Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why This Tea Will Sell Out First: 2017 White2Tea (Yiwu) “Pussy”

Hi Paul,

After all the hype I have heard about White2Tea I am very excited about
my first order of your tea!

Thanks for presenting such a unique and refreshing perspective on puerh.
I think I am not only speaking for myself, but for many others who love
puerh, when I say how much this means to us.


Matt (MattCha's Blog)

So I have managed to both break my promise of never owning aheinous xiao bing and avoiding a probably overpriced 2017 puerh season purchase all in one order… Darn.  On the other hand, I have managed to put an order through to White2Tea, a controversial and ingeniously marketed vendor that has a big following and that I had completely missed during my many years absence from puerh.  I said that I was going to test the waters with this ultra-popular vendor to see what they are made of this year and here I am doing just that….

I think I’m a rather impulsive puerh buyer.  Years ago in South Korea I would sit at many tea tables and decide days, weeks, or even months later if I was going to purchase a $20.00 cake only after I really knew the tea.  Online is a totally different purchasing experience.  I mentioned before that I like to buy whole cakes as samples for a variety of different reasons.  But that seems quite unattainable considering the increasingly high 2017 price of puerh that seems to be especially high forWhite2Tea’s offerings and just the volume of cakes would cost a lot of money.  Besides puerh related funds are dwindling after big purchases this year and I keep telling myself that I am trying to spend on semi-aged puerh only.

So acquiring some samples seems like the logical thing to do but I simply can’t stomach paying multiple hundreds of dollars for samples - really I just want someone who knows a lot about tea to tell me which are best and I will buy the cake.  Today, I guess, for you, that person is me.

When White2Tea released their descriptions on their site I was drawn to 2-3 cakes that might meet my tastes based solely on Paul’s one sentence descriptions.  Mainly, I am looking for a thick and fragrant Yiwu to replenish my stash which currently only has a handful of Yiwu left.  The description of 2017 Pussy seemed to best match what I was looking for so immediately I honed in on this cake.

[It was at this point that I discovered another reason Paul no longer includes any relevant info on his puerh, he did this to make people shell out a lot of money on sampling. If people have no idea what teas they are buying they will be more likely to sample many teas.  This is the same reason why Paul will probably always discontinue a cake after a year or so regardless of popularity- so the buyer is left to sample again and not rely on what they already know to be true.  This is not only a slick marketing strategy but also another mechanism by which he encourages hiscustomers to question the construct of “Truth” when it comes to puerh.]

Then something happened that you just know is the beginning of something big.   I’ve seen it all happen before- reviews that have something of an awe inspired feel to them when describing a cake.  These reviews started to roll out for Pussy (here and here).  A brilliantly planned “free shipping” promotion was enough for me to throw 600g (3 x $89.90, 200g demasculinizing xiao beings, $0.42/g) into my cart and check out.  Why 3?  It’s the closest to my single 500g cakes I prefer (this is how I justified purchasing the xiao bings) and besides it might be just enough to dissuade me from buying more if I really do like it.

Okay… enough … let’s get down to business and mediate with this one…

Opening the ziplock which contains the cake overwhelms the senses with strong deep inhuman perfume-like sweet fruit notes.

The first infusion delivers a sweet hay-like initial taste followed by a blast of cotton candy sweetness.  There are already some suggestions of wood or hay underneath.  A long, slow to expand aftertaste takes hold which glows of fruit taste.

The second infusion kicks a straw like sweetness into your mouth.  The sweet flvour expands and unravels slowly to reveal a layering of wood taste as well as cotton candy sweetness which now develops a creamy edge with deeper sweet tastes lingering the background. The sweetness appears in the aftertaste and stretches on.  The mouthfeel here is quite full with a slightly sticky full tongue feel even into the mid throat.

The third infusion delivers very sweet, hay like sweetness which now is strung along a base taste of hay and slight cereal tastes.  The mouthfeel is full and develops a nice sandy texture over the tongue and cheeks.  The aftertaste is a layered part sweet, mildly cool, with a slight sweet hay in there as well.  The qi here is now starting to show some suggestions of a nice body effect as my body feels relaxed and calm.

The fourth infusion the sweetness is now like the sweetness you would get from grains.  The tea has a beautiful way of gaining momentum in the mouth and slowly expands into a long slight grainy, slight cotton candy, slight fruity sweetness all the while being supported underneath by hay like flavours which give a supportive depth and feel.  The qi is felt heavy in the chest.

The fifth starts off with a hay-like cereal sweetness that slowly expands from here to a fruity sweetness over dry wood then to a sweeter cotton candy like sweetness.  In the breath minutes later you can feel a melon, even topical fruit, sweet taste underneath.  This tea is sweet but always seems to have enough depth to hold it down.

The sixth infusion develops a malty almost edges a ghostly medicinal note.  A stronger woody profile is noticeable throughout and the initial body of this tea is now more woody and slight hay/cereal notes rather than sweetness.  The sweet taste lingers throughout.

The seventh infusion a slight cotton candy sweetness reappears briefly before fading into a more woody profile.  The aftertaste slowly builds on itself with crests of grain, hay, wood.  The sweet and slowly morphing taste of this tea makes it an interesting one.  This infusion is much more of that initial cotton candy sweetness even late on the breath.

The eighth has more of this barely medicinal sweetness initially, with the wood base now being secondary to the sweetness in the last few infusions.  The mind is so calm.  This tea has lots of taste and does a lot of things in its long evolving flavor.  The mouthfeel remains a solid soft grainy feel and throat feels even slightly grainy as well with the top throat open.

The ninth infusion starts to water down initially with lots coming out in the mid profile including hay, grains, dry wood, the sweetness is not going away anytime soon.  These flavors prance around then lend itself to a mild coating of cotton candy then melon, then hay, then some other sweet taste.  This tea is really gentle with very very little bitter or astringency and feels relatively harmonious to drink this fresh as opposed to age for those that like that sort of thing.

The tenth is more watery to start then a nice slow to expand middle taste of sweetness and base flavours before a long aftertaste takes hold.  The aftertaste is interesting in that it has not that much coolness but soft deeper flavours of wood and hay as well as fruit.

The eleventh and twelfth infusions develop a different initial taste like a woody type taste which swells in the mid-profile where expansive sweet tastes start to take off.

The thirtieth and fourteenth start with a juicy onset go to a more sweet middle with a creamy and expanding aftertaste.  The woody deeper tastes seem to be more in the aftertaste here as the taste profile is slow to expand.

The fifteenth I push it a bit harder a giving it more time than a flash infusion here and get nice round melon taste and hay in the initial taste here.  The taste here remains full and complex even in these later infusions.

The sixteenth and seventh have a faint sweet start which jumps to wood taste.  Steeped longer here the throat becomes more astringent and the taste seems to linger there more which is of layered sweetness especially of green grapes.  These infusion has a nice green grapes and hay taste that really is a great combination.  There is still a lingering cotton candy taste to it as well.

Eightieth and ninetieth start to fade into a flat wood taste but the aftertaste remains vibrant and active with a longer and stronger cooling and melon sweetness if you stretch the steeping times out.

The twentieth is enjoyed by daughter and wife- they both grab a small ceramic cup and enjoy the nice light flavor that is left lingering after crawling out of bed on this lazy Sunday morning.

Overall, this tea has lots of stamina, a long and evolving taste profile, and enough depth that you could probably steep it out for a long time… so I will.

This tea as I predict will sell out first because it is very good, has the catchiest name, is very easy on the system, is ready to drink immediately and is mid-priced for White2Tea’s 2017s.  This first sampling of White2Tea totally checks out- the tea is great!  But no matter how good it is I just can’t justify the price tag.  I keep trying to logically justify buying more than the 600g I own but I just can’t do it.

As for the name “Pussy”, I took the high road and left the way too easy innuendo out of this post (which was very very difficult to do, trust me).  I think the name "Pussy" is a reference to the soft nature of this cake opposite to being as "Tough (Tuhao) as F***".  The name, it’s a bit sexist don’t you think?  You don’t hear of a cake called “Cock” with a man wearing a fedora holding a few rosters under his arm… I guess that’s for Paul’s 2018 wrapper of this exact same maocha.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Familiar and Unfamiliar- 2005 Long Yuan Hao Bulang and 2005 Long Yuan Hao Gelanghe

The Bulang is no longer pictured on the website but had a near identical wrapper to the Gelanghe (below) with the only major difference is the area name and color of the wrapper was a blue/green color, I believe.  Actually, I did not receive a cake of the Bulang instead I cleared out their last four large and intact 90g samples (360g in total for $27.96 or $0.08/gram).  2005 puerh with this price tag is seriously cheap!

Please, sit down and join me in drinking this 2005 Long Yuan Hao Bulang…

The leaves smell of lingering cherry fruits.

The first infusion starts with nice cinnamon and slightly pungent note which has a soft creamy, barely cooling aftertaste.   There is a slightly lingering astringency underneath and rounds out the taste.  The monthfeel and thoatfeel is fairly full chalky and smooth.

The second infusion is full of pungent, sweet creamy cherry and notes up front which transition to creamy full sweet aftertaste.  There is a just a noticeable cooling through the profile with the creamy sweetness in the aftertaste.  Underneath the taste there is just barely a lingering resemblance of aged Bulangesque bitterness that very faintly skirts around.

The third infusion has more of that slightly edgy slight fullness over a balance of creamy sweetness and slight strongish taste.  The cherry fruit note is distinct here.  It has a nice opening mouthfeel full of sweet creamy fruits and starts to finish a bit milky-creamy tasting as well. 

The fourth is much the same very long fruity finish now. There is some bitterness to this tea but it is more of a full flavor than a true bitterness.  This is how bitterness should evolve from a fresh newly pressed puerh to an 11 year aged purh.  It is more of a bitter fullness than an intolerable bitter taste.  There is a rubbery feeling left in the mouth.

The fifth and infusion has much less complexity.  Things really fall off and thin out here.  There are still some bright berry tastes to enjoy but they are less vibrant.

The sixth becomes much more of that astringent, barely milky-creamy, bitterness with just slight suggestions of sweetness and even fainter cooling aftertastes.

Any infusion beyond six is just pushing barely milky bitter tastes along.

This Bulang has very classic Bulang tastes but sadly no stamina.  Nevertheless, it is a great daily drinker and a real deal for the price.  More importantly it has reminded me how much I love the Bulang profile.  I have a few Bulang cakes from the 90s that I managed to not drink through that I now have quite an appetite for.  This puerh has also sparked some interest in my next puerh mission- to find good semi-aged Bulang tea.  Any suggestions?

Up next….

A google search for Gelanghe puerh only gets one English hit- a 2003 Six Famous Mountains cake on the Half-Dipper.  This is really a mysterious or forgotten Menghai region.  I paid just $35.50 forthe last 400g cake at Awazon in my second order from them ($0.09/gram).

The dry leaves smell of sweet aged dates.

The first infusion is very watery with a strong sweet sugar cane taste that slowly evolves into soft date tastes.  The mouthfeel is soft and slightly chalky.  The aftertaste is mild with a sweet melon taste slowly evolving minutes later.

The second infusion starts sweet again but has a slight counterbalance of very mild sour and slighty bitter notes that are barely noticeable.  The juicy sweet taste evolves in the mouth and from more sugar to honey to melon fruit.  The mouthfeel remains a touch chalky in the mouth and tongue.  A mild floral coolness faintly skirts the tongue and lingers in the breath.

The third infusion has nice full juicy sweet notes melded with slight bitter.  The mouthfeel is full and chalky the groundwork where the sweet honey taste evolves into floral.  There is a mild coolness on the breath along with a juicy melon finish.  There are interesting minty tastes in this infusion as well.

The fourth infusion is more woody now with suggestions of sweet sugar evolving to melon tastes under the wood notes.  The aftertaste is also woody with a slight cooling mint and cardamom suggestion.

The fifth infusion has a balance of juicy sweet and woody notes with a nice evolving melon taste.  The aftertaste has a nice long cooling almost minty sweetness.  There is some interesting faint suggestions of moss, wood, and even spices in this tea that are more apparent in some infusions over others.  A melon cooling sweetness is left on the breath minutes later.  The qi of this tea is quite mild and has a nice soft sensation in the body and mind.

The sixth infusion presents with a woody and almost spicy taste with the sweetness mainly pushed to the aftertaste as a slow to evolve sweet melon and mild coolness wash over the mouth and breath.

The seventh infusion there is more of a flater, juicier taste than wood but still quite a balance.  The sweet tastes evolve nicely into a juicy melon taste with long cool aftertaste.  The mouthfeel stays chalky and even a bit viscus but not drying.  The throat doesn’t open up to much with this tea.  A sour cherry taste is found on the breath minutes later.

The eighth infusion continues to be more sweet and starts with a nice melon notes over faint wood.  The tastes evolve into something juicier, slightly floral and cool in the breath.  Even minutes later there in a nice fruity taste on the breath.

The ninth infusion has similar profile and is still quite full of nice long sweet flavors.

The tenth starts to lose its tastes but still retains nice juicy fruity notes in slight wood and a long cooling fruity aftertaste.

This tea is steeped into eleven, twelve, thirteen, infusions still yielding quite flavourful and fullish tea with long cooling aftertaste.

This tea has a good taste and excellent stamina and has some decent complexity to it especially for the price.  Overall I’m quite happy with it for its price and age.  If there was more for sale for that price, I would not hesitate to buy a tong of it.  It feels like it could be consumed now or aged a bit longer.

I am also left wondering why there are not more Gelanghe cakes being pressed out there?  With just two reviews on the internet being both favorable for Gelanghe both pre 2006, I wonder why the modern trend for small pressings have passed Gelanghe?  I hope to try to find more Gelanghe puerh in the future.  Maybe one of the Westren producers will read this and press something in the years to come?

Overall, I quite enjoyed both the 2005 Bulang and Gelanghe from Dadugang Long Yuan Hao tea factory.  I have been drinking them on and off.  I hope to age them further but don’t know how long they will last the way I’m drinking them.  If anything they confirm that at least the older puerh of a budget company like Long Yuan Hao should at least be given a chance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Puerh Storage in the West & Traditional Chinese 5 Element Theory on Storing Puerh

If it is a bitter puerh the bitter taste belongs to Fire.  Water controls bitter (Fire) so for a bitter puerh to aged more harmoniously and optimally it should be stored more humidly or wet/traditionally stored.

If puerh is very fragrant or pungent tasting, this quality is desired to be maintained. Fragrance is Yang and taste is Yin.  It should be stored not in a Yin (wet) environment but rather a dry (Yang) environment.  Dryness is the climate of the Lungs and the nose and sense of smell belongs to the Lungs.  Therefore, dry storage is best to maintain a fragrant puerh.

I think there is still a lot of misconceptions in the West about how puerh should be optimally stored.  The shortsightedness of these misconceptions, is effectively fed by a fallacy of Western thought and logic that there is only one “best” way of doing something.

When some of the first puerh drinkers in the West were looking to buy and store puerh (early-mid 2000s) there was virtually no information about how to store puerh in Western climates and what makes a quality puerh for aging.  Essentially, they just looked to what they were doing in the places that consumed lots of puerh- hot and humid Hong Kong and Taiwan.  This is where they got their information and this is the rough guidelines that they followed.  In these places, relatively bitter factory or old school stronger puerh was aged nicely with more humid and warm fairly open air storage.

In Classic Chinese Medicine, the current state of a being is influenced by environmental placement (fengshui) which includes the natural climate of that place.  Individuals with the same presentation or imbalance will essentially be treated completely different to bring about harmony depending on the climate influences where they live.  The same principles should be used to optimally and harmoniously age puerh.

Relatively recently, those who have been aging puerh in the West have realized that the guidelines for aging puerh and what makes a good puerh for aging in Asia does not always do well in the drier climates of the West.  They have, to some extent, started taking into account the climate where they are aging the puerh.

Nowadays there is a focus, almost an obsession, about the pumidor, or crocks, or other controlled environments which I think is a reaction to initial storage theories in the West.  But, still, I think they miss the real point of excellent storage because they are still stuck in the Western mentality that there is one “best” storage for all puerh tea (even when the unique aging climate is already taken into consideration).  This is applying an overly simplistic approach to the very unique, varied and complicated qualities of each puerh production.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the individual is looked at as completely unique and to harmonize each individual a completely customized treatment will work best.  This theory is also true for ageing the unique qualities of a particular puerh.  You can look at each puerh production as being one of a kind and having its own unique qualities.  The most optimal storage of this unique puerh will depend on which qualities you wish to maintain and which qualities you wish to transform.  Basically, you have to take into account its individual characteristics and how a particular storage will influence those characteristics.
Essentially, the last consideration you must consider when aging puerh is your own personal preference- how do you like your puerh?  Which qualities in a certain puerh do you wish to preserve and which do you wish to transform?  Which storage conditions will best bring out the features that you as a puerh drinker value the most?

Simply thinking that all of your puerh will age best under the same conditions is false.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Introducing the concept of “Evil Qi” and Spotting Heavily and Lightly Sprayed Agrochemicals in 2004 Long Yuan Hao Bama and 2006 Long Yuan Hao “Banna Impression” Brick

I have to say, I was hopeful with this 2004 Bama that I purchased for $35.50 for a 380g cake ($0.09/ gram) in my second order from Awazon.  I have one Bama cake  and its one of my favorites.  Unfortunately there is only about 150g remaining.  I think most puerh drinkers have no idea where Bama is.  Have you ever heard of Bama?  Bet you don’t know where it is.

It’s a small town between Nannou and Menghai.  It is often classified as Nannou because it shares some broad similarities in profile. My logic was this… This cake was simply overlooked because of poor name recognition and was still a good but overlooked cake… what are the odds?

When opening the cake there were two telltale signs of a suspicious puerh cake.  First the Neifi was loose and second there was an unusual sprinkling of a few white buds on the top layer of the bing.  Not good.  I have never known a cake to be of any quality with either one, never mind both, of these indicators.  Another abnormality is that this is a 380g cake- never herd of that one before.

Dry leaves smell of faint fruits- cherry and pear.  Not bad so far…

First infusion presents with cereal and beef jerky-like tastes which transition quickly to mint which disappears quickly into a dry muddy floral fruit sent on the breath.  The taste left in the mouth is a bit metallic and flat tasting.  The mouthfeel is thin, somewhat dry and has a sharp, thin, barely chalky feel at the back of the tongue and into the throat.

The second presents with a long cool taste the trails through the not-so-pleasant profile of this tea.    There are still that beef jerky-like taste mixed with grains but it is quite muted now.  A flat, dry wood taste is more apparent in this infusion.  This infusions’ most obvious flavours are nice sweet, perfume-like sweet cherries in deep floral tastes.  The mouthfeel thickens and becomes less dry and more dense now which holds the long minty note and deep sweet fruity florals.

The third infusion is more astringent and drier than the second.  The dry mouthfeel carries cool tastes and sweet berry florals over a dry wood base.  The beef jerky and cereal tastes are gone now.  There is an uncomfortable dry astringency that is left in the mouth.

My body doesn’t like this tea.  It has gotten to a point from drinking lots of puerh over the years that if I’m drinking puerh tea that is heavily sprayed it will usually react with symptoms such as a feeling that isn’t right in the stomach like a certain tightness, allergy-like runny nose, uncontrollable sneezing and itchiness usually in the legs.  It is definitely doing this now with this tea.  I can be certain that this one had its fair share of chemicals thrown at it because these symptoms are quite strong.

I am unsure whether I am just reacting to one chemical or one family of chemicals or just a certain combination of chemicals or a certain threshold of a chemical or chemicals.  What I do know is that I do react to something and sometimes its almost unnoticeable where other times it causes an extreme reaction.  Most often the reaction is to plantation puerh but not always.  Alternatively, some plantation teas that I'm pretty sure are sprayed I will never react to. This reaction developed a few years ago and it only really occurs for about 1/5 of the teas I try.  But it is a very convenient superpower to have!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine this type of influence is called “Evil Qi” or “Li Qi”.  Evil Qi is a type of pathogenic energy that doesn’t come from a natural source or change of season but comes from an unusual external exposure.  And, well, the name says it all, it has a negative influence on the body.  Agrochemicals fit the bill of containing Evil Qi if exposure to them creates a feeling of disharmony and illness.
Just because a puerh is strong or harsh doesn't mean it contains Evil Qi because this strength could very well be the natural Qi of the tea.  There is a difference between an uncomfortable Cha Qi and Evil Qi and this should not be confused. 
Okay... so reluctantly I go back to this tea a steep up the fourth which is mainly dominated by a dry wood profile and dry mouthfeel.  There are still some faint florals and fruits but they are overcome now mainly by an unpleasantly dry woody profile.

The fifth infusion is much of the same monotone tastes.

No need to put myself through any further, I stop the session here.

Even 4 hours later my stomach can still feel the effects and my left Kidney feels unwell.  Overall I have a feeling of disharmony and feel not as good.

This 2004 Bama has lots of Evil Qi in it for sure.

2006 Long Yuan Yao “Bana Impression” 250g Brick

The dry leaves of this likely factory blended Xishuangbanna brick smell of somewhat intense sweet vibrant cherry fruits.

The first infusion presents with nice sweet tobacco wood and hay notes in a creamy sweet mouthfeel.  There is a nice mild creamy-sweet cooling aftertaste.  There is a nice creamy sweet richness that supports this tea though the taste profile but over the taste is a woody hay taste with just a slight bitter edge.  Sweet cherry fruits show up on the breath minutes later.

The second infusion brings smooth creamy sweet tastes with a vegetal sweat wood base.  The sweet cherry tastes are clearer in this infusion.  Overall the mouthfeel is decent and has a soft fluffy, chalky sensation that covers most of the mouth.  The woody hay notes comprise the base of this tea.

Unfortunately, I have some symptoms of a mild-medium sprayed puerh.  My legs starting feeling slightly itchy and my nose starts to run.

The third infusion has many more of these nice sweet round creamy woody notes.  There is a bit of a bread-yeast taste as well as vegetal taste that lingers at the base profile of this tea which later transvers to sweet cherry fruit on the breath.

The fourth infusion has a strong cool sweet aftertaste.  The tastes that precede it are creamy wood tastes, vegetal tastes, and fruits.  The mouthfeel develops a certain chalkiness to hold in the tastes.

The fifth offers much the same with more tobacco notes coming out now as well as more woody-vegetal notes.  The deeper notes start to emerge more in this infusion.

The sixth offers sweet fruit tastes in a slightly juicy, watery soup.  Faint wood notes are apparent but sweet fruits dominate now.  The rounded mouthfeel holds these tastes nicely.

The seventh infusion becomes more watery but still maintains lots of strength with a long muted menthol sweetness.  The cha qi of this tea is nothing too special- a very common feeling of robust alertness and vitality which I expect from a tea.  There is a bit of stuffiness in the head.

The eighth holds much the same the ninth and tenth fade considerably.

There is Cha Qi and then there is Evil Qi.  The 2004 Bama definitely has enough Evil Qi that it overwhelms the Cha Qi in the body.  The 2006 Banna Impression has enough Evil Qi to convince me to avoid drinking this tea.  I actually think the puerh brick is reasonably enjoyable for the price but it has just enough Evil Qi that I can’t ever seeing myself drink it anytime soon.  I place both of these teas into quarantine destine for the garbage dump sooner or later.  Evil Qi can’t be ignored, aged out, nor can it be valued.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Strategy of Buying Up Old Forgotten Samples and 2006 Long Yuan Hao “Gold Medal” Cake

Buying up old forgotten samples is a trick that I read in the comment section of a tea blog many years ago (Hobbes’ Half-Dipper, I think).  A commenter noted that you could still buy up a bunch of HouDe tea samples long after the cake is gone.  Very cleaver. 

Sometimes the cakes are sold out a long time ago but the vendor is left with a bunch of weighed and bagged tea samples.  Most people either sample for education or, more often, sample to see if they will purchase a full cake.  So it is reasonable, that some samples might be lingering around for longer than they should. 

 But I think this situation of buying up all the remaining samples only really works in your favor if a few conditions are met…

The vendor sells the samples for the same cost per gram as the full cake.  Most vendors sell samples for a much higher cost per gram than the full cake.  So if you are buying up a bunch of old forgotten samples you have to make sure that the price per gram is low- preferably the same price per gram as the full cake. 

The price of the puerh is now worth multiples more than when it was first sold.  If the samples are old there may be situations where they might still be worth it even if they cost more.  For instance, if the cake is now worth multiples more than what it was first sold as and the price of the sample was not increased, this would totally be worth it.

The samples are either removed from the cake after being ordered or are larger samples.  The theory goes that puerh ages better in contact with more puerh and not as good, say in small 15g samples bags.  So you are better off with lager samples or even vendors which remove them off the bing when ordered.

You are buying to consume immediately rather than age for the long term or resell.  Although aging samples is possible, it isn’t recommended for the reasons above.  You could think of a bunch of samples as Maocha or a mini bing – not the same as aging a full cake or brick.

This puerh was one of two sample buy outs that I made in my second order from Awazon and they met all the conditions above so they both ended up being excellent tea for what I paid.  Awazon sells its samples for the same price per gram as the actual cake and the samples are 90g or 100g (approx ¼ of a cake or the size of a mini-bing these days).  I ended up paying $4.50 for 100g of this tea and I purchased the last two large intact 100g samples ($0.05/gram)- the full cake was long sold out.

My second order from Awazon consisted of five cakes or sample lots with an age range of 2004-2006 from Long Yuan Hao, a puerh factory out of the Dadugang area of Xishuangbanna.  This factory has been around for a long time and I have little memory of ever trying them so this order was a little bit of an exploration of this cheap and often overlooked puerh factory as well.  Awazon as well as another vendor, Green Tea Shop, sells lots of LongYuan Hao- it is terribly inexpensive tea.

I remembered a favorable review of this blended puerh fromway back when from Brett of Black Dragon Tea Bar.  He is doing an aging experiment on this one, so it is interesting to compare notes on his Seattle storage to how this puerh has fared in Awazon’s dry Kunming storage.

The large leaves have a slight fruity fragrance and easily peel away from the large sample chunk.

The first infusion presents with a malty, rich, smooth creamy cherry fruit and jujube sweetness that dominates this first infusion while nicely coating the tongue.  There is a less noticeable aged vegetal note and a baked pumpkin taste underneath.  A nice clear floral and date aftertaste is left on the breath.

The second infusion gives off a clear, if not slightly watery, rich, sweet camphor and slight aged vegetal note.  It has a mild cool finish in the throat and an after taste of subtle sweet berries and floral notes.  This puerh is filled with diverse high notes in a light airy base.  The mouthfeel has medium to mild

The third delivers creamy medicinal-menthol wood notes with subtle sweet berries in the aftertaste.  There is a mild returning coolness in the aftertaste along with florals, surgar cane, and fruit.  The Qi of this tea is happy in some dimension I can’t explain.  It makes the mind happy and care free.  The effect in the body is mild.

The fourth gives of a fruity light initial taste that develops more into camphor wood and finishes with a round cooling taste over camphor wood, slight florals and cherry fruit tastes.

The fifth is much the same notes as above.  This infusion develops a mild cinnamon and clove note and seems overall deeper than previous infusions.  The woody taste is dominant with malty fruity sweetness underneath now.  A deeper date taste is the dominating lighter note now.

The sixth infusion is mellowing out and strings together soft woody, slight cinnamon, notes finishing with a sweet cinnamon taste, slightly floral and barely cooling in the throat.

The seventh has a sweet tropical fruit taste which transitions quickly to mellow, flat wood then to cinnamon on flat wood.

The eighth is much the same but flatter still.  I like the long sweet cinnamon aftertaste here which lingers long in the mouth.

This simple, long sweet cinnamon taste is enjoyed for a few more infusions before these leaves are put to rest.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, mild but flavorful puerh considering the price.  It is very drinkable and enjoyable.  Overall, I am happy with this simple and yummy everyday drinker.  I think I have drank up almost half over the Summer which is a testament to its fruity charms.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

2006 Shuangjiang Mengku MangBo

I picked up a cake of this tea in my first order from Awazon with a bunch of others in hopes of finding a good, cheap, around 10 years agedpuerh from which to re-order.   I paid $25.80 for this 400g cake ($0.06/gram).  From the scant writings about this tea on the internet I have learned the following about this 2006 Mengku …

This was the first year that the Shuangjiang Mengku Tea Company offered this cake from the MangBo Mountain.  They offered cakes from Mangbo for a few years before discontinuing them, some of them were “Gong Ting” cakes where as others were these ones- two completely different puerh from the same producing region.  The manufacture’s information states that this is a Qingming (before rains) early spring cake from Mangbo Mountain located in the Mengku, Shuangjiang county of Lincang.  The leaves are apparently all from a single, high mountain tea grove of “ancient tea trees”.

This puerh producing area is no doubt famous for completely knocking off the Adidas logo.  In Western tea circles this is pretty much known as Adidas puerh… hahaha.  Despite having this tormented reputation, I could find very little written about these Mangbo cakes.  The only info I found in English about this cake was a glowing review by Dignitea on Steepster.  Sounds promising enough…

Unwrapping the cake my eyes and fingers tell me that this is a wrapper from long ago.  One of those super thin, see through, easily damaged, plain budget brownish wrappers that you don’t see much any more.  I appreciate this unpractical esthetic from a long time ago.  I unwrap the cake gently to have a look at it and the leaves are barely tinged redish with larger, chunky, aged hairy leaves covering the cake, I enjoy this experience.  I press my nose close to these leaves but very little odour is drawn out.  I’m obviously not as excited about this aspect but maybe they will come alive with all but a rinse?

Sit with me this early morning in the veranda of my old house and meditate as we drink this tea will you?

The first infusion delivers a light creamy sweet tasting wave.  It’s very smooth in the mouth with nice cooling aftertaste and sweet finish in the mouth.  The mouthfeel is nice with a full coating on the tongue.

The second infusion delivers much the same with a fruity sweetness starting to entrench itself.  There are some roasted nut edges that start to develop here.  The cool aftertaste is notable.

The third infusion starts out smooth and slightly sweet and builds on the tongue to finish with a slight roasted hazelnut taste with edges of apricot fruit.  The qi of this tea is nicely relaxing on the mind with a lightness in the arms and shoulders.

The fourth has a juicy viscus sweet and creamy, if not slightly watery, initial taste which turns into a roasted nut flavor.  It opens in the throat into layers of sweetness.  The aftertaste is a nice longer cool and sweet fruit taste.

The fifth infusion delivers a nice evolving profile of initial viscus caramel sweetness to a deeper roasted hazelnut to a cool finish with an almost apricot fruit aftertaste.  The tea has a nice viscus feel initially in the mouth which then turns a bit chalky and tight then nicely opens even the mid throat to finish.

The sixth is much the same with some berry fruit notes appearing in the initial taste now.

The seventh infusion develops more of a vibrant burst of fruit and also finishes with a long fruity taste in the mouth.  The base of this tea is a nutty roasted taste.  The mouthfeel continues to thicken and now slightly grips the throat.

The eighth the roasted nut taste blends more into the background where the fruit taste become more prominent.  There are tastes of apricot and tropical fruit such as mango in here.  The thicker tongue coating and throat stimulation knit these tastes together.

The ninth is much the same with woody notes now appearing more prominently then roasted nut notes in comprising the base taste.  The sweet notes start to slow down here.

In the tenth the roasted nut notes seem to be dominant with sweeter tastes supporting the main nutty flavor.  The hazelnut taste sneaks into the aftertaste in this infusion.

The eleventh is more woody and starting to get more bland again.  The next few infusion steep out with woody, nutty tastes with sweet edges with a solid coolness in the aftertaste.

This puerh is interesting in that you can really get very different results with different amount of leaf, steep time, steeping method.  Each method can really emphasize either the fruity taste or the nutty taste depends how you play with these parameters.  The fruit taste also can change and evolve differently as well.  This, along with a solid mouthfeel and long and stable returning coolness, makes this inexpensive puerh quite good.

I ended up clearing out the last 3 cakes of this one at Awazon in my next order so currently they are currently out of stock.  It ended up being the only cake out of the 7 tester bings in my first order from Awazon which I re-ordered (the two 2006 6FTM Banzhangs were last cakes, the two 2006 LMBF cakes sold out days after ordering, and the two GuanZiZai were too harsh for my liking).

I am quite happy to have 4 of these cakes and feel they are quite a good value for what I paid for them.  Currently King Tea Mall has this cake for $99.99 which I believe is closer to the actual value of this cake than the $25.80 I paid.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Not Alchemy Just Daily Drinkers: 2006 6FTM Yesheng Banzhang and 2006 6FTM Organic Banzhang Raw

These two Six Famous Tea Mountain puerh arrived in my first order from Awazon.   I remember seeing lots of 6FTM cakes in the puerh tea shops in Korea in the mid-2000.  I know that I have tried many 6FTM puerh before at these tea tables but I have no memory or recollection of how they tasted.  This seems to be a theme of the literature online about 6FTM- unmemorable.

But it wasn’t always like that.  Even the western online vendors used to be full of these cakes.  Six Famous Tea Mountain puerh factory offered puerh that was very different than the factory puerh that was mainstream at the time.  It was a response to the overly bitter and strong cakes produced by Menghai and other tea factories which were the most popular at that time.

A few years ago Hobbes of the Half-Dipper re-discovered 6FTM cakes and many are reviewed on his blog at this time.  These two were either discussed positively in the comment section or favorably reviewed by Hobbes.  However, because of differences in the names of these teas, tasting notes, differing wrappers, coming from different vendors, I am unsure if these are the same positively reviewed teas.  This is what makes purchasing puerh online in the West such a gamble.

2006 6FMT Yesheng Banzhang

There is a bit of ambiguity on the Half-Dipper whether this cake is undrinkable or excellent value.  It is possible that it is even the exact same cake wrapper with one cake being a fake and other real or perhaps it is the same cake but one with off storage.  Only one way to know which one this is similar to…

Dry leaves smells of sweat sugar cane and faint plumb.

In the first infusion flatter vegetal notes comes first with a nice leathery taste.  A soft cresting malty caramel sweetness ensues finished by a tobacco taste which stays in the mouth.  The mouthfeel is decent and feels full enough to carry the aftertastes forward.  The mouthfeel has a mild stickiness to it as well.

The second carries more sweet notes of slight plumb in the mix of leathery tobacco.  There are only suggestions of cool menthol on the breath.  This tea tastes is very much good, if not very typical puerh tea.  It has a mild thickness and viscous feel to it in the mouth and carries these standard puerh tastes nicely in the mouth.  The bubbles formed in the liquor stick stubbornly to the cups and pots. The sensation of this tea doesn’t make it into the throat limiting the depth of taste but what it has, it does quite good with.

Third you can really start feeling the qi of this tea- again a very classic puerh tea feel.  The body feels energized and refreshed while the mind feels relaxed and clear.   The sweeter plumb notes are more developed in this infusion and taste nice with leather and tobacco.  There is a very slight sour note indicating its age.  The sweet tastes are the dominant now and the flatter vegetal note is all but gone.

This tea is through and through good, typical, unpretentious big factory tea.  There is nothing amazing about this tea but there is also nothing negative about it either. Its strength is in its better than average mouthfeeling which make simple tastes stick and is limited by not really touching the throat.

The fourth shows signs of starting to level off with less of the evolving layers and gravitating to more of a nice singular note.  There is a nice cohesive leathery and creamy malty date fruit sweetness to the tea here.

The fifth shows more of the mild barely fruity sweat note riding itself into the aftertaste over leathery and even slightly woody notes.  There is some menthol returning in the mouth.  A very stable tea.  For the cheap price this tea, it is very drinkable and I am happy with it for what it is.

The sixth is much the same and I am still not adding any steeping time to the infusions just the 20 second pour of the pot.  Simple, yummy, puerh tastes are delivered.  A soft smokiness is detected in this infusion.

The seventh is extended another 10 seconds but remains simple yummy tea.  The nice part here is the nice simple plumb fruit note.  The aftertaste carries this note for a while.

The eighth and ninth infusions become much flatter with a gummy slight fruit and wood note.  A very mild cool fruit aftertaste is apparent.

2006 6FTM Banzhang Organic Raw

I paid $36.20 for this 357g bing ($0.10/gram).  It was also the last in stock at Awazon and is no longer listed.  There seems to be two different wrappers of the 2006 Banzhang Organic, one has a the Chinese organic certification labelclearly displayed on the wrapper like this one still available for purchase atThe Chinese Tea Shop, and another without such labeling that was for sale at Awazon.  I imagine they are different teas.

Dry leaves are of smoky, almost salty, with a suggestion of pungent deep creamy florals.

The first infusion boasts creamy sweet and more fragrant than expected floral tastes with a nice thin creamy mouthfeel.  There is a significant smokiness to this first infusion that coats the mouth if steeped quickly.  A slightly sweet floral creamy coolness is left in the throat.  The profile of this tea is over a light mild base of creamy, sweet, slightly medicinal tastes.  The smokiness dominates this first infusion.

In the second infusion the same flavours become more bold especially the sweet, creamy, medicinal base holding them together.  There is a soft but noticeable bitter astringency to this tea when steeped with more leaf.  The sweet cooling in the throat lasts longer and is more noticeable now.  Even very soft smoky notes linger in the mouth.

In the third infusion the mouthfeel becomes stronger and the taste develops a soft wood base note along with the sweet medicinal note.  The initial taste is of mild creamy sweet florals. Another note that reveals itself is a mushroom taste as well.  This infusion loses a bit to the higher notes as deeper, aged tastes emerge.  The smokiness is still apparent.  The qi of this tea is weak and gives off a quite unnoticeable and very standard mild alertness.

The fourth the light sweet flavours start to fade and the base notes start to take over.  The mushroom taste is now more prominent.  The cooling aftertaste now has more of a light woody suggestion.  The throat feel improves a bit as a glob of saliva is pulled into the throat expanding on simple flavours.

The fifth becomes more monotone in its initial taste- a sweet woody barely mushroom taste.  The cooling returning sweetness is somewhat more enjoyable and more pronounced here.  A smokiness lingers in the aftertaste.

The sixth is pushed harder but still offers very little in the initial taste with still some enjoyable aftertastes to be enjoyed.  A monotone wood taste now gently cloaks the whole profile of this tea when pushed like this.  A faint flat floral and slight melon taste can still barely be grasped.

In the seventh and eighth this tea is a bit tapped out with mainly a monotone dry wood with barely suggestions of melon and floral over a still smoky base.

The ninth, tenth and eleventh holds these tastes nicely.  It is mild but still has some enjoyable flavor.  Long steeps push out much the same.

It is interesting what the name of a tea does to your mind.  It is possible that this tea could have at least some Banzhang or Nannuo material inside.  But if this was a blind sample and someone asked me to guess where this is tea from I would probably never guess the Banzhang area.  Interesting, how the brain works.

Overall, I am happy with these two 6FTM cakes.  These cakes were both the very last cakes at Awazon which is really too bad.  Out of the two, I wouldn’t hesitate at purchasing a few more cakes, maybe even a tong, of the Yesheng for that price.  It really displays a character and feel in what I look for and love in factory puerh.  The Organic Banzhang is too mild with very little depth.  However, it still has something enjoyable in it and I can see why some people have enjoyed this one as a daily drinker for years now.  Overall, I’m not expecting alchemy with these 6FTM cakes just solid everyday drinkers which is fair value for what I paid.