Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2008 Dayi Qui Xiang & Thoughts on Strong Puerh

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

Grey Teapots Vs. Red Teapots

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.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Guide/Advice on Purchasing the Best Teapot Online

Recently after the breakage of two of my only yixing teapots I set out to find some suitable replacements.  I quickly learned that buying a teapot in person is very different than purchasing one online.

Firstly, you cannot accurately see the quality of the teapot online.  Any imperfections that a trained eye can easily spot can be hid or cannot be determined with pictures online.  Also the size of the lid hole, tightness of the lid, any rough clay inside the pot that might cause potential problems, testing of the pour, general thickness of the teapots walls, the weight of the pot, etc, cannot be reliably determined with photos online. 

Obviously, the tactile feeling of the pot also cannot be determined online either.  More importantly, the overall feel of the teapot, its energy, its Qi, the way it feels in your hands and the way it makes you feel cannot be accurately assessed.  For someone who has an eye for, experience with, and a background in such things, buying a teapot online put me out of my comfort zone.

I think it’s always a good idea to first make sense of your tea drinking.  I did this and I think it will help give you a better idea of what exactly your teapot needs are before you go out a buy one.  It should be noted that really you don’t really need a teapot at all.  However, if you hope to practice gong fu cha “skillful tea brewing” and feel like using the brewing vessel as a way to refine your tea steeping skill or feel that the esthetic of a teapot elevates your tea experience, then you might want more than a cup and some loose leaves with a fork as a filter.  But really, it isn’t at all necessary to own a teapot and still enjoy tea.  In many ways adjusting water parameters, leaf to vessel ratios, water temperature, and steeping times will probably give you much more out of your tea leaves for less money.  But to me, I felt that the teapot was a needed esthetic and a convenient necessity.

For me I determined that I need a teapot that:

1-      Would be for drinking tea with my family in the morning

2-      Would be mainly used for and enhance the flavor of aged/ semi-aged sheng puerh which we almost exclusively consume in the morning

3-      Should be of relatively large volume 200-300mL due to the short time period and the higher output our family demands while gong fu steeping in the morning

4-      Should be of durable and study design and feel, preferably with thicker walls (will withstand potential toddler throws)

5-      Should be a functional design and easy to use because it will be used daily

7-      Should be of yixing clay

8-      Won’t break the bank

After I determined exactly what I was looking for then I went shopping at some reliable Western puerh vendors.  Browsing online, is the first step if you think you know which pots will improve the tea you hope to steep in the new pot.  I think if you contact the place where you are buying a majority of your tea this is a good logical place to start.  This makes sense because the vendor should ideally have the best teapots to bring out the best in the teas which they sell.  It seems reasonable that this would benefit both vendors and buyers alike.

Here are a few that I would recommend and trust and places that I actually went looking for a teapot.  They are all old bloggers that I have had personal connection to for over 10 years.  They are also dealers that focus on aged and semi aged puerh (on the tea that I will use the pot for).  They are also places where I commonly buy tea as reflected by frequent reviews of their teas on my blog:

Stephane has been writing about yixing teapots transmitting knowledge from his teamaster, Teaparker for over a decade now on his blog.  He often helps his patrons chose the best teapotfor the tea they are drinking.  He has anextensive catalogue of yixing pots, many which are quite beautiful and are priced accordingly.

The title of his blog Travelling Teapot pretty much tips you off that this might be a great spot to look for teapots.  His teapot inventory has dwindled down over the last few years but his knowledge of love of yixing teapots makes Wilson a good person to go to.  I feel his selection of drinker quality semi aged puerh matches closely the tea I would be drinking in my future teapot.

The new the Essence of Tea site has by far the best pictures.  It allows you to really zoom in and look at the details of the pot.  He bought up huge amounts of factory 1 yixing pots and quality private commissioned yixing while living in Malaysia.  Its super fun even to just browse at those beautiful shapes and forms.

I actually ended up checking the sites of Yunnan Sourcing and white2tea as well as pretty much all the western vendors I could think of but many of these sites didn’t have anything or very little that met the above criteria.  However, if you reach out by email or message, the vendor that you most frequently purchase from should be able to direct you to a teapot that they feel will work best for the teas they sell.  If they don’t have one that you are looking for they probably will be able to track one down.

Another great place to look is the used market.  Nothing I found met my above criteria but I would have much preferred to buy used and save the money than buy an unused teapot.  That’s just me.

I hope my personal experience in searching for the right yixing teapot online will help any readers to find the right pot for them.  If there are any readers who wish to share any other tips or their experience feel free to do so in the comments below.

So, did I end up buying?  Yes.  I ended up getting two old and beautiful yixing teapots that I feel are the right fit for my teas and tea drinking.  So far, I’m happy with them and feel no need to buy anymore.

Could have I just used an empty cup and a fork to hold in the leaves and gong fu-ed the tea in this make shift, minimalist, gaiwan type of brewing vessel? Yes, it probably would have done the trick just fine.

Could I blindly tell the difference of tea made in one of my yixing pots verses in a mug with a fork strainer?  Who knows, but I certainly hope I’m at that level.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

2018 Spring Essence of Tea Gua Feng Zhai and Thoughts on Blending Huang Pian

This fine sample made it to me free in a recent yixing teapot order along with these others (here and here).  The description on the Essence of Tea website for this Guafengzhai states, We left some yellow leaves in this cake since the quantity was so small and priced it accordingly.  This gives a good range of flavours in the resulting tea.  This is something interesting and new.  I have not ever heard of this before but it makes sense to me as a possible way to both add depth of taste as well as to help keep the price down (because this region is pretty expensive these days).  It appears that this 2018 Spring Guafengzhai has just recently sold out but used to go for $224.00 for 200g cake or $1.12 /g .

The dry leaf smells amazing, like puerh candy with a layered high noted sweetness and subtle rainforest sensibility.  “This will be good tea” I think to myself…

The first infusion has a nutty roasted squash taste which transitions to bold pungent flavours then into a quick moving splash of returning sweetness.  The mouthfeel is gummy, and sticky and nice.  There is sticky rice base taste throughout and intense sweet tastes pop up here and there. First infusion shows nice signs of complexity.  The tea pours a golden yellow colour that is similar to the 2018 Spring Essence of Tea Yiwu.  This might have something to do with the long processing that David is a fan of or maybe it is a product of the weather this spring in Yiwu?  Or the addition of the huang pian (“yellow leaves” or the big yellow mature leaves they usually discard when sorting the picked leaf)?  I’m unsure but it is something I am not used to seeing in such young puerh.

The second infusion has an initial nutty sweet initial taste mixed with a fair bit of pungency there is a squash like and sticky rice base taste under the flavours, slight wood.  The returning sweetness has a cooling menthol finish with light, soft candy like sweetness.  The throat feel is medium depth and the mouthfeel is soft and slightly sticky.

The third infusion has a slightly woody, swash, nutty onset which transitions to a long pungent taste where sweetness returns.  At first the sweetness is a minty pungent mix then it trails off into a mild candy-like sweetness.  The mouthfeel has a mild tingling feeling.

The fourth infusion has the same woody, squash like, nutty onset but it is leaning towards less nutty now and more woody.  The pungency is a touch less now or maybe it just carries a squash like sweet taste.  The sweetness unravels into a mild candy sweetness. The mouthfeel is mild and the mild throat opens unpretentiously. The qi slowly and gently builds up in the body. 

The fifth infusion has a more cohesive taste to it now woody even savory onset that transitions to pungency then to sweetness.  The initial taste has shifted a bit here the throatfeeling is on the edges of constriction in the mid throat.  The mouthfeel has a mild sticky, almost dryness to it.

The sixth infusion starts with an almost juicy nutty treading toward bitter but not quite onset.  The taste transitions to more woody then to a soft quick pungency then to a woody, almost watermelon and squash sweetness and less an intense candy sweetness.

The seventh starts with a nutty squash like taste with undertones of wood and pungency.  The sweet returning taste is less now and mixed with a menthol pungency.

The eighth begins a slight almost milky woodiness with and ending nutty taste and returning pungency that is cooling and not as sweet.  The qi is a nice relaxing Qi but not overly present. The physical body feels like its floating a bit.  The mind relaxed.

The ninth has a woody and nutty onset with a mild pungency and faint on the breath returning sweetness. It weakens here and seems to need pushing early on.

The tenth is pushed 10 seconds beyond flash and gives us a pumpkin/ squash taste with an almost bready and woody like taste.  The sweetness is almost a bread like sweetness with a faint nuttiness lingering beneath.

The eleventh infusion is pushed 30 seconds and delivers a woody, squash and sweet potato like taste.  The mouthfeel is shored up here and is almost silty in the mouth with a nice woody pungency.

The twelfth is put under a 30 steeping is mainly dry wood.  Not too exciting, slightly drying in the throat almost bitter finish with subtle suggestions of menthol.  Qi is a mild relaxing kind of thing but nothing notable really.

The thirteenth is a good 30 seconds plus and comes out rather grainy and cereal tasting mainly with a slight pungency.

The fourteenth is long steeped and gives off a nutty almost juicy but drier wood taste.  The mouthfeel is dry here and constricting in these long steeps.

I put it to an overnight steeping and get better results with a very viscus full syrupy sweetness with fruits and gourd tastes and full coating in mouth.

Overall, I would have never guessed this to be from the Gua Feng Zhai producing area.  The huang pian leaves mixed in gives it an interesting and contrasting depth that you wouldn’t normally experience in a Gua Feng Zhai puerh which is usually quite light and pungent.  It almost tastes autumnal, unnami, deeper, and warmer.  I wonder if we are going to see more of this mixing of yellow leaves?  It’s almost worth trying for this experience.

The qi is of medium- mild intensity and makes the body feel as if it is floating at times and the mind feels a bit relaxed.  The mouthfeel can be a bit off putting and dry and almost constricting if this tea is pushed too hard.  This tea lacks stamina and had to be pushed hard early but then the dryness feeling in the throat and mouth are more apparent.

Reflecting on my day, I felt pretty good drinking this yesterday…



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2018 Spring Essence of Tea “Piercing the Illusion”

Some people pierce their ears, others their nose, belly button, and even other unmentionables but, for the puerh drinker, there is no better piercing than their illusion.  And so it brings us here to this very first experimental blend by Essence of Tea…

I must admit, I was quite excited about this free sample (usually goes for $128.00 for a 400g cake or $0.32) that made its way to me in a recent Yixing teapot order.  First, on a very superficial level, the art on the wrapper by Maggie Taylor is probably one of my favorite all time.  Appreciation of the wrapper art is part of the ecstatic of puerh tea.  Brilliant brilliant year of the dog art in a style that I have not yet seen on a puerh wrapper.  There is a very clever play on words because the dog is sporting very eccentric Elizabethan fashion around its neck called a “Tudor ruff”… get it… hahhaha
Secondly, I am excited that this is Essence of Tea’s first experimental blend.  Essence of Tea has brought us a lot over the years but an eccentric blend is new territory for this very traditional producer. 
Thirdly, I love the concept of blending wild tea with puerh tea.  One of my favorite puerh I purchased this year was a Lao Man E with 10% wild tea blended in- it really gives the tea a different engaging angle.  Also, I am a fan of wild tea and have blended it in my pot at home to some decent results. This 2018 “Piercing the Illusion” is an unspecified “blend of wild tree leaves along with a leaves from cultivated ancient trees”.

Dry leaves smell of intense vibrant deep forests and layered berry jam-like intense wild sweet odours.

First infusion starts with watery empty sweet notes of distant strawberry and has a straw/ hay type of base taste underneath.  There is a subtle cooling aftertaste and a woody finish as well.  The mouthfeel is nice and slightly chalky, slightly opening in the throat.  It leaves a painting of stickiness on the lips, tongue, and opens the mid throat up.

The second infusion starts watery and slightly fruity with a substantially more woody base taste.  There is hay in there as well.  The aftertaste is cooling and slightly fruity but has a vacuous rubbery taste.  I am starting to feel lightheaded as the Qi builds in this tea.

The third infusion starts with a light buttery, barely fruity taste with subtle strawberries lingering in the watery broth with a base of straw and hay.  There is a soft faint cooling aftertaste.  The qi starts to build up in the head like a balloon with slight pressure.

The fourth infusion has a watery buttery faintly fruity initial taste. It has a wild flower almost rubbery, kind of faint vacuous, not really fruity taste.  There are hints of hay, honey, and even mushrooms but all tastes seem a bit distant.  The Qi is not distant but upfront and imparts a slowness to the vision.  The body feels relaxed, the mind slows.

The fifth infusion is a bit creamier with subtle edges of strawberry and juicier fresh fruits initially.  The mouthfeeling is skirting dryness but not quite.  It has a sandiness to it.  The aftertaste has a mildly cooling and slight cherry fruit mild edge to it, slight rubbery.  The minutes later returning aftertaste is of cherries, slight rubber.  The tongue feels sandy.

The sixth is a smoother, velvety building grape, elderberry, cherry taste.  It reminds me of a grape flavored medicine I took for sore throat as a child but it’s tasty.  The woody/ hay profile has pretty much disappeared now.

The seventh is much the same but with more of a peaking sweetness followed by very mild menthol.  Each infusion is immediately felt in the head.  The minutes later aftertaste is of berry syrup.  The mouthfeel is slightly vacuous and sandy, the lips barely sticky.

The eighth infusion starts with a more woody but shares room with a sweet burst of taste.  There is a rubbery fruity retuning sweetness.  The minutes long sweetness is almost candy like now like berry syrup but not overly powerful.  A rubbery feeling is left in the mouth.

The ninth infusion has a cinnamon pungent sweet onset that has berry tastes layer underneath.  The initial taste also has a melon taste in there as well.  The wood base taste comes slowly and fills part of the aftertaste.  The mouthfeel skirts dryness in the mouth.  The mid throat opens mildly to the aftertaste of fruits berries and wood.

The tenth and eleventh infusions starts lighter slight butter and fruit in the distance.  There are slight woody tastes things are a bit muted here.  Sluggish feeling in the thoughts and minds, I begin to feel sleepy.

The twelfth and thirteenth I add 30 or so seconds.  It kicks out more leathery woodys and faint syrupy sweet notes.  There are round fruit tastes in there and a significant cooling aftertaste.  There is a long lingering sticky rubbery almost fruit taste.  The qi feels real sleepy in the body- I feel like a nap but resist such suggestions.  The body qi is still a touch raw on the stomach as new puerh often is.

The fourteen I put to a long infusion a woody fruity rubbery taste emerges with a cool and woody rubbery fruit ending.  The rawness on the stomach is such that I don’t wish to push it any further.

I put this tea into a round of longer and overnight infusions and collect them all into one thermos.  The next day I drink some and am left with a very intense wild leaf fruity profile with edges of a sheng puerh woody taste and mild menthol cooling aftertaste.  I feel immediately tired and my mind slows.

OK, a confession of sorts… I really was expecting some crazy qi sensations something intense and otherworldly… I basically was expecting to turn into a dog dressed in Elizabethan era clothes and have musical clouds full of random sirloin tip steaks, empty cans, lotus flowers, and other random things play out of my head on the moon while I hallucinate about floating dog bones.  Nothing close to this ever happened with this tea experience… Maybe my hopes were just too high?… or maybe, just maybe, this tea really did pierce my illusion or at least expectation of what this tea is all about?

Overall, this tea has layers of sleepy qi in the mind and a medium to strong-ish head sensation.   I am not a big fan of sleepy qi in my puerh but for some people it is their favorite Qi effect- “the downer effect”.  This tea has a strong predisposition for this type of feeling and maybe it was specifically blended for this effect.

Some aspects of this tea’s taste and feeling reminds me of 2017 Spring Essence of Tea Nancai.   It would not surprise me if the puerh that was used in the blend was from Nancai.  Overall, this tea shares some characteristics of puerh and some of wild tea.  I would guess maybe it is close to 65% wild 35% puerh but it is hard for me to tell.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

10 Years to Sharpen A Sword: 2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu

Jia Dao (779-843)

It has been quite a ride David and Yingxi … 10 years.  Over these last 10 years, much has changed in the puerh world and we have learned many things.  As I shared previously on this blog, David and I go way back to when it first started.  I had a feeling, and it is so fitting, that this 2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu ($560.00 for 400g cake or $1.40/g) comprised of GuoYuLin or protected state forest material would magically make it to my tea table.  On the wrapper is commissioned calligraphy of the above Tang Dynasty poem by Jiadao.

The first line in the poem above suggests that David and Yingxi have spent 10 years learning.  There is humility in these lines, patience, meticulousness, carefulness, responsibility.  They, like us, are students of tea- this great mystery of puerh.  They are also our teachers and have taken us on this beautiful 10 year journey with them.  It has taken us to the most pristine puerh trees, to the tea markets of Malaysia, to the Warehouses of Kunming, and beyond. This first line not only refers to them as students but also as business people, and probably, about each other as a couple.

The totality of David and Yingxi’s acquired experience, hard work, patience, learning from past successes and failures and knowledge of what makes puerh so wonderful is presented to us right now.  In this very cake “Today, I hold it unsheathed before you”!

That is a LOT of hype to live up to…

Dry leaves smell of fresh foresty, deep wood odours as well as lingering but not overly sweet distant cherries and plumbs.

First infusion has a sweet onset followed by a deep forest taste then sweet fruity then a sweet icing surgar pungent finish.  Wood tastes appear under the sweet and a slight almost rubbery feeling in the mouth and throat.  It is immediately apparent that this puerh has interesting depth to it.  The mouthfeel is mild and sticky in the tongue but nice and opening in the deeper throat.  The liquour is a golden brown hue to it, unique among puerh this young.

The second infusion starts off with a burst of sweetness that is part fruity and part icing sugar- there is a deeper sweet taste in here as well- like edges of dried apricot mix with mainly freshness.  The wood base appears throughout giving another dimension of depth in this puerh.  The mouthfeel is somewhere between astringent and sticky.

The third infusion is surprisingly strong it has edges of slight bitterness and astringency but is nuanced by layers of sweetness and forest/woodiness.  The aftertastes is pungent and the throatfeeling is deep.  There is strength and power in this Yiwu.  The falvours are both vibrant and deep.  The taste of the skin of a prune plum is interesting.

The fourth infusion is a powerful astringent and sweet wood affair.  The mouthfeel becomes almost puckery with an astringent plum and, in some ways, slightly candy-like with a sweet edge.  Wood tastes are still there but the astringency even hits the corners of the mouth.  It is not at all that choking astringency at all but a full, healthy, bringing out the flovours type of ordeal.  I consider removing leaf but the intense mouthfeeling and throatfeeling bode very well for this tea.

The fifth infusion has much more of a round taste in a powerful full mouthfeeling.  The fruity taste stands out and is long and round throughout the profile.  I love this mouthfeel- this will be an amazing tea for aging.  The sweetness almost has 3 layers to it.  The aftertaste feels almost spicy and warming with a pungency mixed with astringency.  The Qi is really starting to kick in an pushes me into a mild sweat, my head and thoughs feel stalled.  My mind is crisp but my thoughs are slow.  Its effect is strong.

The sixth infusion starts into a very nice round malty sweet or deep sweetness ininitally.  The wood tastes round out the profile.  Highnotes and fruit tastes glances the midprofile and sticks around.  The taste has mellowed but is equally complex with many deep and high nuances.  The moufeel now seems almost as sticky than astringent.

The seventh infusion taste of deeper, darker fruity tastes initially like grape and plumb the wood/ forest taste is underneath and almost seems to blend with the darker fruity tastes.  The profile of this puerh is very long and ends in a pungent cooling taste.  There are some grainy and even nutty notes in the mix as well here.  The lips are tingling here as fruit tastes pop.

The eighth starts off with fruity grape like sweetness which tapers off into a slighty grainy slightly woody taste.  The aftertaste is long and pungent.  This infusion starts to loose its boldness but not much complexity.

The ninth infusion starts with that blast of fruit before deeper forest tastes and astringency and mild bitterness appears.  There is a deeper warmer spicier note developing in there as well.  The aftertaste is almost bready, almost candy, and quite pungent.  The throatfeel of this tea is quite deep- very nice.

The tenth infusion has a deeper fruitier taste with nuances of wood and forest.  The fruit taste is almost like a blackberry preserves type of taste mixed with grape and plum.  Qi makes for a relaxing session with a noticeable thought slowing Qi.

The eleventh infusion I add 15 seconds to the flash to push it a bit. It gives off a malty fruit taste of nuanced dried and fresh fruits.  A grainy taste develops over a returning pungent sweetness.

The tweveth infusion has 20 seconds added to the flash infusion and has a fruity taste, slightly astringent, slightly bitter.  Long fruitiness in some pungency.  The mouthfeeling holds but the fruitiness is less here.

The thirteenth has 25 seconds added and has an apple pie like taste initially with bitter and astringency tucked in there.  Woody tastes emerge and start to dominate now.  The aftertaste has a grape fruit edge which is long lasting.

The fourteenth is at 35 seconds and gives off a very fruity grapy taste the fruit taste is deep here but there is a certain vibrancy to it still.  This infusion is much more fruity again.  A rubbery taste is in the aftertaste with a mild lingering fruit sweetness and menthol.

The fifteenth is steeped for maybe 50 seconds and is a touch bitter and astringent and woody and not as fruity.  There is a rubbery barely fruity lingering aftertaste along with wood tastes there.

The sixteenth has a minute or so on there and gives us a more woody taste mixed with lingering fruits and lingering menthol.  The mind is nice and relaxed curled up by the fire somewhere and yet there is a robust feeling in the chest, a subtle fluttering feeling that give me a soft nudge of energy throughout this session.

The seventeeth is put into a long infusion and is a bitter, very astringent, fruity taste.  Interesting but truly overpowering.

Overall, this is one of my favorite new fresh tastings of Yiwu puerh in recent times.  Last year, Essence of Tea released a 2017 Essence of Tea Spring YiWu GuoYuLin that I had the pleasure of sampling.  The description of the tea on Essence of Tea’s website stated that this was their favorite tea pressed to date- it sold out pretty quickly.  I think this one is considerably better in that it offers a much more engaging astringency and mouth feeling as well as a deeper throatfeeling.  Apparently, many GuoYuLin puerh in 2018 have shown much more astringency due to this year’s weather patterns. Some see this as a negative but in my experience this can be a big positive.  The astringency ensures that the tea will have might even with age.  Another thing is the Qi, the qi is much more deep and penetrating and overt in this 2018 than the 2017 as well.

“Ten Years to Sharpen a Sword” to me means that the last ten years was just the beginning.  The true treasure from Essence of Tea has been presented to us in this extraordinary example of puerh tea.  If this is any indication of things to come, I welcome it.

Congratulations David and Yingxi.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Marco’s Most Interesting 3: A Zheng Si Long Report

Humble readers, I hope you have enjoyed the recent focus of Zheng Si Long puerh here on this blog- I know I have.  Since the beginning of time, puerh bloggers have played an important role in debuting the the good, the bad and the ugly (but mainly the good) of newly minted western puerh vendors.  I take this as part of the responsibility (and fun) of the puerh blogger, if they so wish to take on such endeavors.

As it stands today I have worked my way through all the samples that I have received- it was a lot of fun.  I have posted the reviews of 12 of the 18 Zheng Si Long on offer at Tea Encounter (if you include the 2018 maocha which may or may not be the same material and/ or not the finial processing as the actual 2018 cakes).  Links to the reviews are as follows in the order listed on Tea Encounter’s:

My overall impression of the Zheng Si Long brand as well as the value of Zheng Si Long is favorable.  I feel that Tea Encounter has identified a gap in the Western puerh market for seemingly accurate single mountain Yiwu puerh that is of decent medium-high-to-higher quality. Many Western puerh sellers either offer less quality plantation Yiwu at a priced that reflects this or medium-high quality at prices much higher than this.  There are others that offer very high end state forest type things but at prices that reflect this.  Zheng Si Long offers Yiwu puerh of a quality that falls between these distinctions but at good value, I believe.

For those that still believe in the idea single mountains can actually be what they say, I recommend giving Zheng Si Long a try.  I must admit that I am no pro at determining a producing area from just drinking a puerh and cannot be certain that 100% the material is exactly what is claimed.  However, my preconceived notion of the characteristics of specific growing regions aligned closely to what I tasted from these Zheng Si Long samples.

When first introducing Zheng Si Long a few months ago I had promised Marco that I would let him know what I thought were my most interesting three I sampled out of the lot.  So here they are:

The above three represent interesting Qi sensations as the primary reason I selected them with taste/aroma and mouthfeel/throatfeeling as secondary criteria.  If I was going on taste alone I could have easily added others in the selection.  I also didn’t take price into consideration.  If I were to do that maybe the pricey Wan Gong would be replaced… but I like that happy Wan Gong.

Haven’t yet decided on purchase but will surely let you know if I take that plunge.