Saturday, November 17, 2018
There are a few cakes of puerh out there that I have had my eye on over the last few years which I am considering for purchase over Black Friday. I promised myself after buying the tong of Qizhong and cake of Qixiang in June that, if I don’t purchase any puerh until Black Friday, I will buy some higher priced stuff when this year’s sale comes around. Turns out it only took two months to break that promise with a small order from Tea Encounter (here and here). I have not made a puerh purchase since this time. So, if the sales are big enough, I hope to buy some nicer sample cakes. But, from which vendor???? I have my eye on a few. Where I spend my money depends on how cleaver their marketing is and how deep their sales are.
Last year I didn’t pay close attention to the run up to Black Friday/ Cyber Monday and failed to notice the price increases made in the months before the sale. It turns out I ended up purchasing only a few of those cakes in a small Yunnan Sourcing order (here and here) last winter. This year, I have been paying closer attention to the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is interesting isn’t it?
Yunnan Sourcing decided to get ahead of everyone and do a Pre-Black Friday Sale from Nov 15-20th (on now!) with 10% off everything and a bunch of free bonus gifts. That is a pretty good sale. But honestly, will it be better than the Black Friday sale next week? I think it is more of a hype marketing thing. I like it. Last year Yunnan Sourcing Black Friday sale was 13-20% off. I wonder if he will push it beyond the 13% off? That would be bold don’t you think?
White2tea is doing their brilliant social media teasers of a bunch of new cakes they will drop next week in what they are describing as “Black Friday Week”. This includes these rad slow motion videos of a limited release of possibly autumn sheng puerh (my guess?) they are calling Tunji. I like it. They offered a decent sale on Halloween a few weeks ago that featured 2 free samples and Orders of $150 or more receive $10 off, Orders of $250 or more receive $20 off, Orders of $500 or more receive $50 off. Decent. Last year white2tea really just offered free shipping and a free brick on orders over $500 on Black Friday. I wonder if they will just use the event to hype new products or will they offer more substantial discounts?
All other vendors seem tight lipped about this year’s Black Friday deals.
What do you think? Are you looking to buy?
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
This sample was gifted to me by Tiago of Tea Encounter, currently it has not been offered on the site…
Dry leaves are tightly pressed of fresh juicy fruits, a creamy fresh odour, pencil shavings with grape and blueberry odours
Vacuous strawberry, thin slight rubbery mouthfeel that gets very full quickly, a thin veil of tight sticky astringency, slow subtle expanding strawberry aftertaste, gentle, subtle, soft tingles, big grape tastes, slight sour if pushed, almost bread tasting edges, muscatel delight, heavy-headed Qi, muscles twitch, spacey.
Had a nice little session with this one today. Haven’t consumed too much of the purple leaf Yibang in the past but my experience with this one suggests it’s a nice example.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Have you ever noticed that a lot of Western puerh vendors list their semi aged puerh finds in September/ October or late Winter/Early Spring?
This is something I have picked up on lately from mere observation. It makes sense for a few reasons.
During the Spring and, to a lesser extent, the Autumn puerh picking seasons our trusty vendors are probably too busy at work pressing their own branded materials to spend time trying to track down other products. It’s in the off seasons that they might have extra time to attempt to find some semi aged treasures.
By the time late Winter/ very Early Spring comes around, puerh buyers have gotten quite board viewing the same years products for the last many long winter months and are eager for some new puerh to look at. Basically, we get the springtime itch. I think, it’s only natural to crave tea in the spring time- this is just a natural harmonious craving here. The problem is that the new springtime puerh won’t be ready for release until Summer. And they wouldn’t want the release of any semi-aged cakes to interfere with their bread & butter. So, it is smart, from a vendor’s perspective, to release what semiaged finds they have dug up over the slower winter months in the early spring.
The second release season for semi aged puerh seems to be in the Autumn in Sept/October. After we buyers have scooped up all the newly pressed vendor puerh that we have been waiting for all year and are feeling just about finished with our puerh buying, out drops a few interesting semi aged things! This conveniently occurs in the weeks before Black Friday and months before any autumnal pressings are usually released.
Of course there are other vendors, Yunnan Sourcing, who pretty much just release them randomly throughout the year. There is a giant selection found there at any time of the year which is pretty sweet.
Have you noticed these tends on releasing semi-aged puerh or is it just me?
I think these trends might change in the future as vendors like white2tea and the Essence of Tea make available their own delisted brand products at their liking.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
In an attempt at replenishing my dwindling stash of puerh, I really appreciated seeing the drinking reports that James drafted at TeaDB. With that being said, I really am happy with my older style of tea review that I used for many many years here on MattCha’s Blog. The reviews really focused on simply reviewing the tea itself- the isolated and intimate experience with it, without comparisons, opinions, and value overshadowing the tea experience.
However enjoyable those old reviews are, I realized that this style of review is not very good at helping my readers both understand the tea, make judgments of its value, and give them any idea if it’s something they would want to purchase. Many years ago we knew a lot less about puerh than we know now and I thought it would be pretty foolish of me, at that time, to make sweeping authoritative statements about the tea I was drinking. If you look back at other bloggers old reviews that are very opinionated, they sound quite silly now that we know a lot more about puerh. I essentially dogged that bullet.
I too have sometimes relied on the reviews of other bloggers to guide my puerh buying in the past and to some extent and more so over the last few years. It is impossible to sample all puerh so reading reviews, especially of someone who you feel enjoys a similar style of tea, is one way you can at least narrow things down. In my return to blogging, I promised myself that my reviews would give my readers something a bit more tangible. I personally found James’ drinking reports the most useful in analyzing a bunch of reviews without having to go through hundreds of single reviews. My first report was on the Zheng Si Long from Tea Encounter. This one is on some of the new spring pressings from the Essence of Tea and I hope to publish another I am working on soon.
The following report is based on all the complimentary samples I received in two separate orders from the Essence of Tea. They represent about 1/3- 1 /2 of their Spring selection of each year so it should give you a good idea of what’s on offer at the Essence of Tea.
2018 Spring Gua Feng Zhi (Sold Out)- not typical Gua Feng Zhi but interesting, nice noticeable depth added with a small amount of huang pian, lots of deeper pumpkin/ nutty/ woody/ bread taste paired with mild returning sweet and pungency, relaxing/ floating body mild-medium qi sensation, slight dry/ constricting throat with not too much stamina
2018 Spring “Piercing the Illusion” ($128.00 for a 400g cake or $0.32)- first wild tea/ puerh blend from Essence of Tea, tastes like it contains more wild tea than puerh tea, blended likely for qi sensation which has a fairly strong downer/ sleep qi sensation, mind slowing qi, has mild taste characteristics of wild tea fruitiness and minutes long aftertaste, as well as vacuous mouthfeeling, mild puerh tea taste in returning sweetness/ camphor and woodiness
2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu ($560.00 for 400g cake or $1.40/g)- composed of state forest material, very full satisfying astringency which holds flavors very nicely, nuanced sweet woody with a candy-like sweetness at the edges, depth of initial sweet tastes, full mouthfeel and deep throat feeling, penetrating deep, thought slowing Qi, favorite cake I’ve tired from Essence of Tea
2017 Spring Yiwu Gouyoulin (Sold Out)- nice syrupy bready sweetness, fruity-woody-menthol, mild but deep throat feeling and mouthfeeling, mild qi sensation, tastes are very nice, doesn’t compare to 2018 above.
2017 Spring Nancai Ancient- (Currently delisted probably in Malaysian warehouse , $80.00 for 400g cake $0.20/g when last listed) – creamy slowly unraveling sweet taste with top cherry notes, woody base, slight roughness, nice mouthfeeling astringency, not that much stamina, simple puerh tastes, mild head floating qi sensation. Strength is the mouthfeeling/ astringency but not overly complicated puerh.
2017 Spring Wulang Wild (Currently delisted probably in Malaysian warehouse)- sweet candy-fruity taste without bitterness, buttery cherry and melon notes, very soft flavours, cheerful Qi feeling, recommend as a nice intro to wild tea for those who enjoy Wu Liang puerh.
The whole bunch of these teas are very pure and very agreeable in the body as the Essence of Tea’s puerh exclusively are. Still haven't been able to seal the deal with a purchase of any of these young puerh though.
Friday, November 2, 2018
I have been cleaning up and attempting to better organize my tea storage lately and thought to give these 2 cakes and 1 brick a toss. One was a gift given to me from someone who was gifted puerh and doesn’t drink it. That cake tastes horrendously dry and rough and maybe even pesticide sprayed. The other two were purchased as sample cakes in a search for cheap everyday drinkers last year and I found them intolerable.
I am not a wasteful person nor do I think I am above the taste of cheap tea. However, these teas exhibit a taste and feel which suggests that something is not quite right about them. As a result, they will be returned to the earth. I have a few other puerh cakes that I can’t tolerate but that others have claimed to enjoy and so I intend to send some of these out to those people sometime.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
In a bout of bad luck last year, I both broke my dailyyixing teapot and had a sellout of a puerh at time of checkout!
Wilson (Adventure in Every Cup) turned my bad luck into good by remedying both of these issues! First he helped me find this beautiful old factoy 1 early 90s/late 80s yixing 200ml teapot (pictured in this post). Scondly, he sent me a bit of a treat, a sample of this 2008 Dayi Qui Xiang ($85.00 for 500g cake or $0.17/g) - the one that sold out on me at Tuo Cha Tea! If you are into 10 years factory puerh, its worth checking out Willson’s interesting selection of good drinkers.
There are many many reasons that I had reservations about purchasing this dry stored option at good ol’ Tuo Cha Tea. First, I had to get over the fact it is an autumnal produced puerh. This 2008 Day hardly resembles autumnal material to me and will challenge your assumptions about the nature of autumn puerh. The second reservation I had is, like most factory options, there is usually a lot of it out there with a multitude of storage options and availability online. This makes for a hard choice if you are looking to buy in volume. For me I almost want to try it in different storage conditions before deciding on purchase. Often, if there is a deal to be had, you have to act quick in the face of rising prices.
The crazy cheap option at Tuo Cha Tea that I just couldn’t complete was the least optimal storage for this cake, I think. I have bought some of Menghai factory stuff before that pretty much requires/ was really only meant for more humid storage and am currently dosing them with heavy humidity. Not all Menghai Factory (Daiyi) requires such humid storage but most of it isn’t meant for overly dry storage. This is one of the reasons I have not owned any Dayi in the past. This 2008 Dayi QuiXiang is so strong that it really does need many more years of humid storage before it is consumed. It’s more of a long term buy. I always have a hard time going down this road due to past advice to just avoid it and buy something that can be enjoyed in some way at time of purchase.
The previous samplings I’ve done with this tea, it kicked the crap out of me so this time I use less leaf! This infusion I’m using ½ to 1/3 less leaf as I usually do… Let’s see what this Maylaysian stored one is all about…
The dry leaves smell of faint rum, plumb and wheat grains and decaying flowers.
The first infusion has a slight sweet, slightly decomposing leaf taste to it with a long cooling mouthfeel and subtle spicy finish. There is a nice sticky mouthfeeling distant smoke.
The second infusion has a nice thick rose and wood powdery taste with a nice floral sweet backbone in a more typical Menghai factory feel. There is a long sweet finish a sticky mouthfeel. Retuning menthol. The qi is strong and alerting in the mind, I can feel the intensity behind my eyes and in my stomach.
The third gives me a mild itch sensation but flavors are strong, thick and deep. Layered woods, slight talc rose, sweet floral, plumb, and sweet potato layered sweetness. The mouthfeel is dense and the finish is camphorus, slight floral, sweet. The qi is quite intense, very strongly alerting, it still beats up the stomach pretty good.
The fourth infusion has a leafier, woody layering to it with sweetness and talc rose floral on the edges. The long menthol finish is nice. Sweetness pops slightly in the long cooling aftertaste.
The fifth infusion is of woods immediately with sweetness lingering in the distance that stretches its legs in the aftertaste along with menthol like tastes. In the aftertaste there are faint suggestions of tropical fruits under floral talc tastes and fruity nuances. The menthol finish is strong and the monthfeel is dense. The mid throat opens under the threat of abundant menthol. The Qi black logs in the head and mind and makes me feel like I am levitating a bit. Strong Qi but a bit too harsh on the stomach, needs to age at least another 5 years.
The sixth and seventh infusions are much the same rose talc, woods, sweetness, thick mouthfeeling, strong qi. Long menthol. This tea stays pretty consistent from infusion to infusion but is deep and enjoyable.
The seventh infusion has a nice mellow woody start, the action is in the aftertaste with long champor and tight aged florals.
The eighth and ninth infusions becomes very smooth, velvety wood and plum with leathery tastes. The aftertaste is forever cooling. Mouthfeel is not as strong but present.
The tenth infusion I add 10 seconds to the flash infusion which seems to bring a bit of a thicker mouthfeeling and more of a nuanced initial taste of woods and talc sweetnesses. The menthol becomes more pronounced but it is not harsher.
The eleventh infusion I add 15 seconds to flash and get a slightly more rough infusion with a mouthfeel that has a drier astringent edge with mainly woody character now with there is a noticeable smokiness now that has gone from being more background to more upfront with the increase dry astringency.
With the 200ml pot and rougher profile, I toss in the towel with this tea early.
This tea is flavorful, has a nice mouthfeel, aftertaste, and powerful qi. It is economical in the sense that you need about ½-1/3 less leaves to get a strong flavor and that it is a 500g cake ($0.17/g). It tastes to me like it may have both Menghai and Nannou blended in there. Reminds me in many ways of this older and cheaper but harsher 2005 CNNP Big Yellow Mark but this Menghai Factory option is much cleaner, no smokey mesquite, and has some charms of typical Dayi factory deliciousness.
I would love to see someone who thought they could get away with just using a gaiwan attempt to enjoy this strong tea. I’m happy I have this pot to curb the harshness, it seems to do a great job at reducing the difficult edges of the 2007 Yang Qing Hao Qi Zhong that I have been most frequently stepping in this pot as of late.
Really this 2008 Qui Xiang needs at least another 5 years to be enjoyed as aged pureh. I think people in the West are just beginning to understand how to age these stronger factory things out.
In the end, this has got to be one my favorite 2008 Menghai Factory puerh but I’m unsure about a purchase and almost would like to try a few more different storage options before settling on this cake. Thanks again Wilson for helping to lift me through my streak of mishappenings! So far, this cake has the best storage I’ve seen on it.
Friday, October 26, 2018
After writing a bit about teapot feng shui a while ago, I thought I would share some personal experiences with my own teapots and feng shui…
First, I think it’s telling that both of my old red clay (hong ni) yixing teapots have incurred multiple damages. I used to own 4 teapots- 2 grey & 2 red. My gray teapots have never sustained any damage what so ever, even after frequent daily use. My red clay teapots both have had a few injuries, their last resulting in breakage rendering them unusable. To me, I think the feng shui of these pots is part of the reason some have survived while others have perished!
I have previously posted about the Qi, energy, psychological, and spiritual effects of the colour gray. Currently, I own and cherish two gray teapots, this gray Kim Kyoung Soo and this gray David Louveau. I most definitely gravitate towards using these grey pots when I am in a greater state of concentration, meditation, zen, mindfulness, when I am drinking tea alone, or when I am attentively absorbed in a new tea sampling. I even use the gray pots when I hope to cultivate mindful calmness.
These days I mainly use my gray teapots to mindfully sample new puerh tea as I feel it increases my focus and strengthens my mind to what is to come. I also use grey clay pots at work as a reprieve, focus and calm, in my busy work day. It is no wonder these pots are in great condition!
What is the energy of red? It is the colour of heat, fire, dynamic action. I use these pots often in the bustling gong fu brewing of puerh or oolong. The dynamic morning transition of Yin into Yang, of sleep to awake, can sometimes be intense with a young family. I choose a teapot that gets us going paired with quick strong and intense gong-fuing sessions. However, I don’t want this energy to be overzealous so the pot is usually somewhat balanced with a heavier sturdy and rounder form and thicker walls- the Yin within Yang.
When this Yang energy is too much or too intense- carelessness, thoughtlessness, and mindlessness can predispose the teapots to a space where breakage is more likely to occur. The energy of the pot you select to steep tea in influences your tea session, your mind. Conversely, your mindset influences the teapot you select. We should be mindful of this and select the most optimal teapot for gong fu cha.