SOTD- sheng of the day

Discussion in 'The Cafe'' started by ouch, Sep 25, 2008.

    A couple of teas today...

    The first one is Exquisite Poetry, which is a cake commissioned by Liquid Proust with the help of the folks at Crimson Lotus, and said to have some kunlu yesheng. It doesn't say anything else about the tea, and I presume it might have regular sheng in it, but it could be other wild tea. Essence of Tea does a wild tea-sheng blend 2018 "Piercing the Illusion", and I thought about that tea while drinking this one (I've never tried it though). In general Exquisite Poetry is fine, but I prefer the better 2017 Essence of Tea wild tea, Wuliang, Kunlu, and Secret Forest wilds.

    The dry leaf is very fruity in aroma and strong. Soup aroma starts off a bit vegetal, with fruit and florals, and the vegetalness drops off as the tea progresses through the session. The taste starts off with a vegetal base like the aroma, with honey, floral and fruit, then it dips down to a deep and lightly bitter note, before rising again to a honey, fruit and slightly floral taste, which becomes more constant. The viscosity is rather thick, and it's slightly oily. This doesn't have much aftertaste for four brews and then starts having a little bit. Rather the same with qi, too. The slow start exhausted my patience since I wanted to do a second tea today, and the improvement didn't encourage me to continue brewing past the seventh brew. A little unfair, but wild tea is not really my thing, and while this tea is agreeable, it's quite insipid, and lacking in real complexity or dynamacism. I believe it's sold out, so my opinion doesn't really matter, though, but buy cheap, as a low attention required daily drinker. Thick and nominally tasty, etc...

    I had done a thermos of the 2014 XZH luyin, and sort of thought that it was reminiscent of 2007 and 2008 XZH Puzhen, so I wanted to get in a session of '08 Puzhen to have that fresh when I eventually get to the rest of my luyin sample, like what I did with Tai Lian and lanyin. The session made me think that luyin and puzhen aren't that much alike, but I enjoyed it very much, representative of Sanhetang's killer northern puerh efforts of that time.

    The general reasons to love the tea was in evidence, much as with the first tea of the day, good thickness and mouthfeel. Somewhat less thick than Exquisite Poetry, but better mouthfeel. Really good qi as well. Many flaw was a tendency towards sourness in the early going. Tends to have honey, fruit, floral in aroma, thins to a mostly floral aspect later. Taste is sweet early only, with honey, fruit, floral. Then it goes deep to a sort of chicory darkness, which is different than the more barnyardy depth of the Luyin. Taste eventually rises and late infusions were lots of watermelon plummy goodness. The aftertaste were pretty good early on with a rather active yun in the throat and plenty of mouth aroma, and this becomes more subtle most of the time later, but is not without some really nice fruity mouthcoats that lasts. Durability is good.


    Next weekend, I will probably be doing some cheaper XZH productions, and it'll be the weekend after next where y'all can complain about my preference for reviewing unaffordable teas. Not that the "cheaper" teas that I'll be doing are actually *cheap*, of course.
     
  1. A number of teas to get through, best for last...

    The first tea of the weekend was the 2002 Green Mark (7572-ish) shu from W2T. This was much less pure than the 2000 MTF shu from Theosophie, with only a bit of the ginseng that tea had. Darker tasting and richer, at least nominally. Qi seems to be about the same. The 2000 7572 is better, on account of its feeling of purity, from the clear red soup, to a specific aroma and a soup with specific tastes that can be followed. On a dollar per hedon basis, the 2002 tea is almost certainly better.

    The tea I had yesterday was the 2014 True Tea People, with Tony Chen and his smartphone on the wrapper: 商品详情 . This was pretty good Northern tea, more of a drinker with some refinement, but not a particularly great value.

    This tea had some qualities of sulfur in its aroma and taste--mostly in the sense of spent gunpowder, but I've also found some onion pungency, too. Other aromas include a broad vegetalness with subtle fruit and florals. Mostly the same with tastes--spent gunpowder, vegetalness, subtle fruit notes, subtle honey and sweet nutmeats. At one point it dips into a bit of a chicory depth. Also can have sharply vegetal notes like celery. Viscosity is very good, some drying astringency. Not much aftertaste going on. There is mild to moderate qi. I got bored before I got through this tea's full durability.

    The second tea yesterday was W2T A&P. Very rum forward, with floral fringes, and some times a cake richness, like strawberry shortcake. A nice soft mouthfeel. A little qi.

    The first tea today is 2011 XZH Without Tea, No Music. This was something Houde sold back in the day, and it was described as being a blend of fengqing, yiwu, and jinggu. Broadly speaking, this has the same pluses and flaws as the 2011 Classic Wangong.

    The aroma and taste are more or less the same--Dark TCM, some sweet root herb, bark, a feeling of retired smoke. Can have a bit of bitterness. The viscosity is really good, and it has a plump/pudding like texture, some astringency here and there. There wasn't much aftertaste until about five brews in, and it generated a nice if light mouthcoat, and I got that for a few brews. Decent moderate level qi that's enjoyable. There is a bit of complexity to the top taste, but very little dynamicism in the session. A couple of brews develop a more nuanced profile, but it's very consistent in aroma and taste. Pluses are similar to the Wangong--dark taste, thick soup with good texture, some qi. Minuses as well, not really very complex taste, and it doesn't change much over the session. Little aftertaste.

    The second tea was the 2010 Fog Soul (part of a set, Fog Soul and Cloud Soul [Diangu]). This was a very good, rather high tasting lbz-ish sort of tea. I am inclined to think it as better than the Gold Taiji. I also wonder if some of this sort of material didn't make it into the '06 XZH Taiji, given how high they are to traditional lbz.

    Subtle aromas, especially while the tea was trying to get going. The aroma of the moistened leaves was a very nice woodsiness, though. When the soup aroma did get going, it was kind of sweet buttery, woodsiness, and something like sage, in various concentrations and proportions. Capable of light and refined aroma late. The basic taste is high, sort of a honey, sour hay, and a bit of woods. There can be candy, fruit, nutmeat sweetnesses from time to time. Sage occasionally. Can be a touch tart. Decent viscosity. Strong astringency. Really good and complex aftertaste experiences. Where, say, the '09 XZH Gold Taiji mostly had a pleasant top taste with lots of conversions in mouth to other sweet notes, this '10 had a not as rich top taste, a bit less in the way of conversion in the mouth. However, this 2010 has a fuller range of aftertaste, with very good performance in the throat, with yuns, feeling down the throat, some throat huigans, strong mouthcoat, and a bit of mouth aroma. With lots of different flavor notes. This also had very strong head focused qi. Can warm the back a lot, too. In general, when I'm getting great aftertastes and qi, I am a happy camp-er...tea drinker. I didn't feel up to a huge number of brews but I'm not wasting any of this stuff, in the fridge four gram goes. Probably $1k or more a cake, but definitely good.
     
  2. Okay some good stuff this weekend, so another long post.

    I did the 2014 XZH Luyin and Lanyin this weekend, along with a microsample of the 2016 Return of the King. On thing these teas make clear is that I should again emphasize that many of the 2007-09 XZH northern teas are ridiculously good, and if you get them on FB auction, a complete steal. The best either the Lanyin or Luyin can do is tread water with those guys, compared to the kind of sheer dominance that Hongyin, Honyin Iron, Hongyin Grade A and B expresses compared to peer tea from similar areas. And I don't think I regret spending the money I did on the Lanyin!

    Okay, the first of two teas on Saturday was the XZH 2014 Luyin, which purportedly Xigui/Xigui area. This was a rather meaty and robust tea, and I could actually see it as an LBZ replacement, albeit in a tofurkey way.

    Aroma gets straight to the point, barnyard (can be a bit foetid, too), a sort of mushroominess, and touch of florals or herbs here and there. Dies down after about six brews. The taste is generally mushroom early and moves to more of a choco, choco milk sense late. There can be barnyard, wood early, a little mineral late. A little tart here and there. A mid session brew had some fruitiness. Good viscosity well more than acceptable with a soft mouthfeel, occasional drying astringency. Pretty good aftertaste game--a lot of conversion to fruitness in the mouth, some good tonguetip coating with mintiness and fruitiness, consistent winey mouthcoat, a very early floral yun, also a very early tendency towards floral mouth aroma. Aftertaste game dies down after about the fifth brew, into a very light sense with mostly mouthcoats. Lots of feeling, particularly cooling in the mouth and an expansive feeling in throat. Moderate to strong qi. Durability is okay, active phase is over by brew six and I stopped at around brew 13, and I was drinking a lot of the later brews very quickly. The finished leaves are very big, pretty, and leathery.

    The second tea of the day was the 2016 XZH Return of the King( 商品详情 ), which doesn't have a very big description, 6FTM with wild honey and orchid notes! I think this is a lot like the YS 2010 fall Xikong when it was young, and it has a touch of that Gedeng halibut note.

    This tea isn't very dynamic, but it does have a very *pink*!!1! profile. The aroma has something very much like Valentine's day candies, those heart shaped tablets. Very sweet, floral, powdery. It can vary a bit with vegetal, barnyard, fruit notes edging in here and there, but keeps to a fundamentally sweet character. The taste is also very consistent--it doesn't have what I'd call wild honey, but it does have a sort of honey, cooked grains basic taste, with a halibut edge to it. Very sweet, with mushroom, vegetal, fruit nuances here and there. It's not bitter without substantial overbrewing Moderate viscosity, mostly about average for a high end production. Very little astringency, very smooth. Not huge on the aftertaste game, mostly pleasant mouthcoats. Strong qi of good quality. Seems to be a rather indefinite brewer. Mostly refreshing if not particularly exciting. I wouldn't be hugely interested in paying $340 or so for 400g of this tea, but it's not a wildly unfair price, and is cheaper than other expensive yibang/gedengs available at places.

    The tea on Sunday was the Lanyin. It does have a showstopper of a fourth brew (like, the whole throat coated with flavor)...

    Tends to have complex light dry florals, often with dry dishwashing detergent aspect, with barnyard underneath it. It can also have a really nice hot buttered sugar note. Very early taste is kind of subtle milkiness with other notes in it. Some barnyard. It changes as it cools in the cup. Later brews move towards sweet nutmeat, and late brews are indeed a sort of rock sugar. Moderate viscosity, a bit on the thinner side, with a very soft, milky/silky feel. Some astringency. Active mouthfeel is very powerful, strong feel at the top of the throat, some feeling going down. Swirling cooling feeling in the mouth. Aftertaste are very complex and subtle, and all of the major types are represented. Aftertaste dies down substantially after the fifth brew to a bit of yiwu huigan in the finish, some mouthcoat. Qi is strong and of very good quality, body centered. Durability is okay, a bit better than the luyin, but the active phase is pretty short. Haven't finished it yet and will brew rest of the week. There were a lot of stems in the set of leaves I picked out of the cake, and the way it was astringent, it made me wonder if the Lanyin weren't rather a later picking. So like really good Bingdao area, but avoiding (2014) RMB10k/kg prices by waiting.

    2002 Tailian International Market Opening has substantial similarities with this tea.
     
  3. All right, two shengs and two shus of the weekend, all XZH.

    The first tea was the 2009 XZH Fengshabao. The official XZH description describes this tea as being from the Yiwu border with Laos. However, it has been said that it's Phongsali Laos tea. This tea is overall very similar to the YQH 18 Trees, and self-seeded semi-wild Yiwus in general, like the XZH Tianmenshan, YQH '09 Shengyun Tianchen, pu-erh.sk Gushu Rareness (wangong), etc... It's not all *that* much like the Chawangshop Laos tea that I've had. I think Yiwu border, being closer and more simple in terms of travel, along with forest teas outside of Guafengzhai, Dingjiazhai, and Tongqinghe being cheap and only just being discovered in 2009 (Bohetang only really got going in 2012, for instance), it's probably more likely than Phongsali. This tea's flaws also reflects that newness of collection--it's overly oxidized, and the collection/blending is very general and uncoordinated/unfocused on any theme, much like '04-'07 YQH.

    Okay, the tea: The aroma can be very good and sort of unique, it has a tendency to have things like musk or a rather clear citrus peel element in it. Custard is also often there. It regularly has honey, that sort of wild tea vegetal note, with fruit accents. A nice aromatic bark or allspice is rarely there too. As one might guess from all of that, it's pretty random and differs from brew to brew with a wide range. The aroma does endures pretty deep into the session. The taste in the first four or so of the session tends to involve wild tea vegetalness. The taste also varies pretty widely, with one brew being darker and much like the more bitter nice wild teas like EoT Kunlu wild or the YQH '09, '12, '16 big yiwu wilds--bitter tcm, aromatic bark, herbs, while other brews are higher with more honey or custard notes. The taste eventually heads to this sort of flat overoxidized Yiwu taste that one comes into contact with so often in a puerh loving life, like, say, from early CYH or that '06 858 Museum Dayou Yiwu, and consistently stays in that lane. Viscosity is good with a distinctive mouthfeel, a little hard to describe. There is a bit of astringency, drying and otherwise, but not as much as is in many Mansa teas. This tends to create strong feeling in the mouth and throat, and often active, like a swirling feeling. Of course, it goes down the throat nice. Lots of cooling feel. There is a wide variety of aftertastes, the most consistent being a nice mouthcoat and tonguetip coat. Some yun, a very occasional huigan in throat or mouth aroma. The qi is strong and nice. I didn't really push this tea as hard as I could have because I wanted to get to my next tea, and I was bored with the consistent brews I was getting, but I brewed about fourteen times or so. Before shipping and handling my FB auction bid was $70/250g. Even if I put all $30 of the shipping and handling fees on that cake, it is very worth the $100 I spent on it. Even though I was actually supposed to be buying more of teas I already have and wanted to drink more often. The thermos of the tea was deeply impressive as it concentrated the tastes and aftertaste game of this tea, so I was quite looking forward to the session...

    The second tea was prep for the XZH '14 Yellow Mark--the '08 XZH Xishangjiaxi shu. This is a really excellent shu. The main flaw, if you can call it one, given its production process, is that it doesn't have much fermentation depth and doesn't immediately feel as strong and present as those shu that do. I was reminded a lot of the 2000 7572 shu from Theasophie, which had a broad likeness in how it does things. The XZH description focuses attention on lotus aroma, and I did a bit of research on what lotus aroma or ginseng aroma (Theasophie sells/sold a 1998 7572 that emphasizes ginseng note). Still not quite sure about what those terms actually describes.

    This has a very articulated aroma with distinct herb, wood, sweet nutmeat aspects to it, and does that consistently. The taste is something like that too, but more herbal-earthy, wood, and any floral aspect is very suggestive within the earthiness. Does develop a pleasantly sour (at first) plummy that eventually becomes more explicitly fruity plummy later. Good viscosity, and completely smooth. Feeling goes down throat nicely, too. Aftertaste is strong, gripping conversion to sweet nutmeat in the mouth (while the 2000 7572 is more milder and almondy, this tea veers more towards black walnut with a tiny hint of coffee). Really great qi, strong, and with some real dynamic to it almost like old puerh. Lots of brews.

    Saturday was a good tea day.

    Sunday was a bit more of a disappointment, but not by too much.

    The first tea was the '06 XZH Lao Man'E from the five tea (480g) fall set. While the set has wrappers with a serial number pressed out of an official supply of 999 sets, this Lao Man'e doesn't have one, so it was probably surplus. I was a little disappointed with the tea because the early session taste wasn't that complex and didn't have the sort of sweet flavors that I found in a sample try a couple of years back. And yup this has the usual TW storage issue of being weirdly faded, if clean. It should unclench over some months or a year.

    The aroma (a bit quiet) was consistently pretty good, though. A lot of forest florals, a sort of fruit? candy note. Barnyard and plummy also there. A later brew had a nice fresh sawed wood note. The taste is much milder than most Lao Man'e, such as the EoT '10, '11, '11 YQH Tiancang and is rather easy to drink. Consistently Menghai mushroom and honey. A bit of barnyard. One brew had some of that traditional Lao Man'e darkness and bitterness. Later brews get more plummy and a bit of that candy note in the taste. The viscosity is good and it's rather smooth with only occasional bits of non-drying astringency. A little bit of throat feeling, a little cooling. Aftertaste is primarily a nice mouthcoat. Qi is moderate to strong, not particularly distinctive. Very durable. Not a very dramatic tea, but high quality and a very nice "drinker". Hey, winning at $160 it's half the cost per gram of stuff like W2T's Untitled 02 and cheaper than EoT '12 Bulang or Yunyun for more tea.

    The 2014 XZH Yellow Mark sort of followed the same sort of path as the W2T Sunday Special. My first try with a bit of it included appreciating what was the woidui funk, and it seemed to have a lot of qi. And when I get the cake, the woidui flavor is gone, make the taste less dramatic, and it doesn't seem to have as much qi! While this was good stuff, it's not as good as the Xishangjiaxi. I was also thinking about how much shu follow along conventional and recognizable paths, even with high quality material, it made me appreciate the success of the W2T '18 Pretty Birds. Having such a distinctive and unique fragrance probably took some real effort to make happen. It might be a bit too fermented for me but maybe I should have bought a cake before it sold out!

    Anyways, back at the tea at hand: The '14 Yellow Mark is a relatively deep, conventional shu with lots of nuances in the aroma and flavor. It tends to have a slight wood, red bean paste, pepper, and a slight fruit note in fermentation depth. Good thickness and very pleasantly smooth. Has a bit of fruit aftertaste. Qi is mild to moderate. Durability is also fairly long. It's not clear how superior this XZH shu is to other shu, including that chocobrick I had once before. The sample I tried before definitely had a superior super strong qi for shu. Perhaps if I try it again as the only tea of the day, I'll get that again. The top taste certainly is rather nuanced for shu, though.

    Whew! Long post.
     
  4. A bunch of teas this weekend, but I think I'll be briefer...

    The first tea of the weekend was the '14 XZH Hongyin Grade A, sort of reevaluation of what is a relatively subtle tea. I was also comparing against my memories of the 2011 XZH Shantou (which is slightly more expensive than Grade A, btw) and 2016 Return of the King that I've recently had. In short this tea blows away the 2016 tea. '11 Shantou is more overtly nice in aroma and taste early on, but is less durable than this tea.

    Aroma is pretty durable through the session, and is typically rather complex florals, with less of the powderyness one finds in Shantou or RotK. As before not all that easy to sniff, have to concentrate on smelling the aroma. There can be a bit of barnyard depth. Taste can have a barnyard darkness a bit of bitterness to it, but fundamentally, the main tea taste is very honey, floral, and apples, and this gets more obvious in late brews that have the tastes opens up and not be so "tasteless taste". As opposed to Shantou that has a stronger rod of dark tcm and bitterness, which develops creamy and sugary sweetnesses as opposed to florals and fruit (as an aftertaste result). Viscosity is good and rather smooth (in a specific textural way) most of the time, with a couple of steeps having a bit of astringency. Aftertastes are pretty good. As with the Shantou, it has a strong feeling at the top of the throat with shallow floral throat huigans and yuns, evincing much of the feeling of the way wine feels and develops at the top of the throat. It goes down throat nicely, and a bit of mouthcoat. The qi is strong (and is notably stronger than Shantou or RotK). Durability was pretty good, but I wasted a number of brews as I wanted to get to the next tea, which was

    TW stored '07 XZH Xishangmeishao. Unlike many other XZH northern teas, the TW storage did a bit of damage to this tea. I also understand TeaDB's differing reactions to my drier stored tea and this sort of tea. My tea is much more active, obviously, but the last time I tried it, the wash brew had all of the honey and fruitiness, and the rest of the session was rather more sober. This tea has a more consistent sweet note, a more consistent fruit note at least through five or so brews. The basic mushroomy, herbal, and floral character was the same with both, but the TW stored was a bit bigger, less focused and more mellow and flat. Viscosity was a bit better with the TW version and there was a lot of smooth texture. The real problem with the TW stored tea was that there wasn't much aftertaste, or much feeling in this tea. Thus it wasn't all that much fun for me to drink. The qi is strong and of high quality as usual, though.

    Today was the '07 XZH Huangshanlin so I could compare with my experience of the '14 XZH Lanyin. I had a very good session with this tea, and it's sort of similar to the Lanyin, but also rather clearly better. This tea consistently has the strongest qi of any of my teas. This session also has some of the most powerful throat experience I've had with teas in terms of how deeeeeep the feeling gets and how deeeeep the huigans are that rises. Overall, just an extraordinarily rich and complex session.

    The big difference here rather than how it usually is was that it was both darker, more coherent, and more graceful in flavor and aroma. This tea usually had a rather ungainly dark herbal taste a bit like tulsi, ever since it lost the youthful character in taste and aroma. The aroma was really nice, with a highlight of a sort of wood, tcm/bark with a rather high pitch note added to it that made me associate with smoke, in a very nice way. I think that high pitch note is related to peppercorn that often shows up in Bingdao area teas (which I think this is, despite officially being Yangta Jinggu). Also found in aroma was fruit, dried fruit, a bit of barnyard and slight choco. A couple of brews had a sweet cream with sugar and/or barnyard that was really nice. The taste was very complex and deep. It's a little bit like the Shuanglong '08 Bingdao that Essence of Tea sold--has a lot of dried fruit, some wood, some tcm, barnyard chicory. Again a couple of brews midsession had a strong sweet cream emphasis with some nice fruitiness. The late infusions were ambiguous, being somewhat dominated by aftertastes, but sort of a subtle cream, mushroom, barnyard melange. There was a bit of tartness, less elegant and balanced than it used to be. The viscosity was moderate with a creamy texture. Astringency showed up here and there and is much less than Lanyin. This tea consistently made a very obvious feeling down the throat, especially early, and aromatic huigans comes back up, out of the same depths. While there was a bit of moving cooling, there wasn't the usual articulate bitterness moving around my mouth early in the session. Instead, it happened very late in the session with a lot of subtle changes in flavors as I progress through the sip. Much of that moved towards a greater sugary and fruity sweetness, and it was slightly sensate sweet as well. Extremely durable, somewhere over fifteen brews, and the pot is in the fridge.

    Again, the early XZH northern teas are absolutely insane, and I'm note sure you can beat them with anything sold in quantity to the public. Huangshanlin, while never being so nicely floral like the '12 CYH Bingdao or the '14 XZH Lanyin, and has never been much on conifer like some other "Bingdaos", is pretty clearly better than any of them. The CYH and the Lanyin both did not have nearly as much in the way of deep feeling in throat, and neither had the sort of durability, particularly in the active sense. Neither had the qi. It feels like the Huangshanlin is more genuinely composed of "gushu" material than any other "Bingdao" material I've ever had.

    The last tea of the weekend was some sancha that had been stored in TW for at least 30 years. It's nothing amazing. Has a bit of that storage ginseng, some nannuo-carrotty. Has a bit of woodsy aromaticness. Viscosity moderate, somewhat smooth. Not much in the way of aftertaste. A mild-moderate bit of pleasant aged tea qi. Generates an unusual feeling on face and skin, sort of like numbing, but more active. Definitely an everyday drinker aged tea. Lots better than other aged sancha of this type, like Phoenix Tea House mid '90s Yiwu sancha. Not as good as the '98 DXS sancha that Sanhetang repackaged into 100g tins. This also went into the fridge.

    Well, I *tried* to be briefer...
     
  5. A bit laid back, did familiar tea and investigating some black teas...

    Yesterday was '06 XZH Youle. It was acceptable. The set of leaves I hacked out was fairly mulchy, like out of a zauncha, and first two or three brews were cloudy and sour enough to be noted as a fault. Funky.Apple-wood-florals basic aroma and taste. Not too thick in either sense. Acceptable viscosity and smoothness. Best aftertaste was strong floral mouth aroma around the back of the mouth. Good feeling down throat. Good qi. Underwhelming compared to the tea at its best, but it is very erratic from session to session. This session was very dynamic to the point that it felt incoherent, even if it did keep main theme throughout.

    Second tea was a proper gongfu of '09 XZH Nectar Yulu hongcha. For an old yunnan black at this point, I'd have to say it's pretty good. Very flat in taste with little livelyness in the mouth. However, consistent, good quality floral aroma. Decent thickness, some aftertaste in throat. A bit of qi. Very durable.

    First tea today was the '09 XZH Fengshabao. Very hongchapu. Have to apologize to the '07 Dinjin Nu'er super hongchapu. A bit flat in taste like black tea, of a sort of vegetal-honey, vaguely like wild tea. Okay aroma, with a little fringe of something like musk. Good soft mouthfeel with good thickness. Good feeling down throat, some throat huigan. Strong, good quality qi. This was a very pleasant if boring session. Doesn't have much similarities to the YQH top teas like my first try, didn't find custard, or any dark bitterness, or anything like that.

    Second tea today was the '11 XZH Blush (almost certainly a translation error) hongcha. This isn't as good as the '09. It's not as pretty in taste or aroma. Tends to have more savory umami and wood notes. Thinner aroma and taste. More complex taste, more dynamic session, more qi than the '09 black tea. Less durable.
     
  6. Friday, I had some '09 XZH Xicontianxiang shu. It was alright, good thickness, some depth, a bit of plumminess much like what you'd get from a Star of Menghai. It had some aged aroma, too. And good qi. But it wasn't really a top tier experience for a shu.

    This weekend, I had decided to test out my Diangu stuff, while my memories of XZH Lanyin and Huangshanlin are fresh.

    The first tea was the '07 XZH Dinjin Nu'ercha. This was about 25 cents a gram in 2010, and was the most expensive 2007 XZH on Houde. It had some bad reviews for being very "purple". Today, it's pretty obviously an extremely superior tea, and it's probably the only tea I have that might find its way into a superrich person's gaiwan (this is Sanhetang's lowest run production for sale in 2007 at 200kg, and it's a tippy tea from groves around the most ancient cultivated tea trees). My best tea? Well, it has its virtues and it's really good at what it does, but I have problems saying that any of my really good teas are the "best".

    Why it's really good is obvious right off the bat. It's still very "purple"--the basic aroma and taste includes a very strong character that's at the intersection of fruit and fleshy florals. Imagine the bright juiciness of a preserved peach half canned in syrup that has a strong fleshy floral aspect like rose oil. A lot of people would like this alot, tho' obviously according to some Chinese men's sensibilities, this would be a woman's tea.

    Ok, the aroma early tends to have fruit, fleshy floral, with a powder (much like 6FTM small-leaf teas) base to it. Later brews tend to have darker barnyard aromas in it, and a slight artisinal clay. The taste tends to be complex. Fleshy floral, fruit, it tends to have a pleasantly sour plummy component. Sugar/caramel as well. A jasmine like bitterness. Very late brews are actively sensate sweet. Top of the scale viscosity, relatively smooth and oily, but does have a kind of gritty drying finish, tho' productive for mouthcoat aftertastes. Has the full range of aftertastes. There is a consistent yiwu huigan to caramel. The jasmine bitterness promotes a strong jasmine floral mouth aroma. Astringency gives a sweet perfumey mouthcoat. A bit of yun. While it does go down the throat, there isn't that much in the way of pungent huigan arising out of the throat. The qi is very strong, easing, and is of quite high quality. The durability is also top end as this easily made 20 brews, and I took it to like 22-25 brews before finally throwing it out, will probably still more brews left. Late brews were very refreshingly thick with a light sweetness.

    The tea today was the 2007 fall XZH Diangu. This isn't nearly as good as the Dinjin Nuer. The 2009 regular Diangu should be better, too. However, it was a very nice tea.

    Aroma is funky peach or mango with barnyard and slight wood notes. Taste is a broad, full, peachymango with barnyard, wood, and jasmine bitterness. Viscosity is good with slightly oily feel. This doesn't generate that much of a strong aftertaste game. The bitterness generates a bit of florals and wood. in the mouth. I got a very nice tonguetip coating of sensate sweetness from one brew. There is a slight yiwu huigan to caramel. Qi is strong and of good quality. Durability is also excellent. Did at least 15 and put the rest in the fridge.

    Did some '06 Jinse Hailanghao shu on Sat. Terrible on account of unpleasant sourness. Does have a good mouthfeel, no other true positives to it other than basic shu-ness.

    Did some W2T Sunday Special today. This is an erratic tea. This can be rather boring and basic, but today it was unusually complex and sweet. Good mouthfeel and a little qi.
     
  7. Okay, a bunch of teas to go through...

    Last Friday, An Xiang shu. It was great.

    Last Saturday, I had some YQH QiXiang. It was very mellow and quiet. It had good thickness and texture, and it had good quality qi. I was left with thinking that the degree to which a merely par or maybe a bit below par session of '06 XZH Youle is better than QiXiang. At $135/500g, I bought two from Houde, and considering the opportunity costs, these are among my worst buys at the time. All the complaints aside, this is still a good tea.

    Last Sunday, I had the regular '09 XZH Diangu that I got from Houde. This was a much quieter and less impressive session than my memories, and especially in the sense that two weekends ago, the '07 Diangu was excellent (in a way that my first try of this '07 a few months ago did not do). The milan dancong character was weaker, and I didn't get much of that nice jasmine bitterness. In all, it seemed like it was the same quality as the '09 chen version I got from FB auctions. Soup color was still that lovely rose gold, tho'.

    This Friday, I did the '07 Fulu Yuancha Shu that I like so much. Pretty much the same. A couple of early sour brews. Very little fermentation taste for a shu. Nicely woody and floral aroma. Good qi. Some sweet later brews.

    Today, I did too many teas...

    The first tea today was the 2013 XZH Fenghua. This had never been openly for sale that I've ever seen, and it's presumably a sequel to the 2012 XZH Fenghua cake that I've not had. It's a pretty good tea but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. To me, the main issue is that it's a bit thin and loose with its components. It also doesn't have much of an aftertaste game. I'm given to understand that the tea is relatively erratic from session to session and there are some very good sessions in that thar cake.

    The aroma tends to have a nice cut green wood, slight incense element early along with barnyard, with some brown sugar to sweeten things up. Brown sugar gradually becomes more dominant. The taste has a lot of savory barnyard to it, with brown sugar, a bit of sourness early, and a tcm-bitterness that gets stronger towards midsession. At the high point, the taste is pleasantly complex. The viscosity starts off slow, and by late session becomes thick and oily-pudding. Not too much astringency noted. The aftertaste were limited to mouthcoats, mostly. A hint of mouth aroma does show up rarely, and one cup coated the throat nicely. Emptied cup can be aromatic, btw. Qi was soft early, built up nicely to strong mid session, and kinda went soft again late. Active phase is very short, about four to five brews, later brews are refreshing thick soups that feel nice to drink, with some flavor of course. I didn't push this tea too far, maybe twelve or so brews.

    The second tea of the day was 4g of '01 SM Yuanyexiang ("dry stored"). This is not dry stored in reality. Earliest brew had a touch of that black-eyed peas warehouse taste, and the first four or so brews have a real issue with fishiness. It took a while for the tea to become good (and this is a good tea). A reminder that quality of storage can really matter.

    Aroma starts off with wood, tcm and toffee notes, and gradually loses toffee while increasing tcm, and later brews had a very nice woody-tcm aroma. Taste for the first four brews is dominated by mushroom and warehouse funkiness like fishy and BEPs. Gradually, mushroom is less dominant and tcm-bitter rises. Plumminess joins in a bit later, and a bunch of nicely balanced tastes follow. Moderately thick viscosity, has a touch of non-drying astringency. There wasn't much aftertaste early. After the tea straightens itself out, there was a nice lingering from the tcm bitterness, and there was some mouth aroma. Also a bit of transformation into plumminess. Qi is moderate and of good quality. I only did maybe eleven or twelve brews because I wanted to compare with Tai Lian (as to whether it was better tea). One reason I wanted to try this tea again was to compare with XZH '07 Jipin. These are indeed fairly similar teas. Jipin is not nearly as mushroomy, and doesn't have that toffee, and YYX doesn't have general strength of the XZH.

    The last tea of the day was four grams of '02 Tai Lian World Expo cake. This has much better aftertaste game than YYX, doesn't have as solid taste, and is harder to drink.

    Aroma was penetrating chicory based early, and a kind of sharp wood ash (slight incense) late. Taste was chicory based early, and a sort of thin slightly sour/tart hay and slight fruit note. Viscosity was good with a round texture. Feeling goes down throat, a marked degree of cooling. In terms of aftertaste, the active part was over quickly but it was very nice, a strong conversion to sweet caramel, along with strong yuns and mouthcoat. The tea becomes more pedestrian later. Qi was pretty decent, I think at least as good as YYX. I did not push durability that long as my tummy was mad at me.

    I think I'd say that the YYX is better than the Tai Lian, sort of tortoise and the hare style. Tai Lian offered a much more explosive and appealing character early, while YYX worked itself out. However, YYX has a thicker and more cohesive taste and it was much easier to drink. Not a huge quality difference between the two teas, though.
     
  8. Along with a few more brews of YYX, I had the 2013 XZH Risk One's Life. It's relatively different from the 2010 I had some weeks ago, and it's broadly is a typical good Wangong tea, not much different from Last Thoughts or CYH Guoyoulin or the 2011 XZH Wangong Classic. It also had something that recalls the positivity of the '06 YQH Shenpin Chawang.

    Aroma starts off with savory florals similar to teas that advertise themselves as having "Bohetang". It gradually changes over to barnyard and brown sugar, and late infusions have a bit of fleshy florals. A bit of savory floral in taste at first, then more tcm-bitter, brown sugar, and barnyard. Later infusions have a more dark tcm and wood character. Late infusions are more sweet flavor focus. Soup viscosity is very good, tho' not quite as outstanding as the '11 XZH Wangong Classic. Smooth. Not a whole lot of aftertaste game like that tea, too. Got a bit of yiwu huigan to caramel. Qi is good and is positive in a way very similar to Shenpin Chawang. Durability is okay, in the sense that there isn't a huge amount of pyrotechnics in the first place, and the tea weakens realatively quickly using standard lengthening of times. I started to brew more aggressively and was pretty rewarded with solid flavor a pretty long way.

    The 2011 Wangong Classic feels like it is a more pure tea, and more gushu than this tea. However, this tea feels like it has a well balanced blend that coheres a bit better than yesterday's Fenghua. I rather enjoyed it today in an easygoing way.
     
  9. Okay, four days of plenty of tea to get through, free-association style!

    First, on Friday, I had the '14 XZH Yellow Mark shu before work. I had been slightly underwhelmed by this tea since I gotten it, because it never really reproduced the kind of crazy qi that the sample had, and it's sort of a normal shu. However, this last session was quite good. The chief weakness was the aroma, which was weak and not very notable. However, the taste was deep (in that full fermentation and no sheng bits way unlike my other favorite shus) with a lot of subtle nuances of wood, caramel, and the like so as to reward attentive sipping. A late brew or two had that delicious full flavored nature I had gotten from the sample. The viscosity was appropriate for a shu of this level, not super super thick. Subtle aftertastes. Qi was pretty good, not overwhelming, but strong, relaxing, and positive. Durability was very good, this shu is probably as good as Xishangjiaxi in that way.

    I can't say that this is better than An Xiang, and it might be better than '09 Dayi Ziyun. Gushu shu really is kind of a scam.

    On Saturday, I had two teas.

    The first tea was the '13 XZH Chawangbing. This is the sequel to the 2012 Chawangbing, and is the big brother in terms of cost of the '13 Chawangbing (Yes, XZH sold two Yiwu Chawangbing that year) sold by Houde back in the day. Long story short, while this is a good and very enjoyable tea, it's a big step down from the 2012. Of course, it's like two thirds the price, so that maybe priced in.

    Aroma tends to have brown sugar, toasted grains, barnyard, florals. Occasionally has butter. The taste broadly reflects the aroma with brown sugar, barnyard notes dominating. There is an explicit sensate sweetness, like the '12 Chawangbing and that '12 YQH Yiwu that's not sold. Develops and undevelops a bitter dark tcm through the session, like elite YQH 2009+ Mansas. Can have (tropical?)fruits or florals in there. One brew shortly before fading into a light taste had a lot of milk in it. Late brews brewed hard will have a little dark tcm bitter. The viscosity is moderately good with a slightly slick astringency. Some cooling. The aftertaste game is much weaker than the '12 Chawangbing. One brew had a nice full set of mouth aroma, yun, and huigan in the throat. Most of the other times, it's mostly a lingering fruity conversion-finish, maybe a bit of a mouthcoat. The qi is strong and of great quality. Active phase of the tea is very short, about 4-6 brews. Does last longer with light taste and good viscosity and qi. I didn't brew it out because I wanted to try another tea...

    Which was the chen version of the '09 XZH Diangu. Which was quite excellent! The really big feature was the sheer thickness and luxurious mouthfeel of the soup. Also a very visually appealing soup, too, your traditional Diangu rose copper look. This had an unusual alkaline fried whitefish aroma, like what you'd get at Captain D's or Long John Silver restaurants. Also the usual milan dancong fruitiness. The taste had little milan dancong fruitiness, at least compared to my last try of the 2007 Diangu. More of a mangomy taste, like plummy as opposed to fruity. A bit of aftertaste, a lot of good feeling in throat. Good quality strong qi, and durable, at least twelve brews or so.

    The first tea on Sunday was the 2013 XZH Shantou. As with the 2013 XZH Chawangbing, this is a big step down from the 2011 XZH Shantou. The most striking thing about the 2011 tea, the powder-incense aroma was absent or minimal during the session with this tea. It's a good tea, though, and has a lot of TCM bitter for aging...

    Aroma has a little powder floral, but more consistently has dark barnyard, tcm, fruity on occasion. The taste is pretty consistently dark tcm bitter. In later brews, there can be slight sweeter and/or wood notes. Not a very dynamic tea. Thick viscosity with good smoothness, good overall mouthfeel. Aftertaste game isn't exciting, brewed hard, you get a bit of a yun. Strong qi of decent quality.

    The first tea today was the '18 spring XZH Tianmenshan. Again, this is also a real step down from the 17 spring XZH Tianmenshan. That is, the taste was much more conventially Yiwu than the '17, and it wasn' fun to drink as far as aftertastes went either.

    The aroma was much less prominent what the '17 featured, but it was more or less the same character with dry florals consistently, with some sharpness like what you get from green bell peppers, meaty vegetalness similar to many wild teas. It can have fruit and spice notes and one brew had an interesting ammonia-like punch from a butter scent. The taste was very typical, and pointed towards a classical yiwu-ish honey and mushrooms character, more similar to the Koreahao Wangong than to the complex '17 Tianmenshan. Longer late brews did draw out interesting nontypical (sometimes bitter) flavors that are hard to describe. The viscosity was very good, with a kind of velvet-pudding texture. Prone to strong drying astringency, though. Aftertastes are reasonable, with a consistent lingering mouthcoat, a bit of mouth aroma. But again, less fun, and much less throat stuff than '17. The qi is strong and is of excellent quality. Much like the '13 Chawangbing, YQH Shenpin Chawang, it has a very positive feeling tilt to the qi. This qi also last well after the sip and the cup. I did about 13 brews, and moved on. Was still going decently well, and I'll brew more later in the week.

    The LLLLllllaaaaaaaaAAAAAAssT tea of this weekend was the '05 XZH inaugeral spring LBZ. Can't really quite tell because the storage is so different from mine, but this is roughly the same materal as the '05 fall and the '06 spring TaiChis. Much as these other teas, the chief weakness is a thinness of flavor relative to the other legit LBZ, like the '05 CYH, which is deep,dark, and strong. However, this was a very pleasant and round tea to drink. Different from Taiji and '08 XZH lbz for that matter, in having a consistent winey aftertaste like those found in CYH LBZ and described as being a feature of YQH LBZ. Didn't get late brew plummy like other XZH.

    Aroma is sort of light and soft, and is mainly a sort of woodsiness. One time had a really good candy scent in addition. Some soft, high barnyard as well. Some floralness with aggressive brewing. The taste is more or less like the aroma, with a dominant high barnyard, with a bit of sour hay, wood, and generally delivers a sense of sweetness. Moderate thickness for a premium tea, smooth with an intermittent drying astringency. Some yiwu huigan, but most of the impressive aftertaste is a winey mouthcoat, some good yuns, particularly in longer brews that pushed to bitterness. Moderate to strong qi, okay quality, subtle in the sense of aging tea, relative to those strong youngsters I've been having. Durability wasn't seriously tested, and I'll be brewing more through the rest of the week.

    ugh, done at last.
     
  10. Shah, Thanks for writing. I am reading away your notes.
    MrMopar.
     
  11. Friday, I did the 2009 Dayi Ziyun shu. It behaves like a third grade shu, especially in the sense of a v93 (which seems to be the basis for many of the Dayi third grade shu of this era, including An Xiang), with a dollop of potent bulang material in it. Sort of like if you blended HLH Jun Ai with a v93. It's a rather good shu, better than Dragon Pole, but not as good as An Xiang.

    It has an okay aroma. Taste is a strong dark depth with a slight bulang bitterness providing weight. It's also really sweet with lots of almond sweetness. Good thickness, got touch of astringency issue, catches the throat a bit. Otherwise smooth. Fruity aftertaste. Mild to moderate qi.

    On Saturday, I did the 2013 XZH Yibang Classic. This strikes me as being a different sort of Yibang than the Grade A that I was expecting it to be more like, for example, it's much less fruity. Also has some commonalities like cooling, forest floral mouth aroma, etc. This feels more in common with the '11 XZH Shantou. This was the most complex 2013 experience of these 2013 XZH, but the overall quality is less than the '13 Chawangbing and '13 Risk One's Life.

    The aroma consistently has a major floral component, has both fleshy and dry florals, but usually has more of a dry powdery floralness. Barnyard also there, as well as very occasional honey, fruit, wood, forest notes. The taste can have some powder floral, fruit, barnyard, but tends to consistently have a bitter-tcm darkness with sweet subnotes like caramel around. There can be a bit of tartness. Viscosity is good and mouthfeel is relatively pudding. Not that much astringency. Aftertastes were pretty good and complex. Strong cooling, and strong feeling at the top of the throat. There tends to be a combination of a winey yun and a forest floral mouth aroma. This tea can also have a decent yiwu huigan. Qi seems to be decently good, but I sort of remember it fading a bit as the session went on. The tea had okay durability. Active phase is over at about six or seven and the soup gets thinner and a bit higher in taste and goes on. I didn't come that close to exhausting the tea. Finished leaves were notably small.

    I became curious about evaluating yibangs again and the ageing of them, so I cracked open my cake of YS '10 Xikong. I got a decent session of this tea. Badly made tea with good material can do that. This tea feels very familiar in the sense that I recall the '16 XZH Return of the King being very similar, and I do know that Tony Chen has surveyed Xikong tea. Simple tea, like the XZH, also quite flat like stale pop.

    The light aroma tends to have an alkaline character, similar to many Nakas, etc, and fruitiness. At its best, there is a nice candy sharpness. The taste pretty consistently has a sort of whitefish sort of umami. However, it's also sweetly fruity with some other stuff on occasion like tartness, sourness, caramel, etc. It feels very soft and unobtrusive to taste, on account of how flat it is. Medium viscosity, smooth soup. Not huge aftertaste, just a touch of mouth aroma and mouthcoat. Some qi. More durable (and boring) than I could fit in, for a second tea of the day.

    The tea today was the 2017 XZH Tianmenshan, but one where the wrapper it originally came in was different than the standard version you find on Weidian, with a stamp showing pressing being in the fall of 2017 rather than the typical April 20th date. The original purchaser was told that this is spring material. My conclusion is that this is probably fall material. Overall, it is more similar to the spring '17 version than the spring '18 Tianmenshan. However, the taste sort of becomes less robust very quickly. So overall, the overly standard yiwu profile-'18 Tianmenshan is a more sound and superior tea, being more meaningfully fragrant, thick soup, and durable, with a strong and good qi, whereas the '17 fall has the '17 spring exotic complexity, better set of aftertastes early.

    The aroma was light before becoming a non-factor, but it had good notes of coffee, fir, floralness that's perfumy, with slight wood, fruit, and custard notes. The taste early tended to be coffee that's been cut, but no milk or anything in it. Some tcm, some wood. Later brews had some very slight custard and a stronger fruitiness. A feeling of caramel sweetness, then too. The taste shallows up very quickly, by the fourth brew, but it does maintain that level for awhile, and one accidental overbrewing showed that there was still a bit of strength at the point. Good viscosity, but not as good as either definite spring teas I've tried. Interestingly, not that prone to drying astringency, so it's smooth as well. Goes down throat, cooling feel in mouth. Early brews had pleasantly strong mouthcoats and yuns. The qi is moderate to strong, and not as good quality as the other Tianmenshans. Durability was okay, did like fourteen brews, and probably could have done a couple more. On its own terms I did like this tea.

    Sanhetang has done a number of new mark teas this year, and the big Hongyin this year will be a Tianmenshan, though I have to wonder whether it will be as good as 2017, tho' I suspect it will at least try hard to be as good. There's going to be some kind of robust LBZ-like Grade A. Two yellow marks. One is Zhangjiawan tea (which is not usually a particularly elite Yiwu, might be an elite selection.) The other is just three hundred 250g cakes of top Mangzhi tea. There's also a new Taiji cake, sort of seems like it's a Menghai tea, but Tony Chen has been evasive as to what that is.
     
  12. Shouldn't be too complex of a weekend,this weekend.

    I had saved two black teas for ten years, to see personally how they age.

    Teaspring's Zhu Hai Jing Ming wasn't very successful today. A bit sour, has lost the original marshallow, and most of the floral notes. No real age advantage to qi, mouthfeel

    Houde's Hao Xian black tea, made with oolong varietal, was much more successful.

    The aroma was generally pretty good, with lots of sweet notes--fruits, candy, the whole Mardi Gras thing, toned down a bit from how florid sweet it used to be. Aroma also can have a slight aged wood and barnyard note. It gets later as the session goes, but stays present throughout. Taste starts off with a deep barnyard and an interesting, lingering bitterness that I found pleasurable. There is also wood note, and some of the original floral and fruit notes. Can have explicit sweetness. Later infusions, the taste gets higher and becomes a bit more plummy dominated. It has fairly good thickness and is smooth, not too much of a distinctive texture. Lots of cooling in mouth, consistent mouthcoat, early brews featured lingering bitterness as part of that. A bit of very shallow throat huigan early in the session as I finish cups. Moderate to strong qi, mostly just caffeine conversion, but not too bad, at least as good as old factory tea with plantation material. Fairly durable.

    The Sanhetang black teas are a bit more...substantial? in taste and mouthfeel, more of a consistent and true and nonchaotic aroma. The qi is of better quality, too, but maybe weaker? The Hao Xian black teas are just more colorful, complex, especially early, and flattens out to the more typical aged black flatness later.

    Did a sheng after that Hao Xian yesterday, the 2011 Essence of Tea Mannuo. This isn't really a favorite of David Collan when it comes to his 2011 teas, and I'm not sure why, because at least mine, this stuff is just very close to what a legitimate LBZ offers, with the differences being a similarity to some Yibangs. I've said it before, but still. Main issue is that it's a bit small in the mouth compared to superpremium teas, even other superpremium small-leaf tea. Otherwise, it ticks off all the boxes, strong coherent taste, with depth, some complexity and nuance in depth and a pleasant bitter anchoring it. Complex aroma, is fairly light much of the time, could be stronger and easier to enjoy. Good mouthfeel. Complex set of aftertastes, and that cologne-y floral mouth aroma is pleasant at the back of the mouth. Strong qi of good quality, and great durability.

    Sheng today was the '06 XZH Lao Man'e. This still doesn't really feel like quite the same tea that I tried as a sample. However, it was quite mellow and full and thick and relaxing. This is a much "bigger" tea than the Mannuo. Something that strikes me as odd is that in both the first and this session, this tea starts to get more interesting late, like around brew eight. I didn't have the tummy to brew this out, so I put the gaiwan in the fridge.
     
  13. Teas of this weekend...

    Friday--some of that good early 2k liu bao. It was good, and same impression as before, being a bit more multifaceted, delicate, than liu baos typically are.

    Saturday was the last of the 2006 XZH Menghai Nu'ercha brick that I got a long time ago from Houde. I had recently gotten a new brick from FB auctions, because I wanted to drink the tea often, and wanted to keep two other Houde bricks for another decade. I kept the 2005 Dayi Menghai Peacock in mind when I drank the tea.

    Aroma tended to have menghai honey, sweet nutmeat, wood, a bit of barnyard, sometimes a little plummy. Late infusions tended to be more of a light and high wood. The taste is mostly a high sweet barnyard and wood that is sometimes lightly plummy. Early brews has a very sharp and precise tartness where the bitterness would be. Viscosity is good for something that is a variety of plantation (shengtai banzhang) with a light drying astringency. Feeling goes down throat a bit, plenty of cooling in mouth. Aftertastes were plentiful and complex, but light. The tartness generated a little lingering mouthcoat aftertaste, and there was a consistent very shallow huigan in the throat that's more like an active yun. A little perfumey mouth aroma. Qi is good, of moderate strength. Durability is pretty good, but it does collapse a bit after about five or six brews, but will brew a long way at reduced complexity and strength.

    This is a more delicate and high tea than the Dayi Menghai Peacock, with little big leaf broad character and obviously no Bada backing flavors. However, it's a more complex tea with more appealing flavor notes, more qi and aftertastes. One thing that interests me is that most small leaf and tipper teas, which this one is, usually develops a pretty deep and narrow flavor, but this tea has never been very deep.

    The tea for Sunday was an evaluation of the Essence of Tea Wuliang B from 2016. This tea does much better in a thermos than in a gongu like today's session. It obviously needs a rather firm hand with brewing for best effect and may be best suited for Western brews. Pleasant enough session anyways.

    The main issue is that there is very little complexity or dynamacism. Aroma and taste is mushroom, barnyard, and wood for the most part. A bit of fruit, vegetalness, choco has been found at times. Viscosity is good, but that scratchy astringency is still there. These days, after so many astringent Mansa teas, I'm a bit more tolerant of this aspect than I was three years ago. The fruity aftertaste is much more subtle than it is in a thermos. Qi is on the light end of moderate. Brews a reasonable way.

    This should be a good workday sheng. It's interesting to me that this tea is much better in a thermos than the Shuanglong Bingdao from 2008, but much worse than the Bingdao in a gongfu.

    Had some Sunday Special. Enjoyed it. Noted an unusual amount of fruitiness in late brews.
     
  14. Did three teas of the weekend.

    I got my new brick of the '06 XZH Menghai Nu'ercha, and took it for a spin in the thermos and gongfu. Good thermos performer. In the gongfu session, it shows the extra humidity of taiwan storage, and has that kind of rounded sour hay, sour mushroom attitude that made the TW stored versions of the TaiChi LBZs such limp overcooked veggies. This is more rounded and easier to drink than my tea, but the aroma is not as good, and natural fruit and honey aspects are covered by sour-hay/mushroom-barnyard. Overall, the XZH brick is mostly just a good, pretty good tea. It's not awesome, and would struggle to beat the '07 Dayi An Xiang sheng (especially in thermos), for example. However, I paid, in total, about $127 for 400g of this tea. This is a very good deal for a tea of this age and quality. I do not think it will be forever that new tea will be more expensive than post-2003 old tea, so one should take advantage of TW auctions!

    Okay, to the tea. The aroma has that sort of gentle sour mushroom aspect, which fades by brew five or six. Aroma also has high-barnyard, wood, a little choco. The taste has a pretty consistent high choco element that the houde tea did not have, showing a bit of advantage in pleasant maturity. However, it also has that sour aspect, as well as wood, high barnyard, and celery (I think it's another aspect from storage). There can be some bitter-tart, but it's less than the Houde version and not as precise. There's a touch of tcm darkness associated with that bitterness. Late brews are generally pretty sweet and more tendency to be wood. The viscosity is decently thick, no complaints. A little less astringent than Houde. There is some cooling, but less than Houde. Aftertastes tend to be a little lingering mouthcoat from the bitterness and a bit of forest floral mouth aroma. The qi is moderate, and of good quality. Durability is pretty good, too.

    The second tea of the weekend was the 2007 Jingmeitang Red Iron Forever xiaobing. I got curious about it because it does typically perform well in a thermos, so wanted to try this again. I conclude that this is a very decent factory-ish tea (by that I mean, focused on bold, heavy metal power ballad flavors and a full aroma) that is well worth figuring out a way of getting a tong of for another decade, maybe two decades hence. This is ultimately a Chantai production, but it's much less tweaked to be mild in the way of Chantai house style.

    Aroma and taste starts off with wood and malt. Then it moves to more of a wood, woodsap, dried fruit character, with plummy showing up there and there. Not too complicated in broad strokes, but lots of little nuances, and does have a touch of almond type sweetness here and there. This is pretty strongly bitter tart and astringent, however, and it needs plenty of more time. Decent viscosity, a little feeling in the throat. Reasonably durable.

    Decided I needed a more meaty tea, and I had been comparing the XZH with the '05 Dayi Peacock of Mengsong, so I took that one out for the second tea of today. It was really really good. Was also behaving quite similar to the '02 Tai Lian International, including being a bit of a difficult drinker, especially late. Of course, this was the second tea, and the last time I drank the Tai Lian, that was also the second tea. Anyways, this is really one of the very best Dayi teas from 2004 to 2007, and it's not that much less good than '99 Big Green Tree Black Stamp. It's MUCH better than the Peacock of Menghai, which is like four times the price, now.

    The aroma is great--wood, retired smoke, plummy/fruit. The earliest brews had a meatiness to it. Very refined sensibility overall though, and much like the BGT sense of aroma. The wash brew (and one really should drink the wash of some of these teas, because they can be candy) was a delightful light smokey honey and fruit sweetness. After, the tea gets down to business. It generally has retired smoke, barnyard, a deep plumminess that can have a heavy sourness, wood, hay. Gives a strong sense of balance, for the most part, especially when soup is hot. As it cools, the sourness is more present. Viscosity is thick and pudding early, and declines to a more stable good thickness a little later. Doesn't tend to have that much astringency. Feeling goes down throat sometims, there is some cooling. Aftertastes tends to be a strong yiwu-huigan, some mouth aroma, and a mouthcoat. The qi is very strong, but it doesn't seem to last, oddly, sort of fades sometimes. Does feel a bit like how the Qingteng is. Extremely potent and durable. I had to go slow to control bitter and sour, and it was a while before I could really get going. My last brew was a long one and that still generated a strong tea that had to be savored slowly, it was probably something like the fifteenth brew.

    I think there is a lot of promise for the future, and it's definitely better than the XZH brick by a ways.
     
  15. Tried to take it easy this weekend, semi-succeeded.

    The tea yesterday was the 2003 7532. Not a great tea for summer, and didn't have enough going on to keep me very interested. Decent enough tea, but I did feel that the 2005 Xiaguan Cang'er tuo was almost as good in a very similar way, but with less qi.

    Two teas today (when I probably should have stuck to one...). We Go High was excellent, with a very oily (can have a strongly crisp astringent finish) and thick mouthfeel, mild-moderate qi. Had an unexpected level of fruitiness early, and there were fruit tones throughout the session. The taste seems have developed a high TCM, so maybe the tea is aging. I wander between thinking this tea is a sweet Bulang and Mengku. Very much feeling more like it's a Mengku tea. Did not have a lot of aftertastes. Does have very good durability, and I thew it out with plenty still left, after something like 14 brews.

    The second tea of the day was the 2011 EoT Douyizhai Nannuo. This was pretty good, too. The taste is bigger and broader than the same year Mannuo, and tends to be complex and a bit dynamic. Same with the aroma. Not so much aftertaste, and the durability was slightly suspect (I was radically lengthening brewing times, but I hadn't really gotten all I could get when I stopped). Not that much qi, and much of it was felt early. Mannuo is more narrow in taste, but has much more qi and aftertaste. Anyways, this seems to be aging fine. Longer, late infusions did have an increase in astringency that might be a warning, but I was really pushing pretty early.
     
  16. I only did one tea last Sunday--2006 XZH Lao Man'E. Very enjoyable. Very thick, oily smooth mouthfeel, with complex tastes and aftertastes. Good aroma. Good quality qi at moderate-strong level. Weakness is that this is rather high tasting tea for a Lao Man'e, and is mild in a way reflective of autumn tea. Even so, I bought a second 500g cake for like $150. That's 960g-1kg of really good drinkers tea that is, at worse, slightly worse quality than the likes of W2T's Untitled02 or FWYH (which are similar teas) for a total of $300 something dollars all told. A kg tong of FWYH would be $950! It is really worth it to troll the FB Auctions for this sort of stuff!

    This weekend, I got in that second Lao Man'e and I got a cake of 2007 XZH Yuanshilin, which is Manlong and Mannan Hekai. I planned on retrying the 2018 W2T The Box and Lucky Puppy and did so.

    Broadly speaking: The Yuanshilin was really good, but at least some of the maocha was over-oxidized, giving a kind of Xiaguan processing note or Qimen taste early. Presumably, there was an issue with rain during withering. The W2T teas were more coherent after a year.

    Lucky Puppy seemed to pull itself together, and it also had some real echoes of We Go High. We Go High had better mouthfeel, but LP seems to have stronger qi and stronger aftertaste game.

    The aroma consistently had a mushroom character to it, and there were lots of different notes with it in the various brews, including bell pepper vegetal, honey, spice, wood, barnyard, custard, musk, florals. Very dynamic, florally. The taste also consistently had sweet mushroom. There was fruit early, and middle section had a bitter-tcm note. Late infusions had sweet mushroom and generic sheng note. The tea starts off with moderately good viscosity and improves to good after a few brews. Prone to having strong drying astringency, especially in late, firm hand brewed cups. Gets the full set of aftertastes, mouthcoats, yun, a very shallow pungent huigan in throat. Fruity and dry floral. The qi is moderate to strong, okay quality. I didn't fully test out the durability as I wanted to try that XZH, about 10-12 brews.

    Broadly, I generally think this is a good tea to store. It's perfectly drinkable now as far as young high quality sheng goes, but it has the substance in aroma, taste, and especially in aftertaste to be a nice cup in a decade. Should humanity still be around, then, of course.

    The second tea Saturday was the 2007 XZH Yuanshilin. This is a tea similar to the '09 XZH Gold Dayi. There are echos of its nature in the '05 and '08 Dayi Peacock of Mengsong, a 6FTM Hekai sold be TeaClassico, and the '11 Dayi JinDayi. A Twodog review of the '03 JinDayi makes it sound similar as well. I found this interesting because it was really quite dark, burly for a Hekai in my experience, particularly for a gushu style tea. I also found it interesting because it starts off with a notable hongchapu character--the first time, like a Xiaguan tea, and the second time like Qimen tea with a strong plummyness.

    Aroma is a rich, deep tobacco, wood, soil with an underlying hongcha plummy/malt in there somewheres, and this is consistent through the session but does vary in precise nature. The taste early is a strong tobacco and wood layer, with a subtle nutmeat sweetness, and a sort of flat and slightly sour hongcha bottom. The taste feels a bit two dimensional. Eventually the hongcha collapses at around brew four or five, and the taste volume is less, but more authentically puerh with even proportion of tobacco, wood, mushroom, sweet nutmeat , honey. The viscosity is thick with a juicy plumpness that is very nice to drink. Smooth most of the way, tends to have a bit of astringency in later long brews. The aftertastes is mostly yiwu-style huigan to sweetness in the mouth (like lbzs, etc), and an active yun at the top of the throat. They are very soft and low volume after the initial hongcha is over, but very complex and enjoyable. Very strong qi, warming, of quite good quality. Looks to be extremely durable. I found this so thought provoking and enjoyable that I did a second 4g session today, which delivered similar results, excepting that it had more plummy taste. Also note, the aroma very readily sticks to surfaces, and this is one tea where you will want to use an aroma cup with.

    The tea today was the W2T The Box. This was also more coherent, and is very enjoyably sweet. However, the bitterness and aftertastes were much less than it was last year. Not much of that sencha character either.

    Aroma was a complex blend of feminine sweet florals and masculine dry florals. Can have sweet nutmeat in it as well. The taste is very sweet, and explicitly so as well, with a melange of floral notes, changing as it cools. Some sweet nutmeats, a hint of chicory. Only a couple of brew were bitter, and it was much less bitter than a year ago. Theme stays the same, mostly through the session and gradually becoming less complex. Thick viscosity, a bit of astringency. Aftertastes were rather light, with some floral mouth aroma, a bit of yun, and a few pungent huigan in throat. Some feeling goes down throat. I think I did about 12 brews before putting it in the fridge and starting that second Yuanshilin brew. This was a rather agreeable and maybe a bit vapid tea.
     
  17. Correction, I said '09 XZH Jin Dayi, when I meant Jin Taiji.

    Also, The Box has been very good in the long brews, and the strength is such that attention and skill is needed to prevent overbrewing into green sheng bite. So it seems where last year, when it was fresh, it starts off strong and quickly turns weak and easy, and this year is more of an even perform well past ten brews. Or maybe that's just the particular selection of leaves.

    Thermos of Yuanshilin and Lao Man'e are really good. I think Xishishenpin may well be a YQH answer to the '03 Jin Dayi. It's more strongly sweeter in the sweet nutmeat way and malt, and less wood, tobacco. But pretty similar themes.
     
  18. Had gotten in a couple of W2T samples, WTCCCV black tea and Both Steals Boats And Meets Halfway sheng.

    Thermosed the sheng on Friday. Seems like a blend of the traditional favorite W2T bulk plantation that gets pressed into SnoozeFest and the good stuff in the 2007 Classic Mushroom (the description talks of it as if it was singular, but this tea has a couple of modes, so I think it's a blend, one part of which is a nice sweet Hekai) The new maocha is still pretty green and hard on the tummy, but the older stuff is very pleasantly sweet. I have some 2014 or 15 version of the maocha, which is turning darker and nicer, so I do think given five years, this blend will work out.

    Start of of loong sample run, have lots of samples right now.

    First tea of the weekend was the 2004 Biyunhao Manzhuan. My general verdict is sort of "pretty good, but meh". This wouldn't place among my better teas, and I think the 2005 might actually be the better Manzhuan. My first try was with a samplethat was thought to be messed up, so I didn't really count it, but apparently it wasn't *that* messed up--mostly more malty and funky than it should be. Anyways, the big issue is that the durability isn't great, to my taste, and that it offers a limited aftertaste game. Though broadly, this is my general problem with Manzhuan teas, and a bit reason why I never prioritized them until recently.

    Aroma starts off being pretty sweet with honey and fruit notes that shifts to having more wood and barnyard, and then moves high and sweet as the brews go on. The taste tends to be a kind of well layered wood and barnyard, with various very subtle spice, floral and fruit notes. As I go deeper into the session the taste rises higher and becomes more sweet flavored. Some later brews have a tart woodiness. Late brews have a consistent thin woodiness. The viscosity is only about moderate, tho' early in the session it does buildup a little, with an accompanying mucilaginous stiff and slick feel, but it eventually declines back to moderate thickness with plain smooth feel. A little drying astringency occasionally. Aftertastes aren't very generous, a couple of brews had a decent rising floral yun, and there was a bit of mouthcoat. Some cooling. The qi was moderate of high quality, and built up rather gently and sneaky up to a certain brew, and then declines to a low-moderate level. The active phase durability seems to be about six brews, and the tea becomes pretty boring afterwards, and I wanted to move to the next tea, so I didn't want to do too many. I will note that agressive brewing did bring back some potency, so one probably should plan on brewing with a firm hand after a certain point.

    I will be doing a thermos of the rest of the sample during the week.

    Also on Saturday, I had a four gram session of a 2019 BYH MidGrade Bohetang. "Midgrade" is pretty vague, as vendor essentially sez it's because it's not tall tree. I think it's just really well done shengtai, same as that YS Mansong or the BYH Mansong sold at Teas We Like. The tea is NT$4800/250g (say, $180) and there aren't very many cakes. I *do* think this is a good tea that many would like, but the youth and apparent gre--een non-gushuness makes it hard on the tummy. Give it five years and it should be a very tasty and maybe drinkable sheng.

    Aroma is decent (if light) early, with savory florals dominant and some herbs, and sugercane later before the aroma poops out. Taste is full of sweet flavors, mainly a kind of sweet mushroom. Some generic Yiwu honey and florals. Plenty of plantation green. The viscosity is generally pretty good. Astringency can be a bother, and does scrape, particularly the top of the throat. Aftertastes feature a strong Yiwu-huigan to various sugar sweetnesses that comes fast enough to amplify the original sweet flavors. Some mouth aroma and a bit of a yun was also spotted. The qi is moderate-strong. Durability seems fine, but I was slow drinking this tea and couldn't drink too many cups of this due to the green. This is still a rather sophisticated, tasty and worthwhile tea, though--that was also part of why I was slow.

    This sample also solidifies my thinking that the 2012 XZH Chawangbing and the 2012 YQH Wild Tree (not for sale) are the teas I've had closest to the spirit of the best BHT experience. The 2013 chawangbing is pretty weakly involved, and the 2014 XZH Hongyin feels like it has some, but shared with other great Wangongs in a more firm blend.

    The first tea of the day today was the 2018 Biyunhao 500 Year Yibi. Not so green. Rather gushu, that's broadly similar to other smallish-medium leaf sized Mansa teas, like from BHT or Tienmenshan. I'm hesitant to be very enthusiastic with this tea because the best qualities lasts only three-four brews, and of course, even if the active phase was more durable, this is still a poor person's version of a great Mansa.

    The first three brews feature a difficult to smell, but complex and delicate aroma based on dry florals, cut fresh bay leaf. Then it wavers between more sweet florals and back to savory florals before dying down. The taste tends to have a transparent "olive oil" sort of taste consistently. Earlier brews has some bitter-tart-dark-TCM notes that progressively rises as brews go on. With firm brewing, in the late brews, a kind of TCM is the predominant thin flavor. There are also some sugar flavors, and an occassional classical Yiwu honey-florals. Some mineral notes? The viscosity is generally moderate, tho' it does wax and wan a bit through the session. Generally smooth with a little drying astringency early, and an occasional stronger drying late. The aftertaste generally features a Yiwu-huigan to fruit and sugar notes. Decent floral yuns early and a bit of floral mouth aroma with that. This has some qi, but it didn't seem that notable to me, and certainly weaker than the other teas of the weekend. The durability is okay, lasted about twelve, thirteen brews, and I will put the pot in the fridge, tho' I don't expect very interest late brews. I feel that ultimately the BHT is going to be better than this premium Yibi in the long run.

    The last tea of the weekend was the 2001 Menghai Tea Factory n.4 recipe 103. I think more people need to be trying factory teas like this. This is not a superb tea. It's just good, with good materials in it, and it would illustrate how profoundly limited our cultural perspectives are with even just good teas like this being quite expensive and maybe not very trivial to acquire, either.

    This is a pretty simple tea to describe, as that it doesn't have much complexity or dynamacism. The aroma is usually quite good with a retired smoke-wood aroma that echos resinous wood character. First brews had some chicory and fruit note in the aroma, but it becomes purely wood-smoke as the session goes on. The taste starts off being very Nannuo carrot, with a stewed tomato character to it as well. It first loses that stewed tomatoes note, then the Nannuo carrots, and becomes regularly a wood and chicory taste. Can be a tart chicory, tho'. Mouthfeel is very good, moderately thick with a bit of that peculiar soft stiffness you see in aged 7542s. Very occasionally astringent. Aftertastes features a generous almond sweetness coating the mouth and top of the throat. Occassionally, feeling goes down throat. Qi is moderate, builds up some, and declines. Of decent quality. Durability feels indefinite. Also put in the fridge, with more anticipation of good brews.

    This isn't as good as my '01 Simplified Yun, or the '05 Mengsong Peacock (when it's good, at least), essentially because it's a simple tea with weaker aroma game, less depth of taste, less complex aftertaste, and less qi. However, it's distinctly better than the 2003 Zhongcha 7532 (from Teas We Like), with a more lively taste and more authentic qi, has an aftertaste game. Expensive tea, though. Don't think I've seen it on facebook auctions, and my general sense of the price is that even "friends" prices is above $1k a cake. The original bulk sample was about $3 a gram. And again, it doesn't really look like this is a tea that is that trivial to acquire-would have to seek out a seller, verify the storage, etc, etc.

    Alright, that's all, folks!
     
  19. An addendum that I thought I'd report on right away...Finished off the '04 BYH Manzhuan sample with a couple of grams in a thermos.

    Aftertastes--a good mouthcoat and and some mouth aroma were very present, so I think there would be better sessions in a cake of this tea than what I got from my gongfu session.

    Durability wasn't relevant and that helps it. However, this tea still does not have a great aromatic performance (altho' Manzhuan is famous for subtle and quiet aromas), it only has a medium viscosity with a mouthfeel reflecting its age, and the qi is only about moderate, tho' of good quality.
     

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