Monday, June 29, 2020

2020 white2tea Is A Gift: Can't Have It All

Sometimes the worst brings out the best in people.  It’s been a rough year for some people but a lot of good has come out of it as well.  This is especially true as people are deeply reflecting on what matters to them in life.  I think the turmoil of 2020 has most definitely brought out the best in white2tea which is very good if you like puerh.

First, Paul had the 2020 white2tea Umbrella 200g no strings attached free puerh cake.  That was pretty amazing!  I took a pass on that cake but was moved to support white2tea this year in a purchase that spoke more to me… so here we are…

Then on May 15th came white2tea’s first wave 2020 Spring release and I would say the art direction on the wrappers is visually and artistically stunning.  Quite fresh and vibrant looking wrappers.  The descriptions and wrappers continue to improve year to year.  Paul’s continued his promotional email launching the cakes with a very short description was proven to be a hit in years past and was just as enjoyable for me this year.  This year the wrapper art seems less “graphic design” and more “artistic” they are really visually stunning this year.  Paul’s photography seems to be featured more and more year to year and the wrappers are looking more like art pieces in a gallery than design.  Beautiful esthetic.  In this first wave was the release of this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift ($249.00 for 200g cake or $1.25/g). The email description was “isn’t this all a gift?”… I agree that it kind of is…

Wave 2 came on June 7th with another goody- a charity cake named 2020 white2tea Good Man in a Storm which Paul apparently discounted from $35 for 200g cake to $25 for 200g cake.  The best part was that 100% of that money would go to charities that fight against systemic racism in the USA.  Black Lives Matter!  With a brand name that could mistakenly conjure up “white pride”, it was probably a good idea to clarify.  Let’s be perfectly clear- Black Lives Matter.  Paul’s bold statement on racism states the obvious in a turn over the last few years to cakes and wrappers which have a theme of social justice.  Spring 2020 Wave 1 release had wrappers and design elements that suggested that this year Paul’s artistic vision would focus a bit more on Social Justice as I jokingly implied in this post. 

These wrappers started to show up last year with the art on 2019 white2tea Road2Nowhere and the predicable release of 2020 white2tea Road2nowhere.  This cake which was released as 50 limited cakes and was still available for purchase until today.  I think this speaks more to the current economic state, the demographic of white2tea’s consumers, as well as a so-so review by Cwyn N of last year’s cake.  So far I haven’t read a review yet that would convince me to drop the $128.00 for 200g cake.

The artistic statement which is 2019 white2tea InB4 also looks at worker equality which is evident in Paul’s rare detailed description of his wrapper and cake name.  I always felt that the 2019 white2tea Duh is meant to be a strong statement on gender equality/ woman’s rights.  In the same vain as the shot blurred in camera InB4 (Love Always Wins) and Is A Gift (Be Nice), the 2019 Duh has “This Girl Can” blurred.  All of these shots are likely blurred T shirt logos.   “This Girl Can” is a charity that aims to reduce the gap and inspire woman to be more active in sport.  Then the title “Duh” juxtaposed with the blurred image suggests that gender stereotypes are more ingrained systemically than a simple catchy phrase or hashtag can simply reverse.

OK… Lets get back to Is A Gift…

It’s this simple… Last year the 2019 white2tea Is a Gift spoketo me.  Although it was one of the best 2019 puerh I had tried- I hadn’t sampled so widely in 2019 so that doesn’t say much.  Despite it being a great gift it had some flaws to it mainly in it lacking a deep throat feeling or complex aftertaste.  However, I still really like this 2019 but just couldn’t overlook the flaws to buy more for this price.  So in come this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift… will it out preform the 2019????

Dry leaves don’t seem as compressed as last year’s cake.  Very tippy small leaves smell of Tuitti Fruity odours with a deep forest base.  Not as high noted or piercing green smelling as last year’s 2019 but deeper smelling forest.

First infusion has a mellow woody forest vibe.  Some soapy floral notes developing in the aftertaste.  A sweet sugar finish, creamy, soapy floral.  Mainly soapy fragrant floral tastes in a cottony fuzzy mouthfeeling.  The perfume stays on the breath for a while in the sticky mouthcoating.

The second infusion has a floral bitter soapy almost sweet onset.  There is a slight creamy butter and rainforest base.  The mouthfeeling is cottony, full, and sticky the throat opens to a deep soft pungency where mainly floral tastes linger and fade.  The finish and aftertaste and throatfeeling of this 2020 is immediately better than the 2019.  The Qi is alerting in the body.

The third infusion has a foresty onset a moderate bitterness that turns quick to perfume and dense soapy handsoap florals.  Cottony full a little sticky mouthcoating.  There are woody tastes underneath the bitter and a mid-throat opening with some mild cool pungency which throws the soapy across the aftertaste.  The Qi has a building headiness to it with a nice alerting feeling.

The fourth infusion has a pretty intense bitter buttery floral creamy sweet onset.  The bitter really splashes up into the roof of the mouth and there is a touch of peachy mango taste.  The bitter is definitely building in intensity. The mouthfeeling is slippery stone.  My mind and head start to wobble and float.  There is some hypnotic feeling in my mind.  A mid depth throaty light depth that a mild pungency touches.  The result is a long perfume soap aftertaste on the breath.  The peach fruit taste returns minutes later.  Saliva pools in the mid-throat as thick peach taste coagulates there among distinctly strong perfume.  The mouthfeeling has a thick slippery feel to it.

The fifth infusion has a bittery buttery almost forest taste which has a distinct thick perfume floral soapy finish.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and the bitter is pronounced.  The throat sees a mild pungency mid-depth which traps soapy floral tastes for a long perfume aftertaste.  There are suggestions of peach taste under the strong bitter and floral soapy onset.  The Qi has a moderately hypnotic feeling to it, less intense than the 2020.

The sixth has a distinct bitter floral taste.  The bitter splashes up into the mouth and a soapy floral taste expands.  The taste is really pretty strong.  The slippery mouthfeeling and mid-deep light throatfeeling push out a long floral aftertaste of perfume and even peachy tastes.  The throat depth is deep enough to push out a gob of saliva where an almost salty very floral and subtle peach fruit taste is long in the throat.  The qi is starting to race the Heart a bit.  My body feels energized and my mind clear.  The long floral taste here is distinct and strong throughout. The bitter is moderate-strong and quick to move.  Compared to the 2019 the bitter was much stronger and stayed throughout the profile.  The floral taste was much shorter with a very inactive throatfeeling and short aftertaste with the 2019 compared to this 2020.

The seventh infusion has a moderate bitter buttery creamier sweet onset.  There is a long floral taste that expands in the throat and is long on the breath.  There is a bit of woody tastes here now.  The Qi is invigorating now with slight stronger Heart beats.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and reasonably full.  The throat is mid-level depth.  The saliva pools in the throat mintues later holding a kind of forest floral taste in there.

The eighth infusion has a lively moderate bitter taste that splashes floral buttery sweet tastes into the mouth.  A lower level bitter goes the distance the deeper throatfeeling pushes out strong florals and forest woods now in the aftertaste.  The qi pushes me into a mild sweat on this very humid summer day.  The mouthfeeling is slippery with a bit drying lip edges.  The Qi is relaxing as well as alerting.  Definitely not as powerful as the 2019.

The ninth infusion has a moderate quick moving bitter which quickly returns a buttery creamy but mainly woody distinct floral taste then drops to a mild bitter which trails out in the mouth.  The mouthfeeling of this 2020 is really nice with a mid-depth faint almost pungent cooling with saliva gob action.  The aftertaste is mainly floral woods now with faint peachy suggestions underneath.  The Qi is moderate and has a nice euphoria and heating going on now in the body.  The aftertaste of wood florals is on the breath 5 minutes later.

The 10th has a fresh green moderate bitter splash with a longer buttery floral initial taste.  The aftertaste is woods and distinct florals.  There is some suggestions of peachy fruit in the aftertaste as well.  The mouthfeeling is slippery cotton lip-edge dryness a moderately full feeling with mid-depth in throat and saliva pooling.  There are more tropical fruit nuances that try hard to punch through in the throat.  The mind is alert and a bit euphoric.  The aftertaste of peach florals is long.  I feel re-energized.

11th has a sweet peachy woody and now only low bitter onset.  There are some buttery florals that emerge mid profile.  The mouthfeel is less intense with a slippery almost dry thin moderate coating.  The aftertaste in the throat is more melon now with some florals as well and less woody.  The body pushes out another mild sweat.  This infusion is sweeter but less bitter or full.

12th has a buttery creamy floral onset with mild bitter underneath now.  There is a mild pungent in the throat mid ways which pushes out melon, peach, creamy sweet, and floral tastes.  The breath aftertaste is long and tasty.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and throat feeling still holding strong despite the bitterness really falling off.  This is probably the tastiest infusion 12 flash steepings in.  The qi is mildly hypnotic.

13th has a moderate-low bitterness with woody floral and creamy butter tastes.  The floral taste is long in the throat and sticks to the slippery almost sticky tongue coating.  The aftertaste kicks up melon, peach, but mainly a buttery almost sweetness and distinct floral character.  This infusion is really tasty as well.  The throat feeling is holding strong and is a nice point of this 2020.  The Qi has a warming feeling in the body and moderate euphoria with mild Heart beats.  The face has a subtle numbness.

14th has a low moderate bitterness with a creamy woody less floral sweet onset.  The mouthfeeling can get a touch almost dry pucker when infusions are sampled back to back.  The throat feels slight cooling pungency with a floral and woody finish with a lot less sweetness in this infusion.  Head euphoria and warming body, mild face and chest sensations. 

15th infusion has become a bit watery, butter cup, some creamy sweetness and faint floral.  It’s starting to loose strength here.  There is still a nice long aftertaste of tropical creamy banana candy which is really tasty.  The aftertaste is losing strength as well.  The throat feel continues to hold and the mouthfeel has a nice slippery stickiness to it still.

16th has a peachy woody almost but not really floral initially which expands to more of a buttery floral in the mid profile and slight tropical fruity in the aftertaste with a slight soft bitterness throughout.  Still a nice floral tropical sweet aftertaste which is quite long even though it is weakening now.

17th is a watery floral cup with a bit of butter and woods mainly watery now.

18th I push into a few minutes long infusion… and it pushes out some buttercup florals over a mild bitter woody taste.  The Qi has dropped off as well over the last few infusions.  Still some fruity aftertaste.

I put the rest of the wet leaves in a mug and really long steep it…. Deep bitter and salty green florals remain…

Looking at the wet leaves of this 2020- the processing is not the ultra green, crazy perfect unbroken bud and leaf sets of the 2019 Is A Gift.  Also there are some leaves which have a bit of browning or scorched marks which were not in the perfect looking 2019 leaves.  The small leaf varietal is still apparent and the quality is there but not the crazy meticulousness of the 2019.  It could have been deliberately processed a bit longer in the wok as this 2020 is not as mean green processed as the 2019.  Its possible that Paul gave the farmers the directive to leave it in the wok a bit longer to bring out more taste and a deeper throat feeling which the 2019 lacked.

Overall, this is an above average Yibang.  It has some strength behind it and has a nice aftertaste.  The taste peaks slowly and has above average stamina for a Yibang.  The Qi is also nice and more warming and euphoric than the flat out more powerful 2020….

Vs 2019 white2tea Is A Gift.  The 2019 white2tea Is a Gift is a significantly better tea in almost all respects.  The 2019 has much stronger Qi, better stamina, better leaf processing, and is more extreme yibang in general.  This makes the 2019 better to age long term I believe.  But the flavors and aftertaste of the 2019 was weak.  Where the 2020 is better in its more balanced flavor while still being more powerful than average.  The 2020 has a nice throatfeeling and aftertaste as well.  It’s much better suited for drinking now but will aged decently enough.  It’s a more balanced Yibang than the extreme and power of the 2019.  The 2020 does imnprove significantly in the aftertaste and throatfeeling but its gains here don’t outweigh the power which is the 2020.

In the end I'm left wondering if some extra processing was done to this 2020 to make it less nuclear green as the 2019?  To perhaps give it a deeper taste and throat feeling?  I am also left wondering if it was all done deliberately or is it by accident or just the way nature and climate left its mark on harvests of different years?  Maybe if the 2020 was green processed it would still be the powerhouse green machine of 2019? And by processing it differently in 2020 it has added flavor and throat feeling but has weakened its stamina and Qi? 

I guess I'll never know but I will find these two cakes interesting to compare has they age.  It also makes me think that if I thought that the lack of complex aftertaste, and deep throat feeling was the flaw of the 2019 and it was corrected in 2020 by processing but yet I am even more dissatisfied with the 2020 then I must be really picky or impossible to satisfy with my Yibang puerh.... hahahhaha... the phrase "Can't Have it All" is an apt phrase when it comes to trying to find a flawless puerh.  However, with puerh and with life, you make the best what comes your way and find the positives to enjoy...

Somehow I ended up giving the 2019 white2tea Is A Gift anumerical grade of 7.1.  I will give this 2020 white2tea Is A Gift a 5.9 just for comparison.

Thanks again Paul for pressing another enjoyable gift!


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

I’m the King of Dirt: Understanding My Korean Puerh Influences

There has been two recent blog posts that have made me reflect more deeply on how my taste in puerh was influenced in the mid 2000s in Korea.  At that time in Korea 100% of the aged and semiaged puerh (1970s, 1980s but mostly 1990s) which I regularly consumed came from moderately humid Taiwanese storage.  This is what all the puerh tea houses in Korea stocked.  This recent post from Marshal’N of A Tea Addicts Journal shares a research paper titled The Authentic Taste of Puer Tea and Transnational Interests which clearly explains why all the puerh tea I consumed in Korea, although came from Yunnan, China, was imported from Taiwan and had Taiwanese storage.

I have often joked that Korea was probably not the best place to learn about puerh tea.  For one the prices were often inflated being that the price factored in the Taiwanese to purchase from China, stored the puerh in Taiwan, then sell them from Taiwan to the Korean Teahouses which in turn sold them to us customers.  The aged and semiaged puerh would usually go for hundreds of dollars.  Cakes that in today’s market, of course, now sell for thousands or ten thousands but at the time it was still more expensive to purchase puerh in Korea vs other puerh drinking markets.  I now realize after reading that article posted by Marshal’N that this likely had to do with Taiwan’s strong unchallenged influence or monopoly on puerh tea in Korea at that time.  It also explained why so few of the cakes I consumed weren’t Malaysian, Korean, Kunming, Hong Kong or Guangdong storage.  I believe at least some of the puerh I consumed in Korea at this time was once stored in these locations but all the information the puerh teahouses in Korea could pass on to me at the time was that these were Taiwanese stored.

Secondly, the puerh that did make it to Korea wasn’t the top of the line like what I image you would have been able to access from Taiwan at the time.  There simply wasn’t the developed market in Korea at the time where you would be able to sell these famous aged puerhs.  As a result, I had never tried any super famous, over the top antique puerh from these Korea puerh teahouses.  Of course, I did have much more exposure to some of the more famous 90s cakes specifically Menghai Tea Factory and stuff and, yes, some of the puerh I tired from the 70s and 80s would be quite expensive in today’s market but still likely not the cream of the crop for that era of puerh.

The second article that really got me thinking about how my puerh tastes were shaped in Korea is this article my Marco in Late Steeps.  In this article Marco postulates how some puerh cakes develop dirt tastes or geosomin or beet like tastes (I’ve often referred to them as earthy tastes).  The article looks at trying to remove the dirt tastes from a humidly stored cake that was then dried out at very low humidity.  The taste was eventually removed with adding both humidity and heat long for a long time by the way.  This had me thinking about why all aged cakes that I consumed in Korea had the dirt taste. 
It makes sense in that Korea imported cakes from Taiwan which is much hotter and more humid.  It is likely that these aged puerh developed the dirt taste from exposure to cool and less humid Korean storage after a longer period of hotter and humid Taiwanese storage.  But the most interesting thing about this story is how Korean puerh tea drinkers basically became connoisseurs of these dirt (geosomin) tastes in puerh as they were often attached to famous cakes of the 80s and 90s.  Basically, dirt taste = great authentic aged puerh in Korea at that time.

To this day my wife and I still absolutely love the geosomin profile in puerh.  It is of note that we also generally love eating dirt covered carrots right out of our garden and beets tend to be one of our favorites.  Strangely others Westerners also have emailed me telling me that they too appreciate the dirt profile.  However, recently it has been brought to my attention that people who have very good taste in puerh do not like the geosomin flavor at all.  Then it got me thinking that maybe I actually value something in puerh that others basically feel is a flaw.  Am I the Bud Light connoisseur of puerh?  Hahahha…

Anyways, my taste is my taste, puerh is unique in this way with different regional tastes or ideas of what “good puerh” tastes like.  For me though, I don’t mind my older puerh tasting like dirt and perhaps there is a whole country who feels the same way.  If there are some people out there who have tongs of dirt tasting aged puerh from the 90s who now are thinking that it’s no good… please don’t throw them in the trash- send them my way!

I chuckle to myself and shrug... I guess I am puerh tea’s King of Dirt… hahhaha


Saturday, June 20, 2020

2007 CNNP Peacock: Can’t Beat This Unique $40.00 Cake!

Stephane of Teamasters has kindly been sending me samples once every few years since he opened his webstore way back then.  Before the webstore he was one of the first English/ French tea bloggers and he’s still going strong- Thanks Stephane.  I thought I would include this “pre-COVID 19” note he sent with the samples.  It’s interesting how even a note this simple is so obviously before the virus really swept the world.  Nowadays even the simplest communications will look and feel much different than this innocent letter.  I got lots of emails from people thanking me about the recommendation of the classic Meaghai, more aged, and dirt tasting 2003 Zhongcha that Stephane used to sell for $60.00.  Its one of the puerh I have drank the most of in the past 3 years.  I think Stephane was most excited about what I thought about his new budget puerh find, this 2007 CNNP Peacock which he sells for $40.00 for a full 357g cake (or $0.11/g)…

Dry leaves both exceed expectations of look and smell.  They smell rich and velvet with a very creamy sweet aroma.  There is a suggestion of hay and wood and chocolate but mainly woody sweetness.  The leaves smell of moderate humid storage.

First infusion has a nice creamy woody and very nutty camphor wood taste.  There is a bitter suggestion and a soapy taste.  The camphor aftertaste combines with subtle bitter in a full and rich feeling and mouthcoating.

The second infusion start off like sweet peanuts, a nutty sweetness with a creamy sweet and rich taste presentation that turns into a camphor taste and a sweet thrills gum kind of soapiness.  There is a pretty distinct nutty flavor as well as a touch licorice.  This blend seems to have a fair amount of Lincang material in it I would guess.  The mouthfeeling is full and slippery feeling.  The throat has an upper opening feeling where camphor lingers.  The feeling of this puerh is more aged than its 2007 pedigree suggests due to its moderately humid likely Taiwanese storage.

The third infusion starts with a sunny orangey woody tangy resin wood like sweetness very similar to the 2003 Hong Kong Henry 7542 Consciousness Prescription in taste here.  Then comes a very peanut nutty sweetness.  Then a creamy woody tangy finish.  The sweet taste is like Mandarin oranges.  There is a subtle soapy sweet Thrills gum like retuning sweetness.  Overall the taste is very rich and robust tasting with clear flavours.  The Qi of this tea is a touch warming and mild- a comforting tea on this rainy spring day.

The fourth infusion has a more basic woody onset with orange peel nuances coming later.  There is less nutty sweetness here but a low camphor taste that comes out.  There is a floral woody finish almost soapy perfume aftertaste that is quite enjoyable.

The fifth has a resin woody taste with a creamy citrus peel nuance.  The taste is less rich and full now but the camphor still comes in low and pushes out perfume soap and essential oil of citrus finish on breath.  This puerh is now less slippery and full in the mouth but is still a slippery mouthfeeling.  A smooth taste overall.

The 6th has a woody soapy resin perfume with less thickness in the mouth and less cooling camphor now.  The perfume taste suggests that it should be semi-aged but the smooth soothing base taste feels like it’s closer to early 2000s aged.  The feel in the body is also very mellow and aged feeling.

7th has a watery woody almost pond and fallen leaf but more rich watery aged taste.  There is a resin taste to it, and nice smooth flavor with a citrus peel taste and slight camphor going towards coco in the aftertaste with perfume nuances.  Smooth taste and feel and qi.

8th has a 30 second steeping and it pulls out a thicker creamier and a slight nutty taste there is a bit of sour zest and woodiness.  The perfume and citrus peel tastes which make this puerh so interesting are very faint now.

I push this into a very long mug steeping and mainly dirt and woody tastes remain.

Overall, this is a really interesting, a bit unique, and pretty enjoyable semi-aged sheng.  The big downfall is the stamina which is maybe a bit less than even the most factory puerh but the first few infusions are interestingly delicious.  This puerh is interesting to be because of its super fragrant distinct strong perfume, Thrills Gum-like aftertaste which is something you would expect in a semiaged puerh or something even younger than its 2007 pedigree suggest.  However, this fragrant essential oil like aftertaste is juxtaposed with a deep aged taste and smooth feeling that you would get from something more aged due to its moderately humid Taiwanese storage.  There are some larger leaf in the plantation blend which seem to add to the depth of this puerh.  I would guess this is a blend of Northern puerh- Lincang and Simao.  The orange peel/ citrus taste with a strong woody resin initially reminds me a lot of 2003 Hong Kong Henry 7542 “ConscientiousPrescription”.  Although this 2007 CNNP Peacock is not as strong, deep, or as oily.  I’m not sure I have ever had that distinct resin with orange taste before the 2003.

Anyways, this cake is quite interesting for a $40.00 sheng 357g cake.  Its uniqueness reminds me of another CNNP production of the same year which also has an interesting profile- this 8891 Red Label.  Haven’t tried that one but it’s been popular as a unique drinker puerh and used to sell for closer to the Peacock’s pricing before it doubled.  I enjoyed it a lot and I think you will too.  Cheers to Stephane of Teamasters for sourcing this affordable one for us!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

2009 Liming “Yi Wu Moutain Big Green Tree”= A Good Cheapish Yiwu

Liming has been popular in the west for its cheapness as well as its easy to drink-ness.  There has been lots of Liming teas currently flooding the market.  When asked why that was, I responded to a commenter some theories here and told him I’ll put up a review soon.  Here is that review...

I love cheap factory puerh especially when it’s done right.  I haven’t sampled Liming in a while and don’t currently own any but it’s always been quite agreeable, easy drinking.  In my mind the Liming I’ve sampled before many years ago had a kind of more mild but sort of similar to a Dayi 7532 feel to it.  That’s what my shoddy memory tells me, for what it’s worth…

On a day I am looking for something slightly aged, comfortable on the body, and nothing to overly complex in my life.  I got this 2009 Liming “Yi Wu Mountain Big Green Tree” sample ($75.00 for 357g cake or $0.21/g) sent free last year with an order from Yunnan Sourcing ..  I hope to push some solid tastes out of this one by leafing it really hard…

Dry leaves smell of faint fruity almost raspberry odour with flowers the leaf looks mild humidly stored, nice tight factory compression.  Its smells delicious..

First infusion is still a fairly compressed infusion and steeps out with a creamy watery sweetness with a subtle watery peachy fruitiness.  A soft creamy vibe.

Second is a watery creamy sweet onset.  Faint with faint returning sweetness.  There is a nice soft watery fruity taste in there that returns with mild fruity sweetness.  There is a nice berry taste in the aftertaste that is a like raspberries and blackberries.

The third has a watery almost creamy kind of fruity onset.  The mild pungency pushes out a slightly sour and returning subtle sweet berry taste.  The mouthfeeling is faint and slightly sandy.  The throat is not significantly stimulated.

The fourth infusion has a creamy fruity taste initially.  There is a nice easy simplicity about the taste in a soft light mouthfeeling.  The aftertaste is enjoyable with a creamy berry taste returning after faint pungency.  The compression is starting to loosen a bit…

In the fifth there is a nice light woody base developing.  The tastes are all quite smooth and easygoing.  There is a bit of a sour pucker- very light but deepens the taste significantly.  Some woody berry, some creamy sweet, a touch pungent.  This is a nice tasting sheng.  Overall the taste is creamy berry soft sweetness.  The Qi is very mild with a slightly alerting and slightly relaxing feel.

The sixth infusion has a creamy woody onset with a creamy rolling berry fruity taste.  There is a slight woody almost sour but then pungent faintly creeps in and gives out long creamy sweetness.  This is a very nice complete tasting Yiwu sheng.  The mouthfeeling in this infusion strengthens a bit to a more puckering fullness and the taste is noticeably deeper.  The Qi is slightly warming now and the face flushes and I can feel the heart pound.  A nice vigor breaks through.  I feel clear.

The seventh infusion has a creamy almost pear and peachy with berry fruity onset the wood taste is becoming more prominent and the sweetness is starting to become less now.  There is a deeper throat sensation upper-mid stimulation from the slight tart mouthfeeling.  The sour tartness is really low actually and is just enough to let the taste really run loose.  I’m really enjoying the classic Yiwu tastes in this one.  Nothing too strong, nothing too crazy but not overly simple either, smooth, easydrinking Yiwu.

The eighth infusion has a nice strawberry onset with a nice woody base.  There is a bit more sour woodiness in the mix up front and building in the profile and the returning pungency has a more difficult time punching through sweetness but it does come in the form of delicious berry tastes.  The mouthfeel is moderately full slight puckering.  Stimulating upper throat.  Nice alerting Qi with Chest Qi and a relaxing that makes me want to stretch.  Straightforward Yiwu tastes, if not a bit simple than easy enough to enjoy.  The astringency is increasing and is a touch hard on my empty stomach now- showing signs of a 9 year factory puerh rather than say 12-15 where this discomfort would be aged out. 

The ninth is fruity almost pear and apricot now, a nice mellow but vibrant and clear tasting fruity with no astringency and a creamy fruity retuning sweetness.  The sweetness rules again in this smooth and not really woody profile.  The pucker is also less and allows for a soft smooth mouthfeeling.

The tenth starts again with this mellow but clear pear-apricot sweetness. No more astringency or woody just nice satisfying fruity taste with slight creamy returning aftertaste.  The aftertaste is developing more complexity too with some almost spice notes, deeper foresty woody notes and a touch sour and manly creamy fruity and sometimes berry fruits.  Sunny taste on this sunny day.

11th has a sweet pear taste with some almost dirt taste and woody mild pungent and faint returning sweetnss.  The infusions have dropped off in complexity here a lot so I push the next infusion for a good minute long infusion… Oops ended up being 5 minutes..

12th comes out with a thick syrupy fruity and woody infusion with a lot of syrup thickness and cherry sweetness.  This tells me that I can probably take this one for a while with just a bit longer infusions.  Classic Yiwu not-pretentious taste a bit blended with some more complex nuance to some of the infusions.  This puerh is really tasting and satisfying for me.

13th I long steep…. Thick fruity syrup, date, woody oily very sweet overall with an oily like cherry date sweetness.

This is a great drinker Yiwu that has enough nuance to enjoy and explore.  I would be happy if I cake ordered this one.  Another great cheap drinker from Scott at Yunnan Sourcing.  I could easily see this costing more for what it is- a very nice solid well stored factory semiaged Yiwu.  But then again, it is a factory production so the price makes sense.

Vs 2006 Rong Chang Hao Yiwu Qiao Mu.  I initially purchased a few of these cakes as a cheaper semi-aged Yiwu gushu option for days I don’t want to drink more expensive but higher quality Yiwu such as Yang Qing Hao.  The problem with these cakes is that my Yang Qing Hao cakes really outperform this Rong Chang Hao stored right next to it, I almost always pass it by.  I’ve since taken it to work and seem to be enjoying it there.  I think this 2009 Liming Yiwu Big Green Tree could be a similarly enjoyable Yiwu when you don’t feel like drinking up the good stuff.  In some ways it might even be a better option for me to store next to my Yang Qing Hao because it has a nice factory feel to it.  Both of these are actually very nice   However, these two Yiwu are just so so different.  The Rong Chang Hao is really a Gushu Yiwu in every way- the feel, energy, taste, look of the full leaf everything.  The Rong Chang Hao is also a bit more astringent and bitter with a stronger throatfeeling.  It had a decently humid Maylasian storage too so it has a deeper rich more semi aged taste.  The storage is probably optimal for something with a bit of underlying bite like this Rong Chang Hao.  It also has a loose stone pressing. 

This 2009 Liming is Kunming dry stored and it really benefits from retaining all the high Yiwu nuances.  I like the blended depth and complexity of this one.  It tastes obviously Yiwu even looks that way with the classic Yiwu wrapper.  It has a nice clear and clean vibrancy to it.  The leaves have a bit of factory chopped appearance but are some of good quality full small leaves as well.  I applaud the very tight compression and optimal dry Kunming storage which takes what the decent materials are and only amplifies them.  There is a nice purity to this factory blend that surprised me and is rarer to find in factory productions like this. 

On the surface of things, the price seems a touch pricy for a 2009 Liming cake, but on the other hand, the storage and performance of this cake easily exceed the price.  I could see myself enjoying this one in the same way I enjoy the 2006 Rong Chang Hao but this one is $25 cheaper than what I paid a year and a half ago on the Rong Chang Hao (the cake has likely even gone up more in price)and in some ways I like this 2009 Liming more.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

If Grandpa Steeping Requires Skill, then is it Gongfu?

These days at work I’m going lots of Grandpa Style. 

I know I’m getting older but I’m not even close to being a grandpa and I generally despise the notion of anything but gongfu.  But these days are busy days burdened by complex sanitation procedures and under layers of personal protective equipment gong fu no longer makes sense on my busiest days.  There is also just the fact that repeatedly touching the small cups and having the tea exposed to others in the office and having to hand wash everytime I go back to the tea table is not as hygienic or is just too much of a hassle.  Some days I start gong fu then just dump the leaf from the teapot into a mug when things are getting predictably busy.  I generally think grandpa style is lazy and doesn't put me into a meditative state... but here I am. 

One thing I noticed about going to grandpa style is that it is harder to hide or steep around flaws in some of the puerh I have.  This is especially true for particularly rougher semi-aged cheaper factory puerh that is my guilty pleasure at work.  You can control things a bit with mug steeping by leafing lighter or stronger, the frequency of adding more water, temperature or how much cooler liquid is left in the mug before adding hot water.  Even choosing different clay mugs and the shape of the mug seems to influence the outcome.  Surprisingly, I'm finding that there is definitely some skill to grandpa brewing.
So if Grandpa steeping  still requires skill, then isn't it gongfu (aka "skillful") after all?

Or maybe if I'm putting too much thought into these things then I'm not really Grandpa Style steeping at all?


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Blind Sampling Reveal from Wilson of Adventure In Every Cup (Updated)

Okay I thought it would be fun to do a completely blind tasting of two samples that were sent by surprise by Willson of TravelingTeapot blog in my last order from him in January.  I have no clue as to what these are and received no instructions on these.  After the post we will all wait for Wilson’s reply as to the answers…

Sample A

Very tight factory tight compression on these dry leaves.  I thought maybe iron bing but you can see the fabric bag impression on the cake so I guess not.  They have a smooth creamy muted sweetness.  Looks like decent quite dry storage but at least semi-aged material.

First infusion has a very fruity burst onset with icing sugar underneath.  There is a long and enduring cooling aftertaste.  Some woody notes.  This puerh has a very elegant start.  A nice full feeling in the mouth and resonating throat feeling.

Second infusion has a very fruity almost tropical onset with a nice full mouthfeeling with a long cooling finish where icing sugar tastes emerge long on the breath.  Qi is strong and dizzying in the head.  The mouthfeeling is a full chalky sensation that really fully coats the mouth.  The liquor is quite yellow coloured along with the still very tropical fruit taste suggests that this puerh is not aged yet but mid-aged maybe 3-7 years.  The Qi is really strong, a dizzying powerfully heady Qi.  It also feels good (possibly reasonably aged in the body).  Strong Qi!

Third infusion has a pondy almost bitter onset with fruity nuances underneath almost a dirt taste and kind of reminds me of Menghai area maybe Bulang but too light.  There is a nice strong full chalky coating mouthfeeling with cooling and icing sugar sweetness.  Chest expands from the Qi and the mind feels high.  I’m left wondering if this is Menghai Factory stuff.  Leaves starting to unravel suggest mid-aged with some olive greenish coloour leaves with some coppery coloured ones.

Fourth infusion has a brassier taste at the onset of clean flat wood almost metallic with a strong mouthfeeling and coating and the pungency opens the throat deeply.  There is some icing sugar suggestions in the returning sweetness as is there malty sweetnesses.  The Qi is strong pushing the mind and heart racing.  The Qi is indicative of a strong factory production.  Strong push on the body and mind.  The strong qi mixed with the comfortable body and suggestions of menghai area and possible Menghai Facotry indicate that its probably a more dry stored but older at least 12-16 years aged. Pictured at 5th infusion …

The 5th has a slight smokey but pondy taste with sweet fruity tastes underneath.  This infusion is a bit oily in the mouth and has a pondy dry storage taste to it.  There is a full mouthfeeling and nice coolness with a subtle woody returning sweetness with fruits and icing sugar more in the distance.  Strong Qi pushing the body and mind.  Warming energy.  I can feel a bit of agitation in the guts which again suggests that it’s not completely aged out.  The tropical fruity first infusions as well as the roughness on the guts suggestion semi-aged again.

6th has a quick powerful rich oily almost bittery pondy onset with woody notes and some astringency appearing as well.  It has a fruity underbelly under a woody pond base.  There is more of an underlying fruity and almost floral returning sweetness now.  There is a subtle herbacious base taste now. The mouthfeel is really thick and full coating, a strong feeling in the mouth with upper opening throat.  This puerh reminds me a lot of 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang King and I am immediately convinced that it is a 2004-2007 drier stored Nan Qiao production. There is a powerful warming Qi to this puerh that is reminiscent of Bulang.  It also has a strong Nan Qiao factory feel to it.

7th has a flat onset with woody and herbaceous woody tastes there are barely sweet fruity suggestions that are kind of buried underneath.  A very faint cooling with not much returning sweetness.  Overall a woody herbaceous feeling puerh.  Strong mouthfeeling and Big Qi.

8th has a woody, herbaceous onset with subtle pond taste. Thicker mouthcoating.  Big Qi.  Returning aftertaste is barely icing sugar sweet on breath.  The taste is leveling out but the Qi remains strong. 

9th has a flat onset of woody slight herbaceous tastes subtle bitter wood with a yeasty bread like faint sweetness that returns in the breath with subtle cooling.  The main tastes are of woody herbaceous bulang taste.

10th has an herbaceous and woody onset in a flat taste.  The mouthfeeling has lessened here but still has some moderate strength.  The Qi is lessening now.  Overall this is quite a nice strong bulang factory puerh.

11th has a subtle sweetness over herbal and woody notes.  The mouthfeel is flattening out but the faint cooling aftertaste is still there if you look and the Chesty Qi is apparent and strong.  A sticky icing sugared sweetness can be found faintly on the cheeks.  This puerh is not that sweet.

12th has herby woody flat onset.  Typical Bulang has flattened out around 7th-8th steeping.  There is still faintn sweetness, herbaceous, woody.

13th I put into a long infusion… it pushes out strong herby base taste with long cooling and hidden sweetness with a big big Qi.  So strong.

It’s interesting that Wilson sent this blind sample to me before I even posted about my mission to find Bulang puerh or before ordering the 2004 NanQiao bulangs from Teaswelike…

Vs the 2004 Nan Qiao Bulang King (wet leaves pictured below and Sample A above)

2004 Nanqiao Bulang King is smoother, thicker and oiler in the mouth, with much more complex nuances to the flavor, Sample A is a bit fruitier the King isn’t that fruity at all.  This comes out in some long steeps.  Sample A's qi is similar but the 2004 Nanqiao Bulang King is a touch bit stronger.

Sample A Guess: a 2004-2007 drier stored Nan Qiao production

Answer: 2006 Xiaguan Yushang Gongtuo.  I feel like I did a really good assessment of this one and was pretty close in age, quality, etc.  This tuo is of better quality than most other Xiaguan Tuos that I've tried before.  I haven't had xiaguan in many years now otherwise, maybe would guess this as Xiaguan.  This one was once for sale at R.J. Teahouse (Ebay) for $38.80 for 200g too ($0.19/g) I'm not sure how long ago this was though.

Sample B

Again tight compression dry leaves maybe a bit less tighter than A but still machine pressed have a subtle sweetness with a bit more fait humid odour still pretty dry stored but maybe not as much as A.

First infusion has a fruitier lighter vibrancy to it but watery as the sample still has to open.  There are fruits and florals detected on the pallet on a smoother woodier base.  A smooth chalkier soft mouthfeeling.  This is showing early signs of a more delicate brew.

The second infusion has a mellow pear fruity onset with layered sweetness there is florals, melon, pear, almst tropical notes over a faint almost woody body.  Very light and vibrant.  The mouthfeel has a soft cottony coating.  The Qi makes the arms tingle and the face as well.  The throat has a faint mid-deep opening suggestion.  Very Classy and elegant tasting.  Very smooth in taste and in the mind.  Another semiaged higher quality, even possiably LBZ, or maybe nice Menghai region.

The third infusion has a thick juicy onset of canned pear and peach a thicker syrupy onset with layers of sweet sugars and florals.  There is a bit of faint layered in bitter/ astringency very faint to add body.  A pungent returning sweetness hits with a thick and complex barrage of flowers, sweetnesses, layers of fruits.  This is a very fine puerh indeed. The wet leaf has a faint suggestion of smoke which doesn’t appear in the soup.  Cottony mouthfeeling with a deeper throat feeling with long complex retuning sweetness of layered fruits.  There is distinct bodyfeelings developing as well in the limbs and chest.  The mind feels sharpened a free.  This is a very nice high quality thing… 8-14 years of decent dry storage, perfect for something as complex and delicate as this… even 5 minutes later you can still taste the sweet layering in the mouth.  Qi is really strong in the mind almost hypnotic.

The fourth has a thick rich fruity onset very dense in its thick syrupy fruity presentation.  There is a subtle smokiness, almost a floral incense to it underlying.  Thick syrup fruity sweetness in the mouth that drags into the aftertaste where a deep throat sensation and where a sugar, menthol, and long floral aftertaste emerges.  The mouthfeel is cottony and full, the broth is oily, and the throat feeling is deep.  This is very high quality puerh.  I would guess probably Menghai area, maybe a bit of Bulang or Lao Ban Zhang even.  The Qi is also very big and alive in the mind and body with varying sensations throughout.  This is a very good and probably very expensive puerh.

The fifth infusion has a very thick viscus fruity oily syrupy and incense taste.  The soft cottony full mouthfeeling and deeper throat feeling allow for a very long complex sweet finish.  This is a very thick, sweet, oily and Qi heavy puerh experience for me.  There is a long candy like sweetness under thick layers of fruits and florals in the aftertaste.  Complex returning aftertaste of sweet tastes.  A very subtle not really astringent or bitter at all but some kind of subtle thick bite to it very remissant of Menghai region.  Very thick, full satisfying puerh.  Strong and elegant and complex.  Even brown sugar like minutes later aftertaste with pungent candy… pictured in 5th.  Qi is hypnotic and strong and makes me feel high.  I’m starting to get the feeling that this might be a very nice high quality Bulang factory production.  The smokiness tips me off in that direction and it has a general feel of a high quality very nice stored factory puerh.  Looking into the teapot the leaves are small grade no

The sixth infusion has a smokey thick fruity syrupy vibrancy with a full mouthfeeling that is stickier now and a deep throat penetration causing me to gulp saliva where a fruity long and almost pungent taste is long on the breath.  The Qi is quite warming and pushes me into a sweat.  Hypnotic in the mind strong push with some tingling bodyfeelings in the face and arms. 

The seventh infusion has more smokey tastes building but with strong returning fruitiness, sugar, pungent floral, very sweet and thick finish.  The smoke is stronger now and infiltrates the breath and aftertaste but is not too much for me.  The aftertaste is really really sweet and long.  The Qi is really hypnotic.  The sweetness in the aftertaste is really mouthwatering.

The eighth infusion starts with thick juicy smokey fruity tastes.  This has a Menghai area feel to it, a smokey factory feel, and a high quality factory production feel to it.  The tastes are narrowing a bit and a bit less complex now.  Still a very long and satisfying returning sweetness with a deeper throat sensation.  Mintues long complexly fruity returning sweetness.  This puerh is very very satisfying to me.

The ninth infusion comes off a bit flatter initially but thickens out in the mouth with a cottony mouthfeeling and deep pungent throat.  The thickness and oily nature of the broth with full mouthfeeling and deep throat with long complex finish is very nice.  Minutes later there is still a long satisfying sweet taste.

The tenth infusion has a smokey onset with a flat base taste.  This infusion has much less sweetness and I decide to push this one early…

30 Second steeping… 11th is smokey fruity a bit flat now with less intense aftertaste.

A few minutes long infusion pushes too much smoke out with less sweetness now.

This one dropped off fast like a factory cake.  It also has quick powerful qi like a proper terrace puerh/factory production.  The vibrancy of this puerh is awesome.  Possibly a bit of Bulang in the mix, definitely Menghai area nice factory production, nice slightly humid dry storage, 8-13 years production, with smaller tippy leaves.  The combination of thick oily feeling, full mouthfeeling, and deep throat sensation with very long aftertaste makes this a very nice production and a great candidate for further aging.

Sample B Guess: 7-12years quality or premium factory production, the fruitiness still in here makes me think closer to younger part of this range, smaller leaf grade, Menghai region production.

Answer: 2007 Jing Mei Tang Jing ($86.00 for 357g cake or $0.24/g).  I think I got the general idea right with this cake- age, drier humid Malaysian storage, fruitier elegant tea with a subtle harsher factory smokiness and strength.  The smaller leaves I mentioned suggest Jingmai region, it definitely crossed my mind but my experience of Jingmai is a bit more elegant and less factory strong.  Also, I seem to chronically mis-guess Jingmai in almost every blind sampling I do of it, I think because my initial idea of Jingmai is mainly the gushu idea of it not the plantation/factory idea.

I am drinking the 2007 Jing Mei Tang Jing now with about 2/3 less leaf and it is still strong.  At this lower ratio it isn't has vibrant in taste but Qi is still strong and it still has a nice full mouth and throat feeling.  The stamina of this puerh is definitely a weak point because this puerh basically lasts 8 steeps but the fact that you can use much less leaf due to its strength makes up for it in value.

Okay… now we wait for Wilson of Adventure In Every Cup and Blog Traveling Teapot to reveal the answers and see how horrible my assessments on these are…. Hahahah…