Saturday, January 25, 2020

2019 Tea Encounter Laos Gushu (The Real Blend)

Ok…. so I accidentally made the assumption that the early maocha that I had kindly received this summer by Tiago that was labeled “2019 Maocha GuaFengZhi Xiao Shu + Laos Gushu blend” was their 2019 Tea Encounter Laos Gushu.  It turns out that it wasn’t the one they were selling at all but rather an experimental early blend.

So I had find out what the real one was all about with both my extensive experience with Laos puerh (aka border tea) and general enjoyment of Gua Feng Zhi.  This 2019 Tea Encounter Laos Gu Shu is pretty cheap and attainable for most at $37.71 for a 200g cake or $0.19/g.

The stereotypical black leaves of Ban Korman Laos are seen in this blend.  The odour is of sweet black licorice root, deep musk rainforest with a sweet honey backbone and lingering faint florals and fruits.  The dry leaf odour is dominated by the Laos almost barnyard and beef jerky and rainforest pungent musk but the lively Gua Feng Zhi leaves must give it that floral and fruity sweet lightness.

The first infusion starts with a small touch of clear melon fruit then quickly transverses to a musky rainforest almost beef jerky taste.  The musky pungency lingers in the mouth.  The mouthfeel is watery still a bit sticky.  A melon almost floral returns minutes later in the breath.

The second infusion starts with a juicier almost bread and not really that melon or pear sweetness then transverses to musk and rainforest beef jerky.  The musky pungency is the main character the sweetness lurks underneath.  The mouthfeeling is faint sticky and mild pucker.  The tastes are clear, pure and simple but deep in their tone.  The pear melon minutes long returning sweetness is found again.  The profile is really long in this respect.

The third starts stronger almost cinnamon pungency barely sweet then to musk and rainforest which stretches across the profile.  The melon taste seems wedged in there.  There is a woody taste in there now in the base taste.  The mouthfeel is more sticky astringent now.  The Qi is relaxing- I can feel a mild stoner feeling and the chest and ribs open a bit.  Minutes later the sweet aftertaste of pear and melon arrive.  A musky rainforsty pungency lingers as the main profile.

The fourth infusion starts with more pungent musk but almost balanced with fruity sweetness.  This infusion has a creamy sweetness lingering throughout which is the main profile now.  The returning sweetness is stronger now with the creamy sweet lead and puts out a bump of creamy sweetness, melon and even licorice now. The mouthfeeling is moderately sticky in the mouth and the throat is vacuous but seems to faintly open deeply allowing the long retuning sweetness to play out.

The fifth infusion has a licorice and musk forest onset with a sweet fruitiness hidden underneath.  The musk forest pungency is the main note throughout and ends in a returning licorice sweetness and minutes later with a melon fruity nuance with a new sweet bread taste now as well.  The mouthfeeling is mainly sticky on the lips and tongue and upper throat but has a faint depth to the throatfeeling.  The Qi is mild- moderate stoner Qi feeling.  It makes the head float and chest and ribs expand and open.

The sixth infusion I let the liquor sit for 30 minutes to cool and it has a nice rich creamy intense sweet dominating taste with musk and rainforest underneath.  The sweetness here is fruity and thick and leaves me thinking I should leave these cups to cool for a bit… The mouthfeel is thick and sticky.  There is a thick dense honey sweetness to it.

The seventh infusion has a rich thick sweetness both creamy and less fruity initially that dominates the profile.  The musk and rainforest is faint background now just enough to give this blend some depth.  The mouthfeel is sticky and thick on the tongue.  The Qi in this puerh is solid and gives a nice high floating head stoned sensation and an open chest racing heart body feeling.  Very nice, very Gua Feng Zhi in its Qi with a bit more.

The eighth infusion has cooled again and more Gua Feng Zhi tastes of melon, forest, sweet potato and even a vegetal green grass comes out.  The sweetness is predominant.  The mouthcoat is decently thick.  A minute’s later returning sweetness of pear and creamy sweetness lingers in the mouth.

The ninth is a thick rich pear and melon taste with a creamy sweet backbone.  It’s mainly thick sweet almost syrup fruits at this point.  The Qi is decently strong espically for the price of this puerh and I have a body feeling of opening chest and ribs and light neck and shoulders.  Nice stoned feeling happening.

The tenth has a musky pungent Laos character onset with a building creamy sweetness that finishes fruity and sweet Gua Feng Zhi.  The pungency and musk never completely goes away but the sweetness is more pronounced on the back end of the profile.

The 11th starts a sweet juicy but just as musky forest in presentation which fades into an almost woody thing then appears a faint lingering fruity taste a minute later.  This infusion is a bit more astringent.  The mouthfeel almost dry and pucker.

The 12th and 13th push out more sweet fruit with the musky forest being fainter.  There is a nice returning sweetness of melon and fruit and sometimes even licorice root.

I steep this one a few more times before putting it into overnight infusions…

To compare to 2019 Tea Encounter Gua Feng Zhi, I think I like the big Qi of the Gua Fang Zhai and vibrant sweet tastes but the Laos has more interested depth and body feeling to it.  I use up the rest of my 2019 Tea Encounter Gua Feng Zhi sample the next day for comparison and overall its nice budget Gua Feng Zhi with some of the perks of a Gua Feng Zhi such as general nice sweet flavor profile and fairly decent Qi in the head.  However this 2019 Laos offers more depth and will probably age the better out of the two because of the more mature presence of the older tree Laos material.

It’s also interesting to compare this 2019 Tea Encounter Laos to their experimental maocha blend that I was sent in the summer.  They actually didn’t press this blend which has a stronger and more distinct Ban Korman profile which I estimated was 60% Laos 40% Gua Feng Zhi.  This 2019 Tea Encounter Laos blend has a more balanced profile of Laos old tree and Gua Feng Zhi.  Either they used less distinct Laos Gushu and/ or adjusted the blend.  I would say this one is probably closer to 50/50 or even 40% Laos and 60% Gua Feng Zhi.  Either way I feel the finial pressed cake has a touch more Gua Feng Zhi character in it than Laos as the Gua Feng Zhi effectively shines through in the final blend.

I had overnight steeped the 2019 Tea Encounter Gua Feng Zhi side by side and was to picture the leaves… but then work got out of control and they somehow made it both into the garbage… good thing I was at least a bit tea stoned thanks to these… hahahha…



  1. This Laos tea benefits more than many from allowing the liquid to cool before drinking. The balance between the deep and the sweet feels just right when it's not too hot.

    My next experiment with this cake is to try a cold brew to see how the emphasis alters.

  2. Martin,

    Thanks for the comment on that. I agree with you and even wrote a note about that at the sixth infusion above.

    This Laos is a bit of an education in a two polarity blend such as this. The light sweetness and pungent depths are fun to play with throughout a single session making this an interesting puerh for the price. It’s like playing with a teeter totter of tastes here. This was my first and only session so far but I think I’m really going to have fun with this one. There are not really many blends out there that do this as most blenders try to bridge the gap with more middle notes or by adding something that adds a long distinct base to the profile. This one doesn’t have this.

    Please leave a comment here to let us know how the cold infusions go!


  3. I'll do a cold brew this space!

    It's your sixth infusion that prompted me to comment. It's certainly a tea that you can only get to know fully after a good number of sessions. Another good reason for the reasonable price.

  4. Cold brew verdict: Needs at least 4 hours for flavour to come in. Give it as long as possible, preferably overnight (that's what I'll be doing now). Once the taste breaks through, the tea has an impressive dried apricot depth and sweetness. A pleasant sipper to go with breakfast.

    1. Martin,

      Thanks sounds like standard yumminess! You have motivated me to try a cold infusion, probably not until this summer. I will try to remember to post my findings here.


  5. I just wanted to confirm your assessment. Around 45% Laos Gushu and 55% GFZ. Twice more Laos Gushu than initial blend. Spot on on both posts about this blend.

    1. Curigane,

      I think I’m getting better at this... hahaha

      For my next trick I will levitate across the room... hahaha