taste as well as incense coming out mid profile.  The mouthfeel is a sticky chalky now and bitter-sweet coco comes after a mild coolness.  The qi is still in the chest- like a good Bulang should.  It has less intensity and almost a relaxing effect now.

The 11th is bitter-sweetness, milky, almost incense and herbaceous tastes.  There is some sour and even some mineral later into the session.  The aftertaste is becoming less.  Still some woods and incense and milk sweetness.  This infusion was more herb tasting.

The 12th onset is more herbaceous onset with incense and flat milk sweetness.  There is a lessening bitterness as well as full mouthfeeling.  Qi is less and extends into a relaxed feeling with some chest heart palpitations.

The 13th is an herbaceous incense woodyiness initially with more a faint coco and milk finish.  The profile has leveled out here and it’s pretty easy straight forward drinking.

The 14th is much more of the same herbaceous, incense, this more has a bit more milky coco swetnesss, faint cooling, woody, pretty tasty stuff with a relaxing feeling now.  These infusions get less bitter as they go, less complex, less sweet.  But still delicious with more of a relaxing Qi after all that stimulation.

I throw in the towel early with this one and put it into overnight steepings which seem to pull out a pretty bitter herby soup.

Overall a nice Bulang.  To me a classic Bulang should have a full bitter peak early in the session with a nice coco taste and milky/creamy sweet balance, there should be earth shattering Qi that must make the heart race, the mouthfeel should be full and stimulating, and there should be some faint smoke in there to indicate the more rudimentary production.  Then after the first handful of steeps the bitter should give way to milky flat sweetness and woodiness.  These are the qualities I look for in a quality classic Bulang.  This 2004 Nan Qiao Chawang Bulang mainly has the earth shattering Qi … but man is it every satisfyingly strong and clear!

This 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang starts a bit unique with some interesting pond tastes that I don’t usually see in Bulang.  I don’t think this is storage taste although that flavor usually indicates off storage- I think it is a part of the profile and where this tea is in the aging.  Plus there is no smoke.  These are not necessarily bad things, they are just things… unique and complex things actually.

This Bulang has a very intense Qi which to me is everything in a Bulang.  It does this part very very well. Its bitterness is strong and creamy/milky sweetness is low-moderate.  It is a very nicely processed, very clean drier Taiwanese storage, with a pure clean feeling in the body.  There is actually a lot of interesting notes in this Bulang which give it a different type of herby, pondy, mineral, and medicial wood-like complexity.  They are just not notes I really like nor are they notes that I am looking for in a Bulang.

I don’t think I will be purchasing another but it is nice to have a good example of a dry stored herbaceous, woody, medicinal Bulang.  From what I have read, most Nan Qiao seem to be low on the sweetness and high on the herbal, woody, medicinal tastes.  I think the price is about right for something like this.  The interesting thing about this Bulang is that it is so powerful and clean and kind of unusual that I caught myself going back for a few more sessions over the last few weeks when I was looking for a power boost and/or for some unusual puerh tastes.

Rating 6.8.