2017 Mountain Oasis Sheng Puer from Denong Tea

I sampled 2017 Mountain Oasis sheng puer at my visit to Denong Tea’s shop in Pasadena, California. From what I tried, I was very impressed with the texture of it. However, they steeped it far lighter and cooler water temperature than what I do myself. I purchased a 100 gram cake to play with and push to the tea limits. 2017 Mountain Oasis was also priced on special at the time, making it a great deal.

2017 Mountain Oasis is a Spring harvest, from Xishuangbanna region. It apparently is made from 300 year old trees affected by the drought of the season.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The puer cake has a green olive shade with lots of silver looking leaves and smells pungently peachy.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, gongfu style steeped in boiling water. The hot leaf smells intensely peachy.

Tasting of Denong Tea’s 2017 Mountain Oasis Sheng Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: 2017 Mountain Oasis sheng puer is light in flavor but pleasant. It has a soft peachy note and creamy, with each steeping it gets a bit more savory. The body is super slick and heavy, like drinking heavy cream. Right away, I notice this is a tea to be savored. If I wait after each sip and the aftertaste builds up a cooked white peach and floral incense flavor.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Mountain Oasis gets sharper and more savory with each infusion. The tea is still light but has a savory, beany brothy bitterness with a cooling spring dew and peachy aftertaste. The texture is still super smooth and slick. It is an interesting sip as it certainly tastes like a dry, compactly flavored tea, but light and airy like flowing winds of a desert, but with an aftertaste of cool drench of rain and dew. Mountain Oasis is refreshing for a tea with a bitterness to it.

The energy in Mountain Oasis is intense too. Starting at around 3rd or 4th infusion, I could feel my eyes passionately on fire. It has an inspirational surge of “I can do anything”, including the massive laundry pile I have procrastinated on. The infusions started to blur here, paired with me starting to pace around the house to burn some energy, so my infusion number paired with a certain tasting note are likely off.

Seventh and Eighth Infusion: This tea is has gone chill. It sips in one smooth mellow note of savory mineral cream broth, with a fresh vegetal aftertaste. It is addictively smooth and easy to drink, yet the texture and body feel makes you slow down and savor. It has a touch of bitterness and I finally get a little bit of drying on the tip of my tongue.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: I pushed these infusions long, steeping around 5 minutes. The flavor is now sharp, wet stones, and clean. It tastes like I’m sucking on a quartz crystal. I can see this tea responding well to a good spring water to amplify the later infusions.  It is more astringent, starting to make my cheeks feel chewy, but adds a salivating element after each sip. The dryness is still easy to drink.

Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: 15 to 30 minute infusions done here to steep out the tea. I am jittering all over the place. Mountain Oasis is now sharp, bitter, yet bright mineral amber, and woodsy sap flavor. It is still smooth, salivating, and refreshing. It isn’t stewy, boiled to death vegetal like much other young puer get after many infusions. I tried for a 14th infusion but got no flavor out of it.

The energy is just nuts. I can feel my heart rate turned to 11 and my hands are shaking. I got an intense sheng-hangry craving for sticky sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken and burritos. When I had this tea in California, I ended up eating a whole lot of Hawaiian food.

Tea Owl crashed and is sleeping on Sluggert.

With my higher leaf and boiling water temperature, it certainly brought out more texture and tea drunk, vs the lighter leaf and cooler water. In the end, it is a fairly easy going tea.

Comments

Denong Tea’s 2017 Mountain Oasis sheng puer is a complex, textured and an energy focused tea.  I also found it steeped easy, despite boiling water infusions the tea didn’t get too bitter or dry. I am surprised a tea this young didn’t get stewy or harsh in the later infusions.

Mountain Oasis sheng puer is subtle and approachable. This would be a great tea to have as a group of all levels of puer drinking – complex and layered enough for a seasoned drinker, not too bitter and super smooth for a new puer drinker, and plenty of energy to make it party time. I suggest hitting a taco truck after the tea session. Mountain Oasis isn’t a tea for people who want strong flavor or aroma addicts – I would suggest 2015 Enchanting Beauty instead, which is also a killer awesome tea.

I feel 2017 Mountain Oasis is one of the best 2017 sheng puer I’ve had so far. I loved the complexity, thick texture, and high energy. I regret not buying at a 357 gram cake when it was priced low as Denong Tea had it priced on special during 2017 to give back to their customers. You can purchase 2017 Mountain Oasis Sheng Puer at Denong Tea’s site. At this time it is $138 for 357 gram and $47 for a 100 gram cake. 10 and 30 gram samples are available.

Qi Lan Process and Roast Tasting – Old Ways Tea

Today is a special comparison tasting between  Old Ways Tea‘s Qi Lan Maocha, Unroasted, and Roasted Qi Lan. This set is great as it is the same tea but in different parts of the process of Qi Lan oolong.  Maocha is the unfinished tea. Old Ways Tea says in the tea description:

The fresh leaves arrive at the factory and need to be processed into tea. Once the basic processing is complete the product is called maocha. Maocha is then separated into its components: stems, yellow leaves, and tea leaves. Buyers will come to the factories and try the maocha. If they like it and decide to buy they can purchase the maocha as-is to select and roast on their own terms, or purchase with the condition that the factory select and roast the tea before delivery.

Awesomely, you can purchase this Qi Lan Master’s Set, which has all 3 teas to do the same tasting yourself.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

For all photos, from left to right is Maocha, Unroasted, and Roasted Qi Lan.

The Maocha is absolutely ridiculous looking. The leaves are huge and there are a lot of twigs. Maocha is green grassy smelling and bit floral.

Unroasted Qi Lan is more floral and stronger scented than the maocha. Roasted Qi Lan smells… like it has been roasted.

I used 1 gram to 12ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. Hot leaf is more pronounced with maocha smelling sweeter.

Comparison Tasting of Old Ways Tea’s Qi Lan Master’s Set

Maocha Qi Lan

The first impression of the maocha is it is thin tasting. The notes are light in flavor, with flavors of sweet corn husk and tulip greens. Later infusions had a gentle floral aroma that gets more tulipy, but not as pronounced as the Unroasted. The broth is also watery and thin, so it wasn’t the most pleasant tea to drink. The floral aroma was the best part of this tea.

Each infusion got more and more astringent, with a bitter taste left on the tongue. The flavor got sharper and bitter. The dryness was quite bad and started to hit the back of the throat wanting me to cough.

It tasted like I didn’t add enough leaf, despite being the most crammed into the gaiwan. It also tasted more over-steeped as early as infusion 2. I did a power final infusion and it had no flavor.

I find the tea gradient fastinating.


Unroasted Qi Lan

There is a nice body on the Unroasted Qi Lan and it is floral, sweet, and clean. It has a mineral spring water taste, bit of pumpkin seed, with a nice floral fragrance over a thick soupy body.

I love the soft floral fragrance on this one, along with the creamy body. This Qi Lan is actually good in this form as the body is dense and smooth, and the notes are sweet. The floral picks up mostly as an aftertaste, with a pronounced sweetness left in the mouth. It certainly gives off an energizing, brisk spring walk feeling.

Each infusion got more floral and sweet. It tastes fresh, bright, and pure. It did get some dryness with each infusion, but it pushed the floral aftertaste longer.

This tea is sensitive to brewing times. The final power infusion was quite drying in the throat and light. It tasted like the Maocha 3-4 infusions ago.


Roasted Qi Lan

The Roasted Qi Lan has a potent roast on it. The flavor is very different from the Unroasted as it is sweet and mineral, like licking river rocks that seasoned in a campfire, without being ashy or burnt. I can taste some roasty elements and the body is ultra smooth and thick. There is little floral aroma, but the tradeoff is more smooth, balanced feel, with a different profile of mineral and roast. It hits bright roast at the end of the sip, and smooth to drink.

The energy feels more mellow and relaxing. This is a very smooth tea and makes you want to sit back and slow down. Maybe eat a cookie.

The roasted resteeped the best. I got 2 more infusions, and it stayed smooth, sweet mineral, roasty each infusion but added a salivation quality. You can likely thermos this tea as it is bombproof to oversteeping.


The final leaf is cool looking! You can just barely see (thanks camera) the colour differences between the unroasted and roasted.

The maocha is huge and sticky. I could make a broom out of tea leaf.

Comments

Strangely, I enjoyed the Unroasted Qi Lan more, which is odd for me as I tend to lean on roasted teas. I found it had more complexity and the gentle floral was a nice touch. It was interesting to taste how roasting covered up a lot of the floral, but made a creamy tea turn into utter butter smooth. However, I think the roast on this one needed a bit more time to settle down as it was a little harsher compared to the Huang Guan Yin comparison tasting. It is still a good roasting job.

What I learned here, which confirmed other theories in other teas I’ve tasted, was the maocha. It was material with stems, weird leaves, and good leaves. Those good leaves were then turned into the Qi Lan oolong. Those twigs did not add much in flavor, despite using the same weight. There was a clearer floral note, but it got bitter and died faster. When I see ultra twiggy tea, you are in for a cheaper quality tea without the staying power, body, and depth.

A really interesting tasting session. I can see if I was a seller how important it is to taste the teas and understand what makes the leaf do to flavor and body. I know tasting the tea is more important than the leaf looks, but the leaf can certainly cut down the fluff.

Either way, I love these educational tastings and enjoyed the Qi Lan Master’s Set. I recommend you check out Old Ways Teas, their Wuyi teas are great, good roasting, and these sets are fun. Old Ways Tea does sell the Unroasted Qi Lan and Roasted Qi Lan on their own if you just want to cut to the chase.

(tea provided for review)

2010 Kang Yang Chun Liu An Tea from Bana Tea Company

For my last Bana Tea Company order, I bought  2010 Kang Yang Chun Liu An on a whim. I don’t own any Liu An so I wanted to play with it. I didn’t want to go all in on a basket, as cool as they look. This particular tea’s material was selected by Tea Master Vesper Chan. I’ve found most teas I’ve had of his were great, so it was a safe purchase.

The 100 gram option is packaged in plastic inside a box.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The dry leaf scent is of tires and red grapes.

I haven’t actually made a Liu An tea myself. I’ve drunk it a number of times at tea shops but never brewed myself. I snooped around and found people tend to recommend lighter on the leaf. I went with the stronger leaf ratios I found, so 1 gram of leaf to 20ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water gongfu style. Either way, if my ratio sucks at least it is a starting point.

Tasting of Bana Tea Company’s 2010 Kang Yang Chun Liu An Tea

First Infusion: The hot leaf smells strangely black olives and rubber. The 2010 Kang Yang Chun Liu An has an interesting green olive taste and smoothness with a toasted pumpkin seed flavor. Bana Tea Company’s description was quite accurate. The texture is very smooth and oily, with an aftertaste of a tart olive.

Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: This tea probably needed two rinses as the next infusions are quite different. It still has an olive and pumpkin seed flavor, but with a finish of tart and musty paperback books. This dry musty flavor is something I taste in dry storage puer that I tend to like. Despite the 1g/20ml ratio, the second infusion is face punching strong. This tea will wake you up and kick until you are running.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: The Liu An finally started to chill out and taste less intense. The flavor is still similar with olives, roasted pumpkin seed, and musty books, but the aftertaste reminds me of how an avocado pit smells. The texture has started to shift to astringent, drying out my lower teeth.

The colour shifted to an orange, from the original gold.

Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The tea is losing potency fast. These steeps are light and taste different. The flavor is of avocado pit and smooth, that shift to a strong astringency to squeaky feeling teeth. The aftertaste is of tart raw almonds and impressively nutty. It has a dryness of eating a zillion almond skins the more and more I drink these last infusions.

I am feeling particularly energetic drinking this Liu An. I think I will tackle the office and the pile of RPG books piled 4 feet high from the ground.

The stick appearance we started with is now full expanded green-tinged leaf + stems. For 8 years of age, it is still pretty green looking.

Comments

If you are a puer fan, especially of the dry storage variety, this 2010 Kang Yang Chun Liu An from Bana Tea Company is of interest to you. The notes are super smooth to start, lots of potent flavor and energy, with later infusions being surprisingly nutty. Bana Tea Company’s description of this tea is quite accurate. I find the other notes I tasted, the musty book ones, fun and delicious.

This is considered a pretty young Liu An, as many seem to not bother drinking it unless it has a decade or two.  This tea is a good opportunity to have some aging fun and I like the idea of this tea aging to more smooth and sweet.

The 100 gram sample was only $24 (at this time) which isn’t too bad, but there is the option to buy the full basket. I plan to toss this tea in a jar and forget about it. It would be fun to get a whole Liu An basket one day, but that is a lot of tea – this one being 450 grams.

December 2017 White2Tea Club

The December 2017 White2Tea Club is an exclusive 200 gram Huangpian sheng puer cake! You only get this cake if you were in the monthly tea club, or did a monster order during Black Friday. I should have tried this tea around Christmas, but I was so backlogged with other teas, and holidays is mostly me stress drinking black teas and matcha.

I am not sure what to call this cake. XXX is on the wrapper? My guess Santa got into the tea early. I can attest that tea drunk driving had me do 60mph in a 35mph zone a few times.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The tea is has a grassy veggie scented leaf. Very green looking too!

I used 1 gram per 15 ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. I used jianshui pot for this tea as I figure I don’t need to be neutral as it is exclusive tea anyway.

Tasting of December 2017 White2Tea Club Huangpian Sheng Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The 2017 Huangpian sheng is soft and light tasting. The broth is sweet and creamy and a little floral. The aftertaste is a sweet lemon biscuit and fresh greens. The tea has a creamy texture and smooth to drink. I could serve this tea to any new tea drinker and they would enjoy it as it is easy to drink, sweet, and refreshing.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: The colour got amber looking.

Right away, there is a big flavour shift to a strong punchy flavour. This tea is so young and the hot water finally hit it hard. It tastes stewy spinach with creamy edamame beans, with a fresh medicinal grass aftertaste. It is bitter and dry here too. I steeped faster, which helped made it less stewy tasting. Likely if I steeped this at 200f it would be a little easier to drink.

Eighth Infusion: Super bitter now and I think I killed the sheng. The flavour got concentrated bitter spinach.

The leaf is super green!

Comments

The December 2017 White2tea Club Huangpian cake is a fun exclusive tea! I am certainly going to tuck it away and drink next Christmas as it is too green for me. I do enjoy the White2tea club for these exclusive teas, so I felt this month was totally worth it. If you love ultra young sheng, certainly this one can be drunk now, but likely best at 200F/93c.

2015 Buddha Hand Oolong from Floating Leaves Tea

I have purchased Floating Leaves Tea’s Buddha Hand Oolong a couple times. It is a tea that I find challenging to brew, as well as one that needs a good amount of rest. What frustrated me was I’ve had Buddha Hand multiple times at Floating Leaves Tea on sample, but they always steep it better than me. So I kept buying this tea and playing with parameters on days I was craving ultra roast tea, finally reviewing it today when I think I got the tea figured out.

Buddha Hand oolong is a traditional cultivar, roasted strongly. It is a fairly uncommon tea and you don’t find them sold too often. This tea is from Pinglin, Taiwan.

Note that I am drinking the 2015 Buddha Hand. Floating leaves Tea does sell a younger one in shop, but with this tea the older the better otherwise the roast is harsh. Or younger the better if you love a roast with your tea.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Buddha Hang oolong has big dark rolled leaf. The leaves smell dark, close to burnt roast, and bittersweet.

Buddha Hand Oolong has monster sized leaves, just like its namesake of the fruit and being the size of a hand. Here are a few big oolong rolls from this session. I’ve actually seen bigger ones from previous sessions I’ve had out of this ounce of tea.

I steeped Buddha hand with 1 gram of leaf to 18ml vessel size, gongfu style steeped in boiling water.

Brewing Tips:

  • I found backing off the leaf is best with Buddha Hand. Around 1 gram to 18 to 20ml is best. If you go total ham it is incredibly strong and harsh.
  • Be sure to preheat your teapot or gaiwan.
  • Buddha Hand responds very well steeped in clay. Good heat retention pots do well too! It also does very well with silver teapots or silver cups.

Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s 2015 Buddha Hand Oolong

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Buddha Hand Oolong starts off on the lighter side. The flavour notes are bright, sweet mineral, roasted nut shells, with some chocolate raspberry notes. It is smooth and has a thick body.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Infusion: Buddha Hand has gotten strong. The heavy roast is shining through and dominating the flavour. It is strong, bright, savoury, and sharp roasted bitter nut shells. The body is incredibly smooth and the tea has a thick and heavy feel to it, like drinking cement pudding. Each steeping gets harsher in the roasted flavour with some astringency to dry out the back of my front top teeth.

Side by side in silver, Buddha Hand oolong is sweeter. The roast is tamed down to be less sharp and dark chocolate notes poke out more.

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: The roast is chilling out and I’ve gone to brewing a touch faster. It is still bright roasted flavour with a thick body. Each steeping gets a touch sweeter. It is gaining on astringency, spreading more toothy dryness. Each steeping slips a bit more and needing longer infusions.

In silver, Buddha Hand Oolong in later infusions is quite sweet, like caramel and roasted nuts.

Likely I could get more infusions, as I can still smell the roasted scent in the leaves. This is where good heat retention and using a teapot comes in for Buddha Hand Oolong so you can milk all the tea out. I didn’t get full leaf expansion but I got as much flavour as I could unless I resorted to heating the pot or boil on the stove.

Comments

If you love roasted teas you need to try 2015 Buddha Hand Oolong from Floating Leaves Tea. Hojicha and roasted barely teas aren’t as roasty as this tea. Buddha Hand Oolong may be too roasty for some people too.  Floating Leaves Tea certainly prefer a heavy thick body on all their teas, and this one follows suit for being able to feel this tea sink into your guts. I do think it is a slight fussy brewer, but likely I say that as I’ve had it steeped to perfection by Floating Leaves Tea.

Buddha Hand Oolong pairs amazingly with sweets, especially with chocolate. It is a great evening tea or cold weather tea to relax with. I’ve had the younger Buddha Hand and it is furiously harsh roasted in flavour. This would be a great oolong to age, or simply buy 4oz and slowly chip away at it in the winter months.

2016 Moon Princess Sheng Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

If you are a Seattle local and caught the time to have tea with Crimson Lotus Teas (often Phoenix Tea on Fridays) last year, you might have tried Moon Princess sheng in maocha form, with a promise of it being pressed into cakes in 2017. I had it a few times and was impressed how aromatic it was, excited for this tea to be released. When it came out, I immediately purchased a cake of 2016 Moon Princess sheng puer.

However, I felt this tea got neglected by the tea community.  Everyone descended on Crimson Lotus Tea’s exclusive TKG, Secret Sauce, and Planets, and I’ve heard next to no buzz about Moon Princess. The tea unassumingly sits in the corner as a low-moderate priced cake, that I figure most thought was for new puer drinkers. Or maybe others passed as they wanted 2017 Spring material over 2016 Autumn Lincang.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

2016 Moon Princess sheng smells sweet and floral. Quite a fragrant tea – it was the best smelling out of all the teas from my Crimson Lotus Tea order.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 13ml vessel, gongfu style, steeped in boiling water. I went a little heavy on the leaf as the piece I pried off came to a perfect round number. The hot leaf smells like floral and hot corn.

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2016 Moon Princess Sheng Puer

First and Second Infusion: Moon Princess sheng puer sips in sweet and vegetal, similar to green corn husks and snow peas. There is a light bitter background. After each sip, the flavor lingers an orchid peach. I love the body texture as it sips thick and creamy. Some sips, with the combination of the thick texture, strangely remind me of creamed corn.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Moon Princess sheng got strong. The flavor is a touch crisp and brighter and cleaner, tasting more like orchids with a soft bitterness. However, I think the orchid flavor is purely the aroma overpowering all flavor. This bracket of infusions was amazing. It checks boxes for my personal tastes of good body and potent aroma.

Seventh and Eighth Infusion: Moon Princess still tastes overwhelmingly floral, but each infusion the bitterness popped out a bit more, trying to beat the orchid notes. The body is still slick and balmy feeling. Despite having a lot of bitterness here, it is still enjoyable as the orchid note is sharp too.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: Long infusions here at around 10-15 minutes. I spoke too soon as this got very bitter that it is close to undrinkable, but I tolerate it as the aftertaste is that strong orchid aroma. Moon Princess is noticeably astringent now too, with my tongue and back teeth feeling gritty. After all this floral talk I want orchids, but I excell at killing them and any plant that requires watering.

Comments

Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2016 Fall Moon Princess sheng puer is a vegetal leaning, high orchid floral aroma puer. It has a thick body and excellent lingering aftertaste. This puer is an absolute match for those who enjoy floral teas. Oolong drinkers would love Moon Princess. For a young puer, it isn’t too bitter or dry, nor stewy or grassy. It is great to drink now too, and for my purposes, I will be drinking this cake over aging it as I quite enjoy it as is.

I would call Moon Princess sheng a killer budget White2Tea’s Tuhao AF, which is another heavy floral aroma puer. Comparing to a recent oolong-like puer I reviewed, 2017 Da Zhong Shan from Yunnan Sourcing, Moon Princess has more aroma and is not grassy.

Huang Guan Yin Roast Comparison from Old Ways Tea

Back at the 2017 Northwest Tea Festival, I saw the Tea Bar doing a 5 minute taste comparison of electric vs charcoal roast tea. I sadly missed the tasting, but Old Ways Tea, who supplied teas for that tasting, sent some my way to do my own comparison. Getting my own to try is much better as I can write in depth.

So what I have is Old Ways Tea’s Huang Guan Yin Wuyi oolong. I have an electric roast and a charcoal roast, same year, harvest and batch – the only difference is the roast. Some might think the difference is easy as charcoal roast should have a distinct smoke to it, however, a well-done roast should not be smoky.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The electric roast smells stronger whereas the charcoal roast is softer in smell. Both with a sweet roast nutty scent. The leaves near look the same.

I prepared both teas the same, using a high leaf ratio of 1 gram to 12ml of vessel size. I steeped in boiling water with flash infusions. Early on steeped up, both teas look the same. The hot leaf of the electric is fruity tropical scented with roasty notes. The charcoal roast smells dark and richly nutty.

Tasting of Old Ways Tea Huang Guan Yin Roast Comparison

Electric Roast Huang Guan Yin

The electric roast is smooth and peachy, with a flavor that shifts to abrasive roast nut shells. The finish is baby powder with an aftertaste that is shelly and peachy. This tea really is what I associate most with my experiences with rock teas – that exchange of slippery peach, dryness, and nutty shells.

The final infusion sharp, astringent jagged feel in the back of my tongue. The notes are fresh powdery wood with a bit of a peach aftertaste.

As the tea steeps on, the electric roast isn’t as dark.


Charcoal Roast Huang Guan Yin

The charcoal roast is more smooth in comparison. The flavor is all in one with a darker rich taste without a sharp roasty aspect to it. This tea is woodsy and mineral, leaning more savory and no fruity notes. The aftertaste is slightly peachy. The texture is full and has no dryness. It is trying to get me to salivate.

The later infusions are still very smooth. It isn’t bitter or astringent in comparison, but on its own, it is a touch bitter. It is strong in mineral notes and wood. No fruity elements unless you sit here for a couple minutes and let the aftertaste sink into a peachy floral.

The charcoal roasted leaf looks not as green, but they are still pretty close in appearance.

Comments

Roast certainly effects the flavor and body of a rock tea. I found the charcoal roast more smooth, but with the tradeoff of less fruity. Both had a delicious lingering fruity aftertaste. The electric had much more astringency early on.

I was impressed how well done the charcoal roast was as it isn’t smokey. Both teas are good, as the electric roast has a nice fruity note to it. Which you on may like does lean on personal preference and cost here – the electric one is what I am more used to tasting for rock teas, but I like the charcoal one more for smooth and darker flavor, without being smokey or sharp. The electric roast is also much cheaper, especially since it can be done on a larger scale and less mastery involved.

Either way, both teas can be purchased at Old Ways Tea – Electric Roast Huang Guan Yin & Charcoal Roast Huang Guan Yin. If you love roasted teas, this is also a great way to experience tasting the difference between the roasting methods.

(tea provided for review)

November 2017 White2Tea Club feat. 2017 BP Sheng Puer

November 2017 White2Tea Club! This month, a 50 gram cake of 2017 B_P_ Sheng Puer. Last year’s mad lib cake of 2016 B_D_ was impressively good. I have revisited it and it got even better. It was also warned to let this cake sit for a few months, at least, as it was freshly pressed. I gave this tea until January before trying.

Anyways, B_P_? I immediately thought Bad Pirate, but my Tea Owls lack pirate gear.

Boxy Pigs? I got Boxy Pigs. (I own way too many stuff toys)

I also thought back in I believe Pokemon Black/White I put down on my trainer card that “I like Big Pecks.” under the limited text selections Nintendo gives you so you don’t put down creepy things in a kids game. It is supposed to mean I like the bird pokemon ability that protects again defense lowering moves. I sadly can’t find my copy to take the screenshot.

Or maybe 2Dog was onto something. He knew spoilers of The Last Jedi a month before release! GASP, that Sithspawn!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Damn that’s a tiny cake. 50 gram cakes look like toys. The scent is light. It was more scented when I got it, but I had it resting for a month outside the pumidor.

I used 1 gram of leaf per 15ml of vessel size, steeped gongfu style in boiling water. This year I know better and I’m rolling with a teeny gaiwan to only take a little chip off, so I have more to taste for later.

The hot leaf smells like raisins. It is hard to capture on camera, but the colour of this tea is an indicator of something special. It isn’t yellow or gold but has a peachy pink tinge to it.

Tasting of November 2017 White2Tea Club B_P_ Sheng Puer

First and Second Infusion: I guzzled the rinse and the first infusion without thinking. The second infusion is watery light, sugar cane, with a creeping jasmine-like floral aftertaste that gets stronger and stronger with each sip. B_P_ is soft, watery, and light enough to chug down, but doing so you miss out on the aftertaste. This tea’s flavor doesn’t end after you drink it. The body is slick and lip balmy too.

When you see it....

Third and Fourth Infusion: B_P_ is getting some bitterness and notes of buzzing amber incense. The aftertaste is heavy floral that stays in the mouth as if I brushed and flossed my teeth with the tea leaf. I quickly got some energy from this tea, feeling tea buzzed and flailing. I like this tea for the body feel as I can feel it travel through the digestive tract and uppercut my heart. I used this energy to good use – arguing that there is little difference between a Goldfish and Cheezit cracker with my husband.

Interestingly, the hot leaf scent changed to orchids and no longer smells of raisins.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: This young tea is certainly a sensitive steeper. It got on the stewy side with notes of boiled greens, strong amber incense, with a moderate level of bitterness. It still has a watery aspect to the notes. The aftertaste is still a powerful floral.

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The flavor of the tea slipped to barely detectable, but what I can taste is sweet and bitter. What is carrying this tea on is the strong floral aftertaste. The last two infusions were creamy smooth and ultra light but had an astringency leaving a gritty feel in my mouth and throat. The floral aftertaste is strong and enduring. I think the tea is dead, but the floral aftertaste keeps giving.

Comments

This is the kind of stuff that makes White2tea club awesome – exclusive expensive young puer. Teas like B_P_ are great for those who wouldn’t buy this expensive of tea on their own. I really enjoyed 2017 B_P_ as it checked off boxes I like in a puer, with lots of potential for aging. I certainly suggest sitting on this tea longer if you have it. Sadly, you cannot get this tea outside being in the club for November 2017. If this is on track similar to B_D_, it will settle down well.

That said, if you love puer be sure to check out the White2Tea club. Be sure to follow White2Tea on social media and jump into club months that have exclusive teas like this.

2016 Organic Chingjing Hong Shui Red Gaoshan Oolong from Tillerman Tea

One of my current tea obsessions is Hong Shui oolong. There is something about a more oxidized and old style of oolong that just sings to me. Hong Shui also seems to be harder to find and if you do find them they can be expensive. I own a couple Hong Shuis at $25/oz ~ $1 a gram, which is insane to drink all the time.

I was excited to see Tillerman Tea has a new 2016 Winter Hong Shui and priced at $19.50 for 2 oz ($0.35 a gram). It is organic, grown in Chingjing, and of the Qing Xin cultivar. Let’s see if this one is good and I won’t go broke on.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Tillerman Tea’s Hong Shui dry leaf smells floral and honey. The leaf is looking a bit more green in photos than real life as it has more of a bronze rolled appearance.

I went with my usual ratio and style – gongfu with 1gram of leaf to 15 ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water. The hot leaf smells intensely sweet!

Tasting of Tillerman Tea’s 2016 Organic Chingjing Hong Shui Red Gaoshan Oolong

First and Second Infusion: The Chingjing Hong Shui flavor starts off honey and sweet. It is clean, bright, vibrantly honey, light maple wood, with a creamy slick body. Awesome early infusions!

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: The flavor shifted to having a stronger wood note, with a bit of pan-browned Korean pear flavor. The Chingjing Hong Shui quickly developed astringency, leaving the tip of my tongue dry. The body is still thick and dense to drink. Each infusion the flavor melds, mellows, and slips, with stronger astringency building.

Sixth Infusion: The flavor slipped fast in the last bracket, so I increased steep time to 10 minutes. The flavor is on the bitter side, like stewed spinach and pears. I finally get a bit of an aftertaste of honey floral. I tried the seventh infusion and the tea was totally bitter.

The spent leaf was interesting to look at and I poked at it for awhile. It seemed to alternate red, green, and green leaves with red edges.

It was an interesting contrast of colours, especially since it started off quite bronze.

Comments

If you are looking for a more budget-friendly Hong Shui, the 2016 Organic Chingjing Hong Shui Red Gaoshan Oolong from Tillerman Teas is great tasting, especially in the early infusions. This particular Hong Shui has a nice organic clean profile, honey notes, and thick body too. If you haven’t tried a Hong Shui, this is certainly a good opportunity to do so without having to quest too hard.

I’m currently shopping for good hong shuis, so I’ve been critical where I want to unload my tea cash. This one misses the mark for me due to the lack of aroma, otherwise I would personally purchase some. The leaf smells great, but it didn’t translate to the cup or aftertaste, so no lingering flavor after you drink it.

(tea provided for review)

2016 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting – Everyday Teas

Everyday Teas approach is carrying quality daily drinker teas. The owner is passionate about puer, so in their line up including a number of raw puer cakes!  Everyday Teas awesomely sent me one of each of their 2016 and 2017 puer cakes. I thought I’d blind taste them at once to remove the bias of which one I would like (likely the Nannuo) as well as tasting perceptions I have of each region. Every person I know who has done a blind puer regional tasting has told me that everyone guesses wrong, which adds some reassurance in the event I fail.

For today’s tasting, we have a Nannuo Shan, Ailao shan, and Bulang Shan, all 2016 teas.

2016 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting Method

I numbered the bottom of each gaiwan saucer. I then cut a ratio of 1 gram/ 15ml out of each cake, placed the teas in order of my key, and got my husband to mixed up the gaiwan sets without me looking. My answer key is = 1. Nannuo shan, 2. Ailao shan, 3. Bulang shan. For the reviews, I am working LEFT to RIGHT. I also ate a ham sandwich and some cookies beforehand to hopefully limit the gut rot.

I tried to not smell the dry leaf to not give it away, but dang that Bulang was pungent AF when I was breaking it. The Nannuo looked quite pretty.

I steeped all teas in boiling water and ended up doing 7 infusions.

2016 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting

Left Gaiwan – The hot leaf is pungent, very strong, and almost smokey.

The Left Gaiwan tea has savory mineral notes leaning salty. As it went on the steeping of pungent. It is bitter (but good bitter), eye-popping, and teeth gritty numbing with a mineral tang aftertaste. The body is nicely thick feeling. The pungency has a bit of pucker to it to the point I am not sure what I am tasting other than bitterness and gut-punching. My cheeks feel dry and numb but I get an interesting floral acid aftertaste.

The final infusions of this were quite nice. It was bitter, but not soul-crushing death like Middle Gaiwan. The lightly fruity aftertaste contrast with the bitter keeps this tea going and interesting.

This tea is an ugly duckling. It starts bitter and likely will make some tea drinkers dump and run. This one teaches there is good and bad bitter if you look deeper into it. The longer you stick with this tea, you notice a break in bitterness in the aftertaste, as well as it resteeps better and the bitterness chills out in later infusions. This one certainly is more bang for your buck in resteeps. I could have gone another 2 or 3 more than the rest.

Middle Gaiwan – The hot leaf is vegetal and pungent mind crushing scented.

Middle Gaiwan sheng tastes really subtle, but all in the texture of slick. Pushed, the flavor is pretty neutral vegetal but chewy. I feel like a cow drinking this, the body has a chew to it from within the cheeks from the astringency. The aftertaste is softly fruity like underripe papaya. I like the heaviness of the vegetal taste. It’s like stewed leaves but lightens to fruit. This tea is kind of like sticky rice steamed and wrapped in leaves, filled with really green fruit.

The final infusions, this one got more bitter than number one. It is bad, strong, crushing bitter and that bitter lingers in the aftertaste. A serious crash and burn here.

This one certainly has a great start and a bigger texture drinker. It has a great contrast early on of notes with the vegetal and fruit and clear notes of flavor than the others. I’ve seen plenty of new to puer drinkers ask for “what puer tastes like something I can identify the flavor of?” and this one would be a good choice, with some side learning of texture. It doesn’t hold up well in later infusions. This one likely would do better at 200F, but you will lose the chewy texture, which I think is one of the strong elements of the tea.

Right Gaiwan – The hot leaf smells like box raisins left in a hot car.

Out of the three puer, this one is the sweetest. It has a perky mineral and light floral taste. Pushed, this tea is smooth, creamy mineral amber and honey. Body is thin and not very exciting as the Middle Gaiwan. Right Gaiwan puer is completely easy going. It is a sheng I’d take to an office if I don’t want to disturb my neighbours with the scent of sheng gut bomb. It’s amber, chill, with low dry and bitterness. Mellow and smooth… and not my tastes at all lately. It’s isn’t particularly exciting, but I would drink this in a tumbler for mindless sheng drinking.

Tried alone with a reset palate, Right Gaiwan does have a good amount of bitterness, but less than the other two. It certainly needing pushing to get a floral and fresh greens aftertaste, but the pay off is great.

I would say this tea is the best starter puer, especially if you are jumping on from jumping greens and green oolongs. It is quite friendly, especially compared to the others, in being less bitter. It is easier to drink from beginning to the end, and likely can take some neglectful gongfu style brewing, maybe even a tumbler or grandpa style.

Owl’s guess

My guess is the Left Gaiwan is Bulang, Middle Gaiwan is Nannuo, and Right Gaiwan is Ailao.

I came to this conclusion for the Left Gaiwan being Bulang since it was the more pungent, bitter, and has an interesting, more complex progression that I associate with Bulang teas.  The Right Gaiwan is more floral and softer, it lacks the harness of a Bulang, so it had to be the Ailao. I think Middle is Nannuo because of the classic sticky rice texture I associate with Nannuo sheng puer.

Out of the 3, I like Left the most, Right the least. Middle Gaiwan I enjoyed the texture the most.

DRUM ROLL

Left Gaiwan = Ailao ShanMiddle Gaiwan = Nannuo ShanRight Gaiwan = Bulang Shan

So I got Nannuo right at least. The sticky texture is the give away for me. I screwed up everything else. Or if you want to think about it pessimistically, I got random chance to be correct.

That is a pretty good 2016 Ailao shan then, dang! Good job Everyday Teas! The 2016 Nannuo Shan has that classic texture, which I enjoyed. The Bulang Shan is an approachable tea that would appeal to newer drinkers.

Comments

I know people stress about regions. They make it a determining factor in buying with the preconception of what their favorite region tastes like and appeal. The brain does powerful things to fill in our conceptions on what something should be like. However, tea is a living product. Tea changes with season, processing, storage, age, and environment.

I encourage you all to take a step back and taste the tea, after all, it is what matters the most. It matters more that you enjoy the taste, feel, and experience. Drinking a haute region, bragging rights you shelled $$$ or being exclusive region X doesn’t matter as that is all preconceived notions, ignoring what you are actually experiencing at the moment. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the others think anyway, you are the one drinking the tea.

Thanks again to Everyday Teas for providing the teas. Stay tuned for when I try their 2017 puer!

(tea provided for review)