SOTD- sheng of the day

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

    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.
  1. 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'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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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