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SOTD- sheng of the day

okay, some notes about stuff during the week...
The '01 MTF n.4 lasted a long way through the week, does the same thing, but quite tasty. The BYH 500y Yibi also lasted a long way, was more dynamic in whether it had more of a floral or fruity sense in taste. Notably pleasantly oily in texture. This 500y Yibi was about NT$5000/250g, which is pretty stiff for fairly new tea, but still cheaper than something like W2T's Queen of Clubs. And broadly, this tea is of a genre of teas that costs much much more than ~$200/200g or 250g, in that it's similar to other floral mid-size leaf from Wangong and other border areas.

Did some thermos. 500y Yibi was nice but nothing amazing or all that interesting. I did the 2006 XZH Youle to compare with the '04 BYH Manzhuan, and it beats the BYH pretty easily. Does not have the sort of aftertaste strength of the BYH in thermos, but it's much better tasting, more and better aroma, better oily mouthfeel. The original potency of the aftertaste in the throat has converted to something in the throat that coordinates with the qi to give a rather...spiritual feeling of tea. Qizhong had one of its good days--when it's good, it's really good. '06 Taipei jincha was outstanding, for what it was, solid plummy taste, good texture, some qi...

Now, to the weekend's teas.

The first tea of the weekend was the '09 BYH Xiaomannai (far southeast Manzhuan, behind Walong) Manzhuan. While it was going, it was really rather good, and is definitely among the most worthwhile of the BYH offerings I've tried. I certainly liked it more than the '04. Does have what seems to be a broad Manzhuan fault of having poor durability.

The aroma is one of the key virtues for about six brews. Most of the brews that had one had some combination of wood resin and barnyard in such a way that it resembled musk to me, which was very enjoyable. The aroma also had some floralness, your classic Manzhuan cupcake note, some honey'nwethay in various brews of the session. The taste is predominantly about a balance/tug of war between wood and plummy notes. There is some complexity early in the session with honey, choco, bitterness showing up in various brews. Late brews can have fruit notes in the plummy. The viscosity is thick, with some smoothness. Can have some occassional drying and throat scraping astringency. Aftertastes is very complex in the active phase, with yiwu huigan, floral yuns, mouth aroma, and mouthcoats playing a role. Some cooling in the mouth, and a bit of throatfeeling going on, too. The qi starts off on a moderate level, is sort of sneaky in building up to a strong level, and then declines as the tea weakens in the late brews. Durability isn't great, only about six brews for an active phase, and aggressive lengthening of brew times need as the session goes further. I did about ten brews.

I definitely enjoyed this tea, and the aroma is a sort of rare one that might be prized. Apparently, the '09 is only the second year of picking trees from Xiaomannai. '08 Xiaomannai has all been sold out to a person, and the area apparently quickly declined afterwards.

The second tea was the 2019 BYH Yibi. Utterly disposable and very green and sweet tea. No complexity or anything else that really simulates, so is more like appropriate to treat as a green tea. However, things like Essence of Tea's Bamboo Spring are better at being sweet green tea.

The dry leaf is very aromatic and floral. Soup aroma is dominated by green sheng, mushroom, floral. The taste tends to be green sheng, mushroom, caramel. The caramel sweetness is pretty strong. These qualities are over after the fourth brew, the fifth and later tended to be dominated by bitter green plantation qualities. Perhaps better brewing techniques can be worked out for later brews, but I doubt there is much fun that can be gained by paying any specific attention to this tea. Viscosity is moderate. Some of that caramel may well be a very fast Yiwu-huigan. Not much qi if any. Not worth it to see how durable it is.

The first tea today was the '10 BYH Yishanmo, which was also a rather good tea. Which also needed aggressive later brewing, or just more leaf in the first place. A somewhat more complex tea than the Xiaomannai.

The aroma tended to have plums and barnyard, spice, roasted grain. One cup had little barnyard, was more plum and tropical fruit, floral. Aroma also lasted about six brews. The taste consistently had plummy and woodsap notes. Earlier brews had some honey and barnyard, a little bitter-tart, later brews tended to see a merger of plummy-woodsap into something similar to a low Mahei-type plummy-leather. Late long brews are mostly plummy, tho' some stuff like mushroom or soil shows up. Viscosity is on the moderate level with a light bit of drying astringency. Mouthfeel can feel rather soft. A bit of cooling in mouth and a little feeling going down throat. Aftertastes tended to be small and delicate, but complex and assisting in creating an overall good experience. A little mouthcoat, a little floral yun and mouth aroma. Aftertaste game was only in about three brews tho'. The qi was moderate, and a bit more durable late than the Xiaomannai. I took this about twelve brews, could have done more, but aggressively long brew times were needed for later brews.

Last tea of the weekend was another plantation BYH...the '19 Manxiu, which brought back memories of SampleTea's nice fall Manxiu. This isn't really as good. However, it's a better tea than the '19 Yibi.

Aroma tended to have sea umami involved. Some fruit and florals here and there, but generic green sheng is also there. Taste tended to hew close to classical Yiwu norms of honey, florals, but sea umami and a bit of caramel is also present. Viscosity tended to be more than moderate, and good for plantation, with an oily mouthfeel. A little drying astringency. Not much aftertaste or qi. I stopped at six brews, as it's not very interesting and hard on my tummy.
Did some thermoses... The Xiamannai was pretty good, while the '04 BYH Manzhuang definitely still had a stronger yiwu huigan to almond etc, the Xiaomannao was all round better, I think. The '10 Yishanmo is alright, but the quality of the thermos was weaker than the gongfu, which makes me suspect that it was a better than usual session. I'd gotten in the '07 XZH Manlin at last after many trials and tribulations, and that made for a pretty good thermos. While the aftertastes were not as strong, the complexity and variety of flavors were superior, and that was more qi.

The flip side is that I also drank the 2011 Essence of Tea Chawangshu and '06 XZH Laoman'e, and I'm like, "I like Manzhuan tea fine, but I like other areas so much more..." The EoT was weirdly low in fragrance, the first pour was very fruity, while the second pour has more expected brown sugar bases. It also had a very strong and lovely yun with a rising dry floral out of the throat. Intense cooling in and down the throat as well. Strong qi. Some people have told me that other people do not think this tea is a Chawangshu, and I think I have to agree. It's too fruity and the aftertaste/feelings are not that typical. I think there is an okay chance that this is Baichayuan which is an area just northwest of Chawangshu and just south of the river that marks the "border" with Wangong. It's basically between Chawangshu and Bohetang. It's pretty respected, but this area typically gets depicted as "delicate", and I think this is very much in respect to both Chawangshu and Bohetang (I think they do share a lot of similarities, differences in dwart trees and tall trees aside) in that it's more simple and less dense in taste than either. Lao Man'e was great as usual.

The first tea of the weekend was the '19 BYH Wangong (midgrade). This is a nice enough tea that I don't find a compelling rational for. If one can get it cheap, sure, but with so many older teas worthy of purchase...

Aroma has a base of sweet mushroom, there is honey and floral notes. Maybe a touch of fruit. Dies out into insignificance after about four brews. In terms of taste, this tends to have a strong green sheng bite of tartness. Consistently has sweet mushroom, high tcm, some slight cocoa notes. The viscosity is moderate, with a soft mouthfeel. Later brews tend to increase in drying astringency. Decent yiwu-huigan to fruity sweetness. There is a consistent mouthcoat, and at least one occasion of mouth aroma. Moderate level qi, early brews had some caffeine. The fun part was over very quickly and I drank the brews past the fifth pretty quickly, and I didn't really try to brew this out, too young to enjoy for me.

The second tea of the weekend was a disappointment for me--it was a 2003 Purple Dayi 7542 that had been stored way to wet for me. Completely aired out, but a very mellow husk as far as I'm concerned.

Rotting wood, carrots, roasted coffee/cocao bean in the aroma. Taste is rotted wood with some sweet fermentation funk. Later brews has coffee depth. This is prone to eruptions of a Pine-Sol like camphor burst, which is like a trigger for me. At one point a vendor was sending me all the samples he didn't finish or didn't want, and teas with *issues* often has an intense and unpleasant aromatic camphor taste. The viscosity was good and very smooth. A bit of mouth aroma, a bit of mouthcoat for aftertaste, relatively light. Mild-moderate qi. I didn't like this tea so I did not come close to brewing this out.

The first tea today was the 2015 BYH Lishan Gongcha. I liked it, especially early, but I think the blurb for this tea on Teas We Like website was laying it on too thick. In principle, I don't think it's a particularly promising young tea in terms of aging. It's very nice now, but there isn't that much guts in this tea, so it's going to be roughly as nice ten years from now. Also, the blend decoheres, like my try of the 2013 XZH Fenghua, such that components do not work together as they should in later brews.

Early brews tends to have barnyard depth, and there would be some honey and florals in various proportions. Some fruit and almond sweetness In later brews the aroma rises, loses barnyard and becomes ever more floral based, and there would be more of a sugars sense. The early taste is a nice deep and mellow barnyard with dry florals and honey. There is some green sheng bitterness and tartness. As the session goes on, the barnyard rises and loses potency, the dry florals becomes more prominent and balances, and late brews are more plummy or fruity. This has moderate viscosity with early brews having a soft/oily mouthfeel. There is an occasional touch of throat scraping and a bit of drying astringency. There is some yiwu huigan to almond notes early, but most of the rest of the session, the aftertaste is predominantly a bit of mouthcoat. Qi starts off as mild and develops to a moderate level. The durability is decent, I probably did about eleven brews and could have gone further, but nice brews were limited to the first four or five brews.

The second tea today was a very pleasant surprise. 2019 W2T It's a Gift is basically a premium Yibang. I didn't have a high expectation (before reading other reviews) for the tea because I figured it'd be some newer version of The Box. There are very few vendors in the West who have sold a genuinely nice Yibang--that'd be W2T(just now), Theasophie Yidu, and Pu-erh.sk's 2019 Cat Ears. Honorable mention to Eot's Mangong and T-Shop 2010 Koreahao Yibang. Sanhetang has direct-ish sales of quality Yibang, JKTea has a '10 Diancha Yibang, and Teapals will sell ya a CYH Mansong...and that'd be about it. What's more this W2T is cheaper than any of them except for the now sold out EoT.

The aroma is delicate and a bit hard to smell. Lots of complex floral arrangements. I've found medicinal, red wine, honey, almond, green sheng, mushroom, and barnyard as complementary notes. The taste is pretty straightforward with a base mushroom taste that has a bitter bite with it. There can be some high tcm. Barnyard, honeydew character, too. The viscosity is thick and relatively smooth. A bit of astringency. Feeling does go down throat. Very strong aftertaste game. First seven brews had some pungent huigan in throat--which is a big plus in terms of what is worthwhile to age. The bitterness generates tons of lingering aftertaste of all sorts of flavors. Strong yiwu huigans to sugars and fruit sweetness on a consistent basis. Generated a complex cup up all the way through me deciding to be done with it for today and putting the gaiwan in the fridge. Qi is strong.

There is absolutely no reason to believe this will not be an excellent aged tea. I have the 2010 EoT Mannuo from conception, and there is a lot of what that tea was like when it was new in this tea. I also have tried the various yibang and gedeng XZH and I can see the similarities to the older teas. $250 is a very fair price for this tea, and I encourage anyone who can afford it, and doesn't have a good Yibang already, to strongly consider getting one or two. I don't know about "hardly ever leaves China" as the vender claims, but I *do* know that we don't generally get Yibang of this caliber here often.
During the week, I did a number of brews of It's a Gift. Very strong durability.

The first tea of the weekend was the '07 XZH Manlin. It was very mellow and focused on a dense and rather deep core. Wasn't so floral as a sample I tried a while ago. More similar to the 2010 XZH Classic Manlin (w 2009 maocha) rather than the 2010 Classic Hungshan.

Much of the way through the aroma usually involved some sort of barnyard. Early brews had some plummy and upside-down pineapple cake notes. Later brews had more of a floral emphasis. One time there was a very nice barnyard, floral, and wine aroma. Taste starts off with a deep plummy character with lots of nuances like barnyard, choco, wine, florals around it. A little bitter. The taste starts rising and thinning from the fourth brew on, gets sort of thin, but aged tea taste durability kicks in, and longer brews back a broad shallow plummy-barnyard for many brews. This session tended to have medium-good viscosity with a velvet mouthfeel. Around the fourth brew or so, there is a strong drying astringency and a touch of throat scraping. Not too much in the way of aftertastes, some mouthcoats and a bit of floral mouth aroma deeper in the session. The qi was moderate to strong with good quality. I didn't test the durability too much, but it seems like it will go a long way, after threatening me with yet another low durability Manzhuan tea.

This wasn't a very fancy experience at all, but it was pretty good, and the strength suggests further aging possibilities are there. Compared to the '04, '05 BYH Manzhuangs, this is clearly weaker in aftertaste, a little harder to drink, has better top taste, equal mouthfeel, better aroma, roughly equal qi.

The second tea of the day was the 2019 BYH "Mahei" blend. While this was a decent new tea, I did not find it to be very classical Yiwu. It is quite strongly nutty for a yiwu, making it seem like a Mangjing-Yiwu blend.

Early brew aromas were fairly dominantly Yiwu honey and florals, and it eventually turns predominantly nutty in light later brews. Early session tastes have a core of dry florals with vegetalness and honey around it, and later brews turn to a more nutty and fruity taste. Decent viscosity. Has a decent aftertaste game, consistently gives a yiwu huigan to sugar sweetness, and also regularly does a mouthcoat. There was a little bit of qi. I didn't push this tea very far, but it doesn't seem like it would have a lot of durability.

While this is an acceptable tea, labeling this as a Mahei feels deceptive, as it just felt like a weird tea to me.

The first tea today was the 2007 BYH Manlin. It is more heavily TW stored than the XZH. In general inferior to the XZH.

Consistently has honey in the aroma, with geosmin, wood and barnyard. On occassion, fruit note. In taste, the earliest brews are wood, choco, geosmin, and barnyard. After three or four brews, opens up to a broad, sort of funky barnyard taste. Can be sour and tart, a little bitterness. Viscosity is decent to good, more on good side. Some drying astringency. The astringency leads to a good mouthcoat, aftertaste dies out not too deep into the session. Qi tends to be moderate, of good quality. Durability doesn't seem to be good, but this will go into the fridge and I'll see if I can squeeze more decent brews during the week.

I wanted to move on to W2T 2019 Unicorn, as I was looking forward to trying this out. Broadly speaking the description from W2T in that this isn't for novices is basically true. Especially early in the session, this is a very mineral, empty-tasting, very subtle tea. It's similar to the Theasophie 2016 Huangshan, and now I'm curious as to how that tea is doing today. Anyways, Unicorn is a very specific style of Yiwu, and isn't what one would call a "top" Yiwu for general purposes, despite the price.

Earliest brew aromas are very light, mineral and barnyard, then moves towards a sort of dry floral, fruit, barnyard in a light version of what good tall tree yiwu is like, and late, has a more sterotypical Yiwu honey note. Early brew top taste is very empty, just mineral and barnyard, with a touch of brown sugar. Taste eventually moves to a fuller, sweet Yiwu honey profile, with cola. Longer infusions can bring out a green sheng bitter-tart. Mouthfeel is very good, medium to good viscosity with a velvet-pudding texture. It takes a number of brews, but eventually becomes drying. The aftertastes are very good for the first six to eight brews, consisting of a loooong complex mouthcoat that develops many shimmering flavors while it goes on. Has a degree of yiwu huigan to creamy-sugar sweetness, and some yuns which both happens at the middle of the active phase. The qi is medium to strong-more medium, and will last well after the sip and cup. The durability wasn't fully tested, but looks to be pretty good, I did about eleven brews and I don't think I've come close to exhausting the tea and will be brewing this during the week.

If people have had, say the Wistaria Qingteng or '04 Taihe, I'd say that Unicorn is similar in the way that drinking with your body is the focus. I think it'd be great for a formal chaxi setting while one drinks this with that person's full attention.
Did a thermos of both BYH and XZH '07 Manlin, they turned out pretty good. Did a thermos of '10 XZH Hungshan, which XZH also said is Manlin, and I enjoyed it a lot. Notably thinner in taste than the other two.

During the week, I managed to do a lot of infusions of the '07 BYH Manlin, which were mostly a sort of dark, a little funky depth, so durability seems to be pretty decent.

Unicorn did pretty decent during the week, but the aftertaste game wasn't that durable, and in later brews, the brew showed some of the stretch marks of not the best material in the blend. So I'm inclined to think there is a bit of compromise somewheres in that blend. Not too much.

One thing I have seriously grown to appreciate this weekend was that I had drunk so many Manzhuan teas close together. I feel like I appreciate them, and more accepting of what that area has to offer more. Feels like a roller coaster going up and down in appraisal. I certainly wish I still had a bit of the 2010 Koreahao Walong to retry under the circumstances.
I also feel like I should rank this stuff, at least for BYH.

2009 BYH Xiaomannai is the best, mostly in being the most interesting.
2004, 2005 BYH Manzhuang, strongest depth, most aftertaste, strongest qi. Not really the best aroma/taste
2007 BYH Manlin

The '07 XZH Manlin is weaker in aftertaste than BYH, but where there is of it is better, and top taste, aroma are better.

Okay, let's get to the teas of this weekend.

On Saturday, I did gongfu sessions of the W2T samples I bought when I got one of those nice woodfired/painted gaiwans for mom's birthday--2019 Both Steals Boats and Meets Halfway and 2019 WTCCCTV.

Broadly speaking, I think the samples (and looking at the other offerings) reflects the limits of vendors making new teas. I think that this business model, with regards to puerh, is hitting a wall in the sense that is simply too hard and expensive to make good money from gushu teas. There was a hint of it in 2018, but it's more evident today--especially in how Essence of Tea only pressed one new tea for the shop, Sanhetang only did a few teas. A secondary stressor is that there is just a *ton* of great teas at relatively low prices, whether you get them through Facebook Auctions like me, or take advantage of old prices at TeaUrchin. And of course, the last stressor is the slowing of the global economy, particularly in China--shrinking the marketplace. I really will not be surprised if there is a winnowing process for vendors and new teas, and also not suprised if there is a major Dayi crash at some point in the next year or two.

Okay, to the teas! BSBAMH was mostly just a decent tea. The aged maocha seems to have lower durability, as it is nicest very early. Again, give this one five-ten years for the young stuff to mature and it will be a fairly decent chugger.

The aroma had some mushroom early, with herbs and dry florals. Then dry and masculine florals get more prominent with barnyard and dried fruit depth. One brew had a nice custard floral sweetness in the aroma. The taste was rather nice early with barnyard, choco, dried fruit depth, with some bitter and green tartness. The taste rises and lowers and becomes less complex, often showing green tart stresses when I lengthen brews. The viscosity is pretty consistently good, with a bit of drying astringency. Aftertaste is mostly a bit of mouthcoat early, and did have some decent floral mouth aroma in a couple of later brews. Some cooling in the mouth and feeling at the top of the throat. The qi is medium strength early, and sort of fades as the session goes on. I'd say the tea is decent at durability, but it gets pretty uninteresting quickly.

The second tea of the day was the black tea, WTCCCTV. In general, I think it's hard to justify a great many puerh hongcha and puerh baicha, because both have less real diversity than puerh. This black tea isn't that different from Natural Redhead, for instance. It does have it's virtues, though, it's more fruity, MUCH THICKER, and has more qi. I would still rather buy puerh with the money.

Very early, the aroma tends to have a floralness like a towel fresh out of a dryer, along with a fruit note, and becomes more of a fruity aroma later on. At certain points, it becomes peachy, not too unlike the '07 XZH Dinjin Nu'ercha, but is mostly generically fruity. Early taste has a peak of a fruit, barley, honey, with spice and wine notes, but most of the session has a taste dominated by a classic puerh hongcha flavor with a bit of sour weight to it. There isn't a lot of nuance in the depth, so the tea is drunk fairly fast. The viscosity is very thick with a honey-like feel. There is a little bit of mouthcoat early, but not much in the way of aftertastes. The qi is pretty soft and sneaky at a moderate level. Does lasts for a while after the cup. Relatively durable in the way of good puerh hongcha. I guess this is a better aging candidate than Old Arbor Black in the sense the viscosity is something that aging can act on hongchapu with. Whereas, the strong floral woodiness of the Old Arbor Black can be expected to age out over the years.

The first tea today was a 90's anon sheng. I did two washes and didn't drink either. The aroma was a good aromatic woodiness. Taste was a pretty generic wet stored cake that has been aired out well. Dark with choco and rotted wood note, some sweetness. Very hollow feeling, though. While shu puerh will never have even this much true taste, I would much prefer a good shu to this, too boring, but it is a rather good example of a wet stored tea.

The second tea today was the 2010 XZH Hungshan. One of the archived pages I keep sez that this tea is Manlin. However, the session was much more like the BYH Xiaomannai than either recent Manlins, so I had a mental sour expression in my head directed at Tony Chen. Given that there is a separate 2010 pressed Manlin cake, the idea that it's not Manlin probably should be taken seriously. I really liked this session though, and drinking all of those Manzhuans has definitely allowed me to appreciate this tea for what it is more than I have.

Consistently complex aroma of dry masculine florals, barnyard, and a fairly fruity plumminess. The barnyard can be very deep and funky, much like standing next to an elephant, which prevented the barnyard from really merging with the dry florals for any nice musk character like that '09 Xiaomannai. Lots of nuances in the aroma, including a nice vanilla pudding in one brew. The taste bounces around quite a bit. Not only does it change from cup to cup, there is a lot of transformation from beginning of sip to swallow, and cooling cup temps also changes flavor nuances. In general, dark barnyard is a consistent note. Early brews had a tart green woodsap. Plumminess and honey are also key features most of the time, and a few brews had a nice floralness in taste. Viscosity is moderate to good, has drying astringency much of the way and gradually fades. The first five or six brews had a lot of aftertastes. There was a consistent transformation in mouth like maybe a yiwu-huigan, especially to honey, but this was very fast. There was a good yun, and maybe some very shallow pungent huigan. Consistent strong cooling mouthcoat. The qi might have been the strongest of the recent Manzhuan teas, but I'm not sure. The durability is good, I did about 15-17 brews, I think. Will put in the fridge for more during the week. Taste and mouthfeel are still there, but not too complex and no aftertastes.

Whew! I did talk and ramble on a while with all those thoughts, huh?
Thanks for your many and continued write-ups, shah8!

So far I've had very good experiences with Is a Gift also, a calming and clear perceptive energy, and agree on the durability. I have been doing light leaf, 2.5-3.g per 80ml, and very short steeps, to focus on keeping the strength light. Interesting that Late Steeps gave it an average rating.

I found the Unicorn to have great stilling/centering in the body energy for a meditative session, but not as much durability.
No problem, I do it for myself as much as I would for anyone else. I have thought that maybe I've done more reviews on a forum/blog of more teas than anyone else in the world, maybe. I've been at this for maybe seven or eight straight years, some I'm approaching some of the long timespans of earlier bloggers like MarshalN or Hobbes. Tho', to be fair, the tea scene is much bigger, with more teas and more nerd mania. Teadb probably has more whole-*** videos than there are posts on the Half-Dipper!

This weekend was a bit more casual, and I didn't really try to hard to take notes.

The first tea of the weekend was a '90s Liu-An with a bit of bamboo. Way too wet for me, even if very clean. The first brew after my wash (I definitely wash anon teas like this, instead of drinking), has a bit of the characteristic liu-an bitterness, so I think this is not a liu-an that has undergone woi-dui.

Aroma early was wood, tcm, bamboo. Later brews had more caramel, and after that, more of a cola thing. Aroma fades very fast on cooling. The taste is pretty similar to a blend of warehoused sheng and gongting shu with strong depth. Eventually fades to a wet shengy sort of taste with a touch of aromatic wood. Viscosity is good, and it's smooth. Can have a slight yiwu huigan to almond sweetness. Gets boring quickly, and this is something that is more refreshing than fulfillin for me...

So I moved on to the '04 Changtai Jinzhushan, which was pleasant. Basically seared sugacane top with a sweet honey-plum-sugarcane thing going on underneath. Later brews have a light woodsy aroma. Astringency showed signs of aging and was semi-slick. little qi, a bit of aftertaste.

In the afternoon, I did the Space Cats Rougui from Lazy Cat teas. This was the best tea of that shop, so I was expecting a bit more than what I got. This is a good yancha, but it was of a level where in past years, when Houde sold '04-'06 yanchas or the yanchas from Mandarin's Tea Room, Origin Tea, and probably Tea Gallery as well, it would been outshone by a few top grade teas, and of course, where teas like this, insted of it being 70 euros for 50 grams, would have been $25/54g back in the day.

Alright no more old-farting. This is an austere tea with a strong focus on minerality. I suppose I would not call this rich, I'd more call it refined and it is somewhat multidimensional as the vendor claims--not a straight mineral flavor, but one with nuance and depth. Early aroma is barnyard, slightly sweet dry floral-mineral, and a sort of dried longan. Aroma sort of simplifies pretty quickly. This does have a strong viscosity for a yancha and good smoothness. Early aftertaste is a sort of almond-fruit mouthcoat that gradually intensifies to a mostly fruity mouthcoat before fading. Good quality moderate-strong qi.

Today was the '09 XZH Diangu iron cake, bulking up my supply of Diangu for the long term. Excellent aroma, very sweet perfume, a bit of alkaline sweetness, and mango-my. Taste is a deep barnyard and mangomyness, mostly, very similar to bitter leaf bulang and bitter Yiwus that Yang has been getting after 2008. Good thickness, but very astringent. I noted that there didn't seem to be much aftertaste, but a long time later a strong and lasting mouthcoat happened, presumably from astringency. Strong qi of high quality, tends to last a while after the sip. Very durable.
Another casual drinking weekend, with an extra day, so no real notes taken...

Saturday was the 2003 fall Bulang Yiehsheng. Basically an aged mild LBZ/LME with a touch of emphatic warehousing very early in its life. Very clearly single estate, very pure, kind of boring, but nice aroma, taste with mostly woodsiness and higher choco flavors. Good mouthfeel, and astringency converts to sweet mouthcoat. Good quality moderate qi, feels aged. I stopped well before I really should have, but it was kind of boring, and I thought I should move on to a new tea...

Which was a supposed '90's dongding. It was pretty clearly not that old, or if it was, reroasted to heck. It wasn't a bad tea, but very disposable, especially for one doesn't really drink oolongs, like me.

Sunday was the 2007 Fall Jinggu Nu'ercha. Very high tasting tea for its age, with only a touch of barnyard very early and very late. Broadly a kind of low, rich floral and honey in the aroma. Mostly honey-ish in the taste. A couple of brews were very much a nice version of what if you transposed a gaoshan oolong as a puerh. Very nice tea for a summer day. Very thick viscosity. Astringency converts to an intense sweet mouthcoat aftertaste that really coats the whole mouth. The usual slight throat catch astringency wasn't really there most of the way, which was nice. Qi was quite good and moderate-strong.

Today was the '07 XZH Jipin. I really love this tea. I made sure to watch my brew times, because it really can get bitter, and flashbrewed four times. Rewarded with great start and kept on going. Elegant wood, brown sugar, barnyard aroma. Rounded slightly savory and sweet choco bottom very much like the '14 XZH Luyin was primary flavor. Early brews had a nice penetrating bitter/almost bitter rod. Later brew got more honey and sweet. As thick as the Jinggu Nu'ercha. Moderate-strong good quality qi that laste. Very durable. Overall, this is a better tea than the Luyin, even if it's not as big in the mouth, doesn't have the cooling, or fruity-winey mouthcoats.
Not a very complex weekend again...

Yesterday was the 2009 XZH Xicontianxiang sheng. I think it's similar to the 2008 XZH "Jinggu" that went around as samples and cakes a little while back. That "Blessings" cake was described to be from DaShiSi, near Kuzhushan. Anyways, that tea had a complex aroma, somewhat different in pitcher and cup. The core taste is artisinal clay, a sort of savory vegetalness, and honey. Somewhat difficult to drink due to a kind of sharp and well defined tartness. This tea is capable of a good incense note in the aroma and taste in the early going. Thick viscosity, later brews had some drying astringency. Aftertastes were pretty good, feeling goes down throat, some shallow pungent huigan, and a sweet honey-ish yiwu-huigan in the finish. Later brews were mostly that yiwu-huigan. Qi is on the stronger side of moderate.

Today was the 2010 Koreahao Kuzhushan. Very typical Kuzhushan experience if a bit more refined than, say the Changtai '04 Jinzhushan. Has that dark tcm-y-rubbery sort of depth, with a little honey and fruit underneath, and a bit of floral above it. Decent viscosity, a little yiwu-huigan to honey, not very much qi.

I had been doing these Jinggus, because I'm wondering about which XZH teas are mislabeled as being from Jinggu. The '07 XZH Jinggu Nu'ercha is said to be from DaShiSi, for example, but if you told me this was some sort of Bingdao, I wouldn't have disbelieved you. It's certainly not much like the Blessings or Xicontianxiang--the big difference being no artesinal clay. It's also just a lot better. Doing a thermos this week showed it to be very intensely sweet, with strong feeling in mouth and throat--and also had a ton of astringency, much of which converted to that sweetness. It feels like the Nu'ercha uses higher end groves than what went in the '07 XZH Jipin--which indeed is very similar to the '14 XZH Luyin that supposedly is Xigui. Jipin has much less fruitiness than Luyin, smaller and narrower in taste, a bit less viscosity, but has a stronger core bitterness, and more refined elegance of floral aroma and taste. It feels more blended than Luyin or Nu'ercha. Did a thermos of Jipin. And in general, going back to mislabeling--the '08 Puzhen seems to have that Jinggu darkness, and the '07 Puzhen is much like that, without being dark, so I can accept Yangta as an origin. However, Huangshanlin really doesn't taste like a Yangta and Xishangmeishao doesn't taste like other definite DaShiSi. I've mostly just gone with Huangshanlin/Xishanmeisha as some kind of Bingdao area Mengkus. I did Jinggus this weekend to figure this out some more.

I also did a thermos of the '06 XZH Bulang brick, which was really delicious.

Week before last, one day, I did a thermos of '06 YQH Shenpin Chawang. Very clear similarities to the '11 EoT Chawangshu, with more time and more humidity, of course. So I gotta figure it's from roughly around that baichayuan, southern Wanggong area. This is a really subtle tea in taste, aroma, qi, and which demands attentive sipping.
I got in the 2007 XZH Mengsong cake on Friday, immediately thermosed it. It was very nice, very deep with a lot of nuance and a lot of qi, so I had heightened expectations for the gongfu session the next day.

The aroma tends to be on the lighter end, with choco, alkaline florals, some mushroom or fruit on occassion, especially as it cools. The aroma simmers down to a fringe by the fifth brew or so, but it was nice while it lasted. The taste in the first couple of brews was more delicate and thin, a choco-bitter-tcm rod, with some lemony aspect (like I remember from the sample in 2010), menghai mushroom/barnyard, a bit of vegetalness, and an infused sense of honey sweetness. The tea quickly descends down to a solid core of depth--choco, bitter tcm, a bit of alkaline floral, and a sense of woodiness. A touch of dull sourness. The depth turns ever more intense and solid with lengthier brews and it takes a number of long brews before the soup starts turning a bit higher. The viscosity is very good, and it doesn't have that much astringency, and a lot of it converts to a lingering mouthcoat. Earliest brews have a lot of mouthfeel, from the electric-mouth, plentiful cooling, and feeling down throat. Aftertaste is predominantly mouthcoat and yiwu-huigan. There is some of that tonguetip coating of sweetness going on as well. The qi is pretty strong and comfortable. While the late brews are not nuanced and are drunk quickly, I found that this had quite a bit of durability, should easily make fifteen brews.

I'm inclined to think that this is some kind of Naka. This tea does have a few big leaves, but there are lots of tips and most of the leaves are on the smaller side of medium sized leaves. Also, there is that alkaline floral character that I associate with Naka, but much less of it than with many other Nakas. Lastly, the tea is not very much like other Menghai county teas, and has substantial similarities to Yibang-Gedeng teas like the '11 XZH Shantou or '14 XZH Hongyin Iron, except that it is not as floral as those younger and not-as-humid-stored teas. I think this Mengsong would have been very nice if it had been less humid-stored and retained a bit more of its natural floralness. Also, the dull slight sourness, puts a sort of damper on what is really a very nice floral-wood edge to the depth. I rather like this tea, and I definitely think that this has considerable aging prospect. On the other hand, for a tea that was once the most expensive 2007 tea from Sanhetang, it's been lapped by quite a few other teas from that year.

The tea on Saturday was the 2006 YQH QiXiang. This was a really nice session that was reminiscent of a good Mahei session. Some woodsiness, plenty of plumminess, a bit tart. There was a bit of nice fruitiness here and there Great texture, if not quite the Mahei cotton softness. This did have a burst of astringency for a few midsession brews before smoothing out. This had some mouthcoat. The qi was great, and lasted nicely after finishing the cup. It took some effort to reach a satisfactory number of brew, and I risked good sleep by finishing up late at night. Having only one trustworthy sheng pot is a problem when teas are getting old enough to have serious durability. Anyways, the Qixiang had been meh the last couple of times I tried it, so it was due for reminding me why I like it.

Today, I had the 2004 YQH Dinji Yesheng. I feel now that maybe I've been overrating it a bit. This is also a tea that has had a bit too much humidity. So it's a very mellow, sweet, and smmmoooooth tea, and is a lot like a really good humid stored cake that has dried out and still retained real character. However my preferences are, a tea like this is very ready to drink. The experience generally was very consistent from brew to brew, with only a bit of fleshy floralness showing up from time to time in aroma and taste. The aroma, after getting rid of the Yang storage character, was herbly and plummy. Maybe a bit of dry soil. The taste is plummy, soil, leather, herb, and almond sweetness. A bit more thick than Qixiang, and taste more solid and full than the Qixiang. There is very little astringency in the Dinji. A bit of mouthcoat, some good quality qi. Brews a very long way as well.

There is going to be a lot of teas that will eventually clearly outpace the Dingji. It's only clear advantages over the lighter teas like Zhencang Chawang and Qixiang is that it's a bigger, and more fuller tasting tea, with less astringency. But both offer stronger nuances and more aftertastes... Over darker teas like Lingya or Qizhong--more durable than Lingya, probably more reliable than Qizhong. Smoother and sweeter than either. Neither really offers an immediate advantage over Dingji, though.
The tea yesterday was the '06 XZH Youle. This one was basically a one off because much of the session had an intense (like nuk-green tgy) booming aroma of camphor. This isn't that old tea, wood, tcm associated camphor, but more like the pure oil or the mothballs. Generally, when I get that sort of camphor I think that something went awry somewhere. I remember about four years ago, I had a similar burst from an old sample of the 2010 XZH Osan, and maybe the Xicontianxiang '09 sheng (but not sure). Either the pot being dirty or the tea fermenting a little extra in the bag(I had gotten out chunks from the magnum cake and put it in a sample bag weeks ago). Now, to be fair, the '05 XZH Youle did have a touch of camphor, but nothing as intense as was in this sample. It wasn't so bad, it was a very pleasant perfumy floral-sweet sort of camphorousness. It was just intense enough to be a bit obnoxious. It also coated outside top of my pot, so that it smelled like that near the lid a bit into the session today. If I could trust it to stick around consistently session to session, I'd say it's a good trait. Not going to have many aged puerhs with green-oolong power aromas.

Aaaanyways. On to the tea. Underneath that camphor, the aroma tended to be a very sweet sort of almond sweetness. The tasted was something of a choco, soil, vegetal in a way close to herbal, slight floral, slight wood blend. Not very dynamic in the macro sense. Lots of nuances. The thickness was pretty good, and it was nearly as smooth as the YQH '04 Dinji. There was a lot of feeling in the throat. The aftertastes weren't that strong, a little yiwu huigan and a bit of mouthcoat. This had a qi that was stronger than dinji, and a bit more interesting in the feelings it provoked. It was also rather present in very late brews, compared to the YQH teas. Durability was good, and did a good job of retaining at least some nuance very deep into the session.

The second tea yesterday was a relatively anon rougui that was gifted to me, with the note that it wasn't bad. Indeed, it wasn't, but it had little or no of the qualia that reallly made people want to drink yancha. Very vague mineral with little depth in that character. Not much aftertaste either, compared to the good stuff. However, it did taste good and smelled good, and conformed to basic expectations of what rouguis broadly taste like.

The first tea today was the '04 YQH Zhencang Chawang. Again, the '04 YQH Dinji enjoys an advantage in the thickness of taste and better mouthfeel, but I enjoyed the Zhencang Chawang more because it is much superior in terms of aftertaste.

The aroma was sort of vague--deep herbal, floral, honey. The taste is something like a deep mushroominess. Viscosity was very good, a bit less than the Dinji, and the astringency was pretty low, a bit more than the Youle and the Dinji, and it does increase in later brews similar to the Qixiang. Has a strong capacity for feeling in the throat, with lots of yuns with aroma rising from the throat; good yiwu-huigans to honey and sometimes fruit. Qi roughly as strong as the Youle and Dinji. Durability was good. I probably took this about fifteen, and I couldda pulled a few more brews out of it.

I did an anon Daxueshan wild hongcha, with needle style processing. It had pass through a number of hands so I don't know who made it, but it was very pedestrian, with a rather tootsie roll choco emphasis. Will make decent western brews for my workaday mornings.
Okay, four teas the last couple of days...

The first tea yesterday was the 2006 YQH Shenpin Chawang. Broadly, I felt like it was mostly a pretty good tea with a moderate-strong qi that subtly imbues a positivity in mood, which would be an outstanding trait. Rather different from the qi from the XZH '07 Xishangmeishao, which is a lot stronger and euphoric.

One part of the pot wasn't quite washed and a finger on my left hand acquired that camphor from the Youle, which was annoying. Otherwise the aroma was fairly consistently a high-umami, deep, mushroom with something like a brown sugar sweetness. Sometimes wood. There may be some honey and/or fruits, but that was only obvious in the first/wash brew. The taste was mostly a tcm-bitter, deep herbal, mushroom. There wasn't really a lot of dynamcism in the taste or aroma, just subtle variation and nuances. The viscosity was good, but prone to bouts of astringency. Yiwu huigan to fruit seemed to happen alot, and there's a bit of mouthcoat. Sometimes a strong feeling in the throat. Moderate to strong qi that is unique (well, to certain sorts of Mansa) and high quality. I didn't push this tea too hard in terms of durability.

The second tea of yesterday was the 2019 XZH Huangyin Grade B, which is supposed to be the top Mangzhi gushu. Whatevs. Broadly, I found this a rather solid, meaty tea, but not very interesting for the money.

The aroma takes a bit to get going, but it's generally a sort of roasted grain (with a slight chicory darkness) and brown sugar emphasis. The taste is the same as the aroma, but there can also be plumminess earlier and floralness later in the session. Taste tends to have a strong sense of sweetness. Viscosity is good enough to be satisfied. Generally very smooth unless brewed with a very firm hand, and even then the drying astringency is light. Aftertaste is predominantly a mouthcoat, and if brew firmly enough, an explicit jasmine-like floral sense of mouthcoat. Moderate to strong qi, but mostly more to the moderate side. I didn't really push on the durability.

This is a nice enough tea, and $220/250g isn't especially out of line. I was amused to note the absence of anything that hinted of plantation nature like I'd find in those cheaper BYH. It probably really is pretty gushu. A lot of my lack of enthusiam has to do with the youth of tea and that Mangzhi is just that awesome.

Today I started off with the 2006 YQH Chawangshu. I was slightly disappointed in this tea today because I expected it to be easily better than the Shenpin Chawang, but that didn't turn out to be true.

Aroma tended to be dark herbal, mushrooms, with some plummy/honey sometimes. A little later the aroma gets more woody. The taste tended to be dark herbal, choco, and mushroom. This tea didn't have much nuance or much dynamcism so I wound up drink many brews quite quickly. Late brews did have some more fruitness and a bit of woodiness. Viscosity was good with a mild to moderate drying astringency. Strong yiwu huigan to sugar sweetness some brews, a little mouthcoat that at least once gave off a floral wood mouth aroma. Qi was moderate. I didn't push this tea for durability, did about 12 brews.

Compared with the Shenpin Chawang, this tea has a much more agreeable taste and aroma, and it had a bit more viscosity. However, Shenpin had more nuances, more and better qi, and more aftertastes.

Going through these YQH, I really wish I could try the teas other than the Zhencang with less humidity in the storage. My Zhencang and the Qiziang are both the most expressive of these teas, and the Zhencang has far and away the best and most intense aftertaste game.

The second tea today was the slightly more expensive 2019 XZH Huangyin Grade A, which should be Zhangjiawan. This was about $250/250g. I liked this tea more than the Mangzhi, and by more than the thirty dollar difference. However, if I was to compare with W2T It's a Gift, I'd say that tea is the better value.

This tea eventually developed a very nice "candy" aroma--white sugar, sweet herbal, floralness. The taste has a roasted grain aspect, but higher than the Mangzhi. Honey is there, and also a slight edame-like green umami. The earliest brews had a notably intense sweetness. Viscosity is fine, not too thick, very smooth for a new tea--also probably doesn't have plantation. There's a little astingency, but it produces, along with a bitterness (when firmly brewed) a nice lingering aftertaste. While one cup had a nice yun, this tea didn't seem to have other aftertastes. Good cooling in mouth. Moderate qi.

The aromas the last couple of days didn't last very deep into the session as anything worthwhile, maybe six or seven brews.
Finishing up on XZH... But first, an error was made. The packets had the labels written in Chinese. They included Hongyin Grade A, Huangyin Grade A, and Huangyin Grade B. I noted all this, but two of the packages had a hand-printed A and B, but it was for Hongying Grade A and Huangyin Grade B. Thus, the previous "Huangyin Grade A" I had reviewed was actually the nearly $600/400g '19 XZH Hongyin Grade A. Of course, I can think of better things to buy with said $600. I suppose I can say to be fair, that it's a very elegant, precise, and restrained tea. But still...

The first tea yesterday was something that costs the same nearly $600 as the Hongyin Grade A, and this was the '19 XZH Taiji. I think that as a general tea, this is the best of the 2019 XZH teas. However, it feels like that it is a Wuliang teas that is a combination of the YS Wuliangs from Zhongcangzhai on Wuliang mountain and the 2016 Essence of Tea Wuliang B. It is not as solanacae as the YS teas usually are, and doesn't really have the sort of fruity finish that the Wuliang B has. '19 Taiji could also be compared to the 2014 XZH Luyin that's supposed to be Xigui.

The aroma is very dynamic throughout the session. The tea starts off with a rather complex melange of vegetalness, herbal, spices, and a slight floralness. Then it moves towards more of a vegetal and a herbal with a sweet almost fruity nature. After that, it shifts downwards in favor of choco and barnyard with vegetalness, with some underlying honey sweetening things. Aroma fades on a vegetal and honey note. The loud early aromas are very interestingly complex. The taste is similarly loud early and dynamic until it tires. The early taste has a basis of vegetalnes, some of which is fairly savory, and a bit of choco depth. Camphor is also present in the initial brews. Floral and spiciness plays subtle roles. There is a midstage where the complexity declines, and a stronger sense of honey is with the basic vegetalness and choco. Still a bit of camphor There is a bit of bitterness. Later the vegetalness is less and the soup is more dominated by a choco sense. Alkaline florals shows up, as well as a bit of tcm-bitter anchoring. Very late brews had a bit of woodsiness and some camphor comes back. The viscosity is on the thick and mouthfilling side of things with a mild drying astringency that fades in deeper session brews. The tea is an aggressive cooler in mouth. The aftertaste is based early on a rather dominant and dynamic mouthcoat, and some yiwu huigan to sugars and fruits. The mouthcoat reduces to a lingering taste from the bitterness, and the yiwu huigan keeps going, in the deeper part of the session. It does fade out a bit, but in the late very long brews, the bitterness generates more aftertaste. The qi is strong, but of no particular character. As said before, the active phase is relatively short (about 7-9 brews) as typical of loud, big, strong depth teas, but the viscosity and lighter taste does seem to be okay durability, but it's relatively boring. I never restarted this tea, and I bet with a rest, I might have gotten one or two more good brews.

I think that this is a tea well worth having, but it's very expensive.

The second tea yesterday was the actual '19 XZH Huangyin Grade A, the Zhangjiawan. I found this to be a rather boring tea with a very strong and flavorful mouthcoat aftertaste. Sort like how I dismissed one of Farmerleaf's teas... I'd say it's worth the $1/g ratio, though. However, I'd prefer W2T It's A Gift, for example, at the same price ratio.

Aroma tends to have mushroom and barnyard and is rather light. There can be honey or floralness (late) in the aroma. The taste is the same mushroom and barnyard (sometimes a sort of wet funky sort of barnyard) as the aroma and doesn't vary that much through the session. Can have a bit of honey. Not the most super friendly tasting yiwu. Acceptable viscosity for gushu, relatively smooth with a bit of drying astringency that varies up and down as the session proceeds. It took a little while for the aftertaste to gear up. Early brews were mostly a yun, plummy finish, a bit of tonguetip sensate sweetness. By the third brew, a strong fruity mouthcoat started happening and was consistent in strength and flavor. Moderate qi of no special nature. A bit relaxing and easing.

The tea today was the 2019 XZH Tianmenshan. While this was a very enjoyable tea, and even though it's marketed as the Hongying QingBing or something of that nature, this is a tea weaker in quality compared to the 2017 and 2018 Tianmenshans. This does retain the relatively high quality qi as the Tianmenshans. It also had great mouthfeel. However, the $850 or so would be best off trying to get the other teas... The main issue is that the aroma and taste is rather weaker and complexity is more subtle when it's there.

The aroma is light and tends to have patchouli floralness along with honey and bit of barnyard darkness. Later brews has more fleshy floralness there, and then after that, there is a kind of indescribable blend. Aroma turns to a generic sort of light floralness and honey in late brews. The taste tends to be roasted grains( with a slight suggestion of brown sugar) and a kind of creamy custard that has lots of hard to describe subtle notes. Choco, tcm-bitter, and floralness makes appearances. Long brews can generate bitterness. The viscosity is very good, and it's unusually soft, smooth, with little drying astringency, so kind of creamy as well. Complex, nearly pungent, yuns happened early, and most of the session included a nice mouthcoat. Can have some yiwu huigan to fruit sweetness. Durability isn't too bad, I did about fifteen brew and the pot is going into the fridge. The qi is somewhat on the moderate side of strong, with the distinct positivity common to the XZH Tianmenshan and the YQH Shenpin Chawang.

If all that sounded good to you and I'm just talking bad, well, it was indeed an excellent tea. I was just hoping for a blowaway session, or at least on the level equal to earlier Tianmenshans.

In general, going through the XZH teas that were totally fresh, I appreciated the apparent gushu-ness of these teas, as these did not irritate my stomach and they were all a pleasure to drink, compared to all of greener BYH fresh teas I drank, excluding that 500y gushu, which was sort of definitely gushu.
The tea today was the 2015 W2T 72 Hours. This was pretty decent, and it feels like the taste is maturing and aging, getting a bit darker. The primary virtues is that it has a kind of watered down honey mouthfeel, and a strong qi of good quality. Aroma and taste are mostly a kind of high barnyard with honey and fruit notes. Some brews had a darker, bitter coffee/chicory edge early. Late was a shadow of that darkness, barnyard, dried fruit notes. Aftertastes were not that prominent, a good yun early, though. Very durable, took this at least fifteen brews, and tea obviously had more left when I stopped.

I worked all day yesterday, so it was some Old Whitey in a thermos. Definitely down the aging curve with mostly dark jujube notes. Very enjoyable.

Friday, I had the 2009 XZH Mengsong shu. One of the least sweet of XZH's shus, and tends to have a slight sour edge and a sort of vegetalness, so I don't usually have a huge degree of enthusiasm for it, but it was very good, with a very good qi, a lot of subtle flavors for a shu, and lots of durability.

The teas of last weekend was a couple of Tea Urchin teas.

The first was the 2014 Year of the Snake Yiwu. It started off great with me nodding off to how this is a pretty good value, but all the not great stuff collapsed pretty quickly into the session, leaving the better stuff going in a thinner soup.

This sort of has a sober mushroom aspect in the aroma and taste. In the aroma, it's enlivened by plum fruitiness/plumminess, spices and brown sugar. In taste more barnyard, with some mineral, brown sugar. Can get some bitterness and tartness. Turns into a soft, thin, predominantly mushroom, brown sugar taste by brew five or so. Mouthfeel is pretty interesting very early, thick, mucilaginous. Quickly fades to a more normal mouthfeel for the general quality. There is some cooling, and a bit of mouthcoat aftertaste. A bit of mild qi, maybe a bit stronger in the early going. I did not push this tea at all, as it got boring quickly.

The second tea of last Sat was a '70s yancha. This was pretty heavy sour in the first couple of brews, but it feels and behaves like a pretty old yancha, and generally behaves like an aged tea that demonstrates why one might like aged teas. Base material is obviously originally decent.

Has a basementy mineralness, caramel mineralness, plumminess, a slight sense of almond sweetness, some barnyard, for aroma and taste. Aroma at times has had Honey Nut Cheerios, wine. Can have the explicit sweetness of genuinly old teas. It has a lovely aged softness to the mouthfeel. Some gentle winey mouthcoats and a gentle, light qi of very good quality. Very durable.

The tea last Sunday was the 2015 TeaUrchin Pasha. I think this is pretty okay, there is an issue that it feels tweaked to be more friendly to drink and choco, with the consequence that there is less micro complexity and liveliness in taste. I think that with more aging out of the bitter, one should load up on leaf or use more skill in brewing to get the best out of this one.

Menghai mushroom, choco, and wood in aroma and taste. Taste can have a nice violet floralness, some fruitiness, a bit of barnyard. Good viscosity with normal texture. Some floral mouth aroma. Some qi. The durability was okay. I thought it was bad on Sunday, but later brews through the rest of the week showed some good performances.


'15 Pasha was nice enough
2015 maocha gifted by Paul of W2T that I think is Pasha and is similar to Snooze cakes. Less choco, but shows the vibrance and depth that the Teaurchin doesn't have
YQH jincha was nice enough, but boring.
'06 YQH Qixiang. Really good but not quite as good as Zhencang.

The week before last
'04 YQH Zhencang. Really good, sort of tops.
'04 YQH Dinji Yesheng. Also really good, also sort of tops.
'06 XZH Bulang Brick. Nice, thick and choco. Good
'06 XZH lao Man'e. More complex, not as agreeable, not a lot of separation between this and the originally cheaper brick.
'07 YQH Qizhong. Not one of its good days, and still not a fan. At this point, hard not to notice the strength of the flavor compared to most other teas. very strong.
Just been drinking my own supply these last couple of weekends, so nothing particularly shocking.

2002 Tai Lian Expo. I really liked the mouthfeel, and feeling like aging is doing good work on that mouthfeel. Strong feeling in throat. Strong qi. some yun. This really is a good deal at $125 at Yunnan Sourcing because, given the obvious caliber of one part of the blend... Thermos was very impressive, particularly in qi.

2011 Essence of Tea Douyizhai Nannuo. It's a very pleasant tea that is at least nominally boring and sweet like many sweet-leaf Hekai. When pressed, it does reveal some nice nuances. With a lot more age, be good, when overleafed I think. Not very strongly gushu.

2006 XZH Bulang Brick. I feel like I learned a lot with this tea--I've mostly been drinking thermos of this tea on account of how tasty it is that way. This is a really tippy tea, and the soup reflects this in two ways. First it has a very juicy thickness to it, and second the taste is really delicate for a Menghai area tea. I almost could say that the taste is thin, but there is a depth to the light choco, slight celery-vegetal, plummy taste. So sort of transparent like the XZH '14 Hongyin Grade A, or I could just say delicate, like yinzhen white tea. Some decent qi in there so.

2009 XZH Diangu Chen. Unusually fruity, woody than it usually is early. A bit of florals too. Very pleasantly durable for me, with lots of mangomy late infusions like plummy Yiwus or plummy 7542s.

Had some of Houde's 2015 Wood Fired Hongshui. In an awkward phase, but I enjoyed the minerallyness, and it had a bit of qi. Very nice mouthfeel, too.
Last weekend was a bit of '06 XZH Lao Man'e and '06 Taipei Jincha. The LME was fine, with the interesting property that it was boring until pretty deep into the session where it developed some more interesting flavors. The Taipei Jincha was deeper and more mature than expected for me, more like the sample of the Taipei 100g Hongyin cake I've had a sample of. Didn't have much of that sweet plumminess that I was hoping for

Yesterday, the first tea of the day was the 2003 Kunming Tea Factory Lanyin, as shown in 2003 Zhong Cha Raw Pu-erh - "Blue Stamp" - https://beautifultaiwantea.com/products/2003-blue-mark-cnnp-zhong-cha-raw-pu-erh , but was from clean storage in Malaysia. I thought that this was an excellent drinker's tea, fairly analogous to the '01 Zhongcha Huangyin sold at TeasWeLike, and better, especially in the sense that the quality of the qi is better.

This tea took a while to get going and the early infusions are different from the main themes of the tea. The aroma had a lot of mushroom, with some woodsap, a little wood, some underlying honey character. The early taste was savory mushrooms and wood. The aroma and taste changes into a sort of classic taste of various lincang teas, such as that '03 Wuchidao Mengku Zhengshan tea with a focus on a sweet root-herbal and wood notes. With a little bitterness mid session. The viscosity is pretty thick, and is mostly smooth, with occassional drying astringency. There is a bit of lingering mouthcoat and associated cooling mouthfeel. There is moderate qi of fairly good quality. This is a very gentle and comforting tea to drink. The taste is on the thinner side in the sense that the flavors aren't strong or deep, but there is a real depth and sincerity of the taste that is there. It's very easy to drink and fairly easy on the stomach. If the beautiful taiwan storage is reasonably decent, then that is a very fair price for the tea. Durability is fine, but it gets very boring after about five brews, one mainly drinks for mouthfeel and qi after that.

The second tea yesterday was the '07 XZH LongFeng. This tea is much like the '07 YQH Qizhong in that it's a dark tea that often has awkward not particularly tasty sessions, though the XZH does have good sessions at a higher rate, more like around half the time rather than a quarter or a fifth. I had a pretty good time with this tea. Notably agressive and rich in aftertastes. There are two different stories about what this is made of. Houde sez that this tea has premium Hekai tips, with Youle and Bulang, while XZH sez that this tea has Banzhang area with some Bulang. I'm thinking Houde has the more correct sourcing. Of course, vastly better than the 2005 Dayi Peacock of Menghai like how I compare all the good Hekai based tea to.

The aroma starts off fairly like BBQ sauce with wood and a bit of umami. A touch of florals, too. It gradually becomes a more sedate wood aroma that might have originally been tobacco. The aroma reveals the lower quality of the maocha compared to the more premium XZH teas in that it fades very quickly as the soup cools. The taste is a tangy dark tobacco-raisin as the base taste. Some bitterness, a little suggestion of floralness, some plummy/fruitiness, and an occasional biting tartness. Soup viscosity is moderate with some productive drying astringency. The aftertaste game is very full. The most consistent player is a yiwu-huigan that converts to various shades of almond sweetness. The astringency lead to strong mouthcoats of various flavors. There is some floral mouth aroma. One brew had a good yun and a bit of feeling at the top of the throat. Qi wasn't all that remarkable. Durable tea, and I didn't push this as far as I could have gone, about twelve brews, I think. Was just getting to feel like I had too much tea for my stomach's good at that point.

The first tea today was the 2007 XZH Dinji Gushu, which is the Mengsong tea. I really enjoy this sort of thing. The aftertaste game isn't that great for how premium this tea is, but the qi, mouthfeel are great, but there is a fundamental elegance to the taste and aroma. There is also an interesting minerality that echos good yancha.

The tea aroma starts off like bread pudding with spices and raisins(a bit winey) in it, and moves towards a wood, alkaline floral, barnyard emphasis. Later infusion consistently has a bit of mineral. The taste has a bitter-tcm depth in the beginning, but not very bitter. There is typically some alkaline florals, and a floral woodiness that rims the bitter-tcm depth. The taste gets higher as the session moves on (unless aggressivly brewed for depth again), and there is a sort of grains/bread taste with a somewhat caramel sweetness that can be explicitly sweet as well. A bit of plummy in the long brews as well. The taste is rather narrow, and it's not as big and rich as dark LBZ broadleaf, nor does it have a strong core depth and floralness of aged yibangs or gedengs xiaozhong. It mostly just feels very well put together and elegant. The viscosity is thick and it's fairly smooth with occasional stronger astringency. The aftertastes are generally very subtle. A touch of mouth aroma. When I broke for my run, the mouthcoat showed up and was obvious for awhile. A teensy yun along with some throat feeling. The qi is moderate-strong of very good quality. Very durable, probably about fifteen to seventeen brews with the tea obviously still having some strength so putting into the fridge for weekday brewings.

The second tea of the day was the 2016 loose Xigui hongcha from white2tea. Long and short of it is that this tea doesn't offer much obvious advantage to a good Fengqing hongcha. Not that those teas are very cheap either. Part of the issue is the whole hongcha issue--that tends to be a net loss in quality for puerh, like shu. Other issue is that at three years of age, it does seem to be in an awkward stage. Nevertheless, it does have some faint complexity in aroma, a good mouthcoat, and some qi.

Aroma and taste is of a dry powdered hot chocolate character. Aroma can also have a rather subtle floral character, takes very attentive sniffing. Earlier tastes can have some plumminess. Taste tended to get deeper and acquire an almost wood depth to the choco as the session goes on. Viscosity is thick, and the tea is pretty smooth. Strong mouthcoat aftertaste, extending the finish. Some qi. I didn't push this tea too many brews and put this, as well, into the fridge for later.
A shu and a couple of sheng this weekend. Was sick, tho' so there are some limitations in sensation, particularly when it comes to qi.

The first tea is what appears to be an '80s 7581 brick, and what I think is probably a descendant of the famous 70's Cultural Revolution bricks. This was pretty good, but I gotta say, the only clear benefit from the age is the mouthfeel and maybe the qi. Otherwise, it did taste and smell like a traditional lightly fermented or sheng/shu blended puerh--not all that different from the '07 fulushouxi shu from Dengshihai that I like so much.

Aroma is camphory and medicinal, taste is the same, but with layer of honeyish sweet flavor. A later very long brew had a delicious sweet flavor that's hard to describe, like candied wood or something. The viscosity is very thick with a distinct granular mouthfeel. This generally didn't have much aftertaste. The qi feels like it is very strong and warming. 250g of this tea probably retails above $2k--a little too rich for my blood for what it offers. Probably more about drinking a little history.

The second tea of the day was the fall pressing 2007 XZH XuShanChuenLu, which is an all tips tea or a supertippy tea from Mengku. I didn't like it that much because it was relatively hard to drink due to a bright tartness. I do think I learned something about how tippy teas age, and I thought there were a lot of points of comparison to the 2006 XZH Bulang Brick, which has many of its aspects in common, but benefits from bigger leaf blended in.

The first brew was pretty cool, though. Aroma and taste was very similar to a good silver needle white. Floral woodsiness in aroma, and the taste being floral fruitiness. In subsequent brew aroma, it shifts through floral woodiness, to a more fruity aroma that can have barnyard depth. The taste shifts quickly to a darker bitter-tcm taste with fruit tones. As the brews go on, the bitter-tcm (which is also bright and tart) fades and the depth rises through barnyard to a more woody late taste. Viscosity starts off moderate, gets a bit thicker quickly as the brews go on and becomes more stiff as well. Astringency shows up in later brews. Pretty consistent pleasant fruity mouthcoat aftertaste. Mild-moderate qi. Didn't come close to pushing the tea for durability. I drank this tea very slowly due to potency from the tips.

The tea I had today was the 2001 Xiaguan Iron Cake. This was a perfectly satisfying tea, but it's not as good as the Yuanyexiang, Tai Lian International, or any serious MTF production. The taste was a bit on the small side in terms of taste-stage.

Aroma starts off woody, and then becomes more wood and camphor, moves to a sweet root herb emphasis with some barnyard character. Taste often has minerallyness and camphor. Rounded out with dark sweet root herbs, barnyard, geomisin, and a bit of honey in the background. Moderate thickness, relatively smooth with random stretches of astringency. Tends to be a mouthcoat aftertaste with maybe a yun with it. A little bit of yiwu-huigan. I only maybe did ten brews or something, so no comment on durability, but part of why was that the tea got boring and faded a bit. Goes into the fridge along with the shu for weekday brewing.

I did a few interesting thermos.

'07 XZH Mengsong was really great.

'07 XZH LongFeng was decent enough.

'07 XZH Puzhen, was pretty good, had a consistent strong mouth aroma floralness.

'08 XZH Puzhen, am inclined to think it is a blend of the '07 Puzhen sources, and maybe something like the Kuzhushan in the '07 XZH Shangpin. Good tea in its own right
Just one tea for this weekend, as I worked Saturday.

2007 fall XZH Puzhen, stored in TW. The differences between the 2008 and 2007 Puzhen aren't as stark in gongfu sessions like they were in thermos. They have similar mouthfeel and qi. The taste of the '07 is thinner and higher than the '08, more appealing. More crucially, the taiwan-stored '07 has a much better aftertaste game than the similarly stored '08.

The aroma was pretty dynamic through the session. Early two brews were of a mineral-wood base with a lot of sweet nuances and a sour mushroom aspect. The next two brews dives deep to a rather unique charcoal-like aroma. Then it rises up to mineral wood again, before petering to a consistent light aroma with barnyard being an important aspect. Throughout, there were a lot of subtle nuances, usually of plummy or mushroom with occasional notes like almond. The base taste is consistently to do with a slightly (pleasantly) sour mushroom and plumminess. There was a short stretch paralleling the aroma with deep charcoal taste that was very interesting. Later brews had a sort of woody plummy barnyard sweetness, at times resembling rooibos. The mouthfeel is similar to the '08, thick and pudding-like. Can leave the mouth feeling slick after the swallow. The aftertaste consistently built towards a pungent huigan in the throat by the end of the cup, early-mid session. Plenty of floral mouth aroma. There is some bitterness that can generate lingering winey sweetness. Also some yiwu-huigan to caramel at times, but subtle. A couple of times good feeling goes down throat. Qi was great, about the same as with the '08. Durability seems decent, but I didn't press it, and put the pot in the fridge for regular brewing through the week.

I still think the material is slightly different between '07 and '08. I really wish I could have had a spring version of the '07. The '08 has a more typical aged JingGu dark flavor, like burnt rubber, while the '07 is mostly higher, and when it is dark, has a more classy charcoal-ish taste. I find it fascinating how the '08 is very similar in taste and mouthfeel, while having less aftertaste, even with a stronger, concentrated flavor.

As opposed to my storage, the TW version's flavor and aroma are much more compressed together, and less macro and more micro complexity. Mine is more macro-ish complexity with more of a distinct set of definable notes in aroma and taste. It's also much higher--doesn't have charcoal depth. The later brews in my tea is more definitively watermelon. Ah another difference between TW '07 and '08, the many fruity late brews did not happen for the '07 as they would for mine or the '08.

one note on a thermos, did the '04 YQH 400g ZhencangChawang. I was relatively underwhelmed by the thermos (tho' it did have great quality qi), and I am hesitantly feeling that maybe the material is from a different picking than from my 500g cake. It was notably astringent, with a thinner, and more high plummy taste. Aftertastes and feeling in throat are very muted.
Welp! That so-called 2007 Fall XZH Puzhen, TW stored, turned out to the 2008 XZH Puzhen!

So a few things...

1) That familiar mouthfeel was a distinct tell because the '07 Puzhen is notably thinner than the '08, gongfu-wise, but I just took that for the effect of humidity.

2) The ten grams I had of this sample does have have some slight differences from my '08 Puzhen, and it is notably superior to the majority if not all the leaf from my own cake I'm currently drinking from. The significant aftertaste game is a big deal, when I usually treat this tea as a mouthfeel/qi extravaganza.

3) No, I don't feel that I would have understood anything if I didn't know what it was. Everything we do is weight by expectations in one way or another, and once we get deep into the weeds of any one topic, we are going to depend on figuring out what set of ideas and weights to assign our experiences. There is a reason why the most dangerous swordsperson to the best, is not the second-best, but the buttonmashing novice. Even when we make mistakes on what something is, or how we feel that we evaluated somethign before, it's an opportunity to use the erroneous perspective as a fresh angle into what we're doing.

4) I did a thermos with my own '07 Puzhen. Gotta say it's something of a different blend--has always had mushroom, but it isn't sour. Also, it's always has had something of an almond (walnut) sweetness, and rather little of the plummy-barnyard that the '08 has. It does do the super red fruitiness late in gongfu if not precisely watermelon candy like the '08. The taste is thinner as well. Thinner viscosity, with roughly the same mouthfeel, maybe a bit more astringent. Stronger than the already very strong qi of the '08. As with the XZH Youle thermos, the qi combines with powerful throatfeel to create rather transcendent moment, like a gong made out of thickened time, struck and rendering the outlines of my body fuzzy with probablistic clouds. But man, like the uttermost definition of taoist yun. I find it weird that throatfeel, specifically, combined with strong qi is such a profound combo.

5) The '08 Puzhen is a seriously good tea in it own right, and people really, really should take the opportunity to grab XZH '07 northern teas from Facebook. You could get the '08 Puzhen 250g cake for total less than $90, shipping included. That is wildly below its true worth, judging by what new teas costs today. Even if you have a tight budget and you think that a $40 400g cake is the most you can do, seriously consider saving up for something like that Puzhen for self-treat!
First tea of the weekend was the 2006 XZH blend that includes LBZ, Yiwu, and GuangBienLaoZhai. This was a very stemmy, mellow blend, so I think it's mostly fall material. It's sort of 8582-ish, but longer frequency than a Dayi version, which is more tight, narrow, and stronger concentrated flavor. A great daily drinker sort of tea.

Aroma is pretty consistently wood, mushroom, root herb, with a choco edge. There are fleshy florals on occasion as well as a bit of nannuo carrottiness. The taste is broadly the same as the aroma. There is often a sweet sense. The choco edge in both faded as the session got deeper past, say, the fifth or sixth brew, and becomes more predominantly root-herbal as part of a thinner overall taste. The tea needs a firm hand in later brewing times. Viscosity is thick, with something of an oily/pudding mouthfeel, very nice. The viscosity also sort of thins past mid-session. Not very much aftertastes. Maybe a tiny bit of very fast yiwu-huigan. Generally a little bit of mouthcoat. The qi was moderate to strong and was nice.

Again, this is really more something meant to be a very nice disposable tea. In this sense, it's better than the '06 fall XZH Lao Man'e because the aroma and taste are more sweet and agreeable, and worse than the Lao Man'e because there isn't much going on and it has less aftertaste game. I sort of think that the lbz component is relatively small and weak, and most of the tea is mushroomy GBLZ and root-herbal classical Yiwu area.

Second tea Sat was some '06 Taipei commemorative shu, it was quite enjoyable.

Yesterday's primary tea was the 2011 XZH Fengqing black tea, gongfu style in pot. This is much better this way rather than western brew. Broadly the tea is much like W2T's A&P black tea from 2016, but with more of a fruity-plummy aspect and a nice papery-wood frame. Not super thick like wccctv or anything, but nice, but does have nice qi. I quite enjoyed the session even though it was not dynamic or particularly complex, as most yunnan sheng-blacks are like.

The actual first tea yesterday was the sample of the '04 YQH Zhencang Chawang 400g. I bailed on it, believing that it's fake. It's a mellow dark tea similar to the way many mild Yiwus with lots of humidity are like--think some of those '04 and '05 Changtai Yiwu products. It had a lot of basementy geosomin in the two initial brews I had before ditching, and it had some plumminess. On the plus side, it was a relatively thick tea, certainly thicker than my expectations for my own Zhencang, and it has a very positive quality moderate qi. I probably should have kept going, but I don't like trying to drink a tea I don't really know and could be anything, and I was pissed off at it for maybe being fake. If it's real, I would strongly think about whether maybe it was a different picking than my own 500g cake, maybe fall tea?

The tea today was the '07 XZH Mengsong. Thoroughly enjoyed. Not really all that much new to say here. The aroma is a bit weaker than before, but more open and complex. The taste also more open and complex, with a nice cacao bitterness, plummy bending to winey, a bit of dry florals, and sweet grains. Same great mouthfeel. Aftertaste game is pretty restrained, but there. Great qi. These have been buyable for $100-$130 on Facebook auctions( less than original retail!) before shipping. An absolute steal, and friends of mine have been enthusiastic after trying some and buying pairs of this tea too.
The next tea of the week was the 2006 XZH Youle. It was decisively good, with a generous aroma, strong aftertaste game, strong feeling and qi. The taste is on the weaker end of its qualities, being mostly a sort of mushroom, squash, wood, spice sort of thing, with a couple of brews worth of a nice thick depth, like mid-aged manzhuan or banzhang. Still, not bad, and the viscosity was more on the moderate side of thick, but it's beginning to get the sort of mouthfeel one experience with teas rounding the third seven year corner, so a good mouthfeel regardless. This sort of session is basically equal to the best of most of my other best teas. I had to wonder whether the Youle was getting better than the Taiji black. The quality of aftertaste and feeling also made me think about storage, as the try I had of the regular tw stored version is no where near as exciting.

I rotated in with some Mengsong from the day before, which was going strong. '07 XZH Mengsong is very durable, while Youle was pretty durable.

Next tea of the week was the 2010 XZH Hungshan, a Manzhuan tea that is labeled as Manlin, but I'm pretty sure is something else. It was a bit of a dissappointment. It did not have the powdery florals like what I got last time or with the '09 BYH Xiaomannai. The aroma and taste did have some nice florals. It was also a relatively tart tea that was hard to maneuver around for a relaxing cup. Qi was strong, and it also had the strong feeling in throat that was nice.

The next day I decided I need to see what was up with Youle vs Taiji so I got out some of the Black Wrapper. This was a pretty decent session. As with the Youle, very generous with aroma for puerh, wood, barnyard with a wine-tinged plumminess in the center. Unfortunately that nice aroma dies down very quickly. The taste tend to be a dark thick taste that's its usual flatness. Viscosity around that of the Youle. Aftertaste game is really subtle, and only obvious in later brews. Qi is strong, and it tends to build, and last well after sip and cup is finished. Compared to CYH LBZ among others, this isn't as deep and choco as the '05, a weaker aftertaste game than the '07. This tea really probably could have used the tips, but it's pretty good and mellow 8582-ness. It does have two strong advantages vs other LBZs--it has better aroma and it has a much longer active phase in the session. Both CYH, from memory, only lasts around 6-7 brews before the fun part's over, while this Taiji lasts about 10-12 brews. Both Youle and Mengsong seem to be doing better than this Taiji, though. I'd really like to try the Chenshenghao and YQH LBZ at some point.

Now, I sort of think that LBZ is sort of overrated while Bingdao is underrated, mostly because so few people ever get anything from that area worth a damn. Everyone is operating off of the experience with relatively inferior teas from Bingdao.

The tea today was the 2007 Dayi An Xiang sheng. This was part of the bing center, so it was mulchy, and kept clogging my pot, so I had a hard time controlling brewing times such that I didn't get very bitter brews. The aroma was very nice, rather solid booming factory tea nature, with wood, camphor, floralness, honey, and plumminess, in a sort of macro split where woodcamphorfloral and honeyplummy were mashed together into two major components. The taste reflected the aroma, but it was generally pretty bitter and tart and hard to drink. This is going to need another decade before it genuinely becomes nice, at least. Perhaps the TW stored cakes are lots more drinkable. The viscosity and mouthfeel are pretty good, with a bit of pudding character. A little bit of aftertaste, some feeling in throat. Mild to moderate qi and plenty of caffeine. Very durable.

I bought some Modern Witch from W2T today, so I figured I wanted to use Sunday Special as a baseline. Sunday Special is pretty decent. There's still a little wodui in the taste. Viscosity is pretty good. It has quite a bit of qi for a shu. The taste is reasonably deep, but there's not a lot of nuance to keep any real attention. Little aftertaste game.