Sunday, February 27, 2022 vs Teas We Like: 2003 Chen Yuan Hao Tong Qing Hao Commemorative Cake

I got this sample of 2003 ChenYuan Hao Tong Qing Hao Commemorative cake from Paolo at with my last order.  I implied that I would like to compare the storage of his Taiwanese source of Chenyuan Hao to (which is described as clean natural Taiwanese home storage) to that of Teas We Likes Chenyuan Hao Taiwanese Source (which is a drier/lighter natural Taiwanese storage).  For the sake of comparison and review Paolo provided the sample free with my first order of this other famous ChenYuan Hao cake the 2005 ChenYuan Hao Shanzhong Chuanqi, that was previously sold in full cake at Teas We Like and just now was released as a quarter cake.  I sampled from my Teas We Like cake the day before to get a good read on the comparison… this is going to be super fun…

Dry leaves smell of dry stored sweet leaves almost bubble gum…

First infusion has a watery fruity clear taste it is mainly sweet water with a bit of fruity nuance to it in this first infusion.  There are some super faint watery notes in there as well. Some bread notes.

Second infusion has a watery woody sweet candy-like pure creamy almost tropical sweetness it has a slight bready finish with some bready sweet notes in there.  There is a nice long sweet bread aftertaste.  The taste is much drier stored and clear simple tastes with not as much richness as the Teas We Like sample.  There is a deeper relaxing feel to the body and mind.

The third infusion has a sour sweet cherry onset with a pure clear dry stored presentation.  The subtle sour and sweet cherries pop and subside with a nice faint cooling breath and vibrant fruity sweet taste.  Minutes later there is this sweet bread taste.  The mouthfeel is a thin fine almost sandy taste with some nice saliva producing which pushes sweet waves of cherry and almost tropical fruits out in waves even minutes later… this is a tasty puerh!  Gentle mind relaxing effect with soft shoulder heaviness and neck and spine release.  A little head stuffiness.

The fourth infusion has a sour and sweet presentation that tastes like sour cherries and has a clear pure vibrancy to it.  Nice moderately oily texture.  There is some faint bitter astringency in there after the initial sweet wave.  Then some throat cooling, then some saliva producing with bready sweetness and subtle sweet and sour tasting fruity taste.  Nice head stuffiness and subtle Qi in the shoulders and neck.

The fifth infusion has a more rich presentation of honey and sour but mainly sweet creamy tastes.  There is some cooling then a nice strong wave of creamy bread sweet tastes.  Stronger cooling taste as well as strong sweet returning flavours.  Thin mouthcoating made up by the decently oily texture and saliva producing.

The 6th infusion has a smooth honey woody cherry fruity not much sour anymore.  Woodier sweet now- classic Yiwu.  A creamy sweetness emerges from the thin full mouthfeeling specifically from the saliva returning in the back of the throat.  Almost but not really smoke incense appearing… maybe more resin woody?  Nice relaxing with between shoulder blade very subtle releases.

The 7th is left to cool and has a rich sweet raison honey woody sweet taste.  Really taste with a thin full coating and some saliva producing effect.  Nice relaxing focus.  Sweet aftertaste.

8th has a creamy woody taste that pops into a cherry sweetness with subtle cooling and saliva producing sweetness.  Some sweet cherry and slight woody aftertaste.  Nice relaxing Qi here.

9th is left to cool down and gives off a honey sweet taste with a touch of faint creamy sweetness and woodiness underneath.  The mouthfeeling is a bit more gripping with less saliva returning.  Relaxing Qi.

I steep this a few more times at flash steepings and it gives off a sweet taste with creamy sweetness and some fruity sweetness.

I mug steep out the rest and there are some deeper tastes that come out in these long mug steepings.  A bit of bitter astringency coco too.  It suggests to me that there is still much left in these leaves and that they just need a bit of pushing to get some more depth out of them.

Vs Teas We Like lighter natural Taiwanese storage- storage was much drier and was likely dry stored for most of its life.  The dry storage of this sourced cake gives the puerh much more clarity but also less depth of taste.  The clarity of the dry storage allows for much simpler appreciation of the sweet tastes which shine in this production however they also bring out some sour tastes.  Some might see this sour as a negative but right now I’m drinking a Gose beer and I’m thinking it isn’t so bad.. My 2005 Chenyuan Hao Shanzhong ChuanQi doesn’t have this sour although the storage is the same source, I believe.  The Qi of both storage is about the same.  The Teas We Like might be a bit thicker in the mouth. 

 I think I enjoyed the Teas We Like storage a little bit more due to its depth of taste and density of flavour however the price difference between the two types reflects this with the Teas We like cake going for $600.00 for 357 g cake vs cake going for approx. $515.00.  There are going to be some dry storage lovers that will definitely prefer the drier storage better or find it better value for the cheaper price.  I also would guess that I would also slightly prefer the Teas We Like natural slightly more humid Taiwanese on the powerful 2005 Chenyuan Hao Shanzhong ChuanQi as well.  I just ordered some Quarter cakes so we are going to find out… fun comparison!  I recommend anyone who is interested to do these comparison for themselves as Teas We Like just dropped a bunch of Quarter cakes.


Friday, February 25, 2022

2006 Lao Man Er Banzhang Peacock: Clear LaoManE Qi!

I really gradually warmed up to and ended up really enjoying the unusual complexity of this 2004 NanQiao Bulang King previously offered by TeasWeLike.  It was enough for me to reorder if that says anything?  I believe it was probably the best cheapest cake they have offered so far.  But the storage gives off some pretty unique kind of tastes for sure.  So, naturally, I was quite excited to try this 2006 Green Peacock LaoMan’E for $148.00 for 357 g cake which promises to be a similar but different experience…

Dry leaves smell of faint woody dry leaf subtle pond common puerh factory smell.

The first infusion has a pond, leaf, and almost melon edge.  It is surprisingly not smoky nor is it bitter.  It just has a subtle melon sweet edge over a very clean pond marshland taste.  There is a bit of deeper throat cooling and a soft sandy faint mouthcoating.  The aftertaste is a creamy sweet melon fallen autumn leaf.  It leaves a nice mouthwatering over the tongue.  Nice cozy warming Qi in the body that flushes the face.

The second infusion has a subtle sweet melon taste with a fallen leaf base taste the aftertaste has a maple sugar and demerara sugar finish.  There is a faint bitterness here throughout but enough to make my Stomach rumble.  The profile is really clean and clear with a dry fallen leaf base and a complicated changing sweetness that goes from a fresher melon initial tastes to more of a toasted brown sugar finish.  There is a nice deep coolness and finish, and oily texture over a soft sticky faint sandy tongue.  Lots of saliva gobs in the mouth.  Nice warming Qi in the body.

The third infusion has a fallen leaf sweet melon initial taste with a moderate bitterness and brown sugar subtle sweet finish.  The bitterness is moderate with a bitter-astringency that is not so much tasted as felt in the Stomach and body.  The cooled down cup is refreshing melon very fresh taste nuances.  Nice mouthwatering and cool throat.

The fourth infusion has a fallen leaf with very subtle splash of fresh melon taste.  There is a deep cool throat and a retuning melon aftertaste.  The original freshness of this Lao Man E is definitely still here but so is obvious dry aging notes of dry leaf.  The Qi is warming and comforting in the body and mind.  Nice flat subtle mouthfeeling with returning saliva watering effect.

The fifth infusion is left to cool and is still a bitter fallen leaf with more sweet complexity in the aftertaste along with a stable long coolness in the aftertaste.  There is a melon taste under fallen leaf even some bread notes.  Nice flat mild dry tongue with an oily back of mouth feeling.

The sixth is a mild bitterness over a bready sweet melon and fallen leaf base taste.  The flavours are really clear and pure.  Nice warming energy.  The cooling throat. 

The seventh is bitterer with a more woody fallen leaf, bread with flat tongue coating and returning bread sweetness.  Not as much saliva, or cooling. Nice warming focusing cozy Qi.

The 8th has a nice woody incense onset that returns as a nice sweet long honeydew melon taste.  There is a very nice long sweet melon fresh taste in here, the bitterness and astringency is pretty much gone.

The 9th has a nice cool sweet melon with the base leaf taste becoming much less, bitter is very faint, and there is a nice rich bread sweetness as well, some woody, almost incense tastes. Nice focusing and warming Qi.  Some faint bodyfeelngs in the diaphragm.  Nice to drink, feels good.

The 10th has a nice factory woodiness or “resin” to it that is very familiar to me, a bit of incense, a flat tongue, not much saliva producing or much aftertaste.  A bit of woody cool melon and incense.  Nice warming and comforting Qi.

11th is a smooth woody incense resin like taste not much else nice clear storage note with a factory resin finish a very mild bitterness and nice flat almost dry tongue and some throat cooling.

12th I mug steep out the rest…

Overall, the storage is real nice preserving that classic melon or honeydew melon rind Lao Man E taste with still a bit of bitter edge that makes Lao Man E famous.  Its at the right maturation to enjoy a bit of both worlds here.  This one has a bit more astringency to it than I’m used to from Lao Man E also makes it on the edge of being enjoyed now with some sessions being a bit harsh on the Stomach and others perfectly fine.  The nice warm Qi in there make it still enjoyable especially as the astringency seems to recede after the 5th infusion.  A beautiful compromise in keeping the integrity of Lao Man E.  This cake feels more like a gushu type tea than a factory type tea and some of my modern gushu produced puerh shares some of these nuances minus the astringency. Really it’s kind of between both worlds which makes it a bit interesting to me.

I ended up drinking this cake a few times last summer particularly for its Qi which can be a strong focused Euphoric happy feeling.  This is the Qi of good quality LaoMan Er, in my experience and this puerh has it.  I enjoyed it a lot for summer driving and travel.  I’m unsure if I will go for another cake?

Vs.2004 Nanqiao Bulang King- is more complex and powerful but and not as harsh as the LaomanE but with similar storage nuances and complexity from that type of storage.  The LaoManE still has faint fruitier and fresher nuances with 2 more years of storage the 2004 Bulang king does not.

Vs. 2006 Lao Man Er factory big round cake… this is a pretty interesting comparison as the age and factory and even material will be similar but the processing and storage location and production quality differ.  The Big Round cake is a really loosely compressed cake of gushu-ish material that has a bit of charred or roughly processed material in there and mine is dry Kunming stored.  It has both a crude and harsher feel and taste as well as a more elegant milder presentation.  Not as obviously LaoManE in Qi and bitterness as well.  Much more mutted and muffled.  Doesn’t make me feel great overall but somehow there are glimpses of enjoyment especially the melon fruitiness.  TeasWeLike peacock is a much preferred option.

Macro’s (Late Steeps) Tasting Notes


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Liquid Proust/TeaBuy Korea!

In my last order of Liquid Proust samples I noticed that he is now selling Korean Teas!  The shipping price from the USA to Canada is a bit high for the handful of samples I usually order from Liquid Proust every year.  It is nice to throw in a few more teas that I’m interested in drinking.  I have a hard time passing Korean teas with my online shopping cart when I already have a planned order!

So I’m that last order I threw in 3 famous Korean Balhyocha that I had last sampled over 10 years ago!  The age of these were not listed however they tasted to be 2021 productions…

Junggan-ipcha Yejeon Dawan

This one is the only remaining sample from these three that is left on Liquid Proust and goes for approx $27.00 for 35g or approx $0.77 /g.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever tried this balhyocha before.  This was the most complex of the three I sampled.  Likely semi-wild Hadong material and saejak leaf.  The balance between leaf grade, fermentation, and roast is really nicely done here by a real famous Korean tea master Yejeon Dawan!  The result is a more layered and complex balhyocha that has a light surgery sweet first few infusions which slowly gets more layered and deep as the infusions go on with longer and hotter infusions.  Later infusions push out woody, spice, and sunny sweet flavours appearing.  The later infusions show off some subtle roast tastes underneath.  Feel good Qi.

Dongcheon Dancha

This one was a bit popular in the West around 10 years ago and I had sampled it around this time here but the tasting notes and my memory of this one is are a bit different than this tasting.  This one is the simplest of the three also the cheapest at approx $8.00 for 20 g or $.40/g.  Very enjoyable warming energy with fruity and raisin notes.

Jeong Jae Yeon Halmonicha

This is also another popular Korean Balhyocha in the West and one I had sampled 10 years ago!  It was approx $7.00 for 16g or approx $0.40/g.  It was my favourite out of the sampling with light juicy vibrant fruity notes which in the later infusions have a bit of woody-bread tastes under the vibrant fruit.  Very cheerful and uplifting Qi nice and pure and sunny.

…I see Liquid Proust just offered another of my favourites

I’m not sure if this was something offered with the help of Arthur Park of TeaBuy Korea ??? but he had just posted about the fresh spring 2022 purchase for those that are interested in these.  Arthur formally of Morning Crane Teas sells basically all the most famous Korean Teas at prices at or below what you would pay in Korea.  I highly recommend sampling some Korean tea from either of these great vendors.

Much peace

Friday, February 4, 2022

2001 Teas We Like Iron Zhongcha: An Oil Slick of an Aged Puerh!

After completely blind sampling the 2001 Xiaguan 8653 IronCake from Marco this summer I was anxiously anticipating the arrival of the cake at Teas We Like.  It took many months of waiting before it appeared on the site.  It seems like the wait had me eyeing this 2001 Teas We Like Iron Zhongcha ($290.00 for 310g cake or $0.94/g).  This cake was released a few years ago in their second or third wave of releases.  The description claims that it is not an 8653 but that it better or as good with some nice dry Malaysian storage on it… it’s a bit pricy but in the end I went for it… is it ever good…

Dry leaves smell of a faint leafy odour.

First infusion after a 30 sec rinse and 10 minute sitting… at flash has a leaf and medicinal faint onset with a faint kind of powdery almost faint peppery finish.  Nice full sort of tight mouthfeeling and some throat simulating.  Faint powdery finish.

Second infusion has a cherry fruity pop of sweet onset with a woody mahogany taste in a tight stimulating mouth and throat feeling.  The finish is woody powdery cooling mouth then cherry woody returning sweetness.  The mouthfeel is really full and strong for something this humidly stored and for this age- a nice treat.  There is a bit of very faint astringency that I can feel in my guts.

3rd has a woody cherry oak cask clear taste to it.  A bit tart but almost but not really dry leafy and almost powdery that comes out in the finish.  Nice cool throat and some salivating- cherry powdery sweet finish... a very nice dry stored finish.  Mouthfeel and taste are strong and super enjoyable but the Qi is very mild in the body and mind.  Half of the cup is left to cool and it is more of a creamy sweet powdery taste.  Powdery dry woody aftertaste.  Very mild Qi.

4th has a woody mahogany cherry sweet taste, a touch creamy sweet, with a leafy dry woody powdery finish.  There is a tart sour cherry woody finish.  The taste is really condensed woody cherry powdery with under currents of faint creamy sweetness over a decent gripping mouthfeeling.

5th is left to cool and has a woody creamy sweetness that returns more sweet in the mouth creamy cherry mahogany.  There is some woodiness but these cooled down cups are much sweeter and creamier with the warm cups tasting more tart and woody.  Nice Qi with a slight heavy chest sensation nice mild feel good sensation.

6TH has a creamy sweet onset now with a woody cherry taste that is more distant.  There is some mouth cooling with a nice saliva producing mouth effect.  Nice creamy tart cherry and powdery finish with a bit of an oily mouthfeeling.  It seems like the oily mouthfeeling slowly builds throughout the session.  You can see the thick meniscus with bubbles endlessly suspending in the oily liquor.  Super enjoyable.  Nice relaxing Qi and a heavy chest sensations that is mild.

7th has a creamy sweet cherry woody initial taste that drops off a bit then becomes more powdery in the aftertaste.  Nice and oily.  There is a menthol camphor type of woody coolness developing now.  Some creamy woody powdery sweet undertones devlop.  Nice relaxing mild feeling.

8th has a woody creamy even watery taste now.  There is a bit of menthol cooling camphor taste with a sweet dry leaf kind of finish.  This infusion starts to water down.

9th has a sweet leafy woody not that sweet initial taste.  There is some faint camphor and some p[powdery taste but this infusion shows signs of watering down so I add 10 seconds to the flash steeping…

10th has a powdery leaf taste. The cool cup has a bit of cherry powdery sweetness but faint compared to the woody leaf profile.  Nice relaxing feeling.

11th has a woody leaf pile with a bit of mineral powdery finish.  Still gripping mouthfeeling.  I start pushing hard on this one…

12th is a 40 sec steep.. it has a sweeter woodier note but still generic sweet woody.  Some faint coolness and camphor and sweet woody finish.

I mug steep out the rest…

It is a bit woody, dry leaf, and with a nutty sweetness now.  Not bitter, not astringent.  The nuttiness is pretty enjoyable here.  Nice mellow Qi feeling.

I have had much better sessions of this one over the cold months we’ve been having.  The oily texture, nice dry stored finish and delicious taste is quite satisfying!

Vs 2001 Xiaguan 8653 Iron Cake from Teas We Like.  I got a few of these cakes when offered for $275.00 for 350g cake. They stopped offering them after only a few months likly due to increased prices to restock? These are very different in almost every way except that they are iron pressed cakes.  The contrast is an interesting comparison.  I don’t think I would have guessed the 2001 Iron Zhongcha to be the 8653 iron cake… it lacks some kind of Xiaguan quality… mainly the smoky bitterness and crotchety crankiness… it just really doesn’t feel like it at all.  The 2001 Xiaguan 8653 has a much more rich, condensed, flavourful, complex, and powerful taste.  The 2001 Xiaguan 8653 that Teas We Like sold is still not fully aged out so a bit harsh however achieving a nice balance between maintaining its power, concentration and essence while still moving the aging along.  Still ends very bitter.  This 2001 Iron Zhongcha is dry Malaysian stored, the dry storage is really quite nice on this one and is pretty aged out already with still that initial power in the first few infusions with which could still be built upon.  The taste is more stable across the infusions, its stamina is less and needs harder pushing.  Very nice mild mellow aged Qi in the Zhongcha.  I especially like the Zhongcha’s thick viscus and oily texture.  I’m not sure if I ever had such an oil slick of an aged tea before!

Shah8’s Tasting notes


Thursday, February 3, 2022

The Fu Brick Economy

 Have you ever heard of “the hemline index”?  It is the economic theory that hemlines (or skirt lengths) rise and fall along with stock markets.  For Western drinkers of Chinese Fermented Tea or Heicha- it seems, to me, like interest and popularity of Fu Bricks rise and fall with inflation!  We can call it the “Fu Brick index”… hahaha

The first time I noticed a rise in Fu Brick popularity was all the way back during the Great Recession (2007-2009).  I was in Korea and one of the people I consider my tea master or teacher, Mr. Kim, travelled to Hunan for a period to study and learn deeply and source Hei Cha made famous in Hunan province, the home of Fu Bricks.

He owned a tea shop that sold puerh and Korean tea which had seen slowly increasing prices over the last few years.  When the Great Recession hit he was concerned that Koreans wouldn’t spend their money on luxury items like the tea he sold and he had a family to support.  His solution was to learn about and source a traditional type of tea that was affordable yet still delicious and could be appreciated at a connoisseur level.  He came back to Korea and transmitted his knowledge to me.

I ended up writing this very early English article on Three Famous Teas of Hunan Province (which Fu Brick is one of the three) based on his teachings. There was not any English articles to reference before this article or hyperlink to.  I had to translate from Korean and you can see in the comment section that the big wigs of English puerh translation, Lew Perin of Bablecarp and Corax of Chadao blog helped get the Chinese Pinyin from the translations.  I got a lot of interest on that post with some people reaching out to me.  Anyways, this was one of the first times there seemed to be some interest in Fu Zhuan in the West at a time of economic uncertainty and less spending on luxury items.

The next time I noticed a burst of interest in Fu Zhuan was in 2012.  2012 was an interesting time in Western puerh circles.  Tea Urchin came on the scene and released a bunch of higher quality Gushu single estate puerh cakes many of which were above 100$ a cake.  Psychologically, it shook some of the old time puerh buyers that the price of puerh had reached such high prices.  Many people grumbled and moaned about the increase and you can see some of this on The Half Dipper and A Tea Addicts Journal.  This also happened to be a time of high/peak inflation in most Western economies, undoubtedly an effect from the stimulus of the Great Recession a few years earlier.

Interestingly, there was a burst of articles and blogs about Fu Bricks in 2012.  This includes blog posts by Jakub and this article by me further elaborating on my teaching by Mr. Kim and my own experience and relevant research articles on Fu Zhuan.  As a result of this mini explosion of articles Tea Chat started a Fu Brick thread to accommodate the recent interest at this time.  Again the attention to the Fu Brick seemed to coincide with the economy.

Bloggers Cwyn of Death By Tea and Char of OolongOwl started on the tea scene around this time and being at the right place at the right time, looking for original content for their blogs, and simply out of enjoyment and appreciation of Fu Bricks started posting semi regularly about them throughout the years.  Cwyn recently credits Char for doing much to advance interest in Fu bricks in the Western English tea scene but I really think that she is not giving herself enough credit.  Cwyn has been just as much of an influence in my mind.   

I also enjoy a good Fu Brick and ever since learning about them from Mr.Kim I have been drinking them.  However my consumption of Fu Zhuan is so small.  I usually only have a few pots of Fu Brick every year and usually it’s enjoyed best in the late summer or early fall.  Due to my minimal consumption, I haven’t ever purchased a brick but rather have been fortunate to have been gifted enough samples to last me through.  The past few years I have consumed the free samples from The Chinese Tea Shop, 05Tea, and Yunnan Sourcing.  It would be interesting to read more reviews on Fu Bricks or informational post on Fu Bricks.  OolongOwl’s posts on Fu Bricks are among my favourites. Recently Cwyn has been posting economically minded posts on drinking up a 1 KG Fu Brick.  She recently finished the brick and points out, 

My doubled heating bill for January says to me everything is going to skyrocket in price soon.

…Just in time for Paul of white2tea to launch his first Fu Bricks

With inflation once again at highs not seen since 2012 interest in Fu Bricks seem to be on our radar again.  Alas the “Fu Brick Index” is at a high once again!