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SOTD- sheng of the day

Okay, some stuff to go through, having gotten in some new packages...

I got to try the new Turtle Dove from White2Tea in a thermos. It seems to be less sweet, more solid, deeper taste, has a bit more floral, and is clearly a bit thicker than Old Whitey. These may all be because of the differences in age and pressing. Looking at my notes for Old Whitey when I first got it, it's clearly more fruity/citrusy from the get-go, and Turtle Dove is just less Oriental Beauty-ish than Old Whitey. Right now, I strongly prefer Old Whitey, because of the sweetness, and basic shou-mei jujube taste has more engaging fruit tones. I wish Old Whitey was pressed as tight, though. Turtle Dove is likely to have nicer aroma, longer, than Old Whitey.

I did a thermos of the new W2T SwineDog 76. It seems to have a lot in common with We Go High. But yes, it has a strong bitterness. It's a little on the darker side. Feels much like a combination of the original We Go High blend and Bulang Mannuo. Doesn't seem to be as floral as We Go High. Has qi, and left me *very* hungry.

I did a thermos of W2T Trap Bird shu. Basically normal shu behavior in a thermos with an interesting note here and there. Anticipated my proper session.

I did a session of the new W2T Lumber Slut. I approve of this tea a lot. I wouldn't describe this as being super-woody and soil and all of that. Frankly, you generally get that from warehousing shu. What this shu has that might be offputting, is that it has a lot of green camphor, which of course can be sharp. It's also somewhat sweeter than what I thought I'd get, so this isn't really quite an uncouth, savory tea for unshaven smelly guys. Anyways, this shu has a strong aroma, with a taste that has a bit of wood, in that low fermented shu sort of way, camphor like some shu made from northern puerh areas, sharply dark shu taste like some bulang shu, and a sweet finish + aftertaste. The viscosity is very good, and there is a bit of qi. The durability is okay, and I don't remember a great deal of dynamacism, which would be rare for shu, of course. If I weren't already buying shu and planning on buying a tong of another shu, I'd seriously consider getting a cake or two for myself. It's also a lightly fermented shu, so there will be some aging, after a good long while, as typical with light fermentation shu.

Saturday I did the W2T Anniversary Cake. It was pretty good. Aroma tends to consistently have grains. Most of the time, there is some fruit tones in there, and later brews had some hot sand and florals in the aroma as well. Aroma dies out relatively quickly, by around brew seven or eight. The taste starts off on the lower end with leather, tobacco, grains, bitter medicinal notes, and as the session goes on, the taste goes higher, with fruit notes, and late session tended to be mostly a sort of sugar/caramelish note, with lower bitterness. Viscosity is pretty good, the tea does get progressively more drying astringent as the session moves on, more or less. The aftertaste game is decent. The second and third brew had some pungent huigans in the throat. More of the session featured a long lingering aftertaste in mouth from astringency conversion. Qi is there, but I made no explicit note here, so it must have been within expected range for the price. Durability wise, the exciting part is over relatively quickly and I didn't extend to tea too long when the taste got boring. Lastly, I think that this tea has some Mansa in it, as it features some behavior common to some teas from state forest. It's not that different from the YQH Wujincang. I also entertained whether there is some big leaf varietal Mengsong in there as well.

I wanted to try Trap Bird gongfu, so I moved on from Anniversary quickly, so as to try it before headed to a working Saturday Night. This was a pretty typical shu, in the way of sweet Lincang shus, with a bit of barkiness, and a kind of milk chocolate-white chocolate sweetness. It has a strong aroma with that note, while the taste is a bit less sweet with typical soil notes found with a bit of choco. The viscosity is nice and gelatinously smooth. I got bored with this one fairly quickly. While it's nice enough, much like Cream and Pretty Girls, it's a very standard shu that mostly stands out for being a better example of standard, rather than being interesting in its own right. This tea also has a slight issue with metallic sourness.

Today, I did the Sunday Special. I liked this tea, because it was fairly complex for a shu. The dominant theme in the taste of this shu is a note that I remember before with the YS 2009 Jinggu laochatou. It's sometimes noted as cottonseed, while another review of the YS tea noted hazelnut, which I think is more accessible a taste description. The sharp sense of hazelnut/hazelnut skins without the nuttiness. It can also be described like one those small raisins in one of the box' corners that had gone off a bit and delivers a kind of resinous sugaryness. Anyways, not a totally typical shu taste. Both aroma and taste has some complexity. With the aroma, if I make sure to enjoy it right after the cup is poured, I tend to enjoy a nice floralness, hinting at roses. It has good thickness and some qi. Some degree of sweet finish. In general, Paul seems to have done a much better job of making more premium shu puerh this year compared to last year or 2015. The two nicer shu I got to try this year were much more compelling to me than Orange, Trap Bird, Cream, etc...

I also got in a package from Houde.

I did a thermos of the 2006 Taipei jincha that I got a drinker of, leaving my three wrapped in its bamboo. The dry tea is much darker than I expected, so I wondered if these are a from a re-up out of Taiwan, rather than having been stored in Houston for most of a decade. The tea seems to be more of a gushu style tea rather than a factory style, and the thermos soup was generally quite loose and broad, without a core dense flavor like what you'd get from factory. I had to search for flavor in the mouth, especially when hot. This is one of those weird teas that gets better as it cools, and tastes good cold. Taste is sort of hay, wood, nut, medicinal, has some layers and depth. The viscosity wasn't that high, but it did have a degree of stiffness and velvet. It had a strong sweet nutmeat sweetness in the finish and a high degree of aftertaste activity in the mouth and throat. Very strong feeling down throat. Good qi.

I had bought two cakes of the 2006 Taipei shu as well. Intensely sweet shu, with little of the wood and ginseng that I expected from a previous sample. I thought it was a lot like the W2T '98 white wrapper tuo, but with no funk, and less viscosity. A rather understated tea that has a lot of layers, and it took a while for me to understand that it had more complexity than shu usually does. Strong sweet finish, lingering aftertaste in mouth, some feeling down throat, and notable qi. Noted some similarities with Jincha in terms of feeling, so wouldn't be surprised if this is mostly the same sort of material. This is also more durable than most shu, in terms of exciting parts and continuing flavor. Late infusions got a bit harsher in the throat though, so firm finish line. Much of the obnoxiousness of light fermentation, in terms of energetic feel, or the thin taste feeling, seems to have faded.

*whew* long post...
Did the 2006 Taipei Commemorative Jincha today, having been intrigued by the thermos more than Swinedog.

Aroma tends to be honey, barnyard, some woodsy-hay element, and fades gently as the session goes on. Taste is centered around honeyish element as well, but there are lots of subtle changes from cup to cup, complexities in cup, and length of taste on tongue. Other primary taste elements tended to be woodsy, especially early on, sweet nutmeat a bit later, some plumminess also later, varying degrees of medicinalness and camphor. First few brews have a woodsap dry storage sourness that makes it difficult to drink. Taste had a tendency to change as soup cools, as with thermos. The taste isn't very thick, but I find it hard to say that it's actually thin, more like transparent. The viscosity isn't impressive, about moderate and maybe only a bit better than regular factory, some stiffness and velvet texture to it. Later brews tend to have drying astringency, some of which is quite productive. Aftertastes are impressive. Early on, has aggressive feeling down throat with a complex and subtle rising pungency. Aggresive coating of mouth with aftertaste and it sometimes is quite long-lasting. Some numbing of tonguetip earlier on, in the nice way and not the pesticide way. What bitterness is there converts to sweetness with some grace. The qi is strong early on, and in the late session is more mild-moderate. Durability was something like sixteen or seventeen brews, could have done more.

Might be a relatively coarse blend with a few outright twigs in there, but I firmly recommend this tea for the price. It seems to be Northern Bulang like Guangbien LaoZhai (like the nice Jingmeitang tea Houde offered for some time) at base, but I think it has some Bangpen/Pasha and/or some Mengsong. Not a few similarities to some "banzhangs". The blending really helps, here, when compared to the XZH '06 Bulang from the same area, which is bigger in taste and texture, but not nearly so much fun, and likewise for the Jingmeitang '07. This doesn't quite have the strength of taste or depth/darkness for lbz, even of the sweet sort. Anyways, it's just $33 for 250g. It's an easy, easy win.
Thermoses that I can remember--Sunday Special shu was decent, a bit more flavor than usual for a shu being thermosed, and it had an endearing sweetness. Cottonseed taste not that strong. I saw Marco Gualtieri's instagram post on a 2010 yibang, so I decided to thermos some 2010 YS Xikong. My impression was that this was pretty legit gushu for a YS tea. If it had been better processed, it would be very good.

Saturday, I did the White2Tea SwineDog 76. This didn't have that much similarity to We Go High as the thermos suggested. Broadly speaking the tea is essentially a Southern Bulang, Mannuo type blend. So yes, this has real bitterness. Overall, though, I wasn't superoverwhelmed by it, though. As you see with Paul's big improvement in his shu making, and the more consistent efforts by Chenyuanhao and XZH in promoting high end shu, following more Mainland trends pioneered by the likes of Diancha, it's getting to be easier to create higher quality added value products than to get great sheng. Tho' when it comes to shu, "added value" can be somewhat questionable, for some people. White tea, black teas, and teas with other stuff in it are becoming bigger parts of your pu-vendor's sales.

Anyways... Aroma starts off with a choco-vegetal accent, moves higher with more fruit notes, and fades out with grains and savory herbs notes. Aroma lasts about seven or eight brews, that I apparently paid attention to. The taste is dark, with roasted grains and barnyard, some choco tones early. Medicinal aspects along with the core bitterness. As the aroma gets higher and fruitier, the taste does as well. Then the bitterness starts declining and the tea settles into a consistent grains, floral, a little bitter. Swinedog 76 is definitely less sweet than We Go High, but more multidimensional. We Go High has a fuller, richer, taste. When it comes to viscosity, though Swinedog is easily better. There is a degree of astringency, though. The tea does have some ability to go down throat. There is some numbing of tonguetip early on, along with cooling. The aftertaste game is a bit limited. Some small ability for pungent huigans, and a bit of ability to generate Yiwu style sweet flavors after the sip. The qi is a bit hesitant. Much of the time it was mild-moderate, but a bit of the time, it was decent, almost like it needed some momentum before fading. I didn't really try to push the tea in terms of durability, having gotten a bit bored with it.

I enjoyed some denghshihai shu later.

On Sunday, I did my first full grammage session of some Malaysian stored liu bao from the early 2ks. I did a thermos during the week, and I tried this tea out a year or two ago, with an awkward 5g of tea. This was Liu bao with relatively small leaves and some tips, call it something like a 1-3 grade blend. It was really good. Earliest brews behaved like small-leaf/gongting shu, with a lot of stern depth, and the classical betel sweetness pushed to the side. Never wasn't elegant, and it's much more of a dynamic tea than liu bao normally is, giving the fermentation and roasting. Strong aftertaste game for liubao. Good viscosity and mouthfeel. Relatively strong on the bitterness and astringency, though, but not particularly unpleasant. Needs more time. Definitely showed progress with some nich incense hints here and there.

The second tea of the day was 4.5g of 2011 XZH Gedeng. Really good session, maybe the tea is settling down some. Earliest brews had sweet berry and cream taste, sort of like strawberry shortcake, without berry acidity. Never developed the more typical molasses taste that Gedengs usually have, and was a bit closer to that honey, herbacious, slightly woody note found in Yibangs of the age for most of the session. Narrow taste, not too full, mouthfilling Good viscosity. A great deal of pungent huigans, and lengthy floral lengths in mouth, for aftertaste. Strong, good quality qi. Durable. Very enjoyable session.

Today, I had the '09 XZH Diangu for Christmas. Didn't work out to be the best session on account of me accidentally overbrewing and getting a strongly bitter cup by accident. Quite lao man'e bitterness is in this tea. Anyway, I got the boat steady again and went through. Taste is essentially a kind of stewed, flat, mango, aromatic oak, jasmine in various alignments. Some brews were very nicely complex. Rather full taste for a northern tea, but much higher than the '07 XZH Diangu. Doesn't have much artisinal clay note in it. Viscosity and texture is top of the line. Some pours shows just how much saponins are in this thing, with a profusion of bubbles that makes it look like there's a little dishwasher soup in the soup. So very thick, and thicker than the '07, with a lot of astringency that makes it feel sort of stiffly velvet. Astringency wasn't really crisp or drying though, more like a gentle furriness in the mouth. Aftertastes were gentle and complex. Strong qi, getting very nicely comfortable. Very durable. Late brews aren't that easy to drink compared to menghai norms, not very sweet, and still a sort of very slight jasmine bitterness and mango sourness. Still rather enjoyable.
A couple of notes first...

According to this, for a slightly different memorial cake: 2006台北茶博青餅《認真配方》(乾倉)(380克)

The '06 Taipei jincha is said to be Gelenhe, Nannuo, and Mengsong. Gelenhe doesn't really have gushu groves, so we're really talking Pasha or the areas just south of it, the general northern Bulang area.

The other note is that I'm buying a tong of this shu:2007鄧時海鴻運餅茶 I'd thought that I'd give some other people (in the US) a chance to buy a cake with me, which is about NT$1100 per piece. So anyone joining in would pay somewhat more to pay for currency changing, handling, plus the fraction of the US shipping that cake(s) takes up by weight, and then shipping from me to you. Although, I'd surmise that most if not all of you can make separate arraignments with EZStar to have it shipped to you directly. The main reason I want the cakes is that it has a lot of qi and manages to be sort of interesting in taste and aroma. It does well in aftertaste for a shu. So it's a relatively cheap way to have higher end, but disposable tea sessions for me. The flaws are that it's not an elegant tea, it's not super thick, and the taste can tend to be sour, and overall, kind of high. It's not a deep dark shu, but settles high, sort of half soil, half prunes. Anyways, all risks, you assume. I will probably order next weekend.

Thermos of the short week: I did a comparison between the W2T 2007 pressed maocha jincha and the '06 Taipei. I was thinking that the '07 had a stronger flavor and thickness. The '06 Taipei won pretty easily, as this thermos had more flavor than last time, but less aftertaste game, and it was pretty sweet. Only a bit less thick.

I also had Lumber Slut as a thermos. It did pretty good for a shu in the sense that it had a more solid flavor than shu usually does. Still not too compelling for the usual shu reasons.

I did a trio of great teas during the long weekend.

On Saturday, I did the 2007 XZH Jipin, inspired by the TeaDB episode, and the fact that I sort of botched the brewing the last time I had it. This isn't a super-big tea, like, say the Diangu, but it's pretty all around good. Earlier brews had a lot of complexity in the cup and aroma, and later brews had a sort of sweet grains, medicinal taste, and left a sweet fruity finish that lingered in the mouth. Sanhetang sez that this is a XiaoJingGu tea, but this isn't much like the other JingGu teas, like say the Changtai Jinzhushan. This is more like a gushu processing style version of the Yuanyexiang.

On Sunday, I did the YQH Zhencang Chawang. Heh, there is no Yang storage here! Flip side, it has the traditional early dry storage sourness. This is a relatively light tasting tea, but fortunately this session doesn't have much of the Ceylon taste. It tasted mostly of a gentle woodiness, and a bit of tart green woodsap, with lots of other subtle flavors. Virtually every other serious Yiwu tea, with perhaps the exception of the Teji, has a stronger taste. The viscosity is decent with a nice stiffness to the texture. However, what this tea really does better than most other Yiwu is the quality of the aftertaste, and in this session that quality was firmly in the throat. Very impressive and long lasting yuns that just sits there and plays a jazz composition while it's waiting...for the next sip, I guess. The quality of the qi is also very good. Rather on the strong side, but feels good. In a sense the '05 YQH Long Name is an improvement on the Zhencang, more taste, better texture, more qi, but it doesn't have the aftertaste game. One thing I was clearly feeling while enjoying this session, was the degree to which this tea was becoming more of an aged tea drink rather than a vigorous young tea with elbows.

Today, I had the Black Wrapper. This tea has quietly gone dark on me. Second straight darker session with little over intense sweet black walnutiness. So it has been giving me more standard of a lbz session, with dark tastes and woodiness. Not too choco, more like a coffee and a deep barnyardiness combo. Sweet nuttiness is still there, but more of a complementary role. One thing I am really feeling is the woodiness that seems to be developing. It's note very cedar, but it's still a rather nice woodiness, and the sort of perfumey floralness that this tea has had from the start complements the woodiness very well. Much like meeting a Grand Old Debonair, but Gay, English Gentleman. The viscosity isn't that high, which, well, it never really had been, but the texture is quite nicely milk-like today. The qi is much less in-your-face than it used to be, much like how the Youle is now. The YQH yesterday was more strong, overtly. These teas are losing most of that young stuff qi quicker and quicker. The qi is quite durable through the session, and builds nicely, though. Speaking of durability, the main reason I bought this tea, that this kept being interesting for lots longer than other lbz, still holds true. Extremely durable, and active phase goes for a long longer than what I recall of my session with the 2007 Chen Yuan Hao LBZ. Aftertastes are mostly in the mouth, and are rather subtle. While it did a pungent huigan or two in the throat, it wasn't an overtly exiting aftertaste game, just a complement to the top taste.
I have been on a tea sabbatical over the past couple of weeks with only a nice 80's oolong that James of TeaDB sourced some time ago.

Honeybush really is a pretty outstanding tisane, all thing considered. Not a lot of leaf tisanes make particularly solid tasting or complex brews.

Anyways, I had teas this playoff football weekend. I mostly found the football bad, except for the second half of Vikings-Saints.

The tea Saturday was the 2004 CYH Youle. This is mostly just an okay tea. It reinforces to me that the XZH Youle is basically best in class as far as I know, by a long stretch. I find this sort of interesting because it's really the only Xishuangbanna tea that XZH is clearly best in class for (that I've had a number of examples of)...

ok, The tea's aroma starts off with rotted wood and aromatic soil. This eventually goes higher to a more fruitish, sugar, floral emphasis, before becoming a sort of light generic aged sheng woodiness. The taste sort of behaves the same way, starts off with a more aromatic wood top and a shengy vegetalness with some carrot/plummy sweetness. As the session goes on, the meaty vegetalness fades and soup rises higher, and the aromatic wood part dominates more. After the fifth or so brew, the tea consistently produces a mellow aged (according to typical sheng of the age) tea, sort of sweet and very gently generic barnyard. Boring, but decent enough. This tea does have some tendency for bad bitter-tartness and is higher in astringency, but both happen in the earlier part of the session. The viscosity is only okay, tho' it does have some juiciness and velvet feeling. There can be some fruit or wine finish, much like norther bulang/banzhangs, but only early, and otherwise not very active, aftertaste-wise. There is some aromatic wood mouth aroma, though. There is a little bit of qi, but good quality, presumably due to the age. The durability is good, but too boring to take advantage of.

This isn't really a tea worth paying a lot of money for, something like $50-100, and it's something that needs more aging because of the astringency. There are lots of comparable quality teas in that price range, even if you limit to 2004 teas. Tho' it has to be said that there aren't major issues wrong with it and is more or less comfortably drinkable.

The tea I had today was the Auspicious label '09 Gedeng from pu-erh.sk. This is a weak tea, and I'm dubious about its purity. I had major problems with the pricing.

Aroma had some of the typical Gedeng molasses, wood, soil notes very early, but quickly turns into a consistent barnyardy sort of aroma with less molasses or wood. Some green sheng. The taste essentially follows the aroma. I can't say much more because the tea becomes sort of flat in about four or five brews. The first brew was sort of generic, and by five, there was flavor, but it just wasn't very interesting. If brewed hard, can still get some bitterness, but not really anything that might engage me. The viscosity wasn't very good early, but the texture was juicy and there was some velvet here as well. Eventually the soup thickens up to decent by the time I stopped. Not very much aftertaste and only a little bit of qi.

Coming down with that nasty flu that's been going around, I decided to nurse on some '06 Taipei shu, and it's just so much better a tea to enjoy. Definitely has some true flavor, for a shu, good aroma, good qi and mouthfeel.

A couple of things I have been noting. Prices per hedons for puerh in European teashops really tend to be awful. From Maison des Tres Thes in the past to current day. Looking up that Gedeng and seeing a price of euro135/400g cake. That is very expensive for a tea of that quality. I'd almost be thinking that the YS '10 Gedeng is a better tea, tho' my understanding is that it has some offensive flaws. Even so, I remember more character from my sample of that tea long ago. And of course, the YS '10 fall Xikong could also be almost called a Gedeng, and it's wildly better. Tho' more expensive. And this Auspicious Gedeng tastes a little too blended with cheap stuff. The Auspicious brand does have better teas out there--the set up at Pu-erh.sk is the low tier stuff. So I'm really wondering about what structural forces makes European vendors so out of whack. Essence of Tea isn't too bad, but it's still fairly stiff, but seems like everyone else is selling mediocre (or worse) teas for fairly high prices.

There's been a gradually stronger move by most vendors to make premium shu. I mostly want to emphasize here that shu is a product that flattens the original quality of the leaves. The marginal gains from ever higher leaf quality shrinks really fast. Therefore, people should not seek to pay a lot of money on boutique shu without being relatively sure of their purchases. When Crimson Lotus sells something like Black Gold for $89/200g, it needs to be noted that this sort of price has a lot of competition from other serious brands/vendors. I can eventually get great Sanhetang shu at a price per gram ratio better than that on the Facebook auctions. While Diancha's older boutique shu is ridiculously expensive, you can find some of the younger stuff for around that price. Moreover, there's all sort of great forgotten shu like the Dengshihai shu I just bought a tong of, or the '06 Taipei between $40-$50 a cake. No one really needs to spend more than $60/400g of (not old)shu, and if you are, you should be very picky. I mean, Black Gold is literally more expensive than a lot of very, very good Denong shu from Banatea, and I highly doubt Black Gold is better.
Some quick stuff...

I got in an order from TeaUrchin. Did a thermos of the 2011 Bingdao Tea Refining Company Bingdao. Rather fruity, some honey, not much that balances the sweet. Seems to have the same processing issue as the EoT 2010 Bangwei, as it has a bad green tea bitterness. Good mouthfeel. Evident qi. Main aftertaste is floral mouth aroma. Leaves are whole and pretty.

Wanted to try a couple of shu, see if they're of any interest. Neither truly was, but both were good.

2012 Yi Zhan Chun is effectivly a Mengku Dragon Pole. Earliest brews resembles Dragon Pole in taste, complexity, and energetic head feeling (caffeine?). Then the tea becomes more Mengku bark-like and sour. Very good mouthfeel. Finished leaves are a bit bigger than Dragon Pole, so more like 2nd grade leaf, mostly, with lots of tips.

2010 Langhe Yupin had some of that cottonseed note found in the YS '09 chatou or W2T's Sunday Special. Main flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough. Less complex than Yi Zhan Chun, and less thickness in mouth. Just a decent, good tasting shu. A thermos provoked a bit of bulang bitterness that I didn't get out of the session.

I only did four brews of the Auspicious label '09 Best of Yiwu blend, originally bought from pu-erh.sk, before putting it away. I didn't really think there was too much I might find further. Aroma tends to be aromatic woody with barnyard and plummy notes. Tends to be a woody and dark medicinal/tcm sort of tea taste. It has a strong bitterness. By the fourth brew, more fruitiness was showing. The viscosity was moderate, but it does have a smooth, oily entry. Some drying in the finish. Aftertaste is lengthy taste in mouth resulting from the bitterness. There is a bit of qi. At a good price, this tea would be worth having, but it clearly needs more time.
I did a few more brews of that auspicious tea over the week. It is a pretty decent tea, but it's still hard to drink with a lot of sharpness, bitterness, and astringency. All of it's proper, though, so at some point it should age to a nice tea, but it's probably another decade at least.

The first tea of the weekend was the **** What You Heard from White2tea. I think this was a relatively nice tea that very much brings to mind the XZH Gold Taiji (a hekai), and the the '06 XZH Lao man'e. Very artistic with different sweet flavors. I was expecting something like the '16 Untitled 02 from W2T. Broadly though, it's a bit of a netherworld in terms of value. It's better for sure than We Go High, but I think I would tell people to just go and get Treachery of Storytelling II from '16 or '17, if they can manage it. This is just a very expensive new cake when there are so many really good older cakes are floating about, especially in Taiwan. That being said, for a new cake where you can control storage from the start, it's still pretty worthwhile.

Now, from the top. The aroma is pretty dynamic over the session. It starts off being fairly standard sweet Menghai 'shrooms and barnyard, the builds in sort of medicinal, herbal character, moves toward a more floral (some fruit) focus, and eventually fades to sweet aromas like caramel. I got good aromatic performance from the empty cup as well. The taste was very complex with lots of notes in the cup. The broader taste base was menghai mushroom-choco. The taste often changed to more caramel-type notes as the soup cooled. In later brews the tea become flatter with fewer notes popping up, and a broad sweet lao man'e character. The soup viscosity was decent for gushu, has some astringency, not too notable a mouthfeel in the mouth, given the premium label, as expected. The aftertastes are very good in the mouth, but it's not especially good with the throat action, which is why I thought that for long term treasuring, Treachery was worth the extra wallet thinning. Good length, leading to good mouth aroma, mouthcoat. Some shimmering changes of tastes as well. Very active early, and fades a bit later. The qi is about on the same level of We Go High, less than what I remember Untitled or Treachery. Decent enough. I didn't push this tea like I could have because I wanted to move on, but it seems like this tea can provide flavor and body pretty deep, so estimate something like 15 worthwhile brews?

The second tea for Saturday was the Bingdao Tea Refinery Company's Bingdao from 2011, the sample having been purchased at Tea Urchin. This tea wasn't perfectly made, feels like it was overcooked during shaqing. However, this very much feels like legit Bingdao shengtai, and I feel that the cost/hedons ratio with this tea is pretty good for near term drinking. Remember, an entirely unimpressive YS '16 Bingdao is $198/357g while the TU is selling 500g of this tea for $252. This is certainly cheaper than the Bingdaos sold at Essence of Tea as well.

The aroma takes a while to get going, little at the very start, barnyard with other aspects building in, and finally gets to the stable savory floral, like patchouli. It's pretty decent. The basic nature of the taste is a savory floralness that's rather similar to the 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku tea sold at Best Tea Vancouver, including a bit of that mustard character I didn't like. While the taste is loud, there isn't much to ground the taste or give a sense of core density, so things feel disconnected. Unlike the Tai Lian, '07 XZH Huangshanlin or the '06 Bingdao Peacock, there isn't a strong mineral sweetness to the top flavor of the tea, which would have anchored the floralness better. There is a bit of honey note there too, but the predominant source of sweeter flavors is in the aftertastes. The viscosity is moderate, but there is an albumin texture that's a little similar to my session with the W2T Into the Mystic, and this is nice. It does fade into a more normal viscosity later on. The tea can get astringent, and there is a bad citric tartness that's probably reflective of the processing and which has to be brewed around. I still got a lot of it in one cup, but it's easier to brew around than with the 2010 EoT Bangwei, for instance. The aftertaste are strong and sweet with lots of fruit and honey notes in the mouth. This keeps going very deep into the session. Only a very occasional foray to the top of the throat for a good yun. The qi is decent, might have been a bit boosted from earlier session. The durability seems to be pretty indefinite. Will give you lots of floral flavor with sweet aftertaste very deep into the session. There's little dynamicism or much in the way of surprises. Overall, this isn't a tea that captivates, but provides a great deal of agreeability.

The last tea of the weekend was the 2009 San He Hao from Banatea. I was pretty disappointed, because the tea was relatively pedestrian for what was an expensive price, even for Banatea. This does deliver a strong aroma, taste and a relatively thick body, but there's no subtlety and there's little aftertaste or qi involved. The aroma is a rather dryish floral with Yiwu character and honey. I wouldn't say it's camphor as in the description, but not so distant. The taste is the same dry floral, honey, and some berry aspect, relatively classically Yiwu tea. Relatively viscous tea, and later brews tend to have a bit of astringency that give a little bit of floral aftertaste that lends a badly needed extra length in the mouth, as top taste is relatively short. Qi is on the mild side and fades quickly as I got deeper into the session. I stopped before the tea was done because I got bored. It was also a bit green for me in some way, that I don't remember experiencing when I tried the 2014 version. Not a bad tea at all, but it's priced at good YQH lever tea. Just way too much.
Hey folks..seems like this thread is starting to die lately which bums me out because of how much I've learned from everyone on this forum over the years. Thought I'd do my part to keep it going. SOTD: 2016 YQH Yiwu. This is an odd tea. There are sessions where I think there's no way in hell this is a Yiwu tea. It's got some significant bite to it with some citric astringency that reminds me more of certain menghai teas. Bout to dig through some XZH samples to enjoy during the Super Bowl.
Nothing too fancy this weekend.

2012 Yi zhan chun improved on my second try. The early brews are really quite good, and this is a worthwhile shu with some mellowing ahead of it in terms of aging.

The headliner was a Malaysian stored CNNP "7542" from the late 80's or early '90s. This isn't very much like any of the aged 7542 from the '90s that I've had--this is missing Bada material that provides some meat and some fruitiness. The wash was fruity, but this wasn't a fruity tea. This is much closer to the '06 Taipei Memorial, and in general, this seems to be one of those thinner tasting northern Bulang or Banzhang teas

The aroma starts off very woodsy, with retired smoke, and as the session goes on, bends mostly toward the aged tea ginseng aroma. This tea has early dry storage sourness until about brew five. While the wash taste was plummy, the tea usually tasted like dark wood-retired smoke-tcm. It didn't change much besides getting higher, sweeter, and friendlier ginseng. Some fruitiness happens late. The viscosity and texture was great early on, very thick with very high, snot-surface tension. This eventually thins and becomes less interesting. There is some astringency, but it's very productive. In terms of aftertastes, this is a strong tea. Usually maintains the top flavor in the mouth well after the swallow, and it tends to have a strong feeling and flavored yun sitting at the top of the throat. Very mouthfilling, overall. There is also some camphor mouth aroma that shows up after the swallow. Aftertastes usually behaves consistently and persists through the brews, becoming weaker as the session goes. Qi is generally of moderate level, of reasonably good quality. Not quite that much of the fun qualities of aged tea qi, though--straightforward. Durability seems okay, as I put the tea in the fridge well before it was done, mostly because the exciting part isn't more than about seven or eight brews, but the tea is still worthwhile beyond that.

The next tea was a 2004 6FTM Red Label Yiwu from Farwenwha Puerh. Very fleshy floral, almost tropical fruity in taste and aroma. Is very thick soup. However, processing is obviously bad, as it didn't age right and is still green, and tea in general made me feel bad, so I quit after the second brew. Supposed to be organic. Obviously not so.

Before the Super Bowl today, I had the last of the Auspicious brand samples from pu-erh.sk, the '09 fall Mansa. This is relatively similar to the Best of Yiwu blend, except that it's easier to drink and is less meaty and concentrated. Probably not quite as storage focused as the Best of Yiwu. Generally behaves like GFZ shengtai. Dark root herb basic taste. A bit of qi, not much aftertaste besides a bit of floral mouth aroma. This is a worthwhile tea, but it's well overpriced for what it is. 135 euros is good for better YQH teas. Qizhong will give you a lot of what this tea will give and is better overall besides, and you can usually get it for less.
I agree with Obritten, I also learned a lot from here and I think the reviews here are very interesting to read through. Shah8's reviews are always a joy to read, so I just want to say thanks for keeping it going!

Anyways, I had the 2013 Naka from Chen Sheng Hao today. I got the sample through Liquid Proust's Naka exploration pack and this one was the oldest of the pack. I get a distinct barley aroma from the wet leaf that I don't get often from sheng, and I quite like it. Sweetness picks up a couple of steeps in and it's very balanced with the bitterness. It's fragrant and woody, with medium body and hints of earthiness, which reminds me of beetroot. The liquor is a nice shade of orange-red. Coupled with a slight damp note on the leaves, it makes me think it could've been in somewhat wetter storage.
The sweetness is a bit different than what I'm used to. Funnily enough, it seems as if I put Natreen (the sweetener) in my cup, but it's quite subtle. Definitely a joy to drink all in all. I'm 10 steeps in, and I'll try to put the rest in a thermos.
I got in a package from Taiwan...

Thermosed Baohongyinji 2014 Nuo Wu (from across the river from Bingdao), 2013 BHYJ Chawang. The Nuo Wu was sensate sweet with a basic vegetal taste, with a good deal of complex notes on top, mostly of fruit, perfume, flowers. A degree of floral mouth aroma. It wasn't super awesome but it was good. The Chawang had an unusual fireworks gunpowder aroma, and was sort of a friendly tea with fruit notes.

Did the BHYJ Wangong Saturday morning. It's basically like the White2tea Last Thoughts 2014/15, but weaker. Early on, the gap wasn't that big, but the tea declines very quickly after about five brews. It had a bit good mouthfeel and good qi.

I was disappointed with how the first tea went, so I opened up my brand new 2009 Diangu that's for drinking. Uh oh, this Diangu is a thicker cake, with a smaller, deeper dimple than the two I bought from Houde all those years ago. The ticket is also different, being exactly the same as the neifei, while the Houde version has a bigger, glossy business card sort of ticket. The leaves look bigger. I think I have it figured out that this is the "Chen" version, with 2008 maocha that has been aged a year before pressing. Sanhetang prices both the regular and chen version the same, so I can't quite say I was cheated. However, it's somewhat inferior. The viscosity is much less, and there is less aftertaste, complexity, and qi. Given that, though, this tea pretty much orbitally nuked the morning tea. So much better. I mean, I pretty much have to think of these Diangu teas as pretty close to the best an openly sold tea can get. Even things like the '07 XZH Jipin isn't really in the same league. I expected the necessity of maintaining flash brews to keep the bitterness under control, and I got that, in the sense that the bitterness was pleasurable. Deep fruity taste, some paper/wood, and some complexity in the finish and aftertaste. Somewhat sensately sweet.

Today I did the other "premium" BHYJ, which was the Lengshuihe, and I was even more disappointed. Very much inferior to the EoT version, and I wound up not really wanting to analyze it very much. The central issue seems to be that BHYJ tweaks their tea to make things ultra friendly, and thus creates rather boring tea. Changtai processing gone mad. I *think* the Nuo Wu will turn out pretty good, as the thermos evidenced some guts. The other likely problem is that the guys running the outfit didn't really have the juice or cash to get the best leaf out of Yiwu.

I moved on to a 4g session of the XZH '07 Huangshanlin, to get a feel for the "Bingdao-ness". This wasn't as good as the last time, as that the aftertaste weren't as impressive. The aroma and taste are very subtle, and this tea does give a good impression of something that has gone stale and sweet. There is a lot of complexity in the taste and aroma, though. I wonder if the reason we don't see this tea for auction even as all of its peers have done so, is because of the light taste, or maybe people think it's really good and bound to get high prices later.

I had been trying out the 2004 Six Famous Tea Mountains No. 1 recipe shu during the week, that BanaTea has the 2006 version. Short story, it's like all them other lightly fermented shus. Rather low on flavor, a thin woody/ginseng layer, and some sweetness. Has a coating mouthcoat and lingering aftertaste, and some qi. Interesting enough, this still has some astringency, but it's not of a drying kind, king of very finely gritty. Interesting mouthfeel. Good qi for a shu. It's pretty good.
I started the day with CWS 2015 Mannuo Gushu sold as mao cha. The leaf quality is very nice, lots of unbroken big leaves and I can see some buds in there too. It's a decent sheng that's definitely maturing somewhat in my storage. When I first got it, it brewed light yellow, and today I noticed a very noticeable orange hue from the beginning. It's a mellow tea with notes of hay and a lingering floral aftertaste. After six or so steeps I decided to finish it in a thermos. Left it there for an hour, and it came out really sweet, with a heavy date note. If I didn't know better, I'd think someone put sugar in my cup.

My second tea today was a complete opposite of the one above. I had a wild purple sheng, apparently from Dehong and aged for a few years, that was provided by a tea friend. Some buds are present in the sample, and the slightly bigger leaves have a purple hue to them. It starts floral, woody and slightly peppery. The spice picks up along with the bitterness in the next few steeps, and it develops notes of ginger and barley. Hard to define, but when pushed it reminds me of a single malt whiskey. After six steeps, there is some returning sweetness as well which cuts through the spice nicely. Robust tea and a stronger than average qi.

2017 Bangpen from Puersk. Reminiscent of cotton candy in that nice clean gushu way. Both texture and flavor. It has a super fruity aftertaste along with a teeth squeaking astringency-it reminds me of purple tea. High, bright, not super complex but fruity and sweet. In the middle steeps its rooty bitter and spicy. My face is warm and lots of mouth and throat effects. Syrupy texture and a taste like you added lots of sugar directly into the cup. A very high quality Bulang tea.

2006 Tsaingliu from YQH. Love this tea. Exactly what I was looking for: closer to daily drinker price, simpler and very sweet. Initially there are darker and almost savory characters, in a spice sense. The main part to this tea is a molasses wood flavor. I am almost reminded me of a fancy brunch pancake with a seasonal fruit maple syrup. There is some sourness mid steeps. Their is a rising qi (moving up and over my head) and stays in the throat a bit. It is simple but its doing everything so well.

This was a surprise with the cake order above-2007 xzh yiwu chawang. This was 5 grams mostly in dust. Because of that the tea died quickly and the first few steeps were too strong. Nonetheless an incredible tea and one of the best i have had. The sweetest richest densest fruit I have ever had with a liquid that is so thick it seems like it might solidify if I left it to cool. Almost hard to swallow if that makes sense. Extremely oily all over the lips and the outside of the liquid in the mouth. There is smoke and sourness all along with this so its easy to get lost in the complexity. There is a psychedelic qi right away. Hyperaware in your body but above it at the same time. Am I doing what I am doing sortve thing? Everything feels amazing and hypertuned. Glasses to not just vision but the whole universe. I have only experienced this (with tea at least...ha) about 3 or 4 times before. About steeps 3-5 there is a really strong fruit vinegar flavor and then so much happens after the swallow. Super sweet leather, flowers and lots of differing flavors and sensations. Thanks for this one, Emmett.

A quick note on my yearly tasting of the 2006 XZH Lao Man'e which I have a note of a few pages back. This is very rich. Chocolate, caramel, banana reminding me of overproof rum. Lately I have been getting lots of liquor references to teas in my head. This really sticks in the throat. It is quite strong too. I feel really good and warm. There is an edge of bitterness to start and the aftertaste is like apple cider-a very spicy tea. The long steeps are reminiscent of chai. A very viscous tea with caffeine to boot.

2004 Nan Jian Phoenix from YS. This is good tea. Less on the liquid barbecue side of factory teas but still bears that in some ways. Not super sour. Tangerine flavor, honey smoky. Very oily which is always pleasant. The 2005 Hailanghao Lincang Impression is more liquid smoke. That is just a decent tea.

Huangpian XMAS cake from W2T. A tea club exclusive (and if you spent lots of money in the black friday sale). Like this alot! Part of that is I am just a big fan of these old leaf teas. This is my fourth and they have the same basic sweet lemon and spices like sage (forest herbs?). But this one just seems a little extra rich and sweet. It has a great center which with young teas you dont find often. In the mouth I visualize this core and pulsing around that is some light astringency and sourness and in the core is super sweet lemon. Really nice. Not the qi of the Fade though.

2008 Menghai W2T. This is decent stuff. Smells like vanilla extract on the dry leaf which I get from bulangs sometime. Its smooth and tastes like maple syrup mostly. Some sour wood especially nearer the swallow. Also that mushroom vanilla thing common in Bulang. Just a little placid. It is very smooth with a bit of biting bitterness. Almost no smoke and its generally clean. If simpler, sour and no smoke sound good I don't see why not given the market. It is a good example of this aged terroir but I don't know if its worth the buy if you aren't fiending after aged menghai/bulang tea on the cheap. But are there similarly priced teas with this region/age?

I'll have more younger teas to write about that I got over the holidays and am waiting for spring/summer to try.
I would up drinking the XZH Huangshanlin, brew or two a day throughout that week. Which was very enjoyable.

I've had thermos and gonfu sessions for all the BHYJ. The Lengshuihe clearly sucks, while the Nuowu, Chawang, Wangong are okay. Nuowu doesn't have qi, while Chawang '13 does. They are all tweaked, and seemingly not fit for drinking.

The Langhe shu from TeaUrchin is basically just average. Langhe makes decent shu, but that's all it is. The 6ftm shu from 2004 might have a pesticide/herbicide issue, feel a bit of weirdness from a thermos. Not very much, but definitely will be using a wash.

I had a really good thermos of 2006 YQH Qixiang. When it's good, it's really good. 2007 YQH Qizhong had a solid flavor, that isn't that sweet, but there wasn't much complexity to engage me in the thermos.

And again, I think the 2010 EoT Bangwei would have been a *very* reasonable tea with a bit better processing. When the tartness is under control, it outdoes a lot of teas in thermos.

Today I had the 2010 XZH Huangshan, which is a Manlin. Aroma is basically a sort of wood and spice, and diminishes after about four brews. The initial brews in the taste were impressively dark and solid, almost chocolate, with a good aromatic wood/leather layer, and some spices. After about four brews, it lightens up to a sort of milkish note, and then honey. The light honey-ish taste is very durable, brewed this at least twenty times. The viscosity is good, and this is generally a smooth tea, doesn't even have much in the way of drying astringency. Aftertaste was a bit on the sparse side, aromatic lingering flavor in the mouth, mostly, with a nice huigan in the throat or two. Qi was pretty good, about moderate and relaxing. Durability was very good.
XZH 2010 Manlin thermosed ok. XZH 2007 7542 thermos was rather savory with a lot of retired smoke, with a bit of a sweet finish.

Saturday was two teas. 2007 Dayi An Xiang sheng. This didn't have a lot of taste or aroma, but what was there was nice. Very high, with little low notes. What was very notable about the tea was that it was very thick, with a specifically slick mouthfeel. There was a bit of aftertaste here and there. The qi was moderate, as this tea has much improved in that department since its youth. Also the traditional anti-ADD effect.

The second tea was a 2002 Zhongcha wrapper qingbing 7542. I can't really figure out exactly what this tea is, because 2002 MTF uses the wrapping/nefei type for late eighties-'92 wrapper, and so it looks very close to an 88QB, except younger looking neifei. 2002 zhongcha wrapper 7542 teas use the dai markings on the lower right of the neifei, but this tea does not have it. I do not believe that it's a fake, because unlike what some bloggers have said back in the day, the vast majority of fakes are terrible, and this is well above the quality of the typical potable fake, and it tastes like a 7542, but on the plummy side. I got out what would be the last full size serving, as the cake is almost done. I treated it like a drinker, because I wasn't always all that happy with the performance and it has had some issues. There is a bit of pesticide/toxin that tends to impact the throat, and which needs to be washed out. The tea also tended to be short-lived, especially when it starts out very pleasantly plummy. Today there wasn't all that much flavor or plumminess, just a rather mellow, quiet low flavor with hints of plum, soil, wood. The mouthfeel was very soft and and pleasant, only a moderate thickness. There was very little astringency, except for a couple of overbrewed cups. The aftertastes were subtle and sweet around the mouth, and there was a lot of pleasant qi, which was not typical--maybe boosted by an xiang. Durability was indefinite and I wasted brews by throwing out at about 15.

Today was the '03 Bulang Jingpin. It wasn't as good as yesterday's teas, and I'm starting to think I've overrated it to a degree. Interestingly enough, this tea was pretty good at seven years of age, and had a real degree of apricot and sweetness, but it hasn't done all that much in the 8 years I've had it but maybe fade a little. I think to a degree, the issue is that it's made of autumn leaf. Underpowered leaf undergo weaker aging? Or maybe it's just quiet for now.
Okay, jotting down some quick stuff...

I did a new comparison testing between White2tea's Swinedog and We Go High, on separate weekend days. I'm more confident that We Go High is the materially better tea. First and foremost, it does a better job of being a tasty and worthwhile tea late. It also has a better aftertaste game. Swinedog starts off fairly well, it has a stronger, deeper taste and more thickness in the soup. However both thins somewhat quicker, and late infusions tends to be only a medicinal bitterness. Anyways, to really have a good measure of what's the best Menghai tea in the price range, I'd really need to try the Tuhao from either '16 or '17. I wonder how the '15 is doing today.

I have been doing some shu testing.

I retried Sunday Special, and felt a little bored with it. That wonderful rose scent that I got before, that shows up right after the pour, isn't there this time. It seems like some of the funk from the wodui, I enjoyed in the sense that it gave character. Without it, the cottonseed aspect is thinner, and it's a more typical shu experience, which is nice enough.

I retried the '07 An Xiang shu. This was slightly sour this time, but it was a fairly pleasant sourness that added depth and character. In any event, this is still an excellent shu. It's not quite as good as XZH shu simply in that it's not as big, mouthfilling, and robust as XZH shus.

Redid the '04 6FTM shu, with two washes to see if it plays nicer in my body. I decided that it was inconclusive. One issue is definitely that this is a rather potent shu. Only moderate qi, but, with other tea ('06 taipei jincha thermos), definitely contributes to serious munchies. This shu has a fairly strong, for a shu, woodsy-floral mouth aroma, which adds to the bit of wood flavor it does have. It is also very durable.

Redid the '09 XZH Xicontianxiang. Has gongting shu cake robustness of dark flavors. Very notable and aggressive feeling in the mouth and throat. Good qi. Disorganized and a bit muddy in taste.

Redid the '06 Taipei memorial. This shu has a bit less of the woods note than the '04 6FTM, and the difference between this and a good, but average shu, is the banzhang-like astringency to sweetness conversion in mouth. The difference is rather subtle.

Today, I had the '09 Gushu LanXiang bought from YS eight years ago. This was said to be from Xinguizhai, but there is no such village. It should either be Mangui, from the Jieliang area near Bada, or Bakanan, in the Banzhang area. I'm favoring Bakanan, but this tea was sold to be cheaper than the Manmu cake, which ought to be less premium than Bakanan, soooooOOoooo... Anyways, I was surprised with a rather good session. It's not a super high premium gushu tea--it's that sort of transparent, low richness sort of gushu that low-mid-tier tea brands could get. Most readers will experience that with "gush" Yiwu--some honey, some florals/leather, but nothing in between. Anways, this Bulang had a strong aroma early on, that was honey-barnyard-fruit-floralish, and this was interesting and enjoyable. The tasted tended to more of a barnyard-choco with dark fruit tones. Good thickness. Good mouthcoat, leaving a sort of fleshy floral aspect there. Good qi, seeing the benefit of nine years of aging in increasing the quality, sort of on the moderate level, or a bit less. The durability wasn't too great, maybe six really good brews before reasonably gracefully tapering off.

I should be on a long sample run starting next week, though.
Hmmm, I left out that I finished off a sample of 2011 fall Theasophie LBZ, 4g in a gaiwan. I wasn't really all that happy with it. I did keep brewing it through that week. I think that the quality LBZ aspects of the tea were really delicate, and doesn't take kindly to my preferred way of brewing tea.

Okay, thermoses, there were a lot of them...
Monday was the Gushu Lan Xiang--the "gushu" aspect of the tea reared in the thermos. Thin and not so appealing. I do remember doing thermos of the dongfanbubai sister cake, which was successful... These two teas do tend to be very erratic in quality.

Wednesday's tea was Mike Pong's 2005 LBZ. This was thick, with a bit of depth, hay, wood, light retired smoke, and a penchant for turning fruity. However, this is very intensely stored, so the tea has a lot of the feel of shu, with smoothness and roundness. More true core flavor, of course. I didn't like this tea because there was an off note, and I didn't feel good drinking it, wound up throwing some of it out when I got fed up.

Tuesday tea was a 1998 "Yiwu" brick tea. It was only okay. It basically tasted like basic cheaper Menghai taidi with some Jiangchen nicer stuff thrown in to provide Yiwuness. Does some stuff I associate with Jiangchen--camphor, fruity aftertaste, cooling, relatively thin top taste...

Thursday's tea was a 1999 Yibang from Mike Pong. As heavily stored tea, but much nicer. I have a similar tea in a Dingxing from around that time, but that tea still has bitterness and astringency, despite heavy storage. Again, a thick, smooth tea, with some degree of qi, and there was some sweet flavors in there. I do not think I'll enjoy such teas that I've been trying from Pong in a gongfu, but they are so smooth that they might make good and bombproof work teas.

Friday's tea was a 2003 7542. Dry leaf doesn't look like a 7542 much, and the tea is like the others, heavily stored to the point of smoothness. Can't even really be sure I didn't have a 7542. I found it tolerable.

I didn't really enjoy any of the thermos, except maybe the Yibang.

Today I did a session of what should be a 2007 Chenyuanhao GFZ, originally from Liquid Proust. It was okay, but the Auspicious label '09 Best of Yiwu (from pu-erh.sk) is a similar tea that's better, if harder to drink. The aroma didn't last deep into the session, just a couple of strong aromas and fades from there. Aromatic soil with plumminess and honey in the first brew, then barnyard with vegetal and honey in the second brew, get higher in the third brew with more of a honey emphasis, and fades in session. The taste starts off with aromatic soil, plumminess, then get really deep with barnyard and choco notes. This brew had some bitter-tart when hot, and turns into just bitterness when cooler. The third brew follows the aroma and turns higher and honeyish. The fourth brew is pretty hollow with some aromatic wood notes. The tea gets more boring from there, but a couple of brews after a long rest gave some complexity in cup. The viscosity is usually pretty good and there is a bit of a marshmellow texture. This can also have episodes of drying astringency, though. Aftertastes were not that present, and tend to show up after the cup is finish, with a nice mouthcoat for a bit. Qi was decent. Nothing impressive, but gives a bit of mellow feeling. Durability is poor for my expectations. Less than ten brews were at all worthwhile. Viscosity and texture did last though, but not taste or anything else.

I also started a '90s brick, figured it was shu, but I decided that it wasn't a very sanitary shu, and this shu didn't have anything that'd make me want to ignore said lack of cleanliness, and chucked it out inside of three brews.
A day of going through not particularly great tea...

1) Chenyuanhao tea ball, presumably the same as reviewed on TeaDB. I found this to be effectively a wangong and wild honey-type yiwu made from shengtai groves. Starts off deep in taste and aroma with wild honey dominating, and gradually rises up to a sort of honey note. The viscosity is decent and the tea is smooth, with a little drying astringency. However, the mouthfeel certainly isn't as nice as the '07 CYH GFY, for obvious age reasons. There was one cup with substantial cooling feel in mouth. There isn't much aftertaste, except after finishing the cup. There was a bit of qi, but it faded as the session went on. This was not a durable tea, and lasted about the same as the '07 GFZ, maybe a bit less.

2) Tried 00 Phoenix tuo, apparently originally from Toby and friends. Strong, deepish, and sharp TCM character in taste, thin viscosity and no real aftertaste and qi. I threw it out after the second brew because it didn't feel very sanitary to me.

3) '01 CNNP Yellow Label, 4g. This was basically some sort of Mengku. It's clean, thank goodness. The aroma and taste tends to be fruity, but with also a sort of pool-chlorine-herb note that isn't objectionable to me. The taste is somewhat thin, little complexity. There is a sweet chicory finish. Viscosity is also thin. Generally smooth but unremarkable texture. This does have some qi, and it can have a bit of nice aftertaste. It's not particularly good, but if it's cheap, someone might enjoy it for the workman tea that it is.
*correction to the last post*

Toby never had the 00 Phoenix tuo, this was a tea originally owned by one of Emilio's (of the Jade Leaf's) friends.

the 01 CNNP is from Mike Pong, I think.
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