Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2004 Xiaguan Toucha: Steady Xiaguan Toucha

Stephane of Teamasters gave me this whole toucha for review a year ago and I’m just getting to sample it now.  It’s a...

2004 Xiaguan ($10.00 for 100g touchaor $0.10/g)

 don’t you find it super strange that most xiaguan toucha seem to always be 2004?  Hahahha…. I used to own a few very dry stored 2004 purple boxes of Tie Jia over the years and they always seemed to satisfy.  This one is red wrappered… and very cheap… but will it still satisfy…

Dry leaves are slight smokey woody paper faint sweet.

First infusion is a flat tangy smoky woody taste.  The mouthfeeling is a tight slight dryness.  There is a smoky finish in the mouth.

The second infusion has a woody almost cherry taste over a dry mouthfeeling but mainly smoky sweet almost menthol finish.  Qi starting to alert and wake up.

The third infusion has a woody menthol taste with some smoke and dry mouthfeeling.  A tiny sweetness of cherry is pined faintly underneath. Slowly alerting Qi.

The fourth infusion is woody, smoky, with a very slight almost cherry taste.  The mouthfeeling is dry.  The taste simple. The Qi steady.

The fifth infusion is woody, smoky and the cool cup has hints of caramel now. Slightly sandy mouthfeeling with a bit of salivating feeling.  Nice alerting.

The sixth infusion has an almost talc rose under the dominating woody taste with a returning woody smoke caramel taste.  The mouthfeeling is slightly sandy with a bit of salivation with the retuning sweetness.

The seventh infusion has a woody faint smoke with faint cherry then a slight creamy caramel returning sweetness. Salivating returning creamy mild caramel taste.

The eighth infusion has an even longer creamy caramel sweetness to it.  This infusion is the sweetness so far a bit of cherry and then caramel in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is developing a stickiness to it.

The ninth has a woody kind of bitter bland onset that is a bit caramel in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling has become a bit sticky.  Qi is getting me through the day.

The tenth has a smoky berry sweetness then a returning creamy caramel sweetness.  There is some woodiness in there and a bit of faint smoke, still simple but classic Xiaguan tastes.

The 11th I mug steep out simply because the day gets crazy busy.  It gives off a vegetal woody bark bitter bland not that sweet smoky taste.

(image those typical looking Xiaguan factory chopped up spent wet leaves pictured here)

Simple and reliable Xiaguan toucha that was a perfect harmonizing tea for me on a day that I didn’t want to fuss much and was too busy to over think.  I love the classic simplicity of xiaguan.  It’s never amazing puerh but it always meets expectations- this one did.


2001 Xiaguan 8653 Huang Yin: Best of Xiaguan

This one is billed as the King of Xiaguan!  This fully Huston dry stored cake of 2001 Xiaguan 8653 Huang Yi Special Order comes in at $450.00 for 450g or (clearly $1.00/g) Qing Bing!

Dry leaves smell of hay and cardboard with a bit of creamy sweet smell.

The first infusion is of watery almost metallic almost bitter straw.  The taste has a flat straw bitter taste to it.  With a tiny bit of tongue feeling.  There is an almost strawberry fruity taste underneath that comes out on the tongue.

The second infusion has a strawberry fruity complex dirt, metal, creamy sweet bitter onset.  There is a lot of complexity in the initial taste that dumps all at once.  The mouthfeeling is flat and sandy but stimulating on the tongue.  I feel a bit of heart racing and warming in the chest and stomach.  There is a mild strawberry aftertaste.  The bitterness and harshness of this puerh can still be felt in the digestive system.

The third infusion has a strawberry/ berry with bitter onset.  There are notes of hay, metal, mineral, but mainly a bitterness is developing in the mouth.  With a flat sandy finish on the tongue.

The fourth is a woody slight smoky papery almost fruity and more caramel sweetness with the long sweet caramel finish.  There is also minerals and almost metallic taste but less bitter.  This infusion has a returning aftertaste of sweet tastes over a sandy tongue coating and faint upper throat opening.  Feel the Heart stimulated and racing.  Get a strong mind invigorating Qi.

The fifth infusion has a strong incense smoky note with some dried date and strawberry nuances with a significant bitterness underneath.  It conjures up a juicy fruity taste in the aftertaste with a bit of bitterness and smoke.  There is also lots of complexity in the background- mineral, paper, wood, almost metal, caramel.  Nice engaging mouthfeeling on the tongue with throat stimulation that traps the saliva in the upper throat.  Strong powerfully alerting Qi.  Still has the harshness of a young sheng on the digestion.

The sixth infusion has a syrupy sweet smoky slightly bitter but mainly smoky caramel type long sweetness in the mouth.  There are nuances of metal, paper, fruits, incense.  The thick sweetness paired with bitterness and nice returning caramel with slight cooling throat is really nice.  This is probably the best Xiaguan I have tried.  Very nice.  Strong - still too strong to drink and needs more age… but very good Xiaguan.

The seventh infusion a thick syrupy sweetness with underlying bitterness.  Very thick fruity and caramel sweetness balanced with mild-moderate bitterness and smoke.  Brilliant.  There are some mineral and metallic and wood in the distance but is not that pronounced as that strong syrupy sweetness with a backbone of bitterness and smoke.  Strong heart pumping Qi.

The eighth infusion has cooled a bit and gives off a juicy fruity syrupy smoky mineral taste.  The mouthfeel is a bit sandy but there is also saliva producing in the throat.  The aftertaste isn’t as long or vibrant but still nice.  The underlying complexity continues to wane.  The power of this factory puerh is strong.

The 9th has a menthol woody onset that lasts long in the mouth with a papery aftertaste and secondary sweetness.  There is a smooth woody incense taste in there primarily.  Still strong Qi.  Incense and fruity and smoky and tasty.

The 10th has a fruity woody menthol in the breath and throat with a strong incense base taste. 

The 11th is a fruity sweet cherry with a nice long smoke that is not off putting.  The complexity is gone and all that is left is smoky fruity taste with a subtle bitterness.  These last infusions have not been so hard on the stomach.  By mid-session it feels almost warming on the digestion instead of bitter cold.

The 12th is much the same but become more smoky and less sweet and fruity now…. Still strong Qi… still a bit of a pungent cooling with creamy sweet returning under smoke.

The 13th is more incense as the dominant taste with a strong smoke and lessening sweetness initially and a bit in the return now.

The 14th has a woody incense taste with a menthol breath.  Late in the session the taste is not that sweet with incense smoke and retuning menthol.  Still strong powerful alerting Qi.

The 15th mainly smoky now with not that much sweetness.

Overall, this is a really good dry stored Xiaguan probably the best I have ever sampled from that classic factory.  It is powerful, and tasty syrupy thick sweetness, sometimes too harsh on the digestive system.  Strong Heart pumping Qi.  For $1.00/g of the very best I’ve tired of Xiaguan I definitely pondered a purchase.  I still can’t get my mind around spending that kind of money on Xiaguan so just couldn’t pull the trigger on this one.  Those who did have a real gem on their hands!


Monday, December 21, 2020

… It Might Be A Fake…

It turns out my last post on the famous 2001 Menghai TeaFactory 7542 “Simplified Yun” has generated quite a buzz.  It has been drawn to my attention that it is possible that it is a fake.  I was sent an email by someone who knows quite a bit about aged puerh but who wishes to remain anonymous and is by no means an authority on the issue.  He told me that there is a discussion doing on somewhere on the internet (which I generally stay away from but which has amassed an unusually large amounts of views) weather the cake is instead a CNNP or private label and not in fact a true Menghai Tea Factory.  He said that there are a few things that would lead to his suspicion although he could not draw a definite conclusion:

1-      This is a commonly fakes cake because of its market value

2-      It is missing a niefi

I pulled up Marco’s post on this batch and also noticed that my bing hole is centered where his is not.  Also the inside of my binghole is really slanted and uneven and jagged.  You can also see in his phots that his neifi is not tightly attached to the cake- its just hanging in by a few errant dry leaves.  Its possible that mine fell out at some point before making its way to me.  The loose or barely hanging in there neifi is not that uncommon for a cake but it also can indicate a fake.

In the original post I draw on some of my experience with some other famous 7542 recipes such as the 88’ Qingbing to link this 2001 7542 to others as I can see a commonality between them.  Also I had admitted that it is by far the best Hong Kong stored cake I have tried to date.  These things I know for sure as they are based on my own experiences.  My notes also sound somewhat similar to Marco’s assessment of his cake.  Although I find these irregularities odd, I myself have not jumped to the end conclusion that this is a fake although the likelihood that it might be a fake is more likely.   Or if it is a fake, it has satisfied me sufficiently for the price I have paid for it.  I mean of course it might have cost me a few hundred dollars less if it was a CNNP or well done fake. Therefore, I have not contacted Teas We Like for a refund.  Why?

I have been around long enough to know that the questioning of the providence of aged puerh in the West is nothing new.  It is much easier to spot a fake in a fresh puerh.  However, as puerh ages, it changes so much that it begins to become harder to authenticate.  The changes from different aging can also add to the confusion and can make two of the same cakes almost unrecognizable from each other.  I trust the Teas We Like brand which is confirmed by my own blind tastings of a handful of their puerh.  In the end you have to both trust your own experience, trust the vendor, and be open to the opinions of others or the possibility that it could be a fake.  This is just the reality of buying older expensive puerh.

In the end I am also thankful that Teas We Like offered this cake in the first place.  There are fewer and fewer reputable Western vendors who offer such things to the public anymore.  Scott at Yunnan Sourcing breaks down the many reasons why in this comment here on TeaDB.  One of the reasons is that it is difficult and time consuming to reassure anxious and paranoid customers and to provide them with impeccable pedigree.  I am not one of these.  I know it would have been a difficult decision to offer an expensive cake like this 2001 Menghai Tea Factory 7542 Simplified Yun on their site when their main brand and concept is to bring the puerh community together with very good value options that most people can access.  However, I feel like this 2001 Menghai Tea Factory is a special cake and I hope they have the courage to offer more like this once in a blue moon.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

2001 Menghai Factory 7542 “Simplified Yun” Perfect Hongkong Storage

 This 2001 Menghai Factory 7542 “simplified yun” or “simplified characters” is quite a famous puerh known for a powerful 7542 character beyond others in the few years before and after.  In the west it was Houde that introduced this special 2001 7542 to many when they sold a version of it years ago.  Much has been written about this famous 2001 Simplified Yun 7542 and the price on this cake is now in the thousands of dollars.  Interestingly, although trying 7542 from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, I cannot recall sampling this one although it was entirely possible.

The last few years I have quietly agonized about doing a deep dive and extensive sampling of 7542.  I decided that I will stock up on some but was unsure if I wanted to commit to a time consuming and expensive (but probably super enjoyable) sampling to find the best or at least the best value.  These days my moto is to leave the dirty work to others. Hahaha.... I was also on the fence on whether I wanted to go in for some really famous (and likely overpriced) or aged 7542 or some young cheaper medium aged stuff.  I seemed to regularly stare at the famous 2009 Menghai Factory 7542 (901) “Blue Diamond” at the Jade Leaf but having tried it before just find it too expensive for 10year 7542.  This is the curse of such a famous recipe.  My indecisiveness has led me down this path which I seem to be happy with...

When the opportunity to jump on a nicely Traditional Hong Kong stored cake from Teas We Like ($650.00 for 357g cake) presented itself this year.  I jumped on the chance.  It sold out in lightspeed.  But was the pricy decision worth it?... 

The greyish looking dry leaves smell of musty old wood.

The first infusion has a rich woody deep almost cherry taste which is very condensed and pure.  It is surprisingly shocking to me that there is absolutely no dirt taste at all!  It defies all that I know about Hongkong Traditional storage and completely leaves me dumbfounded!  It is very smooth in the mouth with no throatfeeling really and is very oily feeling.  There is a lingering sweet oily taste.  This is going to be a truly amazing and rare puerh experience I think…

The second infusion has a strong clear and pure camphor woody that has an almost faint sweet oily woody almost not that sweet molasses taste.  The Qi is strong in the mind with a very strong focusing mind and body alerting expansive awareness and sense sharpening Qi.  It has a nice warming feel.  The oily almost orange wood taste is trapped in an oily saliva gob in the throat after that releases and oily woody almost faint mint taste.  Qi is very strong but no harshness or edge what so ever.

The third infusion has a thick syrupy woody almost camphor taste with an oily mouthfeeling.  The upper-mid throat hold a gob of oily saliva and tastes of oily woody almost mint.  There is a very subtle hard to explain sweetness that is almost like unsweetened woody molasses if you could imagine it.  The Qi is superpower to the extreme strong factory Qi that you would expect but then some!

The fourth infusion is thick oily but has a pure syrupy elegance to it.  No dirt or dank at all 100% no storage taste which would most definitely have me thinking this is not HK traditional at all.  Its really mind blowing to me… there is a woody oily saliva balling with a fresh almost minty woody hold in the throat with a barely sweetness to it no bitterness or astringency so is very smooth.

The fifth infusion has a woodier and less syrup thickness or oiliness to it.  More dark wood rich smooth taste.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are less oily and saliva grabbing as well now.  Qi is still strong.

The sixth infusion is a bit oilier with an oily woody with a fresh breath of mild sort of minty camphor with a long not sweet oily molasses aftertaste with notes of slight sort of sweet bread in the aftertaste.  Qi is strong and focusing now.

The seventh infusion has a rich woody a bit less oily with some faint fresh camphor breath.  Its really smooth and the Qi becomes a strong focusing energy.  This puerh has no bitterness, astringency, or harshness left in it and pretty much sums up/ is a reference cake as to what Hongkong Traditional storage is capable of.

The eighth infusion has a woody less oily taste with less underlying sweetness over the last few infusions and less oily mouth and throat.  It has a bit of faint dry or gripping but almost unnoticeable now.  The Qi is warming and focusing now and almost makes me feel drowsy but focused.

The ninth has a bit of woody underneath syrup sweetness to it again with a bit more oily texture.  This infusion tastes woodier than the previous the mouthfeel is a bit more oily but still that faint gripping dryness is there.  Less of an aftertaste now more dry in the aftertaste and at the top throat.

10th has an almost nutty woodiness now.  The nutty taste is a common sign of Traditional Hongkong storage for me.  There is also much more woody camphor now with a pungent coolness.  This is a really tasty classic Traditional Stored Menghai Factory taste in this infusion.  The woody aftertaste is longer in the mouth here too.  Warming Qi focused and energized alerting mind with slight drowsiness.

11th has a camphor woody profile now with a more slight puckering tonguefeeling and upper throat.  Less oily texture but more engaging mouthfeeling overall.  Not too much aftertastes.  Focusing Qi.

The 12th and 13th have a nutty camphor woody profile with some camphor and a mild puckering mouthfeeling an still mild oily texture.  There is a stronger woody camphor finish.  When the nutty taste is stronger and present it seems the camphor finish is more pronounced and long.  Focusing Qi. 

14th oops I left this in the pot for about a minute… the result is really nice thick nutty syrupy rich woody infusion with camphor finish.  Tastes like some of the thick and syrupy almost subte sweet infusions of the early session mixed with the more camphor woodiness of the late infusions.  I will continue these minute long steeps.  This puerh also has good stamina for a traditional stored Menghai Factory 7542.

15th is steeped for a few minutes it gives off slightly nutty and more obvious thick syrupy woodiness and camphor with an oily texture and slight puckering mouthfeeling.  The slight puckering mouthfeeling here interestingly is very similar to the famous 90s Menghai Factory Qing Bing which is dry stored but also know for its power and strength.  The sensation is actually very similar despite the difference in years and storage… afterall they are both know to be powerful production years and both the classic 7542 recipe.  It’s interesting though… The long steeps are pushing out a rush of alerting Qi power as well!

16th this is a good 5 minute infusion…

It pushes out delicious nutty deep rich taste that has a bit of sweetness hidden in there.  I steep it like this for a few more days…

Vs. 2001 Mengku Mengsa Thick Paper (spent leaves on the right)  The 2001 Menghai Tea Factory 7542 Simplified Yun has much better stamina and a deeper more complex and powerful taste than the 2001 Mengku Mengsa Thick Paper which has the typical dirt taste but also very long lighter aftertastes in the early infusions.  The tropical tastes and floral mouth with some Traditional Storage make the 2001 Mengku Mengsa interesting but not nearly as good as the Simplified Yun.  The Simplified Yun has shockingly no dirt taste at all.  I have never tried a traditionally stored cake that had no dirt taste.  I know I go on about how I love the dirt tasting puerhs… but what if no dirt??? It comes out very nice indeed!  This is by far the best Traditional Hongkong stored puerh I’ve tired.


Monday, December 7, 2020

2001 Mengku “Yuan Yieh Xian” of Mengsa Thick Paper: Floral Dirt!

I’m excited to try this sample which I purchased from Hou DeFine Teas ($350 for 357g cake or $0.98/g) because I have never tried a Hongkong traditionally stored cake from Mengku before despite my broad experience with Mengku Shuangjiang Factory puerh.  I’m not even positive if I’ve even sampled Traditional Hong Kong Stroage on a Yiwu before either… this will be interesting…

Dry leaves smell like dirt.

First infusion has a rich dirt taste with mineral stone over a slippery woody dirt very mild soft menthol finish.  It feels slightly watery and slippery in the mouth.  A smooth dirt woody.

The second infusion has a strong creamy citrus sweet lemon zest almost bitterness mixed with heavy composting dirt and wood.  The sweet lemon woody taste lasted even 10 minutes later on the breath.  It was over a slippery mouthfeeling with a chalky mid tongue feeling and an onset of hypnotic Qi.

The third infusion has an almost coco with orange fruity onset over a rich slightly creamy woody thick dirt taste.  The mouthfeel is oily and smooth with a mild menthol throat opening.  There is a dense bodyfeeling globous of warmth below the diaphragm and a building hypnotic comforting sensation in the mind.

The fourth infusion has a rich woody resin with creamy almost floral suggestions with a creamy menthol finish with distinct woody dirt.  Warming Daiphramatic Qi with some hypnotic feeling in the mind.  Very soothing and tasty.

The fifth infusion has a creamy sweet woody almost floral tangerine like aftertaste after mild woody dirt menthol base.  There is a thick oily bread and creamy woody dirt sweetness.  There is a certain oily floral edge to this puerh which makes it really enjoyable.

The sixth and seventh infusions have a creamy dirt sweet onset with a floral breath edge.  The menthol is less now and was really faint to begin with but a more floral woody dirt kind of finish.  The warm Qi under the abdomen is notable and beautiful.  Hypnotic and soothing Qi sensation.

The eighth infusion has a woody dirt mineral taste with a deep floral pungency in an oily and finishing chalky on the mouth.  The throat and mouthfeeling is really nice full and chalky feeling.  The Qi is strong and soothing warming the body.

The ninth infusion has a resin woody dirt creamy sweetness.  There is a very subtle mild astringency if you look hard enough.  The full chalky mouthfeeling is really nice so is the faint edges of floral that are almost lost in the woody dirt creamy sweet taste.

The 10th has a creamy woody taste with the floral breath taste gone now.  There is a bit of mineral and storage taste with a very faint menthol on the inbreath.  Warming feel good Qi here.  Very soothing on this cold winter day.

The 11th is much the same woody dirt almost menthol wood over a chalky full mouthfeeling and subtle chalky throatfeeling.  Not much floral or tangerine or creamy sweetness now.  Great soothing warming Qi!

The 12th infusion is pushed into longer infusions but not much other than dirt woody faint menthol over a subtle chalky mouthfeeling with not much throatfeeling left.

This is the first Traditional HK stored cake with a distinct floral taste to it which is interesting to me.  Overall, I’m not sure if it’s worth the price or not.  I’m always of the thought that Yiwu and Mengku areas are much better dry stored.  This one is no exception but nicely enjoyable either way!



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Comparing Biyun Hao Medium Aged productions from Teas We Like

I happen to drink 2015 Biyun Hao Yibi Gushu, 2015 Biyun Hao Li Shan Gongcha, and 2012 Biyun Hao Ma Hei all within a few days of eachother in an attempt to decide whether I would want to purchase any of them and to delve deeper into the Biyun Hao brand/house style on offer at Teas We Like…

The similarity between all of the productions is the steadiness of the processing.  They all seem to be processed in the same way that is a balance between “green” and “longer” processing.  Some could easily concede that this is the ideal.  The other thing I noticed is that they all have a long lingering aftertaste and vibrant Qi.  These are great positives right off the bat!

After trying all three, I think I liked the 2015 Biyun HaoLi Shan Gongcha (pictured Right)($200.00 for 360g cake or $0.56/g) best especially considering it is a bit cheaper than the others.  In some ways it is a bit of a one trick pony and it is short lived but the trick is glorious!  It’s that very pure, elegant, and long fluffy candy sweetness.  I have aged puerh out like this in the past and usually when it gets to 8-10 years the elegance seems to age out a bit.  Its maybe more for drinking now but should age alright.

The 2015 Biyun Hao Yibi Tedagushu ($255.00 for 360g cake or $0.71/g- sold out) has the best most rounded overall performance of the three.  Interestingly it is the only out of the three that is not blended.  In some ways I think this one is the best full package out of the three and it is the only one I caked (blindly).  In many ways this is the best material of the three by far.

The 20 13 Biyun Hao Ma Hai (pictured Left) $220.00 for 360g cake or $0.61/g) has the most raw power and strength (much like the quick power dump of a Bulang) although this power is short lived and its tastes sometimes feel looser and less cohesive overall.  It has more age and seemingly more humid storage out of the others.  If you were looking for power in an elegant blend this one is for you.