Thursday, March 18, 2021

2003 Wistaria Qing Teng vs 2004 NanQiao Bulang King

 This cake goes for approx. $240.00 for 357g cake or $0.67/g.  It has been heavily reviewed and is usually favorable...

The dry leaves has a sweet dry bubble gum candy with a slight dry woody odour and faint pond/fishiness.

The first infusion has a mild watery pond/marshland/fishiness with ghostly faint quick to disappear white sugar and a building and expanding saltiness.  The mouthfeel is flat chalky in the mouth.  Weird faint salty surgary tastes play out in the aftertaste.

The second infusion has a clear sugar sweet onset with fishy pondy taste and subtle faint incense with dry wood.  The taste is really clear but light.  The candy like aftertaste takes a while to expand in the throat it turns into something kind of fruity/vegetal.  It comes and goes over a backdrop of pond tastes, not really bitter dry wood and saltiness.  The tastes are really clear and pure and almost singular in their presentation.  The Qi is really gentle in the body and has a faint body relaxing bodyfeeling.  The Qi is gently reassuring in the mind slowly bringing me out of my morning fatigue.

The third infusion has a sweet woody incense pond onset with an expanding white granulated sugary taste that is really long and turns into an almost fruity/floral taste and then in the aftertaste into more of a candy sweetness.  The sweetness isn’t dense or complex but evolves in the seconds and minutes after swallowing.  The initial mild bitterness and almost flat slight gripping tongue feeling opens the throat deeply to create space.  The result is an almost gripping mildly bitter mouthfeeling but long clear simple but evolving sweetness.  The Qi is really a slow slumbering and gentle feeling like a slow clear sunrise.  The bodyfeeling is very mild.

The fourth infusion has a woody incense onset with faint sugar which expands in the flat mild gripping tongue coating.  There is some movement to fruity and candy but it is faint.  The throatfeeling is deep but faint and empty feeling.  Faint, light qi sensation.

The 5th has an incense woody faint bitter which pushes out a more clear sugar sweet taste which expands in the throat to something fruity and then evolves into the aftertaste with a candy like finish.  The taste is really fine, clear, uncomplicated.  It is all about following the thin but obvious sweetness, move in the mouth, change, and evolve in the aftertaste.  Even minutes later there is candy.  There is a salty base taste to this puerh.  Calming and soothing soft Qi in the mind with a subtle relaxing bodyfeeling.

The 6th infusion has a woody salty incense taste with a fine thin surgery sweetness that turns to a building and more distinct longer candy floral taste in the breath.  The mouthfeeling is thin and slightly gripping chalk.  Peaceful Qi.

The 7th has a more distinct longer chalky talc bubble gum finish that presents long from start to finish.  Its really very satisfying.  There are very faint suggestions of fine dry woods and incense but these are so faint as the long show of sweetness dominates here over a chalky slightly gripping tongue coating and a deeper simulating throat feeling.

The 8th has a woody almost faint coco bitterness with almost a plum taste underneath which turns to floral candy in the aftertaste.  This infusion is a bit bitterer and much less sweet with an aftertaste which is less long.

9th is pond/fish woody with not much sweetness nor bitterness.  10th is a bit bitter woody.  11th is bitter salty pond/marshland wood… it’s a bitter profile here now.

I mug steep out the rest…

Not sure how this compares to older puerh productions as it just doesn’t seem to have too much of that feel to me… it has the strong robust Qi sensation for sure but in the dry storage and clear compartmentalized tastes it really had to compare to older styles of puerh… but it’s pretty damn good Mengsong!

Compare to 2004 NanQiao Bulang King it really tastes similar especially in the later infusions.  Very similar location (Bulang & Mengsong), storage (Dry Taiwanese and similar tasting storage taste), and age 2004/03.  Bulang King is more powerful for sure. The Qingteng is much sweeter and clear flavours.  The stronger sweet taste adds a certain complexity that the 2004 Bulang King will never actualize because of its near lack of sweet taste although in some ways the Bulang King is denser, nuanced and layered in taste.  Overall, the Qingteng is the more complex choice but the King is still the King of Qi!

James’ (TeaDB) Tasting Notes (here and here)

Paul’s (white2tea) Tasting Notes

Marco’s (Late Steeps) Tasting Notes

Jakob’s (T) Tasting Notes



Monday, March 15, 2021

Mouth Numbingly Delicious: 2006 Wistaria Tai He Maocha

This interesting puerh piqued my interest as not much is written about this Wistaria production.  It turns out that there is both a 2005 & 2006 cake and maocha options for the Taihe pressings.  This 2006 Wistaria Tai He Maocha goes for approx  $26.60 for 50g or $0.53/g.

Dry leaves smell of very dry woody odours with a fine piercing candy floral high noted lingering odour.

The first infusion has a very pungent and spicy quick moving tingling tongue taste and feel.  The tonguefeeling is numbing and the taste pungent and deep woody and medicinal.  The taste is very pungent and alive, with some juicy fruitiness, lots of cooling and warming complex pungency as well as a mild bitterness that offers an extraordinarily complex presentation.  The Qi is immediately calm in the body and hypnotic in the mind.  There is a long complex spicy and cooling with some woody and sweetness to finish.

The second infusion has a strong pungent onset with a deep reverberation numbness in the mouth.  There is dry woody, composting leaf, caramel, floral, camphor…. This puerh reminds me of some of the old school very camphor tasting cakes.  That is the direction of aging on this one and I think it will be very nice.  The complex taste hits all at once and has a hypnotic feeling to it.  The mouthfeeeing is so numbing and the taste so vibrantly complex pungent. 

The third infusion is left to cool and is a deeply pungent sweet caramel woody taste.  The tastes flood in all at once and a long pungency is overwhelmingly dominant as is a numbing mouth sensation.

The fourth infusion has a buttery pungent fruity note with more of a mild flavor overall.  There is still woody, pungency, numbing, camphor, sweet fruity, caramel, leaf.  Still complex but not as strong.  Nice focusing and hypnotic Qi.

The fifth infusion spicy, pungent, fruity, has a brilliant wine grape taste that is common in aged maocha.  Long complex lingering sweet pungent aftertaste.  This infusions has a lot of fruity tastes.  Nice hypno-Qi.

The sixth infusion has a nice coco raison woody, fruity almost wine like grape taste.  Long wine like sweetness.  These later infusions are not as tongue numbing, and not as pungent or woody but getting more complexly sweet.  Nice Qi.  Feels good a bit light in the shoulder blades.

The seventh infusion has a woody wine like grape with a deep throaty pungency and sweet brown sugar aftertaste.  The aftertaste is really long and brown sugar sweet.  The Qi makes me feel very happy and with light arms.  Very nice.

The eighth infusion has a woody incense still floral even peachy taste to it.  There is a bit of wine notes and a deeper cooling pungency.  This infusion is also sweeter.  As the day goes, the happy energy continues.  My body feels slightly light… I feel good.

The ninth infusion starts woody incense but with an emerging sweet bread taste.  There is a strong piercing pungency to it.  It has a long lingering taste in a soft but mild numbing mouthfeeling. 

10th has a mellow woody onset with a pungency that is slower to develop but lingers deep in the throat and on the aftertaste with many fruity pear and peach and almost wine like sweet tastes.

11th has a more woody camphor pungent taste.  The taste is still quite sweet in the aftertaste- fruity, sweet bread, brown sugar.

12th has a bit more dry woodiness, less pungent and sweet but still much the same with a deep relaxing qi.  Very good durability for maocha of this age.

I run out of time in a day.

The next day I do a long steep and it pushes out a mainly caramel and bitter almost salty woody taste.  The caramel taste is long and fulfilling it reaches in the deeper throat and lingers in the aftertaste.  The bitterness also goes long throughout the profile.  There is even a metallic taste left in the mouth minutes later.

Nice blended very dynamic and energizing experience. I liked it a lot.  The strongest point is the vibrantly simulating numbing mouthfeeling which deeps the experience with a livening complex taste, Qi, and bodyfeeling.  The end result is a party in the body and all the senses are invited.

Steepster Tasting Notes


Thursday, March 11, 2021

2007 Wistaria Lan Yin (Blue Mark): Brilliant Power

This is one of the more famous Wistaria productions.  A cake goes for approx $183.00 for 357g cake (or $0.51/g).  This is a famous cake that is named and modelled after a really famous cake, the 1950s Blue Mark … This review follows my review of the 2007 Wistaria Hong Yin (Red Mark).

Dry leaves smell of sweet vegetal almost pondy/fishiness.

The first infusion has a watery bitter flat taste with some vegetal and subtle creaminess underneath.  It has a flat metallic finish almost sweet melon in the aftertaste.  The mouthcoating is silky and very soft but full in the mouth.

The second infusion has a woody soft bitter and sweet creamy vegetal taste up front.  The woody bitterness has a mild gripping while the sweet creamy vegetal almost melon taste is soft and soothing.  There is an apparent balance of strength and softness apparent in this subtly.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are really nice thick simulating silky soft and deeper in the throat with a long faint cooling and melon sweet returning.  Shoulder releasing Qi. Strong clear body effect. The bitterness is such that it is long and you can taste it in the mouth minutes later.  Relaxing almost sedating mind.

The third has a bitter woody almost coco and sort of tart cherry onset that carries a silky full mouthfeeling and a deep cooling throat sensation.  There is a soft gripping feeling in the mouth. A creamy woody mainly bitter almost melon.  There is a real strong spacy-ness to the Qi as well as a shoulder and neck releasing disjoining feeling bodyfeel.  This bodyfeeling is strong, a tension buster in the muscles. Strong Qi.  This is a strong puerh through and through.  The bitterness and slight sweet balance, storage, and age remind me a lot of the 2001 Huang Yin from Teas We Like I grandpa steeped yesterday.  This puerh is much much more complex than this and has a much different Qi profile and mouthfeeling.  There is something similar though in its taste a bit.

The fourth has a tart berry/cherry onset with a bitter woody depth.  There is a silky, full, gripping mouthfeeling with a deep cooling throatfeeling.  There is a creamy almost melon and bitter aftertaste.  The softness of the creamy melon taste is opposed to the bitter.  The Qi is really big and pushes one into a stoned state with strong upperbody release and floating shoulders to the ears feeling.  Spacy but intense Qi.  The bitterness really simulates the throat to salivate.  So powerful.

The fifth infusion is cooled down now and tastes of maple woody, moderate long bitterness, with a barely bready sweetness and deep cool throat.  Silky silty smooth mouthfeeling.  Deeply spacy Qi.

The sixth infusion has a watery vegetal almost creamy sweetness with a more mild bitterness now.  The bitterness is still long.  The creamy sweetness is a bit more here, it is fluffy and chalky in the mouth now that the bitterness has receded.  Spacy Qi.

7th has a tangy fruity onset with an expanding bitterness and wood.  There is still deep pungent tastes and a returning fruity subtle bitter taste.  Deeply relaxing now. Not as full thin silty mouthfeeling.

8th infusion has a tangy fruity woody sweetness with a moderate creamy retuning sweetness that comes with deep pungent throat.

9th has a woody almost incense bitter not that sweet presentation.  Bland vegetal woody aftertaste.  This puerh has flattened out here.

10th a fruity faint papery faint taste begins with a faint background bitterness that finishes sandy thin fine flat in the mouth.  The deep throat sensation of cool is less now and the aftertaste is very faint ghostly fruits.

11th is a longer 30 second steep and pushes out a bitter woody tart almost-not –really fruity sweetness.  There is a chalky aged vegetal finish.  Qi is mainly relaxing here.

12th is a minute long steeping and pushes out tart cherry bitterness with layers of dry woody and faint cool deep throat sensations.  The bitterness dominates here and is very long in the mouth.  This is overall a strong bitter Qi heavy puerh.

I mug steep it out…

Overall, this is a really powerful puerh with very good powerful and unique bodyfeeling of upper body tension release in the muscles.  While the Qi sensation in the mind is equally powerful and pushes you into an immediate stoned state.  The taste is super interesting too with a dance of subtle gentle sweet notes that slowly get overtaken by the strong bitter profile but by the time they do you are completely entranced by the stoner Qi that you strangely embrace the power.  I like this a lot.  It is definitely more brilliant than the early reviews suggests as many of these compare it to Dayi.  This is only Dayi in its bitterness that’s it.  It’s much more than Dayi.  Definitely the strongest Qi of all the Wistaria puerh I sampled in the group.  The downfall is both its weaker throatfeeling and not so great stamina.

How does this compare to older puerh styles…. This one has a Qi that I think would be typical or valued in older style puerh and it also has the bitter backbone as well.  In this way, this puerh could be considered comparable to older style puerh, I think.

Marco’s (Late Steeps) Tasting Notes

Hobbes’ (The Half-Dipper) Tasting Notes

James’ (TeaDB) Tasting Notes From Drinking Report

Shah8’s Tasting Notes


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

2007 Wistaria Hong Yin (Red Mark): Sweet Complexities

This is one of the more famous Wistaria productions.  A cake goes for approx

$243.00 for 357g cake(or $0.68/g).  This is a famous cake that is named and modeled after a really famous cake, the 1950s Red Mark

The dry leaves smell of very sweet cake and creamy caramel with a distant pondy like odour underneath.  Vibrant, mouthwateringly tasty, and sweet smelling.

First infusion has a smooth creamy approach with a slight sugary sweet base with slight woody taste and an almost dry woody incense finish with a pond and dry wood bark aftertaste.  The thin sugary sweetness is long in the profile but drops quickly in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling in a thin soft silky mouthcoating with a slight open throat.

The second infusion has a sugary sweet onset with dry wood base this time with more substantial smokiness that follows.  There is a smooth rich sweet smoky finish with a bit of pondy taste.  The mouthfeeling is thicker and more gripping and full now.  The Qi is strong in the mind and opening in the chest here.

The third infusion has a thick rich sweet sugary and thick woody presentation with a full woody thickness in the mouth.  There is a returning sugar taste with distinct moderate smoke.  Thick mouthfeeling with open top throat.  Strong powerful energy push and full woody feeling in mouth with strong heady Qi and open chest body feeling.  It has a strange Yi Wu/ Man Zhuan vibe to it.

The fourth infusion has a perfume with sweet sugar plum and fruity onset.  There are nuances of cake, plum, figs, and apricot, a nice fruity and complex sweet feeling with some chalky mouthfeeling.  There is a nice faint smoke underneath with a sweet taste left in the mouth.  Overall, quite sweet with a bit of woody, perfume and smoke to add contrast and complexity.  Nice mind focusing Qi.

The fifth infusion has a quick faint smoke with a strong sweet fruitiness.  There is a chalky mouth coating and faint smoky finish.  There are some woody nuances but overall nicely sweet and full feeling.  A bit of Heart racing and numb face sensations.  Stronger focusing Qi now and developing bodyfeelings.

The sixth infusion pretty fruity sweet onset with a nice juicy peachy and plum tastes almost creamy sweet with faint wood with some wood underneath.  The smoke can’t be detected in this infusion.  A nice thin chalky mouthfeeling with open top throat a tiny bit of returning sweetness. Nice heady and relaxing Qi.  The Qi of the body and mind are very nice.

The seventh infusion has a fruity plum and apricot that turns into a creamy peachy sweetness on the breath. The cooled cup is very creamy and fruity with a faint smoke with a woody background.  The sweet and fruity tastes are really supported by a thicker feeling in the mouth.  Nice relaxing Qi.

The 8th infusion has a creamy peach sweetness with dry woody over a chalky mouthfeeling.  The Qi is almost spacy and hypnotic now.

The 9th infusion is a watery woody slight smoky onset with some sugary faint aftertaste under a smoky woody taste.  The mouthfeeling has thinned out considerably and so has the taste.

The 10th has a pear fruity flat woody taste now.  The mouthfeel is flat and dry and aftertaste is faint.  Some pond, presumably storage aftertastes. Not that sweet anymore.

I go to a mug steeping now…

The mug steeps are very pungent resin with a woody light bitter incense no sweetness left. Kind of a spacy relaxing Qi.

Overall, this puerh has a very layered, full, and complex sweet presentation with woody, incense, resin, and smoke to provide contrast, balance and depth.  The sweet thick tastes in these first infusions are very nice.  The Qi comes fast and strong but after the first handful of infusions is really relaxing and stoning.  The Qi is also quite memorable.  The aftertaste and throat feeling is the weakest point of this puerh as well as its stamina.  I liked this puerh a lot but the lack of stamina makes me weigh a purchase…

How would I compare this to older style puerh cakes … well this is the only puerh I sampled out of the Wistaria bunch that hardly resembles old style puerh at all.  It’s too clean and elegant for this comparison.  It’s only closeness is in Qi.  To me this has a feeling of Taiwanese boutique puerh or maybe even closer to the newer style factories that were coming out of China in the mid aughts like Douji and Chenshenghao.  I guess it makes a lot of sense that Chang Tai helped produce this puerh because it kind of has that vibe to it… but it’s just really good, much better than any Changtai I have tried.

Jakob’s (T) Tasting Notes

James (TeaDB) Drinking Report notes and newer tasting notes

Shah8’s Tasting Notes


Friday, March 5, 2021

Wistaria Puerh (a bad) Introduction

 For many this famous historic Taiwanese tea shop and puerh vendor needs no introduction.  I certainly am not the best person to offer an introduction anyways.  I have never been to Taiwan and have never even tried puerh from this famous vendor.  Although, I remember reading about it from the very earliest of tea blog posts as they started to come out.

Enter Vu (Tea Apprentice)...

I remember being amused by his binge buying style of simply caking all of the “most popular” or at least most recommended semiaged puerh cakes from Western vendors or Taiwanese vendors with a English sites over a short period of time.  A few of his cakes were some of the higher recommended Wistaria cakes.  No doubt he must have gotten some of these recommendations from James’s recent posts on Wistaria puerh.  If you look back further James of TeaDB even has a really concise drinking report on all of the puerh Wistaria sells.  James has been to this tea house in person so reading and watching his introduction and posts will give you a much better intro than I can offer.

Anyways, Vu offered to send me a bunch of Wistaria samples because he was curious how they compared to other older school examples of puerh which I have some familiarity with.  It’s kind of interesting because Wistaria kind of deliberately formulated some of their puerh cakes to emulate famous antique or other old puerh styles.  You can find this in the descriptions of their puerh cakes on their English page and James discusses a bit of this on his recent inbetweenisodes.  A lot of the real famous antique puerh that these Wistaria cakes are trying to emulate I have never tried before, such as the Red Mark, etc.  I learned much of what I know and drank through many old puerh cakes of Menghai Tea Factory, CNNP, and probably many more fakes that were mainly 90s, sometimes 80s, and rarely 70s.  These  were the puerh cakes that made it to Korea 15 years ago and this is what I know best of the old puerh style.  The cream of the crop (such as the famous Red Mark) was sampled rarely as Korea was not an ideal place to find that stuff which probably mainly never left Taiwan at that time.  So I hope to do my best to compare to these styles.

I first admitted to not trying Wistaria puerh in this comment here when Marco of Late Steeps compared the dry Taiwanese storage of the 2004 Nanqiao Chawang to the 2003 Wistaria Qingteng.  I admitted never quite tasting the pondy dry Taiwanese storage before.  I also hope to draw other comparisons to some other similarly aged and stored productions as I sample through the Wistaria samples.  This might make more sense as the classic famous old puerh cakes that Wistaria was trying to emulate were all wet stored in Hongkong (which was the only type of storage at the time) so really they are going to taste really different than these dry stored Wistaria puerh.

Interestingly, Shah8 informed me that Wistaria might have two types of storage.  The commonly talked about dry Taiwanese storage as well as a mustier more humid storage.  I wonder which storage samples I was sent?

This should be interesting and fun... please join me for the ride...