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SOTD- sheng of the day

Today, I had some 2011 Yihe Liu Xiang mengsong, sourced from CreamofBanna. Very pleasant, with good aroma, decent tastes, and some huigans early on. Only a little less inferior to something like 2010 YS Yakou, which is fuller in taste, sweeter, and more durable. Liu Xiang had a lot of caffeine. It's hard not to notice how many reasonably priced Mengsongs there are out there for daily drinking.

Yesterday, I had Essence of Tea Guafengzhai. The first half of my session, I was fairly disappointed, merely okay, but not too complex or exciting. After a rest of some hours, however, I came back to a much better back end. I still think this is worth the ~$250/400g price in today's market (hey, that 2005 Mengsong Peacock is still going up, and has become the most expensive 2005 Dayi at Donghe). However, that Guoyan GFZ does pretty much blow this tea out of the water--my thinking still is that if I'm going to pay hundreds of dollars for a cake of tea, I'd really want to do that for top stuff, rather than for mediocre from the best place, even if that's twice the cash. If you're already crazy enough to spend so much for tea...go the whole hog.
I was whimpering at some deletable descriptions of the 2000 Big Green Tree tuos, and the aroma in particular, so I brought out the 2002 Tai Lian the next morning. Went for 8g/120ml. Early brews has oppressive soft sour, strong tartness that hits the back and sides of the tongue, and strong bitterness. The sour and bitter goes away first, then the tart in the session. Aroma was excellent, a very slight similarity to Yuanyexiang, but green fir tree and florals dominate, with no warehouse spice or soil. Lots of complexity and changes as the cups go by. Green fir dominates a bit less in the early taste--clay, florals, and other stuff, then transitions to a sort of floral fruity for a few brews, and then settles down to a residual taste. Activity, length of taste, and feeling are effectively nonpareil (aside from '06 XZH black wrapper). Qi was of a high quality--body centered, and it moves (one brew I practically felt like I was levitating above my chair). Thickness was okay, but texture was very silky, but the finish is astringent. This astringency melts into flavors, though. I had put this to rest after awhile, and came back to it a few hours later (and after having left on top of used pizza oven, so tea leaves were warm before I put water over it again). Qi was great, smell and taste was predominantly dulce de leche, and it was very sensately sweet and saliva juicing long after the swallow. No way there isn't a handful of very premium lincang leaves in this sucka. I also think more that I have to be more aggressive with leaf-water ratios, especially for anything as durable as the tai lian is--made for a much stronger and more pleasurable back end to the session.
Flipping through Clouds book I stumbled upon the same YQH as Silent chaos has in stock.

Does anyone hear have a definite answer to this can a late 90s 7542 cnnp wrapper have a Zhong character first on the neifi. I have seen vendors claim this. But never one I completely trusted. The neifi on every legit 7542 I have seen always starts off with the character for xishuangbanna . The reason I ask Tea masters 99 7542 has a Zhong character starting off its neifi. I had this tea last nite it is pretty tasty and well done dry stored. Has some camphor, plum taste and an aftertaste that almost tastes of fermenting apple cider. At first I was sure it wasn't a 7542. But my session last nite was more reminiscent of a legit 7542?
8.1g/120ml of CGHT Menghai YiehSheng. I found reasonable amounts of qi this time!

Anyways, I found myself thinking that I like the Wisteria HongYin more, in terms of activity and complexity of flavors. The CGHT tea is very flat, and essentially has two primary components, a very nice refined wood high note, and typical dark aged south bulang tastes for the low note, soil and foodie tastes verging on chocolate. There is a finish sometimes, but it made far more suitable for contemplative drinking than taking that Maserati for a spin like with the Tai Lian yesterday. Definitely a bit too warehoused. Another flaw for current drinking was a higher degree of astringency that leaves the mouth dry. That can be aged away, of course.

Of course, it is still better than the Wisteria on account of the sheer loudness and broadness of the flavors filling the mouth. Solid aroma and soup thickness as well.
I tried the Essence of Tea '08 Bulang today, my second try. Started out slightly sour, like the EoT GFZ did recently, goes away in a couple of brews. Had much less nuances to savor as well. The general taste was good though, of south bulang flavors with a strong wood note on top. The finish added some intrigue to the sip, and the end of the session had a strong Menghai area style sweetness (if not actually sweet) that went down the throat nicely. The aroma was pretty nice and complex as well. The qi was medium-strong. I'm still rather pleased with the quality of this tea--the first session was good enough that a not-as-good session was still quite satisfactory.

The flavors were much more narrow and a bit quieter than yesterday's session with the CGHT Menghai Yieh Sheng. That tea is pretty much Leviathan when it comes to taste factors. Not too many teas are really as loud and as broad, particularly at its age. This tends to make me curious about what a 30yo version of the tea would be like. It doesn't have too much bitterness to work on, just astringency, so one wonders how it would change, or would it just stay mostly the same and fade? Just really curious to how a flat tea like this would change.
Yesterday, I had TeaUrchin 2012 Yishanmo. It was okay, and is a better value than the GFZ. While if you lengthened the brew time some, you can get a decent finish and aftertaste, it's still not a very premium tea. It does have a reasonably loud flavor and okay aroma.

Today, I finished off the Taochaju Lao Man'E, adding 4 grams of that to the 2.5g of 2011 Jin Dayi (finished off), and half a gram of 2004 Shikunmu Yibang. This was an extremely good blend. Started out with very sweet flavors, the Jin Dayi filled in the tendency for the Taochaju to be hollow, and the blend consistently delivered huigans and lasting aftertastes (with plenty of mouth aroma too). It was still rather dull and lacking in the sort of vivacity one finds in top teas, so I concluded that even if you add two good teas to each other, they can't add up to a great tea, just a more complete tea. Durability is good, and the pleasant taste really sticks in the mouth long after the session.
A few single trees Moacha. Starts very nice I like the ku of Bulang balanced by the Bangwei. Very nice cooling after taste in infusions two and three. But that doesn't last. I just wish it kept up with the intensity of the first three infusions a little longer. It makes me realized that Didn't drink nearly enough fresh sheng this year.
Yesterday, I had some 2011 Xiaguan JinSeYunXiang, originally from Jingteashop. Tasted more or less like a nicer Xiaguan, rather dark, bitter, and pleasant. Nothing fancy, and not too much durability.

Today, I tried the 2003 Wisteria Nannuo. I liked it but I didn't really love it. The taste was strong and had the expected Nannuo juniper, sage, leathery smell and tastes, and that taste had some depth to it along with proper (but strong) bitterness. The aroma was reasonable, but not super-strong or lasting. A couple of early brews were sour, like the Zipin tuo I drank up. It doesn't taste especially aged, except in the way the aged huigan operates. There were some of those, which were pleasant--no longer pungent but gently gushing up from the throat. There isn't really any aged sweetness until I was drinking on the back end of the session with the typical Menghai finishing sweetness. The soup has a medium thickness. The three main problems were 1) that this was a very astringent tea, especially for the age. That astringency does convert to lasting tastes as much as classical Banzhang does, though, but it still leaves a very puckery mouth like the classic northern Bulangs like Banzhang and GuangBienLaoZhai when they're young. 2) There is very little dynamicism between cups, and each cup, while full flavored with nuances, doesn't really hold my attention. 3) There was only aged tea qi, and only a bit of that, due to it's youth of ten years, so I don't find it very potent, but it is calming and settling.

In comparisons to other teas around that age, it doesn't really outpace the 2002 Nannuo White Tip BTH sells. The White Tips has less distinct flavor, less aftertastes, but better qi, better thickness and comfort of drinking. Definitely less hollow than 2007 Taochaju Nannuo. It only beats something like the 2003 Yongpinhao "Yiwu" because of better depth and character of flavor. Would get crushed by 2002 Tai Lian, 2001 Simplified, 2001 and even 2003 Heshihua Jingmai, etc. It's much like the 2003 Zipin for me in that it's nice, but I don't find myself really wanting to drink more of it. The 2004 YQH Yiwu, to me illustrates some of the issues. That tea doesn't taste that aged or too exciting, but it's much nicer to drink (thickness smoothness sensate sweetness), with more compelling nuances to savor, with good qi, and with defined stages in performance as the session happens. Among Wisteria products, that 2007 Hongyin still rules the roost, and I still like the better sessions of Taihe maocha.
2012 Gaofachang-TeaUrchin Xikong today. This is good and very much worth the money. Starting off with the really weak point--the durability of the tea flavors is pretty bad, only lasts about seven brews before dropping off, and doesn't revive after some hours of rest too much. Compared to the YS 2010 fall Xikong with its Jingmai-Assam-Yibang character, this tea is more tighter and less primary colors in flavor profile. Has more savoriness like the YS 2012 Jiabu, a little. It has better depth, complexity, and plenty of nuances/shimmering of flavors than the YS Xikong. Same bitterness. The aroma, while nice, is very reticent, and doesn't rise high from the soup. That soup has a lot of thickness and a good quality texture. This does leave a small amount of unproductive dryness in the mouth, which goes away. There is plenty of qi of the type from old tree tea. Decent huigans in the earlier rounds, and a couple of impressive yuns that deliver flavor and nice feeling in the throat in later brews. In general good energy. Finish is pretty decent as well. I came into the session expecting to be underwhelmed, but I found that the tea held my interest, and I was sad to see it end so early, while savoring some of the sweet tea water left with body, cooling, and a bit of aftertaste. It's interesting to me to see just how reasonable the price is, at $160, compared to other offerings, and knowing there's only, like, ten cakes for sale.
The last of this set of samples: the 2008 Wisteria Lan Yin. Dark and muted (taste and aroma), especially to open the session, with a touch of sour in the first brew. This turned into an excellent tea, though. Has layers of subtle flavors with a consistent finish and aftertaste swallows. The huigans are shallow, but the yuns can be great. Different from the 2007 Lan Yin in the sense that it doesn't have as firm a central bitterness, and the basis cocoa/wood/smoke flavor isn't really as entrenched or robust. Considerably better tea, and approaching the 2007 Hong Yin in quality. About as fun to drink as the Xikong I had yesterday, except that this doesn't have much qi. However, it is *much* more durable, and finishing brews on the back end are very pleasant, sweet, with still some sophistication in layers and effects until almost the very end. Clearly has some helping of banzhang in it. Definitely not Lao Banzhang, but somewhere like XBZ or something like that--the woodier kind of banzhang rather than the grape/honey with stone fruit/citrus transitions.

All of the tea in this particular batch of samples were from good to pretty good. Pretty good shu. Lan Yin and Xikong tied for pretty good (and I'm interested in knowing the price of that lan yin--sneaky back way in a better tea for cheaper, should I ever see money?). The Wisteria Nannuo brings up the rear of being good but a little boring in a certain way.
What I reported yesterday was a mistake. It's the same Lan Yin I've had before, there was only one year's worth of Lan Yin made by Zhou Yu. Which goes to show just how limited a picture samples can give you. Last time, it was about as good as a good Dayi. This time, with me *expecting* differences, perhaps altering my perceptions, it was a lot closer to the quality of the HongYin.

Today was some Three Cranes 2003 Liu Bao tuo. Great tea, and much better than most shu. Had a ton of old leaves style qi (making for a great relaxed feel), and despite the frost on the tuo, has a lively flavor and some nice aftertastes and lingering flavor. Good aromatic quality, good thickness and texture, and great durability. Can't seem to spot this tea anywheres, but that's probably because Taobao has a horrible search function.

Oh, speaking of Taobao...




Arbitrage opportunity? /me whistles innocently...
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Ah, forgot. Bana Tea is having a 20% off sale until the New Year. The prices are still stiff, but the stuff is proper, for the most part.
I started my day off with a cold overnite brew of 96 purple Dayi

Teaurchin 2012 spring jingmai started off very good but after a few infusions bitterness took over and lost its shine. But for 65 dollars it is a good tea for the money.

98 fuhai probably the best session that I have had with this tea. Possibly due to my wife using a large amount of leaf. There is some noticeable cha qi at this high a dose aswell.
brewed the ole humble 2nd SE Memorial. Very thick and pleasurable today. Mostly around honey tones, with good feeling in the throat, and no qi. Some astringency. Durable session.
i'm trying this 06 taipei jincha and if i remember correctly it is very different from the mini cake i've had. The first 3 cups had a particularly flat taste but produced impressive slow huigans, nice contrast. From the beginning the qi was obvious and quite strong, and reminded me of some DXS or even Tengchong experiences; it's not the kind of energy i like the most but i won't complain since i didn't expect much... The qi becomes much more interesting to me after a good while... There was a slight wild aroma in my nose and mouth at the beginning; afterwards there was some tobacco or smoke, but no aged taste which is a bit disappointing for a 2006 tea. No umami factor neither but good shengjin and aftertaste. There's a little bitterness and some feelings that sound LME/BZ area to me; maybe a few leaves in that blend, maybe not. Based on this session this tea doesn't shine in mouth but has a really interesting finish and energy. a pleasant surprise.


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Had a bit of a tickle in my throat, so I popped open a new brick of 2007 Xiaguan Baoyan, aka: old dirty brick.

The only tea that really requires a double rinse, it works like a charm. One of the cheapest you can buy, but what flavor.
fdrx, it did age a bit! When I first got it, that flat taste went way out at least ten brews! Is capable of dark tastes on occasion. Online, I find it to be described as a blend of mengsong, pasha, nannuo, and with some gushu. Well, I think that's what they said, given google translate.

Had EoT Pesticide from Zhenyuan. Washed it and used the trusty gaiwan! I actually enjoyed this tea, basically a softer Wuliang that tends towards Jinggu (or a more vegetal Jinggu). Good thickness and texture, lengthy taste with a fruit surprise on a few swallows. A light qi that's more apparent on the back end that leaves me relaxed. The pesticide only bothered my tongue for my first two brews.
EoT Manmai. Not very good. Some qi, nice aroma of slightly fruity candy, and some strong feel in the throat. However, body wasn't thick and nice to drink like yesterday's tea, and the flavor was fairly thin and tinny, and late session choke-throat definitely showed up. Looking at leaves, looks like I got more of the badly processed stuff in this session.
After drinking several wines from Lavaux today (st saphorin & dézaley) i found the perfect match with a Linyinghao Luoshueidong 09' session... what a perfect day!

fdrx, it did age a bit! When I first got it, that flat taste went way out at least ten brews! Is capable of dark tastes on occasion. Online, I find it to be described as a blend of mengsong, pasha, nannuo, and with some gushu. Well, I think that's what they said, given google translate.
thank you
Stuck home for the holidays, and every other day, so I pulled out something nice, the 2005 Dayi Mengsong Peacock. Loaded it up with over 8g/120ml, 'cause it ain't really bitter or astringent anymore, and pretty much blissed out. About as fun to drink as the Tai Lian with really impressive mouth aroma, length of taste, layered taste, and all the throat action. Plenty of huigans early, spectacular (and winey) yuns later, and throat action didn't stop throughout the session. The aroma was strong, but it wasn't that attractive, and the top taste isn't totally great. The last yun at the end of the front end of the session lasted over thirty minutes. Usually it's the astringency in the mouth that dissolves over that length of time. When the back end of the session commenced, it had a really great relaxing qi (not that it didn't have qi in front, but more typical young leaf gushu qi), and I really enjoyed good jazz with it, eg, Patricia Barber doing Constantinople. All in all, because of the long aftertaste and durable feeling of qi, I took a *very* long time to drink this tea, prolly hit something like 18 brews before I quit, which wasn't really before the tea was done.
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