2017 Waffles Shou Puer from White2Tea

For Black Friday I ordered all fo the new White2Tea ripe puers as they all sounded interesting and had fun wrappers! The 2017 Waffles shou puer is pressed into a square pattern 200 gram thin cake. It is promised to be a balanced puer. That is a cool retro wrapper!

Bah, every Sunday my Dad made the pancakes and waffles.

This cake is double wrapped with an inner blank wrapper. I like double wrapping as I can preserve the fun wrapper.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The 2017 Waffle Ripe Puer has an earthy scent without any detectable funk.

I had no issues breaking off a corner and I did not need a puer pick as the cake was thin and easy to deal with. This feature is nice compared to the Chocobricks which were thicker. This long corner piece was just over 8 grams.

Individual squares are a little tougher to break with fingers, but can be done. Shou is flexible anyways, and I tend to err on more leaf than less.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 12ml of vessel size, steeped gongfu style in boiling water. The hot leaf smells like hot and sour dirt, so I gave it two rinses.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Waffles Shou Puer

First and Second Infusion: This tea is hot, dirty, and sweet. Waffles has some tartness in the early infusions like these got some sourdough waffles. I am pretty sensitive to new shous and strange notes. Each steeping got darker and darker and less tart.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: This is like a mirror finish! Super clear tea and dark. How about a mirror cake instead of a waffle?

Now this tea is balanced. Good notes of earth and wood with a soft creamy body. I get some notes of bittersweet earth and other sips of caramel. No funky wet pile taste or swamp basement. It is lightly sweet, no tart. Easy mindless drinking here.

At this point, I dropped STROOPWAFEL ON WAFFLE!

This is a pairing made in tea heaven. The honey of the stroopwafel enhances the sweetness of the shou.

A gaiwan certainly has the better real estate for stroopwafel melting, but risky crumb fallout.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: Waffles crashed fast and lost flavor. On 8th infusion, it was a touch light with sweet and woodsy notes, but still holding up. On 9th I brewed it 8 minutes and it was light with a crazy red colour.

I wanted to do the leaf inside the waffle iron, but I rather not clean it after the fact!

Bonus Grandpa: I threw in 5 grams of leaf in my favorite grandpa style mug. Waffles does not seem to oversteep, maintains a creamy thick texture, and tastes woodsy, with a bright syrup sweetness to it. The longer it goes, the stronger woodsy and sweet it gets, never tasting ultra strong or bitter. Waffles tastes pretty good grandpa style

Comments

White2Tea’s 2017 Waffles super easy going shou. Most will enjoy this tea and it is a hearty workhorse and travel tea. This is the perfect starter shou too as there are little offensive flavors and no tools needed. The tart notes are the only unpleasant parts of the 2017 Waffles shou, but likely that tartness could be due needing a bit more airing out time, though it easily is ready now to drink.

I can see Waffles being a great tea gift as it has a fun wrapper, no puer tools needed, and easy to brew. It is certainly worth it to own for a seasoned puer drinker if you want low fuss daily drinker that sports a solid balanced flavor. You could easily leave a cake at the office and drink it down, gongfu or grandpa style.

2017 Waffles can’t be beat for $16.50 for 200 grams cake (at this time of writing).

2017 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting – Everyday Teas

Oh boy, we are doing this again. My previous Everyday Teas  review was a sheng puer regional blind tasting of 2016 teas. It is time to do 2017 teas! I suggest reading the 2016 blind tasting before proceeding with this 2017 review.

I predict this tasting is going to be harder – 2017 teas probably haven’t settled down enough yet. This year only the Nannuo shan is from the same farm as the Ailao Shan is from a different source. This set has a Yiwu instead of a Bulang. I like Yiwu, at least what I tend to associate what Yiwu tastes. Who freaking knows, I already learned from the last tasting that all bets are off.

2017 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting Method

The teas and answer key!

1 Nannuo shan | 2 Ailao Shan | 3 Yiwu

I numbered each gaiwan saucer, adding 1 gram to 15ml vessel ratio of tea. I broke up the pieces into leaves as best as I could, then had my husband mix up the gaiwan sets without me looking. I steeped all teas in boiling water, going for around 7 infusions. For the reviews and photos, I am working LEFT to RIGHT.

2017 Sheng Puer Regional Blind Tasting

Left Gaiwan – The leaf smells like tomatoes. The Left Gaiwan starts off sweet, creamy, with a hint of floral and pomelo. It is trying to be more floral but it isn’t there yet. Each steeping it doesn’t get that floral, leaning more honey and bitterness. Each infusion gets bitter and drier. It has a slightly thick body. Later infusions get better – it is sweeter, fruity, and trying to squeak out more floral notes. It does get gritty dry The final power infusion is very tannic, still pomelo like, with a strong astringency to dry out the mouth for insertion of dental fillings.

Out of the 3, this tea felt like it like it needed the most aging time. It has a watery aspect to the notes like I didn’t use enough leaf. The flavor never quite got there, the notes were very loose or pronounced. It was still trying to figure out what kind of tea it wants to be. This is the one I’d love to drink in a year or so to see whether it gets more fruity, honey and floral. It has promise, either way, I felt drawn to it in a creepy way.

Middle Gaiwan – Interestingly, the leaf smells of strong charred honey, but flavor-wise starts off super light with barely any flavor. What I can get out of the first couple infusions is soft, floral, and grapefruit notes. The leaf certainly has some pan char, leaving the taste behind.  Most of the flavor is in the aftertaste, otherwise, it is just too light. With each infusion, I get more pan char taste and herbal bitter greens. The Middle Gaiwan tea gets better in the mid infusions as it finally has some flavor pay off and smooth thick body. The aftertaste has built up to an orchid floral. Final power infusion is a mix of char, bitter greens, and floral. I could likely give this one another steep or two. The body finally kicked in and is doing that body sensation of traveling through my body and kicking my chest.

I quite enjoyed this one. It started off boring and flavorless but built itself into a smooth, complex drinker. Pushed this tea just does wonderfully for my tastes, yet early steeps are pretty friendly despite being light.

Right Gaiwan – This tea has a pungent smelling leaf! It has a dense texture and soft bitterness. The notes are soft here, mostly focused on texture and bitter. What I can taste is somewhat underripe fruit, but it is quite watery. There is some astringency adding dryness to my cheeks. I would call this texture almost sticky on the top of my tongue, but this could be me grasping for straws looking for Nannuo as this immediately has a crazy texture unlike the other teas. The Right Gaiwan tea gets more bitter with each infusion. The final infusion came out and burn bad bitter, with a texture of gritty powder in the mouth.

This tea tasted like I stewed it to death from the start. I had a couple good infusions, but the main profile was bitterness and texture. It didn’t have as good resteep power compared to the other shengs.  Likely this tea needed a lower temperature or more likely intended to be set aside for some years.

Owl’s Guess

This is much much harder than 2016 than I anticipated. Many of the teas taste more watery and lighter, due to recent pressing and younger material, so the flavor was harder to coax out, plus they all got bitter. Also throw in that only the Nannuo is the repeat tea as it is the same farm. the Ailao is a different farm. I am honestly unsure what is what here.

I am guessing – Left Gaiwan = Yiwu, Middle Gaiwan = AiLao, Right Gaiwan = Nannuo.

My reasoning is the Left = Yiwu due to the more floral notes, as I associate the queenly Yiwus as flowery. The Middle Gaiwan is Ai Lao, as that one felt more wildcard due to new farm/material. I chose Nannuo for the Right Gaiwan because it felt a little sticky in the body and the horrible crash and burn, similar to the 2016 Nannuo bitter ending.

Out of the 3 – I would be happy I spent money on Left and Middle – those 2 were pretty good teas. The Right Gaiwan needs time to age or less aggressive brewing if one cared to drink it now – in its current state, it is pumidor aging fodder.

DRUM ROLL

Left Gaiwan = Yiwu | Middle Gaiwan = Nannuo Shan | Right Gaiwan = Ailao Shan

Blaarg, these blind region tastings just blah. Bet you didn’t think the Middle Gaiwan was Nannuo too. Well, I got Yiwu right. Again, I got 1/3 right, which is random chance.

Comments

What did we learn? Everyday Teas has a pretty decent young 2017 Yiwu. Nannuo shan can taste soft and pretty when young, which I found interesting as it is the same farm. Everyday Teas has excellent daily drinker teas and their collection is a good puer starter.

I am going to reiterate my feelings from the 2016 blind sheng tasting that it is really hard to taste regions. Weather and age certainly put a big impact on the tea, as the 2017 Nannuo shan was the biggest upset as the distinct texture is a feature of this tea, but I did not taste it in the 2017 tea.  In theory, since it was from the same farm and process, it should taste similar to previous years but it did not!

I highly suggest to set aside the bias in puer regions and taste the tea. It almost seems absolutely not worth trying to guess regions in mystery puer blends (cough White2Tea cough) as we are probably all wrong.

Thanks to Everyday Teas for providing the teas!

(tea provided for review)

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.