Friday, July 31, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting “Delta” (2015 Biyun Hao Lishan Gongcha)

This was the very first of Marco’s blind samples that I tired.  It is decently hot here in the summers and I felt like a drier stored, maybe younger Gushu type of tea this morning that would give me a bit of energy and focus.  This one looked like it could be just that…

Dry leaves are moderate compressed leaves smell of a very faint floral and grains and almost licorice type aroma.  After rise the wet leaves smell of mild candy and licorice and hay.  The dry leaf looks dry stored and somewhere between young and semi-aged.

First infusion has a honey sweet onset with a vacuous grains base with a faint slow emerging lingering candy on the breath over a soft mouthfeeling.  The candy breath is very long and smooth and mingles with a slight cooling on the breath.  A sticky honey taste is found on the tongue.

The second infusion has a grains candy sweet onset that slowly stretches into a long and smooth candy finish on the breath.  The long and very smooth sweet aftertaste is very very nice and is the feature of this puerh.  There is some honey taste that returns in the mouth and throat minutes later.  This is obvious single estate, simple and quite elegant.  The mouthfeel is quite soft and the throatfeeling is deep but faint.  This is a nice puerh.  Even 10 minutes later this is a long elegant distinct honey and candy bubble gum.

The third infusion has a more forest woody grains candy onset.  There is a bit of a rubbery blank almost licorice mid taste then a long candy breath taste with minutes long returning honey.  The long pure candy and honey sweetness is what makes this puerh quite elegant and beautiful.  The Qi is very mild and quieting in the body and mild.  There is a mild mind slowness and brow softness to the qi. (third infusion pictured).

The fourth infusion has a honey licorice grains woody onset with a rubbery woody mid-taste which leads into a long pure candy taste on the breath.  The returning honey on the breath comes minutes later then the distinct pure and strong candy is left on the breath riding out for minutes there.  There is almost no astringency (which just very mildly appeared in this fourth infusion) and no bitterness in this single estate puerh.  The mouthfeeling is quite soft and slightly sticky now.  The throatfeel is vacuous but mid-deep.  There is honey on the tongue afterward and candy on the breath.  The Qi is very comfortable in the body and mind.  This has the taste and feeling of Lincang/Mengku puerh to me.  The sweet profile, slight licorice, slight astringency, honey taste.  The strong candy and slight woody finish remind me of something more Yiwu, maybe Autumnal Yiwu or Spring Lincang… probably Lincang spring puerh.

The fifth infusion has a deeper woods, honey, grains and licorice onset.  There is more of a pronounced coolness in the throat a faint astringency.  The sweetness is a layered honey taste on the more substantial tongue coating.  I can feel a bit of tingling on the face and cheeks.  A mild and comforting Qi emanates from this puerh.  This infusion really tastes like Northern puerh.  Deep honeys come out of a strong stickier mouthfeeling and more substantial astringency in the throat.  There is a mild camphor taste in the throat.  This infusion has a bit of power to it has the astringency and tongue presence is felt.  You can feel some of that astringency in an empty stomach.

The sixth infusion has a woody, mushroom, licorice sweetness to it initially in a full feeling sticky and somewhat astringent mouthcoating.  The moderate astringency simulates the upper throat.  There is a long honey taste that lingers in the aftertaste and some candy is found in the breath.  This last few infusions have a bit more power to them which is a shift from the very elegant 1-4th infusions to a more tangible and powerful mid-session.  The Qi is starting to have a mild stoning effect on the mild.

The seventh infusion has an almost soapy, mushroom, woody, less licorice taste.  There is a bit of mineral and stone tastes mid-profile and is a faint long candy finish.  The astringency is less here and the candy aftertaste is more.  There is less honey and more candy in this infusion.

The eighth infusion has a soapy woody mushroom faint licorice initial taste with a long candy breath.  The mouthfeeling is a touch astringent and makes the tongue sticky.  There is a slight bland paper taste with candy in the aftertaste.  The qi has a mild-moderate heaviness to it and feels very mildly stoned in the body.  This is a common Mengku Qi sensation.

The ninth infusion has a flat woody almost mushroom onset with a nice candy finish.  The profile is thinning out here but the astringency is keeping things real and the aftertaste of candy long in the throat. 

The tenth has a mushroom and almond like sweetness to it.  The mouthfeel is a sticky almost drying but more astringent feeling.  There is still long candy in the breath with a faint woody taste and a stoned Qi sensation.  There is a slight heart racing and alerting feeling now too.

The 11th infusion has a blank wood onset with faint suggestions of licorice and chicory.  The candy aftertaste is dropping out leaving mainly woody taste over a slightly drying astringent sticky mouthfeel.

12th infusion is a licorice bland paper and woody onset with some candy and still a bit of camphor appearing in the breath.  Heavy brow Qi feeling.  Despite the initial and mid flavor profile dropping out there is still a long candy finish even minutes later.  Sticky astringent mouthfeeling.

13th has a paper tasting bland onset with a faint candy finish in an active and astringent mouthfeeling.  The 14th is much the same and I put this into a mug infusion… With a bit of astringency this puerh is not a great candidate to pushing hard here at the end so I end my session still on flash steepings then to a mug…

The long grandpa mug is a bit fruity almost but still quite bitter/astringent with a pucker astringent mouthfeeling and a bit of candy at the end…

The stamina of this one is a bit poor but the progression of flavor, mouthfeeling, and Qi over the shorter session is somewhat dynamic and changing.  It is elegant for the first 4 infusions with a beautiful very long and accentuated candy and honey sweetness.  This tea is all about the long elegant aftertastes here which is quite beautiful.  The honey and candy take turns at revealing themselves in the aftertaste for a long time which is the highlight of this puerh and makes it of nice quality.  The mid profile becomes more astringent but also mushroom and woody and licorice typical of the Mengku/Lincang producing areas with a familiar Mengku stoned qi sensation. In the end of session you still get the candy finish on some level and the Qi takes a turn to become more stimulating.  In the end I left quite energized from this session!

Guess: A pretty dry stored high quality Menkgu/lincang single estate like gushu approx. 3-7 years old.

Answer: 2015 Biyun Yao Lishan Gongcha from Teas We Like

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting Intro

I think we must both have been feeling a bit bummed out that Taiwan is no longer shipping to Canada.  I know that I have some packages held up there and, likely, so does Marco of Late Steeps and one of the co-curators of Teas We Like.  To fill the void Marco proposed we swap some blind samples in the comments here.  We shot some emails back and forth and agreed to send 7 blind samples to each other.  We decided to both send samples that are easily accessible to us to get this rolling and make it easier on us. 

To ensure that I get my blind samples out in a timely manner I proposed that I simply send the puerh that is in my shelf storage and that I have been regularly drinking over the past few weeks instead of dig through my deeper sealed storage.  For readers who wish to follow along, the samples I sent Marco will give you a good idea of the puerh that I have been consuming most over COVID times.  Often tea blogs do not really represent the tea that the authors are actually consuming for one reason or another.  For me recently, I mainly post reviews of puerh that I were either offered free by vendors or stuff that I am sampling to purchase and, when I do, my actual purchases.  Not all the puerh I regularly drink have been featured in blog posts.  It is interesting to see what other puerh bloggers are actually drinking and I hope that you enjoy Marco’s upcoming posts (if you enjoy seeing what’s in other people’s closets).

Marco decided that he would send me at least a few blind samples of puerh that he is considering proposing to the tasting panel of Teas We Like.  It will give readers a little sneak peek, a hypothetical early look, into what might lie ahead for Teas We Like.  I hope you enjoy it.

After opening the box I received from Marco a few weeks ago I was impressed by his presentation of blind samples.  He opted for a completely sealed yet completely transparent sample bag that would need to be cut open.  This lets you see the leaf and choose accordingly but leaves you completely blind to the odour until you cut the package.  I think this is really interesting because sometimes I like to smell the samples before I dive right in but this essentially builds a bit more excitement for me.  It also makes me think that I get a lot more information from the smell of the dry leaves than the look of them and more than I often write about in my blog reviews. Marco also marked them with the Greek alphabet as per tradition started by Hobbes of the Half-Dipper years ago.

I didn’t start sampling them in order but instead selected based on the looks and hope to post in the order I tried them.  I have tried 4 thus far and they are interesting.  Some are probably meant to be sampled next to each other/ compared to each other so I might post like that too.  Anyways, in the next few weeks you will see some posts on this stuff…


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ranked! Western Puerh Vendor’s 2020/2019 Yiwu GuoYouLin Productions

This year I had unprecedented access to my favorite western puerh vendors Yiwu area Guoyoulin productions.  Some of these I had purchased samples or sample cakes but most I was given a free sample for review.  An interesting point is that a lot are at the $1.20-$1.25/g price range so they are easy to compare.  However, the ranking is simply the productions I liked best and the ranking below is regardless of price.  So, some of the lesser priced items, if ranked for value, could be a bit higher ranking.

1-      2020 Essence of Tea Tian Men Shan GaoGan ($1.20/g) is all about the very interesting, unique, Qi experience as explained in my initial post, it also has solid and unique flavours and mouth- and throatfeeling.  There is both an evolution of taste within each slurp as well as a wider change throughout the session.  The mouthfeeling also changes in the mouth as you swallow which is not as common.  I think this overall packaged would be hard to come by at a cheaper price especially for fresh puerh. This will give you an idea of why TianMenShan is so famous these days.  This is also the only of the list which I re-ordered.

2-      2019 white2tea Is A Gift ($1.25/g) cake sampled this one and really liked it.  It has very insanely good leaf quality as evident from the small varietal, likely Yibang leaves.  It is processed very very green and has a powerfully bitter approach.  Its weak spots are not enough nuance of flavor althought the floral creamy buttery nuances are quite nice.  The aftertaste abd throatfeeling are also a bit weak.  It has some really powerful Qi in there and great stamina.  I really like this one because Qi and stamina are what I value most, but feel like it was not flawless and had a few issues that prevented me from re-ordering. Recommend trying it.

3-      2019 Essence of Tea Yao Zhu Di ($1.10/g) is the best pure and true Yiwu Gouyoulin out of list and has a very honest and straightforward Yiwu guoyoulin profile.  Flavours of a long pure uninterrupted and deeply expansive sweetness with a quick arriving but long arch of cool pungency.  It goes over very nicely.   It is also something that can be both pushed hard or enjoyed light- either experience is a very nice one. A happy and rejuvenating energy to it.  It’s also one of the cheapest on this list.  This yiwu guoyoulin is very full and satisfying to me just maybe not enough to re-order… maybe.

4-      2020 Tea Encounter Guafengzhai Gushu Chaping (not yet released) has a very solid Guafengzhai profile of complex and more than usual sweetness of typical guafengzhai tastes that we all love.  With a nice stimulating feeling at the back of the throat and tongue and a nice happy and deeply energizing then relaxing Qi profile.  This one has some great, unique bodyfeeling as well.  If it’s priced on the lower end of my price prediction on my post, I might be tempted to buy one.

5-      2020 Tea Encounter Wan Gong GuoYouLin ($1.21/g) is all about the big, mind stopping spaced out, contemplative Qi sensations!  Deep penetrating gushu menthol taste and throatfeeling with lots of subtle change of flavours as the session progresses.  Weakest point is the stamina.  Overall I really like this one!

6-      2020 white2tea Is A Gift ($1.25/g) is a solid above average Yibang which I quite enjoy.  It has some strength behind it and a very satisfying aftertaste.  The taste peaks slowly and has above average stamina.  Qi is warming and euphoric.  Seems more processed than the 2019 above and is a more balanced experience while still nicely standing out.  I like the contrast from the 2019 and cake sampled this one.

7-      2020 Essence of Tea Lao Jie Zi ($1.59/g) has a solid stereotypical unwavering mansa smoothness to it and preforms better at the end of the session.  Most aspects of this pureh are quite mellow.  Even when pushed hard it is steadfast in its soft smooth character.  It can be a bit hard on the stomach early in the session.

8-      2020 Tea Encounter Wa Long GuoYouLin ($0.65/g) is very stable throughout the session but engaging with flavours of bitter astringency and tart cherries and creamy sweetness.  There is an interesting but not push over smoothness to it.  Qi is low-moderate and has a hazy, relaxing, sleepy quality to it.

Overall, all of these Yiwu are good.  I can see some people who like something more smooth and elegant with less disruptive Qi to put some of the productions I listed at the bottom of my list at the top of theirs!  This speaks to the quality of all of these offerings.  Of note, is the solid showing by the Essence of Tea which leads me to believe that this might be their best year of production to date.  Also of note is that Tea Encounter has started pressing higher quality Guoyoulin productions that are competitive with the offerings from white2tea and The Essence of Tea.

*It should also be noted that Paul of white2tea doesn’t state weather his products are gushu or guoyoulin but I added white2tea Is A Gift productions in the list because they fit this price point and are likely gushu or potentially Guoyoulin Guoyoulin productions.  Besides, I just really like them.  It is widely understood that the sold out, but very expensive, white2tea Unicorn is yiwu gushu or guoyoulin.


2019 YS production (didn’t release Guoyoulin)


Saturday, July 25, 2020

2020 Tea Encounter Chawangshu: Very Chawangshu, But Very Affordable!

A theme with Tea Encounter brand puerh is offering you a puerh experience from a very famous and expensive Yiwu area but offering the young or small bush (Xiaoshu) material instead of the mid aged or ancient (Gushu) material.  This is nice in that it allows you to experience some of the taste and Qi characteristics of these famous Yiwu areas without breaking the bank on more mature materials.  It is generally believed that xiaoshu are often more flavourful when fresh and that Gushu is more complex when aged but, like everything with puerh there are other factors that play into this and it is just a rough rule of thumb.  This 2020 Tea Encounter Chawangshu goes for $107.75 for 200g cake or $0.54/g. I kindly received a free sample for review.

Dry leaves smell of icing surgar almost candy like very sweetness.

First infusion there is a musk onset with a lower spicy taste and a tingling tongue feeling.  There is a low forest base and a deep low pungency that pushes out tropical returning sweetness of banana.

The second infusion has a sweeter icing sugar onset with a full tongue tingling mouthfeeling and lingering mid-upper deep throat feel where slight cool lingers and pushes out forest and mainly banana and tropical nuances.  The mouthfeel is tingling on the tongue and reasonably chalky.  The aftertaste sweet tropical and slight musk forest is long in the mouth.  The aftertaste is quite sweet.  I feel an interesting bodyfeeling of a chest opening sensation and shoulder feel light. My mind has a nice focused and upbeat feel to it.

The third infusion has a musky pungent onset with a significant icing sugar base taste. There is a deep forest musk base taste along with the thick feeling in the mouth and tingling feeling in the tongue this puerh feels nice and full.  There is a faint cooling then returning banana musk forest icing sugar sweetness.  The taste of this puerh is really delicious.  The Qi has a nice body feeling of opening the chest, brow heaviness and almost twitchy and shoulder numb and light.  In the mind it’s nicely focusing.

The fourth infusion has a thick creamy sweet banana and icing sugar layered sweetness that is really tasty and nice.  The initial presentation is thick and very layer sweet but with also underlying faint musk and forest and a spicy pungency that faintly dives into the initial thick flavor sweetnesses.  The thickness covers the mouth in a banana taste and even the throat is nicely stimulated by the thick chalky feeling.  The Qi is building a strong focus in the mind.  The chest opens.  The returning sweetness is long and mainly icing sugar with layered banana and tropical and creamier sweetnesses.  The flavor, feel, and Qi is really full feeling.

The fifth has a thick onset of pungent forest taste mixed with a layered banana and icing sugar sweetness.  There is a lubricating taste in the mouth.  The faint coolness pushes out a sweet icing sugar and banana sweetness that is very long in the mouth.  There is faint musk, forest, even faint bitter in the aftertaste.  The Qi is really focusing and revitalizing.  The body feeling is light shoulders and brow and chest opening.  I like this experience.  Minutes later I feel a euphoric high from the qi.  The processing of these leaves is really nice leaving everything on the table.

The sixth infusion has a mild bitter almost foresty onset with a thick mainly creamy and less banana tropical sweetness to it.  The sweetness has a real syrupiness, a thick density, to it now that only seems augmented by the mild bitter.  The returning sweetness is even more spectacular with the sweet creamy banana taste expanding long in the aftertaste.  The Qi is strong and euphoric.  I break in to a sweat while the muscles of my face and scalp twitch.  The saliva pools in the upper throat and has a nice saliva producing reaction.  This is very nice Chawangshu high going on here.

The seventh has a thick buttery, juicy fruity sweet onset that splashes up into the throat with a faint suggestion of bitter over a faint forest base taste.  The aftertaste is sweet fruit and icing sugar sweetness.  The Qi is focusing and a bit warming pushing me into a bit of a sweat.

The eighth infusion has a fruity and icing sugar sweetness at the onset that splashes into a somewhat viscous then chalky reasonably full mouthfeeling.  There is a stickiness left in the mouth.  A faint bitter and subtle cool musk brings out icing sugar in the aftertaste the more tropical and creamy sweetness are fainter here in the returning and aftertastes.  The Qi is really focusing and starting to feel more relaxed.

The ninth infusion has a mild quick moving bitter that splashes buttery and creamy and fruity sweetnesses up into the throat.  A forest almost milky base gives way to a creeping coolness in the upper mid throat which returns very nice creamy almost banana tropical sweetness and faint musk forest.  The sweetness converts into faint icing sugar on the breath.

The 10th infusion has a creamy sweet and faint bitter onset.  The creamy chalky almost banana like sweetness is real long and stretches throughout the profile.  It sticks to the upper throat as saliva pools there and a faint bitter astringency holds it there.  Then fades out real slow in the aftertaste and breath.  I like the chalky creamy banana supported by subtle forest tastes.  It feels really full and satisfying when supported by and powdery chalky thicker feeling in the mouth like this infusion does.  The Qi is warming and focusing and relaxing now with some face and scalp twitching and deep breath.

The 11th infusion has a fruity sweet creamy sweet pop of the sip then its stretches out into the throat and later breath.  It has a sunny fruity creamy fruity vibe to it.  The mouthfeeling is sandier now.  The mind is really relaxed now.  The face feels twitchy.

12th has a more watery juicy fruity onset with a creamier sweet base, a bit woody with a sandier stickier mouthfeeling and mainly upper throat simulating feeling.  The flavor is less intense here a sign that it’s starting to wane a bit.  Still nice overall sweetness creamy-to-juicy fruity- to-creamy-to icing sugar.  The mouthfeeling is nice and decently full with a sticky feeling now.  The Qi is relaxing.

13th has a woodier onset with sweetness under the more bland-bitter woody taste.  The wood is dropped when the sweetness returns and is a long creamy sweetness on the breath.  The mouthfeel is becoming more dry sticky and throat a bit tight.  The Qi continues to put me out into a deep content relaxed state.  There is a sweet banana taste in the mouth even 5-10 minutes later.

The 14th infusion has a watery buttery onset with a faint creamy sweetness that expands thoughout the profile over a chalky mouthcoating and upper throat simulation.  The aftertaste is long creamy sweetness.  This infusion is just mainly the sweet taste jaunting along with little base tastes interfering.  The Qi is deeply relaxing and I feel a slow heart beat sensation.  Long breath creamy sweetness even minutes later.

The 15th infusion has a watery sweet fruit onset that is paired with a simple woody taste.  There is still faint cool pungent note and a soft sweetness.  The mouthfeel is light chalky now. Very little throat stimulation

16th I put to a 30 second steeping… it push out bitter chalky woody taste with faint underlying sweetness.  There is still a cooling finish with a water creamy faint sweetness on the breath over woody tastes.  A mild relaxing feeling…

I put the rest in a mug and sip on it this way… and it supplies a nice creamy sweet faint woody and bitter with a cool breath and long sweet creamy aftertaste… Yummy!

Overall, this is a real nice small bush production that gives you an authentic experience of Chawangshu without breaking the bank.  It has a real full mouthfeeling and nice stimulating throatfeeling that works well for the long and layered sweet tastes that it pushes out.  There is also a nice Qi presence that would also confirm Chawangshu origin- it has a strong focusing feeling early on with pronounced bodyfeeling in the chest, shoulders, head and face.  It also is quite comfortable in the body and not harsh on the digestion for a young sheng so is suitable for drinking now if you are so inclined.

I really like these Tea Encounter xiao shu (Small Bush) Chawangshu and Guafengzhai productions where you get a good experience of the area with a typical Qi experience and taste profile on the cheap.  Last year, I hailed the 2019 Tea Encounter Gua Feng Zhai as my favorite of Tea Encounter’s 2019 line up (the 2019 Tea Encounter Laos Gushu is better value and is also good) this one is definitely up there for the Tea Encounter 2020s- especially considering its value for those that want to drink now.  Great work Tiago!


Thursday, July 23, 2020

2020 Tea Encounter Bang Dong: Summer Mojito

This is the only repeat offering in the Tea Encounter 2020 Spring release.  The 2019 Tea Encounter Bang Dong was an enjoyable, simple, easy drinking, young puerh experience for me (and others).  I notice that Tiago has delisted the 2019, perhaps, in the hopes that others will opt for this 2020 while fresh.  I wonder if this 2020 will be much of the same?  This 2020 Tea Encounter Bang Dong goes for $41.75 for 250g cake or $0.17/g which is cheaper than the 2019 ($0.20/g).

Dry has a light strongly fruity sweet almost floral candy like vibrant aroma- an alluring tuti-fruity candy.

First infusion has a light watery onset of airy limes and fruity tastes.  There is a soft mouthfeeling, slight vegetal base and a sweet almost sour taste that emerges in the aftertaste.  There is a creamy chalky sweetness that emerges minutes later in the aftertaste.

The second infusion has a slightly sour but mainly sweet lime, fruit, and vegetal taste then transforms into a floral creamy slightly astringent sweetness.  The result is a very refreshing vegetal floral fruity sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is chalky and sticky and the throat is sticky at the upper-mid level.  The Qi has a soothing effect on my body and mind.

The third infusion has a mellow fruity lime floral onset which almost reminds me of lemongrass, flowers, and coconut cream.  The taste is refreshing with a touch of astringency.  The mouthfeeling is sticky, mildly astringent and there is a floral creamy returning taste with a vegetal more than sweet aftertaste.  The Qi is mellowing.  The upper-mid throat is mildly stimulated.

The fourth infusion has a lemonade like onset of refreshing flavours.  It is a nice balance between sour and sweet over a soft mouthfeeling and throat feeling.  There is a subtle creamy floral finish with lime and slight fruits.  The Qi is mellow.  I enjoy the easy drinking lemonade fresh taste and feel on this hot summer day.

The fifth infusion has a lemonade sweet-slight-sour taste.  There are some faint creamy floral like tastes that come out in the aftertaste with the sweet lemonade taste.  There is little to no astringency or bitterness here.  The mouthfeeling is soft and slightly sticky.

The sixth infusion has a fruity lemonade taste over a soft tongue coating and mild throat stimulation.  This puerh is very refreshing as I hear the consitant hum of air conditioning in peak heat of the day.  There is more of a lingering sweet-sour aftertaste of cream and floral and lime.  The Qi is a mild mellow type of thing.

The seventh infusion has a mellow buttery fruit onset with lemonade more in the distance.  The tastes lay over a soft mouthfeeling and throatfeeling.  There is very little to no astringency or bitter.  The aftertaste is mild sweet-sour nuance.  Mellow Qi.  This is a nice sweet and refreshing tasting puerh.

The eighth infusion has a creamy sweet floral onset with a faint sourness.  There is a more distinct returning sweetness as the cup cools now.  The sweetness has a creamy, lime, fruity vibe.  This puerh tastes a lot like a mojito cocktail and is very satisfying on this hot summer day.  This puerh would taste good iced…

The ninth infusion has a lemonade sweet vibe to it over a soft and slightly chalky powdery mouthcoat which is building into something more substantial while still being quite light.  The aftertaste taste has a mild coolness in the breath and a flat lemonade sweetness in the aftertaste.

The tenth infusion has a creamy buttery floral sweetness with an underlying lemonade taste that hits a mild coolness on the breath and kind of skates off into the distance as a soft mild creamy sweetness returns.  The mouthfeel is mild sticky and soft and so is the upper throat.  Mild mellowing Qi.  The sweet floral taste lingers on the breath.

The 11th has a slightly sour-floral taste that isn’t quite lemonade but expands into a more buttery and creamy sweetness in the aftertaste after faint cooling breaths.  The mouth- and throat-feeling is soft and sticky and it manages to stimulate the upper throat enough to allow for a longer aftertaste of creamy florals.  This tea is very comfortable in the body and is another easy drinker Bangdong.

The 12th has a sour but mainly sweet lime initial taste with some butter florals coming back in the aftertaste.  There is a slight vegetal taste of sweet peas in this infusion as well.  The mouthfeel is more sticky almost astringent now.  The Qi is relaxing and mild in the body.

The 13th has a light lemonade onset with a slight salty taste that shows up on the soft mouthfeeling.  The aftertaste carries these tastes out over the span of a few minutes.

The 14th has a saltier woodier lime taste with sweet taste coming mainly in the aftertaste.  There is not much cool breath here but a lime salty barely sweet finish over a soft and almost sandy tongue.  Very mild Qi.

The 15th 20 second infusion pushes out more salty lime vegetal tastes with not that much sweetness left to savor.

I put the rest of the leaves in a mug and grandpa steep out the rest…

This is a simple, easy going, drink now kind of puerh that is really refreshing especially for summer time drinking.  I can think of some fresh puerh that are maybe more complex for this price but none as refreshing.  In the next few months I imagine the limeade taste will drop and it will become more fruity sweet.  In many ways this 2020 is very similar to Tea Encounter’s 2019 Bangdong which is also meant to be approached in a similar manner.  I go to my sample inventory to do a comparison tasting but realize I did the right thing by drinking the 2019 up when it was fresh last year.  On a hot summer day, I find this Bangdong irresistibly refreshing as I search for something similarly satisfying amongst my samples….


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

2020 Tea Encounter Guafengzhai Gushu Chaping: Sweet Bodyfeeling

What’s this????  2020 Tea Encounter Guafengzhai Gushu Chaping is not yet listed on the Tea Encounter web site.  Sometimes vendors send me this stuff and I never know if it is a production that they are planning on releasing or just maocha that they are sharing because they like it or to get my thoughts on it…

… below is my experience of this Guafengzhai…

Dry leaves smell of deep forest odours with a slight spicy pungency.

The first infusion has a slight pungent spice with mild low cool pungency and a foresty base with sweet potato sweetness nuance.  The aftertaste is faint and deep and tastes of foresty almost icing surgar tastes.  The mouthfeel is very soft and the throatfeeling deep.

The second infusion has a sweet cool spicy pungent onset there is a deep cooling pungency that reaches the deep throat and leaves forest tastes in the mouth.  The returning sweetness is icing sugar with a forest and subtle potato base taste.  The deep coolness lingers with spicy and icing surgar nuance.  The mouth feel is soft and smooth.

The third has a vibrant fruity pure melon and slight tropical sweetness in the onset that tastes so fresh and lingers throughout the profile over top of fresh forest and potato base tastes. The mild long coolness reaches deep and pushes out a second wave of fruit.  The mouthfeel is the soft but stimulating stickiness which is mainly aggregated at the back of the throat.  It has a saliva stimulating thing happening at the top throat as the pungent coolness reaches the deep throat.  The Qi is very happy and relaxing here.  I feel very peaceful.

The fourth has a pure melon refreshing sweetness that is very very tastey and long.  It stretches into the breath and returns with an icing sugar edge in the aftertaste.  There is a nice mid profile of spicy notes, forest notes, and potato.  The Qi comes on really strong to make me feel high and stop my thoughts.  Very strong mind altering qi.  My body has the floats and it feels like I’m rocking side to side.  There is a foresty fruity taste in the throat minutes later.  The throat feeling is very nice.  Wow! Qi is really strong.

The fifth infusion has a sweet pure fruity onset over a foresty and subtle spicy onset.  The fruity taste initially is really long and stretches throughout the profile.  There is some forest and not as much potato now.  The mouthfeel is sticky and really engaging especially in the back of the tongue and top throat.  A long fruity and icing sugar with forest taste is in the long aftertaste.  This puerh has a really nice full feeling as far as both the taste and throat/mouthfeeling go.  Strong Qi.

The 6th has a very fruity onset with a very nice depth supporting it of sweet potato, forest depth.  The sweet taste is really tasty and long and returns with forest tastes and slight spicy in the aftertaste.  The mouth/throatfeeling is sticky soft but yet full especially in the back.  There is an abdominal and chest releasing feeling going on.  A nice stoned but clear focused mind from the Qi.

The seventh has a sweet potato almost wild floral and sweet fruity melon onset.  There is some foresty base taste and a long melon fruity and forest returning sweetness.  The bodyfeeling in the Abdomen is unique and the feeling in the chest is opening.  The Qi is strong and slows my breath down.

8th has a buttery sweet creamy floral almost fruity complex onset there is a woody foresty base.  The mouthfeel is more flat stone feeling and less sticky with a little more happening at the back.  The cool pungent can’t quite get as deep but still leaves a long foresty melon taste in the mouth.  The Qi is really happy and strong.  The body feeling is interesting in the abdomen and opening the ribs. 

The 9th has a melon fruity butter and floral complex onset with a forest base. There is faint deep cool in the breath and a stone, forest, and melon sweetness even minutes later.  The body feels loose.

The 10th infusion has a fresh melon fruity clear onset.  There is a forest woodiness to it and a faint pungent spice and faint coolness on the in-breath into the deep throat.

The 11th has a beautiful fresh melon pure fruity onset that feels juicy and lubricating in the mouth.  There is a deep faint coolness that rides the melon sweetness out on the breath.  The Qi is really nice happy feeling and deeply energizing.

12th has a mild water icing surgar and faint fruity onset with more of an icing surgar taste throughout.  There is some mild spicy notes and forest notes but mainly a long icing sugar taste.

13th has a woody barely icing sugar sweet taste.  There is more wood and faint melon that emerges more in the breath with a faint deep pungency.  The mouthfeeling is mild and slightly sandy now.  The Qi is now pretty relaxing.

14th infusion is a few minutes long and pushes out a fruity woody almost beet and potato taste.  There is still a faint cool throat with a resonating pungency in the throat.

15th is steeped for a good 5 minutes and has a fruity vibrant sweet potato woody forest initial taste.  The fruity sweetness and woodiness stretched throughout and returns in the aftertaste and long woody breath.  Its Qi is really relaxing.

16th is a longer steeping and the cool cup is woody with a fruity fresh almost melon with a nice supporting woody forest taste.  In a deep throat and soft mouthfeeling.  Qi is just really relaxing at this point and almost refreshing like the initial sweetness.

I put the rest in a mug and grandpa it and it delivers silky smooth fruity tastes with sweet potato, woody, and forest nuances. A nice stone like mouthfeeling is still accessible and so is some faint upper throat simulation.  Nice cooling after swallowing.  I enjoy it like this in my body and mind for a while…

Overall, this is a nice Gua Feng Zhai production with sweeter than normal Gua Feng Zhi tastes but yet familiar tastes of melon and sweet potato that are typical of Gua Feng Zhai.  There is nice stimulation of the back of the throat and tongue. The qi is happy and deeply energizing in the early session then becomes relaxing.  There is some bodyfeeling of an opening abdomen and lower ribs feeling that is unique and interesting.  But it’s that complex sweet taste, a sweeter and more complex than normal taste that makes this guafengzhai a nice one.  I think a Guafengzhai like this could go for $250-$350 for 200g cake.  Thanks Tiago for the sample, I liked it a lot.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

2020 Tea Encounter Wa Long Guoyoulin: A Smoother Wa Long

One of my favorite offerings at Tea Encounter is the 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long which I have a few cakes of.  Last year Tiago offered a 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long as a follow up to the popular 2015 and this year we have this 2020 Tea Encounter Wa Long Guoyoulin which goes for $161.63 for 250g or $0.65/g.  Thanks to Tiago I received a sample for review that I will share with you in this post…

The dry leaves smell of strong deep rich vibrant cherry and fruits with lingering candy sweetness.

The first infusion has a sweet creamy onset that stretches into a woody creamy sweetness.  The cream has a bit of soapy metallic taste to it.  The mouhfeeling is moderately thick even on the first infusion.  There is a faint suggestion of fruit on the breath over a woody, creamy, mildly bitter taste.

The second infusion has a flat creamy onset that evolves into a woody base.  There are some soapy and metallic tastes underneath.  The mouthfeel is moderately thick and has a powdery texture to it.  There is a mild bitter, milk sweet finish with a breath taste of faint berries.  The throat sensation is faint with a subtle coolness to the throat.  The Qi is starting to relax my mind and has a mild dizzy effect.

The third infusion has a mild bitter milky onset with a wood base taste supporting a flat milk and metallic type finish.  There is a soapy almost restrained floral returning sweetness.  A faint throat sensation skirts a cooling throat and leaves a mild bitter, soapy milk, with faint breath suggestions of berries.  The mouthfeeling is a powdery and slightly tight sensation with a very faint throat simulation.  The Qi continues to sedate and strongly relax.  There is a suppressed faint candy breath even 10 minutes later.

The fourth infusion has a fruity cherry mild bitter onset with a creamy fruity returning sweetness.  There is mild wood underneath.  The fruity finish is dispersed over a powdery tongue coating and has a mild bitter and almost soapy floral nuance with a faint candy breath minutes later.  The Qi is a hazy feeling Qi.

The fifth has a quick juicy fruity burst followed by a flat moderate bitter taste.  There is a fruity cherry taste over a powdery and slight puckering tongue over faint wood base.  Faint throat feeling.  The aftertaste is a creamy fruity berry and metallic taste.  Qi pushes me into a sweat with stronger hazy feeling in the head.

The sixth infusion has a fruity and pill like flat mild bitterness.  There is a dry woody mid profile then returning bitterness with berry/cherry tartness and subtle soapy metallic taste.  The mouthfeel is powdery and throat feel is faint.  The Qi is a relaxing hazy feeling.

The seventh infusion has a flat bitter and cherry onset over a powdery mouthfeeling.  Some dry woody shows up in the mid-profile along with cherry sweetness.  There is a mild faint cooling in the throat which pushes out a cherry and almost milky bitter sweet soapy returning sweetness and aftertaste.  The cherry taste dominates with a mild pill like bitterness.  There is a candy breath taste minutes later.  The throatfeeling feels absent but the mild coolness seems to get down there and hold some candy like sweetness minutes later.

The eighth infusion has a fruity cherry onset with less bitterness here.  There is a creamy tart cherry returning sweetness with dry wood taste underneath.  Minutes later there is a cream sweet candy breath which seems to be getting stronger and more obvious with each infusion.  The mothfeelng is powdery and throat faint but cool.  The Qi is a moderate hazy feeling.  This puerh hasn’t much bodyfeeling to it.

The ninth infusion starts sweet creamy and fruity cherry.  There is a smooth sweet feel to the last two infusions.  The mild woody mid-profile gives way to a returning creamy sweetness with cherry nuance.  The bitterness is very faint and these infusions have a sweetness throughout now.  The mouthfeel is becoming more sticky/powdery now.  The Qi is a moderate haze.

The tenth infusion has a sweet creamy cherry onset with mild flat bitter that turns to wood.  The returning sweetness has a cherry, creamy expanding sweetness in the aftertaste.  The throat starts to open more and there is a coolness residing in there with creamy sweetness and subtle faint candy breath.  The aftertaste is decently long and nicely transforms.  Deeply relaxing.

The 11th infusion has a subtle fruity and creamy onset sweetness with dry wood underneath.  There is a deep faint cooling in the throat and a candy like long breath finish.  The taste is simple, smooth, with a powdery mouthfeeling and with a long candy finish.  Qi is nicely relaxing at this point.

The 12th infusion has a mild sweet slight fruity sweetness followed by a very mild flat bitterness.  The sweetness returns after a mild cooling pungency.  The mouthfeeling is chalky.

The 13th infusion has a bitter and mild sweet creamy fruit start.  The bitterness is stronger here and intermingles with the cool pungent and there is a bitter, slight creamy sweet and subtle candy finish.  The tastes, mouthfeeling, and qi are consistent and steady throughout the session which makes for a bit of a less engaging session.

14th has a more bitter and bland woody onset with much less sweetness now.  A creamy sweetness returns more in the aftertaste.  Candy taste on edges can’t really push through.  The Qi is making me feel a bit dopey. 

In the 15th I put to a longer 20sec infusion it pushes out juicy flat mild bitter fruity sweetness with fainter cool throat on a thinning powdery mouthfeeling.  The Qi is making me sleepy and although I think it could be steeped out for a while like this, I need an afternoon push…

I put the rest in a mug and long steep it out and it pushes out substantial bitterness, lesser cherry creamy sweet tart and very subtle candy.

Overall, this 2020 Tea Encounter Wa Long GuoYouLin is very stable throughout the session.  The first half of the session has the bitterness as a key flavor component along with a more cherry sometimes tart cherry fruitiness.  In the second half of the session there is more of a creamy onset sweetness and less bitter.  There is candy breath taste throughout the mid session which is nice.  The mouth and throat feel have unshakeable steadfastness and remain moderate-low chalky in the mouth and deep but not very stimulating in the throat where a faint coolness always seems to navigate.   The Qi is moderate-low and has a hazy feeling in the head at first then in mid-session becomes more relaxing and sedating and in the end of the session I am left feeling sleepy.  Of note is how despite its youth and bitterness it feels very comfortable in the body even as I leafed it quite heavily.  The bitterness here that is common with Wa Long area puerh should give it a leg up with aging.  At $0.65/g it makes more accessible Guoyoulin to those who don’t want to break the bank.

Vs 2015 Zheng Si Long Wa Long vs 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long.  I compared these two Zheng Si Long Wa Long also available at Tea Encounter here.  This 2020 Guoyoulin is a very different Wa Long compared two these.  The 2020 Tea Encounter Wa Long Guoyoulin is much more smooth and lacks any astringency or stronger bitterness which the 2019 Zheng Si Long has and the 2015 Zheng Si long likely had in its younth. The 2019 Zheng Si Long Wa Long is not really ready to drink as a result.  This 2020 Guoyoulin is not astringent and not harsh on the body so it is a Wa Long that could be consumed fresh.  Overall it has a smoother vibe from its taste, to its odour, to its mouthfeeling, throatfeeling, and Qi than the Zheng Si Long productions while still maintaining its Wa Long character.  I think a more interesting comparison might be to some of the Yunnan Sourcing Brand Wa Long Gushu that Scott has sourced over the years that I still have not tried.


Monday, July 13, 2020

2020 Tea Encounter Wan Gong Guoyoulin: Spacy Qi!

Tiago of Tea Encounter surprised me by producing a high quality Gushu/ Guoyoulin from both Wan Gong and Wa Long.  He surprised me again by sending me a bunch of his 2020 Tea Encounter brand puerh for review.  These are both pretty famous puerh producing areas in their own right and areas that I have some familiarity with.  Today I go for the 2020 Tea Encounter WanGong Guoyoulin which does for $242.44 for 200g cake or $1.21/g.

Dry leaves smell of wafting sweet candy with a faint musk forest odour.

The first infusion has a watery slight woody and slight forest musk onset there is a returning deep dirt barely sweet pungency with a faint menthol buzz.  These faint first steeps go deep into the throat.  There is a long menthol musk forest sweetness.

The second infusion has a creamy buttery faint musk and candy onset the candy taste expands in the mouth and is the dominant flavor now.  There is a deeper dirt musk menthol that is deep in the throat.  The breath is mainly long candy with a dirk forest musk in there as well as a metallic mild taste.  The mouth is soft and slightly sticky over the tongue.  The mind starts to unwind from the Qi.  I feel my breath slowing.  I feel a mind starting to drift and my shoulders relax… many minutes later there is a sticky forest mossy taste in the mouth.

The third infusion has a fresh green mossy forest onset there is a pop of sweet honeydew shrouded by foresty mossy tastes.  The pungent coolness emerges slowly and goes deep into the throat.  A slow release of returning sweet honeydew melon lingers and recedes like a wave leaving a foresty mossy long breath taste.  When my tongue traces the roof and edges of the mouth there is an almost soapy floral sweetness and mossy forest taste. The Qi is relaxing and peaceful and I feel the world stop in the moment with this tea.  The mouthfeel is a soft tight gooey stickiness.

The fourth infusion has a perfume like candy sweet onset that expands as the foresty menthol pushes deep into the throat.  Underneath there is a mossy forest base.  There is some fruity notes as the sweetness returns like a wave and lingers for a while on the tongue.  The mouthfeeling is a moderate sticky gooeyness that is a touch tight.  The taste is very long and has an expansive quality to it.  Minutes later there is a deep dirt forest menthol lingering on the breath.  The throat is more stimulated here as this infusion seems to push out some fainter deeper astringency.  The Qi is very deeply contemplative and mind slowing.  Very strong in this way as I sigh deeply and slowly releasing the world in my exhale…

The fifth infusion has a sweet fruity onset with a foresty dirt base.  There is a slow moving and expanding menthol taste that saunters deep into the throat underneath mossy forest taste.  The returning sweetness is long deep candy in the breath with a mossy dirt forest taste that really spans the profile but is quite mild and adds mid-depth to the sweet interplay of initial fruitiness and returning candy.  The Qi is starting to melt my brain and I loose sense of time and space… oh no… I smell my fresh wood fired Montreal made bagels burning in the toaster…. I come back to reality… close call the honey and sesame seed topping just started to crisp… this Qi really takes you somewhere else….

The sixth infusion has a fruity melon and even slight sour tropical fruit onset with a base taste of moss forest.  The fruity onset is stronger now but dissipates as a low faint menthol reaches into the throat to push out foresty and light candy taste on the breath.  The mouthfeeling is soft but sticky in the mouth.  The Qi puts me out.

The seventh infusion has a fruity onset that is a touch sour mango and some honeydew melon the sweet initial taste is the most prominent but a faint underlying dirt forest taste and slow faint deep throat menthol lingers discreetly underneath.  There is also a bread like sweet taste in the mid profile as well now.  There is some moss forest and candy lingering tastes in the mouth.  The Qi is really big and pushes the mind into an altered relaxed state.

The eighth infusion has a dirt moss forest and almost bitter astringent onset with less fruity slight sour sweetness.  The mouthfeel is a moderate sticky tightness and there is a deep faint opening in the throat where menthol resides.  More bread sweetness come out too and a foresty not as candy finish.  The Qi is very big and sedating and peaceful.  The body feels at peace and is very comfortable.

The ninth infusion has a flat fruity onset with a slight sour taste and mild bitterness that slowly emerges in the mid- late- profile.  There is a taste of white slight sour grapes and even sweet bread in the taste profile.  The mouthfeeling becomes more dry astringent.

The tenth infusion has a melon and slight sour fruit onset with some faint emerging bitterness along with menthol.  The mouthfeel becomes more tight than sticky and the taste in the mouth is not as complex now.  The deep stimulation of the throat has also weakened and there.  There is like a bland and mossy finish with hard to grasp menthol.

The 11th infusion has a flat woody foresty onset with a suppressed sweetness fruity.  The mouthfeeling is moderate slight sticky and slight tight but is mainly localized to the tongue and makes the cheeks squeaky and gums as well.  There is very faint menthol that no longer reaches the deep throat but is more upper-mid.  There is a faint candy on the breath.  The Qi is profoundly peaceful here.

The 12th has a mellow fruity mango onset that slowly trails into a forsesty taste.  The tongue feels mildly sticky but the throat has lost its depth and is more superficial.  The Qi continues to impart a deep relaxation.  A subtle candy lingers in the breath.

The 13th is a mellow fruity even slightly creamy sweetness with a faint forest wood that comes out mid-profile.  The mouthfeeling is mild sticky tight.  There is a subtle astringency and candy taste in the throat with hiding cool breath.  The Qi continues to relax.

The 14th is a cool pungent almost minty with fruity taste.  The pungent coolness is strangely featured in this infusion whereas the 13th it was almost non-existant.  There is a deeper throat that comes with the pungent coolness as well as a nice returning creamy and almost banana fruit taste.  This is a tasty infusion. These is a soft moss forest thin base.  Candy is in the breath minutes later.

15th infusion has a soft woody and faint fruity nuance.  There is a soft forest taste with not much returning sweetness.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling weaken here.  There is a faint forest taste on the breath.  The Qi is mellow and relaxing now.

The 16th I push into a minutes long steep and it pushes out mainly bland woody notes with a pungency that adds a bit depth to a forest moss woody taste.

The 17th I put into a very long steeping and the result is a bitter woody tasting soup with a long and strong menthol finish. There are still edges of candy finish under the woody bitterness.  The Qi is relaxing and mellower this late in the session.

Overall, this one is all about the big mind stopping, contemplative, spacing out Qi sensation!  I really like this aspect of this puerh a lot.  In addition there are other positives such as a deep penetrating menthol and deep throat feeling.  There is also lots of subtle change in flavor and taste throughout the infusions from start- mid- and end- session.  Unfortunately, this tea drops off fast and by the 15th infusion there isn’t much taste, mouth/throat feeling, and Qi by the 15th infusion.  This is actually quite common with my experience of Wan Gong so I’m not sure what to really say about that.  In the end I peg this as a nice Guoyoulin Wangong.

Vs other Wangong puerh… I am going through the fresh puerh at a steady pace and don’t feel like pulling out other Wangong samples to compare.  I can say that this one is much more stereotypically gushu than the 2017 Zheng Si Long and the handful of ones on offer at Tea Urchin.  The 2017 Zheng Si Long Wan Gong is more complex in presentation and has a distinct mood altering Qi but lacks a fuller deeper Gushu effect like this 2020.  The three Wan gong at Tea Urchin are all a little different from each other some more insipid others more fruity others a blend but none have quite the same presentation in its low lying deep throat and menthol like this one.  In the end, like most Wangong, it’s the Qi sensation that keeps me on the hook… this one is no different and its qi display really takes your mind somewhere.  I feel the Qi sensation is stronger in this one in its ability to alter time/space and its overall spiciness feeling.  I like.

Edit July 14/20: Today  I am drinking the overnight infusion and it is quite nice and has a robust musk and low lying menthol with some spice and low cool returning almost bready sweetness.  It reminded me that this state forest must be right on the border with Laos as this puerh shares more Laos influence than other Wan Gong I've tried before but he Qi is much bigger than Laos.  Maybe this is why I like it so.