Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tuo Cha Tea Order and Reacquainting With Menghai Dayi Tea Factory

The last of my large sample semi-aged orders came a few months ago from a classic Western tea vendor that has been quietly selling puerh since I started drinking puerh- Tuo Cha Tea.

Tuo Cha Tea is the place where you chance to purchase some lowly factory everyday drinker teas, least in a game of chance so as not to get burned with a puerh that is totally undrinkable.  However, the prices are so low, China low, that the gamble is one that is hard to resist.  Many a puerh drinker has found a great deal and many have been burned in this quest.

For me it’s all about the Menghai Factory raw 2007-2008 productions.  I ordered them all up in an attempt to 1- do what all puerh drinkers are destined to do, that is, own a Menghai factory cake 2- get a better understanding of the different and newer Menghai recipes 3- compare how these 10 years aged Menghai productions faired with the 10 years aged 90s Menghai factory stuff that I frequently drank in the early/mid- 2000s in Korean tea shops, 4- sample the cakes for potential re-orders in the goal of restocking some everyday drinkers.

Actually, I was kind of second guessing myself on this order which I have never ever done on a puerh purchase before… Do I really need more factory puerh?... Did I really just order THAT much Menghai Factory tea?... Why didn’t you just take the money that you spent on this order and put it towards one or two more quality puerh that I ‘m more used to drinking?... If you wouldn’t buy this tea 10 years ago why are you bothering to purchase it now?

But as soon as I opened the package, I was smiling ear to ear in a happy nostalgic mood about this order.  These were the teas in all the puerh tea shops in Korea when I first learned of puerh tea.  These were assuredly familiar to me.

Please join me on this journey through some semi-aged Menghai factory productions…


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Which Puerh Vendors Are Testing for Agrochemicals? They Actually Do This Now!

Another big change that occurred while I was away from puerh is that almost all the bigger vendors are testing for agrochemicals in their products.

This was always the elephant in the room with avid puerh drinkers/bloggers in the early/ mid- 2000s.  We knew that some of the stuff that we were consuming was sprayed (the plantation/factory stuff was most suspect) but no one really talked about it too much.  We just lived with it because, really, what were we to do about it?  The only real option back then was if you were concerned about it, then stop drinking puerh.  Todays puerh buying climate, especially from the most popular Western puerh vendors, is almost the opposite with buyers now expecting agrochemical testing done on the teas they are buying.  This is great news for someone who tends to be more sensitive to them than the average puerh drinker.  How did it change so quickly?

I think just before my absence from the tea world David from Essence of Tea was kind of pushing this agenda of the use of agrochemical through to the front of puerh drinkers consciousness.  I am so glad he was a part of this initial push.

When investigating why this happened I thought it was likely due to buyer pressure on all to follow suite.  Actually this seems to be driven by the vendors themselves to protect and defend their love and their livelihoods after a series of bad press in the mainstream media about the agrochemicals found in teas about 5 years ago.  This was really what everyone was talking about back then.  Interesting links can be seen here and here where many puerh vendors discuss this issue and desire to change.  You can kind of get a sense where they all stand on the issue as well.  One of the things they discuss is what they feel is the acceptable limit of pesticide residues in puerh. 

There was a lot of discussion back then and I wondered to myself what has changed since that initial surge in interest.  So I looked into the agrochemical policies of some popular Western puerh vendors for their 2017 productions and this is what I found…

Essence of Tea has a zero tolerance policy for pesticides and, I believe, they only accept a very small trace of the EU MRL agrochemicals.  In 2015 they posted the testing of 225 chemicals of all of the puerh they pressed on the product page.  Although they don’t explicitly state that the 2016 & 2017 have been tested, it is my understanding that they are all fully tested and the lab results can be obtained by contacting them.

Yunnan Sourcing started EU MRL testing its own YunnanSourcing brand label in 2013 and has increased the amount of chemicals tested to 191 and has even lowered the minimal acceptable limit of some chemicals to a zero tolerance as well over the years.

white2tea just started to test their teas this year.  They started with testing one of their lowerprice offerings from each category.  Theyalso mention that more and more teas will be tested each year.  I think the fact they seem to seek out some of the best leaf from year to year and rely less on the same sources and gardens suggests to me that it might be a lot trickier to ensure that agrochemicals are not used.  The fact that many of their cakes are blends can also complicate things.  For instance, if even one batch of leaves out of the blend is contaminated it will contaminate the whole blend.  I would like to see white2tea test a few of their blends next year.

I couldn’t find anything on Crimson Lotus, Bitter Leaf,, Chawangshop, testing for agrochemicals.  Many of them take some kind of precautions to avoid agrochemicals but they don’t actively test their product.  I think it must be hard for vendors just starting out or for smaller puerh vendors to shell out the money for testing so, feel these vendors shouldn’t be held to the same scrutiny until they are more established but on the other hand, for them to grow consumer confidence they kind of need to test for these sorts of things.  So for them, it really puts them in a hard spot, I think.
The Tea Urchin has written a great article about the use of pesticides in puerh but I couldn’t find anything on their site that has anything on testing their puerh.  I get from their article that they assess the tea gardens by other means to reduce the likelihood of pesticide residues in their puerh.

Puerhshop does its own lab work to test its teas and I think might have been one of the first to start testing its puerh.  It doesn’t really go into detail about what kind of tests are preformed and for what type of chemicals.  The interesting thing is that they tested some of their semi aged puerh as well- the only vendor to do this.

It seems at the height of this discussion about 5 years ago even our dearest tea blogger, Hobbes of the Half-Dipper, covered this topic in a post with some nice commentary to follow.

To me I think it’s really interesting that there are still so many smaller puerh vendors that are not testing for agrochemicals.  I guess it must be quite expensive to do so.  But overall, I am excited about all the options of pesticide free puerh out there these days.  My wish is that vendors would have links to these reports right on the product pages just like Essencce of Tea did for their 2015 teas.  This would take transparency to the next level.

Thank you vendors for going in this direction!


Sunday, September 24, 2017

So What Should We Call “Wild Puerh” and How Should We Classify it?

Last post I put forth the argument that “wild puerh” is not really puerh.  So if we shouldn’t call it “wild puerh”, what then should we call it?  How should we classify this interesting, delicious, mind bending, and majestic tea of Yunnan?

I don’t really agree with how vendors are categorizing “wild puerh”.  The two Western vendors who sell “wild puerh” have it listed with their puerh teas.

Scott of Yunnan Sourcing has its own category which I think it deserves and also has a page on the disambiguation of purple teas which I think is very helpful to clarify this often confused topic.  He also has separate pages for the same wild leaf (“Yesheng”) processed as a white tea and a black tea.  But to keep it just a little bit of confusion going it also has a “yesheng” filter in its puerh section.  It is a bit confusing but Scott tries hard through his system of categorizations and explanations to make it clearer for the buyer.

Yunnan Sourcing states, “It was originally processed into mao cha and sold as a kind of Raw Pu-erh tea”.  Although this statement is totally true, it doesn’t go on to say that the raw material is not puerh, and that it is just the processing that is the same as sheng puerh.  I think it was originally sold as a “kind of Raw Puerh Tea” and vendors are still trying to market it as a “kind of Raw puerh tea”.

Why? I think there are two reasons.

First of all, they are trying to piggy back the success of puerh.  Puerh drinkers will be the most likely of tea drinkers to embrace Yesheng for sure.  Of all teas, “yesheng” or “wild tea” tastes closest to puerh tea when processed like puerh tea (and of course it looks like puerh all pressed into a nice bing).  It’s easier to sell someone a new product if it looks, tastes, feels, familiar in some way.  The wild trees even look identical to puerh trees so the familiarity is seamless really.

The second reason is that with prices of fresh quality puerh maocha rising year to year, “yesheng” or “wild tea” is a more affordable option.  As puerh drinkers continue to demand the same type of quality but are slowly priced out of the puerh market “yesheng” or “Wild Tea” seems like a great option.  As Jamesof TeaDB notes, it is a way to buy low and sell high.  Although, nowadays, quality "wild tea" is also demanding very high prices and continues to increase like puerh, so this argument doesn't hold like it used to.

David of Essence of Tea is the other major vendor of “yesheng” or “wild tea”.  He has his “wild tea”listings interspersed with his puerh listings which I think is a bit confusing (if not deceiving, but not deliberately so) especially for people who wouldn’t know better.  The teas always state “Wild” in their name- this is how you would tell them apart from real puerh.  I really think David should create another category for “wild teas” (just like he has for wuyi yancha, liu bao, and oolong) especially as he continues to delve deeper into the selling of this most wonderful tea.  I know from a marketing perspective this probably makes no sense for him, but I think he needs to make it more apparent for puerh drinkers somehow.

I have to say that both Scott of Yunnan Sourcing and David of Essence of Tea are the most honest and transparent of all the Western puerh dealers, so maybe there is no controversy at all, and I'm just reading into this way to much- What do you think?  After all, there’s already an established convention of calling this tea "wild puerh" in China.  Maybe both David and Scott are actually doing us puerh drinkers a big favor because these are very interesting teas even if they are not puerh teas.  Interesting enough that I hope you will join me in the next weeks and months for this detour as I explore “yesheng” or “wild tea”.  If a Korean puerh tea dealer had not marketed “wild tea” to me in 2008, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it now.


(in the middle of this article, I just started calling “wild puerh” either “wild tea” or “yesheng”, its imperfect but I guess it will due for now… it’s what the vendors are calling it and what it directly translates from Chinese… certainly it’s much better than calling it “wild puerh”)

Double Peace

Friday, September 22, 2017

“Wild Puerh” Tea Is Not Really Puerh Tea!

I think there is a little confusion about what exactly “wild puerh” is.  I remember first trying “wild puerh” in 2008 and being completely and absolutely dumbfounded by it.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about this experience and in it you can sense this confusion.  I ended up purchasing a tong of this puerh not because I really loved the tea as a puerh tea but because I still couldn’t understand this tea- it really stumped me and besides the Qi sensation in particular was really unlike any puerh I had encountered before.

I believe I was the first to blog about such a tea and I think I couldn’t find anything on the English internet for years later and even then it mainly just confused me.  It wasn’t only me who was confused by “wild puerh” but many other Westren puerh drinkers were equally at odds with this tea throughout the years.  Even today amongst people who are well versedin puerh seem perplexed with it.  Why all the confusion about this tea?

First of all this tea is commonly referred to as “yesheng” or (if the purple leaf variety) it is often referred to as “purple yesheng”.  Part of the confusion, I think is that the term “yesheng” is often used to describe non-plantation puerh or is simply used at random to describe puerh (such as this 6FTM “yesheng”).  The other part of the confusion is that there are many teas that are purple leaf teas that grow wild but are not “wild purple puerh” or “yesheng purple”.

Through careful contemplation and deep meditation I thought about my 2008 “wild puerh” throughout the years.  I would drink it only once and a while to see how it’s aging and to again attempt to understand it.  It was not until recently that I finally feel like I truly understand what is commonly called “wild puerh” and learned to appreciate it fully.

What changed?

I came to the conclusion that “wild puerh” is not really puerh at all.  To me puerh tea is either the sheng or shu processing style of the Camellia sinensis var assamica or other various small leaf hybrids (as found in Yibang, Mengsong, ect).  What is commonly referred to as “wild puerh” is not Camellia sinensis var assamica or other various small leaf hybrids but rather is one of the other 13 camellia thea species that grow in Yunnan.  The “wild purple” or “purple yesheng” is thought to be Assamica Dehongensis- this is the variety that is comprised of my 2008 “wild purple puerh” probably the most common and popular “wild puerh” variety.  Recently I learned that "wild puerh" can also be classified as “sweet wild” or “bitter wild”.  I think we are still in the early days of learning about "wild puerh".

I feel that “wild puerh” is processed and pressed the same way sheng puerh is processed and obviously there is some kind of taxonomical difference in the material itself.  However, what makes it not puerh to me is that it has a completely different Qi, mouth/throat feel, body feel, taste and aroma than puerh.  So to me, it should no longer be referred to as “wild puerh” nor should we really be comparing it to our other puerh experiences.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 White2Tea “four am” and A Trap Music Puerh Session

One of the elements that makes White2Tea so unique is that Paul has branded and intertwined his selection of puerh with American popular culture and his spin on modern art.  This has never been done before and oh, it is done so brilliantly.  Especially noticeable are references to American Rap and Jazz.  I believe it is no coincidence that around the same time this tea was being pressed 2 Chainz released his single “4 AM”.

Really there is no better way to enjoy puerh that to bang out some new school trap music.  Sitting in Zen meditation with 2 Chainz, melodically disorienting styleof rap bridging on the edge of confusion with both rough and harsh edges flowedby high interruptions booming seems like the best way to appreciate such things.  I received this sample free with my order of 2017 "Pussy" on White2Tea's site it is listed for $109.00 for a 200g Xiao bing or $0.55/g. Let’s drop this…

The dry leaves are mix of pungent, deep, rich meat notes, with a slight fruity edge.

The first infusion delivers a pungent, spicy peppercorn sweet meaty initial taste in a thick brothy mouthfeel the aftertaste is of mild honey tastes and edges of slight floral tones.  There is a nice slightly rubbery, slightly bubble gum taste that lingers in the mouth minutes later.  Immediately, I think to myself that there is a lot going on here.

The second infusion develops a creamy sweet taste, then just a slight meaty pungent profile which pops up quickly then recedes to a developing sweetness of honey and slight, almost non-existent, orchid tastes.  The aftertaste develops a gummy, barely bubble gum, and mainly unnami like taste.  There is lots of different tastes going on here. The back drop is a decent mouthfeel and a throatfeel that is pretty deep and stimulating.

The third presents with bitter notes up front which then build up to a swelling and growing expanding sweetness.  The base flavor is a slightly savory unnami taste and a sweetness.  The sweetness is of mainly honey but slight orchid.  This infusion shows slight suggestions of a wood base underneath.  The initial mild bitterness really opens the mouth to the sweeter tastes to come.  The qi makes the jaw and face slightly numb and is giving me a nice floating sensation in the head.

The fourth has a bitter and cypress taste up front that has a slightly evergreen tree like edge to it.  A sweet edge of honey develops underneath but this tea is not out rightly sweet.  The sweetness build in the mouth until a nice spike of icing sugar and peach fruit sweet taste spikes about 20 seconds after swallowing.  The mouthfeel is slightly medium thick, sticky fuzzy in the mouth but the throat is nicely stimulated.

The fifth offers creamy soap-like tastes that pair with slightly bitter cypress tree notes.  These tastes quickly transform with ghostly edges of orchid and honey.  The sweet taste peaks 20 seconds later with a sweet bubble gum and fruit taste in the mouth.  There is a slight woody base under the whole infusion.  Feeling very relaxed- nice qi.

The sixth infusion offers a flatter, initial bitter, up front sage-like honey taste is in there as well.  An evergreen wood base taste in slight sweetness develops.  The sweetness builds slowly and has a certain complexness to it.  Really, there is lots going on as far as taste goes.  Minutes later the taste aggregates into a sweet clear honeydew melon taste with honey base and suggestions of orchid flowers.

The seventh and eighth offers a watery, bitter initial taste with slight wood.  There is a nice building up to a enjoyable melon sweetness. The returning sweetness is layered nicely and is by far the most enjoyable part of this tea.  The bitterness feels quite mild here now.

The ninth infusion offered stronger resinous evergreen tree notes as the base.  A slight menthol note appears in the aftertaste for the first time.  The sweet note builds slowly until cresting in that honeydew melon taste.

The tenth infusion has a watery soft bitter start with an edge of evergreen wood.  The taste is a bit vacuous in the middle profile.  Even the aftertaste is a bit weak- not as sweet but more orchid late in the returning sweetness.  The taste evolves slowly in the mouth.

The eleventh has florals mixed with muted evergreen wood/ cypress wood taste.  The sweetness first of honey then of a floral type.  The twelfth infusion steeped a little longer seems to meld most of these separate tastes into one right from the initial taste and through to the aftertaste.  This tea is still too young to drink and I can feel its qi kicking at my stomach.  I spread out the infusion through the course of my day at home to mitigate this ill effect.  The tea really coats the teeth and tongue in a thin stickiness.  Minutes later there is a sweet honeydew melon sweetness on them.  Minutes after that a faint resinous evergreen woody taste.

In the thirteenth infusion the bitterness starts to come on stronger mildly astringing the fluids of the mouth and dominate the subtle flavours which still manage to punch through.  I was at approx. 20second infusions here.  I think I will dial that back.

The fourteenth is mild, almost a creamy sweetness in empty woody water here.

In the fifteenth I press hard again- it is buttery, bitter and slightly sweet now.  The aftertaste is still interesting woody, and slight sweet.  The bitterness is somewhat challenging at this point.  If you steep lightly, you don’t get too much but if you go a bit stronger the bitterness is an issue.

I steep it a few more times but the bitterness is too unpleasant and unharmonious at this point to continue which is absolutely normal for a tea that is meant to be aged.  Overall the tea is not that bitter, but just young puerh bitter.

The taste is as chaotic as the music I have paired with this tea today with a lot going on- highs, lows, depth, and harshness.  I still think "Pussy" is a better tea but these are two really different types of puerh.  “four am” has much more diversity of taste in there and is a tea that you would want to age not drink now.

Looking back at my day with this tea I can sum up the chaqi as giving me an unfocused and floating feeling… not much got accomplished this day.. hahaha.

So why the fly image?  It is a reference to the slang “I’m flying high” aka experiencing a sensation of floating or the effects of drugs.  Certainly this tea has some of this.

… Or maybe its just a complete coincidence and the name is a blend from “four”, “am” as in “areas in Menghai”.  The thing with White2Tea is that you never know.

The names and wrappers are essentially art to be interpreted by the eye of the beholding puerh drinker.  Which I find quite amusing… but not as amusing as day of Trap music and puerh.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why This Tea Will Sell Out First: 2017 White2Tea (Yiwu) “Pussy”

Hi Paul,

After all the hype I have heard about White2Tea I am very excited about
my first order of your tea!

Thanks for presenting such a unique and refreshing perspective on puerh.
I think I am not only speaking for myself, but for many others who love
puerh, when I say how much this means to us.


Matt (MattCha's Blog)

So I have managed to both break my promise of never owning aheinous xiao bing and avoiding a probably overpriced 2017 puerh season purchase all in one order… Darn.  On the other hand, I have managed to put an order through to White2Tea, a controversial and ingeniously marketed vendor that has a big following and that I had completely missed during my many years absence from puerh.  I said that I was going to test the waters with this ultra-popular vendor to see what they are made of this year and here I am doing just that….

I think I’m a rather impulsive puerh buyer.  Years ago in South Korea I would sit at many tea tables and decide days, weeks, or even months later if I was going to purchase a $20.00 cake only after I really knew the tea.  Online is a totally different purchasing experience.  I mentioned before that I like to buy whole cakes as samples for a variety of different reasons.  But that seems quite unattainable considering the increasingly high 2017 price of puerh that seems to be especially high forWhite2Tea’s offerings and just the volume of cakes would cost a lot of money.  Besides puerh related funds are dwindling after big purchases this year and I keep telling myself that I am trying to spend on semi-aged puerh only.

So acquiring some samples seems like the logical thing to do but I simply can’t stomach paying multiple hundreds of dollars for samples - really I just want someone who knows a lot about tea to tell me which are best and I will buy the cake.  Today, I guess, for you, that person is me.

When White2Tea released their descriptions on their site I was drawn to 2-3 cakes that might meet my tastes based solely on Paul’s one sentence descriptions.  Mainly, I am looking for a thick and fragrant Yiwu to replenish my stash which currently only has a handful of Yiwu left.  The description of 2017 Pussy seemed to best match what I was looking for so immediately I honed in on this cake.

[It was at this point that I discovered another reason Paul no longer includes any relevant info on his puerh, he did this to make people shell out a lot of money on sampling. If people have no idea what teas they are buying they will be more likely to sample many teas.  This is the same reason why Paul will probably always discontinue a cake after a year or so regardless of popularity- so the buyer is left to sample again and not rely on what they already know to be true.  This is not only a slick marketing strategy but also another mechanism by which he encourages hiscustomers to question the construct of “Truth” when it comes to puerh.]

Then something happened that you just know is the beginning of something big.   I’ve seen it all happen before- reviews that have something of an awe inspired feel to them when describing a cake.  These reviews started to roll out for Pussy (here and here).  A brilliantly planned “free shipping” promotion was enough for me to throw 600g (3 x $89.90, 200g demasculinizing xiao beings, $0.42/g) into my cart and check out.  Why 3?  It’s the closest to my single 500g cakes I prefer (this is how I justified purchasing the xiao bings) and besides it might be just enough to dissuade me from buying more if I really do like it.

Okay… enough … let’s get down to business and mediate with this one…

Opening the ziplock which contains the cake overwhelms the senses with strong deep inhuman perfume-like sweet fruit notes.

The first infusion delivers a sweet hay-like initial taste followed by a blast of cotton candy sweetness.  There are already some suggestions of wood or hay underneath.  A long, slow to expand aftertaste takes hold which glows of fruit taste.

The second infusion kicks a straw like sweetness into your mouth.  The sweet flvour expands and unravels slowly to reveal a layering of wood taste as well as cotton candy sweetness which now develops a creamy edge with deeper sweet tastes lingering the background. The sweetness appears in the aftertaste and stretches on.  The mouthfeel here is quite full with a slightly sticky full tongue feel even into the mid throat.

The third infusion delivers very sweet, hay like sweetness which now is strung along a base taste of hay and slight cereal tastes.  The mouthfeel is full and develops a nice sandy texture over the tongue and cheeks.  The aftertaste is a layered part sweet, mildly cool, with a slight sweet hay in there as well.  The qi here is now starting to show some suggestions of a nice body effect as my body feels relaxed and calm.

The fourth infusion the sweetness is now like the sweetness you would get from grains.  The tea has a beautiful way of gaining momentum in the mouth and slowly expands into a long slight grainy, slight cotton candy, slight fruity sweetness all the while being supported underneath by hay like flavours which give a supportive depth and feel.  The qi is felt heavy in the chest.

The fifth starts off with a hay-like cereal sweetness that slowly expands from here to a fruity sweetness over dry wood then to a sweeter cotton candy like sweetness.  In the breath minutes later you can feel a melon, even topical fruit, sweet taste underneath.  This tea is sweet but always seems to have enough depth to hold it down.

The sixth infusion develops a malty almost edges a ghostly medicinal note.  A stronger woody profile is noticeable throughout and the initial body of this tea is now more woody and slight hay/cereal notes rather than sweetness.  The sweet taste lingers throughout.

The seventh infusion a slight cotton candy sweetness reappears briefly before fading into a more woody profile.  The aftertaste slowly builds on itself with crests of grain, hay, wood.  The sweet and slowly morphing taste of this tea makes it an interesting one.  This infusion is much more of that initial cotton candy sweetness even late on the breath.

The eighth has more of this barely medicinal sweetness initially, with the wood base now being secondary to the sweetness in the last few infusions.  The mind is so calm.  This tea has lots of taste and does a lot of things in its long evolving flavor.  The mouthfeel remains a solid soft grainy feel and throat feels even slightly grainy as well with the top throat open.

The ninth infusion starts to water down initially with lots coming out in the mid profile including hay, grains, dry wood, the sweetness is not going away anytime soon.  These flavors prance around then lend itself to a mild coating of cotton candy then melon, then hay, then some other sweet taste.  This tea is really gentle with very very little bitter or astringency and feels relatively harmonious to drink this fresh as opposed to age for those that like that sort of thing.

The tenth is more watery to start then a nice slow to expand middle taste of sweetness and base flavours before a long aftertaste takes hold.  The aftertaste is interesting in that it has not that much coolness but soft deeper flavours of wood and hay as well as fruit.

The eleventh and twelfth infusions develop a different initial taste like a woody type taste which swells in the mid-profile where expansive sweet tastes start to take off.

The thirtieth and fourteenth start with a juicy onset go to a more sweet middle with a creamy and expanding aftertaste.  The woody deeper tastes seem to be more in the aftertaste here as the taste profile is slow to expand.

The fifteenth I push it a bit harder a giving it more time than a flash infusion here and get nice round melon taste and hay in the initial taste here.  The taste here remains full and complex even in these later infusions.

The sixteenth and seventh have a faint sweet start which jumps to wood taste.  Steeped longer here the throat becomes more astringent and the taste seems to linger there more which is of layered sweetness especially of green grapes.  These infusion has a nice green grapes and hay taste that really is a great combination.  There is still a lingering cotton candy taste to it as well.

Eightieth and ninetieth start to fade into a flat wood taste but the aftertaste remains vibrant and active with a longer and stronger cooling and melon sweetness if you stretch the steeping times out.

The twentieth is enjoyed by daughter and wife- they both grab a small ceramic cup and enjoy the nice light flavor that is left lingering after crawling out of bed on this lazy Sunday morning.

Overall, this tea has lots of stamina, a long and evolving taste profile, and enough depth that you could probably steep it out for a long time… so I will.

This tea as I predict will sell out first because it is very good, has the catchiest name, is very easy on the system, is ready to drink immediately and is mid-priced for White2Tea’s 2017s.  This first sampling of White2Tea totally checks out- the tea is great!  But no matter how good it is I just can’t justify the price tag.  I keep trying to logically justify buying more than the 600g I own but I just can’t do it.

As for the name “Pussy”, I took the high road and left the way too easy innuendo out of this post (which was very very difficult to do, trust me).  I think the name "Pussy" is a reference to the soft nature of this cake opposite to being as "Tough (Tuhao) as F***".  The name, it’s a bit sexist don’t you think?  You don’t hear of a cake called “Cock” with a man wearing a fedora holding a few rosters under his arm… I guess that’s for Paul’s 2018 wrapper of this exact same maocha.


Edit June 3, 2019: I pulled this cake out of three cakes Saran wrapped together and then Ziplocked storage and had a great session of this today.  Its tastes are deeper and it pours a brown color.  It still has much stamina in it and a certain strength to it.  The thickness in the mouth is better than I remember a few years ago.  The fruit sweet tastes are  becoming a bit deeper and richer but there are still much high notes in here as well.  I hope to continue to age it this dry sealed fashion as things 2 years in look great.  I added a bit of steam to the bag before sealing it up.  I am happy I bought these cakes and wonder how the 2018 white2tea Pussy would compare?  I am also surprised that none of the 2017 regular run white2tea raw puerh line has sold out yet.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Familiar and Unfamiliar- 2005 Long Yuan Hao Bulang and 2005 Long Yuan Hao Gelanghe

The Bulang is no longer pictured on the website but had a near identical wrapper to the Gelanghe (below) with the only major difference is the area name and color of the wrapper was a blue/green color, I believe.  Actually, I did not receive a cake of the Bulang instead I cleared out their last four large and intact 90g samples (360g in total for $27.96 or $0.08/gram).  2005 puerh with this price tag is seriously cheap!

Please, sit down and join me in drinking this 2005 Long Yuan Hao Bulang…

The leaves smell of lingering cherry fruits.

The first infusion starts with nice cinnamon and slightly pungent note which has a soft creamy, barely cooling aftertaste.   There is a slightly lingering astringency underneath and rounds out the taste.  The monthfeel and thoatfeel is fairly full chalky and smooth.

The second infusion is full of pungent, sweet creamy cherry and notes up front which transition to creamy full sweet aftertaste.  There is a just a noticeable cooling through the profile with the creamy sweetness in the aftertaste.  Underneath the taste there is just barely a lingering resemblance of aged Bulangesque bitterness that very faintly skirts around.

The third infusion has more of that slightly edgy slight fullness over a balance of creamy sweetness and slight strongish taste.  The cherry fruit note is distinct here.  It has a nice opening mouthfeel full of sweet creamy fruits and starts to finish a bit milky-creamy tasting as well. 

The fourth is much the same very long fruity finish now. There is some bitterness to this tea but it is more of a full flavor than a true bitterness.  This is how bitterness should evolve from a fresh newly pressed puerh to an 11 year aged purh.  It is more of a bitter fullness than an intolerable bitter taste.  There is a rubbery feeling left in the mouth.

The fifth and infusion has much less complexity.  Things really fall off and thin out here.  There are still some bright berry tastes to enjoy but they are less vibrant.

The sixth becomes much more of that astringent, barely milky-creamy, bitterness with just slight suggestions of sweetness and even fainter cooling aftertastes.

Any infusion beyond six is just pushing barely milky bitter tastes along.

This Bulang has very classic Bulang tastes but sadly no stamina.  Nevertheless, it is a great daily drinker and a real deal for the price.  More importantly it has reminded me how much I love the Bulang profile.  I have a few Bulang cakes from the 90s that I managed to not drink through that I now have quite an appetite for.  This puerh has also sparked some interest in my next puerh mission- to find good semi-aged Bulang tea.  Any suggestions?

Up next….

A google search for Gelanghe puerh only gets one English hit- a 2003 Six Famous Mountains cake on the Half-Dipper.  This is really a mysterious or forgotten Menghai region.  I paid just $35.50 forthe last 400g cake at Awazon in my second order from them ($0.09/gram).

The dry leaves smell of sweet aged dates.

The first infusion is very watery with a strong sweet sugar cane taste that slowly evolves into soft date tastes.  The mouthfeel is soft and slightly chalky.  The aftertaste is mild with a sweet melon taste slowly evolving minutes later.

The second infusion starts sweet again but has a slight counterbalance of very mild sour and slighty bitter notes that are barely noticeable.  The juicy sweet taste evolves in the mouth and from more sugar to honey to melon fruit.  The mouthfeel remains a touch chalky in the mouth and tongue.  A mild floral coolness faintly skirts the tongue and lingers in the breath.

The third infusion has nice full juicy sweet notes melded with slight bitter.  The mouthfeel is full and chalky the groundwork where the sweet honey taste evolves into floral.  There is a mild coolness on the breath along with a juicy melon finish.  There are interesting minty tastes in this infusion as well.

The fourth infusion is more woody now with suggestions of sweet sugar evolving to melon tastes under the wood notes.  The aftertaste is also woody with a slight cooling mint and cardamom suggestion.

The fifth infusion has a balance of juicy sweet and woody notes with a nice evolving melon taste.  The aftertaste has a nice long cooling almost minty sweetness.  There is some interesting faint suggestions of moss, wood, and even spices in this tea that are more apparent in some infusions over others.  A melon cooling sweetness is left on the breath minutes later.  The qi of this tea is quite mild and has a nice soft sensation in the body and mind.

The sixth infusion presents with a woody and almost spicy taste with the sweetness mainly pushed to the aftertaste as a slow to evolve sweet melon and mild coolness wash over the mouth and breath.

The seventh infusion there is more of a flater, juicier taste than wood but still quite a balance.  The sweet tastes evolve nicely into a juicy melon taste with long cool aftertaste.  The mouthfeel stays chalky and even a bit viscus but not drying.  The throat doesn’t open up to much with this tea.  A sour cherry taste is found on the breath minutes later.

The eighth infusion continues to be more sweet and starts with a nice melon notes over faint wood.  The tastes evolve into something juicier, slightly floral and cool in the breath.  Even minutes later there in a nice fruity taste on the breath.

The ninth infusion has similar profile and is still quite full of nice long sweet flavors.

The tenth starts to lose its tastes but still retains nice juicy fruity notes in slight wood and a long cooling fruity aftertaste.

This tea is steeped into eleven, twelve, thirteen, infusions still yielding quite flavourful and fullish tea with long cooling aftertaste.

This tea has a good taste and excellent stamina and has some decent complexity to it especially for the price.  Overall I’m quite happy with it for its price and age.  If there was more for sale for that price, I would not hesitate to buy a tong of it.  It feels like it could be consumed now or aged a bit longer.

I am also left wondering why there are not more Gelanghe cakes being pressed out there?  With just two reviews on the internet being both favorable for Gelanghe both pre 2006, I wonder why the modern trend for small pressings have passed Gelanghe?  I hope to try to find more Gelanghe puerh in the future.  Maybe one of the Westren producers will read this and press something in the years to come?

Overall, I quite enjoyed both the 2005 Bulang and Gelanghe from Dadugang Long Yuan Hao tea factory.  I have been drinking them on and off.  I hope to age them further but don’t know how long they will last the way I’m drinking them.  If anything they confirm that at least the older puerh of a budget company like Long Yuan Hao should at least be given a chance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Puerh Storage in the West & Traditional Chinese 5 Element Theory on Storing Puerh

If it is a bitter puerh the bitter taste belongs to Fire.  Water controls bitter (Fire) so for a bitter puerh to aged more harmoniously and optimally it should be stored more humidly or wet/traditionally stored.

If puerh is very fragrant or pungent tasting, this quality is desired to be maintained. Fragrance is Yang and taste is Yin.  It should be stored not in a Yin (wet) environment but rather a dry (Yang) environment.  Dryness is the climate of the Lungs and the nose and sense of smell belongs to the Lungs.  Therefore, dry storage is best to maintain a fragrant puerh.

I think there is still a lot of misconceptions in the West about how puerh should be optimally stored.  The shortsightedness of these misconceptions, is effectively fed by a fallacy of Western thought and logic that there is only one “best” way of doing something.

When some of the first puerh drinkers in the West were looking to buy and store puerh (early-mid 2000s) there was virtually no information about how to store puerh in Western climates and what makes a quality puerh for aging.  Essentially, they just looked to what they were doing in the places that consumed lots of puerh- hot and humid Hong Kong and Taiwan.  This is where they got their information and this is the rough guidelines that they followed.  In these places, relatively bitter factory or old school stronger puerh was aged nicely with more humid and warm fairly open air storage.

In Classic Chinese Medicine, the current state of a being is influenced by environmental placement (fengshui) which includes the natural climate of that place.  Individuals with the same presentation or imbalance will essentially be treated completely different to bring about harmony depending on the climate influences where they live.  The same principles should be used to optimally and harmoniously age puerh.

Relatively recently, those who have been aging puerh in the West have realized that the guidelines for aging puerh and what makes a good puerh for aging in Asia does not always do well in the drier climates of the West.  They have, to some extent, started taking into account the climate where they are aging the puerh.

Nowadays there is a focus, almost an obsession, about the pumidor, or crocks, or other controlled environments which I think is a reaction to initial storage theories in the West.  But, still, I think they miss the real point of excellent storage because they are still stuck in the Western mentality that there is one “best” storage for all puerh tea (even when the unique aging climate is already taken into consideration).  This is applying an overly simplistic approach to the very unique, varied and complicated qualities of each puerh production.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the individual is looked at as completely unique and to harmonize each individual a completely customized treatment will work best.  This theory is also true for ageing the unique qualities of a particular puerh.  You can look at each puerh production as being one of a kind and having its own unique qualities.  The most optimal storage of this unique puerh will depend on which qualities you wish to maintain and which qualities you wish to transform.  Basically, you have to take into account its individual characteristics and how a particular storage will influence those characteristics.
Essentially, the last consideration you must consider when aging puerh is your own personal preference- how do you like your puerh?  Which qualities in a certain puerh do you wish to preserve and which do you wish to transform?  Which storage conditions will best bring out the features that you as a puerh drinker value the most?

Simply thinking that all of your puerh will age best under the same conditions is false.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Introducing the concept of “Evil Qi” and Spotting Heavily and Lightly Sprayed Agrochemicals in 2004 Long Yuan Hao Bama and 2006 Long Yuan Hao “Banna Impression” Brick

I have to say, I was hopeful with this 2004 Bama that I purchased for $35.50 for a 380g cake ($0.09/ gram) in my second order from Awazon.  I have one Bama cake  and its one of my favorites.  Unfortunately there is only about 150g remaining.  I think most puerh drinkers have no idea where Bama is.  Have you ever heard of Bama?  Bet you don’t know where it is.

It’s a small town between Nannou and Menghai.  It is often classified as Nannou because it shares some broad similarities in profile. My logic was this… This cake was simply overlooked because of poor name recognition and was still a good but overlooked cake… what are the odds?

When opening the cake there were two telltale signs of a suspicious puerh cake.  First the Neifi was loose and second there was an unusual sprinkling of a few white buds on the top layer of the bing.  Not good.  I have never known a cake to be of any quality with either one, never mind both, of these indicators.  Another abnormality is that this is a 380g cake- never herd of that one before.

Dry leaves smell of faint fruits- cherry and pear.  Not bad so far…

First infusion presents with cereal and beef jerky-like tastes which transition quickly to mint which disappears quickly into a dry muddy floral fruit sent on the breath.  The taste left in the mouth is a bit metallic and flat tasting.  The mouthfeel is thin, somewhat dry and has a sharp, thin, barely chalky feel at the back of the tongue and into the throat.

The second presents with a long cool taste the trails through the not-so-pleasant profile of this tea.    There are still that beef jerky-like taste mixed with grains but it is quite muted now.  A flat, dry wood taste is more apparent in this infusion.  This infusions’ most obvious flavours are nice sweet, perfume-like sweet cherries in deep floral tastes.  The mouthfeel thickens and becomes less dry and more dense now which holds the long minty note and deep sweet fruity florals.

The third infusion is more astringent and drier than the second.  The dry mouthfeel carries cool tastes and sweet berry florals over a dry wood base.  The beef jerky and cereal tastes are gone now.  There is an uncomfortable dry astringency that is left in the mouth.

My body doesn’t like this tea.  It has gotten to a point from drinking lots of puerh over the years that if I’m drinking puerh tea that is heavily sprayed it will usually react with symptoms such as a feeling that isn’t right in the stomach like a certain tightness, allergy-like runny nose, uncontrollable sneezing and itchiness usually in the legs.  It is definitely doing this now with this tea.  I can be certain that this one had its fair share of chemicals thrown at it because these symptoms are quite strong.

I am unsure whether I am just reacting to one chemical or one family of chemicals or just a certain combination of chemicals or a certain threshold of a chemical or chemicals.  What I do know is that I do react to something and sometimes its almost unnoticeable where other times it causes an extreme reaction.  Most often the reaction is to plantation puerh but not always.  Alternatively, some plantation teas that I'm pretty sure are sprayed I will never react to. This reaction developed a few years ago and it only really occurs for about 1/5 of the teas I try.  But it is a very convenient superpower to have!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine this type of influence is called “Evil Qi” or “Li Qi”.  Evil Qi is a type of pathogenic energy that doesn’t come from a natural source or change of season but comes from an unusual external exposure.  And, well, the name says it all, it has a negative influence on the body.  Agrochemicals fit the bill of containing Evil Qi if exposure to them creates a feeling of disharmony and illness.
Just because a puerh is strong or harsh doesn't mean it contains Evil Qi because this strength could very well be the natural Qi of the tea.  There is a difference between an uncomfortable Cha Qi and Evil Qi and this should not be confused. 
Okay... so reluctantly I go back to this tea a steep up the fourth which is mainly dominated by a dry wood profile and dry mouthfeel.  There are still some faint florals and fruits but they are overcome now mainly by an unpleasantly dry woody profile.

The fifth infusion is much of the same monotone tastes.

No need to put myself through any further, I stop the session here.

Even 4 hours later my stomach can still feel the effects and my left Kidney feels unwell.  Overall I have a feeling of disharmony and feel not as good.

This 2004 Bama has lots of Evil Qi in it for sure.

2006 Long Yuan Yao “Bana Impression” 250g Brick

The dry leaves of this likely factory blended Xishuangbanna brick smell of somewhat intense sweet vibrant cherry fruits.

The first infusion presents with nice sweet tobacco wood and hay notes in a creamy sweet mouthfeel.  There is a nice mild creamy-sweet cooling aftertaste.  There is a nice creamy sweet richness that supports this tea though the taste profile but over the taste is a woody hay taste with just a slight bitter edge.  Sweet cherry fruits show up on the breath minutes later.

The second infusion brings smooth creamy sweet tastes with a vegetal sweat wood base.  The sweet cherry tastes are clearer in this infusion.  Overall the mouthfeel is decent and has a soft fluffy, chalky sensation that covers most of the mouth.  The woody hay notes comprise the base of this tea.

Unfortunately, I have some symptoms of a mild-medium sprayed puerh.  My legs starting feeling slightly itchy and my nose starts to run.

The third infusion has many more of these nice sweet round creamy woody notes.  There is a bit of a bread-yeast taste as well as vegetal taste that lingers at the base profile of this tea which later transvers to sweet cherry fruit on the breath.

The fourth infusion has a strong cool sweet aftertaste.  The tastes that precede it are creamy wood tastes, vegetal tastes, and fruits.  The mouthfeel develops a certain chalkiness to hold in the tastes.

The fifth offers much the same with more tobacco notes coming out now as well as more woody-vegetal notes.  The deeper notes start to emerge more in this infusion.

The sixth offers sweet fruit tastes in a slightly juicy, watery soup.  Faint wood notes are apparent but sweet fruits dominate now.  The rounded mouthfeel holds these tastes nicely.

The seventh infusion becomes more watery but still maintains lots of strength with a long muted menthol sweetness.  The cha qi of this tea is nothing too special- a very common feeling of robust alertness and vitality which I expect from a tea.  There is a bit of stuffiness in the head.

The eighth holds much the same the ninth and tenth fade considerably.

There is Cha Qi and then there is Evil Qi.  The 2004 Bama definitely has enough Evil Qi that it overwhelms the Cha Qi in the body.  The 2006 Banna Impression has enough Evil Qi to convince me to avoid drinking this tea.  I actually think the puerh brick is reasonably enjoyable for the price but it has just enough Evil Qi that I can’t ever seeing myself drink it anytime soon.  I place both of these teas into quarantine destine for the garbage dump sooner or later.  Evil Qi can’t be ignored, aged out, nor can it be valued.