2005 Hai Lang Hao Jin Hai Lang. This is decent, if short lived for how much it costs. Flavor is a little simple as well, but it's decent. I've been craving shu with sweetness lately, and this wasn't scratching that itch.
Tian Shian (Yunnan Mtns) Lost Treasure from Sunsing
Purchased likely in 2005. This tea came with a story that I've forgotten. The prodigal shu, etc.
Wikipedia makes the following claims regarding the origins of shu: "This process was first developed in 1972 by Menghai Tea Factory and Kunming Tea Factory[SUP][/SUP] to imitate the flavor and color of aged raw pu-erh, and was an adaptation of wet storage techniques being used by merchants to falsify the age of their teas. Mass production of ripened pu'er began in 1975."
Sunsing was in the habit of naming old tea by its age in years. Hence, for example, "Thirty-Year-Something" retains that name for years--even when the name becomes confusing rather than illuminating.
Wikipedia also notes, "Some tea collectors believe 'ripened' Sheng Cha should not be aged for more than a decade." With those collectors I disagree. The aged character that develops in carefully-stored old oolongs, shengs, shus, green teas, and the large family of heichas is very much apparent in this TSYMLT. I cannot find the item on the new Sungsing website, so my few remaining crumbs (three or four grams) will be the last of it for me. I was hoping at least to find some notes regarding the origin of the name.
Notes of wood, cherry cough syrup, molasses. I'll infuse it down to its Zen Nothing Clear-Water Elemental State tonight.
Having learned my lesson last time, I broke a little bit more than 1/3 off the cube and set it aside. Some of it is now in my coworker's mug while the rest languishes on my desk. These are HUGE cubes, way too big for a normal pot.
Thick and velvety brew with impressively dark colour. Tobacco and leather.
'08 XZH XiShangJiaXi. Rather sour that was slow to lessen as the session went on. Definitely not as ripe as comparable Dayi shu. Enjoyed it very much though. Great flavor, really great aftertastes, awesome qi for a shu, and durable. Vastly better experience for me than not so great aged sheng.
XZH '08 Mengsong Palace Puerh. Early on the brew has a more complex aroma and taste, if a little bitter. Good energy in the mouth as well. It becomes kinda boring, in the sense that it quickly becomes subtle enough to require good brewing skills. A rest of some dozen hours restored an appeal, with the fruitish taste. Good qi. Very durable. I think in general, boutique tea needs more aging than factory shu to really get going good. Less fermentation and all. It takes some degree of discernment to think that this is better than the '08 V93 on a good day--doesn't have the body, or as full a taste, etc...
Had this shu this morning: http://teaurchin.com/shop-for-tea/puer/ripe-puer/lang-he-gold-buds.html It was relatively uneventfull. Extremely buddy to the point that the pieces of the cake looks orange rather than brown or black. Also described as something akin to GNWL. Brewed, early brews are still bitter. The taste has some length to it, and there is some power in the mouth and throat. The taste is also kind of refined in a woody-floral way, but light. There is little aroma. The body is only okay and the texture is somewhat oily. The durability is average (I will probably brew more of this tonight as the texture was still evident when I stopped). This tea pretty much has to be aged for a decade or two, and it's very expensive for what it is, $60/250g. I suspect that it's closer to the Dayi royal grade 200g cakes than the GNWL, which tends to have creamy sweet flavors. According to my actual experience, the 2008 XZH Mengsong Palace loose shu is relatively similar, but it has a stronger aroma and (more complex)taste, better body, and better durability, not to mention the presence of real qi. The price per gram is not that much more--for about 9 ounces, if you could get 9 ounces specifically, it would cost about $72 currently. The XZH is much better than $12 more than the Langhe. For drinking now, many, many shu are better.
Flaws--Flavor is a cousin to the one offered by the YS '09 Laochatou, which got my hackles up. More pleasant and less petrochem, though. Still, the actual flavor is rather lacking in density of taste. The aroma is weak after the first couple of brews. There are hints of sourness.
Pluses--Flavor is complex, and can have strong blackberry notes. Finish is sweet in the normal shu sense. The body is very thick, and the texture is relatively smooth with an oil/gelatin emphasis. Does do some good cooling in the mouth, and the tastes stays in the mouth for a few minutes with pleasure. Durability seems about normal, given the lightness of the taste.
May have qi, and definitely seems to warm and alert the body. However, it's hot right now, and I drank this in the evening, when it's harder to tell what sort of qi a tea has. Needs about a decade of aging like the langhe gold buds do, but it's a 100g brick, which is a small issue. Is it worth it at $35? Dunno, but it does clear most hurdles to claim some sort of elite status as a shu. Not exactly many shu can have such a strong and pleasant fruit note as this one does, past a few years. Definitely has a great body/texture.
At the risk of getting lots of negative feedback about creating yet another place to read about pu-erh, I did it anyway because of a different audience, a little more international audience. So, if you are interested in checking it out you can go here and ask to join:https://www.facebook.com/groups/1804...group_activity. I look forward to hearing from you.
The other day, I tried out the '09 Dayi Ziyun round cake. It has a very unusual darjeeling fruit note in it, and there's generally a sense of this being something like liu bao, but delicately so, and without that short warehousing step. Probably can use humid storage. Definitely not as ready to drink as the same year Dragon Pole, still a bit harshly energetic, and there's some not-proper astringency. On the other hand--as good as or better than An Xiang, with the An Xiang's chief virtue being its smoothness. So if this tea ages into smooth itself, it will be very very good.