2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer from Mandala Tea – Tea Review

Let’s taste Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer! This tea was handed picked from ancient tea trees in the Yiwu area of China. Ohhh yeah I love a good ancient tree raw pu’er and what a treat as it is from 2004!

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Dry Leaf

This tea comes in bricks that are being aged away, but Mandala Tea will break off pieces for you when you purchase. I bought 1 oz to sample. To my surprise, one of the chunks of tea I got is the size of the packaging, a big honking piece of tea!

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The dry leaf of 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer seems pretty leafy with some long thick veining through the compressed cake. The color is a lovely dark autumn feel of reddish browns and camouflage greens.

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Steeping Instructions

For 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer I went with boiling water, using 1 gram of dry leaf per 15ml of vessel space in my gaiwan.

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I did a rinse and started with 30 second steepings, adding an additional 15 seconds along the way. With the piece of tea I’m steeping, it kind of looks like a star destroyer.

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Tasting of Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer

First Infusion: My first cup of 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer came out gorgeously clear with a glow of light orange. The scent is very fragrant with forest and a light wisps of smoke.

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2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer sips in amber sweet with a moderate amount of flavor. Mid sip I’m getting forest floor notes and leafy – like I’m chilling in a damp mossy tree with fallen, lightly charred leaves. There is a teeny hint of smoke on top of the leaf notes. Finally, the after taste is a deliciously floral peachy.

Second Infusion: WHOA! This tea now has a mutant nuclear orange color! This tea glows!

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The flavor is strong and intense. Very earthy in flavor with sap amber sweet, sticky tree bark, dried lightly sun charred autumn leaves and moss notes. 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer finishes with a quick aftertaste of floral and peaches.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Another flavor shift and darker mutant vibrant pumpkin color!

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I think I steeped this one a bit too long as the flavor is mega BAM strong, but quite nice. Next time I steep this tea I will add 10 second additional infusions instead of 15 seconds, or maybe start at 15 seconds. To slow down, I did these 3 steepings with the same steep time to slow down. The flavor is still very earthy moss forest floor peach, but now with a refreshing minty camphor note. It sounds weird, but the camphor notes really ties the tea together!

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: As the steepings go on the camphor note gets stronger. With that said, sipping in Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer at this stage is a refreshing experience. There is also a light dryness, 1/10 on the astringency meter as there is a feeling of dryness sticking to the teeth. The camphor perks you up , while the earth and forest taste mellows you. I love how relaxing and chill this series of infusions are! I am one with the forest, hoot!

Hey Mandala tea, you weren’t joking about the big leaf. These leaves are huge!

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Honestly, these are the biggest leaves I’ve seen for a puer. It is an impressive leaf size for an oolong, I’m impressed! I only found a couple big leaves, mixed in with smaller leaf bits.

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: I’ve increased steep time, now adding 30 seconds to the timer. The flavor is getting lighter now, still camphor, mellow earth, with a sweet finish. There is a little more dryness, now 3/10 astringency, but very enjoyable.

Tweltfth, Thirteenth, Fourteeth and Fifiteenth Infusion: Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer is light and mellow. Little amber sweet again with a camphor note finish, carrying the tea longer. I feel I could get a bunch more steepings, as the camphor seems to want to stick around, but this tea has outlasted me. I feel really chill and focused – nicely grounded from drinking this tea.

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Comments

Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer is the perfect autumn tea for color and woodsy experience. Drinking this tea makes me feel like it is a chilly autumn evening, carved pumpkins with candles in them in the background, or I’m outside walking through the park (back home in Vancouver) with the falling leaves of fall. I love the comforting and snuggly notes of woodsy earth in 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer, with the perky grounding of the camphor notes.

The low down - 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer has a really nice price for an aged sheng. At the time I write this, $8 an oz! I know if you are on a tight budget, one ends up buying the newer pu’er teas as they tend to be cheaper. With that said, if you want to try an aged sheng for a really nice price, I’d snag Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer before the price goes up!

October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club

Happy October! Autumn is my favorite season, though here in Southern California it still feels like summer, with it being 30c/85F (and a horrible heat wave) throughout September and into October! BOOOOO! Bring on boots, hoodie and scarf weather – though it barely gets that cold here for it!

With that said, a new month means the October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club! However, Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club is changing their formats – switching from a monthly selection box to a Co-op format.

With a monthly subscription (cheaper, at $14.99 a month), you get a sampler pack every month. Simple Loose Leaf will have an online shop to purchase teas that you sampled. With the subscription, you get 50% off at the store. This co-op format will let you try even more teas, with the flexibility to purchase your favorites at a great price.

Anyways, this is the last month of the old format of the Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club – here are the teas for October: Peppermint Herbal, White Pear Tea, Yunnan Jig Black, Spiced Pu’er and Hojicha Green.

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Tasting of October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club

I will be sampling Houjicha green,  Yunnan Jig Black and Spiced Pu’er.

Houjicha green is a roasted Bancha tea from Japan. Dry leaf is twiggy milk chocolate color.  Very fragrant toasty.

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The steeped tea is a strongly scented roast with a clear and crisp light brown colour. Houjicha green sips in sweet, roasty with hay, nutty and caramel notes. I’d say this is a medium roast hojicha, and very easy to drink, perfect for a cool fall day.

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Yunnan Jig black tea leaves are accented with the odd gold tip or leaf, with a wavy twist appearance. The scent is fruity and caramel like.

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After a 3 minute steeping, I had a brown ochre cup of tea with that classic earthy fragrance from a yunnan black tea.  The flavor is on the moderate side with a sweet honey, woodsy (almost like a savory woodsy pine/cedar) with a smooth silky texture. Very easy to drink with no dry or bitter notes and a pleasing amount of sweetness to drink this tea on its own.

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Spiced Pu’er – a pu’er blend? Yes please! This one has cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, aniseed and spice flavor.

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I did a long steeping, 5 minutes, and Spice Pu’er came out a thick black colour with a bit of film on the top. The scent of the tea is a rich, ginger spice. Sips in a little creamy with rich, earthy and a little mushroomy pu’er. The tea finishes sweet and spicy with ginger and cinnamon flavor. The pu’er is quite low on the fermented flavor. I’d give the spice intensity at 4/10 as it’s a little spicy but not overpowering.

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Comments

Admittedly, I will miss the old format as I can choose up front the teas I like with a preview of next months sample – I do a number of monthly beauty boxes and I love when you get to choose at least 1 item! We’ll have to see how the Simple Loose Leaf Co-op format goes – I can see it a great deal for building up your tea stash with favorites and amazing for a workplace teas collection!

Bonus: Spooky overexposed Tea Owl!

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Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea from Yunnan Sourcing – Tea Review

Tea Review time! Today, Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea. This is the Spring 2014 batch from Simao prefecture, China.

I first saw this tea when Yunnan Sourcing posted a picture of the leaf on facebook. Immediately the Tea Owl alert went off for “OMG GORGEOUS LOOKING TEA!” With one of my recent Yunnan sourcing purchases I did not hesitate to buy 50 grams of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea. When my package arrive, it was the first tea I cracked into and sampled. With the crazy amount of tea that comes to me and the Tea Owls, it’s a rare site for me to sample a tea immediately.

Dry Leaf

Gorgeous! Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea looks like long spindles of gold with black insides. The dry tea has a lightly sweet scent.

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Steeping Instructions

I decided to steep Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea gong fu style so I can use my black yixing pot. I love my black yixing pot though it has been looking a little ugly these days. With that said, I used 5 grams of tea and boiling water. I started with a quick rinse, and starting the steepings at 15 seconds, adding an additional 15 seconds as I went on.

Tasting of Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea

With the first infusion, the color of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black is bronze tipped with a gold tint - quite luxurious!  Sweet mellow creamy scent.

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First Infusion: Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black sips in sweet with a heavy, thick creamy body. The flavor is light, typical for a first steeping, with honey notes, a little malt, vanilla with a light nutty finish.

Second Infusion: Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea is ramping up and very tasty! A hint roasted nut notes appear in this steeping along with some caramel honey notes. It’s like drinking liquid toasted nutty candy brittle held together with spun caramel. The color shifted to a beautiful reddish amber.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Infusion: The “meat” of the tea session – the flavor of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea. The flavor has shifted to be quite malty and sweet buried in the thick creamy body. There are notes of toasted nut caramel honey as well. I inhaled these steepings so fast that I only got the aftertaste while waiting for the next infusion to steep, which is a light stone fruit flavor – maybe peach? With each infusion, the tea is getting sweeter and more fruity. By the way, so bitter or dryness in these steepings.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The flavor of Imperial Golde Needle Yunnan Black Tea was starting to wane, so I increased the infusions to an additional 30s. The flavor shifted to be more bright, sweet, fruity, malty, vanilla and milk chocolate. The nutty notes are gone and this tea has a ovaltine flavor to it from the malt and chocolate. In these late steepings there is a bit of dryness, 1/10 on the Astringency Meter, with a bit of dryness sticking to the teeth after each sip.

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The Tea Owl and I discovered Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is a dupe for light agave syrup!

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Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: Color dropped to a light gold.

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The final infusions of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea are super smooth with plenty of sweetness, light melty cocoa and a chocolate caramel after taste.

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Comments

Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is very tasty – easy to drink, enough complexity to enjoy each infusion and beautiful appearance for both the dry leaf and steeped tea. If you love golden bud or golden needle black teas – this is a must try!

The price of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is very good too – around $7 for 50 grams, which is great for a high quality tea. At this time, the same tea is available at Yunnan Sourcing.us (US site) and the Autumn 2014 harvest is available at Yunnan Sourcing.com (Chinese site). I mostly buy pu’er and teaware from both Yunnan Sourcing sites, now I need to try out more of their other teas!

Bonus: Tea Owl leaf inspection!

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Pu-erh Bordeaux from Rishi Tea – Tea Review

Today’s tea review is Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux - an organic and fair trade certified pu’er tea with red wine grape skins, blackberries, raspberries and lavender flowers. Everything in this tea is organic!

Awhile back, fellow Steepster members who also are knitters/crocheters did a mystery swap of tea and yarn. I got 3 balls of yarn and this tea – Pu-erh Bordeaux! This is my first Rishi Tea.. not counting meeting them and drinking all their teas at the World Tea Expo 2014, haha! Looking at Rishi Teas, they have a huge line up of USDA organic teas – if you prefer buying organic, this is the tea place to check out!

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Dry Leaf

The dry leaf of Pu-erh Bordeaux features chunky looking bits of fruit with stocky pu’er tea. The tea has a light fruity scent.

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Steeping Instructions

On the box, Rishi Tea instructs me to steep 1 Tablespoon of tea, in boiling water for 5 minutes.

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Tasting of Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux

The colour of the brew is little cloudy/moderate debris reddish brown. If you are familiar with pu’er like me, you thought this tea would be close to jet black, especially since I steeped it for 5 minutes!

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The scent of Pu-erh Bordeaux is sweet, dry, bready and grapey, somewhat like wine. The flavor of Pu-erh Bordeaux is quite unique for a pu’er blend! Sips in with plenty of flavor without being thick or intense. First off, there is a backdrop of earthy woodsy cedar. As the sip goes on, it gets tart grapey, just like nibbling on a wine grape with the thick skin. End of sip it is pretty fruity, mostly grape, some blackberry flavor and a dried mission fig backup with a tart finish. I’d give it a 4/10 on the Tart Meter – it’s moderately tart, enough to sip as is, but some may want some sugar. If you sip Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux quickly, it combines to a woodsy red wine flavor. The aftertaste is interesting – it’s mostly cedar, some tart and a bit of fig. With each sip, the dryness in this tea grows to about a 3/10 on the Astringency Meter, tying in with the tartness of this blend.

There is no fermented flavors in the pu’er tea base, nor is this tea heavy or thick. The bottom of my cup has quite a bit of debris that I can feel texture wise. I ended up pouring out the last bit of tea before the next infusion. I used a fine stainless steel infuser which is pretty reliable so I was surprised I had debris.

Second Infusion: 6 minute resteeping. Wow, big flavor shift! The berry, red grape and tartness are mostly gone. With that said, I’m tasting mostly the pu’er base. The flavor is creamy, woodsy and earthy with a light tart finish of raspberries and grape. The tart level is a 1/10, and the dryness is gone too.

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Iced: I poured a stiff steeping of Pu-erh Bordeaux over iced. This one, as expected, was good iced – it was pretty woodsy with a grapey finish. The blend has just enough sweet from the fruity notes that you don’t need to add any extra sugar. I prefer Pu-erh Bordeaux hot, but iced is a nice alternative to enjoy tea on a hot day.

Comments

Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux is a tea for the wine tea and fruity tea lover. This blend is very good for a pu’er blend – one of the best pu’er blends I’ve had and a pu’er blend that is quite friendly to non-pu’er drinkers. I’m not big into wine, but found this tea grew on my after a few cups as the pu’er base is quite nicely paired with the fruity flavor.

In the end, I need to try more Rishi Teas!

Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea

While looking through the Pu’er section of Aliexpress I found this cake. It’s full name is “new product Flowers and plants in puer tea Snow mountain ancient tree camellia Pure and fresh and sweet honey Beauty care food” (I guess to use the entire character limit on the title). I’ve never had a Camellia flower tea before and the appearance is quite pretty.

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However, what got me was the description of the tea. Here’s a screen shot to immortalize this Camellia Flower Cake (if it wasn’t already immortal and saintly already). Please click on the photo to read the seller description of this tea.

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I do love some bad Google translations and this one seems godly. God of Night Sweats Godly. For $8, 200 gram cake, hilarious translation – why not? After linking this tea at Steepster Chat, it has been nonstop jokes about God of Night Sweats, prolonged Bear Soaks, Resistant to Impact tea, Shelf life of “jumps over Chen yue sweet”, good back to gan, “fat and moisture”.  By the way, other listings from this seller have plenty of translation fails, referring to one tea as “coffin sweepings” and pu’er “curing poison”.

The wrapper of Camellia Flower Cake is very pretty! Oddly, when I gave the cake a squeeze it felt kind of squishy, like it had a bit of give to it – very weird as I’m used to compressed teas being very dense.

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My cake came with a bracelet of some sort.

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It fits perfectly on Teal “pu’er pick” Owl! He has become a Owl Priest of God of Night Sweats! HOOT!

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Dry Leaf

Camellia Flower Cake / God of Night Sweats Tea unwrapped is a tightly compressed cake with a gorgeous yellow, reddish browns, and olive greens.  There are many teeny stamen things glittered all over the cake.

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I love the look of the top of cake as it looks like compressed flower petals with a watercolor washed color.

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As I pick up the cake to smell, it leaked out lots of little flower bits and stamens. The scent of Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea  is light, similar to a dry raw Puer like earthy floral scent.

Breaking off pieces of the Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea was interesting. It was really easy to pry off pieces that one probably doesn’t need a pu’er pick. Admittedly, picking this cake freaked me out – it pried apart like I was pu’er picking a chewy granola bar – the flowers were compressed like large flaked oatmeal and it was kinda stretchy, without being sticky.

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We struck gold! A golden corn kernel! Uhh is this supposed to be here? Must of been from the bears before they went in for their prolonged bear soak. I know bears like corn as bears ate my mom’s corn field. At least all I found that was weird was a corn kernel, no bear fur or fat and moisture.

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Steeping Instructions

I have no steeping instructions. I tried looking and most I could find is what others have done for similar cakes – but those cakes are usually a pu’er and camellia flower blend, not straight up blinding insanity of this resistant to impact tea.

With that said, I just let the inspiration of the God of Night sweats guide me to steep - boiling water, 7.5 grams of cake, no rinse. I started with 15 second steepings using a 200ml glass teapot, pouring through a gongfu tea strainer before serving. I increased steeping times up to additional minute.

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Tasting of Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea

The tea steeps up a light cloudy yellow - like the bear peed in the hot springs while soaking. Strong float scent coming from my cup, like hot steaming tulips.

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First Infusion: “The Enlightened Steeping.” Would you be surprised if this tea didn’t taste floral? Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea sips in a A 6/10 on the floral meter. The Camellia Flower Cake is like drinking pure flowers, but so far it’s not intense or violently perfume. The body is slightly thick, “thickened soup” description was accurate.

There is also a sweet honey flavor. The floral notes are complex and different to what I’ve tried before – sweet and almost buttery vegetal, with the thick texture drinking this tea is like nibbling on a flower petal. The floral notes seem to be a mix of tulip, marigold, crocus, dandelion and chrysanthemum. End of sip, Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea has a little sour of a finish, 2/10 on the Tart Meter.

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Second and Third Infusion: “Divine Intervention Steeping”. This steeping looks fantastic with the expanded flowers filing most of the pot! Inspiring!

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The Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea flavor got even more floral. So much floral! 8/10 on the Floral meter, so the taste is now bordering drinking liquid perfume. The background is quite earthy – bit of forest floor earth notes.

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Fourth Infusion: “Resistant to Impact” steeping. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea still tastes like so much floral. End of sip has a more sour of a finish 3/10 on the Tart Meter. Man, this tea is intense, it is like the God of Night Sweats is testing me – seeing if I can stick with the faith.

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Fifth Infusion: #PraiseHim Steep. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea is getting lighter in flavor finally.  With the intensity down the flavor is still a sweet honey floral 5/10 Floral Meter, with hint of tart end of sip. My mouth feels really creamy after all these infusions.

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Sixth Infusion: “The Revenge of the pruney over soaked Bear” steeping. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea has lost much of its flavor, with just a hint of pepper spice note and its distinctive floral sweet tart taste.

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Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea looks impressive with the light – awe struck! Like seeing a glistening wet brown bear!

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Comments

This tea was majestic! Divine! Floral! Please let me be night sweat free tonight, God of Night Sweats! The flavor was like drinking from a hot spring, raining flower petals, with a couple big fat bears soaking in it!

Look at this tea bubble!

In all seriousness – this Camellia Flower Cake would be much loved by someone who regularly drinks herbal floral teas like chamomile, chrysanthemum and jasmine. The price of this tea cake is cheap (for the $8 sale price I got it for), you get quite a bit of re-infusions (many herbal teas you can’t re-infuse as the flavor gets weak right away) and has a pretty appearance. Camellia Flower Cake would be a great tea to serve before bed.

I found Camellia Flower Cake to be really heavy floral for my tastes – and I enjoy floral teas! For my future steepings, I will be cutting this tea with a raw pu’er or a strong white, like a Shou Mei. In the end, an interesting and fun tea find from Aliexpress!

Bonus: Time to worship the God of Night Sweats!

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Memebox: Oolong Owl’s Tea Cosmetics unboxing

Hello Tea peeps! Today’s post will be something a little different. Usually here at Oolong Owl there is tea samplings, tea ware and chubby tea owls. Today we will be looking at TEA COSMETICS!

Similar to monthly tea subscriptions, I enjoy monthly subscription beauty boxes – I get Ipsy and Birchbox – both are great to try new makeup, skin, and hair products and experiment with products you’d never buy normally.

I heard about Memebox and was interested. First off – everything is Korean products! Korean skin care products are quite popular, with lots of really cute packaging. Memebox isn’t a monthly box, but a mystery box. Each box is a theme like Tea Cosmetics, Anti-aging and Foot Care. You purchase one (or more for a deal) and you’ll get a box filled with full sized products and samples. Often, you’ll get a great deal as the products inside are worth more than what you paid for the box.

When browsing the site, I came across the Tea Cosmetics Memebox and purchased it immediately. I love tea, why not in my facial creams?

Tea Cosmetics Memebox Unboxing!

Let’s unbox! My fellow pretty tea owls are the assistants today!

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Inside the box!

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Some links to the products go to Memebox, others to other sites if I can’t find them on Memebox.

1. e choice – Fermented Tea Skin Drinks Sleeping Pack (full size, $2)

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Very little English on the tube. On the card, “Infused with jasmine, rose, chamomile, green tea and white tea extracts, this sleeping pack boosts its oriental tea complex that works to deliver deep nutrition, moisture and soothing effect overnight… spread the sleeping pack evenly over face and rinse off with warm water the next morning.”

The smell is a really nice jasmine rose. I applied it before bed and it was nice and cooling – in the morning my skin was very soft!

2. A;T FOX – Tea Toc Water Clear Tablet (technically a sample, as full size you get 8 tea bags. Full size is $14)

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This product is really cool, yet breaks my heart. It is a tea bag full of Jeju Island tea – I WANT TO DRINK IT! But it also has a cleasing tablet. You steep the bag until the tablet has melted, then you pat the water on your face.

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To sum up this product, it is a “Make your own cleansing water!”.

3. A;T FOX – Gyoolpy Tea Fresh Water (full size, $10)

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This product is a tea and tangerine infused mineral water that you spray on your face. The instructions state you can use it for dry skin, as toner or base. I love these mineral water sprays for sun burns or to refresh your skin after a long day. The scent is quite light, a little sweet citrus, which disappears after you spray it. Like other facial mists, this feels really refreshing and leaves a light moisturizing feel.

4. The Skin House – Lavender Lightening Emulsion (full size, $40)

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Wow, very nice packaging on this one and a big bottle! Purple Tea Owl loves this product!

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This is a cream with lavender tea that evens out skin texture and tone, along with adding moisture. It also has 104 fermented ingredients! Mmmm, can I have 104 pu’ers? The smell is an amazing lavender and the cream feels really nice! I applied some and I smell really nice. This product more than covers the price of what I paid for this box!

There is one final product – it looks like a tea tin. Little too heavy for tea. I flipped over the information card and open the tin – more products!

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5. A.TRUE  - Miniature 5 sample set with Black tea.

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1. Sweet Song Black Tea One-Step Cleansing Water - a black tea infused makeup remover with softening/purifying powers.

2. Vanilla Black Tea Day Relief Body Wash. A “Ceylan Vanille” black tea infused soap – which is a really sweet scented vanilla. The body wash is quite thin but quite soapy.

3. Himalaya Black Tea Watery Gel Cream. This is a Darjeeling black infused cream for dry skin with deep hydration. Watery Gel. Why not call it lotion? This product has the feel of a thin lotion. It is super moisturizing, not oily and melts right in. My skin is so moisturized it feels like baby skin. The scent is lighter than the other creams in this box, but quite nice. Apparently, the tea in this cream is a Himalayian Black, grown in high altitude arctic conditions - I want to drink it!

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4. White Snow Tea Brilliant Essence. A moisturizer, this one infused with white tea to help with skin tone. Smells really good, like a floral silver needle. This one isn’t as super moisturizing as the Himalaya Black tea watery gel cream, but pretty good. Man, I’d wear this as perfume!

5. Black Tea All Day Long Sun Cream SPF50+PA+++

Why yes, I would like black tea all day long! This sun cream has black tea, orange peel and cinnamon, and along with SPF, it add some extra moisture. The scent is quite nice and it did it’s job protecting my skin without making me get super oily faced.

YAY I GOT TEA TO DRINK! Admittedly, I would of been disappointed if I didn’t get a tea bag in this box. This is one of those teas I’m going to squirrel away, since it came all the way from Korea.

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Comments

I’m no beauty blogger – I think I’ll stick to tea reviews, ha! All the products in Tea Cosmetics Memebox smelled amazing and preformed well. After spot testing everything, I smelled like I got department store beauty counter spray attacked by floral teas in the most pleasant way possible. With all the full sized products in the box (especially that Lavender moisturizer) I got $52 worth of full sized products (not counting the sample sized goodies) for $29 – I got a deal getting the Tea Cosmetics Memebox!

With that said, I will be orderings from Memebox again – they had a green tea cosmetic box not too long ago, so hopefully I can catch another cool tea themed memebox! These boxes sell out fast, but Memebox is always coming out with new, fun themed beauty boxes!

Anyways, if you are interested in Memebox and love Oolong Owl and the Tea Owls – give us some love and purchase via my affiliate link - http://us.memebox.com/user/oolongowl

If you are interested in other beauty boxes, here are my refferal links:

Oolong Owl’s Ipsy

Oolong Owl’s Birchbox

Unflavored Traveling Tea Box – An Unflavored Tea Paradise

Themed Traveling Tea boxes are becoming a favorite of mine – an unflavored themed one is even better!

This traveling tea box was put together by the Steepster Community and has traveled around the USA. As with other tea boxes, you put in tea in the amounts you have sampled, though they do start getting big as the longer the travel as the added new tea packages take up more space than the tea taken out. Traveling tea boxes are great for sampling new teas without having to buy a bunch, with the only cost of shipping and teas from your collection. If you want to get in on a traveling tea box – start getting active in online tea communities like Steepster or tea exchange on Reddit. If you want to check out other Traveling tea boxes I’ve been in, check it out here.

Let’s unbox the Unflavored Traveling Tea Box!

For this traveling tea box, I was also the last stop, so I had the best variety, but with the downfall of getting the crumbs or the most unwanted teas left over. This box had some extra help from Single Origin Tea, who contributed many interesting unflavored teas. The Tea Owls, as much as the love getting photos done, don’t like unpacking these big traveling tea boxes.

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With the pecking order senority in place, they made the poor new Tea Owl do all the work.

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More often you see traveling tea boxes with mostly tea in pouches (often double wrapped to stop smell contaimation). This one had a few teas in lightweight plastic containers – which were great, but a little awkward sized (are there square ones?)

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In this unflavored Traveling Tea box – 70 teas! If you are wondering, how can there be 70 unflavored teas, teas do massively expand within white, green, black, oolong and pu’er families. This box had teas from China, India, Vietnam, and Japan. Teas that were processed differently will taste quite different from another tea of the same family – like black Assam, Darjeeling, Chinese blacks or heavy oxidized Taiwanese oolongs.

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I sorted through and picked out stuff I want to try and put the rest of the box to the side.

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Now this is the kind of tea I like to see – random tea that I’ll never be able to get! Oooh yeah a good, big leafy Mountain Oolong and taiping houkui from an unknown seller but from China? Sweet!

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I have no idea what this tea is - all the reason to try it!

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This box did have a few milk or floral scented teas, but it was only a few.

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I let the Tea Owls pick a tea or two they want to try.

Now that’s a good choice, Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea is tasty black tea!

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Our high ranking Intern Tea Owl has good tea tastes, selecting a couple pu’ers.

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The formal-wear Tea Owl selected some interesting sounded blacks.

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Inexperienced tea owl selected this oolong, thinking it was an Owl picked oolong.

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The low point of the box – this tea. I don’t recommend it, folks, but I had to sample it for science.

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I did discover a few really good teas. These 3 teas were very good!

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Many teas in this box I have tried, such as teas from Mandala Teas and Teavivre. I did managed to sample 28 Teas from River Tea, Single Origin Tea, Nepali Tea Traders, Whispering Pines Tea Co, Yunnan Sourcing, Golden Moon and Thunderbolt Tea. With all the teas I drank, I added a few interesting goodies from my collection.

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In the end, after over 2 weeks of sipping many teas, it was time to pack up. With that said, another dirty job for the Tea Owl on the bottom of the pecking order.

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Hmm, she did a good job sorting the teas neatly in the box!

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In the end, a good tea box – I got assam’d out! So much assam! I’d love to try a traveling tea box that has a more specific theme, like oolongs, however those are tricky to put together it seems.

Pretty Rice Pattern Gaiwans!

Yes, I have successfully acquired a pair of rice grain pattern gaiwans!

I’ve seen a few of these interesting gaiwans in use at the World Tea Expo. Bana Tea Company was using a gorgeous one at the LA International Tea Festival. None were for sale at either venue, sadly. I wanted a rice pattern gaiwan sooooo bad as see through stuff is cool, plus they seem uncommon.

Challenge #1 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan.

I’ve been searching through google/ebay/aliexpress. Sellers call them different things, often not even mentioning the style and lumping it under “gaiwan”, “cup”, and “teapot”. In the end, I spent an afternoon looking through many pages of gaiwan listings on aliexpress. Going through endless listings is not a efficient search behavior, but hey, thorough.

Challenge #2 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan within set budget.

Once you’ve located a cool looking gaiwan, it’s time to search around ebay/aliexpress as often another seller could have the same one for cheaper. Factor in they translate a rice pattern gaiwan differently, it is quite painful to find the perfect seller, the right price plus a reliable seller.

The Rice Pattern Gaiwans!

I got two, as I couldn’t decide between them. The red flower patterned one I thought was really pretty, but the blue one I figure I’d use more. When in doubt, buy both!

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While unwrapping the blue gaiwan,

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I found a surprise sample! YAY mini tuochas!

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Here are some up close pictures of my rice pattern gaiwans:

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Challenge #3 – test the gaiwans for leaks.

I’ve heard a couple counts on these rice pattern gaiwans having defects and leaking through the little clear glazed windows. Since I bought these gaiwans cheap, I needed to test them out as soon as possible in case I need to contact the seller for a refund or exchange.

I steeped a round of Mandala Tea’s Colored Species oolong which I got from a Traveling Tea Box. I was generous with the leaf, plus with this oolong having huge leaves I couldn’t see any thing special with my gaiwan! pout!

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After having a number of rounds with this oolong I removed the leaves (so much leaf!)

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and put the tea back into the gaiwan. I learned since my blue gaiwan is thicker with smaller “windows”, the tea doesn’t show through that much.

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With that said, I poured the oolong into the other gaiwan, which is thinner and more rice “windows”. VERY COOL, it is like the entire gaiwan is glowing!

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My rice pattern gaiwan is like it has a tea candle inside, but with actual tea and no fire!

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In the end, I love my gaiwans, though the blue one is a bit of a disappointment in wow factor, though the design is pretty. Both gaiwans I got didn’t leak, so yay! If you are looking for a spiffy rice pattern gaiwan to impress your fellow tea drinkers – look for one with lots of rice windows for full effect!

Before you say, “Hey, why not just get a glass gaiwan?” I found these gaiwans easier to handle than 100% glass gaiwans. If you’ve ever used a glass gaiwan, they get really hot to the touch – so I personally only use them for cooler steeped teas, like greens and whites. These rice patterned gaiwans have the feel of the usual porcelain gaiwan, with the perk of being able to see the tea inside.

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Bonus: Mini Tuocha head Tea Owl!

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Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong from Tea Setter – Tea Review

Today’s oolong review is Tea Setter’s Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong, a tea grown in Wuliang Mountains of Yunnan, China.

The other day I was talking with a tea vendor and they mentioned Oriental Beauty oolong. I haven’t had an oriental beauty oolong in awhile, so it stuck in my mind. DRINK ME, the delicious oxidized pretty oolong. Sadly, I still don’t have a standby oriental beauty oolong, I’m still sampling away, looking for one that’ll make me fall in love. Let’s try Tea Setter’s Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong!

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Dry Leaf

The dry leaf of  Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong features a very dark leaf with the odd silver  and gold tip with chocolate brown highlights. You know, I hope when I get older and grey I hope I get hair like the colour of this tea! This Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong seems not as colourful as other oriental beauties. The scent of the dry leaf is of roasted peaches.

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Steeping Instructions

Tea Setter has a steeping instructions page on how to steep their pu’ers and oolongs. I did my Oriental Beauty oolong with 200F water, using the entire 4 grams sample, steeped in a gaiwan.

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Tasting of Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong from Tea Setter

First Infusion: 15 seconds. Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong sips in sweet and creamy with a moderately thick body. The flavor is pretty light, as expected for a first steeping. Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong finishes off with a dainty peach aftertaste and light dryness, 1/10 on the Astringency Meter.

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Second, Third and Fourth Infusion: Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong got a bit darker in colour. The flavor intensity is moderate. Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong has notes of mineral, peach, earth and lightly roasty. There is also an interesting note present – a touch of wild citrus green flavor, like a single under ripe zest curl of a lemon.

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Fifth and Sixth Infusion: Additional 30 second infusions. Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong flavor is smoothing out. The peachy flavor is expanding mixing in with a light cherry woodsy flavor. The sweetness is gaining speed with a hint of creamy caramel to it, like grilled peaches with a hint of burnt caramel glaze.

The wet leaf in bowl looks like I’m steeping black roses.

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Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Additional 1 minute infusions. I’m fighting to keep this Oriental Beauty Oolong going. The flavor is sweet with a gentle peachy note. Early in this infusion bracket there was an earthy woodsy finish, but with each later steeping earth and cherry woodsy notes disappears leaving the peachy sweet flavor. The peachy sweet note holds on until the flavor fades away.

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Comments

Tea Setter’s Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong is delicate yet down to earth. It has subtle, gentle flavor notes of peach, earth, wood, and citrus, with a thick body. Everything is just a hint of flavor, but with plenty going on so there’s lots of flavor. The dryness is very slight, never getting stronger or bitter.

Overall, Tea Setter’s Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty Oolong is perfect for someone wanting a more earthy oolong with lots of complex and dainty notes. It’s an oriental beauty oolong for someone looking for a more down to earth, wild beauty of a tea. I enjoyed how complex and delicate this oriental beauty oolong was, it was one that made you sit down and keep guessing what it would taste like next.

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(tea provided for review) 

2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh from Crimson Lotus Tea

It’s Pu’er Time! Today’s tea is the 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh from Crimson Lotus Tea. This ancient tree (gushu) pu’er is picked from over 200 year old trees in Spring 2012 in Yunnan, China.

This is my first Crimson Lotus Tea! These guys are based in Seattle, USA. They sell mostly (if not all) pu’er along with some really nice chinese tea ware. The gongfu tea pots – this one for example – are so beautiful that if I had one I’d put it on display instead of using it! Crimson Lotus Tea has a big social presence on Twitter and Reddit, so pretty easy to get a hold of if you have any questions about pu’er.

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Dry Leaf

I am very impressed with Crimson Lotus Tea sample sizes! 25 grams is perfect to get a good couple rounds – plus the samples I got were nice big cake chunks, often I get pretty broken up pu’er bits for samples.

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The dry leaf of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is a pretty heavy tea with shades of black with honey brown highlights.

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Steeping Instructions

I did 6 grams of tea for my yixing pot, using boiling water. What was pretty cool was one of the pieces weighed exactly 6 grams! I did two rinses, as instructed, for 3 seconds each. I started with 10 second infusing, adding additional steep time as I went on.

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Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh

First Infusion: “Virgin” 10 second steeping. 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh has a light dusty grey rose color with a sweet earthy lightly fermented scent. I did two rinses but maybe that wasn’t enough or this tea needs time to ramp up.

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The flavor of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is light and sweet with a creamy mouth feel. We need another steeping!

Second Infusion: “Let’s begin our journey” Additional 10 second steeping. The liquor as a touch darker - a vibrant red, similar to a ceylon black.

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2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh’s flavor is stronger but still light. This tea is fresh, with us just starting on our journey. At the end of sip, delicious chocolate and spice notes hit with a slick creamy texture. No dryness, bitterness or fermentation notes.

Third Infusion: “Ramping up!” Additional 10 second steeping. Look at that color gradient! Now an even darker reddish brown. Gorgeous clear broth too!

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The flavor of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh has picked up - rich, brothy and thick in flavor. The tea has a dark chocolate note that just melts in your mouth with a spice tingle that peaks end of sip. I’m also getting a bit of a wild green sweet flavor right at the end that I’m having a hard time identifying.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: “Chocolate Heaven” additional 10 second steepings. Little darker color that I think is the final dark Pu’er color.

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Chocolate flavor is getting stronger, as if the cacao % is climbing with each infusion. 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh sips in light and sweet, then has a slick chocolate flavor is rich and thick with a finish of more bright sweetness. The spice note has faded with these steepings. The chocolate flavor here feels rugged, with a burnt cacao flavor aftertaste. With each steeping, the sweet finish intensifies.

With each steeping of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh, I feel like I’m nibbling holes in a dark chocolate house and turn the walls into swiss cheese, but also discovering a candy coated shell house exterior. Uh oh the tea drunk weird stories has begun!

I opened the tea pot and smelled the leaves. Intern Tea Owl agreed there was an almost grassy scent in the steamy 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh leaf - Perfect invigorating tea owl facial!

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Eighth and Ninth Infusion: “I’m melting!” Additional 15 second steepings. I’m starting to battle with steep times . 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh has a very smooth flavor with plenty of sweet still. Chocolate flavor is mellowing, melting into a smooth, milk chocolate flavor with a drop of agave nectar. Nooo the chocolate house is melting! DROOOL!

Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: “Chocolate Mystery” Additional 30 second steepings. Man, this tea is smooth! Milk chocolate flavor is starting to lighten, with a brief aftertaste of more chocolate. 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is starting to develop another flavor with a bit of an interesting sweet tang end of sip. The sweet finish kind of reminds me of molasses but not as metallic but more wild tasting, similar to an exotic floral honey. The feel for these infusions is kind of mysterious, trying to figure out the flavors.

Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Infusion: Additional 1 minute steepings. The color of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh has faded, but still a colorful red/orange.

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2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is honey sweet throughout the entire sip with a chocolate peak at the end. With each further steeping, less and less chocolate notes. This tea is on its last legs and I’m trying to get my chocolate buffet money’s worth.

Sixteenth Infusion: “The desperate” 10 minute steeping. The flavor is light, but yay I still get chocolate notes! Hmm, I bet I could get another steeping.

Seventeenth Infusion: “Encore 30 minutes”: Just like last infusion, but lighter. I think 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is done – a good run!

Comments

I found Crimson Lotus Tea‘s “Ancient Tree” 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh very easy to drink with all the lovely rich chocolate and sweet flavors and with no fermentation funk, dryness or bitterness. I could see someone who is more of a black tea drinker would loooove this pu’er, as well as sweet tooth types (like me!). With that amount of re-infusions you get out the leaf, pu’er is certainly big bang for your buck! Crimson Lotus Tea does to sample sizes so you can test drive the tea before buying a large amount of delicious pu’er.

2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh feels slightly similar to Mandala Tea’s 2006 Special Dark pu’er for chocolate richness, but 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is lighter in texture, more mellow, smoother and not as intense. The flavor is rich and mega chocolately, with less earthy/mushroomy/woodsy tasted in many ripe pu’er.

I think 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh would be great after a heavy dinner, served with or as dessert – the flavor would compliment a nice cake or creamy dessert item, but the tea is also not too heavy and sweet enough to stand alone as the dessert. The color of 2012 Bulang Gushu Ripe Puerh is gorgeous too, excellent to show off to guests! Drinking ripe pu’er after a heavy meal feels great on the tummy too!

Bonus: Enjoyable down to the last drop.

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(tea provided for review)