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SOTD- sheng of the day

Quick update:

W2T 2016 samples arrived today.

2016 Daily Drinker is everything I wished 2015's Little Walk had been. Many similarities, and maybe it was just my sample, but my 2015 Little Walk tasted like the smell of electric pet razor cleaner and lubricant... every time I drank it, I gagged, thinking about wet cat and dog hair coming off in clumps and going down my throat... so, that said... 2016 has none of THAT part of Little Walk. It is soft, sweet, has a light lingering perfume, and no chemical pet hair memories attached, yay!

I'm going to keep drinking. I may run through all these samples on here if they inspire me to write.

On we go.
Today I'm going Into The Mystic.

Drinking this made me think of 2015's Bosch description.

The flavors are more subtle here initially, the aroma is distinct however... more doughy, bready, cinnamony, like you are in your kitchen, with flour and all that good mess all over your front up to your nose, and you're mixing the flour and cinnamon together in a big plastic mixing bowl with your bare hands and adding warm water all up in there and you just lift your hand up to your mouth and take the smallest little nibble from the everything that clings to your hands...

I should probably just stop there... but the taste soon follows the aroma, I caught some in my throat and nose going down and coughed through it, and now my tongue is tingling and there is always that persistent spice and dusty bitterness before the touch of sweetness comes back around on the sides and back of my tongue floating above the back of my throat... It's cinnamon toast. I'm feeling pretty mellow.

On we go.
Today I'm going Into The Mystic.

Drinking this made me think of 2015's Bosch description.

The flavors are more subtle here initially, the aroma is distinct however... more doughy, bready, cinnamony, like you are in your kitchen, with flour and all that good mess all over your front up to your nose, and you're mixing the flour and cinnamon together in a big plastic mixing bowl with your bare hands and adding warm water all up in there and you just lift your hand up to your mouth and take the smallest little nibble from the everything that clings to your hands...

I should probably just stop there... but the taste soon follows the aroma, I caught some in my throat and nose going down and coughed through it, and now my tongue is tingling and there is always that persistent spice and dusty bitterness before the touch of sweetness comes back around on the sides and back of my tongue floating above the back of my throat... It's cinnamon toast. I'm feeling pretty mellow.

On we go.
how was the texture?

Definitely the cake I am most interested in.

Would love to see the thoughts for these teas to keep coming...thanks
Just got back to the tea room, I see your question cherry, I'll spend some more time with it and let you know.

Right now I wanted to get back to something ninepath's mentioned a post or two ago about 2015's Poundcake.

I saw all of teadb's reviews and many other people's. I tried the sample, I bought the cake, after all that I can safely say it's just not my cup of tea..

I'm sorry, I much preferred "if you're reading this it's too late" on every front. For example, after one of my first sessions with it, starting on a Friday afternoon, I probably only did 5 or 6 steeps, but the taste kept coming back up to me through the night, even after dinner and up until about lunch time the next day... to me, I found that first of all pretty amazing, second of all, I really enjoyed the flavor and sensation it kept producing, (and still does after a good session).

Third, it's the flavor of the 2015 Poundcake I just don't like. I don't like watermelon, and something in Poundcake reminds me strongly of watermelon. Granted, there are sessions that I can get over and through all that, and have an enjoyable session, it's just I would probably always choose "if you're reading this" 98% of the time over it. Anyone else with me on that?

Lastly, just got in my new electric kettle today, the Hamilton Beach 40996. So far it is answering all my gripes about the nuisance of managing hot water during extended unfocused brewing sessions, (like when brewing tea on the job). I can program the temp just once, press on, and it then begins to instantly give me live feedback of my current water temp while heating with "per degree" integer accuracy (as opposed to in 5's). Once it reaches the target temperature, it goes into a passive "keep warm" cycle that ignores whether or not the kettle is on the stand (or has been removed the stand), allowing me to keep pouring hot water without having to worry about pressing a single button ever again. Not even my Breville does that... Every other kettle I've seen pales in comparison. Others let the water drop to 180 or 170 (I'm looking at you Breville), others force you to press the stupid "keep warm" button over and over again (again, I'm looking at you B)... right now, my little (big) $30 Hamilton Beach kettle is purring away at a consistent 195 F while I get distracted and forget about the tea I'm steeping... now THAT, is quality service. That is all. Thanks.

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Heart of the City is probably Pin's prettier sister.

Less abrasive astringency, more soft and coating. Some florals floating around in the back of the mouth on the sides of the tongue as you move air around with your lips held tight. More cooling in the mouth.
Savory, astringent, bitter. Minerals, salts and cooked bell pepper.
teadonttaste like I like it to.

Diving Duck
Nice calm and sweet. Not much if any body feeling, just a nice sweeter easy drinker. It's been steeping out all afternoon, definitely has a ramp up to its cruising speed, but the ride up is pleasant and once your coasting it's a tasty trip. I would get a cake or two.
2016 Head
Surprisingly delicious.

I feared young astringency and bitterness, yet all I found was a very textured and rich, pleasant tea.

The sweetness is more round and the aroma pulls the taste and feel all together into a very tight and cohesive experience. This tea is more cooling in the mouth.

I started my session at around dinner time and am still experiencing some sweetness and salvation inducing sensations in my mouth at 11am the next day.

This is a surprise winner. I like this tea.
2016 Tyler

More "dusty" astringency, flavors are more muted initially but hang around and sit in the background. Not as sweet as some of the other 2016 W2T's.

I want to re-session this and teadontlie, just to make sure I'm not missing something.

I think I'm going to try to get god on the phone next.
Alright, so I got a bunch of samples from Essence of Tea today, so I'll be commenting here regularly again...

The first tea up is the 2016 Tianba Sweet. I picked this because I want the most probably enjoyable teas to go last, with the benefit of rest from travel, and this bud tea is the one I'm least likely to enjoy. I don't particularly like buddy teas, with the exception of very high end black tea or shu. I mainly do not like them because I don't feel that the taste is full enough. Elegance isn't always enough, and as this is a wild tea, not going to get much elegance, either.

Before I say more, I thought I'd pass along an idea of how diverse wild teas can be, and that despite the relatively narrow range in qualities, there can be wide variance in prices: http://www.hyx8888.com.tw/cart/products.php?cPath=49 . The Essence of Tea Wild Wuliang from 2009 was fairly floral, with a more noisy and detailed taste, while the Teadezhang's Thousand Year Gushu was dominated by a strong grapey-honey taste, with a little fringe of floralness, to give another example of distinct character.

So now, the tea... It's largely as expected. Good viscosity and smooth mouthfeel, the flavor is somewhat reticient, fairly high in umami early on, and with lots of odd notes. The aftertaste does coats the mouth and lingers. There is something of a small issue with astringency in the throat. Qi is present, to maybe moderate-ish degree, but the quality isn't very high. I did enjoy the back end of the session as the tea was more outright pleasantly sweet after all those hours sitting in the pot. I don't really feel that I've changed my mind with a tea like this, but it was fun to sort of think of this as a really funky buddy yellow tea. I do suppose it makes for good medicine to keep on hand, and for blending into other teas to add soup body and qi. But it'd have to be cheap...
The next tea is the Essence of Tea Secret Forest. After inspection, I believe this is the storefront version with buds and a kill-green like puerh, instead of what is essentially a yueguangbai. Yueguanbai-type puerh? Wild varietal yueguangbaipu?

Anyways, there is a central delimma here in that this tea costs £0.33/g or £56/200g. It's quite expensive! And I am no expert at this sort of tea. I've had a very few white teas, but no yueguangbais before. Also, I brewed my only real sample, 8g out of what probably was ten, in a puerh-like fashion rather than a real effort to try and gauge the value of its virtues as a white tea. A somewhat similar product is: http://yunnansourcing.com/en/whitetea/3891-imperial-grade-yue-guang-bai-white-tea-spring-2016.html, which is much cheaper at $20/200g.

So how did I like the tea anyways? It's a fairly sweet tea from jump in a fruity way, and with a much more solid flavor than white teas or buddy teas usually are. It takes boiling water with considerably more grace than white tea (especially assam whites, which this tea resembles) normally does. There isn't a real bitterness, and the assam herbliness (instead of the traditional Fujian white tea variety's hay) is at a decorative minimum. The basic taste of the tea doesn't change very much, except that the fruit intensity ramps up as you start and fades away in the long infusions. The aroma is like the taste, with okay strength most of the way. The viscosity and texture are decent, but not outstanding for a white, or as good as yesterday's tianba buds. The aftertastes generally aren't as intense as yesterday's teas, but there. This tea was pretty caffeinated in the early going, and definitely propped my eyes open, but I didn't find much in the way of qi until the longer infusions happened. It's okay, not as strong as the tianba, but a bit better in quality. What I find to be the outstanding trait is the durability. It lasts as long as a very good puerh, with at least twenty good brews.

This is mostly a guarded thumbs up, as the price is really stiff, but this is probably more worth having than the tianba, which is more of a curiosity. I would prefer that the tea had been pressed into cakes, especially to preserve the aromas while doling out treats to myself over the years. It is a much better idea to pay the piper and get the 200g discount. If you like heartier white teas, especially something like how assam whites are, it's a no brainer. There isn't a real flaw here. I suspect a more elegant performance can be gotten out of this as well.


Fussy Evil Genius
Even knowing as little as I do about these sorts of teas, I very much enjoy reading all these tasting notes. Thank you, all, for continuing them. Perhaps I will absorb more.
The next tea is Essence of Tea's 2016 Wuliang B which costs £36.00/400g, which is not too, too expensive in today's puerh market. I do have some general issues that I will get to though...

The dry leaves are quite loosely pressed, and also sort of fluffy. They are also a bit more yellow/tan in color than tea usually is. Strong dry leaf aroma, mostly generic very fresh puerh. The taste is generally somewhat thin, with a chocolate toned vegetalness rather than the usual tomato character I typically get from Yunnan Sourcing's Ai Lao or Wuliang teas. A bit like YS '09/10 Manzhuan production without Yiwu character. I wouldn't say it's truly thin, as the character is clearly present, but it's sort of like the early brews of those young super vegetal Bingdaos in not having super-definable features. It's not too complex, but I find some small floral and fruit hints. This does have a tendency to generate a lingering bitterness in the finish in many brews. The soup aroma is present and similar to the taste. The viscosity is usually pretty good, and it's smooth on entry, but can definitely leave a fairly astringent feel in the mouth. I've caught a couple of deep feeling in throat and it can promote strong cooling at top of the throat. The aftertaste is mostly of a mouthcoat nature, nothing too interesting, particular compared to the previous wild tea stuff. This has a lot of caffeine, and I really woke up when I started this tea. I felt as if it had some qi midway through the session, but the back end didn't have much potency, so am not sure how truly strong in that department it is. It's not too dynamic, and gave me about ten-ish worthwhile brews.

Okay so anyways, here's my thing--this seems to me like tea that is really far north, as it's not that far from the character of Xiaguan Cang-er tuos, or the Bo-Nan Mountain Yun-wu Yuan Cha sold at YS (tho' the flavor is very different from both). As such this tea pro-ba-bly will not age that much (without strong humidity). Also, this tea is unusually hard on my stomach, so I can't really think of it as an immediate drinker either. It has a number of flaws, like lingering bitterness and some astringency as well. It's in a price range where there's a lot of older teas that are much nicer for me to drink. It is a fairly unique tea, though. I think if I had money, I'd be unlikely to buy this except as a curiosity, and be more interested in Longlanxiang or Qishengu of relatively similar EoT's products.
To be crystal clear, I'm being conservative. I think this Wuliang B is somewhat of an out there tea that will obviously have its own aging process, hopefully at least as good as the Cang-er tuo, but I can't trust that it would be good five or ten years on. However, it's clearly not *that* much of a drink-now sort of tea. That puts it into a netherworld category. I *do* like the basic taste and idea of this tea, though, and can also think of it as a bizarro Bingdao.
Not so much sheng of the day, but breaking up sheng for tomorrow and beyond.
Okay, this was really rather good, the Essence of Tea Wuliang H. The fast explanation is a darker, towards choco and soil, version of Bingdao mode:green, cream, sweet, subtle.

The tea's taste is vaguely similar to Wuliang B, but it's even more translucent. However the delicacy, it's more complex with soil, wood, incense, barnyard, cream notes making their gentle appearances in the top flavor. The most interesting thing about the first five or so brews was the dynamacism of the aroma as the soup cools. It consistently started off with deeper notes like barnyard, soil, wood, and as the soup cools, lightened up to cream or brown sugar. I also enjoyed the lid-scent, which was a sort of floral pickled sensibility. Quite good at having an interesting aromatic performance, even though it's not too strong. The flavor is also dynamic through the session and trends towards a sweet creamy taste (from a more austere and less sweet start). The viscosity is good and the texture is smooth, with a touch of drying astringency that tended to be productive in producing light fruit aftertaste in the front of the mouth early. The cheaper Wuliang B is more potent in terms of aftertaste early on, and in feelings down the throat. This Wuliang H is generally more subtle and it is consistently about lingering aftertastes in the mouth. Later, longer infusions generates stronger, sweeter aftertaste in the mouth. The qi is moderate to strong. Not nearly as punchy as Wuliang B or the wild tea I had immediately after this session, but more comfortable, and unlike Wuliang B, firmly shows up in late infusions. It's still not as sneaky as a really high quality Mengku. The durability is very good, and I'm probably wasting a number of more brews after having somewhere around fifteen brews, probably more than fifteen.

In terms of value, I've fairly immediately started comparing it to 2015 w2t Pin, YS Mushucha, and Nanpozhai--roughly similar price point, somewhat similar basic virtues, and Nanpozhai is a touch close in flavor. This tea is somewhat weaker (and less immediately appealing) in flavor than all three. The Pin and Mushucha probably can be said to have more distinct textures. Pin has more pleasant tannins and Mushucha is more oily. All three are more bitter, with more of a resulting aftertaste from that bitterness. More durable than Nanpozhai. It's generally more subtle, complex, and sophisticated than all three, and it also has well more qi than any of them. I would feel more comfortable if I have had one of the YS Bingdaos to be sure, but I do feel that I can recommend this tea firmly. Aging, dunno, but it's drinkable, it's good, and while the price is not cheap, compared to available alternatives, it's pretty fair. This smacks the YS Huangshan JingGu from 2015 around, and I'd suspect it would smack most of the JingGus you see at YS.

Again, I don't really get the point of Wuliang B. Not as good as being the cheap option like Longlanxiang was in 2014, and shares a few features with the good tea, but not the really good reasons to get that tea.

Because I might actually have an opportunity to make some money next week, I decided to go ahead and brew the Wuliang Wild, which is from the same area as Wuliang H. It's basically like all the other wild teas, with umami, a little funky fruit, musk, etc. Punchy moderate to strong qi of not particularly high quality. This is not as grape-fruity or have the kind of honey taste that I've experienced from other wild teas, instead having a sweet green herb taste like mints, anise, dill, mallow, etc. I think that those of you who got the set should put it away for one-three years, and it should develop a more classically wild tree honey/fruit, maybe florals like the 2009 Wuliang Wild at EoT. I like it fine, but I myself wouldn't ever seek it out--like with the buds, it'd be more of a medicine thing...
Tried some stuff from Bana Tea Company I ordered last year.

1) 2010 Ambush from Ten Sides
This comes from Best Tea House. Actually quite disappointed with the flavour, as it tasted like nothing. Might as well have been drinking warm water. This was a free sample thrown in with my order, and I have left it out in the open air, so can only assume it had dried out. Lesson learned.

2) 2012 Jingmai brick
Breaking the brick apart, I got some lovely floral fragrance. However, not too much flavour when brewing. The compression on the brick is so tight, I probably lost a gram of tea to powder which collected on my strainer, which may have made my brew a bit light. Not sure how this will age, but not really one to drink now IMO.

3) 2012 LBZ brick
Tried this one a year ago, and having my second ever session with it today. Again lost some leaf to powder. The aroma is definitely that LBZ mushroom character. While the aroma is LBZ, the flavour once again is very muted. It improved after 3 or so brews. While the tea has bitterness and astringency, it does feel soft and smooth when swallowing. Quite good qi. A potent tea, I am drinking this right after lunch, and I am starving again, it feels like I haven't eaten all day.

With the 100g bricks, they appear to have been dry stored, the leaves are still quote green. At four years of age, they have lost the floral aspects of young sheng. I'm hoping this is just the often referred to "awkward phase" between a young sheng and mature. Because of the lack of flavour, I can't recommend the bricks for drinking now. If you buy some, be prepared to put them away for at least 6 years before trying.

That being said, Bana Tea Company is having a 20% off sale until the end of August (code is on their online newsletter). I may get a couple more bricks to put away for the long haul.
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Today was the Manlin that was part of the spring shipment of the Essence of Tea tea club.

I thought it was pretty good. The early brews, of around the first five brews had a lovely heavy/deep Yiwu-ish + anise taste (and an impressed bitterness close to the finish), but it starts to empty out and lightens up after five brews into a more generic Manzhuan/Yiwu taste. Aroma had the same pattern. The best aftertaste and qi were in those early brews as well, but the very good thickness and smooth texture more or less lasted in what was overall a long session, probably almost twenty brews or so. The aftertaste tends to be lingering from the bitterness, and there was one huigan in the throat early on. The qi lightens from moderate to mild, but stays around through to the end. It's generally of good quality.

Again, overall, it's a good tea, but it's one that shows the general limitations of Manzhuan teas. It's not as elegant as Yiwu, fun as Yibang, brassy as Gedeng, or as solid as Youle. I've one previous experience with Manlin tea (and none with Walong)--the 2010 XZH. The Essence of Tea version does a better job with qi and viscosity/texture, but the XZH has stronger and much better aroma and taste. This is mainly something that people should age, and in seven-ten years, you should have the start of a very nicely heavy and sweet tea with a good, strong fruit note.
Essence of Tea's Tea Club Yibang Old Trees was drunk most of the day today.

I was relatively surprised. I do not typically like Yibang. Young tea tend to be light, floral, and unserious and fruity in that melon-yellow fruit way. Older teas have had a distinctive tar element to the soup aroma, and the tea usually did not have much complexity. And tea trends sort of reflects this--while Jingmai had its mania effectively when LBZ did in the very early 2ks, Yibang gushu doesn't seem to have popped before about 2010, and typically made almost just because it's a Six Famous Mountain, often appearing in a set of cakes. Diancha sold their Yibang first in 2010, looks like. The first Mansong cakes, particularly from the Changtai Rense series, was in 2010. Not only can you not find mentions of fancy Yibangs in tea lineups, I can't remember any Yibangs in blog and forum postings here or in the Sinosphere. Yibang as a fancy tea is a rather new thing...

Now...where was I before I digressed...? Ah, why was I surprised? Well, this tea had a fairly heavy and dark taste (which I now see Tony Chen describes as wild honey)--basically a sort of dark brown sugar taste. Not only did it have an unexpected amount of meat on the bones, there was an unusual amount of balanced complexity of fruit and florals. Of course, like the Manlin, the depth shallows, and you get more prominent floral and fruit notes. So it made for good contemplative drinking. The aroma was nice with a complex mixture of soil, barnyard, pollen, fruit, florals. Later brews tended to bend toward orchid. The pot lid and wet leaf tended to be rewarding to sniff at. The viscosity is pretty good, but not as good as the Manlin, and this has more astringent drying character. This is also rather consistently bitter, but I feel in a pleasant way, but may be problematic for other. Please note that these lobular leaf teas often has their bitterness get WORSE as they age and not better, and many stay notably bitter more than a decade or two. The tea also is hard on the stomach, even if not as hard as Wuliang B. The aftertastes generally stay in the mouth, but it's pretty complex early on, moving around in the mouth, and the session is dynamic in that different sort of aftertastes happen in different brews. Feeling goes down the throat some, and the qi is of quite good quality. It's sneaky, which I like. You know how a masseuse would kneed your muscle group, finding a knot and when they ease one bunch up, you feel as if you're relieved of tension you didn't know you have? That's what sneaky qi is all about. It puts things right in you while letting you down gently. Punchy qi can be...distracting from a balanced appreciation of the tea.

This tea goes a long way, and I effectively lost some brews because of a touch of stomach discomfort stopped my early session maybe a bit prematurely. Should last longer than fifteen brews.

I definitely, though, think that people did get more or less the retail value for the first half of the tea club. This Yibang should be well over $100/200g. The Manlin is about $100/200g. The Huangshanshu single tree is more of an oddity, but it probably can be considered to be above $100/200g. Then you have the small tree Yibang, which could be $50, good white tea that's at least $20-30. Some wild tea knickknacks, while odd, are clearly going to be better than $50 all told, for at least $400 out of $700. Had I bought in, my primary issue probably would have been the one cake of everything that meant I had to actually open a cake to try.
I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the club order.

Usually with fresh sheng, I will try it once within a month of it arriving, then leave it for a few months at least. I'm not great at judging quality in fresh sheng, and often there is a generic green tea/vegetal flavour which is not interesting to my taste buds.

Most of these teas are interesting to me now however, and I'm dipping into them quite often. Fruity sweetness is common across a few of the cakes. Looking forward to see what surprises will be in the Autumn shipment.
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