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



  1. Glad you like it - for my taste, there is too much going on simultanously in this blend, I very much prefer single origin teas (like the Wa Long Guoyoulin or the Wan Gong Guoyoulin from Tiago last year) to experience the distinct character of each garden in a pure way. But apart from this very personal opinion this is quality material here, for sure!

    1. Alex,

      You are right it’s a personal preference. I find that the sum is greater than its parts for this one. I have never really tried a blend with such ethereal parts. Either way you like it, you can’t deny that it is interesting.


  2. I love blends for the balance they can bring. Totally agree that the sum can be greater than its parts, and in many cases, I find the overall drinking experience benefits. Thank you for your blog, it answers so many puerh questions I've had and I reckon it has also saved me a fair bit of tuition money.