Thursday, April 30, 2020

Fuck it! 2020 Puerh Predictions/ Checking 2019 Predictions

*I wrote most of this up a few months ago before COVID 19 hit the world….

New puerh marketing language which is actually descriptive and tells us something about the product but has a marketing feel to it as well.  This screams both unique (the one-and-only) and exclusive and often limited but does it really tell us about the puerh??  Again this is a bit of marketing language even if it is somewhat informative.

The Return of the Bulang

Lao Man E ruled the strong puerh category in the west since the 2010s. In the 2000s Bulang was the strong puerh of choice.  Look back at the old half Dipper posts to see what that was all about.  I predict a come back of Bulang as I stated here.

The Rise of the Experiential Puerh Sampler

I defended the experimental drinker in this post a few months ago here.  Cwyn talked about the ZERG in her 2020 predictions (which these posts are a bit of a homage too).  I also predict the rise of experiential drinkers.

More Discounted themed Sample Packages and Whole Line
There will be more pressure for vendors to get all their freshly picked puerh to us before Black Friday ( a commenter on the blog first made this point).  I think we will see much more discounted full line sample packages from the vendors this year.

Whole like discounted packages Tea Encounter,, Bitterleaf.  Yunnan Sourcing does by area but might offer more discount on multi area or full lines.  White2tea might do something like a themed packages aka Smooth aka Bold aka Bitter packages or whole inventory tea type- All White Tea, All Yancha, All Shu puerh sample packages.

Marketing to the “Shibal Biyong” (aka the “Fuck It” Purchase)

“Shibal Biyoung” is a phrase that has gained much traction in South Korea the last few years but has special meaning these days.  It is basically the spontaneous purchase of something expensive and unnecessary done spontaneously to make you feel better because the future is bleak (see here and here).  I think there will be a lot more Shibal Biyong puerh purchases this year.

White2tea is good at this because their marketing offers a strong and spontaneous call to action.  I think we might see a lot more marketing to the Shibal Biyong…. Fuck it… right in to the cart!

**** A recent prediction I made last month is that due to the pandemic we will finally see lower puerh prices in 2020.  Turns out I will probably be wrong as there is still strong demand mainly due to drought conditions.****

Vendor Predictions

Yunnan Sourcing

They did a lot of different things in 2019… this year will be mainly just towing this new direction… of course I expect to read and maybe even taste some new discovered areas and puerh producing towns.  Out of all my predictions of 2019, I predicted surprisingly a decent amount of Yunnan Sourcing’s new direction.


Will brilliantly intertwine politics and puerh naming and art as he did in 2016.  I don’t think Paul has the balls to have umbrellas showing up on his wrappers but he is brilliant enough to get a touch political without picking sides.  **** Okay this prediction is a bit freaky because he DID put umbrellas on his first 2020 cake!  I kind of have goose bumps right now…  Were they rainy day umbrellas… or Hong Kong umbrellas… I’m pretty sure the former of the two.

 I also think they will do something new with their Black Friday Puerh Promotion.  I was wrong about this one this year so I’m just going to repeat it until its true… hahhaha… I predicted that Paul was going to press puerh into lots of gimmicky shapes in my 2019 predictions.  It turned out that gimmicky shape was just lots of bamboo puerh….

David of the Essence of Tea will become A Jedi…

Chawangshop will actually press a few new puerh or release some they are aging themselves something they haven’t done since 2016?ish

Tea Encounter will offer more in East Yiwu and Border Tea (see this post).  I think we might even get a few different blends from Tiago.

…These two old puerh stalwarts won’t do anything out of the ordinary but what they are doing is pretty awesomely already…

Tea Urchin will just continue to release new puerh completely under the radar as they always do while having almost everyone completely forget that they exist. will continue to bring us small runs of Gushu from places that are more specific in location that we didn’t even knew existed.

There you have it… let’s see how this all unfolds…


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

2000 The Essence of Tea Camphor Aroma & Exciting Zhongcha Finds

This 2000 Essence of Tea Camphor Aroma is apparently a plain old white paper, Ba Zhong puerh that was dug up in Malaysia.  That doesn’t sound that exciting on the surface of things, does it?  Maybe that is why even after a few years after being released this tea hasn’t gotten that much attention.

However, I imagine David and Yingxi tasting hundreds, if not thousands, of such common aged sheng that are so common in Asia.  Then finally, one day, “this is the one!”  They stumble upon some Zhongcha puerh that is actually pure, vibrant, very aged, maybe of old tree material or at least blended in.  This $179.00 for 350g cake($0.51/g) is that very puerh… come on… that’s exciting now right???

Dry darker humid stored leaves are surprisingly void of any strong odour they have been dried out from the humid Malaysian storage.  They seem like they are factory chopped material and maybe pretty compressed, hard to tell from this sample.  The dry leaf has more of a very distant muted odour of library, distant dirt, not really plum, dry odour.  Not very Camphorous nor very aromatic.  Feeling that these leaves will probably need pushing I dump a generous amount of them into my teapot.

The first infusion has a dense and viscus very oily and stimulating mouthfeel.  In it are oily dirt tastes as well as a distinct prune juice like flavor.  Of course, there is a long dense sweet prune camphorous aftertaste.  I am pretty surprised at how dense the taste is considering the dry leaf was so inert.  The qi on the first infusion is enough warm energy to break me into a sweat.

The second is even thicker this puerh is packed full of oily, thick, viscus deliciousness, a deep woody, dirt and prune flavor.  I continue to sweat.  There is a finish of almost sour, almost tart dark cacao now but overshadowed by dirt, camphor and prune tastes.  The mouthfeel on this tea is very very nice.

The third infusion is much the same as above with more of a sweetness than previous steepings. A very very dense, oily, prune, and camphor taste is very strong.  The qi very warming.  I admit defeat and remove 1/3 of the leaves from the packed tea pot.  The power of this puerh has me checking on the price about right now but maybe it is just the fact I over-leafed it initially…

The fourth infusion with less leaf has much more nuanced plumb/ prune tastes almost floral note seems lingering in the heavy, deep fruit taste.  The Qi hits the head with a dizziness almost spacy feeling.  The body is full of combustible warmth.

The fifth infusion is denser, cloying, oily fruit tastes initially.  As this tea goes on, I feel like the complexity and nuance of this fruit taste improves.  The mouthfeeling is very thick.  There seem to be lighter fruit suggestions under the heavier fruits.  The Qi is big and makes the head really float and energizes the body a good balance of strong sensations.

The sixth has a more woody camphor taste now with the fruit tastes underneath.  There are edges of vanilla date, prune, wood.  A returning camphor with hits of cinnamon.  The qi is a big one.  Very much in the head and mind.  It brings a joyful feeling.  The Lungs can feel the deep effects and I breathe deeper.

The seventh infusion has a deep plumb fruit onset buried within.  The long camphor taste is there as well. Dirt notes reside within.  The warmth is very nice.  The mouthfeel is thick and oily and somewhat stimulating.

The eighth infusion is very berry light fruity tasting now.  It has a long camphor base taste and almost brandy taste to it.  This puerh reminds me of a rich brandy.

The ninth has an almost mushroom like taste with initial fruits and woods underneath.  The camphor cooling aftertaste is long and woody now and less fruity and sweet.  The mouthfeel is sticky now as well as oily and rich.

The tenth infusion has a woody profile throughout a dark sweet honey note in there as well a fruit taste is more underneath things now.  The woodiness dominates there are suggestions of something fruit and honey something else a touch interesting underneath.

The eleventh infusion starts with a plumb like taste and then slowly transitions to woody notes and coolness in the aftertaste.

I add a few seconds to the flash infusions but this tea seems to have great stamina and still lots of flavor here.  In the twelfth infusion there are lots of deep aged wood notes along with a jujube, Chinese date taste.  There starts to a grain like taste in there as well.

The thirteenth is still full of deep aged fruity tastes backed by cooling woods.  The qi in the head is something wonderful, clarifying, illuminating.  I am a little surprised about the stamina of this puerh.  Getting late in the day, now I rest this tea until tomorrow morning.

The next morning I continue to squeeze out a handful of date fruity, woody, aged tasting steeps with a low menthol finish.

Overall, the deep fruitiness reminds me of aged blended Eastern Xishuagnbanna something with some smaller leaves in the blend pressed relatively tight and with medium- heavy humidity.   The fruitiness and slight tart with no bitter taste profile somewhat reminds me a bit like 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qi Xiang (the reference has also been made to other more famous Yang Qing Hao cakes by others).  Interestingly, both the 2006 Yang Qing Hao Qixiang and this 2000 Essence of Tea Camphor Aroma are priced similarly- this cake tastes much more aged though.  For the price you would have a harder time finding something of this quality and being and tasting this aged from Western puerh vendors.  The Qi profile of these two teas are quite different and the age gap but both tend to be on the warming side of things something in this one reminded me a bit of the Qixiang though.

Also an interesting comparison can also be made to the 2006 “Rustic Zhongcha” from Teas We Like that is very similar in price- although they are really very different Zhongchas.  This 2000 Essence of Tea “Camphor Aroma” has a much more humid, traditional Malaysian storage where the 2006 “Rustic Zhongcha” has a dry Malaysian storage the difference is obvious as is the aged feeling between the two.   The 2000 “Camphor Aroma” has fully developed aged notes like date, aged woods, and aged camphor, it has a rich brandy or whisky like depth to it.  The 2006 Rustic is just starting to develop hints of this but I believe will have a much more distinct sweet date taste than this one.  The Qi is different too with this one being a balance of relaxing and energizing where the 2006 is still very energetic feeling.  They both have really good mouthfeels but the 2006 has much more going on in the throat.  They both have not super great stamina but enjoyable while they last.

The last time I tasted something this aged with anything close to this taste profile was a Zhongcha cake in Korea from the 1990s.  It reminds me of this experience very long ago.  Thanks David for sending this free sample in my last order and gifting me this familiar experience.  This is a nice aged puerh for its price.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Teas We Like Overview

Teas We Like is a multi-person, hyper-curated puerh vendor curated by some famous puerh drinking people in the know.  Some of these people have been around the online tea scene longer than me, others are newer but have deep connections, both are those I highly respect.  The aged and semi aged factory selection of sheng puerh is notable.  They also offer newer boutique puerh from Biyun Hao.  In a general sense there are three things that all their sheng puerh offer us 1- value, 2- uniqueness, and 3- access.  This is especially true for the aged and medium aged puerh on offer…


The cool thing about Teas We Like is that they don’t mark up the puerh that much at all and so the value of the products they offer is unlike most Western puerh vendors.  Every puerh I have tried from them is at least of decent value.  I think they even strive for offering value.  If I were to challenge them a bit I would challenge them to find really low budget sheng that is much high value.  I think there is a real appetite for that.  They offered a $99 aged Zhongcha that is now sold out.  Oh, wait, look…. They just added a Twelve Cent Brick! 


A lot of the puerh they offer has something unique about it that makes it stand out a bit.  A combination of both value and something a bit different.  This is especially true for their inaugural offerings I think.  The trick to ordering these full cakes is to find out what niche sheng you might enjoy the most.


The puerh they offer is not easily available to Western puerh buyers.  I think every Western puerh vendor offers something unique as far as semi aged/ aged puerh and some of it is probably good value but none offer both the selection combo of uniqueness and value that Teas We Like has on offer.

Here is some I have reviewed here on the blog with a quick note to help you determine if you may resonate with one of these cakes.  For your convenience I have also ranked them...

1-      2005 Nanqiao Double Lion Bulang-  Very Strong Qi, classic Bulang profile, a nice rich taste with less smoke and more sweet taste for a Bulang,  dry Malaysian storage, the dynamic between sweetness and strength, roughness and refinement, humidly stored but still quite powerful the inherent balance of this tea is very enjoyable

2-      2001 Naked Yiwu 001-  Very depressing Qi sensation, Stops me in my thoughts and makes me what to do nothing, exceptional and rare sealed stored Yiwu with subtle soft sweet, floral, and somewhat complex high notes still preserved while offering an obviously aged puerh, best value out of these

3-      2004 Nanqiao Bulang King-  I keep going back for this one mainly for its Qi, very intense overwhelming Qi, dry Taiwanese storage, interesting, unusual, and complex dry woody, peat, and bitter herbaceous wood taste, very little sweetness, this one is all about the intense alertness and exploration of unique not sweet tastes, this one has good value but I think some might be turned off from the unique taste profile, the more I drink this, the more I appreciate it

4-      2006 Rustic Zhongcha- true rustic taste and production,  not that smokey and quite sweet and robust taste,  stimulating and vibrant mouthfeeling and taste early, nice upbeat Qi sensation which is pretty strong, poor stamina typical of factory puerh, dry Malaysian storage

5-      2001 Zhongcha Huangyin- Vibrant berry and fruity tastes with bitterness, Quick  powerful alerting Qi sensation,  quick warming and even sweat inducing Qi, a wild tea blended profile, variability in the blend where sometimes it is very bitter and other times only quite mildly bitter, Dry Taiwanese storage, good value

6-      2003 Hong Kong Henry “Conscientious Prescription”7542, woody innocence, sour orange citrus woody pine camphor taste, unique tasting puerh that stands out,  Taiwanese drier storage, relaxing head floating Qi, would be interesting to age

7-      2008 Dayi 8582 batch 801- Ok not the same batch or storage but you can check out this review, a solid proper cheaper factory puerh that shouldn’t be completely written off as a drinker option or even for longer term storage, I’m interested in trying the Teas We Like batch/storage

Still haven’t hit the higher priced options but wouldn’t hesitate to explore these at a later time.  There is very little risk in a place like Teas We Like compared to Taobao or Auctions and even blind full cake purchases from Western vendors.  If you already enjoy aged and semiaged factory cakes, the minimal risk is selection of the cake that suites your tastes the most.  I’m happy not having to wade through or spend the money on samples or take risks elsewhere, call me lame these days.  Alternatively, their selection is small, so those who like variety and could afford such things could even cake each one.  Either way, Teas We Like is a goldmine.

Great job!


Saturday, April 18, 2020

These Days Teas Taste Better

These days my teas seem to taste better.  They are the same puerh cakes which I have been drinking, in some cases, for many many years... But these days they taste better.. and in general make me happier than they did before.  Maybe it’s the company I keep and those who are drinking with me gong fu around the tea table.  My wife and very young children.  They are my tea masters now. To day my baby was clapping while chanting “Puerh tea, puerh tea, puerh tea!!!”.

Yes, there is a certain excitement about waking up and starting the kettle.  Something simple and routine.  A luxury in a time of restraint.  What puerh will I choose today?  Sometimes the baby gets the final say, sometimes they giggle and laugh hysterically when I pronounce the names in Chinese or the transliterations in English- a homeschooled language lesson I never planned.

They got good taste too... better than me maybe?  They always go for the gushu, semi aged usually!  Sometimes my wife just wants aged as we are experiencing a bit of a cold spring.  Often as tastes and energetic needs during the day diverge another puerh is started... and then there are the Korean made ceramic mugs filled with overnight and long steeps.  That tea table is a very busy place.  One big 90s Factory 1 yixing,  one even bigger shui piao.  Sometimes it’s too much puerh in a day... but never too much company or quality time.

These days my teas seem to taste better.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

2020 white2tea Umbrella: Support Our Puerh Vendors

Oh Baby! …. Paul just pulled off the ultimate… I love this stuff…

Okay the night before Paul of white2tea dropped this gift on us (who ever said he doesn’t know how to give a gift?) I was listening to a CBC radio program.  On the show they had on a marketing and business consultant.  He was asked the question, How can businesses actually market during this time or should they just wait it out?  His answer: the business that actually take the most risk and do free no strings attached will stand to benefit the most at this turbulent time.  He said because people generally understand the risk and sincerity of the offer the businesses stand to be more loyal when times are good.

At a time when the government won’t allow me to work, I had also decided to do free starting as soon as I could no longer work.  I am doing this because it is the right thing to do, it will maintain my business, and feel that it will pay off big time down the road.  Great minds think alike… hahhah

Paul’s free was in an offer of a completely free cake with free shipping.  It was pressed from 2015 Manghai character, sweet and smooth maocha which he had personally stored and was saving for a rainy day.  Check out the email I received…

Wow! This is amazing stuff and I’m glad Paul went for the home run… very classy and top notch!  It really is the proverbial "win-win".

Although I saw the email early, I decided to not buy one of these.  It would have really brought me a lot of joy, for sure, to have received one.  But I decided to leave these for others who need it more because, like I have been saying, I have way too much tea anyways.  And I took advantage of the last two years Snoozefest cakes rather liberally anyways.  And I hope to support vendors, perhaps including white2tea, this spring if things get better on that front for me personally.  And I decided that I would simply write a good post about how, if we are able to, we should support our puerh vendors at this time, regardless which one it is- white2tea, Yunnan Sourcing, The Essence of Tea, ect… 

So yeah… you should do that if you can… and if not at least we had 2020 white2tea Umbrella.


(from someone who still has a hard time accepting gifts)