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SOTD- sheng of the day


I'm calling the U.N.
Moderator Emeritus

Cracking this puppy open today ...
Thermoses during the week:
2006 DTH was pretty thick and pleasant tasting, but not too dramatic.
I did a blend of 2005 Dayi 8582 502 and An Xiang shu, the remainder of that Kingtea stored, it worked out okay.
I did the 2011 EoT Mannuo, and it was quite fantastic. Strongly floral, in that rice-floral Naka sense, tends to fill mouth with floral aroma like I was puffing a cigar. liqueur turns intensly Menghai honey-mushroom sweet when held in the mouth. Long lasting mouthcoat. The only flaw was a bit of tartness

I tested out Lumber Slut. I enjoy this W2T shu. It's not super fantastic, but it's easily better than most Dayi, and it does have a bit of qi.

Today, I tried out the TW stored version of the '06 XZH Youle. While it's still better than any non XZH Youle I've had or know if, it's very much inferior to mine. The mouthfeel is the same, and is excellent, very thick and oily. Prone to some odd busts of astringency. Early brews has some electric mouthfeels. The taste in the early going, while mellow, wasn't too bad, mostly low, choco, aromatic soil, and some barnyard. It thins out quickly though, and I suffered some very hollow brews until I started brewing much more aggressively, which works to a degree. The aromas were on the lower side and fades mostly out by the fifth brew. The aftertastes are fairly absent in the session, aside from some hints. Oddly enough, the qi is also much weaker and fades in the later brews. I entertained the notion that the cake version and the 3kg magnum version may well have slightly different materials. The back end of the session featured a strong, dull carrot taste and thick soup, which was nice. Not complex, but almost tomato soup, ya know?

One of the things I took from this session is that some of these TW stored teas really do better if you give them a several hour break and brew again. The '08 Puzhen also does this in a notable way.

I'm wondering what is the storage difference between humid stored and faded teas and humid stored and strong teas. I mean, it could just be the material, but I'm disinclined to think that. Then again, we see most of these problems are with Sanhetang teas. However, the 2007 Chenyuanhao GFZ I had last weekend does have similar behavior, making me wonder if there is not a better stored version that's really nice.

The other tea I had today was the 2014 10th Anniversary Yiwu: 囍字号‖2014年十周年纪念饼*400克/饼 via Liquid Proust. Via an information mini-blog announcing a Sanhetang presence at a Tea show, Tony Chen said that this tea is Bohetang. I sort of believe it, tho' not *good* bohetang, obviously. The long and short of it is that this tea behaves like a self-seeded somewhat wild tea, much like some Pu-erh.sk Gushu Rareness, except less wild. Liquid Proust is correct in that this tea has some butterscotch notes in aroma and taste. The main character of the tea is based on barnyard, very sweet mushroom, and that butterscotchey note. As said before, it's really sweet, but there's basically no bitterness, and no savoriness (except barnyard, to a degree), so it's sort of insipid. The viscosity is decent for premium gushu, and it's smooth. Some cooling in mouth. The most notable aspect of this tea is the strong fruity-wine finish-aftertaste, which is quite nice. This tea isn't that durable, and the nice aspects only lasts for about ten brews, and it gets boring with some viscosity afterwards. The qi is not very strong, considering how expensive this is. I think this is a tea worth having, if you already have great well-rounded Yiwus, and expensive for what it is, if you make this your first.
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I tend to agree with you on the 14 XZH Anniversary Bing shah. I was extremely excited when I got it hoping for truly top Mengla material due to the high price. I don’t regret that I have it as it is very unique with super interesting dark sweetness. I just can’t seem to put my finger on why it seems to be missing something. Also bummed with its seemingly missing qi. It seems like the XZH anniversary/gift teas can be quite hit or miss.
Three teas of the day.

The first tea is the 2008 ChenYuanHao Yesheng Jincha (400g), 4g. I had been looking forward to trying this very expensive tea, and was disappointed. Other people had liked this tea very much, but I wasn't particularly impressed for myself. I felt that this was a tea that is very similar to the YQH '04 Zhenpin Chawang when it was younger, but not as good. As a result, I'm writing off Chenyuanhao as a brand I'm interested in. I think that it doesn't try hard enough, often enough to be worth the considerable expense--the teas to really get are rare and difficult to get, like the 2003 Songpinhao remake, or the '05 lbz, or their good more recent teas, like the 2014 guoyoulin or 2015 yiwu chawang have good, comparable, and comparably priced (eg, 2014, 2015 Last Thoughts) competition. The '07 Zipin is alright on a good day, but that tea is sort of like this '08 yesheng, it's really too small and soft and tidy a tea for me, but it wiggles its *** a bit better than the yesheng.

Alright, to the details. Aroma tends to be barnyard, floral, spice. Sometimes with a mushroom aspect. Later long brews tend to be a sort of woodsap/herbly sort of thing? The taste has a solid mushroom base, with some aromatic soil. It verges onto some plummy aspects in some brews, and more herbly-floral in other brews. The midsection and latter sessions of the tea tends to have this...creamsicle cream taste that has an apple or pearsauce emphasis. Late long brews tends to have woodsap/herbly. I found the taste to have very little nuance to be found in the depth, and I wound up drinking many of the cups fairly quickly. The aftertaste game was iffy. Early brews did manage to have a lingering floral aftertaste enjoyed after the cup was finish. There was some of that tonguetip fruity aftertaste. But this stopped happening not too far into the session. The viscosity was decent, and there wasn't much in the way of astringency. The qi was mostly on the mild to moderate level, and wasn't particularly remarkable. It does brew for a long way, but the cups aren't very interesting, especially late.

I do wonder if I just had gotten unlucky with an uninspiring set of leaves that isn't representative of what the tea can do.

So I switched to a tea I had just gotten yesterday. One of three teas from a Korean label cake breakup, this was a '10 Kuzhushan. This Korean shop's tea is supposed to be high end, and they have used the same people and resources that Sanhetang does. The kuzhushan was chosen because I just got this tea, and this should be the weakest of the three teas in quality, allowing other teas to rest before I do a full session. I was fairly happy with the results. With the Sanhetang '07 Kuzhushan in mind, one immediate sees that the storage is much better. I think the raw material in the '07 XZH is somewhat better--more potent in throat feeling, and a bit more inclined to sweet plum and honey flavors, but this tea easily matches the rough quality levels of 2010 XZH northern teas (aside, probably from the Osan chawang, one of four top teas). There are no real surprises, though. It's a very standard Kuzhushan experience that you'd find in YS, Changtai, or XZH tea.

The aroma starts off with a bang, with a rather masculine expression, lots of barbeque, some incense, tobacco aspects. The bbq dies off quick, and most later brews give a rich tobacco, incense, with very slight off-jinggu twist that gives it interest. The taste starts off a little weird with stewed greens notes that also leaves with the wash. The taste is relatively predictable--it'd be some sort tobacco, wood, touch of incense, and sweet roasted grains underneath in varying proportions, through the session. It's very big, rich, and hearty, though, in its savory way. So a rather easy and enjoyable drinker. The viscosity is also very good and smooth. There is some aftertaste, but it's not all that remarkable, sort of tidy. Qi is mostly on the moderate end, and enjoyable, tho' not too special. Indefinite durability, with good cups very deep into the session. Stopped before tea was remotely done. Not sure how much this tea is, but the brand is very expensive, so unlikely to be less than 50 cents a gram.

The last tea was the '09 Auspicious label Guafengzhai. I enjoyed the tea much more than the CYH yesheng. Heh, the XZH 10th Anniversary and this tea are both more yesheng than the actual labeled yesheng (judging by odd flavors--this GFZ' first couple of cups had a distinct fishy note). The leaves are very big, dark and pretty, with firm rolling. I found this to be a rather distinctive and elegant tea with fairly good quality qi. Has had some humidity and some common flavor, so I compared with '11 XZH Gedeng (generally, the Gedeng is better). This can be had for about $450-$500/400g cake from tw auctions, all told.

Early aroma had some fishy, mushroom spice notes, but it moves towards a nice and complex barnyard and violets character. The aroma does die down fairly quickly into the session. The taste has some of that "fishy" note in the first couple of brews, but the dominant character of the early session is a sort of choco and fleshy floral (violets) theme. There is some barnyard on occasion. The tea eventually moves to a more cream based regime, and late session is a more jerky choco aspect in an emptier cup. The viscosity is good and rather smooth. Some degree of cooling. The tea consistently offers a decent floral aftertaste with some activity and movement in the mouth, early part of the session. The qi is moderate and is of relatively high quality. Durability is okay, I think. I do think this tea is sort of worth the money, in the general context of what legit teas cost. I certainly think that this is better than the average run of CYH, and it's certainly the best Auspicious tried to date. YQH does not do yiwu of this nature, but XZH has a number of teas with somewhat similar themes that are quite a bit better. The Gedeng, for example, is even more elegant in aroma and taste, has a thicker soup, more qi, and aftertaste game is more durable. XZH also has a relatively similar '09 GFZ, which isn't as elegant, but is more robust, and with similar flavors.

Obritten, XZH tiers their teas. 2005-2009, almost all of the teas were at a high tier. Starting in 2010, the best stuff is pretty clearly tiered well above everything else, with everything underneath them having real flaws. So if you wanted a well rounded post 2009 XZH yiwu, you need to go at least around the 5000RMB mark, around $800 or so, from Weidian. Or you have to be very sharpeyed and ruthless when such teas shows up on TW auctions, and most of these Yiwus are in good shape, storage-wise. 2012 yiwu chawang has shown up a few times. Even then, it's going to cost more than $500.


I'm calling the U.N.
Moderator Emeritus

I'm fighting a cold, so my ability to properly assess flavours &c is greatly reduced.

I'm enjoying it, thought. One thing I noted, and liked, was that the cake was compressed in that less-tight manner that makes prying leaves and chunks apart without excessive damage a lot easier. With the really dense cakes, I'm sometimes tempted to get a bandsaw.


Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus

I'm fighting a cold, so my ability to properly assess flavours &c is greatly reduced.

I'm enjoying it, thought. One thing I noted, and liked, was that the cake was compressed in that less-tight manner that makes prying leaves and chunks apart without excessive damage a lot easier. With the really dense cakes, I'm sometimes tempted to get a bandsaw.
Some of those, such as Xiaguan, need a jackhammer.
With a full weekend upcoming, I figured I better write up the week's thermoses.

I had a full week of very high quality teas, intent on measuring. These were KoreaHao '10 Walong, KoreaHao '07 Bangwei, KoreaHao '10 Kuzhu, XZH '10 Manlin, XZH '08 Puzhen.

KoreaHao were very good in thermoses, but XZH seems to win. Having had a proper session with only the Kuzhu, with Walong and Bangwei coming up this weekend, the thermoses seems to suggest that KoreaHao is roughly on the BYH tier, and notably made on the bigger, heartier side (like XZH), rather than smaller, delicate, soft side expressed by the likes of CYH.

The KH's Kuzhu is obviously inferior to the thermoses I remember from the '07 XZH Kuzhu, more so than the difference between gongfu sessions. The XZH had penetration in throat, some aftertaste, and richer taste. KH Kuzhu seems to be very much a big taste and aroma focused tea. Good mouthfeel. Just not quite so much of an aftertaste or qi thing.

The KH's Walong is very good, and I was fairly impressed by the thermos. A solid and broad somewhat choco taste, good aroma, good floral mouth aroma for aftertaste, good thickness. Goes down throat nice... When I did the XZH, I was expecting it to be inferior, but the Manlin was mainly weaker in taste and viscosity, but it had a stronger throat feel, the aftertaste is in the throat rather than the mouth, which I place a higher value on, more qi. Notably sweeter in sensate taste. Interestingly enough, it had a nice bitterness and astringency that suggests more aging possibility. It was the more complex experience.

The KH's Bangwei was an interesting experience. It reminded me of how the XZH Huangshanlin does in a thermos, but it was more savory, less floral. I was also comparing this to the 2010 EoT Bangwei, and these two are rather similar teas. The KH is better, overall, being a more complex experience, the EoT is brighter, and has a very superior aroma. It was surprising the relative mutedness of the aroma from the KH Bangwei. One thing that was an issue is that the KH has a tartness that I'm now recognizing as maybe part of the regional character rather than the product of aging overcooked leaves, tho' that could still be true. Where the EoT's Bangwei's tartness has been intractable in a gongfu session to date, and much softer in a thermos, the KH is a little more aggro in a thermos, but not bad. I'm looking forward to a gongfu session because I think that this might be like the Huangshanlin in having very fun aftertastes--probably not as much.

I did the XZH '08 Puzhen, because I didn't want to get off the great tea train, right when it's Friday. As with the Manlin, I was very suprised at the quality of the thermos today, so I took to wondering if my tea is waking up with the spring. Thick, layered taste, moderately viscous, with the expected great mouthfeel. It had this really neat cherry-watermelon sweet note, and an interesting high note of very dry florals, a very little like the dry florals I remember in the 2001 Heshuihe Jingmai I tried long ago. Lots of qi. Not too much in the way of aftertastes, considering. This made me lust after another cake of this stuff.

In the morning, before going to work, I did the '04 6FTM shu I had been working out and being wary of. Today, it felt slightly unclean, but otherwise normal. Has moderate qi for a shu, refined aromas and taste. In general, very aged 8592-ish. Including the brews I made after I got back from work, this is a very durable shu, at least for me. As something that isn't expensive, I might get another cake or two.
Four teas this weekend.

First was a bit of maocha from 2005. I had been thinking that it was some high quality Yiwu, and this colored my approach to it. However, it behaved more like what I'd expect a lincang to be like, sort of.

This tea had a sort of herbal aroma, which didn't last too many steeps in. The taste tended to be somewhat herbal with occasional nice wood note, and sometimes a brown sugar sweetness underneath into the finish. Some bitterness, a little early sourness. As the session goes forth, it becomes mostly a gentle brown sugar with some herbal. The viscosity is okay, there is occasional notable astringency. This can have some feeling down the throat, and a feeling of chest expansion. Tends to have a strong cooling feel. Aftertastes are pretty minimal, with some mouthcoat. Qi is on the lighter side. I got bored with this tea and discontinued. It did more or less the same thing over and over, and I wasn't really into what was on repeat.

The second tea yesterday was the Koreahao Bangwei. One correction to be made as per KoreaHao. I said that they used a procurer that Sanhetang also used, but the relationship KoreaHao has is actually more on a friends basis, whereas Sanhetang's relationship is a more customer-vendor level. Anways, this turned out to be the best gongfu session of the three KoreaHao teas, on the back of a good aftertaste game.

The aroma tended to be a delicate woodsy note. The taste started off deep with savory nut, some unexpected choco tones, barnyard. Then it moves towards mostly a wood character, and late infusions tended to emphasize a fruit note. There was a tendency towards tartness and sourness as mentioned in the thermos review, but not too bothersome. Viscosity started off moderate and just sort of declined to a relatively thin soup by the end. Rest brought viscosity back up for a bit in back half. Smooth, with some degree of cooling. The aftertaste were a variety of sweet flavors in what's essentially a yun. Qi was mild to moderate and of good quality, and I had a very nicely mellow time drinking this tea. I've got the impression that this Bangwei isn't that gushu, it's just from a relatively high elevation grove, and not overpicked in '07.

The first tea today was the KoreaHao Walong. I was a little disappointed with the session, given what the thermos was promising, tho' my issues today are very typical of why I don't tend to rate Manzhuan teas in general that high. It does seem though that I can get a better session if I brewed the tea more aggressively.

The aroma tended to be mostly aromatic soil, some of that cupcake aroma one finds in Manzhuans. It dies down to a low level quickly, though. The taste is very consistently a sort of coco-barnyard taste, not too thick. There's some bitterness with an associated acidity from its aging. Also a touch of fruit tone, maybe cupcake. The back end of the session had a nice floralness for a few brews, though. The viscosity is good. Not too exciting in terms of feeling but there's a touch of feeling down throat, particularly when associated with one of a very few huigans there as well. There wasn't much else in terms of aftertaste, just a little lingering taste, and the backend had some floral mouth aroma like from the thermos try. Moderate level qi, not too notable, just expected. I didn't push the tea as far as I could have, got bored.

The last tea of the weekend was the best one in a while--the '08 Auspicious label Chawangshu. This is one of those smaller teas, like what you get from Chenyuanhao, etc, but it manages to be exceptionally refined. The broader character is similar to '08 CYH yesheng jincha I was disappointed with and the YQH Zhencang Chawang in that sweet mushroomy way. It's not that much like the '06 YQH Chawangshu, which is more of bigger, heartier, sloppier tea, with a bigger, unrefined sweetness in the finish. If you have the money and want an elite standard Yiwu, this is a tea worthy of purchase. On TW auctions, it'd be around at least NT$13000 to win.

This tea has a very interesting character from the aroma. In a pitcher I consistently got a lovely burned sugar, caramel aroma, but in a wide cup, edges still turned slightly in, I got a nice floral aroma. The aroma is pretty durable and survived throughout the session. The taste is also very consistent, a kind of sweet mushroom note, with a bit of burnt sugar or just caramel. That undersells the subtlety of the notes in that soup, though. Viscosity is moderate, but completely smooth. A bit of throatfeel. And yeah, what makes this tea not boring is an exceptional aftertaste game with lots of overt sweet flavors, that is both a long and complex experience. The qi was also on the moderate to strong level. I stopped before the tea was finished, and put it in the fridge for weekday consumption.

Jixiang Jushi. That's really more the company name rather than the brand name, equivalent of saying Sanhetang instead of XZH.

The effective retail of the tea is NT$22000, about how much it cost to get a YQH Wushang Miaopin or something like, for obvious reason.
Okay, nothing too impressive this weekend, plus been dealing with sinus pain, so can't really tell on things like qi, anyways. Drank extended brews of the Auspicious label Chawangshu all week. Lasted pretty well.

The first tea of the weekend was the 2003 7542 that had been stored in Malaysia and is sold by Mike Pong. I did like the tea in a general sense, but I don't think it offers very much for attentive sipping. Not only that, it's not a typical 7542 profile and features a rather herby sensibility. So I find it rather expensive for the qualia offered, and would rather have excellent shu, instead.

The aroma tended to be herb and soil, at one point, a rather strong kudzu note. The taste sort of follows the aroma, tending to be a blend of darker herb, not quite chicory, and sweeter herbs like mallow. These are pleasant flavors but the tea is so rounded, there isn't much to look for in the depth. The viscosity is good, but it does tend to have a rather over astringency, if not unpleasant. A little of that astringency does convert to aftertaste. There isn't too much aftertaste in general. There is some cooling, and a little feeling down the throat. I didn't get too much in the way of qi, and durability is rather moot, as I got bored of this tea rather quickly.

The second tea yesterday was a 4g session with a 2004 FookYuanChang. This was also a uncomplex tea, but has a bit more bite. Lincang teas take lots longer to round off.

Early aroma has a sort of floral, sage, honey, and honeydew type thing going, in different arraignments. Fades as the session goes on, though. The first couple of brews featured a honey and dank mushroom note. It becomes darker/chicory, more bitter, and with a tendency for aromatic wood notes. Late brews are mostly a dark, chicoryish herb note with occasional aromatic wood aspects. The viscosity was good, and this tea is pretty consistently smooth. The aftertaste is basically just what the bitterness produces in terms of a lingering taste/mouth aroma. Some qi is present, but I couldn't tell how much. I also got bored with this tea as well, well before it was done.

Would want to reiterate that for what it is, the 2001 CNNP Yellow Label from Pong is a pretty fair value for people for whom $120 is the upper limit their wallet can tolerate from their owner's aspiration. It's definitely a small tea and everything, but it offers a real bit of elegance and some room for one to play around with, in terms for brewing--it's not super rounded.

The tea today was the Yibang from Pong. The early brews were pretty decent, but it eventually descended to a bunch of TCM-ish brews. I like this tea, but I don't feel it offers enough more than the sort of aged northern Mengla you can find, like late '90s early aughts Dingxing to be worth the price, which is $400, I think. The vast majority of people will be better off with other teas at that price.

Aroma tends to be somewhat hay, can have TCM element, can be floral or herbal as well through the first four or so brews before tailing off. With aggressive brewing, a floral aroma does come back. The humid taste is complex for the first couple of brews with a hard to describe blend of hay, funk, tcm, barnyard, and floral. For a couple of more brews, there is a bitterness that offers a bit of challenge and complexity, before sinking into a dark tcm profile. The viscosity wasn't actually noted, but I recall it as good, and slightly less thick than the 7542, and maybe more thick than the fookyuanchang. Not very astringent. The bitterness generated a nice cooling feel in the mouth and some feeling down the throat early. Decent aftertaste as well when that bitterness was there early. After the third brew, it declines and the tea is a more blank TCM affair. I think there was some qi to this, I definitely felt relaxed while drinking. Again, I didn't have the interest to push this tea.

I did a 2008 v93 shu in the evening, and this was very pleasant with very strong creamy thickness. There was a bit of complexity to it as well. I am thinking that with at least certain factory shu, there is a real benefit to dry storage. This, the '07 Star of Menghai have clearly improved. Anxiang did a bit. Some other teas, like the boutique stuff, or the Dayi '09 Dragon Pole, haven't really changed to the positive all that much, besides losing their original bitterness.
I had a very successful and enjoyable thermos for both EoT 2010 Mansai and Manmai. Particularly Manmai was good. Opportunity cost wise, they still weren't good deals at the time, and their quality is overtly below the EoT 2011 line...but things are coming along... An outstanding thermos of 2006 Taipei commemorative jincha. Very sweet.

Friday morning, I did a thing of '07 dengshihai shu. The new pot that I use for shu: Little Tubby Teapot - Black Magda 160 ml , amplifies foetid aspects to the taste of shu in a way that wasn't true of the kyusu that I used. It was really obvious with the 2005 brick shu that was a companion of White Whale, which I threw out out of due caution. This element was always in the DSH shu, but much more vague in the kyusu. That aspect had me wavering at whether this was good shu before I had more good sessions and deciding to buy the tong. And the principal reason was evident last Friday. It just had great qi. And some of the later brews had a really nice sweet, almost fruity sense.

Saturday I realized that my 2001 Red Dayi Simplified Yun was seventeen years old, and is now the same age as the tea I sampled in 2010, a 1993 7542 sold by EoT. Therefore, I took it out for a spin, see how it was doing. This turned out to have a couple of surprises, but was a deeply spectacular session. Along with what I've gotten from my last session of the 2002 7542, of which I've written some not very nice things about, over the four years I've had it on this thread, and the 2002 Tai Lian, the 2001 seems to really show that teas from 2001 and 2002 are turning that second corner in the aging project.

Soo, from the top. The dry cake still has a strong urine or wet hay aroma, with an ammonia-like punch. The ammonia punch is present in the aroma of the soup, but the urine aspect has opened up somewhat, compared to previous session, turning into a sort of not fruity plumminess, or a sweeter, gentler urine/wet hay. Anways, early in the session, you had that "plumminess", wood, and camphor, and this was nice, easy to smell, deep, and detailed. It gradually becomes more sophisticated, and becomes a wood and spice aroma that is exquisite. Then becomes less detailed as time goes on, into a kind of wood, "plumminess" and camphor. The aroma goes on a very long way, at least eight and more like ten to twelve brews. The taste starts off following the aroma, with less wood and more of a genuine hint of fruitiness. A strong camphor finish. The main taste of the tea, though is essentially wood and cola, not too unlike the 2001 Jia Ji that is sold by White2tea. There would be all sorts of hints of fruit, of sweet nutmeat, spice, whatever. Later in the session, it's more of a straight quick drink simplicity wood-cola-touch of camphor. Sweet, though. The major fly in the ointment is that there is a strong acidity in the early brews, that could get intrusive at times. This is generally what you find in most long term dry stored teas, though. I also missed the banzhangy stone fruit cherry aspect that I was expecting from previous sessions, fruitiness was subtle in general this round. The visocity is moderately thick, but more importantly, has that superb texture that was also found in the 2002 7542 session. It's hard to describe--the closest I can think of is that it's like slurping silky noodles. Anyways, it's obvious you can only get that from 7542 of a certain maturity. There is a bit of a drying finish, but there is really rather little astringency. Earliest brews have a bit of electric mouthfeel. There were some pretty strong feelings in the throat. Doesn't really go *down* though. The astringency that was there was pretty much all productive, yielding sweet nutmeat, vanilla, and fruit mouthcoats. A few huigans in the throat. The qi was strong, particularly for factory tea, and it was of the same quality as the qi from that 2002, so it was gentle, strong, body, and pleasant. So very enjoyable. Durability was also extremely good. I took this at least 20 brews throughout the day. All enjoyable, and there was still more in the leaves when I threw it out.

There is relatively little that separates this from the late '90s Big Green Trees. Both the Red stamp and the Black stamp have a strong, and valued, incense note. The red stamp has stronger sweet nutmeat sensability, and better viscosity. The Black stamp is a bit fruitier. The 2001 7542 has a stronger basic taste than either, but is less flashy and has fewer premium traits. It's thicker than the Black Stamp, more drinkable in the sense that it has less astringency. less exciting aftertaste, going by the memory that the BGT had some nice throat huigans. The 7542 stays interesting longer than either of the BGT, and it has more qi. Better texture and mouth/throatfeel than either as well. I wouldn't say that the 7542 is better than the BGTs, but I would say, again, that in general, all of these premium factory teas (99-03) are really rather close in quality to one another, despite some huge disparities in pricing. Which is no less true for just the 2001 7542. There are two key versions (there are other Zhongcha wrapper versions, and there are 7502 which is a different 7542 altogether, despite using the same wrappers), a Red Dayi version and a Zongcha green cha wrapper. While there are these two wrappers, and the Red Dayi version is less than half the price of the Zhongcha version, I've heard in multiple places that the material is exactly the same! One person hypothesizes that the Red Dayi is *rarer*, and because of that, less liquid, and without being able to sell forward, cheaper! Another thing to note is that this tea was made before the 88QB and dry storage became famous, around 2001-'03. Most of these 7542 have had real moisture as a result. My tea has had about six months of humidity, I think warehouse, before TW dry, before Houston dry, and now Atlanta dry these almost eight years. My tea make much lighter toned soup than what I see in reviews like with Teadb's Malaysian storage 2001 7542. Thus, I wonder if it doesn't have more complexity than what many other people have experienced with this tea? Speculation. It was fun.

Today, I evaluated the 2010 EoT Bangwei, since it was so consistently delivering such good thermoses. I got a really good session, for the tea, without the strong citric tartness that have bitten me before, with this tea. Bangwei's lack of overly nice flavors, going for a more savory nutty attack often has left it underrated as an area to get tea from, but it really does make for very nice and mellow tea drinking. This EoT is clearly much weaker than the Koreahao, and dies relatively quick, around 10-12 or so brews. I noted some improvement in viscosity. There was a bit of qi. Not too much in the way of aftertastes, some mouth aroma. Notable amounts of cooling early on.

I also did the XZH teaball, like the CYH earlier. The XZH is better. Better thickness, more complex, and more durable. Fairly green and floral, while the CYH is more dark and grains/brown sugar. In general, though, I think teaballs like these are a waste of time. Too small to age, unless you've a lot of them and put them in a glass jar or something, and I don't really want to drink year old tea that much.
Yesterday's tea was the '11 XZH Gedeng. I feel as I ripped off a poor, trusting Taiwanese vendor. I essentially paid around the original retail price for a pair of this cake, and it's clearly something that bumps up against true player's (tea not for sale to the public) tea, as they say in the mainland. This has really settled in in my storage and is less hollow/muted than it originally was.

The aroma was dynamic through the active phase, and continued as a presence very deep into the session. The character that most shows up in the earlier brews is butter. There is usually some subtle wood notes. Sometimes there is brown sugar. The second brew had a notable pungent treesap-conifer-saltpeter character. Later brews were more plummy in aroma, and late was mostly a light conifer-wood-brown sugar. The taste is rather flat like how '06 XZH Taiji BW can be, with little rising above the main level in pitch or concentration of any specific character, with only early conifer-saltpeter and very late conifer making its way above the fray. This flatness is usually comprised of butter, brown sugar/molasses, and wild honey. The wild honey darkness is early. Later brews has more slight cola and plumminess notes. The thickness is very good, not crazy, but a long way from thin. There is very little bitterness, and almost no astringency in this tea, which made me ponder about aging a bit. So it's smooth all the way excepting a bit of throat astringency in one brew. This goes down the throat decently. The aftertaste game is extreme, though, and makes the tea a bit tiring, if enjoyable, to drink. It does that tonguetip fruitiness-sweet sensation that causes salivation like if you had a lollipop in there. It does throat huigans and return lot of floral and other flavors. The is often an excellent wine aftertaste. Plenty of floral mouth aroma. Later brews had slight yiwu-style huigan with transition to caramel. The qi is very strong in the active phase, and interestingly has two phases. One is a sedating effect about the head, and the other is an enervating feeling of chest inhabitation, let's say. This fades as the brews go on, but the back end of the session makes clear it's still went on as a more moderatly strong factor--just didn't compare to the intense part. The durability is very good. I did at least twenty brews, and could have done more. This was a session that was very easily better than the recent Auspicious label or Chenyuanhao tries that I've had.

I did a pot of '09 XZH Blessings shu this morning. My new pot seems like it amps up creamy textures in shu. However, it also mutes the high end of the taste and amplifies lower, flatter notes, which can be a problem if there are fetid off-notes. For the XZH, the Blessings shu is a very straightforward shu that lost a lot when the more floral aspects were damped down, so I didn't enjoy it all that much. I was trying to be easy on myself because I didn't feel good from all of the pollen that's going on here in Atlanta.

I wound up going for a second tea, the YQH Qizhong. I like it fine, and I appreciate some of the wood, plummy, and general sweetness in it, but I don't really like it more than I do teas made for brands less elevated than YQH. I'd have liked the '04 Changtai Jinzhushan or the '10 EoT pressings (when they cooperate) about as much. Anyways, it was tea and I was okay with it. I probably should not have dumped that Gedeng. I need a second pot...
I've recently finished my cake of 2015 White2Tea Pin, and I've been surprised to find how much I've been reaching for it by default - it's really ended up being a favourite daily drinker. I was slightly surprised to see that it's still on sale, although it's now $70/200g. I'm toying with the idea of buying another cake or two to drink over the next year or so, but I'm just wondering if there is anything else comparable/better out there that I should be thinking about instead (I haven't kept up with the tea market at all in the last couple of years).
2014 is roughly the end of the era where there was any sort of democratic access to maocha. While Pin is outside of that year, the maocha that made it up is apparently much more expensive today. Also, without actually knowing what blend it is, good luck on trying to find a very similar match for less.
Hey just saw Dragon Tea House posted this 03 Heshihua Jigmai..pretty famous cake and pretty expensive(normally). Any chance this is legit? I doubt it but thought I’d point it out for some other opinions
Let's speed on through...

Second tea of today was the EoT '11 Douyizhai. It's a touch thin in taste and viscosity, compared to superpremium labels, but this is turning out well. Very sweet, balanced with dark barnyard/choco around the bitter. Generates a nice yun at the top of the throat and manages some floral mouth aroma. Some qi. At seven years old, it's rounding that first corner and doing well such that I expect a reasonably nice tea with fifteen more years.

First tea of today was the '10 fall YS Xikong. It wasn't really very good (compared to where I needed it to be). Some sessions are pretty good, but many are like this one where the processing is a real issue.

The shu yesterday was the '09 Dayi Ziyun, because I had a really good thermos of it. The gongfu disappointed me a little bit, in the sense that it truly was a fully (if moderate level) fermented shu, not light or with some sheng bits added. So it behaved entirely as a shu. This tea also had some light astringency in throat that it has always had, and that I'd have hoped it got aged out. The aroma is pretty minimal and the taste more of a simple robustness, as with gongting and first grade shus. This did have a lot of qi, maybe the most of any Dayi shu I've had. An Xiang had a bit better quality, though. This tea also generated some secondary flavors in the mouth, and had energy there, too. Good viscosity and mouthfeel. The deep/robust taste was pretty durable for a shu. In general, I thought it was similar to the 2009 XZH Xicongtianxiang 100g shu cake.

Last weekend it was

'07 XZH Jipin. It was really good. Flavor was like cherry cough syrup. Cut the cherry some, bump up the Ricola herb some, add a bit of wood. It's very similar to the '01 Yuanyexiang. Yuanyexiang was done more factory-like, so that had a thicker taste and soup, while this tea was rather thin in viscosity for a super-premium. But this tea had much more complexity in cup, and is sweeter.

'09 XZH Diangu chen ('08 maocha). This is only a couple of steps up from huanpian, which I don't like all that much. There isn't a huge amount of viscoscity and not the sort of strength of flavor one would wish for. However the texture was nice, the qi strong, and there was a bit of a delicate complexity. I broke up some and tinned it for casual drinking.

I think I'm failing to remember a not particularly good sheng. I tested the anon75/8592 shu and decided it was too dirty, so I threw that away. I did the '13 Dayi Danqing, which wasn't memorable.
The tea I forgot about was the 2017 White2tea Magic Mountain DNA. I was doing a testing to see if I'd want to tong and age it. I'd come to the conclusion that I did not want to take my chances with Taiwan storage of teas I could afford to get,like the 2006 Taipei Memorial Conscientious Prescription. The MMDNA was decent. It was thick, and late brews had a lot of pleasant sweetness, but I sort of think that there isn't enough of a core substance in the taste, and that it wouldn't really age into a dense old tea, which is sort of what I want, like the '01 7542 I have.

I did a session of Trap Bird. It was somewhat improved from the first time I tried it. Had a bit of light qi. The blend doesn't feel cohesive, though. It has a sort of minerally fruity finish that feels separate from the light woody+shu depth. Enjoyable.

Saturday was Koreahao's '10 Walong. Sort of like before, early brews not so impressive, later, longer brews are subtly pleasant and good. It had an acidic bite in the early going that made it harder to drink. Might have been my casual (non)storage.

Today was the 2011 Bingdao Tea Refining Company Bingdao. Very floral in the dry, alkaline sense, not that unlike that Naka type Mengsongs. Has a specific, slightly mucilaginous texture that is pleasant. A bit of qi. A little bit of subtle fruitiness and sweetness. Does coat the mouth in floralness. Very durable Flip side is that it's pretty green and hard on the stomach. Not very dynamic, and gets boring. Overbalanced on floralness, without enough contrasting substance.

I took some lcsx out for a spin. First brew was slightly sour, and I worry about too much moisture. Remaining brews are not sour, but the tea only has a couple of brews for the active stage, and it's pleasant afterwards. It does get purdy, though.