Saturday, February 29, 2020
Kunming dry stored for whole life- check.
Super crazy tight compression- check.
BuLang Bulang-E-ness- check.
While this one checks a lot of boxes for me. The description on Yunnan Sourcing’s site says that good ol’ Hai Lang picked this up in Menghai in 2000. It currently goes for $102.00 for 250gmushroom or $0.41/g a price determined by Hai Lang Hao and passed on to us by Yunnan Sourcing. Yunnan Sourcing has many options for Bulang puerh. This one seemed to be the most interesting to me so I picked up a sample…
Dry leaves smell of classic smokey barely sweet fruit odour.
First has a nice mellow very faint smoke with mainly sweet tasting thin layer of dried pear, and a base of wood. The mouthfeel is slightly sticky and sandy with the sensation more on the tongue than in the throat.
The second has a nice sweet approach with a very faint mild woody smokiness left. The taste is mainly this monotone sweetness that is almost a woody, grassy, and non-distinct almost not-really there dried pear taste. There is faint smoke on the breath.
The third gains a bit of strength as a slight bitterness where a sweet grassy woodiness comes out. The sweet fruitiness is overtaken by bitter and woody grass here. There is a nice powdery dry storage nuance in here now. There is a deep underlying menthol that start to generate over a flat sandy stimulating tongue feeling and less active throat. A very faint candy breath can be found.
The fourth develops a rich nutty sweet onset that is mainly sweet but in a nutty and rich woody type of way. There is a deep underlying pungency which pushes an almost cherry like sweetness out in the breath. The mouthfeel is this almost sandy full tongue sensation that is not overpowering but still significant. The aftertaste turns into a longer running sweetness. The smokiness is pretty much non-existent now.
The fifth has a thick mushroom almost pecan onset with grassy woodiness underneath. The overall taste is sweet but it’s hard to describe it almost like a dried/ dehydrated pear sweetness that melds with the mushroom, nutty, woody and grassiness. There is a slight richness to the taste. The mild building pungency is apparent in the aftertaste that pushes out a mild candy sweetness. The smokiness is pretty mild and more in the aftertaste.
The sixth infusion has a mild bitterness with woody and mushroom and it turns into a nice sweetness. The sweetness is almost a nutty rich sweetness like how a nut butter is sweet. The mouthfeeling is full and kind of a dry tight mild coating especially on the tongue. The throat is more opening at the top and mid level. There is an extension of the sweetness in the aftertaste as a powdery almost cherry like and very faint candy lingering on the breath. The overall taste is rich, warming, clean, woody and mushroom almost but not really dried pear. The Qi is mildly relaxing.
The seventh infusion has a woody rich menthol onset with a strong nuttiness in there as well. There is barely any bitterness here more of a grassy woody menthol type with a strong clear almost plum richer sweetness. There is some candy on the breath and a good powdery-ness in there as well.
The eighth infusion has a very woody lumber rich taste to it. There is a honey almost smoked maple syrup edge to it. The mouthfeel is slightly sandy and dry on the tongue but feels somewhat full. There isn’t really a bitterness now its more of a drier, sharper finish. This infusion has a nice mild powdery cherry nuance. The Qi is a moderate harmonious Qi not a typical strong Bulang Qi sensation.
The ninth has a sandalwood taste with mushroom and sweetness to it. The sweetness is hard to describe it taste so blended into the profile it feels like sweet wood. The mouthfeel is slippery and thicker. The menthol incense wood nuance is nice and echoes deep into the throat. Dry menthol wood and mild sweetness.
The tenth has a sweet dense dry woody presentation. The taste is almost a syrupy maple syrup taste intertwined with wood tastes. The mouthfeel is a powdery, dry, sandiness on the tongue. The Qi is super mild but really harmonious it is a touch alerting and a touch relaxing. The tea feels really nice in the body, gentle but I can feel something relax my face. It has a cozy aged warmth to it. Smoke is gone now. The fruity aftertaste is long on the breath. There is nice cherry powdery fruity tastes here.
The 11th infusion has woody sweetness, at times it almost seems like dry pear there is this low reaching pungency to the taste which pushes out a faint sweetness on the breath. Overall this puerh feels somewhat dense, full and complete but harmonious in the body and mind.
The 12th infusion has a strong woody with faint smokey nuance. The taste is full and tastes of woody notes and chestnuts. The Qi makes me feel good. Relaxed and content.
The 13th infusion has a pine wood taste to it with a pungent sweetness that emerges in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is really stable throughout all the infusions it remains full and a sticky powdery sandy on the tongue.
The 14th has a fruity mainly woody mushroom onset. Still full mouthfeeling with a low rising pungency and a bit of sweetness under wood mushroom to finish. There is a flat woodiness throughout now.
The 15th infusion has a pine woody sweetness the taste is really dense and feels full on the mouthcoating. This is a nice harmonious jincha. The low lying pungency is nice and pushes some sweetness out of the woodiness. There is a nice peachy sweetness pushed out somehow.
I put this one into overnight steeping as I run out of time in my day…
This one tastes like a bit of a sweeter, lighter Bulang with a mild suggestion of a more bitter and sweet with distant smokey classic Bulang nuance. This is partly because the bitterness and smoke have aged out a bit and the dry storage and compression is favorable for the sweetness. This Bulang has a really mellow Qi sensation even for a two decade aged Bulang. The Qi is not typical of my experience of Bulang. Either way it works nicely.. for a nice easy drinking dry aged puerh.
In some ways this mushroom reminds me of a bit of the Bada puerh producing region with a mild sweet profile and nice mellow Qi. I don’t know that I’ve ever tried an aged Bulang that tasted this mild and smooth. There is something satisfying about this. On the plus side the dry storage tastes of candy and sweet flavours are nice to behold in something like this due to its nice dry storage. The storage of this mushroom is ideal Kunming dry storage. Nicely tight compressed. I think the storage and compression work well for a lighter and sweeter Bulang like this. I think this is fair price for what you get considering this is 20 years aged nicely dry Kunming stored puerh. For me it’s an easy drinker Bulang- just not exactly what I’m looking for. Anyone interested in clean dry storage on a truly aged Bulang with a smooth mild presentation should give it a try.
Thursday, February 27, 2020
This ($110.00 for 357g cake or $0.31/g) is a drier Taiwanese stored Bulang option sourced by Teas We Like from Nan Qiao’s inaugural year. Nan Qiao factory is most famous for its Bulang and is also famous for using lots of cleaner and organic certified material. If you look around, a lot of vendors actually carry puerh from Nan Qiao Factory. This should be some of the top of the brand, literally the King (Chawang) of Bulang…
The very tight machine pressed dry leaves smell of a very peat mossy type of smell with a very faint incense almost smokiness.
First infusion is a slightly fishy seaweed and incense with a peat fresh wood-chips-like taste. The taste is kind of unique and finishes with a faint pungent and sour wood finish. The mouthfeel is tight and the throat feel hasn’t really been activated yet- just mild sensations in the top throat. There is not really much bitter here surprisingly no smoke. The first infusion tells me that this was really nicely processed for a Bulang. I like the tight compression on this one too.
The second infusion has a richer incense almost bitter coco suggestion with a slight pondy fishy nuance in the back ground. There is a distinct salty taste to this puerh throughout. There is a very faint pungency on the breath then suppressed coco tastes in the aftertaste along with wood chips and faint pond/ marshland. A subtle bread-like sweetness is hard to grasp at here. The Qi starts to build in the mind and I can feel the warmth of this puerh start to generate internally. This will be strong…
The third infusion starts with a woody incense taste with the fishy pond nuance becoming less here. There is a long salty base taste then a sour wood taste. There is a soft pungency that pushes wood chips, faint coco, almost a hard to grasp milky coco taste, wood chips, and incense. There is a lingering bread like sweetness like raison bread. There is a kind of soft flat bitterness that kind of comes much later after swallowing. The mouthfeel is nicely full and tight, the throat has a upper-mid level opening. Saliva is kind of trapped at the top of the throat extending these unusual tastes for quite some time. The Qi is pretty strong here and makes the head and body wobble and heat is generated at the core. I can feel my chest start to pound loudly.
The fourth infusion has a bitter incense woody onset the pond/ marshland is almost gone and the initial taste is mild bitter wood chips, incense and coco bitterness. The full tight mouthfeel tugs at the throat and fills the mouth. The Qi is very very strong and I am flushed in the face, I feel almost dizzy, like I could faint if I exert myself. The heart pounds. This is very strong Qi. The aftertaste has a bread like sweetness to it that emerges under the bitter. This infusion is still quite salty underneath.
The fifth infusion starts with incense, slight pond, wood chips, and moderate bitter. It turns slightly sour and salty then a faint but building pungent coolness. The aftertaste is bitterer than the initial taste and there is a mix of pond, wood, incense, faint coco and bread sweetness. There is a lingering metallic taste in the aftertaste as well. The Qi is big, staggeringly large in the mind.
The sixth infusion starts with a strong bitter taste with wood and coco and incense. The pondy fishiness is gone. The aftertaste come after an undulating coolness hits and expands. The result is long bread and coco bitter sweetnesses. This infusion hits the spot. Big Qi along with bitterness slows me down considerably and I consider removing leaf from the pot…
The seventh infusion… Ok I didn’t remove leaf (I will not admit defeat quite yet) just took a 40 min rest… the first has an almost raison and faint coco onset that is balanced bitter and sweet. The taste is a flat coco with incense, saltiness, woodiness much more background. The taste here is nice with a lingering coolness and incense and bread sweet type of finish. The mouth feeling is now chalkier. The aftertaste is also mineral here.
The eighth infusion starts a nice smooth almost milky sweet onset with bitter less here and incense in there too. This infusion has a classic Bulang onset. It stretches into a mineral milky flat bitter. A pungent coolness then sweet bread. Not much coco here and much less bitterness. The bitterness is receding. The Qi races the chest, pounds it hard. This one really tastes like classic Bulang.
The ninth has a slight creamy milky flat sweet and subtle pond/ marshland. There are faint suggestions of coco and a nice long creamy sweetness. The coolness is less and pushes a stronger sweetness out of the flat milk tastes. There is a faint bit of mineral and even less saltiness now. Overall this infusion is milky sweet with touches of mild bitter and coco. The mouthfeeling becomes more chalky and full. The throat feel is not too deep with this one but it mainly gets stimulated with the intense bitter early in the session.
The tenth is milky sweet initially with a mild woody flat bitter and a mineral taste as well as incense coming out mid profile. The mouthfeel is a sticky chalky now and bitter-sweet coco comes after a mild coolness. The qi is still in the chest- like a good Bulang should. It has less intensity and almost a relaxing effect now.
The 11th is bitter-sweetness, milky, almost incense and herbaceous tastes. There is some sour and even some mineral later into the session. The aftertaste is becoming less. Still some woods and incense and milk sweetness. This infusion was more herb tasting.
The 12th onset is more herbaceous onset with incense and flat milk sweetness. There is a lessening bitterness as well as full mouthfeeling. Qi is less and extends into a relaxed feeling with some chest heart palpitations.
The 13th is an herbaceous incense woodyiness initially with more a faint coco and milk finish. The profile has leveled out here and it’s pretty easy straight forward drinking.
The 14th is much more of the same herbaceous, incense, this more has a bit more milky coco swetnesss, faint cooling, woody, pretty tasty stuff with a relaxing feeling now. These infusions get less bitter as they go, less complex, less sweet. But still delicious with more of a relaxing Qi after all that stimulation.
I throw in the towel early with this one and put it into overnight steepings which seem to pull out a pretty bitter herby soup.
Overall a nice Bulang. To me a classic Bulang should have a full bitter peak early in the session with a nice coco taste and milky/creamy sweet balance, there should be earth shattering Qi that must make the heart race, the mouthfeel should be full and stimulating, and there should be some faint smoke in there to indicate the more rudimentary production. Then after the first handful of steeps the bitter should give way to milky flat sweetness and woodiness. These are the qualities I look for in a quality classic Bulang. This 2004 Nan Qiao Chawang Bulang mainly has the earth shattering Qi … but man is it every satisfyingly strong and clear!
This 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang starts a bit unique with some interesting pond tastes that I don’t usually see in Bulang. I don’t think this is storage taste although that flavor usually indicates off storage- I think it is a part of the profile and where this tea is in the aging. Plus there is no smoke. These are not necessarily bad things, they are just things… unique and complex things actually.
This Bulang has a very intense Qi which to me is everything in a Bulang. It does this part very very well. Its bitterness is strong and creamy/milky sweetness is low-moderate. It is a very nicely processed, very clean drier Taiwanese storage, with a pure clean feeling in the body. There is actually a lot of interesting notes in this Bulang which give it a different type of herby, pondy, mineral, and medicial wood-like complexity. They are just not notes I really like nor are they notes that I am looking for in a Bulang.
I don’t think I will be purchasing another but it is nice to have a good example of a dry stored herbaceous, woody, medicinal Bulang. From what I have read, most Nan Qiao seem to be low on the sweetness and high on the herbal, woody, medicinal tastes. I think the price is about right for something like this. The interesting thing about this Bulang is that it is so powerful and clean and kind of unusual that I caught myself going back for a few more sessions over the last few weeks when I was looking for a power boost and/or for some unusual puerh tastes.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
I am finally getting around to replacing my dwindling stock of aged and semi aged Bulang. I must only have around a cake left of aged Bulang at my disposal. I have a few more cakes of some semi-aged that I dip into but that isn’t aged out enough yet to drink. At this rate the drinkable stuff will be gone in a year or so- not good. In a way, composing this post is also guiding or putting into print exactly what I am looking for in some replacement Bulang.
I do have a bit of experience with the Bulang area. Interestingly, most of my experience with Bulang was around 15 years ago so the stuff I was drinking at that time was mainly 90s more humidly stored Bulang. A lot of it was sometimes hard to for me to distinguish from aged Menghai. What is going on now with Bulang is probably a lot different than what I’m used to. It seems like not that much is actually going on with Western puerh vendors pressing fresh Bulang these days. I predict a resurgence in interest in Bulang over the next few years for Westren puerh drinkers much in the same way Lao Man E experienced a surge in the West over the last 2 years. New trends aside, I’m used to classic Bulang character anyways and that’s what I’m after…
The simplest reduction of the Bulang character for me is that it has a bitter profile in the first handful of infusions which then turn into sweet infusions around steeps 5-8 onward. There is always a strong, alerting chaqi which is especially apparent in the chest. There is always smoke even if just faintly or on the dry leaf but sometimes the smoke on Bulang can be a bit aggressive. It is my understanding that the reason that (at least historically) Bulang had some smokey notes is because of the remoteness of Bulang. The processing was done a lot more crudely by local minorities that were geographically isolated from puerh factories. Anyways, most bulang are this: always bitter, then sweet, and have strong qi and some smoke.
When I think about Bulang I usually think about three different character types of Bulang puerh. Bulang is a huge producing area and covers a lot of territory and there is much more variability in its overall character than some smaller puerh regions. In reality these character types can overlap or can even contain a bit of each but for clarity’s sake I keep them separate in my head:
1- The bitter and creamy sweet Bulang.
This bulang starts with a distinct flat bitterness from which a creamy often coco or milky sweetness emerges in the returning sweetness after a pungent coolness. This profile is highlights the balance of bitter and sweet leaning to more bitter usually. This profile seems to be accentuated by/ or as a result of more humid than dry aging.
2- The herbaceous, woody, and medicinal Bulang.
This bulang has very little if any sweetness but still has bitter and tastes woody, herby, sometimes like cooking herbs and other times like medicinal herbs. This profile highlights subtle medicinal nuances. As it ages it develops Traditional Chinese Medicine like tastes.
3- The fruity, floral and less bitter Bulang.
This Bulang has some brighter fruit and/or floral sweetnesses throughout the profile that are often brought out by the bitterness. This profile highlights lighter and sweeter notes such as fruits and florals but often the flat bitterness is still the main taste. This profile has a subtle and distant resemblance to the Ban Zhang producing area and some even reminds me of Lao Ban Zhang. This profile seems to do better with drier storage, I believe.
Personally, I prefer mainly the first profile but that is mainly due to my exposure and purchasing that stuff many years ago. This is my bias towards more classic tasting Bulang. I think I would be open to the other profiles as well if it were done well or nicely integrated with the first profile.
Ok… we got some really great Bulang Mountain puerh coming up here... let’s start Bulang sampling…
Monday, February 24, 2020
I acquired a free sample of this from Emmitt in my last Yang Qing Hao order and tried to taste it and put my notes out here as soon as possible. Thanks Emmitt, this is a real treat. Anyways I’m doing this to alert any readers that Liquid Proust is doing a sampling of this cake that is not currently available to the public right now. It’s your chance to try a really interesting tea experience, I believe…
The tightly compressed dry leaves are of wild variety and have a very unnaturally deep purple colour. The leaves look quite small and the dry leaf smell is a vacuous faint barely fruity and almost woody or cardboard.
The first infusion has a watery wood approach and I decide to ignore Emmitt’s warning and put the whole sample in the pot. This is still probably about 1/3 less leaf than I normally use to evaluate. Very light with icing sugar suggestions, mainly vacuous in taste because of the tight compression. There is a solid long breath taste emerging here and vague tastes of faint storage.
The second infusion starts with a watery almost fruity light bitter and mild long cooling and a long almost strawberry and wood breath tastes. There are very faint sweet black cherry and barely bitter suggestions. The mouthfeel is like a very very fine sand on the tongue. Lips are slightly sticky. The wet leaves smell of slightly barnyard. The Qi comes quickly and I can start feeling a loopy euphoria building and a face releasing sensation and a chest opening sensation. This Qi will be very strong, I think- it is already stronger than most standard puerh at the peak of the session.
The third infusion has almost strawberry onset quite watery and vacuous still with an icing sugar nuance and a bitterness that emerges more in the mid-profile. The roof of the mouth is stimulated in a drying way that makes the taste on the roof almost metallic. The long mild minutes returning very faint fruity taste is expansive in the mouth. The Qi frees the mind and the muscles of the jaw, head and face relax. I feel very very relaxed and almost like outside my body. The feeling is not powerful but is liberating and subtle.
The fourth infusion has a vacuous woody subtle sweet has a mild mid profile bitterness which turns to raisin and current returning sweetness a very mild cooling in throat. There is a bready sweetness in there as well as faint fruity and woody a mineral taste slight metallic on roof slight bitter. Very Very long and intricate breath taste with many subtle nuances. I hear the word jam sweetness thrown around a lot. This has a true jam sweetness in there as well. Very relaxing. The slightly cooled cup has an obviously very nutty and creamy sweet disposition more like conventional puerh which might be blended into the wild leaf. I can obviously see 3 different leaf colours just as Marco observed. Strong mind unraveling Qi.
The fifth has a moderately bitter, watery, almost grape peel and creamy sweet onset which swells into a raison and current sweet taste as the faint cooling pungent pushes upwards. It leaves behind a distinctly vanilla note more like the actual spice than the artificial flavor. There is a minutes long returning woods, slight bitter, almost fruitiness, and barnyard, slight coco, cola, root beer. The taste is very very complex in the minutes long after taste. This infusion is crazy delicious. The bitter with creamy sweetness and coco almost tastes like homemade sarsaparilla. Very yummy. This puerh is not really overly bitter just moderate.
The sixth starts creamy woody slight bitter into a raison and current taste over underlying moderate coolness that goes deep into the throat. The throat feeling is quite deep here. The cooled cup is quite creamy and sweet. A cola, root beer, sarsaparilla, woody sweet deep taste a deep but still ethereal taste. The Chest Qi is substantial. I realize that the warning Emmitt was giving me was not, in fact, for the bitterness but rather for the rather intense Qi sensation. My heart races with an intense rancor.
The 7th has an almost spicy cinnamon, almost cardamom, onset. There is a low level almost melon sweetness that comes out stronger in here at the start and mid profile before turning to raison and currents. There is a more creamy wood returning in the minute’s long breath. There is a low lying bitterness that rest underneath and slowly expands in the mouth. The mouthfeel is sticky, the lips even more so. The throat stimulation is very subtle and deep. The Qi is starting to push me into a frenzied like giddy happy feeling. My Chest feels like it will implode energetically. Minutes later quite obvious blueberry jam like taste comes on which is very very nice.
The 8th has a soft onset of layered tastes which consists of woody, nutty, creamy sweat, mineral, underlying almost fruitiness. It turns into a current/ raison taste then into a dark coco taste. Minutes later as the coco recedes fruit tastes emerge as it converges with a cooling pungent. Then the mouth becomes almost dry and the bitterness and creamy sweetness is left in there which gives it a dark chocolate feel.
The ninth I get a little bit of a pot clog- about 1/3 the leaves sitting in hot water for a minute or two. So this steep is going to be a bit more intense… Not bad… a coco sweet creamy and moderate-mild bitterness with a long wild cherry, creamy sweetness over the mild pungency. Heart races intensely. The blueberry jam taste is prominent. Distinct jam like blueberry sweetness in a flat mild bitter base. This more aggressive steeping more shows up 10 minutes later in a long chocolate berry taste. The mouthfeeling is fine sand, sticky, deep throat opening. My heart…. This puerh gives me a hyper alertness and certain clarity.
10th becomes a woody slight bitter coco onset with a mild pungent a slow emerging coco. There is a vague berry taste almost chalky and tart initially then disappears into coco and mild bitterness. The minutes long returning is coco and faint blueberry jam with some mild mineral and even a metallic taste on the roof of the mouth.
The 11th has a vanilla nuance again with a wood sweet creaminess. Once the underlying coolness reaches a point a berry taste emerges as does coco and milk like tastes. The alertness and intensity of the Qi is turning into relaxing. The mouthfeeling is full but never strong just like a fine almost slippery sand. The throat always opens deeply with this one.
The 12th has a woody, mild bitter, dry woody turning into coco taste. The teeth become squeaky. This infusion is leveling into a bitter coco with creamy sweetness slight pungent with the sweet nuances almost gone this strangely tastes like Bulang in later infusions. Minutes later some fruity tastes come out of the wood works. There is a malty taste in there as the cup cools.
13th is woody sweet and slightly astringent bitter now. The most obvious and dominant note is wood and creamy coco along with a subtle suggestion of sweet fruit and a slow moving coolness underneath. There are some berries that pop up now minutes later.
14th starts a bit watery with some woody almost berry like tastes and a thin level bitterness. The taste is losing steam here a bit and I will push this into longer minutes long infusions for a bit here.
A 15th that is minutes long tastes of coco bitter and low lying blueberry taste. The pungent cooling note is more significant here and attempts to push some interesting tastes out in the long breath. Some other fruits and mineral are found there even a grapefruit taste is noted.
The 16TH is a few minutes steeping. It tastes quite mineral, bitterer, coco flat bitterness with a faint lingering floral at the back of the throat which is interesting. There is some initial fruitiness that disappears almost instantly as bitter comes fast too. The Qi is now very mellow and tranquil.
The 17th is another few minutes long steeping which gives off flat bitter coco with some dark fruits pushing faintly underneath. These longer infusions do more to amp up the pungent coolness which tries really hard to push something out in the breath but not that much comes out this late in the game.
I put this into an overnight steeping.
This is a fantastic wild tea (and possibly conventional puerh blend) I believe. It’s possible that the three coloured leaves represent 3 different varietals of wild tea or 2 different varietals and conventional puerh. Overall I think it is mainly wild tea/yesheng as noted by the leaf colour, intense Qi and minute’s long returning taste. The Qi is really strong and invigorating with some more intense body feeling then strongly relaxing. Like doing a good cardio workout and the feeling afterwards. The taste is really really complex for a wild that’s why I think its possible there is some conventional puerh blended in here.
Not at all picking up on the storage tastes like marco did in his tasting notes. This one may have been dry stored by Emmitt, instead of coming directly from Yang’s storage, I believe. This is a kind of tea that would be best dry stored, I think.
I also don’t understand how Shah8 cannot see three colours of leaves in this one as marco pointed out. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone. Just look at the photo. I hope he doesn’t have a fake? I always get a kick out of how Shah8’s impression of a tea always improves considerably once he has acquired it… hahahahha… Either way I agree with his assessment that this is an extraordinary blend that is hard to come by.
Rating it for a wild tea and just for comparison 9.0. Wild tea doesn’t really get better than this. To be honest there are not many blends of wild teas so its hard to kind of compare it to this.
Edit: The overnight steeping the next day has a tart and bitter fruit taste, slightly creamy sweetness with corn flavor base. There is still some cooling pungent then into a longer creamy sweet and bitter finish. The mouthcoating is sticky and slightly drying. Minutes later a distinct bitterness is left on the tongue with no other flavors to join in.
Edit: The overnight steeping the next day has a tart and bitter fruit taste, slightly creamy sweetness with corn flavor base. There is still some cooling pungent then into a longer creamy sweet and bitter finish. The mouthcoating is sticky and slightly drying. Minutes later a distinct bitterness is left on the tongue with no other flavors to join in.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Since my return to blogging in 2017, I have mainly had one mission- to handedly restock my puerh supply for the next 10 years and beyond. It’s actually a bit unique when you think of it because I don’t know any other active blogger who really outlines their puerh buying goals then shares publicly how they are fulfilling them like I’m doing here? No one with a long and diverse experience drinking puerh. Thanks for coming along for the ride…
Anyways, there have been mini-missions built into my puerh buying. Those following along closely will know what I’m talking about.
The first very broad mission was to purchase puerh in quanity from the puerh Trifecta as I called it - three of my favorite diverse puerh areas Menghai, Mengku, and Yiwu. I pretty much covered my bases by now. I stocked tones of Shuangjiang Mengku before the price correction on Mengku/Lincang hit. I mainly went with Yang Qing Hao to cover Yiwu, again before the price went up significantly. For Menghai I ended up buying this Zhongcha in volume from Tea Masters which sold for a price that can’t really be beaten, sadly now sold out. I hope that some of you readers took advantage of these before they sold out or went up substantially. I am pretty happy with these purchases and drink this stuff daily.
There has also been mini missions in my buying. One such mission was the search for semi-aged super cheap factory cakes (here and here) which was super fun and I still actually love drinking this cheap stuff. There is nothing wrong with admitting that. There were a few cakes that I unearthed that I still enjoy every once in a while, some stuff that I can’t keep my hands off, and a bunch of the Menghai factory cakes that I’ve completely drank through and really enjoyed but would never ever re-stock. There were just a few undrinkables that hit the compost bin… hahah… good fun!
I also attempted to test out and sample Western puerh brands that I’ve not tried before such as white2tea and one which I haven’t tired in many years Tea Urchin. White2tea is heavily marketed, post-modern tea art at its finest and is interesting in their execution of their very deliberate blended productions a few of which I have come to really enjoy (here and here). I have also enjoyed Tea Urchin in their pure single estate gushu style (still haven’t heavily published on Tea Urchin but hope to do so in the coming year). I have also tested out some of my old favorite Western vendors such as the Essence of Tea and Yunnan Sourcing (Shah8 recently did this with Yunnan Sourcing as well). I also extensively explored completely brand new vendors like I did in depth with Tea Encounter.
A year or so ago after acquiring many semi-aged cakes I went on a buying mission to find the best of the cheapest fresh puerh which cumulated in the winner being the now sold out 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn NanPo Zhai which I had for $0.16/g. I was also left with KGs of other great runners up like the 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Impression and 2018 & 2019 Snoozefest cakes. These are all great drinkers for their price and I’m super excited to dry age them. I also went on a mission to buy higher priced young stuff and last year after stocking up on cheapos I even dipped my toe in that too. The price to value compared to semiaged had me restricting my purchases of these more expensive young puerh overall but was interesting to explore.
This next year I have a new buying mission- buy way less. I have mentioned recently that I’ve healthily stocked up and it will be the first year since I’ve came back to re-stock that I hope to take the 15 Cake Challenge… I already think that 20 will probably be my cut off but I will try. It’s a lofty goal, and if James can do it, so can I…. ahhahaha
I also hope to sample a bit more than purchase. Don't have as much need for full cake samples these days so I hope to be more selective with that. Apparently, I will also be sampling the bottom and some of the less popular mid-priced Yang Qing Hao in this manner. I have to congratulate Liquid Proust for offering this sampler of cheaper Yang Qing Hao stuff, none of which I’ve tired. It would be neat to see a Yang Qing Hao tuo only sampler and maybe a highest end sampler as well. Surprisingly I have only tried a handful of Yang Qing Hao. These cheaper Yang Qing Hao stuff I am a bit curious about but would never cake sample so maybe there might be a few cheaper Yang Qing Hao in there worth a purchase, who knows… Still haven’t even sampled most of the top stuff either yet…
With that being said, I also hope to continue to buy higher. Instead of young puerh, it will be semiaged stuff as well this year. Hopefully you will see a little more of this on the blog next year- I’ve already started reviewing these. Last year and a half I purchased very little semiaged or factory stuff and I’d like a bit more variety of those for my daily drinking.
Interestingly, I stated in this post from a few years ago, that my next mission would be to find some good semiaged Bu Lang area puerh. At that time I stated that I am drinking through my aged Bu Lang and need to restock. Over the last few years I’ve failed to re-stock any Bu Lang what so ever- fail! I think this in part is from a gradual focus away from the Bulang area by western vendors. These winter months generally get me craving and drinking aged Bu Lang.. I really have not much left. Stereotypical aged Bu Lang is like the expresso of puerh. A blast of energy and warmth in the lazy months with a thick rich and slight bitter taste. Nothing beats this stuff. I would be willing to compromise for a similarly satisfyingly strong tea and I am not completely hung up on it being Bu Lang but should have that general character. The stock is seriously dwindling so the time is now. Any suggestions?
I just received my first order from Teas We Like (started posting this stuff a few weeks ago) of proper cake samples expect some reviews in the coming weeks and months of this glorious stuff…
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
The name of this cake from Teas We Like ($160.00 for 357g cake or $0.45/g) is a bit of a play on words. The “Naked” is referring to both the fact that this cake has no wrapper but also to the classic nudity seen on the double happiness nefi as seen on Zhi Zi Hao productions of years ago….. hahahah… good one.
The first infusion has a slightly smoky and faint plummy onset with a slight tart long aftertaste. The aftertaste has a bit of floral in it some other fruits but faint. The mouthfeeling is chalky. The aftertaste drops a lot of subtle little goodies out that are too early to parse out.
The second infusion starts a bit smoky with then there is this melon creamy powdered sweetness going on. This infusion is mainly fruity and light airy floral with a bit of perfume floral layers. There fruity floral purity of this Yiwu is really nice and plays out for a long time on the breath leaving you with a rich cherry on the breath minutes later. There is very little wood or incense in here just sweet fruity florals very nice. The mouthfeel is simulating enough without being too heavy. The Qi is slightly warming and mellow here.
The third infusion has a raspberry cherry strawberry onset with a slight returning tartness there is slight smoke in the aftertaste. The sweet, floral, and fruity taste is nice with no incense, woody, dirt, peat, tastes. A bit of smoke lingering in the aftertaste adds some classy depth.
The fourth starts with deep slightly smokey cherry tastes there is a touch of wood in here and less tart astringency as the cup cools down a few minutes. Relaxing.
The fifth is fruity slightly tart with a slight woody taste emerging and fruity perfume floral aftertaste. The aftertaste is long and the profile is nicely balanced between these tastes.
The sixth is a nice fruity perfume taste with a long rich finish of fruity deep cherries. The fruity taste is long and pure and quite satisfying. The smoke has seemingly disappeared and a long fruity floral almost deep perfume like taste is solid throughout from start to a long finish. The taste doesn’t seem to change that much from start to finish after slurping. The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are a bit sandy nothing to strong but solid enough. The Qi is a pretty mellow experience. A slightly floating head sensation decently relaxing and sedate feeling.
The seventh has a slightly fruitier more incense nuance with faint smoke in the finish. The incense nuance kind of interfaces with the cherry fruit. The taste is simple across the profile but very pure and clear. The most interesting thing for me is the lack of a pungent coolness and returning sweetness. The sweetness is steadier throughout now.
The eighth infusion has a woody fruity almost bitter woody approach now with some incense coming mid-profile. The mouthfeel is a bit sandy and the throat only mildly stimulated, enough to let the sweet fruit tastes and floral tastes linger. The mouth has a slight pucker to it noticed more in this infusion. Qi has a relaxing mild effect, slightly warming. Overall despite the wet leaves looking green this tea is aged and warming.
The ninth infusion starts more incense, slightly woody, less fruity tastes. There is a slight burst of initial fruit then disappears into incense and woody tastes, there is a noticeable tart bitter. A relaxing lazy Qi to this puerh and nice relaxing aged mellow Qi. Its rendering me quite useless.
The 10th starts with an incense woody almost orange peels and slight aged Traditional Chinese Herb market taste with a slight fruity and perfume floral nuance. A throatiness starts to slowly develop as the session goes on- now I feel an almost numbing in the mid-throat which is quite nice. I also starting to feel a nice relaxed not quite stoned content state that makes me smile.
11th incense and a slightly creamy sweetness now that develops a faint cooling in the mouth. There is more creamy coolness and sweet that hasn’t showed up yet in this infusion. The powdery creamy sweetness is a unexpected change from the predominant cherry, incense and wood. The mouthfeeling also feel more chalky slippery here. Very tranquil feeling Qi.
The 12th infusion has a chalky creamy sweetness up front with fruits lingering in the background. There is more tartness here and more woodiness. These infusions are super enjoyable with an interesting depth to it and a talc like sweet powdery dry storage finish.
The 13th infusion has a juicy fruity onset with creamy sweet finish and very faint pungency. The taste is quite nice. The Qi is making me feel so relaxed, I’m quite lazy…
The 14th infusion is also notable. The fifteenth is more creamy sweet talc taste. These later infusions are super delicious orchid creamy sweetness with no smoke, wood, just a nice pure sweetness.
The 15th has a touch of incense and woody but mainly just lots of long sweet tastes. There is a deep mild coolness in the throat in these later infusions that really shine along with a nice long sweet taste.
The 16th seems like its sweetness is even longer. Nice long classic Yiwu sweetness here. Relaxing mellow vibe with mild warmth. No motivation to do anything while drinking this….
This puerh is nice value for what you get- very dry sealed storage preserving the best subtleties of Yiwu, undeniable Yiwu taste, classic profile and processing. My favorite thing is how it changes throughout the infusions, this keeps me engaged and interested. Also the sealed storage that is this old for this price you’ll never find anything like this one, it’s very rare and unique in this respect. The sealed storage really preserves the grace in this one such as the florals and fruit notes. I agree with Wooju’s tasting note that “one might hope one’s young Yiwu cakes will age into”. I feel that this is really optimal storage for most Yiwu especially the lighter ones out there.
The smoke is done really classy. When drinking this Yiwu it reminded me of one other smokey Yiwu I had tired at a tea table in Korea more than a decade ago. I actually totally forgot about it until this puerh triggered an old puerh memory! I have no idea what it was exactly but it likely came from Taiwan and was likely 90s Yiwu. I didn’t get the details of it, sometimes its rude to ask. I don’t think it was the classic Zhenchuanyahao that this cake was intended to fake but you never know…. Hahahah… either way this one unearthed a beautiful memory and had me thinking about how something like is a rare find these days.
The Qi…. Ok I have to comment on this because this is the real reason that I’ve only purchased 2 of these. The Qi is really good but it is very relaxing then it pushes you to a point of being sedated then, well, you are quite useless… but you feel good… you are just really really useless… even hours later you feel the effect… and feel very very lazy but happy. At work nothing got done, at home my wife was NOT impressed by my uselessness.
It looks like this one has sold out but it has been re-stocked now many times over the last year or so. Watch for it if you are interested in these notes. I believe the price which hasn’t risen since being listed on Teas We Like a year and a half ago is quite a deal for what you get.
Just for comparisons sake rating 7.9.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
On the Teas We Like website ($110.00 for 357g cake or $0.30/g) this puerh is described as true dry Taiwanese storage sourced right from the commissioner. It is a blended material mainly from the Qianjiazhai area…
Dry leaves have no must or dirt or incense just creamy sweet fruity strawberry-cherry talc undertones. The pure creamy sweetness of the dry leaves are enchanting. The storage on this seems very clean-dry Taiwanese storage.
The first infusion has a peat moss with slight bitter onset then a vacuous gap which is filled with mild slight tart sweetness with a full slight tight tongue coating. There is a faint cooling then long very thin peat moss and almost cherry fruit sweetness.
The second has a peat onset with flat bitter which kind of leaves a long gap in the taste until the tartness reveals a slight cooling with a long lingering, almost cherry, almost creamy fruity, finish. The flat bitterness is decently strong and comes with a tart, almost sour, nuance. There is a really long minutes long returning creamy sweetness that lingers for a while. The creamy sweetness just doesn’t really go away pinned in by the active tartness of the tongue coating and the throat is subtle and deep stimulated by the tart. The Qi is strong and you really do feel quite warm from the Qi very quickly.
The third infusion has a nice woody and peat like onset with a quick and creamy development of sweet talc fruity cherry and strawberry. There is this flat long fairly strong for an aged puerh bitterness that stretches the profile. The long minutes long aftertaste that follows is a nice creamy talc, almost choke cherry jam, and strawberry cherry nuance. The Qi is big I feel very warm almost at sweeting. The chest it races and there is a very strong alerting happening here. Very very nice big Qi. The smell of the wet leaves are likely Yesheng wild leaf variety.
The fourth infusion starts with a peat-like almost coffee ground bitterness with a swelling tart sour and vibrant long fruity aftertaste. There is a bit of creamy sweetness that follows the cool pungency. The mouthfeel is this full coating slightly tight tart. The minutes long returning breath is cherry jam, creamy talc sweetness. The long breath minutes long returning fruity aftertaste is another strong sign of some yesheng or wild tea content as is the big Qi, strong alertness even flightiness.
The fifth infusion has a turbid woody bitter coffee ground onset. Then a flat bitter vacuous before very mild cooling and deep tart sourness. The mouthfeeling is tight and stimulating griping tart but not really puckering. The Qi is so good wild tea Qi. Very nice very strong, like a floating and levitating feeling, very very warming thermodynamic Qi. Long minutes long aftertaste.
The sixth is very bitter and it pretty much dominates the profile start to finish. The bitterness beats the crap out of my empty stomach. It’s unique to have a tea so warming yet so bitter. There is possibly bitter variety wild yesheng material in here but I can’t be certain. There is peat, coffee ground, very sour tart like choke cherry jam. Long minutes later sweetness. Big Alerting and heady Qi- an alarm bell sounding in the head!
The 7th is distinctly sour with a subtle sweet fruit taste. There is some bitter woody peat tastes then a long subtle lingering aftertaste of choke cherry jam, a creamy sweetness. The mouthfeeling is concentrated on the roof of the mouth and tongue and gives a tight tart feeling. The throatfeeling is pretty deep but mainly upper stimulating. The Qi is very strong pushing past alerting to a stoned feeling now. This less bitter infusion is less harsh on the digestion.
The 8th infusion has a sour bitter, slight peat and woody onset of sweet tart cherry. There is then a vacuous length to the profile that is mainly bitter then creamy almost cherry and slight bitter sour intermingle. The jaw has a nice releasing bodyfeeling here. I feel pushed past alert into a spacy out of body feeling. Strong Qi.
Ninth infusion has a darker peat woody onset with sour sweet tart fruits. The bitter emerges out of these initial tastes to reach deep across the profile. Tart fruits, creamy sweet talc and choke cherry like tastes emerge. Qi is very relaxing and has backed off digestion as it is less bitter now.
10th has a sour woody peat onset with a flat fruit taste. There is much less bitterness now and more sour than bitter. A nice breath taste follows of fruits.
11th has a brackish sour cherry and wood taste presentation. Less bitter and sourer tasting.
12th has a bitter sour dry dirt woody with tart fruit. The tongue coating and mouth and throat stimulation are less as the bitter also declines. Qi is more relaxing now.
13th has a mild bitterness with more of a sour presentation. The sweetness is also declining and a wood peat and bitterness lingers with a bit of sour.
14th is woody peat sour almost fruity slight bitter comes quick but then turns vacuous and bland in the mouth. The aftertaste is pretty much gone and I think I will put this into overnight steepings.
The next morning I am greeted with a very fruity vibrant liquor in a decently bitter base. I put this into another overnight steeping and get much the same. I put it in another overnighter- It steeps out strong fruity tastes a few more days. Very nice.
I did some comparison tasting with both a Malaysian stored 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku Da Due Shan wild brick from Teapals and a Malaysian stored 2008 Essence of Tea Qianjiazhai wild but there are some similarities between these but also too many differences as well. So I decided against it. This 2001, I think is a really unique tea, hard to put in a box.
This 2001 Zhongcha Huangyin is pretty good for its age and price too. The impressively clean processing and dry storage is quite nice. Crazy big Qi. Unique heat inducing and sweating while still being bitter- bitter heat is an unusual presentation. There might be some yesheng/ wild tea blended in here. How much, I can’t be certain. It has enough indications for me that it might be yesheng and should be evaluated more like this. I would say that possibly bitter yesheng and sweet yesheng might be part of this blend. I can’t be sure, but it has enough characteristics to make it possible. It is also something that I don’t think most would crave on a daily drinker basis due to its unique profile. I think those who like some Lao Man E would appreciate the bitterness. But man, oh man… great value and big Qi. A very unique tea for sure. Would not have ordered this one if I knew it was wild but its nice value and Big Qi that having one of these around won’t bother me a bit. I wouldn't rule out a re-order if the speed test dictates it. For those in the mood for something a bit different with a powerful experience look no further.
Best tasting note ever:
"Max's tasting note: Instant sauna, just add water."