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SOTD- sheng of the day

'09 XZH Jingmai. Pretty close to awesome. Starts out unassuming, with a nice honey fruit aroma, and a rather narrow banzhang/mannuo sort of sensibility--menghai mushroom, honey, etc. Thick soup and good qi... It quickly develops into this olive oil thick 'n smooth texture, which coats the mouth in this beautiful and lasting sweet floral taste and a hint of bitterness generating more florals in the throat. Feeling goes down a little in the throat, and there was strong, nice qi. It peaks at around the six or seventh brew, like the JingGu Nuercha, and fades gently and pretty much as long as you want to drink it. Never stops being thick and oil smooth. Never stops having some real flavor and activity. Weaknesses are that it could have a stronger base flavor (which is harder to do in thick teas), and have a stronger aftertaste in the throat. These aren't exactly weaknesses, though.

This tea used to have a soup with a really impressive dry floral aroma. When new, it was also really rather fruity, sort of like peaches. Nutty, too. Now, one could compare with older Yiwu or Banzhang teas that have honey as the base flavor. Would probably beat almost all of the Yiwus like that...
Yesterday, I had the 2003 Bulang Jingpin. To be mindful, there is the Bulang Jipin, which has a yellow cha mark on the wrapper and is the top grade, the normal Bulang Jingpin, and the probable trademark infraction Bulang Jingpin. This is the last. I didn't have as good a session as possible with this tea--the taste had a lot of that awkward sour hay that I usually associate with how the 2001 Simplified used to be like. Getting in deeper into the session, like around the fourth brew, I got some nice almond notes. The back end of the session had some of those choco notes I was deprived of earlier, and these notes seems to have hugged the bitterness. Underbrewing? Some wood tones throughout the session. Aroma tended to be wood and sweetness, and not too strong. The viscosity was decent with a good, stiff texture. Tended towards drying astringency at times. This tea generally had a very active feel, that was highly characteristic of banzhang, with a lot of very pungent huigans in the throat and some serious sweetness in the mouth after the swallow. Feeling goes down throat good, into the stomach. The Qi was generally moderate to strong. An early brew numbed the face a little. A reasonably durable sheng, with a lot of pleasant brews in the backend.

The tea today was the '07 XZH Huangshanlin. Excellent session, even for this tea. The session was very dynamic. Consistently delivers this lovely mint taste in the aftertaste. The early brews were dominated by a brown sugar dynamic in the aroma and taste. Depending from cup to cup, there were all of these little flavor notes, like wood, soil, clay, barnyard, one cup was a little acid, Thompson grapes, and some other vague notes. Some of these cups had a little sensate sweetness. However, when I hit the seventh brew, the tea changes gears. It turns really minerally, generally with florals and occasionally a fruit note, almost like as if I was drinking an elite, but very naked yancha. The back end of the session was generally a sensate sweet minerals and honey brew, which I brewed for as long as I could, since that was very pleasant. Very durable tea. The viscosity is generally pretty much moderate, and thins out roughly at the back end, probably after about fifteen brews. Occasional cups had strong drying astringency. The strong qi was of very high quality...does that seep in unobtrusive thing, but it also can feel as if moving in the body, which is more what old tea (and sometimes the XZH Youle) does. The aftertastes were also pretty dynamic throughout the session. The mint thing happened throughout the first six or seven brews. This was a rather complex mint that isn't static, and also not the straight flavor (and of course, cooling). The very early cups had a strong mouthcoat. I was not drinking this tea very quickly, as one might guess. There were a number of pungent huigans (not too many, but notable) with sweet fruity flavor in the throat during those first six brews. There were some really strong feeling down the throat, and one felt so expansive, it felt as my chest was expanding with warmth. When the tea switches gears, the aftertastes were predominantly coming from a bitterness and generated a floral mouth aroma to go with that mineral taste. Still feeling in throats, fewer huigans in throat with light fruity notes.

This was really, really good. It doesn't have a strong taste, but very strong character.
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Yesterday was XZH Xishangmeishao '07. This was a bit of a disappointment because the orchid character that I enjoyed the last time was very muted. The qi was just qi without the euphoric character. What the tea was really about was all of the sugary sweetness. Starts off with an aroma and taste of mushroom, musk, sugar and a touch of floral in a thinner soup. Viscosity does build through the bulk of the session and eventually gets nice. Qi also had to build up, as the taste darkens in a kind of sugar-nutmeg-clay and lightens back up into brown sugar with hints of other things. At its best, there was some moving Qi. The tea's aftertaste is mostly in the mouthcoat, though sometimes it did hit the back of the mouth and top of the throat and flavor rings like a bell. I had a number of cups with a perfectly good intensely sweet brown sugar flavor while in the groove with good qi and all. On the back end, a teensy bit of that orchid floral showed up more regularly as I squeezed out as much flavor as I could.

Today was '09 XZH DianGu, first time since the Christmas of 2011. There are three main components to the taste. The first is a high end Milan dancong taste--with the peaches, not really any litchi. The second is a sort of saccharine bitterness that has a short taste of oak and clay around it, like a Lao Man'E has a short wood around that asprin, and the bitterness generates a great deal of floral flavors. The last component is a cream taste that varies, and usually tastes like a caramel chew, and this general comes before the aftertastes. This tea's taste was very strong. It's not really something I thought of as strong, because I didn't think of it as bold or deep. However, I radically slowed down my drinking around the third or fourth brew as a consequence until the leaves lost a bit more of their potency. I didn't increase time as quickly either. It's pretty inadvisable to break leaves. The bitterness isn't that strong, but it's intense, and the floral character can be overwhelming, and I bet I missed out on those nice citrus blossoms from the last time because of the lack of care in getting the leaves. There was a light sourness in the first few brews, but that went away quickly. The qi is sort of odd. It starts off sort of strong, and then builds to extremely strong. Fades and surges as the cups are brewed, and it feels a little different than normal puerh qi. Does have a bit in common with the Dinjin Nuer's qi. The aftertastes, while there were some pungent huigans in the throat and some throatfeel, was mainly about the mouth. Has a strong mouthcoat to go with the afor-mentioned floral mouth aroma. In that mouthcoat is a certain astringency, much like an LBZ, that generates new tastes all over the mouth, and over the flavors deposited by the top taste (which can last hours, btw). So as one can guess, this can be an extremely complex tea experience. In the later part of the session, especially on the backend, there was some sensate sweetness to go with the lighter peach/caramel top taste, and whatever further tastes the astringency created. This remained an active tea to around twenty-five brews, in the sense that the taste wasn't flat and unchanging-fading sweetness. When I finally threw out the leaves, I probably let forgo maybe three to five more good brews after long periods. The aroma was never a big factor, mostly smelled like it tastes, and most of the time was fairly low and quiet.

I very much had a good time with this tea. I was surprised at just how much similarity this tea has with banzhang area kucha, even if all of the equivalent parts are nothing alike. I believe this is also about the most strongly fruity (in the top taste) puerh I've ever been in contact with, that had some age (dinjin nuer's melon taste isn't as strong). There is an apricot note, sometime, like I found in the Bulang Jingpin when I tried a sample at seven years old (the cake was never that fruity on top), or say, the YQH '07 jincha also had a notable apricot taste. The XZH '07 8582 also maintains an apricot note. These, though are quite subordinate to other flavors. The first thing you taste with the DianGu is that milan peach note, and it's not subtle. I checked the leaves--dark, leathery (if not as profoundly leathery as the '07 maocha), and they don't seem to be messed with at all, only red is the rusting of age. No red stems or margins. Even so, it performs what a dancong does quite well, even as it does puerh things, like being harder to drink than a potent LBZ.
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Yesterday was the '07 XZH Yiwu Chahuang. This tea obviously has some sort of slight processing issue, I think that the some of the leaves were fixed at too high a temperature and became green tea. This made for a session where the tea behaves in an unpredictable way. Sometimes the flavor will go down and then up, same with qi or aftertaste activity.

The aroma started off sweetly woody with some chocolate hints. The basic taste is of a bolder, dark taste that's reminiscent of tobacco and chocolate and is a bit similar to retired smoke, even though the cake has never actually been smoky. Along with that taste is usually a ginseng sort of taste. There were all sorts of other complex notes in the soup. This never has much of a fruit accent either in the taste or aroma. The soup is not as bright tasting as it used to be, and the acidity is milder. The later infusions are all a sort of slightly sensate-sweet sweet Yiwu flavors that's ginseng-ish, which is very enjoyable. The viscosity started out relatively thin, but quickly bulks up over the next couple of brews into a nice moderately good syrup/velvet mouthfeel. Declines from there slowly. The qi tends to go up to pretty good in some brews, decline and bounce back up, making it hard to figure out how truly strong it is. A couple of times, there was a lasting feel of well-being for some time after I finished the cup. There is certainly a strong feeling down the throat in the early brews. On the other hand, the aftertastes from the throat mainly happens early in the session, seeping up gently. Most aftertastes are in the mouth and sweet, and this goes up and down in strength unpredictably as well. It had okay durability, something like between fifteen and twenty good brews, potentially active for at least ten brews. This was a really good session, even if the unpredictability left me wanting to try this again. The age of this Yiwu and the resulting impact makes me value older gushu Yiwu more than younger ones like Last Thoughts or the '13 XZH Yiwu Chawang. It gets so sweet and easy!

Addendum, I think this tea is a lot like the Fuhai '99 Yiwu in basic character, but so much cleaner, broader tasting, full of qi, etc...

Today, I had the 2004 Yangqinghao Zhencang Chawang. Definitely still my best Yiwu. The main weaknesses are a lack of bold flavor, a narrowness of taste. There also seems to be an issue where the oxidation was a little on the heavy side before the fixing. Taiwanese tea makers tend to allow more oxidation than mainlanders, seemingly because it makes the tea easier to drink. There doesn't seem to be that much of a hit to quality unless you're like those earlier factory tea people who did just way too much. The aroma and taste only holds a wood character in the first four or so brews and barely outlasts what little malt is present. What I tasted most of the session were basically variations of a delicious vanilla, fruit, and herbs. The viscosity is good, and I note in one late brew, there was an extra creamy mouthfeel that was explicitly nice. The qi is good and strong from the start. There was a lot of potency in how the sip travels through the throat into the tummy, and how it come back up in a huigan in early brews. After about five brews, the huigans were mostly of the sort of sweetness in the mouth after the swallow. Late brews through to about fifteen brews were very sweet, very vanilla, and very enjoyable, as the tea is still active even at fifteen. This did start declining after that though, and I stopped at about eighteen. I probably could have wrung another five to seven more brews.
I'm sipping this last brew of the '06 XZH Youle as I type this. It's something like the twenty-fifth or later cup. Guess that oughta say something.

This Youle can be profoundly Menghai, moreso than most other Youle, and today's session was basically a type of Banzhang with little Mengla component. From the very first brew, this was a really nice feeling tea in the mouth and throat, even with a crisp astringency drying the mouth in many of the early cups. The viscosity was never particularly thick, though. The aroma was lightly floral, much less so than usual, with wood and grain, and it doesn't vary that much in notes or strength for the first eight or so brews and fading afterwards. The taste was pretty much like the aroma, with maybe a touch of darker chocolate tones. In the first three brews, there is a notable sour hay note, much like how the '03 Bulang Jingpin or the '01 Jianyun behaved, which fades quickly after that third cup. The flavor-stage was rather broad, without any concentration, the opposite of how the '04 YQH is. So it gives a little feeling of looseness and delicacy. This also didn't have huge amounts of sweet flavors or sensate sweetness, and I counted that as a blessing after so many sweet sweet teas, the '09 gift set sheng excepted. This was a very nicely balanced tea. At around the twelfth brew, the taste is dominated by a creamy slightly sweet almond milk note, much like the '05 Dayi Mengsong Peacock and some Banzhang, etc. Except that this is more expansive in taste than the Mengsong and yesterday's YQH, which concentrates its cream/butter/vanilla. This was extremely appealing, along with the very nice mouthfeel, so I kept drinking and drinking and not get bored. The aftertastes were indeed part of that excitement. There were a number of pungent huigans in the throat, and there were tricks! Like the one sip that had great throatfeel down, and huigan climbing right back up. Or the other where I got one deep throat pungent huigan, immediately followed by a pungent huigan at the top of the throat. I tell you, it was like a Star Wars theater experience in my mouth, same as with the DianGu. Some of the astringency noted before also contributed by releasing flavors and in general providing a very lasting sweet mouthcoat. Deep into the session, there were more Yiwu-ish mouth huigans that contributed to cups that made me want to brew another affirmatively, rather than merely wringing every last drop of flavor. As far as qi? You see me writing all this mess? I'm still hopped up on that very last cup of tea. Of course it was great, and yeah, pretty similar to banzhang qi, but more a soothing mellowness rather than inebriation. And every cup had great qi, and the qi sticks past when you finish that cup. It really was great, and had it not been for the Tamir Rice thing getting me all agitated, I would have been as mellow as the Maitreya all damned day.

Honestly, this was a much better than expected session. More like the tortoise rather than the hare. Drinking the Yiwus together so recently helped illustrate fairly clearly just how much this isn't a Yiwu-ish tea. Also, this was just so easy for me to drink, I really wish I had more 10 years or older gushu teas like this. Makes me more relunctant to drink younger stuff.
Today was the '06 XZH Brick.

There were some validating changes, or I hope they were maturation than just a better set of leaves. The tea was darker with dark barnyard and chocolate notes. There was a bit of conifer forest hinting in that murk. And plenty of aged plums. Viscosity was better than it was, especially toward the late brews when it finally becomes sweeter (This was more along the lines of bold and not sweet most of the way). This is notably different than most XZH productions that usually don't co concentrated bold taste. The aroma generally wasn't a factor outside the first few brews. The aftertastes was where this tea shows how it was lesser than the major XZH productions, they were a lot more subtle and weaker in general. Didn't really create feelings outside of mouth or anything like that. Qi was generally mild to moderate. This tea lasted pretty long, somewhere between fifteen and a bit above twenty brews.
Yesterday was the '06 YQH Qixiang. Started off with an interesting and very sweet cream and fruit aroma. A little got into the taste, but as the first cup cooled, more tobacco notes emerged. A light wood tended to be the top taste afterwards, and then back to sweet flavors/herbly wood at the top from around the seventh brew, though most of the flavor is really that Yiwu style mouth huigan, which is predominantly of almond classification, and there from the start of the session. There's also a little mouthcoat. However, not much feeling down the throat. The qi is just good, and not impressive. Makes me wonder if younger tea's qi pushed by caffeine. The durability is pretty good, probably around 18 brews or so and could go a bit more. What this tea has on the Zhencang Chawang is essentially a broader and stronger taste, but otherwise, the '04 is considerably better. I'd have thought this would be a closer competition, though with as much variance this tea throws up, maybe there is a session in the bing that might come close.

I did a second tea yesterday, a minibrew of the '10 XZH Manlin Gucha, finishing off the sample. It's hongchapu. Pretty good hongchapu, but essentially the same as the '05 YQH Yiwu Chawang with more interesting flavor and less sweetness. This session did not have the depth of taste of my original session, so I have to wonder if I didn't have an uneven split of the sample in terms of quality, with all the hongcha split off into this session or something. Leaves certainly were red, that's for sure. I did notice more qi than the last time, but that may have been boosted by the earlier YQH. I continued to find it fascinating that Sanhetang prices this tea as high as it does, and makes for a reminder that one gonna have to check stuff before buying expensive teas.

Today, I had the '98 XZH DXS maocha, basically because I was like "I'm trying NO MENGKU! HOW DOES MENGKU AGE AT THIS LEVEL?!?" So this is my substitute. It's basically a Bingdao-style tea specifically in the nature of its bitterness. Which bugs me because this is a more difficult than usual puerh to brew. You need to reach the bitterness without swamping it with too much flavor. It's actually easier to do in the late, lengthy brews, but early on, there's a nice, dark, chicory-dried longan taste not too dissimilar to what an aged Jingmai is like. This has some sweetness, decent mouthfeel, some nice cooling in mouth and at the top of the throat. A little qi. The best part about this tea is how the bitterness dissolves into other flavors in the mouth in that way of northern teas like Bingdao. The Diangu also does this, but more sparkly and more interesting flavors result. I think the EoT Bingdao Peacock is also supposed to do this from what I figure, but I suspect my sample wasn't really the best. Definitely need a piece from a more loosely compressed, leaf intact part of the cake, never mind the obvious need for more age.
Today was the last of my tea of a certain age that I planned to retaste, being the New Year. The '07 XZH Pu Zhen Yuan Cha.

When I first got this tea, this was very mushroomy, vanilla, fruits, kudzu/legume. In a certain sense this tea was a lot like a new Lao Banzhang. The mushroom stayed while the vanilla went, and the fruits are mostly found in the aftertastes. The kudzu? It's now a particular sort of incense wood--woody and intensely floral. Some of the unchangingness could be processing--the cake has a lot of tips that are rose-goldish, compared to a cake like the Huangshanlin which are bronzed and tanned. I also took a quick look at my unsample '07 Diangu cake, and there are similar colors. The Puzhen cake and dry leaves give off strong and sweet floral aromas. The aroma in the soup was only strong in the first couple of brews, afterwards, the always nice aroma stays close to the cup. Viscosity starts off decent, builds up some, and declines afterwards. The mouthfeel is generally smooth and alright. There's a bit of throat choke at the very beginning of the session and when the tea's about done--really as it always has done. The aftertastes involves consistent and strong mouthcoats, occasional mouth huigans like a Yiwu, and incensewood mouth aroma (often with a fruit note after it disperses). In the third and fourth brews, there were lots of pungent and flavorful huigans in the throat. Qi gets pretty strong at around the third and fourth brews and slowly declines from there. There are occasional feeling down throat. Durability is about what it has been, a bit above fifteen brews. To me, the notable thing about the flavor is that it definitely recalls the nature of what truffles are like. Very mushroomy, very aromatic, and while it's not dirt or musk, a little squint of the tastebuds might agree it's the same sort of fun. I also came up against the issue I faced with the Diangu--while it doesn't really taste potent (even though the flavor is solid, if not much complexity in the depth), this tea feels like it hasn't really been cut (regardless of whether I'm correct about whether teas are cut or not), and as a result, it's a more finicky tea to brew right until the later part of the session, when it's more tired. I feel like I worried a little too much about hongcha and not really appreciate soon enough that there wasn't that much damage. Thus I wish I could try this again soon. If only I had managed to buy a second cake!
Today was the 2010 XZH Lao Wu Shan. Had this right after all of those YS teas, and it tasted a cut above. However, after all of the mammoths have stampeded by, this feels like a more humble tea. This session wasn't as good as the first session, and some of the nice perfumy aspects of the tea only showed up on the back end of the session. The gift set sheng is definitely better in terms of strength and qi, while this Osanzhai is more delicate and willing to have fruit notes and other sweetness.

Was there anything I really learned from the last couple of weeks? Maybe that the past year was good for getting expensive sheng to turn darker in taste. The XZH '06 brick and gift set sheng got dark. The '07 Longfeng was darker with more flavor the last time I tried it. Or maybe just Menghai. Teas from the north seems to just up the concentrated florals-incense game, and maybe add a little sweetness. Some really good teas tend to taste fine when they're overbrewed, and you only find out later in a session. YQH and XZH both had growing pains as far as processing is concerned, and I am quite curious about how the '09 XZH materials from Yiwu are: Dingjiazhai, State Forest border material (translated as Sandy Lane), and GFZ. Everything is nicely done in '09, but there is a distinct tendency towards a crisp processing--the Pasha is a little too tame as a result. But '09 still is early enough for easier access to really good teas and meeting up with best practices. I like Menghai tea best, even though I already knew that. I do like Yiwu teas. However, even as the taste is sophisticated and sweet, Menghai tea is just more detailed in feeling. There's a little about that when it comes to those peculiarly bitter northern teas, like some Bingdao-ish, or the Diangu--you feel and taste with a texture that's finely detailed. I've since grown in appreciation on how different all of the northern XZH teas are from each other. One Fengqing and a bunch of Jinggu, and really just two places, Yangta and Dashisi. Yet, no repetition of experience. I suspect that's it's nearly impossible for a non-rich person to chase after big names with the serious expectation that they'd get the true big name experience. If you think of '07 Puzhen as a Xigui sort of experience, it's pretty far ahead of any "Xigui" or nearby tea I've had, even if you define simply on the strength of flavor. I really should have bought more tea.
Yesterday was a great session with Tai Lian, it felt like the beijing cake finally gave up some leaves with potency.

Today, I did a session with 2003 Finepuer liuan. This is a rather sweet liuan, with sweet herbs and a touch of fruit. There was good viscosity, particularly late and on the back end. There was also a bit of qi. This does have some of the obnoxious character of young liuan, though, and it will be at least a decade before it's really ready to drink.

I also did a half grammage of Teadezhang's GFZ. This is a nice enough tea with a decent aroma of honey, grains, and florals, interacting differently depending on the cup. The taste was initially light and honey, and eventually darkens to a more chocolate toned tea. Viscosity is okay in a couple of cups, but generally it's relatively poor. Aftertastes are wholly in the mouth and top of the throat. Mostly via mouthcoat. There is some depth to the tea, and if you hold the sip of some brews in the mouth, you'll be rewarded with fruity flourishes. All in all, this is fairly inferior, on a technical level, to the Chenyuanhao of similar age. However, it at least does give a fairly pleasant session with no real off notes, unlike some fake premium brands I could name...There is a bit of qi, which might have been boosted by previous tea. Also, finished leaves show a number of fully oxidized leaves, more than usual and which might explain the lower potency.
Yesterday, I finished off my sample of 72Hours. This is an excellent tea that I'd suggest is well worth buying. It's not quite all the way up there, but you could place it among things like the XZH '10 Lao Wu Shan or the CYH Bingdaos, and it wouldn't be out of place.

This has a subtle taste and aroma in the beginning, but it's not really generic, like how the CYH or EoT Bingdaos are. A bit closer to white2tea Pin or YS Mushucha sort of taste, with an emphasis on mushroom note. The mushroom character, with fruit and floral notes gets stronger as the session goes on. Oftentimes there is a nice minty finish. Early brews goes down the throat well. The aroma tends to be really sophisticated and light. You can get all sorts of little interesting notes if you smell with attention and care. Viscosity is pretty good and it's nice in the mouth, not too outstanding there. Aftertastes are very good. A decent mouthcoat, but the star of the show is the sort of lengthy-pungent bitterness that you see from the best Mengku teas, at the back of the mouth and top of the throat, I got a long song, with lots of notes, as if the top of the throat was a "tibetan" bowl that has been stroked along the rims. This tea lasts a long time, and on the backend, I got plenty of honey sweetness in the top taste.

Today was the Nanpozhai '12 from YS. In comparison, this is just tea. Nice tea though, but clearly not worth $108, as there isn't that much special about it. Too many better lincang teas you can buy at that price or less. You get a darker tea taste, compared to 72hours or the mushucha, dark grains, chocolate tones, florals. A good thick soup. Not much qi or aftertaste beyond a bit of a mouthcoat. Ok durability.
Recent teas....

Finished off 54-46 That's My Number. Floral in the way the '09 XZH gift set used to be, but also relatively nutty. Good thickness and texture, and good qi. I enjoyed the session the way I've always enjoyed the tea. However, 72Hours is most definitely better, and maybe by more than the difference in cost.

Finished off Teadezhang Thousand Year Gushu. Grapes, lemons, floral. Thick and smooth. Good qi. This is nice enough, but it's not very dynamic, and the taste is not that substantial. I think in general, wild leaf teas of this quality are things I definitely wouldn't mind owning, but they simply aren't the same category as real puerh, and they aren't truly worth a premium.

Taochaju Mengsong gushu. Good basic teas with no flaws. Excellent drinker.

Taochaju Yiwu. Not so good. Drinkable at least

2007 Bada wet stored. Makes my tongue and throat a little uncomfortable, does have some wet taste in the beginning. However, underlying leaf quality is really quite good.
I have been trying to finish up some old samples to make room for new ones. I had Wisterias 04 Jiang Chen. When I received this sample I remember writing this off. Now I wish I had bought a cake of this. The smokey almost meaty flavor is right up my alley.
2006 Dayi 0622. Long and short is that it's very much like the 2005 Xiaguan Cang'er tuo. The 0622 blend is supposed to reflect both the '92 fangcha and 7532 heritages. If I have my guess, using the An Xiang as a stand in for 7532-ness, this is closer to the fangcha style, because it doesn't reflect much of the orchid aroma (basically antique wood aroma) that a 7532 of a certain age should. Does have some of the deeper taste that a 7532 has, as opposed to the 2006 Dayi Putiyuan which is all high smoke-wood and honey.

Big flaws are that it's a bit sour, somewhat bitter, has drying astringency and very tart. For a basic flavor that isn't all that impressive. This, while it has been dry stored in Guangdong, really could have used more moisture. Even then, it's been ten years now, and I wouldn't expect too much dramatic further change in flavor. Positives are that it does have a lingering sweet-fruity aftertaste, and it does have slight qi, presumably converted from the obvious originally sizable store of caffeine. This isn't very durable, lasting about ten brews. I wouldn't really recommend paying very much for tea of this sort. I imagine that if broken up and tinned for a bit, you can get some improvement, but this is just a while from being ready to drink in general, and not really going to be super impressive when it is.
Today I did the Crimson Lotus 2015 Whispering Sunshine. This is a baiyingshan lincang from way up at the northeastern tip of lincang prefecture.

The dry leaves had a strong smell, much like sweeter sencha (like the Poundcake), and this sort of sencha idea carried through in the soup, aroma and taste. Very vegetal, something like a combination of squash and mustard greens flavors. The viscosity is very good, and the texture is much reminiscent of pot liqueur after you cook greens with hamhocks. Not much astringency and it's slick. The first three brews had a solid vegetal flavor, and faded out a bit to a taste with more complexity, but still predominantly vegetal. There were, at times, a nice peppery sensation in my mouth, and there are usually (after the early part of the session) a good effort at mouthcoat. Not awesome, but respectable. Very late in the session with long brews, the bitterness generated does some high quality aftertaste (very lightly, though). There isn't any qi. The durability is good, about fifteen to seventeen brews.

I would be very unlikely to buy this sort of tea. I'd say though that this is probably a better bet to give a good experience now and in the future compared to Wuliangs, for those who like wuliang teas. Less floral, tomatoey, and fruity, though. More solid.
2014 Ban Komaen Black from Chawangshop. I had read a lot of not very happy reviews about this tea, so I began with relatively low expectations. So I was pleased with some aspects of quality, especially that it had a lot of qi for a tea in this price range. This had a very Yibang-ish profile, with a sort of florid wine-ish florals, berries, perfume sort of taste. This dissipates sometimes into a kind of darker nonsweet hay, herbs (bit like gfz background) profile as the soup cools. As can be noted, the top taste is relatively short. There is some lingering aftertaste, and a large amount of cooling. The viscosity and texture is wonky, though, where it'd be thin or thick depending on which brew or how warm the soup is. Can get a very glue-y sticky astringency going, sometimes. Not very dynamic and peters to mainly an herbs and hay taste that's not interesting enough to continue with around the seventh to tenth brew. Tho' I did, for want of something warm to drink. When I examined the leaves, I found that lots of them have that lightly bruised high mountain oolong look, with red margins, and all. So this one has been oolong'd, which explains how it is such a off-kilter Yibang. Not a bad tea. If someone gave me a cake, I'd drink it, but worthless as far as aging is concerned, I think.

Since it's coming close to yet another closing for Emmett's YQH group buy, allow me to suggest that if you're going for one of the nicer ones, and you don't have a big collection of great teas, and that you intend to hold for a long time--then it's very much best to stick to the Chawangshu teas. The 2004 cakes other than the buddy chawang, 2006 Chawangshu/wushangmiaopin, mebbe the 2009 888. I'm getting a sense that the teas from further north around Wangongzhai are behaving more like the lobular stuff from Yibang, Jingmai, which is fine, but the Chawangshu seems to be more responsive/productive about aging.
'07 Mengku "Mu Ye Chun" (002) yesterday; it seems very "hot" to the palate. Still very strong. This is a 25g sample so I don't know if it's going through a phase or if it's just very powerful.

Of course I had to initially use 8g/100ml for the first shot, which didn't help matters.
2013 "joy", or Xile, from Jingjiatang. This is supposedly Longpa Youle http://world.taobao.com/item/256916...pm=a312a.7700824.w7609093-6548992510.7.GKvCKO

The best thing about it is that it has plentiful qi of good quality for the price, and the leaves aren't messed up, like the Ban Komaen yesterday. It's also very durable.

Doesn't have much of an aroma. The taste is basically a lower grainy taste that has a sweetness that verges from squash-like to something fruitier like a hint of Yibang. Not dynamic at all, more or less the same taste. The viscosity ranges from a bit poor to mediocre. There's a bit of drying astringency. I did notice a feeling at the top of the throat that didn't go down, closer to a ringing bell than sinking feeling. Back end of the session had a light lasting mouthcoat.

Overall, this is better than either of the YS Youle I've tried, and is worth the $75/357g, if you can get around all the proxy fees, etc.
Crimson Lotus' Hidden Song. This is a blend of various groves in Baiyingshan, and sold for $10 dollars less than Whispering Sunshine's $40/200g. This is basically an afterthought sort of tea, as it is more of generic Lincang sort of tea that is thinner in taste and viscosity than WS. Needs to be brewed firmly to get good taste, with the bitterness that implies. It's not too bad, but I can easily find acceptable lincangs at that price range, and there isn't anything it does better than the rest of its ilk.

I did, however, try the Hao Xian black tea that Houde sold, and which I bought in 2009. This was a very nice experience that is strongly reminiscent of aged yancha. There was this aged sort of wood note that is very close to traditional yancha mineral-floral. There was also the more typical-of-aged-black-tea aged sour plum note. The caffeine has mellowed out into a sort of qi, and there was a lot of good, active, mouth aftertaste action with sweet flavors. Nothing in the throat but some unpleasant choke throat that you'd normally get from oolong'd puerh. It wasn't bad enough to take too much enjoyment, though. I strongly recommend that any really nice, fully oxidized black tea you find? Buy 300-600g and put it in a tin, and forget about it for a decade. A yearly $100-$200 deposit and you'll have an awesome selection of easy drinking teas (with some busts, of course, some will just go stale). More people certainly needs to go dumpster diving for old black teas their teashops have failed to sell.
This is the last of the fresher teas I'm trying, the 2015 YS HuangShan Gushu. I was disappointed with this one, mostly because so many people really liked it, and I was wondering how similar it was to the XZH Huangshanlin.

It has a very pleasant aroma and top taste, at least in the beginning...almond classification aroma (grains, some vegetalness as well), and the top taste was similar to vanilla custard for me. A bit later there is slight orchid note. The viscosity in the early brews is a bit better than enough and it's smooth, so it feels good in the mouth. The qi is pretty good for the first four or so brews, and cuts out. There isn't a great deal of aftertaste, though--some cooling. After the first couple of brews, an unproductive bitter-tartness starts to increase, to fade later. The top taste fades into vegetal/floral after about the fourth brew, so by the time it stops being bitter-tart, the tea is less interesting. Astringency also builds. The back end of the session wasn't particularly captivating, either.

This is actually closer to the XZH '07 Puzhen, and its general behavior is similar to Xigui, like the Puzhen. It's just not remotely as complex or as interesting, and relies on a very appealing top taste.

Of the younger/cheaper teas, the ranking would be:
'13 Jingjiatang Xile Youle--it's boring and a bit thin viscosity, but obviously processed soundly and with good quality qi and durability.
'15 Crimson Lotus Whispering Sunshine--It's too vegetal for me, but again, it's sound, with thick flavor and good viscosity. Consistently does aftertaste and a light qi. No telling if it will age appealingly, but there is a basic quality.
'06 Day 0622--it has a depth of taste and consistently manages to produce an appealing aftertaste. It's not easy to drink now, but it should age into something that's nice enough if not awesome factory tea.
'15 YS Huangshan Gushu--Great taste, aroma, some qi at the start, good enough for casual drinking at least. I think unlikely to change much for a long time, if I go by similar lincangs.
'15 Chawangshop Ban Komaen Black--fruity floral taste, some qi at the start, very much for casual, immediate drinking.
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