Sunday, July 18, 2021

Read The Room Like A Good Drug Dealer

As the COVID restrictions on gatherings lift and as I start hosting a few tea gatherings of my own, I thought I would share some sage advice on tea gatherings. The best advice I can give you on the topic of serving tea to a group or hosting group tea sessions is to always read the room like a good drug dealer…

I suppose I have lived a rather interesting life.  When I was quite young I was into a lot of meditation and hung out with and partied with a bunch of artists, hairstyles, and even some fringe academic types.  Sometimes I would even mingle with the upper elites of political and business.  Most likely for the diversity I could bring to the conversation of the night, I think.  One such night I was invited to attend a very lavish wedding attended by the who’s who.  It went well and was a lot of fun but as the wedding then descended into pub hopping and house partying we realized that my good friend had left her purse at the pub and when we returned to retrieve it it was obviously no where to be found.  It put such a damper on an otherwise epic night.

We retreated back to a friends condo to try to salvage whatever we could of the fun time we had up until that point. We had a few drinks but couldn’t turn the sour mood.  Then all of a sudden the mood started to lift, we were starting to laugh and joke again, dance again, engage in interesting conversation, transcending conversation really as our senses exploded into a kaleidoscope of passion.  We partied late into the night - a night we will never forget for its sheer awesomeness.

It turns out later we shockingly found out that we were actually all drugged with MDMA in our drinks when we were trying to drink away our sorrows.  The one who drugged us later told us that, like any good drug dealer, you always got to read the mood of the room.

When serving guests tea this advice is just as relevant.  Read the mood and energy of the room and choose teas which bring the guests energetically to a certain place.  Sometimes the guests are invited for dinner or drinks but sometimes it just turns into tea tasting rather spontaneously. Take them on a journey with the energy of the tea.  Don’t force it.  For me, I don’t hesitate to bring out the Bulang if guests are starting to get lame.  Or a Lao Man E if the conversations are slow and long and boring.  Trust me, the mood will change quickly!  Sometimes I bring out the puerh with tranquilizing Qi if things are getting too intense at a gathering.  Basically, I serve tea for the energy I want to put out there to the guests and implore the guests to go for a ride with me.

Don’t complicate things- serve 2 teas max maybe 3 only if you are hosting a few hard core tea people.  More than 2 teas and the energy gets too muddled and unpredictable with larger groups.  If you are hosting a really big group one carefully selected tea should be chosen wisely that should dictate the mood of the gathering.  If you want them to try more tea- send them home with a sample instead.

Give them only relevant and interesting snippets of info just enough to spark curiosity about the tea and to draw them in.  DO NOT NERD OUT.  If they bite and want to know more, get into the story of the tea and what it personally means to you and what we can expect from it.  Choose teas that you have a personal connection to.

Always send the guests home with doggie bags of samples of the teas you drank.  Sometimes I even toss in full cakes.  This allows the guests to take the experience home with them.  It also allows experienced drinkers to try their hand at steeping it up with their own set up and brewing parameters.  It allows them to develop their own relationship with the tea.  It also allows them a chance to revisit their initial experience you offered them and an opportunity to go deeper with it.

If you follow this advice, every gathering will be a successful tea gathering.

Peace

Friday, July 16, 2021

2021 Essence of Tea Morsels (or Pieces?)

 

This 2021 Essence of Tea Morsels goes for $168.00 for 200g cake or $0.84/g but it was my free gift included with sample purchase.  It’s by far the most unusual of Essence of Tea’s spring releases, maybe one of their most unique offerings ever?  Comprised of small morsels (in North America they usually say “pieces”) of this and morsels of that- must be how it got its name. “It's all from ancient trees, from Yiwu Guoyoulin gardens, Guafengzhai, Bulang and some other single trees.”

Dry leaves smell of very sweet fruity berries and creamy sweetness.

First infusion has a very fruity, hay, woody, mushroom onset with an emerging bitter bland that converts to a very sweet berry, strawberry and peach fruity finish in the long aftertaste.  There is lots of depth of taste and a leaning toward fruity sweetness.  Sticky sandy full mouthcoating with some pungent cool in the deeper throat.  There is lots going on but it tastes nice together.  You can feel a bit of bitter astringency in the empty stomach.  The Qi in the Chest and alerted mind.  Strong energetic Qi feels lots like a bulang energy here.

The second has a medicinal very pungent camphor cooling sweet bread onset where fruity tastes like plum and peach emerge as well as woody-dirt bitter flat taste that reminds me of Bulang. There is a sticky full loose chalky feeling in the mouth with a deep cooling throat and some saliva producing.  There are some fruity tastes like plum and bread that come out later in the aftertaste.  Strong heart pounding Qi- very energetic.

The third infusion has a creamier sweet very pungent medicinal woody camphor onset its very strong and concentrated.  It ends both with a bitter-wood-dirt flat as well as a creamy sweet, some plum, and bread almost apricot.  The full onset really comes on thick and coats the thick sticky-cottony mouth with lots of full and lasting throughout the profile taste.  Strong Qi in the chest and very stimulating on the mind.  It’s a powerful blend.  There is also some bodyfeeling in the arms like a tingling floating thing going on.  Strong but only a touch harsh on my empty stomach.

The 4th is left to cool and has a thick woody syrupy concentrated woody camphor taste with a lot of coolness then turns to a flat-woody-dirt bitter that is totally Bulang.  There is some florals and plum and lots of cool pungent camphor that emerges out of the strong champhor bitter woody taste.  There is a certain sweetness, bread-like, to the taste throughout.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and full with some saliva forming.  Strong and powerful Qi with Heartbeats and limb numbness.



5th infusion has a melon woody coco bitter with a long fruity melon and peach finish within the mild dirt-woody-bitter.  The taste is pretty condensed with a saliva producing effect and fruity coco finish in the mouth.  Nice strong energy in the mind.

6th has a fruitier peach, pear, melon that comes just before and over a long mild woody-dirt-coco-woody bitterness.  The mouithfeeling is sticky almost drying full coating with an open cool throat and some gripping of the throat with a mild saliva producing effect.  Kind of a metallic woody taste on the tongue.

7th infusion has a fruity, medicinal, bitter-dirt-woody taste to it that has a flat bitter medicinal finish and some subtle fruity tastes.  The main taste here is a medicinal woody kind of taste.  The Qi is strong and sedating at the same time now.  Some lesser chest sensations.  Tighter almost dry mouthcoating with slight saliva producing effect.

8th is cooled down and is a very peachy apricot syrupy taste with a woody medicinal menthol camphor taste.  The sweet taste is thick and goes the distance in the taste profile with a melon coolness on the breath.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and cottony and full.  Nice strong Qi feeling.

9th has a melon then woody onset taste with a dry woody coolness on the breath.  There is a creamy sweetness almost mushroom taste that returns and the bitterness is mild kind of coco and medicinal taste.  These last few infusions taste like Yiwu material.  There are nuances of potato and bread.  Nice full sticky feeling with a nice oily texture here.  Nice sedating effect now.

10th is cooled down… there is a almond, syrypy sweetness that comes along with mild dirt-coco bitterness nice long cool coco sweet finish.  Nice relaxing sedating feeling with some Heart racing and alertness.  Limbs feel a bit heavy.  Melon and potato on breath reminds me of Gua Feng Zhi in the blend.

11th has a melon chocolate onset along with a creamy yogurt melon taste.  There is a bland potato taste, woody taste, melon, creamy sweet, dirt-coco, subtle medicinal.  Lots of soft faint flavours in there now as the aftertaste fades to a blander woody dirt-coco.  The mouthfeeling remains dry.

12th is left to cool and sit a while and it is a syrupy bitter woody coco dirt camphor taste.  It feels really full but with a softer mineral melon aftertaste.  The recent material comes out in the aftertaste now and the initial taste is more semi-aged or at least a few years aged. 

13th has a dirt coco woody dirt onset with a light fresh mineral and melon finish.  Almost potato in the finish.  Aftertaste reminds me of Gua Feng Zhi and the onset reminds me of bulang/ Menghai.  There is a long fresh aftertaste.  These infusions taste like a semi-aged Bulang initial taste with a young Gua Feng Zhi or Yiwu finish.  It leaves me wondering if this is the composition on the blend?

14th has a fresh fruity onset with a bitter-dirt-coco that follows.  The taste is pretty stable the last handful of infusions despite this being a blend.  Soft dry sandy mouthfeeling now.  With a calming Qi sensation without any bodyfeeling now.

I end up mug steeping out the rest and its pretty similar to the last few infusions.  More bitter and more gripping dry mouthfeeling than previously but not too too strong.  I can feel it in my guts a tinny bit and the Qi is strongly energizing with strong Heart beats.  Vigorous energy when steeping strongly for sure.

The overnight steeping is mainly a nice melon woody sweet taste.  Still surprisingly lots of taste in there.  This one has some good stamina, I think.

Overall, this puerh is unusual, it has some really good tastes in there and even better energy.  I think a bit of powerful semi-aged Bulang that is showcased as the infusions get more bitter and then as the session progresses it has the bitter strength up front with the younger, fresher, Yiwu/ Gua Feng Zhi sedating and very sweet finish.  Often the polarities present simultaneously for an unusual but full effect.  The young and a bit older material along with the Menghai and Yiwu blend is interesting but really disjointed.  I think this has great material in it and would probably taste better with a bit of age on it and give the time for the desperate pieces to come together more harmoniously.  It has interesting movement throughout the session and uniq combination of energizing then sedating Qi.  I find puerh like this hard to purchase before I can clearly see how it’s going to come together.  One thing is for certain this puerh has good bones.  Would love to try this one again in 10 years!

Alex’s (Tea Notes) Tasting Notes

Peace

Sunday, July 11, 2021

2021 Essence of Tea Yiwu Queen of the Forest: Subtle Complexity

 I found it super amusing this year when David and Yingxi started off the description of this tea by saying “We don’t make many blends”. I found it funny because 2 out of their 4 raw 2021 raw puerh releases this year were blends ( both of which I will have the pleasure of reviewing here on the blog)!  This one is blended from 4 Guoyoulin regions in Yiwu and apparently was blended with the good stuff- no filler.  I bought the sample but the cake of this 2021 Essence of Tea Yiwu Queen of the Forest goes for an interesting price point $198.00 for 200g cake or $0.99/g- it’s expensive but not insanely by staying under the $1.00/g.

Dry leaves smell of a sweet kind of sour floral.

The first infusion is a creamy milky silky sweetness with a bit of pond green taste and a finish of slight sour mineral taste.  There is an opening of the throat feeling with a gob of saliva in the back of the throat.  Nice soft silky tongue coating.

The second infusion has a grains and creamy taste initially with a slow developing creamy sweetness.  There is some mineral tastes, sour tastes, salty tastes, woody tastes, with faint deep sweetness that is generated really slowly in the mouth.  The mouthfeeling is a nice silky feeling and there is a deep opening in the throat.  The Qi seems to give me focus now.  A tunnel vision feeling and a certain calm.  I can feel a bit of chest pressure.  A salty woody taste is left in the mouth minutes later.

The third infusion has a fruity sweet pop with toasted grains sweetness with a green tea pond and woody finish, subtle spice taste slow creamy and fruity sweetness, even a faint candy sweetness that arrive more with the gob of saliva that develops in the throat and spills over the back of the tongue.  There is a lot of subtle tastes in there, complex tastes- woody, fruity, silty, green tea pond, mineral, salty, even spicy… its interesting but not overpowering.  Nice focusing Qi and open and heavy chest feeling.  Minutes later there is a salty mineral taste in the mouth.

The fourth infusion has a woody licorice onset with slow cooling and a very faint returning candy sweetness.  The finish is salty and mineral and even a bit bitter.  There is subtle hints of warm spices, slight sour tastes, fruity tastes, all pretty faint.  The mouthfeeling is silky/silty with a bit of gripping now.  The cooled cup has a woody vegetal onset with creamier sweetness, a bit bitter, fruity sweetness more mineral finish.  Nice focusing energy with some subtle neck releasing.



The fifth infusion is left to cool and has a woody pungent creamy sweetness with a metallic fruity mineral soapy finish.  There is a bit more fruitiness initially but still the sweet taste is secondary to salty/ savory tastes.  There is some green tea pond taste, some spice.  The mouthfeeling is silky and the texture is a touch oily.  The throat is more vacuous now with less saliva producing.  Nice focusing energy.  Some mild chest, shoulder heaviness a bit in the neck.  Nice feel good vibe to this puerh.  Although there is lots of substiles going on in this blend it really feels harmonious.

The sixth infusion has a fruity sweet melon and apricot pop of taste followed by a woody mineral faintly bitter taste in the mouth.  The aftertaste is mild but mainly a mineral vegetal taste.  This is not a particularly sweet Yiwu tea, not yet at least.  The mouthfeeling is a soft silky feeling that is restricted to mainly the tongue.  The throat is empty feeling with not as much saliva producing now.  Nice focusing Qi with mild chest/shoulder heaviness, neck feelings.

The seventh infusion has a woody fruity bitter onset with a woody, metallic, soapy, mineral finish.  The pungent and spicy notes have dropped off considerably over the last few infusions and the bitterness is mild but more pronounced. 

The 8th has a savoury green vegetal bitterness with a lesser sweet fruity taste.  There is some woody and bitter and mineral in the finish.  Not much for a sweet aftertaste.  The main taste is a bitter vegetal savory taste.  The mouthfeeling is a bit drying now, a bit sandy on the tongue.  The saliva producing is gone.  Nice focusing relaxing going on, a bit spacy. 

9th has a creamy woody mineral even coco bitter onset that gets a bit creamy sweet but the coco taste now turns less bitter and more milk chocolate and there is a mineral creamy sweetness left behind.  This infusion is particularly delicious.  The mouthfeeling is a slight dry but fuller feeling with pucker.  Nice focusing.

10th has a tangy fruitiness now in the onset and finishes with a flat mineral and vegetal taste with a spicy pungency and tongue tingling taste.  The tongue coating is a tingling flat and throat is not really stimulated as much as slightly open.  Nice focusing Qi.

The 11th infusion has an oily buttery tangy fruity almost sour fruity sweetness with tingling pungent mouthfeeling and sticky coating with open throat.  Not much for aftertastes with this puerh a bit of mineral woody.  Nice focusing Qi.


The 12th infusion the next day gives off a sweet lime floral mineral quality.  The mouthfeeling is soft and the aftertaste is faint.  There is a nice mild uplifting feeling.


13th has a more mineral onset with a faint emerging floral, melon, mineral sweetness.  Mouthfeeling is this nice mild soft silty coating on the tongue.  There is a lime melon taste to this one.  These later infusions show off the high percentage of Mansa area Yiwu in this blend.  I’m thinking this is at least 60% Mansa Yiwu in this blend.


14th is cooled but gives off a green- vegetal, mellow melon mineral taste.  Soft tongue coating. Nice relaxing and chill feeling.


15th has a mineral woody not really sweet taste with a faint cool finish.  Kind of a slippery silty mouthcoating now. I’m surprised that this puerh is still going strong for something pretty subtle!


16th has 20 added to the flash steeping.  Is more bitter woody now with a bit of floral melon green taste.  The bitterness is throughout.



Mug steep of the spent leaves give off a very melon sweetness with lots of floral tanginess and slight sour bitter.  The floral taste is surprisingly complex and the melon sweetness is notable.



Overall this is a super interesting blend and something that I have not experienced before.  What makes it interesting and unique to me is how gentle and subtle the blend is while still offering lots of complexity.  It’s complex but never chaotic or confusing.  It almost seems too light to be interesting but yet each infusion and the progression through the gongfu session reveals these subtle changes that keeps you engaged and wondering what will be behind the next corner.  The Qi is first very focusing for the first handful of infusions, then relaxing, then almost hypotonic, then kind of a chill vibe.  There is a bit of body feeling in a heavy chest and shoulders and a touch of neck release.  There are lots of really subtle tastes but they take turns with only a handful of the middle infusions that feel a bit crowded but never too much.  The last infusions feel really very much like a heavier Mansa area in the blend.  There is not too much sweet taste or aftertaste in this blend right now that some associate with Yiwu.  There is some green, vegetal, pungent/spice, woody, savoury, metals mineral, melon even some mild bitter but surprisingly not much of that creamy sweetness.  The throat is not too involved in this blend and it is definitely the weak point.  The mouthfeeling is also kind of interesting in that it is often soft but has a very silky silty feeling that is super enjoyable.

You can really feel the quality of the material in the blend.  Most of it is this ethereal Gushu Guoyoulin stuff that one it’s own can be really nice but often simple or to clear and clean and lacking complexity and depth.  But when these are blended together the simple complexity of each area becomes a single sound in a very classy entrancing Guoyoulin quartet… the result is strangely satisfying to me.

Alex’s (Tea Notes) Tasting notes

Peace

Thursday, July 8, 2021

2020 Essence of Tea Lao Jie Zi Re-Taste




I received a sample of this last year with my order and it seems the post office jumped on my sample!  David offered to send me another with my next order.  So here it is… I wonder how it tastes one year later (and with leaves not as crushed)???

Dry leaves are a deep perfume-sweet floral woody.

The first infusion has a clear watery pure taste to it.  Fait aftertastes of melon, floral, and wood in the breath.  The tongue coating is thin and sticky.  There is a long breath taste of sweet woody almost stone-mineral.  Very soft and clear profile.

The second infusion has a woody-bread pure onset.  There is some super faint melon sweetness that appears some faint sugar pure sweetness.  Long breath of faint ghostly melon and wildflowers follows a faint cooling on the breath.  The Qi is relaxing and makes the limbs a bit heavy.  This still tastes quite green.  Thin sticky tonguecoating with faint open throat. Relaxing even a bit warming.

The third infusion has a bread and slight roasted Korean barely tea taste maybe almost seaweed tasting in its green tea style.  The tongue coating is sticky/grainy with a bit of dry lips.  There is a touch of astringency here which stimulates the tongue and throat a bit.  Faint cooling in the vacuous throat leaves a subtle melon-woody-bread-stone taste in the mouth.  Nice relaxing Qi felt a bit in the limbs- not much- subtle.



The fourth infusion has a woody-bread-stone onset of really clear taste that turns into an almost barley tea taste with subtle emerging melon.  The taste is really pure and clear and simple.  There is a sticky dry puckering mouthfeeling, empty throatfeeling with very subtle coolness.  Very green tea tasting.  Nice relaxing Qi with subtle limb lightness.

The fifth infusion has a woody-barely tea onset with a faint suggestions of melon after a very faint coolness.  There is a mild tight dryness on the tongue.  Very pure, faint, simple, clear profile.  Dry wood is the main taste with faint subtleties of melon and stones.  Deep relaxing Qi takes hold subtle light limbs.  Slight sedating here.

The sixth infusion has a woody faint stone juice melon faint taste to it.  It has a refreshing green subtle taste to it that kind of fades into the aftertaste.  There is very faint cooling and soft drying tongue.  Nice deeply relaxing Qi subtle limbs.  Almost spacy and slowing things down.

7th has a fresh melon and subtle dry woody-stone onset.  Very simple, clean, pure tastes, Some faint cooling with some fresh honeydew melon returning.  Soft short fading aftertaste with very mild melon and almost no cooling.  Refreshing feeling on this hot day!

8th has a woody faint fruity stone like onset.  It has a very subtle bitter astringency and a slight sticky dryness in the mouth.  Faint empty throat feeling with some barely coolness and melon finish that fades away.  There is a faint stone like finish.

9th has a woody slight fruity stone like taste initially with a subtle cooling and melon finish on the breath.  Nice subtle sweetness.  Nice relaxing Qi, subtle bodyfeeling.

10th has cooled down but gives off a melon woody fruity refreshing simple taste.  The faint cooling sort of combines with the sweet melon in the aftertaste as is fades quickly.

The 11th becomes woody with less sweetness.  This is really not that sweet of tea but some subtle melon tastes.  Nice relaxing feeling in the mind.  A bit of stone melon on the breath.

12th & 13th have a woody stone almost melon sweetness quite mild and simple tastes with a deep relaxing in the mind.  Very easy to drink, uncomplicated, simplified, enjoyably in its simplicity.



I mug steep out the rest… and it has a flat woody taste with a bit of cooling and some green-tea-like vegetal bitterness not really sweet a bit of stone taste, almost melon.  The mouthfeel is a lot stronger with a dry gripping mouthfeeling now.  The cooling pungency is also stronger.  Still very green.

I suppose this one is less astringent than the crushed sample I received but it is very much the same tea and my opinion of it is very much the same.  Thanks David and Yingxi for sending me another sample of this one.  I really enjoyed drinking it back-to-back and contrasting it with the 2021 Bai Hua Qing last post.

Shah8’s Tasting notes from a few weeks ago.

Peace

Monday, July 5, 2021

2021 Essence of Tea Bai Hua Qing Contemplative Power!!!

I have never tried a puerh from the newly trendy Tong Qing He producing area in Yiwu.  Like the trendy Tianmenshan from Essence of Tea last year, I basically have only read about the region before trying it.  Last year Yunnan Sourcing pressed a cheaper cake from this region the 2020 Yunnan Sourcing Baihuatan that I really wanted to try, just haven’t put an order through lately.  Shah8 made a comment that made me chuckle saying something to the effect that it was likely bought from a man selling maocha from the side of the road if it’s this cheap.  David and Yingxi seem to chime in by stating that there is a wide range of quality from this area.  This 2021 Essence of Tea Bai Hua Qing goes for $280.00 for 200g cake or $1.40/g must surely be on the higher end?

Dry leaves have a subdued icing sugar creamy sweetness with a background of wood. 

First infusion has a deep layered untouched creamy sweetness that threads along the profile into the mid throat, very ghostly cooling, sweet creamy returning a bit, then into the breath.  There is mild suggestions of forest vegetal tastes and some faint bitterness but too faint here in the first infusion… this first infusion is about long creamy sweet tastes.  The tongue coating is soft and a bit sticky-grainy but faint here.  Not much throat feeling just a vacuous opening mid-throat.  Qi seems to build in the head.

The second infusion is bitter with a sweet buttery and faint floral with a glimpse of creamy melon custard.  The mouthfeeling is a bit tight and sandy over the tongue.  The throat is vacuous.  The Qi has a strong influence on the head and face making my face sweat on this very hot day.  I can definitely feel some astringent bitterness in my empty stomach and am already contemplating removing some leaf from the pot.  Qi seems really active in the face and strong stuffy head feeling.

The third infusion has a quick moving buttery/creamy sweetness that gives way to long flat bitterness.  There is lots of tropical fruity taste melody that gets released in the aftertaste after the bitter taste recedes.  There is a creamy sweetness lodged under the bitterness.  Tight mouthfeeling with vacuous throat.  It’s pretty delicious tasting despite its stronger bitterness.  There is a bit of head stuffiness in here for Qi but not too much yet.



The fourth infusion is more creamy sweet and sweet fruity.  There is some mild bitterness and some almost dirt-wood base taste that mingles with bitter.  The tropical fruitiness is highlighted and seems to expand and join up with creamy sweet tastes in the aftertaste as the saliva returns over the tongue.  The tongue coat is a thin sticky now and the upper throat is stimulated by the mild bitter astringency and pushes saliva out.  Qi is kind of fuzzy in the mind… kind of cloudy.  The double sweetness of creamy and fruity and the dance with a bit of bitterness in nice here.  Some jaw sensations.

The fifth infusion has a vibrant light airy fruitiness that splashes up into the mouth.  The sweetness gives way to bitterness before sufficient saliva pools from the upper throat simulation.  The result is a tropical, a bit sour medley of flavours.  The Qi is heavy in the jaw and stuffy in the head.  Nice salivating tropical fruitiness with a subtle bitterness now.

The sixth infusion is cooled down and tastes of peachy apricot fruitiness that merges with bitter.  There is a creamy sweet taste in there which kind of dances with the fruity sweetness.  There is a bit of retuning saliva.  Stuffy head feeling Qi.

The seventh infusion has a vibrant juicy fruity burst.  The bitterness is just mild for the past few infusions but appears briefly after fruity sweet tastes as creamy sweet tastes merge as saliva slides over a mild chalky/sandy tongue.  Nice juicy bursts of tastes, a certain lively sweet fruity taste.  Some head stuffiness. Some lingering fruity aftertastes.

The eighth infusion has a nice pop of juicy fruity vibrant sweetness that is really nice and clean and just a bit of wood-dirt-bitterness trails behind it now.  Nice tight mouhfeeling and empty throat with notable upper throat and saliva producing effect.  The aftertaste is more on the tongue and saliva than on the breath.  Some head stuff and jaw sensations the Qi is mainly directed at the head and face.

The ninth infusion has a bit of bitter mixed with fruity sweet taste initially there is some creamy sweetness that comes as the saliva fills the dry/sandy/chalky moderately full mouthcoating.  The aftertaste is a bit of dirt-wood-bitter taste.  This infusion is less sweet and complex as others and I’m wondering if the puerh is waning here.  Face Qi and stuffy mind.  There is a kind of looking outside of yourself introspective Qi thing happening here.  Not really a powerful out of body but subtle.

The 10th has those pops of vibrant fruitiness initially with a lagging bitter-wood-dirt that finishes off the aftertaste with not much saliva producing or the creamy sweetness that follows.  Still lots of face Qi and contemplative Qi.

11th has a juicy light fruity taste light airy very sweet light honey notes.  A creamy returning sweetness. Very bright and pure very tasty with a retuning sweetness.  Over sticky sandy tongue.  Finishes bitter bland woody dirt.

12th has a very sweet initial taste of florals, pops of fresh fruit, very vibrant and pure fruity sweetness here with a slow lagging bitterness that turns into creamy sweetness as some saliva returns over the sandy sticky moderate tongue coating.  The Qi is nice and contemplative but is building into an enlivening feeling.

13th I do a long 5 minute infusion here… oops… a strong juicy fruitiness initially very strong pure and vibrant like nectar or juicy tropical blend of sweetness there is only very very mild bitter now and a bland-woody-dirt taste in the aftertaste.



The long mason jar steepings of the wet leaves tells me this puerh could have easily gone a good 5 more steepings at flash steepings with tones of flavor.  The result is a very bright fruity vibrancy throughout with very little bitterness now and a full sticky sandy full mouthfeeling that finishes with a stone-dirt kind of finish.  There is a bit of mild throat stimulation and nice contemplative Qi.



Puerh is all about the vibrant shinny pure sweet fruitiness that is basically undisturbed after the bitterness and how the retuning saliva dances with different sweetnesses as the upper throat becomes stimulated.  It reminds me of sort of like Gaoshan Zhai area puerh with an influx of bitterness and Forest like aftertaste.  The Qi becomes this very contemplative thing as mild face and jaw sensations un-disturbingly exist harmoniously.  Although bitter, it’s only really strongly bitter in the first 5 infusions and this bitterness is essential to the structure and interplay of saliva producing, and changing sweetness.  The bitterness never seems harsh in the body… this is a really good puerh. It’s unlikely that I will try a better 2021 puerh this year but I still can’t bring myself to shell out the $280.00 for this one.

I know the description of this puerh on the site says that “It’s not particularly a tea that we’d recommend for beginners but for old tea drinkers”.  I disagree and think that beginners should sample this puerh and follow the notes above as well as Shah8’s notes below to get a better understanding what makes this puerh so good.  You can learn a lot from a puerh like this.

Vs 2020 Lao Jie Zi- Shah8 compared these two and I just happen to be drinking this one today.  These two both have a very similar Qi feeling in the mind which is of deep relaxation Lao Jie Zi is more slowing and Bai Hua Qing more contemplative- both quite powerful in a calming and harmonious kind of way.  The Lao Jie Zi has a lighter limb bodyfeeling with a body Qi that is directed to the limbs and the Bai Hua Qing has more concentrated face and jaw sensations directed at the face.  Everything else is quite different I think with the Lao Jie Zi having no bitterness and only a very subtle astringency.  The Bai Hua Qing having strong bitterness and astringency for the first part of the session.  The taste is also quite different but has similarities in its stone and woody qualities but these are pretty minor.  The Lao Jie Zi has subtle mild pure subtle flavours that reveal themselves singularly where the Bai Hua Qing has powerful bursts of flavours that interweave and cross with each other to create a complex effect.  The Lao Jie Zi has very faint throatfeeling where the Bai Hua Qing has a very stimulating saliva producing effect.  These are very different puerh tea.  The Lao Jie Zi’s brilliance is its subtle nature where the Bai Hua Qing is its strength.

Shah8’s Tasting Notes

Alex’s (Tea Notes) Tasting Notes

Peace

Friday, July 2, 2021

2021 The Essence of Tea Youle GaoGan: Structured and Complex

I was so excited about the Essence of Tea’s offering of this 2021 Essence of Tea Youle GaoGan that goes for $248.00 for 200g cake or $1.24/g that I decided to purchase a it with a bunch of other samples.  It was not David’s new 2021 pole dance that aroused my tea buying this time but rather Kathy and David’s listing from a region that is often overlooked by the Western puerh vendor- Youle

Dry leaves have a very frangrant floral almost faint woodiness.  Very fresh leaves…

The first infusion has a nice buttery creamy onset with a clear sweetness that almost turns into a Rice Crispy cereal taste as it disperses over the tongue.  There is a subtle sticky feeling in the mouth and cereal sweet finish in the mouth with a faint coolness deep in the throat.

The second infusion has a pungent almost minty intial burst of flavor that is really delicious it disappears into a Rice Crispy cereal taste there is a long deep cooling in the throat.  The mouthfeeling is really simulating and sticky and there is lots of saliva that returns to the mouth.  The aftertaste is sweet breads and a faint passionfruity aftertaste is found minutes later.  The Qi is really peaceful and the body feeling is very strong like shoulders are coming up to my ears, a floating kind of feeling.  There is a certain vibrating expansive feeling in the body contrasting the calm generated in my mind. Very nice.

The third infusion has a pungent, floral, mild passionfruit and sweet cereal grain taste that come fast all at once over a faint astringency and a full stimulating mouthfeeling with subtle dry throat and strong saliva producing effect.  The minty pungent tastes seems to carry through with the sweet bready cereal tasting lasting the second longest of the flavours in the mouth.  Nice long cool deep throatiness.  The stimulating mouthfeeling with saliva producing is really nice.  The Qi is really calming and the body feelings are quite stimulating. An interesting and engaging yet somehow calmly complimentary experience.  The calming/ relaxing Qi is the typical energy of Youle but these subtle body feelings are a added bonus.



The fourth infusion has a very pungent cool and woody taste with a deep throatiness where the cool pungent resides.  The initial taste is almost minty and has a cereal/floral like taste that turns into a cereal and bread sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is stimulating and saliva producing is good.  Nice calm mind and shoulder and body lifting Qi.

The fifth infusion has a minty pungent onset with some buttery florals and bread sweetness underneath.  The mouthfeeling is a full chalky tightness with a pull of saliva into the mouth.  Nice Relaxing Qi with shoulder releasing bodyfeelings and a subtle vibrating feeling.  Nice focusing feeling.

The sixth infusion has a forest pungent minty onset with a bread/cereal finish, a bit floral, not that fruity sweet.  The mouthfeeling is soft sticky dry with a deep cooling throatfeeling.  There is some melon and floral in the finish.  Kind of a tingling mouthfeeling with less returning saliva and not as deep throat.  The main taste is this prominent minty pungency.  The flat soft sticky dry mouthfeeling has a mild pucker and feels kind of fuzzy in the mouth.  Nice claming Qi with nice flowing shoulders and arms feeling.  Nice combo of calm mind with active but not distracting bodyfeeling.

The seventh infusion has a more juicy almost lemon passionfruity a bit sour taste here.  There is some florals, bread sweetness, a tiny bit of astringency with nice full mouthfeeling of drying and deep cool throat.  Has a finish of pungent coolness and subtle florals almost lemon cake like subtle taste here.  Qi is nice and calm.

The eighth infusion has a juicy lemon floral sour, bread sweet, floral, and cereal taste.  The mouthfeeling is a full sticky dry stimulating feelng with some mid-deep throat cooling.  The throat cooling and depth is loosing its deep feeling in the last few infusions.  The aftertaste is a lemon, floral bread-like sweetness.  The Qi is nice and calming.

The ninth infusion has a fresh zesty lemon floral taste to it which has become the dominant intial taste with sour, bread sweetness and to a lesser extent florals which are mainly intertwined with cool pungency.  The mouthfeeling builds in strength as the infusions go and now is quite puckering and squeaky with a deeper coolness and a lemon pungent forest aftertaste with a bit of saliva producing but not too much anymore.  The mouthfeeling is really nice and will do this puerh well out of the fresh puerh stage its in now.  Nice calm fousing feeling with light limbs. 

10th has a bit of bitterness in it and a bit of sour lemon, floral, bread it transforms into cool pungency that comes from the throat and plants itself onto the tongue where a forest pungency is left in the mouth and throat.  The aftertaste is a bit sour and bready and cool.  Strong tighter throat developing. Engaging tongue coating and throat is tightened at the upper throat.  A bit of dryness here now.  Nice claming focusing Qi. 

11th infusion there is a bready sour bitterness with a bit of cereal and woody and floral.  The mouthfeeling becomes quite dry here so does the throat.  There is not much aftertaste at this point a ghosty cooling and floral on the breath mainly.  The bodyfeelings have dropped off and just a light airy feeling in the arms are left.

12th has a woody floral sweet melon fruity taste with nice cool throat and dry tongue with deep floral melon finish.  Nice relaxing Qi.

13th a bitter buttery floral with a cool forest pugnet endge that comes out of the throat.  Flat dry tongue coating and floral melon aftertaste.  Nice more typical Youle tastes are found later in the session here.  Nice relacing Qi.

Leaves were left in the pot overnight and now I come back to the 14th  and there is fruity buttercup like florals a bit of sour almost mango, thick dry coat mouthfeeling and slight cooling.  There is a heady qi to it now.  The strong tongue coat gives this puerh a solid base.

The 15th is much the same with a sweet floral fruity taste tight dry tongue faint throat with faint cooling.  I image this puerh steeping out like this for a while…



The long mason jar steeping of the spent leaves has a very mild forest pungent taste with almost unnoticeable cooling over a dry tongue sensation.  Not any sweetness left and not much flavor to push out and nice relaxing Qi typical of Youle comes out of this long steep.



Overall, this is a nice Youle with a lot of structure to it.  The first group of steepings are interesting stuff with a calm relaxing qi typical of youle but deeper and more powerful with interesting bodyfeelings paired with that deep calm.  The infusions are stronger in the mouth and really saliva producing with lots of interesting tastes which slowly evolve throughout the corse of the tea session.  These include sour, pungent, floral, bready, cereal, minty, Forest, bitter these appear at different times throughout the session. The minty pungency with Rice Crispy cereal note is one I’ve not come across before and make the first handful of infusions supper tasty…  There is lots in here with stronger drying/sticky/tight tongue coating that can get pretty strong if too many infusions are stacked too close together.  The strong saliva producing along with this mouthfeeling give the complex evolving taste a good base to age.

Vs 2013 Pu-erh.sk Youle.  These are similar quality Youle I think.  They both have complex evolving flavours over a stronger evolving mouthfeel.  Too many years have gone by between sampling but this 2021 might be a bit deeper and complex especially the subtle bodyfeelings.

Thought this might be the best 2021 offering from the Essence of Tea until I tried…

Peace

Edit:

Shah8’s Tasting Notes

Alex’s (Tea Notes) Tasing Notes

Double peace

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

2011 Bing Dao Bing Dao Tea Refining Co.: Comparison of Western Bing Dao



The following unpublished notes are from about a year and a half ago…


This 2011 Bing Dao Bing Dao Tea Refining Co goes for $ 252.00for 500g Qing Bing or $0.50/g.  This factory is actually quite famous and, although relatively unknown in western tea circles, is kind of to Bing Dao as Chen Sheng Hao is to Lao Ban Zhang.  The price seems quite low for this factory and production and my experience with this cake also confirms this.   I think the best years of Bing Dao productions that I’ve tied are: 2009 & 2011 are notably considered better than 2008 & 2012 with 2010 somewhere in between here.  Not sure if I’ve tried enough to say clearly but that’s where I am so far…

Dry leaves are quite subdued compared to the 2010 Yong Chun of yesterday.  These leaves are not that fragrant just a bit vegetal with a faint long icing surgar sweetness.  The leaf compression is also very different with these ones being stone pressed and visually the leaves look less humidly stored and the others a significant tighter compression with a bit more humidity to the leaves but not significantly.

First infusion has a very vibrant peachy sunny fruity sweetness.  There is a nice apparent cleanness of this drier storage and the peach taste rides into the distance with a low and long cooling underneath and some mild but full vegetal green in the distance.  The mouthfeeling is slippery stone and the throatfeel feels deep.  There is this faint deep mild stimulating astringency that is almost unnoticeable now but pushes a creamy sweetness through the profile.  The taste is really good.  The colour of the liquor is very close to the 2010 Yong Chun even though this one tastes much more dry stored.

The second infusion has a pungent cool right off the start that can be felt in the nose. The pungent movement that is slightly cooling mixes with the vibrancy of this puerh there is vegetal mild but full base and a vibrantly sweet creamy taste that is full of aromatic high notes of florals and fruits.  The mouthfeel is quite stimulating and full but mild and the throatfeeling is deep.  The Qi is nicely relaxing and the breathing slows and Heart slows down and you can feel the palpitation in the body.  Very nice. This tea is quite nice.

The third infusion has a thick fruity onset with pungent coolness throughout.  The thickness of the taste and layered fruity and floral and especially thick creamy sweetness is excellent.  The mouthfeel is thick and sticky and the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are very nice and give the strong sweet, cooling tastes lots of depth.  There is a touch of sour initially but its quite faint and there is this super faint creamy expansive astringency that adds depth as well.



The fourth infusion pours out a thick syrup sweetness of fruit and almost wildflower the coolness dives into the thick and pulls it along.  There is a long aftertaste and thick mouthfeel and deep throatfeel presentation.  There is a bit of bitter astringency here but it is lost in the thick sweetness and long deep coolness.  The Qi pushes me into a deep stoned spaciness a strong high and my chest feels split open and my body and mind seem to separate and pause.  The Qi is very good.  There is a minutes long aftertaste of pear and pineapples and dense creaminess. 

The fifth infusion has a thick fruity presentation with a coolness riding strong in the background.  The pronounced coolness, thickness, very sweet fruitiness, full mouthfeeling and deep throatfeeling with intense Qi and bodyfeel make this a very excellent and complete Bing Dao for me.  This puerh is of good value for this reason alone.  The thickness of the initial fruits creates an unswayable depth that doesn’t fade even minutes later.  There is this interesting high sweet almost green tea and floral sweet pop that happens minutes later in the back of the throat.  Very nice.

The sixth infusion has a more diverse very sweet fruitiness and creamy sweetness to it.  There is pear, pineapple, dragon fruit, tangerine, and a creamy type of sweetness.  There is starting to be more astringency that comes out here too in an almost woody nuance.  The throat feeling is very deep and the coolness comes at the onset and stretches throughout.

The seventh is thick sweet and a bit of woody astringency along with deep long cooling.  The peachy thick sweetness is very nice and flanked by a very stereotypical long deep coolness.  The mouthfeeling is losing a bit but the throat remains deeply opened.

The eighth infusion has a peachy thick fruity and less astringent woody taste to it.  There is a touch of coco that comes out of a mild bitter sweet taste in there as well.  The creamy sweetness is long and intermingles with coolness long into the aftertaste.  The Qi is powerful and typical of high quality Bing Dao and pushes me into a stoned state.

The ninth infusion has a more bitter sweet astringent presence to it which results in a lovely dark chocolate nuance.  There is a thick sweetness underneath and full chalky mouthfeeling.  The thick fruity sweetness and creamier sweetness is still a significant presence.

The 10th has a juicy fruity onset with lighter pungency and a nice significant coco taste without much bitter astringency here.  The dark coco taste is long and satisfying.  The Qi gives me a nice stoned feeling.   The mouthfeeling is thining out a touch and is more a chalky fullness now.  The throatfeeling is medium deep.

The 11th and 12th are juicy peach to start with a creamy sweet under belly that is paired with cooling pungency and a coco finish.  The mouthfeeling is a chalky slight tightness and the throat is mildly simulated and open to a mid-deep level.  The coco taste is now long and even can be found minutes later.  Semi aged Bing Dao tends to develop some of these bitter sweet coco notes. The Qi is really felt in the chest and makes me feel stoned.

13th and 14th have a peachy pear onset and the liquor is thinning out considerably.  There is a sunny bright vibrancy in these steeps.  There is also a slight mineral edge to the infusions now.  A long cooling moves with the sweet tastes through the aftertaste of sweetness.

The 15th has a bit of bitter astringency that has a woody and even coco suggestion with the sweet fruity, floral, and especially creamy sweet riding low along with a cool pungency.  The Qi is more relaxing stoner now.

The 16th I long steep it and out comes more florals and thicker feeling of woody and sweet honey fruits.  The mouthfeeling and deep throat are reestablished here.

The 17th is a good 20 min steeping and the result is thick viscus fruits and low and long cooling underneath.  It also pushes a strong stoner euphoria out of these leaves.

The 18th another long one with a similarly strong effect.  The stamina and strength is solid in this one too.



I think this one completely flew under the radar for the following reasons:

1-      Tea Urchin doesn’t market any more.  No slick marketing machine or social media presence = no one pays attention.

2-      There is no description or tasting notes on the website unlike most other puerh on their site which leads you to believe that maybe its not as good.  This is kind of what I thought about this one.

3-      There are no reviews of this puerh out there none on the site, or steepster, or blogs, nothing- besides Shah8’s and I thinkeven he underrated this one a bit especially considering that he reviewed it 3years ago and the price is still the same.

4-      The 500g cake size is daunting and if you are not sampling to buy then sometimes people will just skip it altogether.

 

Pictured Left to Right: 2010, 2011, 2016


I drank the 2010 Yung Chun Bing Dao and 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Bing Dao Lao Zhai before and after this cake to compare them and then put them all in an overnight steeping. 

The overnight steeping of the 2010 Yong Chun is the most interesting, the leaves are a bit darker and much more tightly rolled and traditionally processed than the other two.  It is more processed in the older school factory style and you can see some chopped leaves in the mix as well.  There is still some delicious tropical fruity nuances that play out here with a long sweet creaminess and forest vegetal with a long cooling pineapple and creamy sweet aftertaste.  There is still a bunch of bitterness that presents as dark coco and adds a lot of depth.  I guess I steep the other two out for much longer so there is much less but this to me at least speaks to the durability of the 2010 Yong Chun which had a significantly more bitter and astringent profile.  I like this one but its just not “Bing Dao” enough for me to pay the premium on this one but it serves as a great counterpoint to the other modern produced bingdao compared here.

This 2011 Bingdao Refining Co. Bing Dao was mainly mineral, alkaline, forest almost stone like,  it still has a nice thickness to the mouthfeel though and some coolness and very very almost not there sweetness.

The 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Lao Zhai Bing Dao is the least exciting of the bunch with a more flat in taste with a somewhat fruity finish.  The mouthfeel is chalkier here and nice mango fruit can be found in there.  The leaves for this one are much larger than the other two and much looser compression is obvious with a more typical gushu presentation with long stems on the leaves.

In a general sense you can compare them this way:

For me the classic Bing Dao profile which is of good quality has the following: Long obvious coolness throughout profile and often comes at start of profile not just at the returning sweetness, Light everescent fruit creamy sweetness, thickness of taste and a subtle vegetal forest mineral base, some mild coco like bitterness and a bit of astringency that comes out with aging, and a pronounced Stoner Qi effect.

This tea basically has all these qualities for me the thickness and Qi are particularity strong and they are also what I value most.

And so this is the one that I ended up caking out of the group of samples ….

Yummy…

(Ended up drinking up the last of these samples a few weeks before publishing this old post and the 2010 Yong Chun is aging much better in taste than the 2011 Refining Co but it still is not Bing Dao enough for me to consider purchase at that price.)

*I think this is the last of these Tea Urchin posts until I dig and find some more*

Peace