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SOTD- sheng of the day

Couple of days off because I have to use up my vacation time, tho' work is very busy and I'll be working the weekend...

Today, I had two teas, the 2004 CYH TongQingHao remake and the 2008 Biyunhao Chawangshu. Neither really needs much to be said, I think...

The 2004 CYH TQH is a pretty good tea for what it is. Base material seems to be one of those "Yiwus" like many teas from that era where people were making teas from anywhere (mainly close-to-Menghai-Town Mengsong) and calling it Yiwu, but it feels like there is some Classical Yiwu sprinkled in.

The aroma wavers around a sense of plumminess while it exists. The taste is dark depth with some Yiwu leather. As the session goes, the taste becomes more fruity and floral as it goes higher. Late brews are TCM-plummy, in a very nice way, much like some descriptions (well, mainly Cloud's) of the original hongyins of the 50s. The mouthfeel was the star attribute for this tea, good viscosity with a very soft feel to it. Does have some real drying astringency, will need more time. There is a touch of huigan, both from astringency conversion and some yiwu-style huigan, more of a fruit sensation. The qi is mild, seems to be mostly ex-caffeine. This is something that can be got at TW facebook auctions, and well worth a bit of money (say, ~$100 or NT$2500-3000) for something on the level of the HK Henry 7542 or thereabouts.

The 2008 BYH CWS is more of a disappointment. It's mostly something that follows BHYJ's selection and processing sentiments. It's a nice tea with some subtleties, but has little aggression or real character, and is substantially inferior to most CWS teas made by the reputable folks. It should be noted that the '06 YQH Chawangshu is much more hearty and meaty and otherwise diverges more from the core character of that area than, say, the 2008 Auspicious CWS.

The aroma tends to have florals, barnyard, and a sugar sense in most brews, sometimes fruit notes show up, and in late brews, more of a dry floral-leather light aroma. The taste tends to be sweet with sugar notes, with florals, and maybe a bit of barnyard for a deeper note. Decent viscosity for premium tea, relatively generic nice mouthfeel--smooth and plump. Has a light floral mouthcoat aftertaste, usually most apparent after finishing the cup. Mild to moderate qi. Durability wasn't so great.

I understand that this wasn't that expensive a tea, but I was still hoping for more from the label. There aren't really any flaws in this good tea, though. It's just not very exciting, and not an especially great example of CWS.
Today, I had the 2012 YQH Wild Tree tea. This isn't an official release, and if it's for sale, it's for the very privileged clients of Yang. This was from the protected state forests, and there is a story about having to sneak in and harvest these leave discreetly.

This was really good. I would say that it's not better than the 2014 XZH Hongyin (it's a little hard to do because Hongyin is somewhat different and higher in taste--but both are obviously Wangong from near the elite BHT area), but it's possible to argue otherwise. This was more drinkable than the 2010 Shengyun Tianchen, and of course, more substantial than the '13 YQH Taihe.

Okay to the tea. This had a consistent very nice dry and savory floral character to it in aroma and taste. Aside from the floralness, the aroma also could have barnyard and brown sugar. The floralness in the aroma tends to be very complex and nuanced. Aroma component was dynamic enough for me to look forward to smelling the next brew. The taste started off as a higher sweet herbal (like basil or tarragon) with plummy sense, and with an explicit sensate sweetness similar to how the 2012 XZH Chawangbing does things. It quickly descends to a dark, bitter, bark and dark choco sensibility, hovered around there for a few nuanced brews, and while there was always a rod of dark bitterness, the broad tea flavor started rising up toward sweet herbals, and with an emphasis on savory or incensy florals in later brews. The viscosity is appropriate for an uber tea, not super super thick, thinner than the Shengyun, slightly thinner than Hongyin, etc. A real amount of drying astringency--remember, elite Mansa tends to have notably higher drying astringency. The aftertaste is yiwu huigan that is sugars and fleshy florals forward, with a good mouthcoat. The yiwu huigan had a tendency to be hidden under the depth of the main flavor in some brews. Good qi, more on the moderate side of strong, and fairly subtle relaxation. Durability is pretty good, but I didn't really push this tea to know how much it has, just knew that it was weakening and simplifying quicker than the Hongyin. Otherwise, it's safe to assume at least eighteen brews. I did about fifteen.

It's really too bad it's not for sale. It's a very substantial (and not obtusely difficult as the Shengyun can be), deep, and nuanced tea.
Nothing much has been happening...

Today I did 2008 XZH Puzhen, noted some fairly negative comments by another tea-friends, and examined in light of the criticism...Def was somewhat sour, and there is a bit of astringency. Aromatic performance was pretty decent, and the main reasons to drink the tea still held, lots of qi and a good mouthfeel.

Yesterday and today, I did the 2017 EoT Wild White. This is a good white tea for me, a bit more impressive in later, longer steeps. Pretty decent qi, darker tasting and less sweet than Old Whitey. W2T Old Arbor white is the more sophisticated tea, but this is pretty good in its own way.

Thanksgiving, I had the Shenpin Chawang. It was good. Really a rather subtle tea in terms of interesting flavor notes, and does require a bit of concentration.

Last weekend, I had the '98 Red in Red. I did the 9g (vs 8) as recommended, and I used the Nixing pot. And with previous experience in mind, I altered the brewing tendencies. That session was the best I've had with the tea. I still wouldn't take this over a good 7542 or 7532 from the time period (and it's way more expensive than it is worth), but it's a good humble factory tea with banzhang aspects. Most interesting aspect was that it was a very durable tea and drank it through the week, a couple of brews a day.

Also last weekend, I did the XZH Youle. Early brews had some sour. Not the most amazing basic taste, but did have lots of interesting nuances in taste and aftertaste. The quality of the qi was really good. Could be thicker and smoother (say, like the more wet TW versions), and maybe it could have better durability. This tea really can vary alot, but usually seems to maintain a set overall quality. That time when it tasted great, it didn't have all that much qi, where this session had some problems, but qi wasn't one of them.
Nothing much has been happening on my end, these days...

Last week was EoT 2010 Mansai, which was okay, but ultimately not that interesting. The other tea was the 2003 Menghai Jingpin--which, while thin as usual, delivered a very nicely elegant session. I have not had a great session with this tea in a while, and it was nice to get a good one that day.

This weekend was 2006 Dayou 858 Museum Opening commemorative. It was a rather good session, which I attributed to getting mostly leaves off the top of the bing. This had a very nice substantial viscosity, and a decent amount of qi. The taste had a bit of nice leatheriness, and there were some suggestive plummy notes. This did have a certain sort of tartness common to cheap Yiwu that made it harder to drink that would be really nice, but overall, a decent session.

The tea today was the Changtai Jinzhushan. Decent factory cake, and one that Changtai did not do their de-aggression tweaking on. Rich and full in the way of factory teas, tcm, slight barnyard darkness, some aromatic woodiness on top, decent viscosity, and a bit of qi. Neither tea this weekend had much aftertaste. Only the 2003 had any real aftertaste the last couple of weeks.
*sigh* a number of things to jot down...

First tea--2005 YQH GFZ Huangpian. I am not a fan of huangpian as they are too thin and uncomplex in various ways to satisfy me, and I wouldn't buy this tea, except as to blend it with shu and white tea. It is, however, the best huangpian I've ever had. Certainly the oldest one. It has a paper-wood edge to it common to huangpian. There is also a sort of tar character with an associated tartness, that sometimes convert to aftertaste. There is a body of Yiwu sweetness (and it's a sweet tea)--honey, mushroom, slight fruit sensibility. The viscosity is very good for huangpian, but has little substance within as far as structure or mouthfeel goes. There is a bit of qi. Not that much aftertaste. Not a whole lot of complexity, something of an indefinite brewer as that it's willing to brew way more than I want to drink it, which isn't that many brews. I believe I was asked to give a sense of how much it is worth. The 2016 W2T Face was 14 cents a gram. The 2007 Theosophie was about 60 cents a gram, and Liquid Proust sells 2012,14 XZH huangpian at 70 cents a gram. This is much better than the Theasophie. The gaoshan maocha is nicely fruity and floral, but without the charm of age. It's hard for me to say it, but I guess this is something at least 50 cents a gram through to about 75 cents a gram. I'd not pay $200-$300 for a cake, not least because I can get YQH sheng off of FB auction for less than that. OTOH, if you're someone who likes huangpian as an easy drinker that can be drunk in the evening, then this may well be worth it for you.

Second tea--2018 w2t Carbolic Soap dancong. I enjoyed this a lot. I started from the vantage point that this was a rather expensive dancong at more than a dollar a gram such that I *have* to expect decisively good qualities or be disappointed. I wasn't. The aroma was floral, but I can't remember anything particularly special about it. The top taste is relatively deep--a bit heavier roasted? Dried fruit without much of the lychee and honey typical of most milan dancong. There is a sort of wood/cedar note there as well. Also, there is a sharp woodsy/dry floralness that throws elbows in a bit of an uncoordinated way--aging might cut that behavior down. The viscosity is average for a good dancong, and is very smooth. Relatively low in bitterness or astringency. I did brew this like I would a puerh with flash and small increments of time rather than a typical oolong with fifteen second increments, and I believe if that I had done otherwise, I would have had very intense brews. The aftertaste was very good. A very strong mouthcoat with traditional milan dancong lychee and honey notes. The qi was also quite strong for a dancong, and rather relaxing. The durability was pretty good. It wasn't super dynamic in terms of major changes, but the session does develop and change in small ways around the main milan themes. I thought that the tea was overall a better tea than the comparatively priced Lucky Puppy. I don't feel though, that I have a strong enough grasp of what is a great dancong to recommend this without reservation.

Third tea--2008 Shuanglong Bingdao. This is an okay tea. There was a lot of similarity to the 2007 XZH Jipin that I have, mostly because of the (probably similar) storage, I believe. Houde does offer a drier stored 2007 Jipin at the same price as this Shuanglong at EoT. Interestingly enough, the prices asked for the Shuanglong is pretty high on Asian shopfronts. There was also similarities to the 2006 Bingdao Peacock (that fake orange flavor that some Bingdaos have) and 2011 Bingdao Tea Refining Company (the sort of dry alkaline florals typical of some Bingdaos). The aroma performance was quite good and dynamic in early brews--there was some dry florals, there was a couple of early cups with a great candy-like dark wheat breadiness/unrefined sugar combination. Fake orange (like those orange section candies or Fanta) made an appearance. Also minerals and light wood/mushroom. The taste when low is dark herbals, dark grains. There is a base of higher Mengku mushroom and mineral that shows up when the herbal gives up. Slight wood notes. In the long brews, it's Mengku mushroom, mineral, dry florals. The viscosity is pretty good, with a good soft mouthfeel. Nothing extraordinary, but satisfactory. Not too much in terms of aftertaste, a bit of floralness, fruitness in a mouthcoat. The qi is moderate, and is generally pretty subtle. Sometimes it's felt, as there was a high tide. Durability is okay. This isn't a great value, but it's definitely good for a bit of fun.

Fourth tea--2018 White2Tea Pretty Birds shu. This is a shu that is different from the 2015 in that the leaf grade is a bit bigger, fewer tips, and it's fermented more. Generally this tea is too fermented for me to really love. I did two sessions, because I realized that the pot that I used the first time around may have been damping the best qualities of this tea, and so I did the second in a gaiwan. The aroma really is the major selling point of this shu. In a gaiwan, there is aromatic soil, fermentation depth, cocoa, butter, and a slight fruity butanol note. It's very complex and supera-agreeable. It's not that strong, so what pots you use really affects how good the aroma is. The taste is soil, fermentation-dark cocoa, butter, and a butanol more slight than in the aroma. I bet the taste is pretty similar to those white2tea ehoco squares that many people enjoyed. The viscosity is medium, with a kind of pleasant silt texture. There isn't much aftertaste. A slight bit of qi. Durability is fine. In general, this isn't really a shu for me, but those people who like lao chatous and other heavily fermented shus like them, I think that this is one of the best shu of that sort that I am aware of. Aside from a bit of woi dui, it doesn't have some of the annoying faults I find in such teas, like a certain sourness in that 2009 YS lao chatou brick I have, and that it has a strong point in the quality of the aroma. With a couple of year to clear out woi dui, it should be very decent. I don't think it will age much, though. Finished tea is very mushy, and a couple of clumps are a bit stiffly carbonated.

Fifth tea--2018 White2tea Censors done mug with 180 degree water. I thought Censors was a tea that needed to be done in more a classical white tea way, so I did this in a mug with lower temperature water. It came out very nicely though. The big quality is the beeswax mouthfeel, and it gave very much a first flush Darjeeling performance (floral, wood, sweet vegetalness), with less fruitiness or darj astringency. When hot, there was a notable sensate sweetness, but I needed to add stevia after it cooled. The aroma and taste had a lot of complexity with which to hold attention, so I should do another gongfu session with lower heat water. I think this is a decent value, but I wonder if the 200g isn't too much. It's good right now for drinking, and I'm not sure it will be a uniquely awesome aged white tea worth waiting for.

Sixth tea--2018 White2tea Sugar Rush. This is indeed a sweetness forward black tea, but it also has an elegant floral woodiness, such that it felt like it's the '18 Old Arbor Black that's dialed back on the woodiness and savoriness. Decent thickness and mouthfeel, and a bit of qi at about the level of '17 Natural Redhead. For me, I don't want to pay a lot of for black tea, because there are some black teas I've had--the '09 XZH black, where the tea obviously just faded as it aged, and with Natural Redhead as good as it is... Both Old Arbor Black and Sugar Rush both offers a strong quality floral woodiness, though. If they age reasonably and don't just fade, they should be nice aged blacks. Black teas aren't tremendous agers, but some definitely can be enjoyable.

Oooooohkay, think that's everything!
Four teas to talk about...

First is the 2018 Essence of Tea Bamboo Spring. I lost my notes, but I don't think it's too complicated. This tea has a very green tea sensibility, that makes me wonder if the material wouldn't be better as a green tea, or as one of those complicated procedure yellow teas. The basic character is pretty much the same as any other traditional Wuliang, like the Zhongcang village that Yunnan Sourcing likes to make--solanacae vegetalness. However, it's much softer and less vegetal than usual, and it has a pronounced candy-like sweetness, sort of like those peppermint candies that aren't that pepperminty. When hot the mouthfeel is very nicely oily, but when it cools, it tends to reveal a gritty astringency that also scrapes the throat. I think there was a little aftertaste, but I don't really recall it. It has a little bit of qi. Okay durability.

Second is the 2016 Wuliang B. I sort of liked the tea when I first tried it, but it had a bad astringency that hit the throat, so I wanted to try again and see if the astringency is less. I guess it's sort of is, but it's still very much there. The tea has a very agreeable sweet, darkish barnyard, with maybe a wood accent to it. Okay viscosity and mouthfeel, but fairly inferior to the 2018. Astringency. It has a short lingering mint mouthcoat to it that was nice. The durability wasn't so great, largely because the taste, however agreeable, was relatively simple and did not slow my drinking and didn't really hold the attention. All this is really good for is a pleasant, casually disposable tea, which is not a bad thing, though. Wuliang H is best, Nancai is somewhat substantial. Bamboo Spring is light and delightful-ish, while this is the darkest, and simplest of the teas.

Yesterday I had the 2006 YQH Chawangshu. Excellent aroma and taste, more choco in taste than usual, and lots was going on in the taste. While it was adequately thick, there was no real structure or character to the mouthfeel, aside from a bit of drying astringency in the finish. That astringency converted to sweet aftertastes, much as lbz would. The qi was better than usual from this tea and very relaxing. Very durable tea, and lasted longer than I had time or stomach for. Very good session.

Today had some of that '09 XZH Diangu Chen. It was good as it usually is--less flavor than the YQH, less complex, but better mouthfeel. It was more bitter, dark, and wood than usual, in the mid-session. Also great qi.
The first tea of the day was the 2010 Koreahao Wangong. Overall, it was a pretty good tea, but I had my expectations challenged a bit because the tea is more like a Classical Yiwu than a Mansa tea, and it took me a bit of adjustment with my tongue.

The aroma was fairly dynamic while it was going. Sometimes hints of stone fruit, typically has some sort of candy accent, typically has Yiwu mushroom note, and occasionally some vegetalness. The taste has a strong base of Yiwu mushroom typical of MaHei or LuoShuiDong or something like that. As with the aroma, there is sometimes a light fruitiness, and some vegetalness. There can be a light wood edge to the taste, particularly later in the session. The viscosity is generally very good and gets very nice after about three brews. Good soft, almost oily texture. Light astringency early, then tails off. Generally has a sort of yun for aftertaste, can sit at the top of the throat good. Sometimes will coat tongue and have a little mouth aroma come off it as well. The qi is of moderate to strong level--more on the moderate side, with good quality. There is an issue with durability in the sense that the top flavor becomes boring Yiwu mushroom relatively quickly, after about seven brews, but the viscosity, qi, some aftertaste does continue past me losing interest. The wet leaves have a really good vegetal-molasses sort of aroma.

One thing to add in that I am given to understand from reading about this, and from the tiny 2g sample I tried to brew before, that this is darker vegetal and more fruity than the session today turned out to be. Maybe the session isn't totally representative, but I don't think it's too far off. From what I know of the cost, I'd say that it's a relatively poor value--it's at least $600, and there are better teas at that price range.

The second tea of the day was the 2001 Zhongcha Huangyin from Teas We Like. It's supposed to be a commissioned tea from Qianjiazhai area. I liked it fine, and it's an okay/fair value at $110 a cake.

There's not a whole lot that changes with aroma or taste, or too much complexity. This tea has a constant sweet dark barnyard/dried fruit character. Early in the session, the tea has a good aromatic wood and spice note on top of the barnyard. The high notes fade as the session moves on. The viscosity is pretty good for a tea of that type and era,and it's smooth. There isn't much aftertaste game at all with this tea. However, this tea does have a strong enervating punch of a qi. I wouldn't say it's a high quality qi, since I'm not usually looking to get punched. Good for morning wake-me-ups I bet. It's a pretty old tea at almost 18 years, so I'd expect the qi to be a bit more graceful, though. If I compare with some obviously similar Changtai/JingMeiTang products or with, say the '05 Xiaguan Cang'er--i'd say that this has a more agreeable top taste than any of them--especially early, but thinner and less nuanced, and that this has more qi than any of them. If I was going to have short sessions, this is going to beat a lot of teas in its price range. If I was going to be needing more comfort and entertainment from my tea, it's a little more iffy. One more consideration--there aren't any flaws in this tea typical of other teas like this--no scratchy throats, off notes, etc--very smooth interaction. The people that made this was trying at least a little bit to make a good tea.
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Nothing too exciting today...

The first tea was the 2008 BYH DaQiShu. It's basically your standard Classical Yiwu. Yiwu-floral-honey, a slight tartness, soft mouthfeel, and so on. This was definitely a check on me thinking that the Koreahao Wangong was very classical Yiwu--it doesn't have that kind of sweet floral-honey, even though it has a lot of Yiwu mushroom. Earliest brews are thick and softly silty. It quickly steadies at a lower viscosity, becomes smoother on entry and leaves a bit of drying astringency. It's prone to having a pretty good mouthcoat that has a mint accent in taste and feel. A bit of yiwu huigan here and there. Qi is low to moderate and it lingers nicely, at least early in the session. I didn't really press this in terms of durability. For people who like this sort of Yiwu, it's a pretty good tea. You'd probably be better off getting BYH's Maheis. And in general, this DQS makes me thing BYH has a pretty firm idea of what Classical yiwus should be like, so it makes me curious about what that Lishan Gongcha (sold at Teas We Like) is like. If I had a cake of this, I'd drink it with some contentment, but I find teas like these lacking in the sort of richness that really pleases me.

The second tea of the day was Farmer-leaf Teas 2016 Nanzhuo Single Trees. This is pretty disposable tea. It has a sort of tobacco floral top, and a sweet Menghai-ish bottom. The bottom doesn't really have much meat on the bones at all, typical of Jingmai area teas but worse with this one. The aftertaste is a strong mouthcoat with some yiwu-style conversion to sweetness in the mouth. That part is impressive, but it's not in and of itself a complex experience, and it's not following a nice main taste. There is a light qi. I grew bored way before it was done. As disposable teas go, the Wuliangs that EoT sells are generally of higher quality for lower prices.
I had a big tea yesterday, the 2016 YQH 18 Trees. Like 88 or 80something cakes, and over $1.5k a cake. Did it match the hype? Sort of not, in the sense that the '12 Wild Tree from YQH or whatever that not-for-sale tea was, it was clearly better. The main issue for me is that it's a somewhat thinner tea in terms of taste than the usual run of 2010 and later top YQH Yiwu. Much more focused on elegance rather than body.

An aside. Virtually all of these teas post 2009 and starting with '10 Shenyun Tianchen, I just realized, are very much like a (Yiwu) XZH Diangu compared to a more tame Mengku. The biggest similarity being the bitterness being a rather structural part of the taste. They all have a dark and definitely bitter dark choco to them for a base flavor. I've wondered whether they were the bitter leaf version of all that forest tea in Mansa.

Alright, to the tea. Aromatic performance is excellent. Usually complex, and compelling aroma lasts at least through brew six. You usually had some complex savory florals, and some sort of cooked fruit in it. Custard also appears. The melange otherwise is pretty hard to describe. The taste, like I said, is on the thin side--the savory florals and cooked fruit is there as well, as well as a dark choco element and associated aspirin like bitterness. The viscosity is good, but not too notable, soft mouthfeel. The aftertaste is all about the lingering feeling. A lingering bitterness, a lingering mouthcoat, subtle mouth aroma, and a cooling feel that goes hide and seek. Custard also showed up in some aftertastes, which was a pleasure. The qi is moderate to strong, and is of high quality. This isn't quite hugely durable--it gets really subtle a little quicker than most uber teas, but there were many later brews to be had at that level.

Of the 2010 Shenyun, 2013 Taihe, 2016 18 Trees, I think I would go with the 2010. It's a much clunkier tea than the others, but it's also the most substantial in thickness of soup and taste. The 2013 Taihe, I think is not a great value at $500--it's not as nuanced as the other teas, instead mostly delivering solid thumps of deep cocoa and qo. Lots of better Yiwus out there for $500. If 18 Trees and Shenyun were the same price and I had money for one, I'd have to really think about whether I'm sure I like the Shenyun better. Vs XZH, I will prefer XZH on the one hand, and think these are highly complementary on the other, since Sanhetang doesn't really do these dark, bitter Yiwus.

The other tea I had yesterday (today was just some Assam before my big meal) was the 2017 Zhengsilong Wangong. It's okay. I think it's been tweaked to be very agreeable. I had to brew very hard to get any bitterness or astringency out of it. There is little nuance in it for me while it does have a strong qi, at least early in the session.

My notes aren't really that developed, mostly because this tea doesn't really change that much. Aroma has a sort of grassy top with a little bit of other stuff underneath it. The taste is predominantly a kind of molasses, and is fruity as well depending on the brew. Tangy, grassy there too. Good viscosity, softeness, little astringency. There were occasional yiwu style huigan, but I think I recall it petering out quickly as the session went on. The qi was strong in the typical Wangong way. I wasn't committed to figuring out how durable the tea was--it was pleasant and boring, and it was with some relief that I went back to the better 18 Trees. This is an expensive tea at TeaEncounters--$219 for 200g. There isn't a question that you'd be better off going to TeaUrchin for that 2013 Wanggong, say, or the W2T 2016 Last Thoughts. The only reason anyone should look at this tea is to buy and give to someone who might tolerate its lesser aggressiveness in terms of bitterness and astringency (and letting them know how expensive it is, of course!)
This weekend was essentially dominated by the 2011 EoT Bulang. I had done a thermos of it and was quite pleased, so I decided I needed to do a proper session. Brewed teas both days. Extremely durable.

Aroma generally had a sort of floral leather base, with barnyard, stone fruit, vegetalness, and some light brown sugar notes. It was usually pretty complex in the cup but it wasn't all that dyanamic between cups. The lack of dynamicism held true for the taste as well. Also a very nice floral leatherynes. Really strong bitterness with some dark fringes. Often had stone fruit, and some sugars. The tea was so potently bitter, I had to keep infusions flash for a while. The viscosity was good, with a really nice soft-oiliness to it. There were some brown sugary yiwu-style huigans, and a strong, oftentimes fruity, mouthcoat. Some good cooling feel. The qi is moderate, and lingers long after the cup is finished. Long session on Saturday, and some supplementary session today, should be over twenty brews, and I'm wasting more.

I did a lot of comparing with the W2T Swinedog and YQH Tiancang, as these are similar teas. This is more potent than Swinedog, and has a more overt masculine character, and is less complex in taste than the Tiancang. Slightly easier to drink than the Tiancang as well.

Some other teas...

Farmerleaf teas 2018 Single Tree Jingmai. It started off nice. Complex aroma, flavor, a bit of depth with that flavor. Smooth and reasonably thick. Decent qi, little aftertaste. After a couple of brews, it died down to a rather bland soup with lighter qi.

I tried a second mug of Duflating Estate GFOP CL from Upton, as the first try was pretty bland. Second brew with a long time made it pretty good. This tea has a narrower band of brewing time between good and bitter for an Assam.

Also from Upton, the Colombian Wiry Green Tea Organic, gongfu. Meh, much like a decent cheap Chinese LiuAnGuaPian. Expensive for what it is.

I brewed EoT 2018 Bamboo Spring as a green tea with 185 degree water. It came out pretty okay. No astringency problems, extremely thick. Most cups were lightly floral and vegetal. One cup had a full blown candy note that's only hinted at in 212 degree temp water, gongfu and thermos.
Nothing much going on, been finishing off stuff...

Last Saturday, I did most of the rest of the 2009 Dayi 7542 901. Opinion hasn't changed. It has some dark depth, a light top layer of floral/incense woodiness and not much else. A late brew had the traditional 7542 plummy. Okay viscosity, not much aftertaste or qi. Was a bit difficult to manage the bitterness and tartness. This isn't a bad tea, but the focus is mostly on a solid taste with a decent mouthfeel, and a spritz of fancy wood on top. I can't see this aging into anything but something that's pleasantly easier to drink. And in the price range this is going for, there are tons of better options.

Last Sunday, I did the EoT 2010 Bangwei. Managed the strong tartness into just one brew, and this is a good tea otherwise, almost as good as the '07 Koreahao Bangwei. Has strong aromatic performance of tobacco-floral-wood, lots of fruits and honey in the taste, with a bit of savory legume to balance it. Decent viscosity, but not that thick. Decent qi and aftertaste.

Today, I had some of that small grade early 2k liu bao, which was really good. It really has more complexity than liu baos typically have, and has a bit of qi and aftertaste to top that off with.

I also finished off the Koreahao 2010 Walong. My opinion is also unchanged here as well. Its chief good attribute is a solid and layered taste, decent viscosity. The aroma is okay, but there was little real complexity, and little qi or aftertaste for such a premium tea. This does have some nice dynamcism, with some interesting notes late. The major issue is that there is a degree of difficult to maneuver around tartness and bitterness, even as I anticipated it. And it's not all that productive either. A little mouthcoat, sometimes.

Speaking of walong...

Many might want to try this tea: Wa Long 'Guo You Lin' Early Spring 2018 Old/Ancient Tree Raw 200g cake

The dude is small time, but in my experience with him a while ago, he's not incompetent, so it should be good tea. Mind, a reasonably genuine example of anything from anywhere nice (without some sort of qualification) is above a dollar a gram, and I'd have to guess it's the same with this tea--it's cut with other material, or not from the best area, or from the best trees, or mostly from smaller shrubs, whatever...Something. Anyways, the best material from this area is something to respect, and if this tea has a bit of that, it'd be worthwhile for many people to investigate.

You have the option to get samples with this feature: Raw Puer Sampler
New round of nice samples in... drinking the least promising first so the better ones can acclimate...

Yesterday was a 2018 tea from Sanhetang that blended some 2018 spring jinggu tea with some 2012 fall jinggu tea. This one was okay, for the label. This doesn't have much qi or aftertaste, and is mostly just a pleasant tea experience.

The aroma tends to be honey, floral, tobacco, with a balancing mustard expressiong, and it fades quickly as the session goes on. The tea took it's time to gather a taste theme, and when it did, it was pretty jinggu, with tobacco, florals, a bit of honey in there. Later brews tended to be more fruity, also has an artisinal clay tendency as well. Some brews had a sweet spice character. The viscosity was decent for a premium tea, and with little remarkable astringency, or texture in general. There tended to be a small yiwu-type huigan that delivered more honey in the aftertaste. Low qi. Reasonable durability, goes ten brews pretty good, and I didn't try to exhaust it.

Today was a 2018 Theasophie Mangjing. I tend to have little respect for Mangjing because it's Jingmai's runty and rustic little sibling. Mangjing doesn't tend to have the really nice florals of jingmai, or complexity, and it also tends to have a rustic, heavy vegetalness in its flavor profile. So I didn't have high expectations for this tea, but this turned out to be pretty good--considerably better than attempts from YS and W2T (I classify 2Late as a mangjing type tea) that I've tried. It's pretty much the same as any other Mangjing, but cleans up well. It's also considerably better than the two Farmer-leaf teas I had recently. Brian Kirbis certainly does know what he's doing.

Aroma and taste are pretty classic Mangjing--honey with vegetal-nutty and a bit of florals on the savory and tobacco side. Eventually, I find more fruit and fleshy floral notes in later brews. The viscosity is decent. There is a little bit of astringency early and my tongueroots got bit once in a brew. Early aftertastes tended to be floral mouth aroma generated from bitterness, and later brews tends to generate a sort of sweet floral finish-yiwu-huigan. Mild qi. I took this about twelve brews, I think.

The Sanhetang tea is better than the Theasophie, but it's very low end Sanhetang, while Mangjing exceeded expectations and is on the high end of that sort of tea.
A couple of very nice teas this weekends. They did have a bit of a storage issue--not only your usual basement, but also a kind of notable mildew-ish character. I wasn't very bothered by it, and these fade as the session goes on.

The tea on Saturday was the 2011 XZH Classic Wangong. As this was one of the older explicit Wangongs available, I was eager to try it out and see how aging affects, what I presumed to be a wild honey type wangong, like Last Thoughts or 2014 CYH Guoyoulin or 2015 Yiwu Chawang. I was a touch disappointed in the sense that this had very little dynamcism, complexity, and only had a touch of qi and aftertaste. One thing to note was that this tea was considerably cheaper than the top teas of that year, such as Classic Yiwu or Happiness under the World (gedeng), and costs roughly the same as a smaller cake of Yibang would. Thus one couldn't say it was expected to be tippity top, given XZH really does seem to price according to quality... All that said, I enjoyed it a good deal.

The tea aroma is generally, wild honey, choco, minerality. Early brews had a mildew emphasis, and some vegetalness. The taste basically follows the aroma, with some very slight tendency towards sweet root herbs and fruitiness. Late brews rises to more of a honey taste, a bit of classic aged yiwu plummy, and minerals. The mouthfeel is what makes this tea worth buying--top end viscosity, with a buttery, pudding type texture. Not very much astringency. Not very much in the way of aftertaste, as it's mostly this lingering sweetness in the finish that continues after the swallow. Pleasant enough. Has mild to moderate qi, fairly typical relaxation. Durability is pretty good, but for the most part, one is drinking for that texture and a bit of qi.

Functionally, the '08 XZH Puzhen is the same as this tea, and it's notably superior in complexity, more dynamic session, more qi. However, this Wangong has a better taste, and probably more reliably tasty and while the texture is close to one another, the viscosity is better with the Wangong. There are also notable functional similarities with the 2005 YQH Long Name, but that tea only loses in terms of viscosity, and is overall the better tea despite not being much better about complexity or dynamacism.

The tea I had today was the 2011 XZH Shantou Mountain. This is a tea from an area to the northwest of Yibangtown, on the border of Yibang and Gedeng. It's also an all tiny leaf production (all of XZH's Classic Yibang, other than MAYBE the 2011, is blended with something else, walong, mostly). I thought it was a pretty good Yibang, but it rounds out a bit early, even if the durability is fine for how premium the cost is.

The tea start off with a very nice dry floral aroma with a touch of sweetness. It's not dry floral like orchid, that you find with Jingmai or some "Bingdao", for example, but a dry floral that's sort of low and rich, and kind of approaches incense. It has that mildew storage note. The tea aroma quickly incorporates a chicory depth to go with the dry floral, and then fades to an almost generic light dry floral and honey note as one gets deep into the session. Again, the taste generally follows the aroma, but the chicory depth is stronger, with a touch of nuttiness, bitterness, wine. In later brews, sweet notes like almond and cream makes a slight showing. The tea also seems to open alot as it cools in the cup, with different flavors in later sips. Late brews get higher with honey and fruit notes, a bit different from yesterday's Wangong. The viscosity is decently good. This tea is prone to a mildly scratchy astringency, not very bothersome but kind of unusual. The aftertaste can be very nice giving a good floral mouthcoat. There was a nice shallow huigan. There was also one very nice feeling going down the throat. All of this was pretty early on. The qi was moderate to strong, nothing too notable in quality other than that it was good. Fun part's over in six or seven brews, but is otherwise durable--took about fifteen brews, I think.

I was excited about this tea early on, and got a little more down on it later. However, this is still a really nice semi-aged tea.
Okay, four teas to write about...

The first tea yesterday was the 2012 XZH Gedeng. This was somewhat a disappointing tea, and I conclude that it's been cut with lesser Gedeng materials. Still very nice, of course.

The aroma has something I now think of as a halibut umami, common to all of the high end gedeng I've had (I sent a sample of the 2011 gedeng I have, and he described it as having a broiled halibut smell, which is sort of right), along with wood and dark notes. It interests me that the 2011 gedeng is the only one of the three I've had from XZH with a molasses dark taste, while the 2012 and Hongyin iron is a more straightforward bitter dark flavor, though I'm used to think of molasses as the typical dark flavor note from gedeng. Unfortunately, this aroma dies down a little quicker than a high end tea should as the soup cools. Taste tends to be a dark TCM with choco tones, with a wood layer and a little bit of complexity, especially early. Viscosity is fairly thick, a bit above the standard for a high end tea, and it tends to have a pleasing texture, can be velvety in mouth, and it also can be really nice to swallow it for some reason. Tends to have astringency, not of the drying finish sort. As far as aftertastes goes, it has some floral mouthcoats, a little bit of lingering sweet sensation, but overall, not very dramatic. Qi is a bit better than moderate, not much distinctive about it. Durability is good, will keep making dark notes with wood for a pretty long way.

This tea, relative to the top Yiwu is notably cheaper than such, which isn't normally true of XZH's gedengs from other years, and this is one reason why I think it's been cut (well, cut more). The 2014 Hongyin Iron is essentially XZH's most expensive 2010 and later tea for sale.

The second tea yesterday was a four grammer 2009 XZH Xicontianxiang sheng, made with Dashisi Jinggu, at least nominally speaking. Quite nice, and broad character is very similar to the EoT 2010 Bangwei in some respects, like a strong, dense tobacco forward aroma, and honey base to the taste. Really good qi, but that seems to fade as the session went on.

Aroma is tobacco, tobacco floral, artisinal clay, with slight floral tones adding to complexity. It's also very dense and rises high from cup. Taste is a bit similar, but it has a bit of barnyard depth, and there is a base of honey notes. Not hugely dynamic through a session, other than a decrease in intensity of the main flavors and the attending revealing of one minor note or another. The viscosity is on the lighter side of medium for a higher end tea. Good mouthfeel. Has some pretty good mouthcoats. Best feature is the qi, which is pretty strong, especially early in the session. Durability is good, but gets pretty boring.

The first tea I had today was the 2010 Risk One's Life. I had this tea when it was a year old. Back then it had a lot of unusually fleshy floral character along with a wood note, but not very dynamic and with decent qi. Today, for a while, I thought I had been drinking the 2005 spring XZH LBZ--soup was burnt orange, and in later brews, outright red. Early brews had a bit of nannuo carrot. I thought there had been some sort of mistake in labeling. But not so. This has been very decisively humid stored. Clean, but for that pesky mildew note--in which a theory is that it's the cake picking up the scent of mildew from moist cardboard boxes. Anyways, the cake is about as humid as Mike Pong's 2004 Yibang, or say the EoT 2008 Bulang, or that fujian stored '08 Lao Man'e that White2tea sold for a hot second a long time ago.

The aroma tends to have wood, herbals, barnyard, and a lovely fleshy floral note, something like a rose or a tiny bit like perfume. The taste has a lot of fermenation dark note, and in initial brews, has a nannuo-carrot note. Later brews are more fermenation and wood, a little bitter, with the occasional bit of extra notes like herbs or almond sweetness. The viscosity is good, about the same as the gedeng yesterday. Drying astringency. Aftertastes are pretty good for such a "mature" tea--fleshy floral mouth aroma, sweet notes that feels like it spreads around the mouth. Good qi, ang qi that lasts through the end of the session. Indefinitely durable, tho' late brews lose much definition beyond general detail of humid stored cake.

If I had bought this tea, I would be sorry that I had bought, but not sorry that I have the tea. This is too humid stored to be treasured, but all the same, it's decisively good tea, and frankly, the people that like a beatup, masticated and tender puerh, but not anything too funky, they probably would like a tea like this very much.

The second tea of the day was the 2009 XZH Jingmai, a four gram session. Really good. I had been thinking about this Heshuihe 2001 Jingmai that I tried so long ago, and how I had been impressed by its strong dry floral aroma, and longan like depth in taste, and this XZH tea was roughly the same as as the tea I tried eight years ago. Not very similar.

Insanely sweet and complex aroma--all sorts of floral, fruit, and honey notes. Last pretty deep into the session, like eight brews or so. Not concentrated into a central powerful theme like the '01 HSH or the Xicontianxiang I had yesterday. The taste was also rather transparent, even if not watery. The base felt like the taste of olive oil. Also, incredible diversity of flavor notes, which includes the common appearance of a neon bright red fruitiness (example of a neon fruitiness, maraschino cherry halves), as well as honey, and many different floral notes. Also tends to have a slight custard note. Same northern dry stored difficulty with tartness that makes it more difficult to drink than, say, a Mengla tea, but not too bad, and some of it is productive. Not a very big/filling aroma or taste. Viscosity is on the thinner side, with a good velvet mouthfeel. Extreme aftertaste game, up there with the '07 XZH Huangshanlin. Very strong, developing and lingering mouthcoats with sweet flavors, some slight pungent huigans. Lots of good feeling down throats. Strong qi, a little weaker than Xicontianxiang, but more lasting deep into the session.

I suppose that many people would find this tea too sweet, but this is really way better than many northern teas I've had, and better than any "bingdao" I've had, even though most had some degree of vegetal savoriness to balance sweet and floral notes.

One comment on the TeaDB Shop Like It's 2012 editorial... When it comes to new teas--virtually all decisively good teas from known areas are going to be around a buck a gram to start. If you're getting a current year tea, say a 200g cake, if you're paying less than $175, even for places with lots of resources like Nannuo, you're not going to be getting a tea you can, say, brag about. EoT's Gedeng? Bottom of the barrel of good Gedeng. EoT's top yiwus? Those are priced just a bit above the level of where people get serious about a year, same as White2tea's Queen of Clubs. So be serious, and be generous to yourself and your ego, if you buy a good gushu-style tea that's $100/200g, it's just going to be good tea that you've bought for yourself to enjoy and to have fun seeing what it's like as it ages. If you want to try for better, you basically need to dig, and find teas with old prices, as James suggested. Even so, most really good tea were found on Taiwan facebook auctions (which has really stopped trying to auction these teas as a whole, instead preferring to sell factory teas).
Alright, did four teas this weekend...

The first tea of the weekend was the '10 fall YS Xikong. I did not get as much bad plastic baggie umami this time as I did last time, so maybe that is fading away. This tea was not very well processed, so while it had some of the traditional plusses of Yibang tea, it was rather quiet in terms of aroma and taste. Maybe faded? Decent mouthfeel, a bit of qi. It wasn't a particularly bad session, though. Good thing these cakes were like $36 apiece when I bought them. Opportunity costs were still crushing.

The mail came, and I had gotten a cake of the 2003 CNNP 7532 that is sold at TeasWeLike. I didn't bother letting it rest, and got out my first try in a couple of hours. Broadly speaking, I liked it. The notable virtue is a rich floral (savory herb orientated) woodsiness that has smoke very well integrated into it.

The aroma has smoke, wood, tcm/herb, and it's very full and easy to enjoy. Lasts a long way into the session, does have occassional imbalance of smoke into bbq sensibility. Later brews tends to have a sweet herb/dried fruit undertone to a lighter wood-smoke top. The taste is pretty straightforward tcm-ish, root herb depth--much like many other tippy teas with age. There can be a bit of wood in there, and maybe a very slight almond note. Late brews are pleasantly sweet with an almost plummy note. There isn't much complexity in the taste, but 7532s usually are pretty low in complexity. Early brews has an issue with a tongueroot biting tartness. Feels like it can be brewed around. I see wrt to reviews of other 7532s, that tartness is often present. The viscosity is adequate and a bit above. Smooth mouthfeel early on, but astringency tends to creep in mid-session. Aftertaste tends to be a lingering sweet taste in the mouth, not too flashy, but nice. Seems to have a lot of aged caffeine-type qi, pretty good for a factory tea. Durability seems to be very good, seems to brew a simple but pleasant sweet cup indefinitely, but I didn't really push it that far to be sure.

This tea costs a bit more than what a MTF 301 7532 does at donghetea (~$250) if you buy the box of 84, so the price at TeasWeLike is not really a deal. The only thing I could maybe ding the tea for, compared to a MTF is that the taste is less complex. However, the main memory I'm using is the Houde '96 Orange in Orange which has had a bit of warehousing, and warehousing definitely can boost complexity in taste. The 2001 JiaJi sold at W2T or the 601 0622 didn't really have more complex taste while being similarly tippy. The 2005 Dayi Mengsong Peacock is not as rich or as full as this tea in aroma or taste, but it definitely has more complexity and elegance in both. It also had more aftertastes and a high quality qi. The CNNP has a more notably pleasantly rich aromatic woodiness compared to the other teas besides the Mengsong Peacock, and that seems to be the main selling point. This doesn't seem to be all that trivially good, and $270 is a price that one probably should not dismiss. I really could use a tea like this, so I'm happy, and I'll tin some for drinking. However, I feel as if I would be pretty reluctant to pay $270 for this tea, which mostly just feels like it will be a great homey comfort tea, with no fireworks. Thing is, there are very few things I can think of that I could get around $270 without using FB auctions, that I want. And I'm going, "tea just just getting too expensive." I mostly just want ~$500 or more teas.

Today, I had the 2010 XZH Hungshan (Manlin), which was pleasant enough, lots of sweet aroma and flavor notes, decent viscosity and texture, a little aftertaste and qi. Nothing very exciting...

The second tea, though, was the 2015 BYH Yibi. Does reinforce the notion that BYH is good at classical yiwu type teas, tho' Yibi is very far south

The aroma and taste were pretty dynamic over the first five or so brews. Aroma starts off with grains and dry florals, moves towards vegetal umami and honey, and then towards a more floral character before dying down. The taste seems to have a consistent honey note in there somewheres, but early brews had grain, then some umami, and a more intense honey the rest of the way. This had a medium viscosity with a smooth mouthfeel. There was an aftertaste game in the first five or so brews--a bit of a floral-wineish yiwuhuigan/yun/mouthcoat merged together, which was nice. The qi was around moderate. Everything dies down to a decent solid taste, some viscosity, qi after maybe six or seven brews.

This was a fairly pleasant tea and I enjoyed it, but I don't really feel much love for the honey and florals young Yiwus. I guess it's obvious to myself when I realize that I don't have a cake of such tea in my possession. I do have teas from classical yiwu areas, but they're pretty different than this Yibi or that 2008 BYH DQS or even that 2011 BYH Mahei. I could be convinced to buy some, but not very likely at the probable prices. I much prefer some good Wangong or CWS, but of course, they are much, much more expensive.
Okay, I did a bunch of thermoses during the week to clarify how I feel about the '03 CNNP 7532.

Of course that tea was one, and it was good. The '01 Simplified Yun 7542 was really good. '05 Dayi Mengsong Peacock was also really good, and it seems obvious that it has something that might be called gushu leaves. '05 Dayi Menghai Peacock, again was just...good. Good viscosity and a nice sweet finish/yiwu huigan, but it seems obviously an inferior tea to the '01 7542 or the Mengsong, but it costs like three times more. Smoke isn't nearly as nice as with the '03 7532. XZH '07 8582 is pretty good, but the marginal advantage over factory 8582 is noted, and the distance underneath more fully gushu options.

Anyways... the main reason anyone would pay $270 for the '03 7532 is that it is well made, and well stored for sixteen years. The base quality of the leaf is very much mediocre Menghai plantation.

Rechecking just how all over the map Dayi prices are, particularly when reminded just how little separation there is between a Simplified Yun and BGTs and other famous teas, just makes me think that with regards to Mainland China, puerh is an absolute scam. There simply isn't a genuine hobbyist ecology there that filters anything, and the terribleness of Baidu, along with the dominant penetration of marketers into any media that leaves a crack open, means that dreams of financial gains and golden calf worship dominate the narratives. Your average thee star Bok Choy from 2002 or 2003, for example, is more than $6k a cake if you buy a box of 84. That's quietly insane. A 1996 Purple Dayi sheng just went for about $600 on FB auctions. You could buy a tong of 2014 XZH Hongyin Iron for the price of one random Bok Choy, and given what I've heard of other people's reaction to bok choys, it wouldn't matter much that the tea is a decade older, the XZH would be way better now and a couple of decades hence. The Dayi Menghai Peacock is only a *little* bit less than the '03 Gold Dayi. While I've never had the '03 Gold Dayi, I feel really safe in saying that it's a lot better. Some teas are justifiable. That '05 pine smoked tea is a one time production with a low production run under 17k cakes. But most of the time, there's no rhyme or reason except it's tea marketers can get and flog.

Alright teas of the weekend, nothing too craycray...

Yesterday I almost finished off my sample of the '08 Shuanglong Bingdao from EoT. It was pretty good. Early brews had a really nice cracked pepper aspect in the aroma and a bit of that in the taste in the very early brews. Generally a fairly deep soup with dried fruit/tcm and a choco tone, maybe a bit of wood. Viscosity was good. Good qi early, fades a bit later on. While there was some complexity early on, this tea had very little dynamcism, and later brews were mostly just flattened, thinner versions of early brews. Enjoyed the session.

Today I had the '07 XZH Jipin. Enjoyed it very much, and I made a note to keep an out out for more on FB auctions. Extremely cheap for the quality between $100-$150. This had a nice wood character to the aroma and taste, especially early. Not as deep as the Bingdao--depth was mostly a sort of plumminess rather than dried fruit or choco. Bitterness is very strong, can be brewed around, but this tea is quite touchy about brewing times. Also astringent. Great aftertastes. Great feeling down throat and through body. The qi is nominally less than the Bingdao, but is of clearly better quality, and it's also a lot more present in later brews. Very dynamic. Later brews can have a very nice plumpit sour plummy, some honey, some outright fruity sweetness, etc. Extremely durable, took it at least seventeen brews, and it still had plenty more before I just had to stop.
Nothing much going on this weekend, and I have had some throat issue making me clear my throat all the time, and general ill feeling.

Friday and Saturday, I tested out the Sunday Special shu from W2T. I like it well enough, at least for what I paid for it. It's not really a deal though. I got the qi that I remember from the sample and for which I was going to pay for. Friday was in a stoneware celadon gaiwan, and Sat was in nixing pot. Gaiwan gave better results--more of a deeper taste, with a bitter? heaviness, and the fruit and floral nuances were reminiscent of eating a high end choco bar. The nixing gave a better, thicker, juicier viscosity/mouthfeel, but the taste was more brown sugar and graham crackers, and the nuances weren't as compelling. The taste peformances were much better than what I got from the sample, and I concluded that the tea really really wasn't ready to drink last year. Not so much that woidui offended, but that it obscured. Still needs a few more years. Anyways, it occasionally has a very crisp green apple astringency. The durability and dynamicism of the tea was great for shu. However, the chunkiness of the blending does make the complexity somewhat inharmonious/inauthentic.

Saturday, I had the '04 Changtai Old Chen's Teapot Jinzhushan. I liked it well enough

Sunday I retried some '03 7532. I liked it more than the Changtai. The leaves may not be special, but Menghai leaves are better than leaves further north most of the time. the '01 Yellow Mark from TWL and the Changtai definitely has more special leaves with a more genuine qi, but they just aren't as dense and rich as the 7532. The Changtai, though is definitely "bigger" and more complex.
B195BEF6-61CD-4B5B-A49A-33B3FDB133AB.jpeg F4156C0F-5C65-431A-890C-F0E8537DDFCE.jpeg Picked up a cake of PuErh from Hangzhou while visiting Ningbo yesterday along with a bag of local Hangzhou green tea. Haven't had time to try either yet. I do plan to share the PuErh with some friends while visiting Shenzhen this Friday.
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Today, I had two teas. A no-wrapper or neifei tea purported from Bada in 2007. While this doesn't have an immediately appealing aroma or taste, a deep TCM-barnyard character, it was excellent. The biggest pro is the plump and oily mouth and throat feel. Consistently generated feeling in throat, and has a bit of aftertaste. Moderate qi of decent quality. Not very dynamic or complex, gets higher and sort of plummier in late brews, but excellent durability, at least fifteen brews.

I had a Sugar Rush honcha from White2tea in a gongfu setup, to compare with Old Arbor Red I did similarly last weekend. Old Arbor Red is very clearly the superior tea gongfu-wise, more than the price difference. Sugar Rush has a heavy sour note common to hongchas, where Old Arbor Red does not. They both have a nice aroma that tends towards masculine floral notes, Old Arbor is richer. And Old Arbor has more qi.

Last weekend, I finished off my sample of 2017 Wild Wuliang. I enjoyed it a bit more than I expected, particularly the mintiness of the finish/aftertaste. Qi was pretty decent, too.

I also had the 100g 2005 Changtai Yiwu minicake. Nothing too fancy, but an enjoyable deep tasting Yiwu. I wanna say TCM, but it's much more earthy and sweet root herbs than the Bada. Good viscosity, etc...
Okay, have some new tea in and more coming, so a number of weekends of newer teas. for the most part, letting them acclimate.

The first tea of the weekend was the shu version of this chocobrick:商品详情

It's pretty easy. Early brews has some woidui and some associated sourness in the taste. Has a relatively generic darker and woodsy aroma. This is a thick shu in terms of viscosity. Not too much in the way of aftertaste. A decent bit of qi, though, and durability seems good, but I was constrained by time before work. Later brews had the sour funk cleared out and nice, dark, sweet herbalness coming through. I enjoyed this and am glad I have it. I really shouldn't drink any more for a year or two so as to get some clearing out.

First sheng of the day today was the 2002 Tai Lian. I had tried the 2014 XZH Lanyin (supposedly a Bingdao--I'll just say Bingdao area) in a thermos, and noted some similarities with Tai Lian (as well as W2T's The Box and 2007 XZH Huangshanlin). Thus, I wanted to have a recent memory of the Tai Lian on hand when I get around to doing a gongfu of the XZH Lanyin.

One of the striking things about this tea is that the aroma changes a lot as it cools, and lasts a long time in the cup. The length of time with aroma is a good indicator of the quality of material. Also, changing aromas as it cools is one of the cited features of "Bingdao-tude". The aroma was mostly a factor in the first four brews. It would start out with barnyard with some level of foetidness, and there'd be a fringe of dry florals. Then turns towards fruity and candy accents as it cools. The taste starts off relatively high, honey, fruit, a tart greensap. As session goes, goes down into chicory-choco notes, and then comes back up to a more vague honey, wax, minerals. Later brews offers a degree of sensate sweetness. Viscosity was pretty good, oily mouthfeel, somewhat astringent, but the drying finish has turned somewhat slick, so as to give a squeaky feeling. Not too much aftertaste--some mouthcoat and floral mouth aroma. Some cooling feel and some feeling down throat. Good qi throughout, moderate with good quality. Durability is decent, but active phase is very short, like four to six brews. After, I generally drank quickly.

The second tea of the day was the 2000 Menghai Tea Factory 7572 originally from Theosophie. It tastes much like any other 7572. The soup was very clear and pretty, though. A bit of qi. A little bit of nuance in taste here and there, ginseng throughout, and slightly plummy at the end. Broadly speaking, there isn't much to separate this tea from the 2002 Green Mark that W2T used to sell. It's just very clean storage and some slight benefits of age. Does reinforce the sense that we've come a long way, baby, in terms of making better and more interesting shu. Also sort of makes me wonder what a twenty year old Star of Menghai Dayi shu would be like.

Last tea of the day was a western brew of 2009 XZH Yulu hongcha. I still have some in a sample packet, as I haven't been enthusiastic about drinking... Anyways, on Thursday, I drank a western brew of a 2011 XZH hongcha, hoping for a more exciting brew, but was dissappointed by how quiet the taste was, and decided the 2009 must be better. I validated that today--it has more flavor and a more complex flavor profile. Slightly more qi. Another indicator that black teas don't age that well. Both of these Fengqing black teas pressed into cakes with the XZH label are faded and rounded/mellow. They are definitely still worth drinking, but are much less exciting than the fresh W2T hongcha cakes.