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SOTD- sheng of the day

Okay, I got the package on Tuesday, and so had thermoses of The Box, Lucky Puppy, and The Treachery of Storytelling Part II before trying The Box and Lucky Puppy over the weekend...

The Box was a nice thermos, and it predicted a lot of how the session would go.

However, Lucky Puppy was a very complex tasting thermosed tea. So I figured it was pretty aggressively blended. It was also on the sweet end, so I was thinking that this tea would be more like We Go High and TToS as opposed to Swinedog76 (which is darker and bitter), or **** What You Heard/Untitled02 which were both strong qi, lighter tasting more vegetal tasting, with supersized thickness.

When I did TToS, I was like "whew, no way!" That tea was very coherent sweet Menghai taste with only subtle complementary notes, sedate, with a strong, settling qi, and a really good Menghai forest floral mouth aroma for aftertaste.

Well, the session was a bit different, in that it's a bit more like SwineDog76 early, and more like We Go High late. It still felt very blended. It brought to mind all the times I was telling Paul of White2tea to blend Bulang and Jinggu. And indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if Jinggu or something like it was part of this blend. It obviously has Bulang in it.

Okay, to the tea. This tea changed in aroma a lot over the session while it was active. It had a constant menghai mushroom based, but other notes like cream, fruit, florals, barnyard, and caramel showed up. The caramel was distinct in an interesting way. Aroma faded towards more vegetal notes towards the end. The taste was bulang bitter the first four brews, a bit. The base taste started off high with a menghai mushroom note, then went down towards a darker bulang note before rising higher with more...chunky profile. Late brews are consistently sweet and pleasant Menghai honey, presumably because the other elements of the blend cut out. There were lots of different notes. In the early brews, one found some cream notes. Here and there, there was fruit notes and olive oil. A green bite that suggested younger nitro-fert trees might be part of the blend was there as well. Or just could be certain northern stuff. The third brew had a really nice fleshy floral magnolia note, and there were some merely suggestive floral notes other times. When the dark bulang cut out, what happened was that the taste tended to be some higher misc. taste of fruits, menghai something something, with this really dark anchor like condensed chicory, bark, or perhaps an edible asphalt. There were a lot of these brews, and eventually it becomes a very pleasant smooth and sweet Menghai honey late. Lots going on in this tea, flavor wise. The thickness is pretty good, drying astringency is on the stronger end on some brews, some of it productive. Late brew is very soft, oily velvety, which made for very nice mouthfeel then. The aftertaste game isn't particularly big here, and is most striking in the earliest part of the session while the astringency was going. There was some nice mouthcoat, and a bit of a good nicely floral huigan in the throat. Qi is moderate to strong, generic in quality. Durability is very good. I did more than fifteen, and I probably could hit more than twenty if I had time, more durable than I expected on the back end.

I did a quick session of Swinedog76, using the last of my sample. This tea has improved in the sense that it's less bitter, and more fruity and floral. The qi is relatively impressive, and maybe is stronger than Lucky Puppy. It's not a super-engaging tea that provokes real diving into the depths of its substance.

As said before, the Tianmenshan really figures as more of a hybrid between Yibang and Yiwu character. It's its own thing, relative to other major high end Yiwus. It's also usually cheaper than the teas that are claimed to be Bohetang etc etc--I think for that reason. Tianmenshan essentailly became popular, at least with the taiwanese set because it wasn't over exploited, and not as well known. Now mind you, when it comes to ultra class teas, those are like a couple of thousand dollars apeice, like the one Yang of YQH pressed 86 cakes of, from like 13 tall trees. Making enough tea to sell a real amount, as Sanhetang does, is going to involve some blending and compromises. So let's not get too hyped about exclusivity. As for whether I'd buy a cake (if I didn't have many cakes), no. The big teas from 2010-2014 are generally more impressive, especially since most of them stay more impressive longer than the Tianmenshan from 2017 does.
 
Not much going on...

Today was some '07 Koreahao Bangwei. Decent mouthfeel, decent qi, a bit of intrigue in the taste here and there. A bit more bitter than previous sessions.

I also finished off some '14 loose Shoumei from white2tea. It was nice enough. Not too durable.

Yesterday, I had the '05 changtai 100g Yiwu cake. That was firmly humid stored, mellow and easy to enjoy, with a touch of qi. Nothing really worth being excited about, other than decent daily.

Friday I had the '07 Jingmeitang 100g cake. That one had a strong plummy aroma, dark tastes, and a strong bitterness still. It was intriguing enough, but not all that interesting.

both the sessions of 100g cakes outperformed what the thermos implied they'd be like, but fundamental nature is pretty much the same.

Last weekend I started off with the w2t Sister brick, didn't really enjoy it that much, too young. I then switched to the tea I should have had, the We Go High. Aroma was slightly beany so I checked the leaves and found a couple with scorch marks. Earlier brews were a bit more bitter than usual, with a hint of dark flavors around it. Later brews still has the lovely intense sweet flavors. Qi seemed to start off strong, and then weakened. I felt I recognized some the previous nannuo character in the We Go High.

Last Sunday was just some dragon pole shu as my stomach needed the break.
 

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Still reading with interest; will say, if you think a cake of shave soap lasts a long time, a cake of puerh lasts a reeeeeallll long time.


AA
 
Last weekend was 2007 XZH Jipin, which was very enjoyable. I also had some White2tea Turtledove in a gaiwan. That was nice enough--very sharp soapy floral on top of your usual white tea flavors. Very binary in taste, and otherwise not too exciting for me.

I got in a bunch of white2tea samples during the week. The thermos of Old Arbor White is relatively interesting, made me recall something of The Box--has a particular astringency, and some lengthily developing aftertastes. Old Arbor Black was brewed Western style and, today, gongfu'd. The primary attraction with this tea is that it has a strongly pungent wood note, vaguely similar to (in a positive way) cheap lapsang souchongs. It has some viscosity, but not that much qi or aftertaste. Natural Redhead, while inferior overall, is a better value. I did a thermos of Censors, and it did mostly what non-yunnan whites do in a thermos, so there's nothing extraordinary in it, but the thermos did reveal some fairly interesting notes, and I look forward to do a proper gongfu. I am not, and never had been, a huge fan of white teas, though--I pretty much only care about Yunnan whites. I did a thermos of Old Whitey, and it just reminded me all over again that I really like this one--strong sweetness for my sweet tooth. It's not as good as Old Arbor White, but it does keep close. I'm not sure why there is a price difference between old arbor white and old arbor black. Perhaps they are from different areas.

Yesterday, I got in my new cakes from Taiwan: a third '08 Puzhen, a 2014 XZH Hongyin Grade A, and a 2014 XZH Hongyin Grade B. These Hongyins are two of a seven tea set: Hongyin Cake (should be general Bohetang area), Hongyin Iron Cake (should be Zhibeng Gedeng), Hongyin Grade A (should be Yibang Zhengshan and Walong), Hongyin Grade B (should be Trigeminial Qing, aka Trident--if you look on Google Maps, it's the forested area between Manlin and Walong. I'm also assuming this must be tall tree), Lanyin (the "Near Xigui" Jinggu XZH likes), Luyin (Dashisi Jinggu), and Huangyin (shu made from Trident area tea). I'm basing this off of an interview where there were some clear errors--Lanyin is never mentioned, for example. Also, I have had some previous misunderstandings, eg, I thought that the Hongyin was BHT and Walong--from a long ago discussion in teachat pms. Thus all of this is subject to change as I get more information.

Today, I drank the Hongyin Grade A: 商品详情 . I had a pretty good time. I also wound up reading a lot of Mansong articles. Anyways, unlike many Yibangs, this was a rather introspective tea, especially early. Very strong potency, though.

Aaaaanyways, from the top: Aroma starts off being light and mossy, and gradually becomes more fruity and complex (yellow fruits, baked apples, floral wood, honey, breakfast cereals like base taste of Fruit Loops) over the next few brews, and then various more simple aromas the rest of the way. The aroma was never explosive or high, and one had to make an effort to smell. It also had a worthwhile aroma almost the whole distance through the session. The taste was also very subtle with some depth and nuance in the early brews. It quickly lightens up to a sort of yellow fruit and dessert sort of taste, think a unspiced cobbler pie, by brew five or so, and the rest of the session is essentially slight variants of this note, often with an explicit sensate sweetness. There was a touch of acidity very early on, and two early brews had some very pleasant and balancing light bitterness. Otherwise... The viscosity is very thick with a degree of stiffness in the mouthfeel. Generally very smooth until later brews, where there is a quickly fading throat astringency bit that's at least a bit productive. Lots of cooling early on in the the mouth, and a consistent, very authoritative feeling down the throat. The aftertaste game was mostly a masculine floral (or perhaps forest floral) mouth aroma early on. Pretty cologne-y. When that settles down by brew four or so, there is a variety of softer/subtler aftertastes like some fairly good yuns that also sort of "rings" the top of the throat like a bell. There were a few floral throat huigans, and later on there were some flavor transitions/yiwu huigans into sweeter fruit notes on top of the base fruit note. Not too much in the way of mouthcoat, though. The qi was very strong, generally hits the whole body and leaves me sagging in the chair. Notably long lasting after the cup i finished. Durability was incredible--it lasted as an active tea to about brew 19. The tea did get *very* tired after twenty brews, though, and just was lightly flavored soups. I did about 21 brews.

I guess the main detriment of the tea is how introvert it can be, so stuff like 2011 XZH Classic Yiwu and 2014 Hongyin are clearly better, because of their overt qualities. This is slightly better than the 2011 XZH Gedeng in the sens that the base taste is more coherent and full. Gedeng did have a nicer pine aroma. Made me wonder just how good the '14 Hongyin Iron is. This is a lot better than the '17 XZH Tianmenshan because of the quality of later brews.
 
Yesterday was the 2014 XZH Hongyin Grade B. This was supposed to be Trigemenial Qing State Forest Manzhaun tea. And yes, this tea is Manzhuan to the max.

The aroma tends to consistently have aromatic soil. Very complex around it, often with a great deal of savory umami. Occasionally has fleshy florals, spices, perfume, choco, wood, and a touch of barnyard. Aroma lasted meaningfully about ten brews. Fairly rich. The taste generally follows the aroma. Early taste is very deep and rich, with lots of choco and umami. Not an experience unlike something like the '05 CYH LBZ, just with choco instead of barnyard. Savory, sweet, high, and low tastes tended to balance each other in a complex melange. Certainly more complex taste than the lbz, and one of the more complex tasting teas in general. The taste gradually rises higher, seemingly mostly because of thinning taste rather than quite a new set of taste. Thinning taste tended to reveal more honeyish and flesh floral/fruit high notes. Little acidity or bitterness in taste. Mouthfeel is supreme. Top of the the line thickness with a heavy cream texture. The aftertaste game is weaker than the Hongyin, Grade A, and presumably the iron cake as well. Nothing especially flashy. The most consistent feature is a bit of subtle mouthcoat, but light huigans in the throat (More aggressive brewing might be a good idea for me) are also featured. There were a couple of yuns, yiwu huigan, and a bit of mouth aroma on occasion. Early brews had some nice cooling effect, and it does go down the throat nicely, if not with the sort of authority that the Grade A has. The qi is also weaker than the other big teas--seems to build on itself as the session went on to a strong level, and it's a relatively sneaky qi. Durability is also weaker. It was tired at about 10-12 brews and I stopped before fifteen, I think. Mouthfeel aspect is fairly durable, though.

I think as a matter of strict estimation of quality, the Grade A and Hongyin are a lot closer together than the Grade B to either, but it's fairly complementary in the sense that it isn't super sweet and is fairly low in flavor.

Today I did the Censors white tea from White2Tea. Again, I'm not really a big white tea sort of person, and frankly, my interest really is for those yunnan shoumeis that has a lot of Oriental Beauty character. Old Whitey, YES, Old Arbor Whtie, yeah. Turtle Dove, Nightlife, meh. So forth. I did find this to be an unusual white tea in the sense that it has a lot of alkaline mildness (yeah, sort of green watermelon as Cwyn suggested, or cucumbers, but also things like yoghurt) with fruit and floral notes integrated in. I interpreted the mildness as a sort of slightly honeyed beeswax. It is also a rather thick tea, more typical of white teas tippier than this is. A touch of aftertaste, not too much qi.
 
Wow thanks for all of the info on these classical reproductions from xzh shah! I’ve been trying to find more info on the other teas besides the Hongyin to see if they may be worth it. The Hongyin was really the only one that I could find any tangible info on. What are your thoughts on the value of buying teas from higher end western vendors like W2T vs continuing to go for the higher end tw boutique teas? I’ve yet to decide whether to spend a fair amount of money on this years W2T samples. Anyways, yesterday I retried my cake of 2016 XZH Inheritance of St. Ye (weird translation). This is one of their top Yiwu state forest teas from that year. I go back and forth as to what I think of this tea. It’s still definitely my best newer Yiwu. It seems that some sessions are just lacking in interesting characteristics and qi while others are super complex with nice moderate qi. The material is beautiful though. All of my sessions so far have had a very noticeable cooling in the mouth, more pronounced than any supposed bingdao or bohetang tea I’ve ever had. Having this tea just makes me really want to save up for the more elite xzh Yiwu teas...I just wish I had more disposable income.
 
Yeah I saw that...I had read somewhere previously that it was some Guoyoulin area in Yiwu but it could be more of the general Yiwu area (ie. Yibang/Gedeng). It’s definitely quite different than any other Yiwu Guoyoulin tea I had before.
 
I did some thermoses, need to make a few comments while thoughts are still fresh

Grade A. Thermos confirms it that it has a sort of tasteless taste. Sort of a wild honey typically of yibang down the garden path of years, balanced with some fruit. But it's hard to taste it. The aroma is very narrow, focused, and elegant. Where other teas have a more billowing and spreading aroma out of the thermos cap, it feels like you have to have your nose directly over the cup for a needle thin scent. It has texture and mouthfeel that is very jade-like. Sort of explicitly smooth with some resistance, much like rubbing a finger (or perhaps tongue) over a jade piece. It doesn't feel as thick in thermos as session implied. The signature aftertaste is the yiwu-style huigan, which is very intense and sweet, again, sort of honey-fruitloops. Again a yiwu style huigan is a huigan in the mouth, usually the front part, where the finish changes flavors from the top notes to a sweet flavor, typically some sort of burnt sugar flavor like caramel.

Grade B. Better in the thermos than Grade A is, having gone King Kong and all, and durability isn't an issue. Intense choco that brings to mind DHP/TLH and wuyi blacks. It also brings to mind the 2017 EoT Guoyouling (lengshuihe), but it's way more complex and not so unbalanced foodie sweet as that tea is. I've decided that the umami in this tea, present in thermos and session is reminiscent of gyokuro--shaded leaves in forest? More aftertastes in the thermos, maybe I should brew more aggressively in sessions. Has the nice forest floral mouth aroma typically very valued in LBZ teas. I really, really enjoyed this. XZH Youle and Black Wrapper have more umph in thermos, but the complexity of the top taste and complex, softer aftertastes was magnificent. I did wonder whether choco is a production thing rather than quite nature of leaf. Huge amounts of choco isn't really that typical, but if any region does it, it's Manzhuans, but then I wonder about that EoT Guoyoulin. The BHYJ Lengshuihe is slightly like that, but nowhere near as choco. That 2016 moderately priced YQH Yiwu has choco notes to, but not nearly as much as Grade B and EoT.

I wanted to check yibangness, so I took out the only Yibang I really have, the YS fall '10 Xikong. It had a somewhat disturbing celery vegetalness, and I realized that this is probably the offnotes you get when you have a sample long term in aging plastic baggies, so I took it out, and took out other teas from plastic bags they've been in for 7-8 years. Don't quite think it's decomposing plastic baggies doing it, but that when you sealed baggies like those, you tend to favor some microflora, and you're unlucky, they contribute dirty socks to your tea instead of plums. I have a 2005 Mingyuanhao Yiwu Yesheng that can have sessions with that celery vegetalness, and it has never been in a plastic baggie. Celery ain't that bad, but when over the really long haul, even cakes probably will get a deeper, more truely unpleasant taste, like those samples. Back to thermos--tea has lost a lot of youthfulness and going deep to more typical aged yibang flavors. Does more mouth aromas, a bit of mouthcoat, and doesn't do a strong yiwu-huigan

'07 XZH Jipin, just had it 'cause it's Friday and I wanted something nice--and well, this really is a very nice tea, and I'm thankful to have a bit that I can just brew.
 
Yesterday was the 2010 XZH Hungshan (Manlin). This was a chunk off the back rim, and I wonder if that led to a session that was quite a bit higher in astringency than I am used to from this tea. A bit of bitterness, too. This did have a lot of nice aftertaste/aftertastingfeeling-cooling around the throat. It also had more plumminess than usual. Viscosity wasn't great, and not as much of that Manzhuan mouthfeel. Qi was very decent. Durability was good, too.

Today I had the '07 YQH Qizhong. It was much more mellow, and lower in roughness and bitterness than it usually is, and how the Manlin was yesterday. Good viscosity, a bit of texture. Not much aftertaste and qi. I felt slightly unsatisfied, so I did some denghsihao shu with a few sprinkles of the good sheng in it, and that delivered some satiation.

Okay...

As far as buying from W2T or buying from TW, let's be clear--the main advantage of TW vendors is that they have better and longer standing relationships. Sanhetang, for example, has a product price range similar to White2Tea, if you excluded their Tianmenshan. White2Tea does more Menghai area teas, while SHT offers more Last Thoughts level Yiwu teas. YQH does a thing here and there, but aside from that multi $K tall tree cake, haven't really done an elite tea since that 2011 Bulang. I profess to not be up to date on what Chenyuanhao is doing these days, as I've only had that yiwu dragonball, which I didn't think too much of, and I've no idea really what BYH is doing. I don't see prices or descriptions of the very latest teas. Anyways, to be clear--the days that we can meaningfully describe anything as gushu is over. Anything gushu from any place we'd recognize would be more than $350/400g, and this is not necessarily going to be a great example, at that. I went out and got the Hongyin Grade A and Grade B because I am now afraid that there would be limited chances in the future to buy teas like this, for a reasonable price (paid a total of $1600, all told), and with a degree of confidence in the quality. It's not just White2Tea charging a whole lot of money for teas with little descriptions, check out: 2018 Yiwu First Spring Harvest Raw Pu-erh . Would any of you guys really want to spend $210 on a 100g Yiwu essentially only backed by the brand, which is of good repute? A 2018 tea? How about this : https://www.yiwumountaintea.com/all-products , and https://www.yiwumountaintea.com/product-page/man-song-曼松-1 . Who the heck is Yiwu Mountain Tea? Are they good at sourcing? While there is a focus on Yiwu teas, it's a very wide selection of Yiwu teas, with all of the hottest names. But all of these places really require a lot of work and glad-handing, just to get a good representation of the tea, if not entirely genuine--does that guy really have tea that would make you content that you've spent $1k/200g? That's the world I face now, and it's not helped by the fact that the Grade B is so much better a Manzhaun tea than the Hungshan, even though Hungshan's suggested retail is north of $750 a cake. It's probably easy to get a cake you're okay with, that's lower in quality than what you really could have. If the really nice XZH started getting harder to buy, I'm left without signposts. And when Yang pulled teas and raised prices, uncharacteristically (usually done around Chinese New Year), I really had a fear of missing out.

Of course, these are not investment teas. Nobody's going to market them, given the lowness of stock. Everyone would rather fake a plentiful supply of Mansong and sell that. If I put the Grade a up for auction, even in pristine condition, I'm not liable to get to $800 for a winning bid. But then, tea generally isn't an investment, and the weirdness of Dayi is a bubble, prompted by Mainlander lack of investment choices and lack of sophistication. It'll pop, and puerh will go the way of comic books and baseball cards and tieguanyins and Mei Teas. Buy for your own edification, for your own peace and satisfaction.
 
It's basically my birthday, on Sunday, so I've been drinking fancy teas recently.

First tea was 2006 XZH Youle. Very, very good. Little vegetal character, early brews are more deep choco, like Manzhuans, and it rises to a apple, honey note later on. There was a lot of nuance and depth to explore, deep into the session Very good thickness, and very good mouthfeel. Some late brews were astringent. Qi was great and durability was great. Aftertastes were very subdued and subtle, mostly making for a very active mouthfeel. Aroma was layered with a sharp wood, sometime spicey top and a Menghai honeyish layer underneath.

This Youle has consistently been moving up higher in my metrics because how successful the aging has proceeded.

Next tea was some 2009 Xicontianxiang sheng. It was okay--a nice artisinal clay-tobacco floral aroma. A sort of honeyish sweetness with some other notes like fruit in it. Good thickness, a bit of qi. It has done better than this before.

Tea this morning was the 2006 XZH Black Wrapper. It wasn't very good. This tea is generally very high and thin for a LBZ and usually makes up for it with a lot of elegance and aftertaste. It was thinner and flatter than usual (a little plummy/stone-fruity, though), and some of the nicer things only showed up with a longer brew. Good qi. Decent thickness. Durability wasn't good.

I decided to switch up with some 2004 YQH Dingjipin. It was pretty good. Very Yiwu plummy, with a sharp dark, bitter TCM edge to it. Not as complex as previous sessions have been, but also not as muddy in flavors. Very good thickness, good mouthfeel. I cut the session shorter than I really should have, though...
 
Today I did the 2014 XZH Hongyin.

One thing was definitely different, in that the basic taste got a lot darker and wild honey-ish. A lot more like '14/15 Last Thoughts or the 2014 CYH Guoyoulin/2015 CYH Yiwu Chawang. On the other hand, this tea has much more depth and complexity in the taste and aroma than those teas, and in general, they are pretty hard to describe--masculine/savory floral, mineral, fruit, etc. Viscosity is good, around Grade A and less than Grade B. This is generally a notably astringent tea, much of it productive. Strong aftertaste game, with more subtle flavors than when I first drank this, but often felt via vigorous mouth activity (making for a rather 3D sense of taste). A good huigan in the throat or two. Consistent good mouthcoats and mouth aromas. Strong and comfortable qi, not quite so knock-em-out like my first try. Durability is great, the roughly 10-13-14 or so brews are better than a lot of teas 6 or 7th brews. Starts fading after fifteen, and I stopped around 18, and I could have brew a few more. Well worth the money I paid for this tea. It's a lot of money, but good new teas are outrageously priced, and this stuff is better than pretty much everything else I know of, with only that uber YQH (85 cakes) tea that might be better as a possible superior experience. Judging against the '17 tianmenshan and that '14 red silk wrapper commemorative, as well as LT/CYH, there are two centers of superiority...this is a very well balanced tea with lots of complex notions working with each other. The other is that this is a very durable tea. Grade B, Tianmenshan, '14 Comm are all somewhat bigger than this tea, however, Grade B starts conking out at 9-10 or so, Tianmenshan only goes all out for three or four brews and is a somewhat different tea afterwards, while '14 Comm isn't a very balanced tea, and also conks out around brew 10.

I had also been noodling with the idea of comparing these teas to Street Fighter II characters...Hongyin as Ken/Ryu, Grade A as Dhalsim, and Grade B as Zangief.
 
I had the 2011 XZH Classic Yiwu.

This was described as to be a blend of Gaoshan, Daqishu, and Luoshuidong, but my first try when I got the cake was so piney and cooling that I wondered whether if this was Mansa, mebbe BHT before BHT got cool or something.

This session is clearly the classical Yiwu area session--it follows what is the Mahei archetype in my mind, but sort of weirdly. Very soft, cottony mouthfeel, a sense of milkiness in the taste, etc. The turpentine element was much more muted, and earlier brews had a slight gaoshan emphasis that petered away. While the cooling was less too, this tea still does punch down the throat pretty hard in early brews and nicely in late brews. Early brews have fairly strong huigans in throat, and stronger than Yiwus in general are wont to do, including the Hongyin. Early brews also had a big acidic bite, but that faded reasonably quicly. Aroma was generally pretty good, rather soft (after the pine is done). The taste had some gaoshan-type brown sugar, herbal accents early, moves to a general soft and sweet, slightly milky taste that has stone fruit hints, slight wood/leather note, and a slight yiwu-huigan to caramel. This is fairly different from the BYH Mahei of a similar age, which is more explicitly floral and herbal and plummy. The 2005 Mahei that TShop used to sell is fairly similar to this tea in taste, but more herbal IIRC. The qi was strong and also very soft and comforting as well. The durability is essentially indefinite. I took this 20 and with determination, could have gotten at least a few more decent brews. This is a very complementary tea to the '14 XZH Hongyin, tho' when I bought this tea, I was still sort of looking for a tea that gave sessions like the last '04 YQH Dingji I had--tho' I'd have to say that I enjoyed this more than the Dingji session, because it's more complex and super-agreeable.

Thinking about the '04 CYH Songpin remake, I'd say this tea will eventually be something like that tea in another ten years, with consideration that the processing is different.
 
Teas of the weekend:

2008 XZH Puzhen: I had recently bought another cake, for $88 all told, so I could feel like I can treat myself more often. Today, this cake is steadily unclenching from the TW storage, and the watermelon, dry floral notes found in a thermos some time ago are more evident. Thoroughly enjoyed. The taste is a bit empty, but is very refined and layered, with floral, sorta-chicory, and watermelon notes. Late infusions are Northern tea honey. Mouthfeel is great, as usual, a bit less thick than my memories, but very smooth, round and substantial. Not a whole lot of aftertaste. Great qi. Very good endurance, pushed past fifteen brews.

Today was some 2006 YQH Chawangshu. Much less complex than the Puzhen, but with a more full aroma and taste. Yiwu plummy, a bit of wood, and some honey notes. Viscosity is good, about the same as Puzhen. About the same level of aftertaste game. Less qi, roughly the same durability. Later infusion after a break were pretty good. Overall, not as impressive as Puzhen.
 
Not too fancy the last couple of week/ends...

Today was '09 Diangu. Very enjoyable session. Thick soup, full taste--mangomy. You know how puerh plummy isn't really very fruity, but is sort of a kind of acidity, particularly when you're sucking on a stone fruit pit? Well, the Diangu was mangomy. Really good qi. A couple of brews also have a very nice sensate sweetness.

Yesterday was some early 2k's liu bao and some '02 Tai Lian. The liu bao is typical of liubao, and while this is good, the goodness was relatively subtle yesterday. The Tai Lian now has little of the original floralness that it had when I bought it seven years ago. It had a rather barnyardy depth, with a small fringe of floralness to give it elegance. It also often had a kind of maraschino cherry fruitiness. Consistent bitter bite. Viscosity is a bit low for what I think a good tea should be. Mild to moderate qi this go around. A little bit of aftertaste, but a lot of decently potent feeling down throat.

Last weekend I had the 2009 Dayi 7542 901. My opinions aren't substantially different than: https://mgualt.com/tealog/2018/03/19/dayi-2009-7542-storage-batch-comparison/ My slight emphasis is that it has a problematically flat taste, with a sort of molasses flavor and bite. It does have a very good mouthfeel. While there isn't much qi, there is a notable, if slight version of the anti-ADD effect that I get from the '07 Dayi An Xiang sheng. The price has been rising for this tea, which usually could be found for beteen $70-$100. While that is not a terrible deal, the price range pits it against a large field of comparable quality and superior teas

'05 Dayi tuo. Has the classic Dayi taste that you get 2005 and before. Woods, grains. A couple of early brews are strong, heavy and bitter. Quickly lightens up to thick Menghai honey soups. Slight qi. Does have a pesticide feel, so needs washing. It's not particularly great, but it's nice to taste the old flavor again... This sort of flavor from actual good Dayi teas costs, well, people are bidding up the 2005 Dayi Menghai Peacock to something like $1800 a cake. While this just might be shill bidders looking for a real buyer to be a sucker, it's still pretty offputting how outrageously expensive merely pretty good tea can be, and I think that peacock needs another decade of storage...

I've noted in a recent thermos that An Xiang sheng has pretty strong feeling and aftertaste in throat, that the YQH Qizhong has become more of a consistently good tea. Breaking up and tinning and generally just having it here seems to lead to some unclenching from the original Yang storage.
 
Nate: I suppose so.

Yesterday, I had the 1998 Menghai Tea Factory Red in Red like that sold at TeaUrchin: 1998 Menghai Factory - Red Mark Red Ribbon - Puer - Shop for Tea - Tea Urchin but from a different Taiwanese guy's storage, noted to be "dry" but probably just means TW natural storage. I had a serious problem with the TU version in that it was way too astringent to be considered a good tea at 20 years old.

So how did this tea go?

Still way too astringent to be considered good or great in my book, and if the TU price is any guide, far more expensive than is really worthwhile.

Aroma is fairly good early on, a broad woodsy character with with a touch of pleasant sharpness that adds definition Some carrots. It gradually declines, and becomes more plummy and Nannuo carroty, and becomes static after about six brews. The taste is predominantly Nannuo in character, lots of that carrotty-ness. A couple of early brews get dark in a generic way, and a bit bitter and acidic. Then it lightens up and gets more plummy and carrots in a sweet way, and becomes static, continuing and getting lighter as it goes. One of the big positives of this tea is that it has a very full and broad flavor for a factory tea. Most numbered factory teas are rather narrow feeling, seeking an intense taste in one narrow band. While it doesn't really have much complexity, it does manage to have some floral, almond notes in the depths. As mentioned before, this is a rather consistently gummy-astringent tea through five or six brews. Another positive is that it's a relatively thick tea with a gloopy feel to it. The aftertaste game was relatively poor. A bit of plum finish, a slight bit of mouthcoat, some cooling. Sometimes there is feeling at the throat, but I don't remember it going down nicely. The qi seems to be mostly of converted caffeine type, it was okay, on the mild side. Durability seems to be good, but it's fairly boring in the long brews. Interesting enough, the leaf material looks very chopped.

Personally, I would probably prefer the same year 7542 or 7532. The 1998 Red Stamp Big Green Tree and 1996 Purple Dayi are clearly similar type teas, and both are much better, mostly because they aren't super astringent and have lots more sweet almond notes. Both also feature a woodsiness that is of higher...erm...refinement, I guess. '96 is richer, while RS is more incensy.

Today I hand the '07 YQH Lingya. 'bout what I expected. Dark taste with a bit of yiwu plummy in there, a small fringe of nice aromatic woodsiness. Thick. Not much aftertaste or qi. Not durable, but can be push with aggressive lengthening of brews to wring more out of it. Very enjoyable and comforting.
 
Three very nice teas this weekend...

The first was a tea that was in a packet labeled as the 2009 BYH Malin, but the expectation was for the 2013 YQH Taihe to be sent. This is a tea that has a degree of similarity to the 2010 YQH Shenyun Tiancheng, in being dark and bitter.

The aroma was fairly dynamic, the first brew was high and hot-sand, applely in a sort of mushroom way, and it waves up and down to a sort of barnyard, with some amount of mushroom character. The taste tends to follow the aroma a bit. First brew was high and slightly fruity, and then quickly does down to a barnyard, mushroom, choco level, and then slowly rises as the taste thins a bit and becomes slightly fruity again. There are generally a lot of nuances in the depth, and I've enjoyed a kind of sweet spiciness that is often present. The viscosity is pretty good, not outstanding, but good. The texture can have some plumpness, and also a good bit of drying astringency. This tends to numb the tongue. Aftertaste is generated by a lingering bitterness, but there is not all that much of it. Qi is moderate to strong, pretty good quality. Moderate durability. Again, this is a rather similar experience to the 2010 tea, but markedly inferior, particularly in terms of viscosity. I would prefer this roughly $500 tea over other YQH teas of similar prices, though.

I had a second tea yesterday, which was the Auspicious lable 2009 Lao Ban Zhang. Vendors keep promoting it as a really elite LBZ made from the best and oldest areas. In 2009, it's possible for a smaller fish to bag some really good LBZ, so this idea wasn't dismissed from the start. However, on drinking, I don't think that idea holds up, as it's fairly inferior to the notable XZH, CYH LBZ, never mind others. This is most similar to the 2003 Bulang Jingpin.

Aroma tends to have a refined woodiness, with butter sometime, other times with fruit or barnyard. Taste tends to follow the aroma (over a base of Menghai honey, mushroom), but it's generally on the thin and translucent side. It's nicely thick and smooth. It doesn't have much aftertaste, but if you brew this hard, you get sort of a wine mouthcoat, and it also does some numbing. The qi is pretty strong, say through five or six brews, and then climbs down alot in strength. Decent quality and lasts after the cup is done. This doesn't feel as if its a very durable tea, though, clearly tiring before ninth or tenth brew.

The last tea of this weekend was the best, of course, the 2014 XZH Hongyin Iron, made with top Gedeng material. This tea feels comparable to the Hongyin Grade A and the 2011 Happiness Pro-World, the top Gedeng tea of that year. It's not all that clearly better than these peers in the way that Hongyin or Hongyin Grade B is compared to their peer teas.

Aroma here starts off rather powdery, with some barnyard and sweet perfume aspects. The aroma later shifts to more of a clear wood note. In general, the aroma was rather complex and dynamic while it was a factor, and one of the big pluses of this tea. The taste was a lot less distinctly Gedeng and higher besides--a little like Yibang teas. Barnyard and wild honey, with slight fruit, floral, and tar aspects. Occasional floral wood. In later brews this tea simplifies a lot into a sort of generic depth with a little wood on top, albeit one with a nice sweet cream edge or finish to it. Drunk fast but enjoyed! The aroma and taste is more complex than the Grade A or 2011 Gedeng. The viscosity is on the moderate side of thick, but there is a real degree of drying astringency until late in the session. There isn't a huge amount of aftertaste for such a premium tea--mostly conversion from astringency. It may well need more time to soften the astringency up and allow it to convert more into nice aftertastes. As with the 2011, capable of violet floral mouthcoat aftertaste that is very nice. Qi is subtly strong. Grade A and 2011 do better on mouthfeel, aftertaste, and qi. The durability was decent, but not outstanding, something like 12-15 brews.
 
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