Friday, May 29, 2020

The Essence of Tea 2020 Spring Jedi Pole Dance

See… the prediction came true… He is a Jedi now… people were wondering why the Essence of Tea had a late and very uninvolved 2019 release.  Last year their release came after everyone else put their puerh to market and with a long absence from social media.  Many wondered if it would come at all.  Of course, their only early-ish Spring release, the 2019 Essence of Tea Boundless, was a big hit and sold out.  If you want to make a statement just release a single cake.  It was a very low key year for Kathy and David of the Essence of Tea… but now we know why…

David was completing his final training to become a Jedi Master- that’s why!  Oh, sure, some of you were probably thinking they were just busy with his move to Kunming and with the opening of their new teahouse there… you have been fooled by a Jedi mind trick… they were off Jedi training…

And this year, lightsaber in hand, David is using The Force to bring us possibly the best Essence of Tea Spring line up yet!

We have seen excitement building with the 2020 Essence of Tea Spring release. First they had a very quick response to the COVID 19 pandemic in being one of the first to offer us a chance at some free puerh!  Certainly, it got my attention… or was it another Jedi mind trick??? Not sure.  Then came the most detailed account yet of their time spent in the mountains of Yunnan documented on Instagram and followed up by a handful of blog posts. Excitement was building indeed…

Turns out they managed to procure a lot of tall pole (gaogan) puerh which is … well… like poles… wait a minute… what the hell is gaogan… I have never heard of gaogan before… 

First there was Qiao Mu (arbour), Gushu (ancient tree), Dan Zhu (single tree), Guoyoulin (State Forest), and now… no not “single grove” but rather … Gaogan (Tall Pole)… who would have saw it coming?  Everyone has no doubt heard of Gushu… but Gaogan???   Some Western pureh vendors like to be draped in the finest silk, or at the very least, like to wear those silky soft Umbro soccer shorts from the 1990s… and others are Jedis.  Which is kind of weird because everyone knows that Scott from Yunnan Sourcing looks the most like a Jedi… but he is basically just a librarian of puerh.  Ok… but what about Pole Trees…

Trees grow upwards sometimes, sometimes like trees, and sometimes trying to peek through the canopy… they are poll like???  But, as David and Kathy have outlined in the past, sometimes these tall pole like trees are pretty difficult, if not completely impossible to harvest.  This is a big problem and one of the reasons Essence of Tea has not been able to harvest in past years.  Of course, this year has seen a lot less people in the area due to both travel restrictions within China as well as International travel bands.  This has made some of the top end puerh tea this year both more accessible and even possibly lower in price.  The late harvest due to drought early in the season has made farmers more likely to go for lower prices ensuring that their teas are sold this season rather than wait and take the risk.  I hear this is not the case with lower-mid priced maocha but really only effecting the top end maocha.  There is still one huge problem… how can they harvest those difficult pole trees?

The answer is really simple: bring in some skilled migrant workers to go up the pole trees and pick the amazing gushu tea leaves.  For years now, other vendors have been doing just that.  The last number of years those vendors who harvest pole trees have been bringing in Las Vegas pole dancers: male, female, LGBTQ2… doesn’t matter.  If they are skilled pole dancers chances are they are the best people to pick the leaves from these challenging gaogan trees.  This year with the ban on international travel they were no longer able to bring in the Las Vegas pole dancers.  So, that is my understanding as to why David and Kathy finally had access to these rare gushu pole trees in state protected forests and in super over the top famous puerh producing areas.

So how did they end up harvesting the leaves oh so high up in those pole trees? 

They used The Force.  It’s really the only logical explanation. 

Then they loaded back up on their land speeder (rusty old Xishuangbanna stored truck) and made away with a killer line up of rare pole tree puerh, that mostly every puerh drinker in the west didn’t even know was a big thing… until it is a big thing…

And one thing is for certain… this year’s 2020 Essence of Tea release is a big thing…

(May the Pole Be With You!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID Shipping Is the New Tea Horse Road

Was gathering ideas for a post with this title when I realized that I had already written it three years ago!  It seems much more relevant these days than when I first wrote it.

See here for the original post.

Link to Cwyn’s recent post on shipping Puerh Shopping in the New Normal.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Comparing Deep Forest: 2016 Yang Qing Hao Wujin Cang (“Endless Possession”) vs 2012 Yang Qing Hao Ye Gu

This 2016 Yang Qing Hao Wujin Cang ($250.00 for 400g cake or $0.63/g) came as a part of a sampler from Liquid Proust Teas he is currently selling it separate for those who are interested here. Description on site is “Early spring production from old trees in deep forest areas around Yiwu. Limited production with only 1277 cakes produced.”

I was in the mood for a cooling younger type puerh at work and I decided to go for this sample on this unseasonably hot day.  It turned out that this puerh? was straight up fire…

Dry leaves have a sugary creamy odour almost but not quite fruity and a lingering faint storage smell of almost woods.  The odour is changing and hard to pin down.

First infusion starts with a creamy buzzing pungency onset with a soft almost ripe banana taste.  There is a low register pungency which expands in the mouth with a cool pungent sweetness.  The taste is bright and vibrant tasting.  The mouthfeeling is creamy and chalky and reasonably thick for the first shot.  The throat feel is mid to deep.  This is a nice gushu thing I think to myself…

The second infusion has a creamy sweet almost floral quick but smooth and vibrant punch there are some coco tastes that emerge and distant fruity edges there is a light honey nuance as well.  There is a certain fullness of the taste and vibrancy that feel complete and really satisfying.   The taste is quite complex with cream sweetness, coco bitter, strong pungency and long sweetness.  There is a deep throat presence and a nice vibrant enlivening but comforting Qi. 

The third has a thick fast fruity creamy coco bitter onset that feels very full and satisfying and deep.  The mouthfeeling is chalky and fully coats the mouth.  The throat opens to a mid-to-deep depth and lets the significant pungency reverberate in there.  The Qi is strong and pushes me into a sweat there is a strong warming energy in these leaves that is immediately apparent.  The bodyfeel is opening the sternum and making the arms light.  The mind feel alive and I feel an invigorating motivating energy throughout.  The Qi of this “deep forest” puerh is quite nice.  The complexity of the sweet, bitter, pungency and fullness in the mouth and depth of throat make this very satisfying.

The fourth infusion has a slight bitter coco onset with a syrupy sweet woody almost canned apricot syrupy, and malty taste.  There bitterness is moderate and is more integrated with a thick syrupy sweetness and seems to enhance it nicely.  This infusion is not as pungent or sweet and is more balanced with biiter coco, underlying storage woods tastes, lower lingering pungency with some coco almost creamy but muted syrupy sweetness.  The big Qi pushes another warming sweat out… this is not the cooling puerh I sought out…

The fifth infusion has more of a woody integration of syrupy sweetness and bitter.  There is less coco and less creamy or even faint fruity sweetness now.  The thickness of the liquor is keeping this complete and interesting.  This infusion is bitterer and has a lingering underlying ghostly sweetness.  The mouth and throat feeling are natural and simulating not over the top but quite full.  The Qi races the heart and opens the chest.  There is a vibrancy to this Qi I like.

The sixth has a thick creamy insistent sweatness that turns to wood and almost mushroom then a pungency bursts through and there is sweetness that is fruity then pungent creamy.  The thick chalkiness in the mouth is nice.  There is this underlying soupy coco mushroom almost woodiness in the distance that gives it a lot of depth.  It’s weird that this is Yiwu I would have guessed a blend of different regions due to its complexity.  It’s maybe a Yiwu blend?  This deep forest is hard for me to form a reference…

The seventh has a creamy fruity almost banana mushroom taste.  There is a pungency then a long fruity turning to creamy sweetness.  The thickness and leathery taste remind me of Mengku.  The long pungent and creamy sweet fruity of Yiwu.  There is a certain coco bitter in here that’s notable.

The eighth is more bitter a thick full bitter coco in the mouth.   The sweet flavours are pinned under the bitter.

The ninth has a fruity bitter coco vibe with peachy fruits.  The bitterness is moderate not strong in this puerh but offers a nice balance.  The flat coco taste has a mild pungency in the mouth with a coco and slight creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is full but more sandy chalky.  The throat opens to a mid level.  Nice invigorating Qi.

The tenth is much the same with a very robust coco mid-level bitterness with a low pungency and faint creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is more fine sand and less thick oily chalkiness now.  The throat feeling is still deeper but a development of complex flavours can no longer materialize.  Good head buzzing Qi.

Darn ran out of time in a day… will return to it tomorrow…

11th is creamy and peachy sweet Yiwu. The bitter coco has dropped in the leaves overnight.

The 12th has a creamy peachy onset with a faint undercurrent of bitter coco and slight woody tastes.  There is still a nice sunny vibrancy to this puerh. 

13th starts very creamy sweet with a thick chalky presentation.  There is a building bitterness and mouthfeeling now as these leaves keep giving out.  There is a lubricating juiciness in the mouth along with mild coco bitter.  The aftertaste is faint sweet creamy sweet.  The Qi is felt in the chest again as the infusions compound in the body once more. 

14th has a thick creamy fruity onset with a faint bitter coco woody underneath.  There is like a returning splash of juicy fruit then a faint pungent slight bitter creaminess.  The taste is full and satisfying but I’m not sure if the bitter coco would throw some people off.  When the bitterness is present, it’s a much fuller mouthfeeling and flavor presentation.

15th has a more flat bitter onset without much of a fruity splash of flavours that follow it.  The Qi expands in the chest, makes the head feel heavy, and sharpens the mind.  Nice Qi here.

This tea also has excellent stamina too.

16th, 17th, 18th… still quite strong bitter coco with fruit to finish.  The base taste is almost leathery.

My impressions of both the 2012 Yang Qing Hao Ye Gu and this 2016 Yang Qing Hao Wujin Cang are very favorable… but the problem is I have no reference point to other “deep forest” puerh… I guess my previous tastings of forest puerh were not deep???  I have no idea, but I find this super interesting and even proof of how deep and complicated the breadth of puerh tea can be.  I would have pegged this in the “wild tea” category if Shah8 hadn’t clued me in that it is something a bit different.  Its amazing that I’ve been drinking puerh for decades now and have tried literally thousands but have not had this or not know it was this in the past… that’s what makes puerh so interesting to me…


This 2016 Yang Qing Hao Wujin Cang deep forest yiwu is like a cheaper and less good 2012 Yang Qing Hao Yehgu.  I think it’s like %60 of the 2012 Yegu better bang for your buck if you are into “Deep Forsest”.  Or maybe you have a 2012 Yegu and want an everyday drinker Deep forest… that would be another reason.  The bitter and coco taste is very much the same as well as the fruit but it’s just not as concentrated or complex or intense or bitter as the 2012 Ye Gu.  The Qi is really a big and very warming thing in both of these which is why I like them both and why they remind me of wild tea.   They both have very good stamina. From my two samples the 2011 Yehgu is much smaller compressed leaf and much more brilliantly purple.  This leaf is less purple, seems larger, and less compressed.  I’m only going off the samples I received so hard to say.  Both share a lot of similarities.  The 2012 Ye Gu was different in that it had much more subtle complexity but the 2016 has a deeper leathery body to it which the 2012 didn’t have.

Overall, this one surprised me.  I am getting to know what “deep forest” means at least to Yang Qing Hao.  I still haven’t purchased a cake of either of these but it’s at least on my radar.  I highly recommend ordering both the 2012 Ye Gu and 2016 Endless possession samples from Liquid Proust Teas together and sampling them next to each other to get an idea of what “deep forest Yiwu” means to Yang.

Shah8’s tasting notes.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

2004 Yang Qing Hao Jinhao Chawang: Different

Alright, this is my first evaluative gongfu in a few months.  The order has been lifted here in Saskatchewan and I am back to work with as much Personal Protective Equipment as anyone you would encounter in a hospital…. But I’m back… and to celebrate on this unseasonably warm spring day I choose this 2004 Yang Qing Hao Jinhao Chawang which currently sells for $305.00 for 400g cake or $0.76/g.  Interestingly, very little has been written about this Yang Qing Hao.

I ordered this sample in my first order from Liquid Proust Teas.  I tagged it along with a lower price/less popular Yang Qing Hao sampler.  Don’t think I would ever venture to cake sample these less populars so it was a real treat to simply order for the fun of sampling.  This 2004 Yang Qing Hao Jinhao has a bunch of tippy buds slapped on the outside of the cake.  This was super common back in the day.  For me it was a sure bet that the leaves underneath were usually not as good...  Like putting lipstick on an old car before selling it.  I wonder if this cake will be the first to convince me otherwise?

Dry leaves have a creamy rich sweetness to them over aged puerh odour.

First infusion have a soft almost peachy, creamy sweet approach with a fallen leaves base and back drop.  There is a woody base with a faint pungency and mild rolling cooling creamy sweetness.  The creamy sweetness is long in the mouth.  The mouthfeel is sticky and chalky.  This is a smooth and creamy sweet onset.

The second infusion has a layered creamy tart, woody, and fallen leaf onset the pungency rolls in low and disperses and long distinct creamy sweet aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is sticky and the throat feeling in mainly in the upper throat.  The tea is simple but the feature is the very long creamy sweet finish.

The third infusion has a woodier tart astringent tree bark and medicinal noted onset there is a rich dirt like base taste now and the mouthfeeling is slightly gripping and even drying.  The long cotton candy creamy sweetness arrives under these notes and trails off slowly on the breath.  I can start feeling the Qi in the head.  It’s a bit spacy and a bit mind slowing. 

The fourth has a woody astringent wood bark onset with simple woody fallen leaves and even slight dirt tastes.  The mouthfeeling is puckering and a long creamy sweet finish is found in the upper throat.  The Qi is starting to get me spacy but kind of loopy in the mind, its slowing me down.

The fifth infusion has a tart, fallen leaf, astringent woody onset.  The initial taste is quite astringent and there is significant mouth puckering.  A long creamy sweetness comes out of it on the other end.  This puerh seems very simple and straight forward.  It has a strong fallen leaf taste, strong astringency and the best part is the long creamy sweetness.  The Qi is spacy in the mind a bit of a downer sensation.

The sixth infusion has a palm leaves, dry wood, fallen leaves, astringency then long creamy sweet coolness.  The mouthfeeling is puckering and slight drying.  The throat feeling is manly upper.

The 7th infusion has a woody, slight astringent woody but creamy sweet finish.  The profile is really simple.  The mouthfeeling has a dry chalkiness.  The sweetness is less long now but still creamy and nice.  There is a soothing feeling now to the qi.  Relaxing.

The 8th has a woody, much less astringent but almost sourer leaf taste where a creamy sweetness emerges.  There is a slight fruity taste in there now and almost salty too.

The 9th the initial taste is now becoming more like sour fruit with wood and leaves becoming less.  There is a bit more body with the sour fruit note in there, also a bit of bitterness too.  The creamy sweetness is less long and less distinct in the aftertaste. 

10th woody sour fruit with fallen leaf nuance.  The sweetness is becoming less in the finish and this puerh is more sour fruit, wood, and leaves.  The sweetness is more faint and in the breath than more tangible now.  The astringency is significant in this aged puerh and is noted here.  Work is pretty crazy because of everything and removing all the PPE to gongfu is a challenge all unto itself.  I group together sessions to make life easier…

11th , 12th, 13th this puerh is changing as the session progresses.  These infusions start to move in a more fruity direction much less astringency and woodiness.  The Qi continues to be pretty relaxing, slowing my mind down…

The 14th, 15th, 16th come into a state of mainly peachy fruity dominating tastes.  Simple and satisfying.  Qi is nice and relaxing.  Still a bit of woody and storage depths some bit of astringency.

This is put into long steeping and pushes out some woody, leafy, and very vibrant peachy notes.  The qi remains light, simple, and relaxing.

Overall, this puerh is simple and its long distinct creamy sweet aftertaste is its highlight which is especially featured in the first handful of infusions.  In the next group of infusions the astringent and woody leafy tastes are more dominant.  In the later infusions distinct simple peachy fruity tastes get more of the attention.  Overall, the taste is simple but changes throughout the session to keep it interesting enough.  The astringency is a bit much during the mid-session even for someone who generally likes a touch of astringency.  It gets a bit puckery in these infusions but it doesn’t last long.  I also think that those who like aged white tea might enjoy the profile has something in it which reminds me a bit of the aged white I have had in the past. 

The Qi is another thing… The Qi is also one I don’t normally go for a downer type of very stopping the mind from working kind of thing.  On my first day back, you can be sure, that it wasn’t very welcome.  This is my fist Yang Qing Hao with a strong slowing down type of Qi.  Overall, the material underneath has quality to it but its just not what I go for in a puerh, at least not at that price.  Overall, I had a strange enjoyment of this puerh because it is really not like any puerh I’ve had before.  A fun one to sample.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Gongfu-ing with PPE

It's hard gongfu-ing with PPE, shoulda just grandpa-ed
It's hard gongfu-ing with PPE, shoulda just grandpa-ed
It's hard gongfu-ing with PPE, shoulda just grandpa-ed
But whatever you do ... DON'T TOUCH GRANDPA!

Friday, May 15, 2020

white2tea’s Red Umbro Logo Neifi

I’m sure all of you, like me, are trying to decode the deep (or subliminal) meaning or messaging behind white2tea’s new wrappers and neifi (probably no one really cares) on their new 2020 spring release.  After close analysis and way too much thought and energy, I have come to understand this much...

Paul of white2tea is simply trying to tell us that “SOMEBODY” (as indicated in the upper neifi) is wearing Umbro shorts and/or a football (soccer) jersey (as indicated by the clear use of the Umbro logo in the centre of the neifi) and that this person, due to the quarantine, ain’t going “NOWHERE” (as written on the bottom of the neifi).

Others, might be thinking that this is simply a continuation of the artistic direction first kicked into place in the 2019 white2tea summer release featuring the 30 cake limited run of 2019 white2tea Road 2 Nowhere and the limited teawear by the same name.  The new neifi highlighting the two featured top Spring offerings, the 2020 white2tea I Am with the word “somebody” written all over the wrapper and the 2020 white2tea Road 2 Nowhere (teasing that it is still to come).  The theme conjures up challenges to the notion of transparency of tea location, of freedom through consumerism, of liberty, social justice, morality and judgement in tea culture.  Yeah maybe...

But it think it has a lot more to do about football branding.  Besides, puerh branding has a long history of knocking off soccer branding.  Puerh cakes are round and so are soccer balls so it makes perfect sense right??? Case in point, the Shuangjiang Mengku Mangbo cakes famously knocking off the Adidas logo by putting it all over their wrappers.  Discussion on the famed Half Dipper first pointed this out many years ago.  It’s one of my favourite drinker puerh, I see that Adidas logo a lot!  If a big puerh factory like Shuangjiang Mengku can pull it off then you can be sure white2tea can as well.

Even Western puerh vendors have not shied away from knocking off other branding in the past.  Remember the Yunnan Sourcing Burger King branding fiasco???  I can almost hear Scott’s groans from here as I bring up this one again.  He changed his branding quick and destroyed all evidence of it ever happening... but what if that branding was pressed into the middle of thousands of puerh cakes??? Not so easy to get rid of that one...

Am I somebody who is on to something people or am I just on a Road 2 Nowhere???


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Comparing 3 Free Puerh COVID Promotions & The Return of the Charity Cake

I found it interesting that my three most frequented Western puerh vendors started offering free puerh promotions during the current COVID 19 crisis.  What is even more interesting to me is how they are each very different from each other.  Also I wondered why one of the three promotions seemed to work on me.

Yunnan Sourcing’s Free Gift Offers and BOGO Offers

This was the first and earliest of the free puerh promotions.  Basically there are tiers of free gifts and puerh cakes depending how much you spend.  I first got a promotional email at the end of Feb about these offers and I believe that Scott and Xiao Yao just decided to extend it until things normalize (whenever that will be).  This free promotion is within Yunnan Sourcing’s current marketing scheme and it is really the continuous part that is the branch offered to us at this trying time.  I don’t think this is as good as the rotating 13% or 15% off sales but for someone who is looking to not wait it is nice to receive some free! Thanks Scott and Xiao Yao!

The Essence of Tea’s Singularity Free Cake Give Away

This promotion was offered in both March and April so they ended up giving away two of their premium offerings from their very small 2019 line.  The 2019 Essence of Tea Singularity Gushu is a full 400g cake worth $178.00 people!  All you had to do was post a review of one of their teas on their website- sold out or in stock, it didn’t matter.  The March give away only allowed one entry but the April allowed as many as you could review.  I think this was a very successful promotion because it did a few things. Firstly, it got people excited about a pretty absent as of lately Essence of Tea at the right time- just before Spring release.  Secondly, it drew a lot of attention to the Singularity cake which had not sold out yet.  Thirdly, it filled a vacant website full of energetic and positive reviews.  People are a lot less likely to post a negative review when they are trying to be optimistic about landing a free cake- that’s not how human behaviour works.  It also is more of a reciprocal promotion with the customers giving something back to help David and Kathy out at a tough time in the form of some good reviews.  It’s a win-win really.  Thanks David and Kathy!

white2tea’s 2020 Umbrella Free Cake Give Away

This promotion was offered April 2, 2020 and offered a free cake of 2020 white2tea Umbrella, a 5 year aged mocha pressed into a new cake, .  It also offered free shipping on the free cake- no strings attached.  They hoped to give away 100 of these cakes and also offered the rest at $15 per cake.  They asked that only those most in need use the coupon code for the free cake and others go for the $15 reduced price cake.  I wrote a blog post on how this is the most epic of free promotions and Paul of white2tea pulled it off!  I suspect that Paul will release the remaining stock of this one in his first release of Spring 2020 puerh if he has any left to offer.  Thanks Paul!

So which one did I go for out of the three???

Readers of this blog will know that I felt like I already had enough tea and that there were others in more need for me.  So the white2tea promotion didn't directly effect me, but it did make me think more favorably of the brand that I am probably the most critical of.  So in some ways it worked.  I guess you could say the same for the Yunnan Sourcing promotion as well.

However, I thought the reciprocal nature of the Essence of Tea free promotion was really cool and I wanted to participate in it.  Plus I think I'm a sucker for sweepstakes promotions and the prize was big.  So I participated..  I already had the reviews on my blog so I just basically transferred a few of those to the site.  I didn't win but it made me feel good about doing something rather small without actually buying a cake to support a vendor that I buy from.

Did you participate in any of these free promotions?  Why do you think they worked for you?

I guess the other thing I kinda wanted to mention here was that this year I think we are also going to see lots of the vendors give back with charity puerh cakes.  Vendors were doing this off and on throughout the years with Tea Urchin doing it first I think then vendors like white2tea and Yunnan Sourcing.  I think we are going to see a lot of these this year some might even drop in the next few days/ weeks.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

2012 Lao Zhi Qing “Lincang Impression”: Experimental Sweetness

This is the other sample of Mr. Yu’s puerh that is still available at Tea Urchin, the other being this 2011 Che Ma Xuan Pasha which I reviewed last.  Eugene and Bell also had 2012 Che Ma Xuan Naka, 2010 Che Ma Xuan Nannou, and 2009 Che Ma Xuan Jingmai which are now all sold out long ago.  This 2012 Lao Zhi Qing Lincang Impression goes for $94.00 for 357g cake or $0.26/g... a decently cheap price…

Dry decently compressed leaves smell of layered darker honey, layered with dry wood bard, a licorice sweet and subtle almost fruitiness. The overall feel is sweetness with mild rich sweetness depth. 

The first infusion has a pear like onset of sweet tastes which transform into brown sugar tastes and longer into a woody almost medical taste.  There is a nice cooling pungency in the mouth with a returning sweetness of pear, apple, and icing surgar.  The taste is light sweet and decently complex with some deeper woody medicals barely detected after the initial sweetness.  The Sweet delicate aftertaste is long and the throat and tongue have a nice fuzzy feeling to them.

The second infusion starts with more of a brown sugar and pear onset the sweet taste is very clear but layered.  A very faint bitterness, brown sugar, icing sugar, honey, pear, slight dry woodiness, slight medical, coolness, long sweet aftertaste of candy, icing sugar, pear, brown sugar.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are nice and fuzzy, fluffy an almost astringent.  The finish is long candy in the mouth.  The Qi is mildly relaxing here.

The third infusion has a thicker fruitier presentation with pear and peach and deeper honey and slight wood that turns to brown sugar, almost medical, there is that distinct cooling then to almost a syrupy sweetness.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeelig are really nice and full sticky the throat feeling is opening to a mid-deep level.  The Qi feel relaxing and I feel my shoulders lighten and come up by my ears.

The fourth comes on thick with a thick almost syrup fruity presentation that has a bit of mild bitterness now.  There is a medical taste and presentation that come as the cool pungency now collides with the dense fruity syrup and woodiness and faint medical qualities of this puerh.  There is a long cooling aftertaste of fruits, sugar, syrups and icing sugar.  The bitterness is mild and persists throughout.

The fifth infusion presents with a thick viscus fruity peach taste with layered wood and darker honey nuances.  There is a touch of bitterness and as the thick fruity presentation collides with the cool pungency a thick sweet medical notes is release then a long aftertaste of candy, syrup, sweetness.  This tea has that very thick syrupy, almost woody, slightly bitter and almost astringent kind of medicinal licorice Lincang semi-agedness to it.  It does this decently well.  Qi is nice and relaxing, I can kind of feel my face soften a bit. 

The sixth infusion is thick licorice sweet viscus malty oily sweetness with a subtle bitterness and a coolness which collides with this blob of dense syrupy woody medical sweetness.  There are orange peel, tangerine, peach, pear, brown syrgar, honey, woody slight medical taste.  The taste is fairly complex and dense the after taste is mainly sweet. It has a very typical thick Lincang sweetness and lots going on... almost chaotic.  The Qi has a bit of alerting and relaxing with a chest pressure feeling.

The seventh infusion starts with a fruity juicy sweetness with a rich caramel finish, brown surgars, some wood, fruity sweet taste throughout the profile.  Some bitterness appears then cooling then more sweetness.  Woody, crème brulee, slight tart, almost orange, melon, tastes.  The mouthfeeling and throat feeling have a mild taughtness to them a slight astringency.  The Qi is mainly in the head.

The eighth infusion starts with a bitter, astringent fruitiness with a sharper woody layer.  There is more of a sourness that comes out of the mix and a bit of astringent mouth puckering happens.  There is an almond nut note that is new.  This one is still punching at the stomach in the more astringent infusions and we are just at flash infusions here. 

The ninth is nice and syrupy thick onset with pear, orange peel, and dry wood presenting with a round bitterness underneath.  There is less of a coolness now and the returning sweetness is more mild melon.  The woodiness kind of flattens the profile.

The 10th is fruity and thick with a distinct wood bark middle which interfaces with thick sweetnesses.  The sweetness is dense syrupy woods with a light fruity high notes of peach, melon and ends in a toffee or caramel sweetness. The mouthfeel is sticky and almost slippery astringent now. 

11th has more caramel and high fruits the caramel taste is pronounced and really nice and tropical fruit nuance returns.  This is a nice infusion with the cup cooling a bit.  The caramel density and layered sweet top notes are really tasty.  This infusion is less bitter, astringent or woody and the array of top notes really are on display in a complex thick profusion of sweetnesses.

12th has that nice thick dense sweetness to it.  A long caramel and then light fruity sweetness.  The layered sweet profile is really nice here.  There is a bit of spacy Qi in there as well.

The 13th has a juicy viscus sweetness with a nice caramel finish.  There is a mild coolness then returning sweetness of light high noted tropical under more pronounced brown sugar and toffee.  The mouthfeel is kind of slippery here- a thin type of fullness.

14th has a sweet syrupy sweetness with some licorice undernotes as well as some tame bitterness and woodiness.  The mild coolness pushes out a toffee sweet taste with some tropical taste on top.  Still feels very full and complex here.

The 15th has a more bitter wood presentation with some florals in there.  There is a more suppressed thick caramel and tropical fruits which run free when the sweetness returns.  The mouthfeel is slight astringent puckering.  The Qi relaxing and a bit heady.

16th has a dense fruity presentation of persimmon, melon, maple syrup, brown sugar, woods, slight sour, distinct florals now, peach, melon, slight cooling, even grape like tastes.  Very nice.

17th thick sweet presentation of layered sweetnesses- tropical fruits, syrups, brown sugars, caramel very nice and densely packed sweetness with a slight edge of woods, bitterness, slight sour.  A cool pungent brings in the high less dense sweet tastes.  This is pretty yummy stuff.

18th is more tangy tropical fruits, dense syrup, maple sugar, deep honeys, layered and densely sweet with a nice wood and slight bitter astringency underneath.  This one has nice stamina as well.  These later infusions are delicious.  There is some medicinal licorice notes in there as well. 

This is a bit of a chaotic Lincang Blend with an obvious sweet thick Lincang semi-aged character.  Its pretty tasty and strong in flavor and thick presentation.  You could use less than your normal amount of leaves with this stuff for sure.  Overall, the price seems fair for something like this. For some reason there is something too typical Lincang about this even in its complexity for me to purchase.  In some ways it is too sweet and chaotic for me, but very interesting.  There are not too many semi-aged blends of Lincang out there for the Western audience besides maybe white2tea Pin and maybe some Shuangjiang Mengku stuff.  Those that liked pin or Shuangjiang Mengku might want to try this one. 

I guess I would rather go higher and get something more vibrant or lower and something less thick but with more Qi.  For someone who is on a budget and wants to try a solid aged Lincang and who can spend a bit more for more complexity but without paying a fortune might want to try this and see if it fits their tastes.  It’s interesting, that is for sure.


Friday, May 8, 2020

2011 Che Ma Xuan Pa Sha: Curation Startups

Upon starting up the gem which is Tea Urchin, proprietors Eugene and Bell decided to add a few curated pieces from small puerh vendors they enjoyed.  This was likely done for a variety of reasons.  The most obvious would be to bulk up their offerings on their site to give more selection in the first few years they launched until they expanded their own brand.  Almost all other Western puerh vendors have done the same when they first start out, before their brand puerh has been built up.  They did this for a handful of 2011/2012 puerh offerings.  A lot has sold out since then but many are still available.

It seems Tea Urchin selected these other small puerh vendors to fill gaps in the areas they offer such as offering some select Jin Jiao and Legend of Puerh from Mengku and Lincang- they offer very little from their own Tea Urchin brand from these areas.  There are also some lower 2012 Autumnal Yiwu price point offerings by Xin Sheng Li Hao.  As well Mr. Yu’s offerings in his Lao Zhi Qing and Che Ma Xuan brands which present areas that Tea Urchin didn’t back in its early days at a price point much lower than the house Tea Urchin brand.  I picked up samples of the 2012 Lao Zhi Qing Lincang Impression and this 2011 Che Ma Xuan Pasha.

I was putting some thought into acquiring some Pasha area puerh and I couldn’t understand how the 2011 Che Ma Xuan Pasha at Tea Urchin is still hanging around.  I remember the popularity of the 2006 Haiwan Organic Pasha back in the day.  I’ve sampled the Pasha region a long time ago too…  some Douji and that notorious 2010 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn Pasha - the one that turned me off of Pasha for a real long time… hahahah.

Okay let’s get to it this 2011 Chen Ma Xuan Pasha goes for $153.00 for 357g cake or $0.43/g...

Dry leaves have a faint woody, slight smokey, and sweet forest odour with a touch of dry grass and hay.

The first infusion starts pretty smokey, like an old factory cake, just subtle grass tastes with mild cooling and hay in the aftertaste.  Minutes later a brown sugar note faintly lingers.

The second is quite smokey again.  There is a buttery taste underneath, hay, faint cooling, then brown sugar.  The long aftertaste is super interesting mix of brown sugar and toffee.  The mouthfeel is soft and velvety.

The third infusion has lots of smoke to begin (too much), with buttery hay taste which comes to a mild underlying cool pungent then a long brown sugar and even high noted sweetness pops.  The long sweet aftertaste is complex and interesting full of layers of sweetness.  The Mouthfeel and throatfeel are silky and soft but the throat seems to open reasonably deep to mid-level.  The smokiness and complex sweet finish is unique and an interesting juxtaposition.  The Qi is soothing and relaxing like a soft wave embracing the body and mind.

The fourth infusion has a smokey onset.  The smokeiness here is the delicious type but bridging on the harsh type.  There is some hay underneath before a mild cooling then rolling brown surgar and even floral sweetness pushes through here.  The throat opens nicely and sweet tastes roll out.  I’m enjoying the Qi here happy and chill with a mild, optimistic pick me up.

The fifth is much the same the tastes seem like smokey oak barrel, mild pungent cooling and long brown surgar. The tastes are very layered and smooth and give the taste much depth.  The long sweetness is very nice. The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling remain silky and smooth.  This is like a good scotch.

The sixth is much the same the flavor doesn’t change much the smokeiness kind of compounds and seems a bit stronger now. This infusion is a touch more astringent and woody with smoke and less hay and layered sweetness.  I feel wobbly on my feet from this Qi like I’m in a boat at sea.

The seventh has a juicy and thicker onset of peachy juice this thick sweetness initially is stronger than the smoke which is less in this infusion.  This denser sweeter peach taste is throughout and joined by high noted sweetness. There is a fruity almost tropical finish with brown sugar underneath. 

The eighth infusion starts with a thicker creamy peach juicy broth taste.  There is a mild smoke underneath but fruit tastes now dominate with subtle hay and brown sugar and even dry wood and grass.  The layers in the taste are impressive and enjoyable.  There is a long fruity taste.  The mouthfeel is velvety and the throat opens pretty deeply.

The ninth infusion is much the same still more juicy and dense with a long sweet aftertaste but a touch more smokey in this infusion.  I find the smokiness kind of builds the closer I drink the infusions.  Nice feel good Qi.

Tenth starts off a dense juicy fruit that lingers throughout.  The brown sugar sweetnesses are less and so is the smoke but it is mainly just this dense juiciness with subtle smoke, hay, wood.  The mnouthfeeling is a bit sticky.

Eleventh infusion is much the same the smoke builds in this consecutive infusion.  The aftertaste develops a distinct bring honey taste that I have not seen yet.

The twelfth infusion and thirteenth infusion are mildly Smokey with a pronounced sweetness.  The aftertaste forms a honey-like taste.  The taste is nicely layered and decently thick with a nice open throat feeling.  This sensation pulls along a ghostly fruity sweetness on the breath.  The tastes are thick and nicely packed together.  The Qi is really happy and free feeling.

14th, 15th, 16th and so on… I lose track but the flavours are consistent. Moderately sweet juicy dense approach with very mild smoke and mild sweet aftertaste of honey and barely fruit.  So I drink this tea like this for quite some time…

This is a nice Pasha and I think there are going to be some people who will enjoy this one.  The smoke is never harsh but it doesn’t fade away either.  I like a smokey sheng but for me the smokey taste was a bit too much… but I really like this one.    The density of flavor and open throat feeling in this one is notable as is the progression of changing taste through the session.  I think the material under the smoke is really nice stuff.  I think if you steep your sheng light you might be able to get away with the smoke here.  If you like your sheng, like you like your whisky, I think you will really enjoy this Pasha at a very approachable price.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

2017 Tea Urchin Xiang Chun Lin vs 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin

I have sampled a decent amount of Tea Urchin stuff but have not decided on how to post it yet.  I have posted some before here but I have tired much more.  Thought I would start with a few interesting comparison posts between similar areas and close year Tea Urchin and Zheng Si Long productions in the next few posts.  This one is from a puerh tea producing area that was newly introduced to me by this 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin.  I purchased a cake on it own merits but had not had a chance for cross comparisons of the area  Xiang Chun Lin is a newer sub category area of Yiwu near the boarder.  This Tea Urchin 2017 Xiang Chun Lun goes for $75.00 for 200g cake ($0.38/g) vs 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin which now goes for $202.03 for 400g cake ($0.51/g).

The dry leaf smells of delicious orchid florals layered in rainforest and sweet high-noted honey slight peach.  There is a deeper lingering note of deep forest.  The dry leaves smell very nice.

First infusion has a light icing sugar sweetness to it.  It is very sweet like pastry with a very faint forest base taste.  The long icing sugar taste stretches in to the breathe.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and there are some florals lingering in the throat as well as some faint spice.  The pastry sweetness is dominant and throughtout the profile.

The second infusion has a mushroom and melon onset with layers of light honey and pastry sweet cake that follows.  The taste has a mineral note to it as well underneath as well as a rainforest like base taste.  The mouthfeel is just a ghostly astringent and mildly sticky in the mouth the throat really seems to open to a mid-level letting in this deeper floral nuance.  The Qi is immediately spacy and I can feel my heart beat.  There is a calm alertness in here.

The third starts with a honey sweet, with a layers of forest a returning melon and wildflower sweetness.  The creamy pastry sweetness is long in the throat and goes on for a while.  The Qi is nice and strong in the head.  The lips are sticky and the mouthfeeling is sticky and pasty feeling.  The throat opens to a mid- to deep opening where high notes of melon, florals, honey and mainly pastry sweetness resides.  There is a spicy cinnamon nuance lingering throughout.  The Qi is decently big in the chest the mind feel free and a bit spacy high.  The Qi is notable here.

The fourth infusion starts off with a melon, honey, and candy floss like sweetness.  The Qi is nice and big and makes me feel high.  The mouthfeeling is quite sticky/pasty/slippery.  The throat feeling is stimulated and deep.  The underlying tastes are of spice and forest and incense but this puerh shines with its nuanced and complex high notes.  The Qi is nice and strong more alerting now.

The fifth infusion is more incense with fruity melon and honey layers.  There is a foresty spicy woody incense taste the pastry sweetness is less now but still lingers.  The sweet and highnoted floral notes are almost equal to a foresty incense spicy cinnamon note.  The pastry sweetness is more in the returning sweetness.  The Qi is strong enough to break me into a sweet.  The mouthfeel is more a slightly drying sandy stickiness now.

The sixth infusion has a sticky mouthfeeling with icing sugar and pastry returning after a few back to back infusions.  There are foresty and almost incense notes under the stronger pastry notes.  The Qi has a stoner like effect on my mind.

The seventh has this velvety sweet taste that is almost cake and pastry and almost candy with a rich forest base.  The sweet taste continues to be long and satisfying.  The tastes feel more congealed here.  The Qi continues to be pretty relaxing as well as alerting.

The 8th has a chocolate cake note.  The taste is real nice creamy very sweet and now a bit coco and richness with some faint spice, melon, forest notes.  The throat feeling is pretty deep.  The relaxing stoner feeling is very nice.

9th is more coco upfront with a sweet cake taste that tastes real nice.  The mouthfeelig is slippery and barely dry sticky.  The taste is stone mineral, rich and deepening now with notes of spice, incense, forest, faint floral mainly coco and cake.  The Qi speeds the heart. 

10th is becoming more coco bitter and stone mineral tasting the sweet cake is less but the mineral and a incense is still there.  

The 11th has a bittery onset with an almost sour astringency over dark coco nuance and layered forest and incense tastes.  There is a berry fruit note that seems to come out of the astringency and bitter.  The mouthfeelig is starting to be astringent.  The heart races.

The 12th infusion has more of a berry mild bitter coco taste with forest, incense, deep faint cooling throat.  Astringent mouthfeeling.

13th presents with a woody drier astringency with a dry woody taste.  The 14th is dry tight astringent and bitter with a coco berry taste and the mouthfeeling becomes drying here and puckering astringency.

I put this into an overnight infusion next to the 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin. 

This Xiang Chun Lin tastes and feels more like a Man Zhuan or Wa Long puerh than a border tea/ Wan Gong thing that is the 2018 Zheng Si Long Xiang Chun Lin.  This 2017 Tea Urchin Xiang Chun Lin has an interesting progression through the infusions with sweet in the first and bitter astringency in the later.  This is a decent puerh with an interesting change of profile as it goes through the infusions.  The 2018 Zheng Si Long has deeper play of floral and light and fruity tastes and a longer stamina, it is the more elegant of the two in taste.  Still need to try more from the Xiang Chun Lin region to see its character- I would have pegged this 2017 Tea Urchin as Wa Long, I think.

The Qi of both of these is quite big the 2017 Tea Urchin might even be a tiny bit stronger as it produces a stoner effect in the mind and a body feel in the chest.  The Qi of the 2018 Zheng Si Long is more complex in the body and mind and has a very relaxing but altering acuity effect on the mind, dizzying at times, spacy and clarity, and also has a body feeling in the chest.