Wednesday, August 26, 2020

2020 Essence of Tea Jinggu Forest: Thick Vegetal

I got this complimentary sample with my re-order of the powerful 2020 Essence of Tea TianMenShan GaoGan which is currently out of stock.  This 2020 Essence of Tea Jinggu Forest used to sell for $40.00 for 200g cake or $0.20/g and is also out of stock.  David and YingXi have put a great line up together this year and it looks like 4 of the 11 are already sold out.  This Jinggu was billed as a budget option that came from a wild forest environment…

Very compressed chunk of dry leaves smell of very vegetal sweetness with a creamy sweet edge.

First infusion has a smooth creamy vegetal taste with a cooling pungency which brings a wave of creamy sweet pea like vegetal in the aftertaste.  There is a slight soapy finish in the mouth.  Nice soft slippery slicky mouthfeeling.   There are edges of candy tastes that aren’t ready to come out in this first infusion.

The second infusion has a creamy buttercup milky vegetal that reminds me of Alishan Oolong.  There is a thick oily mouthcoating and a mild cooling pungent that pushes creamy, vegetal, and almost candy like sweetness out on to the breath.  The throat feel is mildly mid sticky opening.  This puerh has a very full and smooth presentation.

The third infusion has a vegetal buttery sweetness but a bit of mild bitter vegetal appears.  There is a very mild cool pungency that returns a vegetal and still slightly bitter creamy almost sweet dandelion buttery creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeel is a touch more engaging with a slight simulating throat.  There is a hypnotic Qi developing…

The fourth infusion has a bitter vegetal onset with a buttery creamy sweetness almost sweet pea.  Mild breath pungency brings a returning creamy sweetness with vegetal bitterness.  The texture is moderately oily and the mouthfeeling is mildly gripping which nicely simulates the upper and mid throat.  An almost candy like taste quickly moves out before the mainly vegetal somewhat bitter and sweet aftertaste.  A spacy and hypnotic Qi starts to build mildly.

The fifth has a buttery vegetal grassy taste with a slight bitterness creamy lime taste.  It has a really refreshing feel to it and a somewhat oily presentation with a slighter gripping mouthfeeling.  Tastes grassy and lime here.  The Qi is really nice smooth relaxing even dozy, hypnotic feeling.  The mouthfeeling is sticky slight gripping.  I can feel it’s fresh sheng energy beat a bit at my empty stomach.

The sixth infusion has a buttery grassy slight astringent bitterness.  There is a fresh lime/grass taste.  The mouthfeel is a bit gripping, the throat a bit simulating.  There is a long fresh green vegetal grassy and a bit creamy sweet aftertaste.

The seventh infusion has an almost milky Taiwanese oolong onset with a grassy mild bitterness with creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeel is a touch oily and kind of sticky puckering with a bit of throat stimulation.  I feel mildly stoned from the hypnotic Qi here.

The eighth infusion has cooled to room temp before consumption and it gives off a creamy moderately oily thicker mainly creamy sweet and vegetal.  There is a splash of lime and grassy sweetness.  The bitter and astringency is gone in the cool cup.  Qi is nicely hypnotic and makes me feel high.

The ninth infusion has a milky silky vegetal grass and pea onset with a vegetal creamy sweetness that is dumped on the breath.  There is a chalky oily feeling to the mouthfeeling and a nice not overly strong by relaxing hypnotic Qi feeling in the mind.  The oily mouthcoating is nice here and even leaves a powdery feeling in the throat but it can’t generate too much aftertaste despite this.

The 10th infusion has a soapy almost floral sort of mild bitter astringent vegetal with mild creamy sweetness in the background.  The feature with this puerh is its oily chalky mouthfeeling that will do it well as the taste develops over the next years.  There is a chalky, grassy almost sweetness to it on the tongue after swallowing.  There isn’t much going on in the body but the mind feels relaxed and a touch hypnotized, mellow.

The 11th is a cooled down cup again and it gives off a creamy chalky thick oily mainly creamy sweetness over a thick oily tongue coating a mid- open throat.  Relaxing Qi.

The 12th infusion has a mellow lime, refreshing fruit taste with a creamy sweet finish.  The mouthfeeling is thick and somewhat oily.  It finishes a nice long floral in the mouth with a touch of creamy sweet and barely vegetal.  These late mid- infusions really open up nicely in the mouth there is an oily thickness to this puerh that is really nice overtop of a fairly standard Jinggu vegetal and sweet taste.  Qi is nicely relaxing.

The 13th infusion is a mild, mellow barely vegetal, barely sweet taste.  I’m still at flash infusions and choose to steep longer in the hopes something interesting comes up…

The 14th is at 30 seconds … and pushes out some lime vegetal creamy tastes.  There is a bit of rubbery astringency underneath.  The mouthfeel has more pucker as well.  Relaxing, mellowing Qi.

The 15th oops… left the water on for a few minutes there… it gives off a thick chalky vegetal slight bitter astringent brew with some creamy sweetness…

I put this one into mug steeping… and it gives off thick olive oily vegetal tastes with a full tongue coating and subtle bitter astringency with a bit of a creamy sweet finish.

Overall, this one is all about decently thick and at times olive oily mouthfeeling/tongue coating.  It has decent stamina and a mellowing Qi which, early in the session, is slightly hypnotic Qi.  It doesn’t offer much as far as bodyfeeling goes but has a thicker vegetal taste and presentation than most Jinggu.  Still has a bit of astringent bitterness to it. 

It kind of reminds me of a thicker and more Jinggu vegetal version of the 2018 Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring.  The Bamboo Spring is lighter, ethereal, floral sweet actually after a session of the Bamboo Spring it is really nothing like this thick vegetal Jinggu Forest.  The almost olive oily 2020 Essence of Tea Jinggu Forest reminds me strongly of a Jinggu I have had in the past 2 years… maybe Yunnan Sourcing… I have a few sessions with some 2018 Jinggu samples- very nice but not as olive and still can’t satisfy me…

I like this oily thick Jinggu…

Shah8's Tasting Notes


Saturday, August 22, 2020

We’re Not Worthy! We’re Not Worthy! Marco’s Blind Sample Reveal and Discussion

First there is a few points that have to be made about Marco

Most people in the Western puerh world probably know Marco for his storage/ hot box/humidity/ temperature experiments.  Much praise has been thrown on him over the last few years on his storage experiments and rightly so.  However, his reviewing prowess has not gotten as much attention.  When I first returned to the online tea world I was most taken aback by professionalism of Marco’s reviews- something that has not yet been presented to the Western puerh world before.  His assessments of my blind samples is so mindblowing good… I think we should all be also giving him highest regards for all his puerh reviews as well these days.

This blind sampling exchange has made me really respect his puerh reviewing process as well as Marco’s beautiful mind.  He is just as meticulous and brilliant in his reviewing as he is in his storage experiments.  First he did a dry run of all the blind samples I sent, then he did another for review.  He uses the exact same formula for review with every puerh he samples- it is a 4 steep process outlined here. 

It kind of makes me feel a bit careless in the fact I base my review on the first sampling almost in every review.  With that being said, I think 95% of the time I completely stand by my first impression and it is very rarely swayed. For blind sampling I always half-joke that I’m about 50% which is not bad at all, still a pass but I hope to improve, not languish here.  My last batch of blind samples from Wilson of Adventure in Every Cup went much better than 50% I’d say so I’m feeling confident… hahah

Okay… back to Marco…. So far he has reviewed 5 of the 7 blind samples and his laser pointed accuracy literally gave me goosebumps when reading it.  His ability to analyze puerh blindly is extraordinarily precise!  Maybe I’d give him 99%... I really don’t think Marshal’N, James, Hobbes, Cwyn, Shah8, Toki, anyone I know in any capacity online or in person couldn’t ever do this.. It’s really mindblowing to me.  I think he must have somewhat of a photographic memory paired with careful and meticulous review process- it’s the only way he could pull this off.  Stunned!

I think after reading how bad my first few blind reviews were he reached out to me and we agreed to do multiple choice after publishing our reviews in full.  He surely does not require it.  Hahaha… Before having the blind samples revealed to me I thought to rank the samples in order of enjoyment they have brought me and to give them a short description.  First, I can say that I enjoyed them all on some level.  Some definitely, caught me off guard where others were a bit underwhelming.

1-      “Gamma”- this is a brilliant puerh, has power to spare, comes on fast and furious with a thick oily viscus rich chocolate and vibrant berry and cherry over coco and woods  There is a really elegant vibrant perfume floral and even some faint smoke. Very layered with insanely powerful Qi that reminds me of Bulang or even Laobanzhang overpowering in the body and mind. The bodyfeeling is big here! It also has an elegance and berry taste and candy breath that suggests it could be a bitter/strong Yiwu.  Has a boutique and potentially blended profile, likely mid-aged Taiwanese stored.  This is very good and likely very expensive puerh.  Love it!

2-      “Eta”- liked my experience with this likely Hongkong stored well aged (90s or earlier) very iron compressed brick (or cake), don’t usually drink much shu but the thick oily nutty Hongkong stored profile and aged tastes were brilliant on a cool rain summer day! This must be a Kunming 7581 brick.

3-       “Zeta”- great stamina from this very very delicious smoky root beer tasting puerh… the taste of this one is just insanely good! It also has a warm spiciness to it and very comfortable bodyfeeling which indicates some age.  It has a decedent, refined, and smoothness to it that is encroached by inoffensive smoke.  A balanced and complex arrangement with Qi that leaves me feeling good late into the day hours after the session.   I analyzed this puerh as if it is a Bulang but it seems unlikely.  I’ve only had a similar root beer tasting thing in a Bing Dao and Yiwu before in the past? Leaves look like a blend.  Maybe 10-14 years old dry Malaysian storage? 

4-      “Beta”- I love the old school subtle smoke mixed with a strong and interesting presentation of the five traditional Chinese flavours of salty, sour, bitter, bland, and pungent in this brick.  This seems like a nice balanced and engaging Jinggu blend to me, could be other Northern area but has a Jinggu feel to it could be other multi region blend.  Dry stored with still a bit of sour it is likely 5-8 years ish old just ready to consume.Either way the blend itself is brilliant old school balanced plantation goodness. Like!

5-      “Delta”-  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.  A nice gushu feeling through and through. A pretty dry stored high quality Menkgu/lincang single estate like gushu approx. 3-7 years.  In the end I felt quite energized from this session!

6-      “Epsilon”-  this is a really condensed, full feeling Menghai Factory production that is still on the edge of being drinkable semiaged.   Not used to drinking Dayi at this point of aging because it’s pretty hard on the system still.  This one is a pretty nice Dayi production overall full of delicious factory goodness.  A dry stored 8ish year old Menghai Factory aka Dayi production?  If it isn’t Dayi then something very much of this style.

7-      “Alpha” , this puerh is really difficult for me to place. The first few infusions and the dry leaf almost remind me of Laos puerh or something East Yiwu close to the boarder with a meaty and gamey taste.  Then the next group of infusions develop a pondy woody taste to it with some fruity and creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeel builds and becomes thicker almost pucker.  The Qi is warm and indicates something more aged as does the incense base taste that develops.  These infusions remind me of a dry seal stored older more old school puerh.  In the later infusions a strong apricot sweetness is highlighted.  This puerh changes a lot throughout the session which makes it kind of interesting.  It is definitely dry stored, likely Taiwanese dry storage, and possibly even sealed storage.  It also has a factory feel to it like a Xiaguan, maybe especially in the later infusions.  It’s more of a generic factory taste in the last half.  Complex enough change throughout the infusions but something I wouldn’t normally go for.

Overall, I feel really honored to have Marco review some of the puerh that I drink most regularly.  The 7 puerh I sent him represents about ½ of the puerh I have regularly available and most easily accessible for me to drink on a daily basis. Getting someone of Marco’s caliber to go through in fine detail what you are drinking daily is not only an honour of sorts but also gives me a new appreciation and a fresh perspective on some of the puerh I have been drinking for over 12 years!

… besides it was just super fun!

When will Teas We Like offer a blind sample package of their puerh?????  Who's with me here?

Edit:  This post was written up almost a week or so ago .  Marco has since posted on the last 2 blind samples and this is the list of actual teas that. He consumed... he really nailed it.  I left a post on his last blind review on Late Steeps of this list and we will now wait for him to match up the blind tasting...

1-      1997 Henglichang Bulang (famously offered by The Essence of Tea/favorite of Hobbes)

2-      2006 Yang Qing Hao Shenpin Chawang (in Yang storage since January 2020)

3-      2006 Teas We Like Rustic Zhongcha (hahahaha)

4-      2008 Menghai Tea Factory (Dayi) Autumnal Aroma (Malaysian stored from Adventure in Every Cup)

5-      2008 Yunnan Yunxian Huimin Wild (100% personal Canadian dry storage!)

6-      2012 Legend of Puerh “Shen Gu You Lan” Bangdongshan  (Tea Urchin)

7-      2020 Essence of Tea Tian Men Shan GaoGan

I will now take a peek at the comment he left last post (which I didn't read yet) and try to decipher which blind samples he set me... so fun!


Marco’s Blind Tasting Beta (2004 Teas We Like Twelve Cent Brick)

Dry leaves compressed in a loose brick smell of sweet slight mesquite bbq smoke with an underlying sweetness.

First infusion has a sour pond onset with salty tastes upfront.   There is a mild cooling on the breath and a bland almost mushroom aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is a sticky almost sandy full feeling on the tongue.

The second infusion has a fruity pear sour fruity onset that arrives in a juicy explosion.  There are some salty mid-tastes and moderate smoke.  The cooling rides out pear tastes in the throat.  The liquor has a nice juicy viscus feel and is balanced by a smokey middle.  The mouthfeeling is pretty full and the throat has a faint mid- throat opening feeling.  There is an interesting contrast of sensation and flavours immediately apparent in this puerh.  I can feel the Qi building in the chest.  This feels like Northern puerh to me.

The third infusion has a juicy thick somewhat sour fruity taste with underlying smoke.  There is a vanilla bean and salty mid-taste that is left in the mouth.  The tongue is a fine sandy full stickiness and the throat opens deeply.  There are some sunflower seed tastes, soft smoke, almost a creamy sweet but mainly sour fruity tastes.  There is an interesting balance and mix of tastes in this puerh brick.  A nice chesty Qi is developing.  I like the full and contrasting taste and feel of this puerh a lot.

The fourth infusion has a thick fruity velvety smoky almost sour pear a bit of a creamy but mainly dense smoky kind of apricot sweetness.  There are some salty and smoky tastes.  The presentation is thick in taste and the mouthfeeling is also quite full with a sandy sticky full mouthfeeling and slight open throat.  I feel happy and harmonious sitting with this Qi.

The fifth infusion has a smoky, dense fruity onset with some sour fruit coming out with salty savory flavors.  The effect is salivating and saliva producing in the mouth.  There is some faint coolness in the mid throat and a resulting creamy sweetness that turns into a sour fruitiness all over a thin smoky veil.  The salivating and sweet with slight smoky and sour gives this puerh wide and diverse breadth of taste experience.  It feels really smooth in the body and in the mind.  It has a kind of harmonizing Qi with a very mild and soothing bodyfeeling.  I really like the taste and feel of this puerh.  Its engaging but harmonious and not overly confusing or busy, both simple but complex.  A blend of tastes and energies that works quite well together.

The sixth infusion has a sliky smooth sweetness that develops into a sour fruity taste then to a very mild coco slight bitter nuance.  There is some salty taste that is kicked up.  Then a faint deep pungent pushes out some creamy sweetness, almost caramel, along with smoke.  The taste almost reminds me of smoky salted caramel candy… so tasty. The saliva just fills the mouth and throat and gives this puerh a very full and satisfying mouthfeeling and sensation.  The Qi has faint sensations on the face and scalp and feels very comfortable in the body.  This puerh is very nice.

Seventh infusion has a rich salted caramel sweetness.  There are some dense fruits and creamy sweetness, faint smoke, salty savoriness.  With a strong saliva producing effect.  The taste is extremely good, it’s a brilliant balance of sweet, sour, salty, faint bitter, bland.  There is a longer cool throat pungency with a stronger returning sweetness.  This is the type of smokiness that is mild and only adds to the taste never detracting from it.  The Qi is really harmonious and gives me a nice feeling of wellness and balance and focus.  There are some faint bodyfeelings in the scalp, head, and face a very mild open chest feeling. 

The eighth infusion starts with a creamy fruity taste. The sour taste is almost gone and it leaves a more creamy fruity sweetness.  There is some forsty almost green tastes but this infusion is less salty, sour, bitter and is mainly a creamy fruity almost faint spearmint finish in the throat with a sticky mouthfeeling and tongue coating.  The last few infuisons have a kind of forest freshness, almost spearmint finish to them.  There is less salivation here.  Good happy harmonious Qi in the body and mind.

The ninth infusion has a sour, sweet taste, with a creamy sweet finish and a foresty body.  There is a spearmint coolness with a bit of sweet cream at the end.  The taste and mouthfeeling have really dropped off in the last few infusions leaving simple tastes behind.  The mouthfeel is more watery but there is still lots of faint throat simulation but none of that intense salivating sensation. 

The 10th has a juicy slightly sour fruity and creamy sweet onset.  There is a forest middle taste then a faint throaty spearmint that expands the creamy sweetness.  The aftertaste of this puerh is weaker here and is mainly just mild creamy sweetness.  Mouthfeel is more of a flat slippery.

The 11th has a creamy mild flat bitter coco finish.  That coco taste kind of runs into a faint spearmint throatiness and expands into a coco somewhat forest bitter finish.  The salivation effect, fullness in the mouth, and thick mouthfeeling has diminished but the deeper mild throat feeling has held nicely here.

The 12th has a flat forest bitter not really that coco taste but more bland forest kind of thing.  There is a nice cool spearment that develops in the aftertaste with some barely creamy sweetness.

The 13th is much the same but a bit more coco.  Even with just the coco bitter onset with spearmint throat and some forest creamy sweet finish.  Some cereal toasted grains show up in the aftertaste.  It’s still decently enjoyable.  I push it with a 20 second beyond flash steeping…

The 14th has an almost licorice sweetness to it with a woody base taste, slight cooling throat, flat finish… I put this one in the mug to grandpa steep out…

The wet leaves are still greenish and pretty small and tightly rolled…

The mug steepings are quite salty with a bit of bitter and a bit of cooling throat.  There is some veiled sweetness under the bitter but mainly salty and bitter…  Interesting….

The overnight steeping yields very sweet fruity juicy tastes upfront with less bitter and cooling and salt but a more obvious smoke but faint smoke which is a beautiful contrast to the vibrant fruitiness.

This seems like a nice balanced and engaging Jinggu blend to me, could be other Northern area but has a Jinggu feel to it.  This actually reminds me a lot of how the 2020 white2tea Mirage could taste like 6-8 years down the road.  I like this brick a lot.

The fact that this puerh is a young semi-aged, possibly Northern, possibly Jinggu material, or at least blended region with a bit of smoke it might be something that could be had for a reasonable price but hit way above the price especially if this is a white label offering.  I hope that it is and that Teas We Like can bring this in because I really think it’s something that is relatively rare in the Western puerh market and a very enjoyable experience that a lot would enjoy.  On the other hand it has the possibility of being something expensive priced exclusively on the tea experience it offers.  If this happens to be their Twelve Cent Brick and I’m way off on the age assessment, and it is just really dry stored then its value is 2-2.5X more than the price it sells for!

Guess: 5-8 years blended possibly Northern, possibly Jinggu, or multi region blended brick. Twelve Cent brick?

Answer: 2004 Teas We Like Twelve Cent Brick

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting “Eta” (1990s Kunming 7581 Brick)

This one just looks like an aged iron cake or brick as indicated by the dimples from such a press…

Dry iron pressed/ hydraulic pressed leaves smell like more humid and aged storage odours of rotting woods and slight chocolate.  You can see the dimples from the iron mold also the very dark aged and humid stored colour of the leaves.  Immediately looks like it could be Hong Kong traditional stored Shu.

First infusion has a watery, woody, aged library taste to it with some returning aged sweet hay tastes.  This first infusion is understandably watery and light as the tight press will take a few infusions to release a bit.

The second has an aged woody taste with a bit of chocolate then a woody sweet hay finish.  The leaves have a real aged taste to them.  Over the taste is aged puerh sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is still watery and faint suggestion of gripping sand… faint.  There is a lingering coco sweetness with aged tastes minutes later.

The third infusion (pictured) has a rich sweet woody hay like onset.  The mouthfeel starts to develop a bit of an oily stone texture to it which matches nicely the rich tastes.  This infusion is really smooth and rich and aged tasting.  There is a nice camphor wood taste along creamier rich tastes in the breath and aftertaste.  The Qi is nicely warming and reassuring on this rainy cooler Summer day.

This could be a very nice aged Traditional Hong Kong storage iron bing alternatively it could also be aged shu iron bing either way it had a lot of fermentation with a lot of age.  The wet leaves look like shu puerh to me.  Conventional wisdom wants me to think it is this 2001 Iron Zhongcha as it even matches the description of “rich concentrated dark brew with nice camphor and aged taste”.  But this one is shu and seems more fermented and/or humid stored than that one in the pictures.  I’m leaning more toward to an aged iron pressed shu puerh possibly Traditional HK storage…  I think it is possibly a Kunming 7581 brickfrom the 90s possibly older.  It has that vibe all over it… think I nailed this one…

The fourth infusion has a woody hay sweetness with a rich, almost coco, taste over a slippery tongue coating and nice camphor cooling woody with rich coco in the aftertaste.  This is a nice aged tasting puerh with a deeply penetrating warming energy.  The Qi is soothing but doesn’t make me tired.  I start to feel faint soft fluffy bodying feelings.

The fifth infusion has a woody hay tasting with more mineral and less woody and coco tastes as the sessions progress.  There is a mineral and slight coco taste to it some camphor aged tastes.  There is a very soothing very aged taste to this puerh.  Nice aged warming feeling in the body which gives me a nice glow and wakes me up gently early in the morning.

The sixth infusion has a more mineral earth and woody taste with less hay sweetness and more mineral now.  The mouthfeeling is slippery and just faintly gripping which is enough to give the camphor taste something to root on to in the aged mineral woody aged aftertaste.  I am really basking in the warming soothing Qi of this puerh.

The seventh infusion has a woody deep mineral taste to it with a water type of sweetness.  This puerh has lost a lot of rich tastes and is now a mineral aged tasting puerh.  It has just suggestions of a more gripping mouthfeeling espically as the small particles of leaf are consumed in the liquor.  There is a cooling camphor aftertaste with a bit of sweetness to it but more mineral tastes.  Warming and unraveling Qi that is waking me up slowly.

The eighth infusion has a smooth aged woody mineral taste to it with some camphor cooling in the throat and aged mineral finish.  Nice warm undulating waves hit me from the Qi of this puerh.  The mouthfeel is smooth with a bit of substance in the throat.  Nice relaxing awakening feeling.

The ninth infusion is a cooled cup and it delivers a really delicious rich almost nutty sweet coco taste.  It tastes refreshing warming in the same an iced coffee would feel.  Less cooling camphor, woody, and mineral here in the cup that was left to cool to room temp.

Getting back to the leaves after an hour break has the tenth infusion giving off a rich coco mineral taste.  The camphor and woodiness is almost gone/ quite faint now.  There is now a nutty sweetness to it.  The aged taste is really rich and satisfying.  The Qi is warming especially on the face now and has a slow deep soft but still quite energizing feeling.

The 11th is a rich nutty almost woody mineral taste.  The mouthfeel is slippery and full and has a bit of throat stimulation.  No more camphor left.  It’s a simple and rich broth.

The 12th has a rich almost nutty almost mineral taste that comes off nutty sweet in the finish.  Lots of warming energy that especially afflicts the head but also penetrates deeply.  It pushes me into a sweat.

The 13th is mainly a mineral and woody tasting onset with some dryness aspiring in the mouth and throat.  There is a subtle almost nutty sweetness in the finish.  Warm warm energy.

The 14th is much the same without the dryness in the mouth and throat.  There is an almost date sweetness with mineral taste that starts to develop with aged woody tastes.  This is a nice aged taste and warming Qi here.

15th is luke warm cup and tastes of nutty sweetness more rich with a mineral aftertaste and some tight throat.  Still undulating and warming comforts offered by this one.

16th is more of a nutty camphor taste with some mineral tastes interspersed throughout.  There is some throat tugging but a nice sweet mild finish.  My face flushes- I am warm on this rainy overcast summer day.

17th is a 30 second steeping… it pours out really dark brown.  It has more roasty nutty rich woody profile and even some faint camphor.  The taste is really nice… I will come back to this pot tomorrow…

The next day I end up just grandpa steeping it out and it really delivers.  A thick oily nutty profile with a nutty sweetness to it.

Guess: An aged shu puerh, very humid, likely Hong Kong Traditionally stored, likely 90s but possibly even older.  Maybe a 90s Kunming 7581 Brick?

Answer: 90s Kunming 7581 Brick from Teas We Like


Friday, August 7, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting “Epsilon” (NanQiao "Bulang Beauty")

Ok…. I was waiting for it… the blind Menghai Tea Factory sample…

Dry decently factory looking compressed leaves smell of a very sweet honey fruity nectar odour.

First infusion tastes of a woody almost grain sweetness with a pungent everygreen menthol finish.  There is almost a metallic taste to it.  The mouthfeeling is full and cottony in the mouth.

The second infusion has a woody grain onset with a soft coming and going of sweet candy.  There is a fairly strong deep pungent and an overall resin wood like taste to it.  The mouthfeeling is strong and pulling and thick.  There is deep almost bitter coffee and taffee taste to it kind of smokey incense faintly on the back end of this puerh.  This puerh tastes like Menghai factory to me.  The leaves are quite tippy and small.  The Qi has a slow alerting building within it.

The third infusion has an incense caramel onset with a strong sour as well as a woody resin taste to it.  It has a bit of a sour edge to it.  It finishes with a deep pungent camphor woody and incense taste to it.  The mouthfeel is stronger and gripping.  Strong Menghai Factory taste and feel to this puerh, its dry stored and likely around 8 years old.  Building alerting energy.  I break into a terrible allergic reaction of sneezing and itching with this puerh that I have only gotten a handful of times from certain puerh (see here, here,here)… For the sake of the review I take some herbal allergy pills and trudge on… but I really love the very nice Dayi profile here…  I really over leafed this powerful factory feeling puerh…

The fourth infusion has a strong syrupy sweet smoky sour fruitiness to it.  Thick fruity resin woody taste is upfront with a long camphor finish.  I really like the comforting and familiar taste of Menghai Factory although I am down on myself that I just can’t rattle off the production like I used to be able to do. 

The fifth infusion has a thick smoky syrupy fruitiness to it, slightly sour, with a long camphor finish.  The taste and feel is unmistakenly Menghai Factory and really satisfies me with a nice alerting factory Qi sensation.  This is an above average Dayi production very nice.

The sixth infusion has a strong syrupy malty fruitiness over a smoky woody nuance with a long camphor aftertaste.  The Qi is warming and alerting and makes me sweat.  This is classic strong Menghai factory that is on the edge of being ready to consume as it still has an underlying bitterness and sourness to it.  It has a really condensed taste to it but still hasn’t developed any plum taste to it.  I think I have a bit too many leaves in my pot but I trudge on…

The seventh infusion has a strong syrupy malty fruitiness over a smoky woody nuance with a long camphor aftertaste in the mouth.  This puerh is very stable across the infusions.  Warming alerting Qi.  Stonger full cotton mouthfeeling.  Making me itch a bit.

The eighth infusion has a smoother fruitier vibe to it with some of the brute strength finally lifting a bit.  Fruity, woody, cooing throatfeeling, camphor finish some creamy sweetness developing.  Good full cottony thicker mouthfeeling.  This is a good concentrated Dayi production.

The ninth infusion has a smoky fruity onset with a more smoky woody finish in the mouth.  There is more of a gripping mouthfeeling and throatfeeling with less menthol cooling in the throat.  Nice alerting energy.

The tenth infusion has a malty almost caramel fruity sweetness with pronounced smoke.  There is less camphor coolness in the throat and aftertaste now and more dry wood taste.  This puerh is beating a bit on the guts which is an indicator that it’s still too young to drink to enjoy but you can see the potential in the production as being a better one from the post 2006 era.

The 11th has a fruity thick syrupy sweetness there are fruity tastes lingering in the aftertaste along with woody taste.

The 12th has a fruity thick syrupy sweet punch with lingering fruitiness and longer creamy sweet fruity aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and chalky.  The aftertaste is sweet and creamy and satisfying.

The 13th has a fruity full creamy chalky sweetness with some wood underlying.  There is a chalky mouthfeeling and not that much cooling in the throat or stimulation of the throat.

The 14th has a woodier smokier and less fruity or chalky sweetness to it.  It’s a bit bitterer too.  Still some strength in the leaf with some alerting Qi.  More of a tight sandy mouthfeeling.

I put this in a mug and grandpa steep it out.

Overall, this is a really condensed, full feeling Menghai Factory production that is still on the edge of being drinkable semiaged.   Not used to drinking Dayi at this point of aging because it’s pretty hard on the system still.  This one is a pretty nice Dayi production overall.

Guess: A dry stored 8ish year old Menghai Factory aka Dayi production.  If it isn’t Dayi then something very much of this style.  Leaves look bigger than 7542 and not really as factory as I thought.  Maybe 8582?

Answer: NanQiao "Bulang Beauty"


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting “Zeta” (2019 Ha Giang via Tea Addicts)

So far the blind samples that Marco has sent me seem to be very very different from each other.  The “Delta” was quite elegant with a nice energy to it, the “Gamma” was very delicious, powerful, out of body experience, and the “Alpha” seem to be a very dry/sealed stored factory production.  This blind sample labeled “Zeta” would turn out to be an interesting comparison to “Gamma”…

The stone compressed younger/ drier looking dry leaves smell of strong smoke after snipping the sealed package…

First infusion has a very sweet almost vegetal and mineral but fruity smoky onset and steeps out surprisingly darker than I thought.  It has a flat creamy sweet finish, almost floral.  This first steeping reminds me of Bulang area.  It has some nice complexity right of the bat and is nuanced and sweet.  There is a lingering sweet creamy aftertaste.  It has a lubricating oily feel to it.  I can feel the Qi in the head even in this first cup.  Could be a younger semiaged very dry Malaysian stored Bulang?

The second infusion has a sweet root beer, creamy sweet milky and very milk chocolate taste.  The mouthfeeling is very oily and lubricating and paired with the creamy velvety sweetness of milky sweet chocolate and root beer taste it results in a smooth, oily, rich, decadent feeling.  There is a spicy warm pungency in the throat and a sweet plumb and kind of floral aftertaste.  There is a certain elegance and smoothness to this initial taste.  The smoke is more of a faint backdrop in this second infusion.  This Bulang is very smooth and has an obvious layered complexity to it.

The third infusion has a sweet root beer/ sarsaparilla onset taste with some smoke.  It tastes more herbaceous and less milky chocolate.  The taste is more roots and sweet, not TCM medicine, something more complex and light and sweet but yet still mild-moderate smoke.  This is more of an herbaceous Bulang at its core but has some nice smoke-milky-chocolate Bulang taste too.  There is an oily feeling in the mouth and throat with root beer finish.  Mouthfeeling is sticky/oily and throatfeeling is opening mid-deep.  The Qi is a calming but smooth type of alertness- a focusing alertness.

The fourth infusion has a forest, milky, less root beer, more creamy sweet subtle smokiness.  There is a rich velvety feel and taste to this Bulang which I find really interesting and unique.  Although it is mild-moderate smokiness the rich smooth oily and creamy tastes are very elegant.  The pungency is a warmer spicy pungency, dried orange peel, and there is even a warmth building in the body.  It kind of tastes like Christmas cake or spiced bread- the taste is spicy and herbaceous layered on oily sweetness.  The effect is very enjoyable.

The fifth infusion I drink the cooled cup and it gives off a smooth creamy root beer oily smooth taste with a touch of smoke.  The smoke is really background and not char but an elegant smoke that layers with the creamy root beer sweetness- liked a nice smoked creamy root beer… that sounds delicious doesn’t it?  Because it is…  This is really tasty with a nice focusing energy to it. 

The sixth infusion has a forest creamy milky taste with a smooth finish of creamy sweet root beer.  There is not really much bitter in this Bulang- a feature that adds to its smoothness.  The mouthfeel is becoming less oily and more soft/sticky.  The throat still opens deeply with a warm spicy pungency. The Qi has a strong deep focusing energy to it and I yawn and stretch my body while my mind feels relaxed and a bit sharp.

The seventh infusion has a creamy less thick root beer taste.  The depth of the root taste is somewhat complex but the interplay between, milk, creamy, chocolate, spices, herbs, ect is gone now.  It’s now mainly a one dimensional taste.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are much less oily and more soft/sticky.  Qi is really relaxing now.

The eighth infusion has a forest, almost creamy, not really root beer not that smoky taste.  I would say it’s more kind of forest and faintly bitter.  The mouthfeeling is a more soft tight feeling.  The throat is less opening.  The Qi is more a relaxed focusing now.

The ninth infusion is a root tasting kind of forest even slightly fruity tasting with a faint bitter almost but not really coco taste underneath.  There is more of a flat aftertaste of coco.  The mouthfeeling becomes a bit sandy.  There is a bit of complexity here but on a more shallow level as this puerh is thinning out here.

The tenth infusion comes out more watered down root beer faint chocolate.  It still really tastes good but is fading considerably.  The mouthfeeling is a sandy/chalky/soft sensation.  This mouthfeeling and taste is quite enjoyable even here. 

11th has a more almost dirt coco taste to it.  There is just a faint background smoke in there with a kind of mild root beer aftertaste over a sticky tongue.

12th I add 15 seconds to strengthen it up a bit… and it comes out a bit stronger but a nice chocolate flat milky creamy onset with more of a root beer finish.  I really like this Bulang. It has a really smooth taste, mouthfeeling, and Qi for a Bulang… a strong velvety Bulang.  Humm… not sure if it is even Bulang but that’s kind of how I decided to evaluate it.

13th I add 20 seconds… and it starts a bit watery smoke initially with a flat forest taste almost creamy milk taste with barely detectable root beer finish.  The mouthfeeling is slight sticky and tight.

14th I add 30 seconds to the flash steep and get nice foresty tastes, slight creamy.  In a stick sticky dry mouthfeeling and slight throat stimulation.  This Bulang has very good stamina for a Bulang and because it doesn’t have too much bitter or smoke or astringency you can really push out the flavours at the end here.  I also really like the deep mood influencing feeling of wellbeing that this Bulang induces.  It’s a deeper reaching Qi experience rather than a typical intense Bulang experience.  This is also very nice.  Just like the “Gamma” I wonder if it could be Ban Zhang or even other area..???

15th is a 40 second steeping beyond flash and it gives off a bit of dirt coco faint smoke taste and slight bitter foresty kind of taste.  The bitterness is stronger with this 40 second steeping and give more of a griping mouth and throat feeling with faint coolness but not much returning taste.

16th I go back to 20 second steeps…there is a smooth fruitiness left in the cup with a faint pungent that pushes out a creamy sweetness.  This is still very flavourful despite its simplicity here.  The complexity at the end of the session here is the diversity between steepings.

17th infusion I steep it 30 seconds…and it is a bit pondy/woody bitter almost fruity and creamy sweet.  Not complex at this point but still quite enjoyable. 

18th is 40 seconds longer than flash and gives off a mildly smoky creamy sweet simple taste with a slight almost fruity edge. It has a bit of a creamy sweet but kind of woody bland finish.

The stamina is at least partially due to the long big but tight rolled leaf that is apparent in viewing the wet leaf…

Overall, this is a very decedent, refined, smooth, and somewhat elegant Bulang in taste, feel, and Qi.  There is just a subtle reminder of Bulang toughness in its background smoke, its strong deep plunging Qi, and when pushed too hard some standard Bulang bitterness that is still accessible.  It has excellent stamina for a Bulang and feels comfortable in the body and mind.  This makes me think that this is not even a Bulang but I have no other region that comes to mind.  This is kind of a mix of the bitter and creamy sweet Bulang profile, the herbaceous woody medicinal Bulang profile, and the fruity, floral, less bitter Bulang.  I would say that the first infusions are more herbaceous and the later are more bitter creamy sweet with a bit of the fruity less bitter tossed into the first half of the session!  In this way this Bulang is quite balanced and complex instead of the profile of most Bulang which is often very strong and polar.  The Qi really left me in a great spot.  This is a great classy Bulang, if a Bulang at all.  To many things point this to being something not Bulang, but what?  Ban Zhang- don't think so.  I don't know.

Guess: This is a semi aged 10-14 years very dry Malaysian or possibly dry Taiwanese storage Bulang?
Answer: 2019 Ha Giang via Tea Addicts


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Marco’s Blind Tasting “Alpha” (2010 Youle Gushu)

A day or so after experiencing the elegance of Marco’s blind sample “Delta” then pretty much having an out of body experience later in the day with “Gamma”, I hope to tread a bit more cautiously going forward.  No more crazy two blind samples in a day type of thing.  With the weather still quite a bit warm here this summer I look for something a bit younger or dry stored and settle on the look of this sample with the symbol “Alpha” on it.  I snip open the sealed package and smell…  

The dry leaves have a meaty musk meat like odour that immediately remind me of Laos puerh.

First infusion has a peachy and very musk gamey almost salty watery meat kind of onset that tastes similar to the dry leaf odour.  Very faint pungent finish with a chalky/talc mouthfeeling and tongue coating.  It has a blank chalky finish.

The second infusion has an almost sweet almond watery clear with gamey musk onset.  There is a lubricating mouthfeeling.  The Qi is starting to swell in my chest a bit.  There is almost a creamy almond but mainly watery sweet finish.  A bland chalky talc develops in the mouth minutes later.

The third infusion has a woody sweet almond onset with a faint less obvious gamey taste.  There is a soft cloud like round sweetness to this one that is interesting.  Almost peach fruity but not really.  The finish is sweet creamy almost faint marshmallow.  The tongue coating is more sticky faint sand.  I can feel my heart racing mildly here.  This has an East Yiwu close to or even over the boarder vibe to it.  In some ways it reminds me of the Essence of Tea Tian Men Shan but not at all as substantial.

The fourth infusion has a pondy, almost blank bland woody, almost mushroom onset with almond sweetness.  There is some faint fruitiness that tries to establish itself.  The mouthfeeling is a soft almost sandy stickiness.  The throatfeeling is faint and somewhat deep.  The Qi is very calming on the mind and almost hypnotic.  The aftertaste is a walnut taste not really fruity but with a very faint not really there candy on the breath.  I can feel a mild slow heart sensation in the body.  The Qi is starting to build in the mind.

I’m having a really hard time placing this puerh.  In some ways it tastes like an old dry seal stored puerh and in other ways it tastes rather new.  In many ways it is like the 2001 Naked Yiwu.  Even the location has evaded me.  This is a tough one.

The fifth infusion has a woody and mushroom and almond onset over a pondy base taste.  There is a creamy incense building almost caramel sweetness that comes out of these tastes.  The mouthfeeling is becoming drier pucker stickiness.  There is a long solid incense base taste.  There is a long candy like sweetness developing on the breath.  The Qi is a bit hypnotic and a bit relaxing.  There is a lot of nuanced complexity that just can’t quite punch through such as orange peel, herbal tastes, and floral tastes.  My scalp feels a bit tingling.  This is a really interesting infusion.  The thought of this being a seal stored Youle crosses my mind- again this puerh is really hard for me to place.  My mind is starting to really unravel.  It has a nice deep warming Qi sensation to it which suggests age.

The sixth infusion has a pondy woody incense onset with some sweet almond and almost suppressed floral.  The mouthfeeling is becoming really engaging and has a sticky drying cotton mouth effect.  It feels almost like there is something caught in the mid-throat.  There is some faint long candy in the aftertaste as well as walnut taste and almost peach orange taste.  The mouthfeel is really intense here.  The Qi is warming and pushes me into a sweat.  I feel quite stoned from the Qi.  There is a deep strength to this puerh in its Qi, mouthfeeling, and even taste, in a subtle way.  This is a really interesting puerh to me.

The seventh infusion has an incense woody onset with some walnut taste in there as well.  There is almost fruity taste that tries to emerge.  There is also a bitterer base emerging as well as there as well.  The mouthfeel is a sticky punckery pretty engaging thing now.  The Qi is warming in the body and hypnotic in the mind.

The eighth has a fruity floral onset over wood and incense notes.  There is a bland chalky base taste then a faint coolness and a strong true apricot fruit finish almost like apricot jam.  This infusion has turned a corner and is very apricot tasting.  Very delicious.  A sticky almost puckering Qi is there. 

The ninth infusion has an almost nutty not really toffee sweet onset the woody and incense taste is less now and a fruitier and sweeter suggestion is left to enjoy.  There is a pondy aftertaste.  There is a bit of a mineral taste here and a floral and apricot fruit.  Over a slightly puckering sticky engaging coating in the mouth while the throat seems pretty absent throughout this session is carries a touch of very very faint coolness.

The tenth infusion is a pondy, kind of fruity, slightly woody incense taste initially that has an almost chalky bland midtaste before returning mild chalky apricot aftertaste.  The aftertaste is not super long not overly complex throughout any of the infusions but sometimes carries a very very faint candy suggestion like this infusion does.  The Qi is strongly warming in the body and feel like aged Qi energy.

The eleventh infusion has a fruity incense taste with a bland chalky finish with some faint florals and barely candy appearing over the bland aftertaste finish.  Mouthfeeling is thicker chalky pucker.  Warming euphoric Qi.

The 12th infusion has a mild fruity onset with a bland almost woody creamy pondy taste.  There is a slightly sticky mouthfeeling and a faint fruity almost candy finish.  This puerh is dropping off fast.  The Qi is mild.

The 13th infusion I steep for 30 seconds over flash… it yields a woody bland onset with a bit of creamy fruity finish with some throat coolness.

I put this in a mug to grandpa steep out. It tastes of generic smoky incense and some woody bitterness.

The wet leaves are different colours of aged olive green and coppery colours some of them are chopped leaf grade indicative of a factory production.

Overall, this puerh is really difficult for me to place.  More difficult than the others so far.    The first few infusions and the dry leaf almost remind me of Laos puerh or something East Yiwu close to the boarder with a meaty and gamey taste.  Then the next group of infusions develop a pondy woody taste to it with some fruity and creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeel builds and becomes thicker almost pucker.  The Qi is warm and indicates something more aged as does the incense base taste that develops.  These infusions remind me of a dry seal stored older more old school puerh.  In the later infusions a strong apricot sweetness is highlighted. 
This puerh changes a lot throughout the session which makes it kind of interesting.  It is definitely dry stored, likely Taiwanese dry storage, and possibly even sealed storage.  It also has a factory feel to it like a Xiaguan, maybe especially in the later infusions.  It’s more of a generic factory taste in the last half.  Not sure how this puerh would be priced which depends on how old it is really.  I think this might be an option for offering something older but more affordable at Teas We Like.  Its profile is something that I don’t think I would be too interested in buying, either way.  But if the price was low it would be a bargain.

Guess: An aged possibly seal storage very dry Taiwanese stored factory production?  This one is the hardest of the blind samples for me to place…

Answer: 2010 Youle Gushu from Teas We Like