2010 Black Gold Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

Sadly, I missed the tasting session of 2010 Black Gold shou puer at Crimson Lotus Tea‘s booth at the Northwest Tea Festival. I am not sure what I was doing, but a bunch of my tea friends was able to taste it. It wasn’t a big deal, as I bought a sample of Black Gold when it was released and it was sitting at home airing out. However, I heard multiple times that Black Gold was incredible so I was sad I missed a tasting without having to open my sample.

There is no way I was going to blind cake Black Gold as it is 200 grams for $89… for a shou. 2017 Stormbreaker is also $79 200 gram shou. At that price, I had to buy a sample just on principle to try it myself. For technical specs, 2010 Black Gold is Jingmai material, the same material as their Midas Touch, a tea I am a fan of and own a cake of.

I love Crimson Lotus Tea’s sample bags, they get the pumidor treatment rather than a tin. I had this sample air out for 2 weeks, then I stuffed it into my shou pumidor for a couple more weeks.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

I got the beenghole. The scent is faint but the colour has nice gold rippled leaf.

I went with 1 gram of leaf to 11ml of vessel size. I leafed a bit heavy, but I had a nice lump size I didn’t want to smash to dust. Boiling water. I did a single rinse and drank it. All systems go!

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2010 Black Gold Shou Puer

First and Second Infusion: Black Gold is amazingly sweet and smooth. First steeping should have been a rinse as it was just too light to have much flavor. The flavor is sharp, sugary woodsy, with an interesting savory mushroom aftertaste. The texture is creamy and dense. The tea is dense and I can feel it punch through my digestive tract.

It really doesn’t need silver to change the flavor, but in a silver cup, Black Gold is more creamy and smooth. The savory mushroom aftertaste is still there.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: My heavy brewing is showing now as this tea is dark. It is a clear tea but you cannot see the bottom of my cup.

Black Gold is so dark that it doesn’t even glow in silver.

The flavor is strong, creamy and dense. I got wood, molasses, hazelnuts. What it needs is some butter notes and I got a Canadian butter tart. The aroma of this sucker is high – the smell of this tea rises with each sip that my sinuses can taste the woodsy darkness. I don’t think I need a tongue to taste, nor sinus medication every again as this tea is just purging a path through my nose.

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The insanity that is my brewing has chilled out. Black Gold is sweet and mineral with woody notes. The mushroom notes are mostly gone. I can certainly feel a buzz from the shou. It is churning in my stomach from the amp turned to 11 on my sinuses. I’ve been known to get tea drunk of shou as I still swear there’s caffeine in it. I got maniac business ideas. I think Crimson Lotus could have gone mental and laced gold leaf into this so I can drink dark death shou and poop actual gold.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: There is still plenty to go on Black Gold. The notes continue to soften a develop a fuzzy honey note. The main flavor is woodsy dark, and the aroma is still sinus crazy. I can aftertaste the honey and I feel like I got gut-punched by a log.

I was thinking that Black Gold would be INSANE if there was some gold mold on it. That would turn this tea into crazy town honey crazy. However, you have to be insane to entice gold mold on an expensive shou cake.

Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Infusion: Black Gold went funny in appearance as it oddly shifted to a cloudy ruddy brown. The flavor is soft honey and a little green. With each steeping it got more sweet and mineral. I am enjoying how sweet Black Gold is. I am curious was green this shou was years back.

I keep waiting for Black Gold to die but it refuses to. The colour slips further and further, but I am still getting some flavor and the leaves still have plenty of smell to them. The final infusion I let go for 30 minutes. I likely could get more with a dedicated seasoned yixing that holds high temperature better than my gaiwan.

Comments

Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2010 Black Gold shou puer kills it for shou. It is complex in flavor, the aroma is off the charts, has a nice body feel, age on it, and great to drink. Black Gold is certainly a “need to try” for shou lovers to experience what a high-end shou can do. This is certainly too high roller for a new puer drinker.

I must address that Crimson Lotus tea created a disturbance in the force. This shou is $89 for 200grams. $0.45 a gram is bloody expensive for shou. Many puer drinkers I talked to also awkwardly twitched at that price. We are used to drinking pretty banging shou for no more than $40 a 200 gram cake. I think of my favorite shous of all time and they were around $0.25 a gram. You can get a solid shou for around $0.15-$0.20 a gram.

I thought about it awhile. I have no problems dropping the same or more cash on a quality sheng puer. Sheng has room to age and it seems more rewarding of a purchase. Expensive sheng is also a thing seen around often. Expensive shou doesn’t come up much in our North American tea audience. Shou doesn’t have much room to grow (barring less fermented ones), so we are paying for age and material quality. The price makes sense as Black Gold has some age on it and is cheaper than the same material but less age of the Midas Touch sheng. That said, why am I grumbling about the price? Black Gold is banging good tea and one of the best shous I’ve had so far. After more debating, likely my brain is also conflicted as shou is also seen as an aged-cheesed sheng puer of daily drinker value and dirty product that was fermented on the floor.  I am sure the same argument could be made by an everyday tea drinker who buys their box of 20 teabags for $5 at the grocery store and wonder how my snooty owl butt rolls “Worth it $$$” on any tea past $20.

Well dear tea readers, expensive shou… that is for you to decide if it is worth it or not. 2010 Black Gold is a good tea. Hey, I got 16 steepings from it, which is impressive for a shou so there’s bang for your buck there. Either way, Black Gold is $10 for a 20 gram sample so try it yourself if you are curious and love shou.

ReHoot Review – 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor Sheng Puer from Yunnan Sourcing

Welcome to the first Oolong Owl ReHoot. I’ve been interested in revisiting teas, particularly the puer I’ve been aging in my stash, on how it is doing or how my tastes have been changing.

Our first ReHoot is of Yunnan Sourcing’s Qui Yun Wild Arbor of Yiwu Mountain. I reviewed this tea back in August 2013, so this tea barely had a year of age on it. Keep in mind, I had been blogging for 7 months and this was I think my 4th or 5 puer cake I purchased, so I was a complete noob.

There is no product listing or link for this tea on Yunnan Sourcing anymore. All the information I could find was off Steepster, which likely is the copy and paste off Yunnan Sourcing’s site.

Qiu Yun (秋韵) means “Song of Autumn”

Late autumn harvest tea from wild arbor tea trees (between 60 and 80 year old) growing in the area of Yi Bi village of Yi Wu county. Entirely no spray tea from one family’s tea garden. Hand-processed from start to finish, but without any smokiness! Classic Yi Wu taste, thick and full in the mouth. Sweet after-taste with some grass and mushroom notes.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

My cake has had most of its storage life in Los Angeles which was in a dresser for awhile, then moved into a crock with tobacco buttons. Then it spent a year in my pumidor in Seattle. It certainly got pretty dry during Los Angeles during the summer, so this tea has had some crazy storage.

An interest observation I made was a contrast of puer breaking technique. I used to nibble away at the edges carefully as I saw it on some Verdant Tea video. Now I just gouge big pieces.

This also was back when I steeped young puer at 190F and my ratio was around 1gram to 20ml. I also steeped it longer at 30 seconds, whereas now I steep hotter, more leaf, and faster. That said, I have to refer back to my old notes with a grain of salt. For this session, I used boiling water and 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size.

Yunnan Sourcing’s 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor Sheng Puer Rehoot Tasting

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor tastes nicely of clover honey and button mushrooms. It has an interesting creamy and slick feeling. On steep 2-3 I begin to shake my fist at the storage on this sucker as it does kinda taste like Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, complete with a bit of sour metallic tang at the end. At steep 4 the tart went away and was replaced with smooth honey mushroom drinking, also thick like cream of mushroom soup.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Qui Yun is smooth. Very interesting honey and mushroom flavor, but now I am getting some dryness and some floral aftertaste peaking out. There is no grass or green vegetal notes, unlike the ones I tasted back in 2013.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The mushroom note has gotten stronger, more like a portabello savoriness with a splash of honey on top. The dryness is setting in stronger and the floral aftertaste is building quite nicely. The tea is ultra creamy feeling in the mouth. I do like the mellow mushroom notes, floral and texture, however, there is not much else going on here.

With each infusion, the tea slowly faded, adding a bitterness and some cheeky dryness.

Comments

TLDR of my August 2013 review of Yunnan Sourcing’s 2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor was it tasted like a white and green tea with notes of rock sugar, corn, mushroom, green beans, and copper. I like that there was no smokey (as most young puer I was exposed to at that point was smokey).

My whacky storage did at least slowly age it to remove the greener notes. Thankfully the puer still has fragrance, I did have this tea before the Seattle move and it has gotten better with more aroma in my current storage.

2012 Qui Yun Wild Arbor was 250g for $15.  The price seemed on par what I was buying at the time, now I buy $79-$149 200g cakes! For $15, it is a decent daily drinker that is smooth with some aroma. Still glad I bought it, and I am thankful it isn’t a flavorless pile of leaf compost.

 

Sunday Tea Hoots 35 – Tea with TeaDB

I have tea with James from TeaDB once in a while since we live in the Seattle area. I met up with him soon after I moved to Seattle and learned he is a super chill and seems to not mind my gossipy hooting. If you aren’t familiar with TeaDB, James and Denny mostly do video tea review content, and you need to check them out especially if you are a puer person. Teadb.org is a site I personally have been following regularly for years as the written content is knowledgeable and thorough as well as they drink stuff I don’t get my claws on.

I was a special guest for two videos – the first one is about tea blogging.

The final video is a tasting of my 800 gram Fu Brick wrecker I referenced in my last World Tea Expo trip.

Oh no there is video evidence of me not knowing how to look at a camera! If there is a next time, I need a dancing owl on the tripod so that I’ll look at it, haha!

2017 White2Tea Puer $90-$100 bracket feat. Pussy, Bellwether, and Happy Anniversary Baby

Last year I just reviewed my favorites and teas of interest after trying the entire 2016 White2Tea Spring puer line. This year I am just going to review a bunch of teas in brackets, as there have been many requests, but I don’t want to write about White2tea exclusively for 2 months. I figure everyone really wanted reviews this year as there is so much to choose from and the descriptions are brief but very accurate. To spoil myself, I did not purchase samples under $89 a cake, so unless I buy more samples, there won’t be a review of Manichee, Dangerous Messengers, or IPA.

All these teas were tasted individually on different days and in a random order not reflected in the review order. I also drank them pretty soon after release, so everything is pretty darn young. Likely flavor has changed if you are reading this in like 2018.


2017 White2Tea Puer – Pussy

White2Tea’s 2017 Pussy sheng is a popular one of their spring line up as I’ve heard many of my tea friends and peers talk about it. However, I need to clear the air – STOP WITH THE HOOTIN BOX JOKES! Time to sit down and objectively sample this raw puer.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: 2017 Pussy has a strong floral fragrance from the leaf. I had a couple large chunks in my sample and I found the compression on them on the softer side, so it was easy to pry off some pieces with my fingers.

I used 1 gram to 15ml of vessel size. I was having kettle issues, so I was using close to boiling water at 208F/98C. The hot leaf smells like a flower shop on a hot day.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Pussy is on the higher fragrance side. The flavor is light so far, but the end of the sip is a soft floral, sweet buttered baby’s breath blossoms. The texture is on the lip balmy side and does a light coating in the mouth.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Finally Pussy is getting flavor with notes of steamed green beans that squeak between the teeth, along with some slight tart plum skins. The flavor is quite clean, with a lightly lingering fragrance of baby’s breath floral and plum. I am finding each sip is quite heavy, forcing a slow down while drinking. The body feels sinks, and I can feel the tea travel and settle next to my heart.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: We finally have a significant change! I pushed this steep a little longer, so for 2 minutes. The flavor is light and astringent so I feel my gums dangling between my teeth. The end of sip and aftertaste is where it is at – it is soupy heavy, ball in the throat, sinking feeling, with the flavor finish of lingering sharp plum floral. Though I wonder at this point that sinking feeling is actually gut rot – I ate some snacks before this tea. I tried for infusion 11 and steeped it for 15 minutes, but got water and astringency.

Comments: 2017 Pussy is a fragrance focused tea that encourages slower paced sessions to enjoy it to the max. I would label this tea for someone who loves White2Tea’s Tuhao AF but wants a slightly cheaper option. It isn’t as fragrant as Tuhao, but it has a slightly similar vibe to it with being heavy on the floral soupy. What did not wow me on Pussy is the price. I said it in my review of Farmer Direct Tea, but 2017 sheng has been expensive this year. I kept thinking of last year’s tea being comparable for less.


2017 White2Tea – Bellwether

Bellwether is described as a yiwu-like blend.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: Bellwether has a strong, yet flat and floral scent.

I went with 1 gram to 14ml of vessel size, steeped with 210F/99C water. I used a touch more leaf here because it was conveniently close to what I was going for. The hot leaf smells strongly floral.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: I can smell Bellwether as I drink it and it is lovely. It is floral up front with a bit of savory buttery notes in the finish. The savory notes remind me of those delicious bits that you de-glaze in the bottom of a pan. The flavor intensity is fairly high right off the bat.

As I drink on, the more the texture becomes buttery custard and taste brothy, like I added some nice vegetal broth to deglaze that pan. I like the contrast of the aroma of floral, that is rises to my sinuses, and the savory flavor. It isn’t dry or bitter. I suspect there is no floral flavor, that is all scent, with the flavor notes actually being savory pan scrapings and mineral broth.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Bellwether has gotten more savory and smooth. It has a strong developed taste of rocky mineral and butter. No sharp vegetal notes or ultra dryness. This tea is so smooth, mellow, and chill. The texture is nice and heavy, I feel like I’ve eaten my fill at a high-end buffet of mostly butter.

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: I am impressed how smooth Bellwether is. It is just smooth, potent mineral and buttery savory puer throughout. The flavor is so full and round and just gulps down thick as you drink. There is some dryness developing giving me a bit of astringency on the tip of my tongue.

Bellwether finally struck the lightning bolt. I caught myself tea drunk commenting on people’s Instagram random stuff. I called someone Tom Nook and told them I’ll pay them back. I got a bit of a swirly head and the expected sheng gut rot. Despite Bellwether feeling dense to drink, my stomach is clenching and getting angry at the thought of having more. I need to lay down and eat a biscuit.

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Bellwether slips in flavor, continuing to be minerals and butter until dead. It does build up a bad astringency drying up my tongue. It surprisingly doesn’t get vegetal stewy. I can get a few more steeps but my body is protesting as it is telling me I need greasy noodles now.

Comments: 2017 Bellwether I drank second to last of all the 2017 teas and regret it. I had gotten tired of back to back sweet and light young puer whereas Bellwether is the potent savory tea I wished I had earlier to break it up. It does start with a nice floral aroma but settles down into a full flavor a meaty potent tea that’ll give you chest hair without the bitterness. Bellwether does get dry in the final infusions.

Bellwether is the wild card of all the White2Teas cakes I tried worth $89+. You will go for Bellwether if you want a savory, non-vegetal/sweet/over floral tea. It is a workhorse, drink with friends with some greasy westernized Chinese food for optimal performance as the sheng hangry is strong. Bellwether has some good energy to it as well.

My personal opinion, I really liked how Bellwether started with the floral, as I am big into the aroma, but after that was okay, but I respected how this wasn’t another sweet light sheng. I would drink the rest of the sample with friends and have a good time. It certainly goes down to personal taste whether you will love this tea.


2017 White2Tea – Happy Anniversary Baby

This tea has the least amount of information on it, just stating it isn’t half-assed as it was made to celebrate an anniversary.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: Happy Anniversary Baby has a sweet and slight nose wrinkling pungent scent in the leaf I associate with young puer that could be bitter.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeped at a boil. Steeped up hot leaf smells sweeter with a hint of savory, with a twitch of nose wrinkle from tart.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The first impression is that Happy Anniversary is that it is sweet and creamy. The flavor is light to start, and the body is milk smooth that sticks past the throat. The aftertaste is really soft. Not many notes to taste other than texture and feel.

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Happy Anniversary is very subtle or this needs more time to settle. The tea reminds me of a combination of Bosch and Pin. With each steeping it builds more layers of aftertaste in the mouth. I get glimpses of underripe hard mango and peaches with a smooth sip. A very soft, sweet gentle tea despite me boil it, and it has an interesting feel of sinking, yet spreading your wings.

Since this puer cake was made for an anniversary, one would hope it doesn’t start off tasting of bitter death. Though it does make me reflect if I were to make a tea that celebrates my anniversary with Mr. Owl Tea-Hater it would be notes of sawdust, rhubarb pie, roast pig with a pop quiz of toothbrush colours in remembrance of my immigration interview.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: We have built up to this – the flavor is in full swing here with an underripe stone fruit (back to crunchy mango or peach). I smelled the leaves again and it is so fruity and delicious. It is interestingly tropical tasting – with a fresh aftertaste finish of herbs and slight bitterness.  Each infusion gets more herbal and stewed kale in flavor. The texture is slick, but the body feel is heavy, like getting punch and gaspy.

Ninth Infusion: Nope, I overcooked it – the flavor is bitter with a cheeky dryness that makes me want to brush my teeth. To be fair, this entire session I was steeping a touch longer than normal, as I was hoping to milk more out of this tea more aggressively.

Comments: Likely Happy Anniversary Baby needs more time and a tea intended to be age + fandom + memory. The notes are on the soft, sweet, subtle side of fruity and herbs – that you can certainly get bitter with time. The texture and body is heavily accented and uplifting.

Happy Anniversary Baby would be a good tea to tuck away for later or if you were a fan of White2Tea’s Bosch or Pin, which are similar as both are subtle in flavor. 2017 Happy Anniversary Baby is only available this year. If you like the sound of it I would buy it soon!


I feel fairly indifferent to owning all three teas, other than Happy Anniversary Baby as it is a limited special cake. I quite liked Farmer Direct Tea, which is cheaper, and another tea from White2Tea 2017 that is in the $100+ range a lot more.

I hope this triple-threat review worked well. Stay tuned for part 2 – $100-$120 2017 White2Tea puer.

2017 Little BingDao Sheng Puer from Bana Tea Company

I was excited to see that Bana Tea Company recently released some new teas. One of the teas was 2017 Little BingDao. Every BingDao tea I’ve had I’ve enjoyed a lot, so I swooped in and did a quick order at Bana Tea Company.

2017 Little BingDao is a 200 gram cake. The fine print is this tea isn’t a BingDao, but in adjacent to but also in Lincang.

The cake came packaged in a box. Not sure if the boxes come standard as this is the first time I’ve ordered online from Bana Tea Company. I do miss going to the LA Tea Festival just to see Bana Tea Company and drop $200+ in a tea haze.

Tea Leaf and Steeping Method

2017 Little BingDao cake is moderately compressed, so I had no issues prying off a piece, but it wasn’t too loose that I could only use my fingers.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping aggressively in boiling water.

The hot leaf smells fruity with a side of itchy nose floral.

Tasting of Bana Tea Company’s 2017 Little BingDao Sheng Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Little BingDao is floral heavy. It has an awesome aroma with each sip, with sharp notes of orchid and bit of a savory sandalwood finish. There is a slight bite of bitterness, but it only adds to the experience. The aftertaste lingers with orchid and stone fruits. When you breathe in there is a cooling sensation with the aftertaste, which is neat if you haven’t experienced it before.

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Little BingDao likely does not like this boiling water as it is a bitter tea right now. It is still drinkable, it has what we call a “good bitter” as it carries aroma and aftertaste. The notes are bitter, stewy leafy green vegetables, then a powerful floral orchid and peach aftertaste finishing with a cool feeling in the throat. Now that I am paying attention to texture, it is slippery feeling like I slapped on a coat of lipstick. The aftertaste lingers for awhile, causing me to slow down for this session to enjoy the orchids and cool breeze.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Best infusions right here. I’d like to thank brewing skill as I pushed these steepings a touch longer at the risk of bitter death, but dodged. It is strongly floral and has a touch of honey nectar to it. It has a bitter finish, but still in the good bitter range and hasn’t gotten more bitter than previous infusions. The aftertaste is very cooling and floral peach.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: I thought Little BingDao should be a bitter nightmare right now, but it is pleasantly nectar sweet and still holding onto the floral aftertaste making my breath be like perfume. I think it is less bitter as it isn’t in the flavor as much. The bitterness was a concentration of stewy leaf and floral overload from earlier, but now that the tea’s flavor has slipped, it likely faded away. I am getting astringency with some dry cheeks.

The final infusion was sugary sweet, but my mouth filled with bitterness and gritty dry cheeks. No more floral left.

Around the eighth steeping, I got an angry stomach, similar to last time I had a young Bingdao. I was prepared and ate a snack after the session.

Comments

Bana Tea Company’s 2017 Little BingDao is a great little tea. It is aroma and floral heavy, nice slick texture, potent flavor, and an interesting cooling sensation I taste in general with BingDao. It is on the moderately potent side of flavor. Little BingDao is certainly not for someone who is new-ish to puer due to the bitterness level and it being a touch complex to brew. I think dropping to 200F would tame the bitterness some, but it did fine at boiling water temperature for my tastes as I rather pay the price of admission for texture.

I quite like this tea. It checks many boxes for me on high aroma, texture, and complexity. It is quite affordable for what it is and what you get, at this time $56 for a 200 gram cake. I am happy with my purchase of Bana Tea Company‘s 2017 Little BingDao and will drink it all.

2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer

I purchased 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer way back in early 2013 from Mandala Tea. This tuocha and a cake of 2012 Wild Monk were my first puer cakes, believe it or not.

As I am crazy and hoarder-like, I never sampled my 2009 Menghai Dayi. There is nothing special about it other than was my first shou cake. It was only $12 for this 100gram tuocha. I did open the box and examined the tea. A part of me chickened out on how official this tea looks – it’s got paperwork and holo stickers. Examining the packaging, I see 2008 all over the place. My email receipt says 2009. Whatever.

This tea got shoved into the back of my dresser, back when I stored my puer in an empty dresser in my bedroom in California. Over time, I forgot about it. I’d see it time to time when I go through my pumidor and set it aside to drink, but then it gets shuffled to the back. I have been revisiting a number of my older teas, and this Menghai Dayi went to the top of the list as I’ve been waiting on it for over 4 years.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The tuocha smells like chestnuts and earth.

It crumbled easily with a puer pick despite being a shape that is usually a pain to deal with.

I went heavy with the leaf, as usual for shou, using 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel size. I used boiling water and a single rinse. The hot leaf still smells like chestnuts.

Tasting of 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha Shou Puer

First and Second Infusion: 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box isn’t as dark as I was expecting – I thought I was going to get a pitch black shou that I couldn’t see through. I got a tea that has a clear ruddy brown glow to it. I checked and I was right, this was only partially fermented. Having this many unintentional year of age is great!

The flavor is sweet and smooth and bright. It sips in bright and sweet, like roasted chestnuts with a bit of bittersweet shell. It leaves a creamy feel in the mouth and a soft lingering bittersweet flavor. I felt I steeped this higher on the leaf, but the flavor isn’t overly strong but has a thinness to it. There is no funk or strange storage. I am thankful my first puer cakes aren’t horrible as my storage was certainly quite dry, then fluctuations between crock storage, moving, and pumidor storage.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box has a bit stronger in flavor, with the end of sip having a bittersweet coffee-like bite to it. Overall the tea is still creamy feeling and has chestnut notes.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The flavor is slipping, but it is the best infusions. The shou is high in sweet and creamy. It lost all that bittersweet bite so it is just chestnut dessert notes and smooth drinking. The energy here is very chill. This is a sleeper shou that I could just stop writing and go have a nap.

Eleventh Infusion: I did a 20-minute infusion here. This last infusion was delicate, mineral and sweet. No bitter or dryness. The body was thin, but the flavor was good and the feeling was chill.

Comments

Not sure where you can get 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Shou Puer as Mandala Tea has not carried it in a long time, but maybe you can get lucky on Ebay. It was a cheap $12 investment I forgot about, which turned into a smooth easy drinking tea. The notes weren’t too complicated, the texture was fine, and the energy was chill. I’ll likely drink this on another cold rainy day.

I had a giggle with the Steepster listing of 2009 Menghai Dayi Yellow Box Tuocha. It was added to the database 4 years ago and Mandala Tea’s description read “Can’t wait 2-3 years as it’ll age like a champ.” well I waited 4.5 years by accident. The other interesting contrast is one review from 4 years ago said it tasted like buttered greens – I certainly did not get that now. Too bad I didn’t try this shou 4 years ago to taste the difference, but same time I am drinking this likely at its best with the age on it.

September 2017 White2Tea Club feat Black, White and TurtleDoves

September 2017’s White2Tea Club came with Auburn Black, Jinngu White tea buds, and three x 8 gram mini cakes of 2017 Turtle Dove. I have reviewed 2017 Turtle Dove already, so we will skip that today and drink the black and white tea.

September  2017 White2Tea Club Jinngu White Tea Buds

I’m drinking these teas in one sitting today, and I like starting light to dark, so the white tea is first. This white is from Jinngu, Yunnan Province and is only the buds. From my understanding and experience, bud heavy tea packs a punch!

Dry leaf and Steeping Method: The Jinngu White tea buds are fuzzy and smell weedy.

I used 1 gram to 20ml of vessel size as my gongfu style steeping ration. I did fast steepings with 205F/96C water temperature. I don’t mess around with white tea.

First and Second Infusion: Despite steeping up almost clear, Jinngu White tea buds are loaded with flavor.

It tastes like how raw silk yarn smells or hot linens coming out of the dryer. Its got linen and tulip notes, with that fleshy juicy part of the stem too. The sip finishes sweet and floral and the body is thick. Jinngu White tea bud’s aftertaste is softly floral, but a bit fleeting. The caffeine in this tea is high – I can feel my eyes want to pop out of my sockets.

Third and Fourth Infusion: The white tea buds finally developed some colour, but looks clear in any cup that isn’t white or glass. The flavor notes have slipped with mostly tasting the white tea at the end of sip and aftertaste. It is floral tulip and a bit buttery, bit of a zesty grass note too.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: 5 minute infusion here. It finally developed some great colour to the brew.

White tea buds shifted to a bitter dandelion green flavor as it got steeped and stewed for too long. I oddly still drank these infusions and my rabbit thought my breath was amazing and cuddled my face. I lost 30 minutes of my day to hyper caffeine levels and conversations with myself.

September 2017 White2Tea Club Auburn Black

Auburn black is described as a jammy and aromatic tea from high altitude Fujian region. The leaf is fruity smelling.

The handout says Auburn but the package says Anburn. I don’t know which one it is supposed to be. I went pretty aggressive with 1 gram of tea to 12.5ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The flavor is berry like – kind of like those weird blackberries that I pick on the side of the road here in the Seattle area. It is kind of like blackberry mixed with some wild crunch and leaf. It has sweet notes, with a bit of a savory peachy aftertaste. The rinse tasted like tomatoes but comes back in some of the sips’ finish. The flavor lasts a long time in the mouth, lingering with cooked peaches. I like the body on Auburn as it feels heavy and coating. This is my kind of black tea, I just love the aroma on it and the full body flavor. I could drink this in the morning, afternoon tea with sweets, or as comfort tea.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Anburn is still fruity but the aroma is slipping. The flavor has a walnut wood note and with a slightly dry finish that I can feel on the tip of my tongue. Each steeping develops more and more of a bitter nut skin note and a drier finish. I stopped at seven, though I likely could get another 2 infusions, I stopped as it wasn’t tasting that good.

Comments

Interesting contrast of teas for September 2017’s White2Tea Club. The Jinngu white buds are floral and juicy and the Auburn Black is heavy fruity aroma. Both I didn’t get many infusions, but likely you can adjust the ratios some. Both teas are awesome in the early infusions, especially Anburn black. Fingers crossed White2Tea will sell the Auburn black tea in the future – like their Bang Dong Hong, I could see drinking Auburn Black quite regularly.

White Cloud White Tea From Teabook

Today’s review is an interesting white tea from Teabook. White Cloud is from Lincang puer bushes that are too young to be harvested for puer. I tasted it at the Portland Tea Festival and was impressed enough to purchase a 50 gram bag of it.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The leaf is ultra fuzzy and has a stale floral scent.

I used 5.5 grams of tea in a 110ml pot. I wasn’t going for ratio here, more so to fill the teapot to 3/4 and steep it. I like my white teas in pretty hot water, so I used 200F/93C water temperature.

Tasting of Teabook’s White Cloud white tea

First and Second Infusion: White Cloud steeps up clear at first.

White Cloud is a very juicy tea! It is soft in flavor, with notes of sweet lilies, underripe bartlett pears, and fresh tasting. No stale or strange notes in this white tea. This tea is also popping with energy – I can feel my eyeballs spinning from the caffeine. Young white tea that is bud heavy always packs a punch, but puer material young white tea is next level caffeine pow!

Third and Fourth Infusion:
White Cloud has gotten more lusciously juicy as it makes my mouth salivate drinking it. It has gotten softer and more floral, losing some sweetness. The tea also developed a slight tint to it.

Fifth Infusion:
The tea lost a lot of flavor on the fourth infusion but I still went for a fifth aggressive steeping. I got the sensation of dry cheeks with an aftertaste of floral, but otherwise, the tea is dead. Likely dropping the temperature to 190F might of gotten another steep or two, but even at 200F the white tea was delicate. Next time I make this tea I will skip the fifth infusion.

The leaf is quite pretty – I love that pale green and whole leaves. The leaves are also delicate and disintegrate in your fingers if you mess with it too much. Interestingly, mush leaf is something people don’t like seeing in puer but at least this white tea came out fine.

Comments

Teabook’s White Cloud white tea is a strong freshly floral young white tea. I enjoyed the flavors, salivation, and energy from it. I actually skipped my matcha and used this white tea as my caffeine pre-workout. While White Cloud did not get many gongfu infusions, it had great flavor and not get too dry. Just like other Teabook’s teas, likely White Cloud would be great grandpa style or in a tumbler.

If you enjoy floral white teas, certainly check Teabook’s White Cloud. I am happy I bought it and currently undecided whether to drink it all while it is lusciously sweet and young or tuck it away for aging.

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2017 Nannuo Mini Mushroom Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

I had a session of 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushroom Shou Puer when I met up with Crimson Lotus Tea doing tastings at Phoenix Tea. I was impressed with the shou and was given three shrooms to play with. I was warned that one mushroom is plenty for a session, but I can try two at my own risk. I drank all three Nannuo Mini Mushrooms and had to have more. I beelined to their booth at the Northwest Tea Festival and bought 2 packages.

The 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms is made up of a blend of aged material, some as old as 20 years old. This blend of material makes it more interesting vs simply young 2017 shou Nannuo.

Dry leaf and Steeping Instructions

Crimson Lotus Tea’s site states each mushroom is around 4 grams. I weighed all mine and they ranged from 4.7 to 4.2 grams.

The suggested brewing instructions of a single 4 grams of shou brewed in 75-150ml is quite light of a ratio for my personal and usual shou gongfu brewing tastes.  However, these mini mushrooms pack a punch so I just used only one mushroom. I went with an equivalent of 1 gram of leaf to 27ml of vessel, steeped in boiling water, with a single rinse.

The Nannuo mini mushrooms smell little different than other shous. The hot leaf smells strongly leafy medicinal and earthy.

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms

First and Second Infusions: The Nannuo mini mushroom tastes creamy like real vanilla beans. I first worried my teaware was contaminated, as the vanilla flavor was quite profound. The background is earthy, woodsy sweet, with a bit of an abrasive throat feel after each sip. It does taste a little watery right now like the flavor hasn’t figured things out and isn’t bound together.

After the first infusion, the mushroom dissolved. The fast shape loss was a surprise as often balled puer takes forever to fall apart.

Third and Fourth Infusions: You know a shou is good when it is inky black – and this colour is crazy as I am using less tea than usual. The flavor is creamy smooth and lightly earthy. The main flavor is a light vanilla sweetness.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusions: That vanilla is starting to kick back and let in a more abrasive side through. Nannuo Mini Mushrooms are so easy to drink that I’ve been slamming back the infusions instead of writing about it. The body is slick in the mouth but goes lightly sticking down the throat. It is a cold Autumn day, so the shou is making me feel nicely warm. The aftertaste is subtle with a bit of creamy, but after some time it leaves a clean feeling in the mouth.

The 7th infusion I decided to compare with silver, which is how I originally sampled this tea back with Crimson Lotus Tea at the store tasting. In the regular cup, the tea is vanilla, soft, lightly earthy and sweet. In silver it is a different animal – it is bright, no vanilla, but sharply almost medicinal herb and creamy.

Eighth and Ninth Infusions:

I did around 15-minute infusions. I’m not 100% that is how long I steeped as I got distracted. Either way, I drank the shou so fast. The flavor was milky, slightly herby, and sweet. The aftertaste is slightly green and medicinal and reminds me that this shou isn’t fully fermented and young in some places. Looking at the steeped out leaf, the variety of material is confirmed as it is greenish in some parts, and other parts are dark.

1 mini mushroom is easy drinking, smooth and sweet. An awesome workhorse shou with forgiving flavor and steeping. 4 grams for a 110ml pot is pretty good and economical, especially since I got 9 good infusions.

Of course, I do like a strong shou. I was warned 2 mini mushroom is insane. Let’s do it.

Double Nannuo Mini Mushroom!

I used two 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms, so around 1 gram to 13/14ml of vessel ratio, which is around what I usually do for shou puer.

The Nannuo Mini Mushroom gets quite strong, ultra dark, and thick by infusion 2. I got at least 10 infusions, many incredibly strong, rich, creamy, and herby tasting. It does have a strong young shou wet pile note through many of the early infusions, so it is noticeably funky whereas single mushroom did not have that problem.

Comments

What isn’t captured in this review tasting is I found each Nannuo Mini Mushroom can range a bit in taste, swapping stronger on some notes than others, as I’ve had some more leaning on the green medicinal herb note than creamy. There is a blend of different Nannuo material packed into a tiny size, so likely some mushrooms roll the dice on a different flavor.

I think one Nannuo Mini Mushroom per session does the trick as it is plenty flavorful and dark. Steeping with two Nannuo shrooms would be a great option for you ultra-dark shou drinkers once it has lost the recent pressing/wet pile note, which shouldn’t take too long due to the size. If you don’t want to wait for it, just rinse the mushrooms a couple extra times.

Either way, Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms are pretty tasty. They have some pleasing comfort notes many new and old tea drinkers would enjoy. Some may dig the uncommon herb notes and super dark steep potential. Hopefully, you readers who buy this tea leave some for me, as I haven’t fully hoarded a stash of shrooms to my comfort level.

(tea originally provided for review, however I ended up buying more before I wrote this review)

Korean Pumpkin and Wormwood Tea Session

Happy Hootyween! Let’s drink some weird stuff!

I got some interesting Korean herbal teas while at the 2017 World Tea Expo. When I got them home, I had to get a friend to tell them apart for me (thanks Nish!).

While at Jade:Lee’s booth, he used a gaiwan to infuse all his teas, including the herbals. I honestly don’t know what the hoot I am doing to steep it, so… gongfu style it is?

Pumpkin Tea

This tisane looks like kibble and has a weird smell that I cannot describe.

I used boiling water and 1 gram of pumpkin to 17ml of vessel size. I just pulled these numbers out of my owl butt. Steeped up, the pumpkin smells really flipping good. It reminds me of a Chinese bakery as the tea smells just like those coconut buns with that sweet yellow pastry.

First Infusion: The Pumpkin tea has a strange frosted look with a gold hue.

The flavor is strong, sweet, fresh pumpkin. Legit pumpkin flavor too, not the canned stuff. It has a smooth sip with a sticky aftertaste texture. The pumpkin is really nice and clean, despite the frosted colour.

Second and Third Infusion: Oh my, it is even better! The flavor is stronger, crisp, marshmallow, eggy bread, and sweet pumpkin that the taste lasts in your mouth after each sip. This pumpkin tisane has the perfect level of sweetness. I don’t need pumpkin spice things, this is legit fall right here. I am getting hungry just drinking this tea. Usually, when I drink desserty teas, that fills the void for wanting sweets. However, this pumpkin tea does not work. I WANT ALL THE PASTRIES. Egg tarts, Coconut buns, Taro buns – give them all to me!

Sadly, I tried to get a fourth infusion but failed as the tea it lost all flavor.

By the way, I ate the bits. Early infusions tasted like pumpkin and cooked carrots. After I finished steeping all the infusions it had no flavor.

I will be drinking down all this Pumpkin tea. I see if having awesome blending potential too.

Wormwood Tea

Now, this is Hootyween as this dry leaf looks like a horror show. The herbal has a weird grey-green colour with a spidery lumpy fuzz that sticks together.

I leafed 1 gram to 40ml of vessel size as this stuff was light and fluffy. I wish I had a cast iron gaiwan, as this wormwood tea would match better looking like it is in a cauldron as the steep is so dark and murky.

First Infusion: The colour is crazy as it is gold with a black tinge on the edges.

Unfortunately, the first infusion is a pour out. I screwed up and used way too much leaf. I think 1 gram to 60ml would have been better.  I overfilled the gaiwan and steeped it faster for the second round. I need to salvage this as I recall I paid quite a bit for this wormwood tea.

Second Infusion: I recall drinking this tea at World Tea Expo and it being delightfully creamy and sweet. My brewing gave me notes of dandelion puffs, weeds, with a background of cream and sweet. It is very interesting and weird tasting. It isn’t offensively strong like it was on the first infusion.

In silver, it tastes a lot more how I remembered it. The silver cut the weedy notes and brought out the sweeter ones.

I recall Cwyn saying she found this tea good on the stomach, but I automatically feel a head crush in my sinuses. I also started sneezing badly and the roof of my mouth started itching… so I think my allergies got set off by this tea.

I decided to google wormwood tea after the second infusion… which I should have done before I started drinking as I confirmed online I used too much leaf. I know wormwood is in Absinthe, which I’ve had before as it is legal in Canada. I learned you should not drink wormwood if you have ragweed allergies, hence why I started itching. Likely I shot myself in the foot as I used way too much wormwood gongfu style combined with having grass allergies.

With this tea session, the Pumpkin Tea was the treat whereas Wormwood tea was the trick. I have no idea how you can get your hands on these teas since I purchased them from the World Tea Expo. A quick google I found some at Kmall24. Here is Jade:Lee’s site if you can follow Korean. If anyone knows other sources, leave a comment below.