Monday, November 30, 2020

Revisit: 2015 Biyun Lishan Gongcha

This was a pretty straightforward and very enjoyable puerh when I  tried it blind in the summer.  I’m sampling it again a day after re-visiting the 2013 Biyun Hao Mahei and 2 days after 2015 Biyun Hao Yibi Tedagushu with hopes of a nice comparison coming next post. 

Dry leaves have a faint sweet cereal odour.  Lots of subtle honey sweetness with expansive and long fluffy candy sweetness in the aftertaste.  Very pure and elegant with soft full light chalky fluffy aftertaste with a light oily lubricating feeling.  Very elegant in the body as well with some Heart thumping and focused relaxation.  A big stoner Qi develops with this one over long elegant long breath honey and candy sweetnesses.  The downside to this puerh is weaker stamina but it is actually quite common for puerh that is this highnoted and subtle.  The infusions in the later infusions turn to woody and somewhat astringent slight bitter.  

Overall I really like this elegant and Qi heavy puerh.  I knew what to expect this time and felt the energy of this puerh really put me in a good spot today!  I think this session turned out better than the first blind tasting.  The very long elegant finish is something spellbinding!


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Revisit: 2013 Biyun Hao Mahei

I revisited this puerh because it was my favorite of the blind sessions by Marco (which happened to include many puerh from Teas We Like) and I am considering an order.  When I tried this one blind I actually had just finished a full blind tasting sessionof the 2015 Biyun Hao Lishan Gongcha and felt quite relaxed and stoned but was hoping for an energy boost.  I never sample two teas for review back to back or side by side.  You simply can’t get a really clear read on the Qi as the first tea can often interact with the second.  I wondered if that effect happened when I last sampled this one?...

Dry leaves smell of sweet floral woody odours.  Nice long leaves. Initial taste is quite floral with a full chalky mouthcoating and full long lingering candy fullness and perfume floral over a mild bitter-astringency woody base with hints of cherry and coco.  The taste is obviously gushu but has a certain intensity to it.  There is strength in both the mouthfeeling, flavor, and qi yet elegance.  Strong intense bodyfeeling of Heart racing and racing euphoria that builds up in the mind.  Although the taste is strong it is not a dense or deeply layered taste but rather pure and clear and gushu layers of taste.  Sometimes I feel like this puerh has too much space in the taste. 

I think the weakness of this puerh is twofold… 1- The taste is not super deep or dense but presents rather like a bunch of superficial but super delicious and quite complimentary tastes.  The tastes work really well together but they don’t give you a certain satisfying depth. 2- the active phase of this puerh is somewhat short- especially for the Qi which really blows your socks off early but drops off fast in the midsession the kind of way a Bulang will often present.  Also the Qi was strong but maybe not as strong as my initial appraisal and I think it was piggy backing some of the subtle power of the 2015 Biyun Hao Li Shan Gong Cha.  I think my most interesting observation about the blind sampling was my attempt to blindly price something like this which I said “it could be priced higher than the 2005 Nanqiao Double Lion Bulang.”  This goes for $220 and the double lion for $237.  So I guess it’s probably priced a bit lower but either way it doesn’t present with such value that I feel so strongly enough to put an order through at a time when I’m buying much less puerh.  Definitely enjoyable and still on my radar… but maybe just not yet…


Saturday, November 28, 2020

2015 Biyun Hao Yibi Tedagushu: Lovely!

I remember when Teas We Like offered the now sold out BiyunHao Vertical Tasting of Yibi.  I was definitely curious.  I remember Marco being fond of the processing and care and overall experience of this Yiwu area which Biyun Hao has a long history.  But I also would have just preferred to simply know what the best Yibi is.  This 2015 Biyan Hao Tedagushu ($255.00 for 360g or $0.71/g cake) was a limited release and sold out fast.  It was billed by Teas We Like as their favorite of all the available Biyun Hao Yibi Gushu productions.

Dry leaves have a woody, almost licorice, and candy odour.

First infusion has a buttery woody creamy almost licorice sweet approach.  The mouthfeel is soft and full fluffy feeling.  The throat opens to an upper-mid depth which causes a bit of salivation in the mouth.  There is a long lingering licorice almost mushroom wood aftertaste.  This is a nice smooth puerh.  The Qi is a very reassuring calm with a bit of Chest sensations.

The second infusion is a creamy sweet woody kind of caramel licorice in a nice oily broth.  The oil leaves and the tongue and what is left a soft chalky sand with saliva pooling in the upper-mid throat.  The aftertaste of almost candy but mainly woody mushroom that is mainly sweet and oily.  The sweet candy lingers on the breath.  The Qi is immediately apparent in the head even a heavy head sensation is left there with deep breaths in the belly and open chest feeling.  There is a fresh coolness in the inhales and exhales along with candy in the upper-mid throat.

The third infusion has a richer woody sweet onset with a slight sandy mouthcoating with an oily broth.  There are notes of licorice and even metallic notes in the initial taste.  You can sense some almost unnoticeable incense tastes as the upper-mid throat is stimulated and an almost woody, mushroom, caramel sweetness is left behind.  The Qi is pretty strong in the mind and makes me feel like I am a bit heavy and hazy here.  Nice mild but quite noticeable body feeling of heavy shoulders and head, open diaphragm and chest.

The fourth infusion has a rich woody almost caramel sweetness the taste is real pure and clear and comes in a somewhat oily broth and as it recedes leaves a fine slight sandy mouthcoating and lips dryness.  The throat is stimulated a bit deeper in the mid throat here where a woody, mushroom, licorice and faint candy really linger.  The sweet woody mushroom long aftertaste is real nice.  So is the Qi that is both strong but relaxing on the body.  It leaves me feeling great with a nice opening body sensation in the Abdomen and Heart with slight heavy shoulder and head.

The 5th has an almost pear sweeter candy almost caramel initial splash of taste in a mildly oily broth.  There is a sweet candy that overarches the whole profile and is really nice.  The sweetness hangs out in the mid-throat and is long on the breath.  The taste is nice like a mushroom woody a predominately sweet taste.  The mouthfeeling is a sandy, lip drying, feeling that is revealed when the oily broth recedes.  The Qi is nice and happy and deeply refreshing in the mind with opening and heavy mild sensations in the body.

The 6th has a smooth creamy sweet almost caramel with mushroom and woody complexity to the sweet that is overarching and long.  The tastes really are quite long and stretch deep into the breath.  The taste is really yummy, expansive and long.  Very gushu but also very East Yiwu.  The Qi is really nice with a deep feeling good strong mind feeling with a very harmonious, soothing, strong bodyfeeling of heavy shoulders and limbs with opening chest and Lungs.

The 7th has a woody mushroom onset with a candy like taste that comes out and expands in the throat.  The liquor here is not really oily anymore so it just coats the mouth in a sandy, lip drying coating and simulates the upper-mid throat a tiny bit enough for a long candy like and mushroom-wood taste.  Again the taste profile is really clear and pure with the same tastes coming out in different measures.  The Qi is happy and soothing in the mind and obvious but harmonious in the body.

The 8th infusion has a more fruity pear taste upfront with woody-mushroom in the distance- the tastes go long in the profile and make themselves known in different areas like the mouth, throat, breath- a sign of a nice single estate gushu taste for me.  The Qi is deeply penetrating but harmonious and relaxing.  Long almost caramel mushroom woody sweetness is left on the breath.

The 9th has a nice woody mushroom subtle sweetness over a full fine sandy dry lips mouthfeeling.  There is a soft cool almost mushroomy caramel sweetness.  Long candy finish.  The taste is starting to weaken although it maintains its breadth.  Almost fruity finish on the breath now.  Nice relaxing uplifting Qi.  Good harmonizing bodyfeeling.

The 10th infusion has a bit of dry woody astringency now with more of a subtle sweetness.  The woody taste is dominant now with the sweetness reduced and mainly on the breath with a bit of fresh coolness.  The mouthfeeling is drier even into a dry upper throat.  Nice Qi.

The 11th has a woody dry initial taste with a subtle sweetness.  The oiliness is gone in the liquor leaving lots of sandy dryness as a mouthcoating with no polarity to level it out.  The throat is a bit dry here too with a subtle candy breath taste.

12th is much more watery and woody and fruity.  There is a distinct mild dryness about the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling with edges of candy in the aftertaste.  Nice relaxing Qi with a bit of heavy shoulders body feeling left.

13th has a watery muted fruitiness over a dry mouth, lips, and throat.

I mug steep the rest out…

These long mug steeps push out a chalky, woody, almost savory mushroom, slight dirt taste with very faint coolness on the breath with ghostly almost unrecognizable candy sweetness.  Solid tastes are left in these long infusions.

This is a nice gushu puerh with very clear single origin taste (of woody mushroom, sweet candy finish, some caramel and occasional pear), mouthfeeling (full sandy almost drying lips and mid deep throat simulation with an oily liquor in the first half of the session), and qi (nice bodyfeeling of open chest and abdomen with very happy and harmonious qi feeling.  Great Qi and bodyfeeling!  It is strange that the taste, mouthfeeling, and Qi reminds me of the 2020 EoT TianMenShan!  They might possibly be similar in production, tree age, and location.  The Tianmenshan is definitely stronger and less smooth gushu and has a more interesting but kind of similar flavour.  This lovely Yibi is nearly twice as cheap per gram though.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Revisit: 2006 Nan Qiao “Bulang Beauty”

I wanted to sample this one immediately after the 2006 Zi XiHao “Yin Cake” (aka “Black Label”) ( pictured right in the below wet leaves) because they are of the same year and kind of similar storage but also to try to detect some Banzhang blended material which this one is thought to possibly have.  Initially I claimed to have not detected any Banzhang in the blind sampling (link).  When I look back on myblind sampling of this one I think I really nailed it.  I think Marco would have had a chuckle as I questioned why on earth I couldn’t come up with the right Menghai Factory (Dayi) recipe when it was in fact a different yet very similar Menghai puerh factory! Hahahah…

The factory tight compression of dry leaves smell of smoky and fruity sweet odours.  Menghai factory type odours.  I leaf it much much lighter than my initial assessment which was way too strong and even harsh.  I use about ½ the leaf I usually use because this factory puerh is terribly powerful!  Most definitely the raw power could suggest Banzhang. First group of infusions give off a light fruity-honey woody taste with faint edges of smoky bbq in the distance with a watery almost drying mouthfeeling.  Fairly strong factory style Qi up front.  The mid-session develops some florals and fruity sweetness with honey- it’s really a typical classic factory character.  Dry-tightish stronger stimulating thin full coat mouthfeeling and slight tight throatfeeling.  Faint floralish candy lingers in the throat.  

I mug steep out the leaves and can feel a distinct alertness and chest pounding Qi especially in these longer infusions.  There is a small bit of smoke but mainly this woody not-that-sweet kind of bitter taste.  I still can’t really sense the banzhang material although it is known that Nan Qiao owns some land in Ban Zhang so blending some in is not out of the question.  Overall, this is not overly exciting puerh but enjoyable for what it is.  Personally I’d rather drink Dayi or the other Nanqiao Bulang offerings at Teas We Like.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2006 Xi Zhi Hao Lao Ban Zhang “Yin” (aka “Black Wrapper”) & Sharing Laobanzhang

I know it’s really hard to believe now but it used to be common to give and receive Lao Ban Zhang from other puerh drinkers and vendors both online and around tea tables.  Back in the day Laobanzhang was not as crazy expensive as it is now.  Relatively speaking it was still expensive- a hundred or two for a cake at a time of $10-$30 cakes but it was at least attainable for most.  At the very least it was impressive for a vendor to have some, it offered them a bit of validity and prestige.  Laobanzhang was all the craze and at that time you were a part of it.  Around the tea tables they would often bring it out at the end of a late session or after a few impressive teas.  Other tea drinkers and online vendors would also post small samples of Laobanzhang in early times.  As a result, I had become inadvertently acquainted with Laobanzhang despite my refusal to spend that much money on a cake.  It goes without saying that it has been a long time since anyone has sent me or shared with me some Laobanzhang and I haven’t any to enjoy out of my own stash… so it’s been a while…

Although I have some experience with fresh younger Lao Ban Zhang from drinking it back in the day nobody was handing out 90s 14 year aged Lao Ban Zhang at that time.  So I actually have very little experience with semiaged/aged Lao Ban Zhang.  This sample of 2006 Xi Zhi Hao black wrapper ( $595.00 for 400g  or $1.49/g) which soldout in classic Houde lightspeed will be a treat …

Dry leaves smell of faint mineral almost floral odour with a very faint lingering of icing sugar sweetness.  The leaves look quite large with big stems.

The first infusion has a very creamy reverberatingly sweet creamy candy full taste in the mouth.  It has a layered fluffy cloud like icing sugar sweetness in the mouth with a faint touch of astringency that pushes the saliva over the flat almost fine course tinging tongue feeling.  The aftertaste is a bit sweet and tart apple with candy and sticky throat sensations.  This looks and tastes like a nice dry Taiwanese storage that still retains a lot of nuanced sweetness and has that classic incense base taste.

The second infusion has a woody, sweet cherry-apple taste with candy layers, there is a strong incense taste and odour.  The taste is very layered fluffy candy like sweetness that is layered into a sweet and almost tart cherry-apple fruit taste with a strong incense base taste.  It has a tingling face body feeling with a clear acuity sharpening energy.  The mouthfeeling has a soft, almost sandy dry texture which some thin layer of saliva spills over and sensation open into the mid throat.

The third infusion has a floral candy fruity cherry-apple deep layered and rich sweetness with strong incense onset.  There is a building astringent bitterness that is still quite mild.  This liquor has a nice oily texture over a soft but full almost granular tongue coating and a mid-deep throat opening that pushes saliva into the upper throat.  The aftertaste is a sweet incense taste with a layer of candy and cherry sweetness hiding underneath.  The Qi is strong and is pushing my mind into a spaced out and stoned state.  There is a strong body feeling developing with Heart pumping and face tingling.  The aftertaste leaves a mineral, kind of incense, barely sweet lingering.

The fourth infusion has a moderate bitter-astringency presenting first with some tart cherry like sweetnotes and candy.  This infusion the astringent bitter onset is the dominating taste with layers of cherry, wood, incense over a silty tongue feeling and oily textured liquor on top which seems to pour out the top throat as the mid throat is stimulated.  Stronger bitter astringent taste, strong excellent mouthfeeling and throatfeeling, and, yes, strong Qi sensation of intense mind stimulation mixed with stoned feeling and stupor.  The bodyfeeling consists of warming heart sensation as well and tingling.

The fifth infusion has a more rich layered sweetness that is more of a woody-cherry sweetness over a candy like sweetness.  There is a faint coolness, very faint as the astringent bitterness and incense overtake the more sweetness again.  The throat and mouthfeeling continue to do what they have been doing above and are quite strong and stimulating.  There is a mineral like taste left in the mouth minutes later with incense.  The Qi is really intense and has a strong bodyfeeling- stoned, alerted, detached, HT opening/slight warming with dizziness.

The sixth infusion has a rich cherry and candy presentation now.  The sweetness is shared with bitter-astringency.  The candy aftertaste is more apparent now and the incense base is less overwhelming.  There are almost peach-cherry notes appearing in the aftertaste.  Wow the Qi is so strong and intense.  It really shakes me up.  This infusion has a much more intense saliva producing effect in my mouth that seems to hold the sweet tastes much longer especially the candy-cherry sweetness.  Best infusion so far.  Still very strong.

The seventh infusion has a fruity tart apple incense wood not as candy sweet onset that has a nice full layered richness to it.  The candy more comes out in the aftertaste as the incense woody notes builds up.  The sweetness starts at onset and stretches out more uninterrupted by astringent-bitterness like it did in the last handful of infusions now.  The Qi is alerting yet calming.  The tongue feels a full soft almost chalky fine sand with an oily liquor.  The throat is less astringent-simulated but more softly stimulated like an opening in the mid throat where saliva pools up in the upper throat and mouth.

The 8th infusion has an almost soapy floral onset which is the most distinct of the flavours here.  There is a bit of candy but very faint now and some woody incense which is still significant.  The bitter-astringency has dropped down over the last few infusions to something more mild-moderate.  The mouthfeeling and throat feeling is much the same as last infusion with a waning oily texture but with a fluffy stimulation of the throat and saliva producing effect.  Nice euphoric relaxation now with stimulating acuity and Heart sensations.

The 9th has a buttery-creamy candy sweet onset with a strong incense backbone.  There is a nice silty mouthfeeling with a distinct incense and candy finish with a stronger mineral chalky taste in the finish minutes later.  The bitter and astringency is very mild here leaving more of a long candy with incense taste.  Nice euphoria and feel good Qi.

The 10th infusion has a nice creamy candy sweet taste with mineral finish the viscosity is going down here.  A nice thinner full fine sandy coating.  The taste and mouthfeeling and texture is declining here but the Qi is still pretty strong- it’s more euphoric and in the mind and less in the body though.

11th has a mainly incense wood not with an interesting clear pear taste upfront.  The taste has become much simpler here but still quite satisfying and decently long.  There is a chalky almost mineral aftertaste now not much sweetness.

12th has a incense note up front there is not much for other tastes other than some faint mineral, faint wood, very faint candy, very faint pear with that being said it is not insipid because the strong incense taste is stable and long throughout with still some full but thinning mouthcoating but much less throat feeling now.  Nice calming Qi.

13th has an almost candy sweet and incense onset.  The incense taste is the dominant one throughout the profile with some hints at candy sweetness underneath. The mouthfeel continues to wane as does the throatfeeling.  There is a mineral, incense stickiness in the mouth afterwards.

I decided to push this one a bit with longer steepings…

I use a 15 second over flash infusion for the 14th … it pushes a stronger incense taste out with a bit more mineral and faint sweetness.  The result is a bit longer and faintly sweeter but mainly just incense finish.  There is also a deeper throat taste than the last handful of infusions too.  The Qi is a bit euphoric and relaxing and has a strong headiness type of dizziness happening.

The 15th I do a 25 second steeping… it is mainly just a strong woody incense note with much more floral notes coming out now.  There is a mineral finish with not really any sweetness and a bit of floral.  The mouthfeeling is stickier on the lips and tongue with a bit of throat mid- stimulation which seems to attract a floral mixed with incense aftertaste.

16th is a 40 seconds steeping and has a creamy almost candy woody incense taste that feels chalky and full with suggestions of candy, minerals, and almost pear tastes.  Calm focused and happy energy prevails.

17th is 60 seconds and is still quite strong and condensed woody incense with subtle suggestions of mineral, candy, pear over a flat sticky mouthfeeling.

18th is a minutes long steeping the liquor is then left to cool and it tastes so delicious… like Lucky Charms marshmallow cereal with a long sweet candy body and still significant full incense taste. 

The mug steepings keep giving off great tastes long strong marshmallow candy like sweetness with a substantive incense base taste.

This is a nice LaoBanzhang for the price and those that jumped on this one fast were rewarded with some really nice dry storage as well that really accentuates the long strong sweet candy tastes.  Houde’s dry storage has done this cake very well and those that took the plunge on this one might have near optimal storage.  Good job!


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

2020 Black Friday Came for Puerh Drinkers… A Tiny Bit Early…

Okay so it’s not even Black Friday yet but some of the best (or most popular) of the puerh cakes are gone!

The Essence of Tea has a tradition of re-releasing an affordable aged/semiaged cake a few weeks before Black Friday.  Past years they did this with the 2003 Hongkong Henry and last year with this Autumn Bang Wei.  This year they did it again with the sale of a newly discovered case of 2001 Mengsa Old Tree which has developed a frenzied buzz for a puerh that is aged and punches way above its weight.  The case sold out in light speed.  I suspect The Essence of Tea will so (begrudgingly) post a sale on their Instagram anytime now.

I gave you guys the heads up that if I buy anything Black Friday it would likely be one of these cakes (2020 Tea Encounter Wan Gong GuoYouLin or 2020 Tea Encounter GuaFengZhai Chaping Gushu).  The sale went up a few days ago and I went to sleep and when I woke these two were sold out!  I managed to pick up a cake of 2020 Tea Encounter GuaFengZhai Gushu which was my favorite Tea Encounter brand puerh to date and a good price on a nice Gua Feng Zhai puerh.  It will be my only Black Friday purchase this year.

White2tea just dropped their sale a day and a half earlier than normal with two “limited edition” sheng.  The Tunji material was not up to Paul’s standard so he dropped the predicable Snoozefest and a new blend called 2020 white2tea Supteaheads which is a blend of aged materials.  Interestingly, he did not mention how many cakes he had for sale of each which is breaking tradition a bit so we don’t really know how limited these cakes really are but I’m sure they will sell out soon either way.  White2tea’s Black Friday promotion is rather subdued and tame this year with only 2 sheng releases.  I wonder why?

Yunnan Sourcing has been hitting us with multiple sales emails for weeks now.  Chrimson Lotus sale is also up now too.

Most of the good higher end stuff being offered by Western puerh venodrs has now sold out.  Look at this ranked list of 2019/2020 Yiwu GuoYouLin Gushu puerh I composed in the summer.  5 of the 8 are now sold out.  If I was looking for some 2020/2019 higher end Yiwu gushu type puerh from a Western puerh vendor you could check out TheEssence of Tea Yao Zhu Di productions of 2019 and 2020 (have not tried) which are pretty enjoyable for their price.  So is the 2020Tea Encounter GuoYouLin Wa Long.   Both of these productions are less per gram than the others on the list as well with a sale.. they are even lower priced…

Ahhhh… Black Friday…. What’s not to like?


Monday, November 23, 2020

Hou De Fine Teas Reintroduction

Hou De Fine Teas (commonly shortened to “Houde” or “Hou De”) out of Huston Texas is one of the original puerh vendors in the West and has a very long and influential presence in the Western puerh scene.  This is apparent if you look back to the first years of The Half-Dipper And older forums.  The main reason for their influence is the fact they were the first and only vendor to sell in any significant quantity of boutique puerh from Taiwan (Yang Qing Hao and Xi Zhi Hao) to Western markets at a time way before Facebook auctions, Taobao, or Group buys.  Most puerh drinkers from this time had some of their first experiences of Taiwanese boutique puerh thanks to Hou De, including me.  They owned this field for over a decade and their influence is really undeniable.  In these days, they were the first to offer limited amounts of these puerh which created a bit of frenzy back then with cakes that were quick to sell out.  This is super interesting because they were basically the only direct connection to early puerh appreciation and culture that came right from the source- Taiwan whereas all the other early Western puerh vendors at the time were mainly based out of Kunming.

For me back then I was more interested in the old school puerh factories like Menghai Factory and Mengku Shuangjiang and even other higher quality factories that were emerging out of Mainland China at that time.  They were much cheaper than the boutique Taiwanese brands that were pretty much new and unproven and insanely expensive.  However, I did end up sampling a handful of Houde samples that were passed on to me by other Western puerh drinkers at that time.  This is how I had some of my first experiences with Taiwanese boutique puerh and some of those samples even madeit onto the blog back in the day.

For the last many years Houde has been pretty inactive- not bringing in much new puerh at all really.  Gwang of Houde says it’s because the price of the quality of puerh they sell is simply getting too expensive and there is not the market outside of mainland China for such high priced things.  Recently however they have been active again with more releases and posts on their blog!  They even released a limited quality (7 cakes) of 2006 Xi Zhi Hao Lao Ban Zhang Yin (aka Black Wrapper) which sold out in light speed emulating the classic limied sell outs of classic Houde!  Another super interesting thing they have been doing is starting to sell off their stock of early-mid 2000s puerh that has spent their entire time dry aging in Huston Texas.

For me there was enough interesting samples listed to justify a long overdue order from them.  Shipping out of the USA is terribly expensive for international puerh drinkers (Liquid Proust & Houde) and normally would be hard to justify for me.  I look forward to posting about my impressions here on the blog over the coming weeks…

It’s nice to see Houde up and running again…


Monday, November 16, 2020

Pre- 2020 Black Friday Puerh Sales

Last year both white2tea and Yunnan Sourcing broke with tradition, (intense competition,) and offered more substantial sales and marketing weeks before Black Friday.  Others such as Tea Urchin and Tea Encounter offered their Black Friday sales earlier and ran them straight through Cyber Monday.  It certainly signalled a shift in the normal Black Friday sales for Western puerh vendors.  By looking at how things are shaking down in 2020 and whether they are repeating their marketing pattern of 2019 Black Friday, we can get some idea of whether last year’s strategy was a good idea or not.

Last year’s Yunnan Sourcing strategy of blowing up the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale must have worked for them because they are pretty much repeating it again which means lots of sales (10%, BOGO, Free Gift) are running now.  A 15% off sale is any day now.  Scott has also completely poked holes in the illusion of the sale and said openly that if you are looking to buy lots or spend lots, or miss out on a sale, he could offer you some substantial discount if you contact him.

Last year white2tea did something a bit different by doing two releases of their 2019 Autumn Sheng puerh.  They did one at the start of November and the other on Black Friday.  It looks like this marketing strategy didn’t work because so far in 2020 nothing has been released.  It is increasingly apparent that their will only be the Black Friday drop of Autumn Sheng.  We should also expect the staples- Tunji and Snoozefest but probably others too of what? Who knows?  White2tea’s Halloween sale will probably be the best if you are just looking for shu puerh... and because it was actually a sale...

If you look back at all the Pre Black Friday puerh sales of 2019 it is a bit surprising that it has been so quiet.  None of the other puerh vendors are dropping their sales yet.  Seems many puerh vendors feel that a more traditional Black Friday sale is the better way to go?  It most definitely hasn’t gotten me as excited as previous years.    I guess I’m not looking to buy this year as I decided to front load my 2020 puerh purchases this spring for good cakes that are now sold out.  The one vendor I might spring for is Tea Encounter as they have a few puerh that are still stuck in my head from my sampling of them.  It’s a long shot because I’m tapped out this year but you never know.  If I make a purchase this year you can be certain the sale and/or marketing got the best of me...

The way things are shaping up there will be an explosion of sales and releases on the day which for me is entertaining enough!


Thursday, November 12, 2020

How My Tea Drinking Has Changed (Again!)

One thing I find interesting is how much my tea drinking has changed due to my changing life circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic (it has changed for other tea bloggers as well).  Of course, my tea buying has predictably changed as well, but I saw that one coming.  I didn’t realize that the teas I choose to drink and the method of steeping them would drastically change as well.

I mentioned a bit about how my tea drinking changed during the lockdown of the pandemic here.  Basically, I was drinking most of my best teas daily which were either aged factory sheng or semi aged gushu or boutique sheng at home with my family.  I have pretty much continued in this indulgence since going back to work.  My wife claims that my tea makes her feel “high” and “out of her body” and “fucked up” and since going back to work she has chosen something more predictably stimulating… so she has chosen to go back to coffee.  Her alternating from coffee and tea is nothing new.

As a result of both my renewed work demands as well as the fact I’m just drinking for myself again, instead of one or two pots a day I am steeping three a week gongfu- Saturday, Sunday, and one mid-week.  I will steep out one larger yixing pot gongfu over 2-4 days with long steepings to finish them off.  The good stuff usually preforms quite well like this.  The workdays are longer now and I’m starting quite early and often I’m just consuming the overnight steeping during the workweek.  Which gives me enough of a boost as well as some general enjoyment until I start steeping at work.

At work my tea drinking has also changed.  Pre COVID a typical week I would get one or two good evaluative gong fu sessions in which you see as posts on my blog and maybe a few less attentive gong fu sessions and a few one-cup maker sessions using a ceramic Korean one cup tea maker.  Again, all gongfu.  I would usually use samples for evaluation, and often cheaper factory cakes, single estate type puerh, sometimes smoother gushu really a nice random and broad assortment of puerh drinking.  Teas are mainly dictated by how I hope to harmonize my energy at a given point in the day.  I am still managing to usually get in two nice enjoyable weekly evaluation gong fu sessions which you have seen posted here on my blog.

These days at work I’m doing lots of grandpa style.  I know I’m getting older but I’m not even close to being a grandpa and I generally despise the notion of anything but gongfu.  But these days are busy days burdened by complex sanitation procedures and under layers of personal protective equipment gong fu no longer makes sense on my busiest days.  There is also just the fact that repeatedly touching the small cups and having the tea exposed to others in the office and having to hand wash everytime I go back to the tea table is not as hygienic or is just too much of a hassle.  Some days I start gong fu then just dump the leaf from the teapot into a mug when things are getting predictably busy.  I generally think grandpa style is lazy but here I am.  One thing I noticed about going to grandpa style is that it is harder to hide or steep around flaws in some of the puerh I have, particularly rougher cheaper factory puerh that is my guilty pleasure.  You can control things a bit with mug steeping by leafing lighter or stronger or by the frequency, temperature or how much cooler liquid is left in the mug.  There is definitely some skill to grandpa brewing.

Every Friday at work I have been in the habit of drinking a stronger semi-aged factory puerh.  I look forward to not only the old school factory feel but also the power!!! Hahahhah… sometimes its gongfu and often the leaves get transitioned into grandpa mugging later in the day.

Tea continues to bring me much enjoyment over these most unusual times…

Hopefully it has done the same for you as well and continues to do so as this pandemic drags on.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Puerist First Impressions

Oh, man… I can’t believe that Puerist is really not well known in Western puerh circles.  My overall, experience was excellent.  Mark Turner of Purist has been involved in the puerh industry of longer than most of the more well know puerh vendors and really knows his stuff.

So as far as I can tell from the samples and cakes I purchased and the free samples that came with the order is that Purist offers very carefully selected single origin, with very clear Xishuangbanna area profiles, which taste very pure and appear to be dry Xishuangbanna storage, at prices that as Mark described as “reasonable” (I think they are better value than reasonable).   

Well, I initially thought I would rank the samples I received for review but after sampling through them all I find it really hard to do that because they were all such good examples of the regions they represent and for a price that was less than I expected.  I’m not sure if Mark just sent me his best or if the samples are representative of all the cakes he offers?  Either way, they were all really enjoyable with very little to criticize all likely gushu except the Naka which is great budget everyday drinker type of thing…

Not ranked…

2013 Puerist Ban Po Lao Zhai (unavailable)- full taste with interesting and elegant balance of tastes with fading tobacco smoke, very nice throat feeling and relaxing euphoric Qi.  Nannou gold!

2013 Puerist Ma Li Shu (unavailable)- Euphoric Q powerhouse typical of Yibang, long candy maple syrup aftertaste lingers deep in the throat, woody and layer sweet.  Very nice!

2017 Puerist Man Nuo- Strong powerhouse Qi- heart pounding, ultra-alerting, acuity focusing, yet relaxing wonderful Qi.   Nice progression throughout the session- raison, sweet plum, coco peach.  Can be a bit unreliable infusion to infusion with a throatfeel that sometimes can’t hold down the nice tastes.

2018 Puerist Hua Zhu Liang Zi- surprised me with very clear pristine tastes which evolve considerably as the session progresses with vegetal tastes.  The Qi is strong but a happy feeling that leaves the limbs feeling light.  Is similar to “Mu Shu” mother tree varietal in many ways.  Enjoyable experience and good example of this kind of puerh.

2018 Puerist Yibang Gushu- maybe my favorite of the bunch as I mused if it is the best Yibang on the Westren market, strong full classic Yibang tastes with Qi that is typical of this region.

2018 Puerist Wa Long GouYouLin-  Picked up a few cakes of these, ethereal long candy elegance yet strong, first infusions are very elegant yiwu then it starts to develops strength as the session goes on.  Has strong suggestions of strong sweetness similar to Manzhuang and very relaxing and clam in the body.

2019 Puerist Naka (Dragonball)- good value drinker that I tasted blind and thought it was a blend of lesser popular areas (shares qualities of) Bada, Nannou, and Yiwu which speaks to the complexity of something for this price. Picked from Middle Aged (Zhongshu) trees.  Good budget drinker with a bit of complexity.

2020 Puerist Yiwu # 8 (Maocha- not yet released)- is kind of like a Yibang type of character to it, strong powerful Qi, with bitter coco, florals and sweetnesses, nice stamina, good Gushu quality.  I look forward to seeing this one listed.


Friday, November 6, 2020

Can’t Stop Drinking This: 2015 Nannuo Duo Yi Zhai from Tea Encounter

This is another semiaged Nannuo tea from another famous and notable village, Duo Yi Zhai.  Duo Yi Zhai is apparently the highest village in Nannou with abundant old growth.This sample was sent to me for review, is currently being restocked on the site, and goes for $64.65 for 200g cake or $0.32/g.  You can see the inside joke that really cracked me up that Tiago printed on the sample label.  Yep, love those bing holes…. Hahha

I actually got this sample before covid times and was hoping to review it before the world fell apart.  But then it was pushed to the bottom of the pile.  With a bit of age on it I decided to sample it in the later fall.  So here we are… After I sampled this once, I simply couldn’t stop drinking it day after day until it was gone!  I like this one!

Lets get right to it…

First infusion has a very sweet buttery floral elegant smoothness to it.  There are nuances of coco and a long soft floral sweet finish.  This first infusion is quite watery from the tight compression.

The second has a sweet sugar almost vegetal but mainly long overarching sweet sugar taste.  There is a very long overarching sweet ethereal sugary taste that reaches deeper into the throat.

The third infusion is much more sugar, very long sweet aftertaste forms the backbone of this profile.  There are nuances of florals, almost peach, pear, with a long faint cooling pungency that is right up front and lingers into the breath and delves deep into the throat with a simulating throat feeling. This is a very elegant and very gushu kind of tasting and feeling puerh with a deep feel good relaxation happening here.

The fourth infusion has a nice full coating mouthfeeling with a long pungent and sugar long overarching the profile sweetness.  There are lots of subtle nuances that appear candy, pear, coco, fresh flowers, lots of subtle depth but also very long and elegant with much high notes but also lots of deeper throat sensations.  I feel very good from the very subtle Qi.  Almost euphoric happiness.  The puerh has a very pure and clear feeling.

The fifth infusion has a strong pungent and sweet onset.  The very bright tastes such as pear, candy, sugar, almost cake, and coco and florals.  It’s very long, deep, subtle, delicious but very mood influencing as well.  Has a floral and green taste minutes later in the mouth.  This is an elegant gushu type that is stored nicely dry.

Sixth infusion is drank after cooling and gives off a pear, sugary, almost dirt coco, but a long sweet and pungent taste dominates with a deep throatiness.  There is such a nice feel good Qi to this puerh along with the throat depth and long overarching pungent coolness makes this one really nice and enjoyable.

The seventh infusion has a very pure clear sugar and pungent with an almost banana sweetness to it with melon, pear, floral, and coco tastes.  This is a deliciously ethereal puerh!  Nice euphoric feel good Qi.  Nice thin full soft coating on the tongue but more felt stimulating deep into the throat.

The eighth infusion has a long coco melon pear light but strangely full taste.  The soft full mouthfeeling and deep throat entrap all these subtle nuances to enjoy along with a very happy Qi.

The 9th infusion has lots of sugar sweet and fruity pear upfront with long stretching pungency from the initial taste into the aftertaste.  A moderately thick soft coating in the mouth and deeper chalky throat tightness.  Very nice vibrant Qi.

The 10th infusion has a fruity coco onset with a long deeper pungency.  The tastes of this puerh are really interesting in that they are really complex but highnoted and ride out in the throat and aftertaste.  The Qi is so nice and happy.  Makes me feel so euphoric and happy.

11th has a vegetal fruity onset with an increasingly tight mouthfeeling.  As the tightness increases there is more of a coco nuance to the taste.  There are other more subtle notes that drop out. 

12th has more tight throat sensation but the depth of taste is waning a bit here with more of it coming out in the long soft aftertaste.  Qi remains solidly euphoric.

13th has a soft powdery sugar almost fruity elegant taste with a long pungent that is less obvious now.  The long sweetness is still the dominating taste.  There is not really any base taste just long and grounded ethereal, light, highnoted sweetnessess.  Qi is really nice.  There is a simple long lingering sugar taste in the mouth.

14th has a light almost woody watery coco sweetness to it.  Despite a weakening taste there is still a full almost tight deep throat with a long lingering sweet aftertaste.

15th is a 20 second steeping and pulls lots of yummy apricot notes out as well as coco.  Still lots of stimulating throat feeling.  This one goes into a long steeping….

Out pushes still lots of subtle delicious tastes with a bitterness that seemed to never materialize in the flash steepings.  I like the mug steeping and do so a few times with a few overnight steepings… Yummy…

Overall, this is a great puerh for its price!  First it has a very nice dry storage on it that is very clean and really benefits the very light, complex, highnoted taste.  The taste also is very fresh pungent with long pungency and very distinct and long sweetness.  All this subtlety would not make it if it weren’t for a very solid, stronger, and deeper simulating throatfeeling.  The Qi is also very nice feeling good euphoria type Qi.  It makes me feel refreshed and happy.  As a package it highlights a nice gushu type long sweet, pure, gentle puerh for those who love this kind of thing.  It also doesn’t have a lot of the features that make Nannuo not as popular such as its characteristic dirt or root veggie type taste to it.  If it were from some famous Yiwu area it would go for hundreds of dollars more.  I recommend it to those who like this type of drink now light gentle complex type of puerh strong but harmonious Qi while still being budget friendly.  I’m thinking of picking a cake up…

Tea Adventures Tasting Notes


Sunday, November 1, 2020

2013 Puerist Ban Po Lai Zhai: Nannou Gold!

I was really excited when I opened my order only to find a complimentary sample of the no longer listed 2013 Puerist Ban Po Lao Zhai.  There have not been very many puerh cakes offered from Ban Po Lao Zhai in the Western market over the years... Probably just this one other than the many offered on Puerist.  I have a long and rather interesting story about the most famous Nannou area puerh producing village Ban Po Lai Zhai that I have never told…

Way back in 2010 I met a now famous Pedro Villalon (of O5Tea fame) who had personally procured some 2009 Ban Po Lao Zhai gushu maocha from a farmer Yang Si.  It was one of the first times that I encountered loose Gushu type tea being described as puerh.  My idea of puerh, even at that time, was heavily influenced by older factory productions.  Gushu productions were just starting to roll out and the understanding of them was confusing at best.  I remember having a good debate with Pedro whether or not this gushu maocha was “real puerh”.  In the end I ended up buying all he had on him at the time and still have a bunch in tins.  Recently, he pulled the remainder of this maocha out of storage and has it for sale on his site.  I have not sampled mine in a while and should try it again…

Anyhow back to this one…

Dry leaves smell of faint floral odours.

First infusion is a soft creamy candy creamy fruity sweetness there is suggestions of sour taste underneath.  There is a soft pungent woody flavor then returning creamy woody almost dirt like returning sweetness.  There is a soft gripping mouthfeeling.

The second infusion has a slight smoky earthy pear like taste upfront with a cool menthol finish with wood and some creamy tastes.  The slight smoky finish is long in the throat which is moderately deep and carries a creamy candy sweet almost pear and dirt like taste.  The flavor is nice and full here supported by a full soft tight mouthfeeling and mid throat depth and long finish.  The Qi is nice and warming in the body and I feel my chest feel warm and soothed.  It gives the body and nice soothing feeling overall.

The third infusion has a strong syrupy pear and smoky onset.  The texture is thick here with a smoke and pear and dirt and and sour and wood dense flavor initially.  There is some coolness and a more candy like sweetness over dirt wood and smoke to finish.  This has a strong backbone of tastes that cover a slightly tight full mouthfeeling and mid to deep throat feeling.  The Qi has a soothing warmth in the chest.  There is a strong soothing focusing feeling in the mind as well.  The Qi is strong but not stimulating but rather soothing.

The fourth is a cooled cup and tastes of dense syrupy fruity smoky, almost wood-dirt very thick full and dense presentation with a slight full and tight mouthfeeling and opening deeper throat sensation.  The sensation pushes saliva into the mouth and upper throat and holds a nice long caramel smoky taste in the aftertaste.

The fifth infusion has a strong almost tobacco leaf, woody pear and dirt like tastes.  Sometimes this initial taste is almost like yam mixed in with the dense layering of woody, pear, caramel, almost bitterness, and even candy.  The candy and smoke come out more in the moderately long aftertaste with some throaty pungent coolness and saliva producing action in the upper throat.  The mouth and throatfeeling are pretty enjoyable.  Warming Qi with slight but strong dizzying euphoria.  Still a touch of astringency that I can feel in the stomach.

The sixth infusion has a dense syrupy onset with notes of dirt, pear, wood, yam, tobacco leaf, smoke, mild bitter and sour.  This initial taste is a balance between, bitter, sweet, bland, smoke, and even sour.  It breaks with a mild cool mid throat pungency which turns more candy and smoke out of it.  I would say this is mild-moderate smoke.  Warming soothing qi and strong headiness.

The seventh has a lighter fruitier approach with a slight smokiness that is more elegant with smoke.  There is less tightness in the mouth and more of a soft coating.  The Qi is nice and uplifting and slightly euphoric. 

The eighth is a cool cup and delivers a dense very sweet creamy, pear, fruity, candy like sweetness that expands with the low coolness in the mid-throat.  There is a slight dirt yam wood note over the candy sweetness in the aftertaste.  The taste is pretty complex.  Not that much smoke at all here.

The ninth infusion is another cool cup.  This day at work became surprisingly busy and unpredictable.  It gives off a cool creamy sweetness with a long menthol coolness underneath.

The 10th has a long creamy almost fruity and slight dirt woody taste.  There is a long candy finish after the pungency is gone.  The mouthfeeling is more of a flat full tight almost sandiness with not as much throat stimulation now.  Nice relaxing euphoria.

The 11th infusion is a hot one and tastes of slight bitter dirt over creamy sweetness and only very faint smoke in the background now.  There is a cool finish that pushes out some bitter-woody-dirt and almost candy like sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is tighter in this hot cup.

The 12th has a woody-dirt-bitter onset with an emerging apricot fruitiness.  There is still lots of oily texture in the liquor and nice depth of flavor which now includes coco tastes.

13th has a creamy caramel woody dirt taste to it initially.  There is a cool pungency then a nice creamy sweetness no smoke anymore.  A thinning tight full feeling with less throat stimulation and open throat. 

14th is a fruity slight smoky fruity pear note with a creamy finish.  There is some pungency then a nice slight smoky, dirty, woody, creamy sweetness.

15th is a woody dirt yam-carrot and candy initial taste.  The pungent comes as does the dirt-woody but mainly candy finish.  Full tight mouthfeeling and throatfeeling.

16 is more of a watery fruity tobacco taste with a creamy fruity woody finish after pungency.  Lots of taste still in this compressed binghole sample.

I walk away from the table today to come back to these leaves tomorrow.  The next day I mug steep the spent leaves out and get a surprisingly sweet floral with a dirt yam and mild bitter almost woody taste.  Mainly sweet fruity but with depth and some strength left in the leaves.

I really like this Nannou with nice full taste presentation that walks the intricate balance with smoke that fades as the session progresses.  The smoke is that real nice elegant tobacco type that is really a background to the oily texture and sweet fruit, long candy, and dirt almost vegetable tastes.  There is a nice balance of tastes in here sour, sweet, bitter, pungent. The nice throat feeling and relaxing euphoric Qi seal the deal with this one.

After tasting this one Mark told me that he sampled 13 different maocha from Ban Po Lao Zhai in 2013 and that this is the one that he selected.  This stuff is Nannou Gold.