Monday, November 5, 2007

'05 Laocong Shuixian

I think I found that I can handle writing tasting notes for oolong, but absolutely hate writing them for puerh. So I guess I'll try to post more by writing tasting notes for the oolongs I just recently got.

First one on the list is laocong shuixian from Jing Teashop. When I first decided I wanted to explore the world of high fire oolong, this was one of the first ones I've tried. Back then I didn't have much luck with these kinds of oolongs because I didn't feel too good after drinking them. Because of oolongs like this, I had a hard time getting into yancha.

Now that I got into yancha and understand the style a bit better than I used to, I wanted to try this one again and see if there was anything to this one that I missed the first time.

Trying it again, I think I found out the first problem; I used too much leaf. Being so heavily roasted, the flavor easily gets overpowered by the roast when using 3/4 leaves. So now I'm trying it with 1/2 and a moderately long infusion time. Counting the 15 second pour in, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 45s, 75s, ~180s.

Dry leaf:

The lighting didn't really show the true colors. They are very dark leaves.

Even though this tea is only 2 years old, the leaves have a light aroma that I've found in older oolong. Maybe I'm just so used to the young dahongpao that anything over a year old smells aged.

First infusion: The tea has a light mouthfeel, but it has an effervescent feeling. The charcoal flavor is still present, but isn't overwhelming this time. I think the charcoal diminished into more of a spice flavor. After several seconds, a light plum flavor starts showing up, and becomes a very light lingering sweetness. A menthol cooling effect is also left.

Second infusion: I forgot to take a pic of this infusion. Oh well, this infusion wasn't much different than the first infusion anyway. It just had more plum flavor, and left a stronger lingering sweetness.

Third infusion: Judging by the color and taste, this one could have been brewed slightly longer. Instead of having the light and effervescent feeling, this started with a creamier, sweeter flavor. Spice and plum aren't as strong, and the aftertaste is more of cream this time.

Fourth infusion: This one was really underbrewed. Strangely, this one seemed more acidic that the other infusions. Plum became even stronger, and the light aftertaste was mixed with some astringency.

Fifth infusion: I brewed this one longer than normal, and it became very rough, and almost undrinkable.

Wet leaves:

I tried to take a pic with the leaves spread out outside the pot, but none turned out as clear as that one. The leaves went through so much roasting that there isn't much green left in them.

Overall, using less leaves has brought more flavors out of this tea, but I still didn't find it to be the most enjoyable. The strong roasting still seemed to cover up the tea flavor. The strong roast and age creates a character that I'm sure some really enjoy, but it's just not my cup of tea (literally).

Friday, October 26, 2007

'93 "Wild sheng"

Many thanks to Salsero for this tea.

More tasting notes for this tea can be found on these blogs:
Ancient Tea Horse Road
Another Tea Blog
Half Dipper

Opening the bag released a very strong spice cabinet smell. Salsero said that the tea has a strong spice flavor, but I wasn't expecting that much of a spice flavor. There was no aroma of aged sheng.

The dry leaves:

The first time brewing it, I used about 1/5 leaves, and very short infusions. The tea seemed a little weak, and mostly just had a slightly aged flavor. Because it seemed only slightly aged, I thought it was a dry stored tea. I didn't take pictures of the liquor, but it was fairly light in comparison to the liquor from the second round.

The second time I brewed it, I used about 1/4 leaves, and used slightly longer infusions than the first time. Brewing it stronger seemed to make a completely different tea. The color of the liquor went from somewhat light in color, to almost completely black like shu. It tasted like it was a shu/liubao/sheng mix. It had a smooth malty and creamy shu flavor, the rough edge of liubao, and the woodiness of aged sheng. Some of the spice present in the aroma of the dry leaves came through this time.

The wet leaves:

Looks like a mix of brown and black leaves.

I still don't understand this tea. Where did the spice cabinet smell come from? Why did it taste like a dry stored tea the first time, then taste more like a shu the second?

Overall, I don't think it was the greatest aged sheng, but is enjoyable if thought of as more of a shu than a sheng.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aged beer

Beer can be aged too. :p At almost a year old, it's still not very old, but it at least has had the ability to age since the yeast is still in the bottle. The beer is the porter I brewed last winter, and wrote tasting notes for last March. Most beer sites (and beer labels) say to age beer at a cellar temp of 55F, but this one has been at room temp most of the time.

It was served at room temperature in a glass mug. Very slow pouring creates about a finger sized head (all the mug would fit). I will upload the pic tomorrow.
Since last March, I have noticed this beer change a couple times. a couple months after it was bottled, the maltiness was so strong that it was syrupy sweet. The chocolate flavors started becoming a bit more distinct, but still not as strong. At that point, I didn't really care to drink it because of the overwhelming sweetness of it.

Since then, the syrupy sweetness has mellowed a lot. It still has a good amount of maltiness, but it's in good balance with the bitterness. Dark chocolate is now more distinct, and now even has a bit of alcohol present in the taste. I didn't think it was that high gravity of a beer to begin with, but it now reminds me of Russian imperial stouts. If there is any flavor left by the hops, it's either well hidden or gone. Also, the fruity esters I noticed the first time have disappeared.

I'm rather surprised by what it aged into. I didn't expect much after it became a syrupy mess, but I guess that yeast still can eat away at the excess sweetness if given enough time. I'm going to hold onto a few of them to age longer, and will blog once they come out of the cellar again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'05 Haiwan "remote mountain"

Soon after getting this tea, I started to fall behind on blogging, and eventually stopped posting tasting notes for new teas. For a while, I didn't think I would ever post tasting notes for this one. That changed when I received a few tea samples from John Grebe (John Grebe's Tea Reviews
), and one of them was this particular tea. We did a small tea trade just to try new teas, and he threw this one in without knowing that I already had this tea. Realizing that this sample went through drier storage than my somewhat wet stored beeng, I pulled out two gaiwans to compare the two.

Even though where I live isn't normally humid enough to create wet storage conditions, I have found ways to increase the humidity for my puerh stash. At times, it got humid enough that the cakes got damp, and the heat in my room probably helped speed things along. If it has sped up aging, it would be noticeable compared to the sample. By the way, both teas were purchased from, so they both went through the same storage before being purchased.

A: "wet storage" (Left) B: dry sample (Right)

7g in 10 cl gaiwans. Rinse, 15s, 5s, 5s, caffeine overdose.
Since I don't have matching gaiwans, I used the two 10cl ones I have. Both are similar enough that I don't think they would brew any different than the other.

Dry leaf A: Looks a touch darker than sample B. It hasn't been in wet enough storage that it doesn't reduce to dust when crushed, but some dampness makes it a bit flexible.
Dry leaf B: A little more green, and some yellow leaves. Breaks into dust without any problems.

First infusion:
A: It's not as noticeable in the picture as it actually is, but it's darker than the other one. It's slightly harsh, but still smooth and sweet. More smoke and wood, but still has a touch of vegetal sweetness. Unlike the dry sample, this has a stronger, lingering aftertaste.

B: Lighter and more fragrant. Smoke is replaced by a sweeter fruity, or grapey, or berry like taste (I can't tell exactly what it is, but it's one of those). Not much of an aftertaste is left.

Second Infusion:
A: Still the darker of the two. Aroma is still basically the same. Surpringly, it's the sweeter of the two.

B: Still the more fragrant of the two. Smoke is stronger, but the vegetal and fruity sweetness is still present in the aroma. Basically the same as before, just stronger, slightly harsh, and leaves a stronger aftertaste.

Third infusion: The color of sample B started to become about as dark as sample A. Other than that, I didn't notice anything different enough to write down.

I would have kept going, but I started getting a caffeine overdose after the third infusion. I didn't think about the caffeine when doing a comparison with 10cl gaiwans, and 7g of leaves in each one.

A is the top picture, and B is the bottom. These are both the same tea, but the leaves look so much different. A is more buds, and B is mostly larger darker leaves. Maybe the leaves spread throughout the beeng isn't very consistent?

From the stronger taste, and the lack of the fresh vegetal taste, I think my beeng has indeed aged faster than the sample. Also, while B tasted better in earlier infusions, I think A became the more pleasant of the two after the second infusion.

Since this was a comparison, and I was only able to get three infusions, I will try them again, and post updates if I find anything different.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"90's Jiang-chen yuan cha"

I've had this sample for several months, but I didn't write detailed tasting notes for it yet.

When I first tried this tea, it was the only aged sample I liked out of the few I ordered from Houde. Since I last tried it, I found that I don't like adolescent sheng much at all, so I wonder if I will still find this one to be as enjoyable as I used to.

5g in an 8cl pot. 2 Rinses (one to loosen the leaves, and one to wet the rest), 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 20s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 60s.
The large chunk (Not the amount I used):

Dry leaf aroma: Camphor and a slight "aged" aroma. It still smells a little young.
Wet leaf aroma: Same, with a slightly damp aroma.

1: Creamy smooth and sweet. The light shu-ish creaminess remains while more flavor slowly creeps out in the aftertaste which is not much different than the aroma.
2: The slightest bitterness came out, and a stronger aged flavor is mixed with the slight creaminess. While it only had a slight bitterness while drinking it, it has an odd bitterness that lingers on.
3: About the same.
4: camphor is coming out more, and it's tasting younger.
5: same
6: After brewing this, I noticed that there is a tobacco aroma in the leaves.
After several infusions, a long rest, and a few more infusions at night, I had to finish this tea the next day.

Wet leaves:

Overall, it seems more aged than I remember, but it's still fairly young. Aging it longer would probably improve it greatly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dragon Tea House Dahongpao

The first tasting notes with pictures!
9g of leaf in a 13cl pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 20s, 45s.
Dry leaf aroma: Just a roasty aroma.
Wet leaf aroma: Roast and malt.

1: As the tea was cooling a bit, I got a strong whiff of cigar smoke. Checking to see if it came from the tea, I noticed the faintest smell of smoke in the tea. Tasting it, it's very smooth and mellow. Roast and malt combines to make the mellow and lightly sweet tea. Even with the strong roast, a strong aftertaste similar to dancong still manages to come out.

2: Some cream and spice came out.

3: Note to self: 20 seconds is too short.

4: 45 seconds is too short.

Spent leaves:

Even with the strong roast, the leaves are still quite green.

The pictures actually turned out to be very helpful. I haven't taken pictures of all the infusions before, so I never knew if the color of each infusion was consistent or not. The first two infusions have almost the same color, but the third is much lighter in color. If I took pictures of the other one, it probably would have been more consistent with the third infusion.

As for the tea, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the tea. For 9 dollars, I wasn't expecting the tea to be as good as it was.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Random Title

I got sick of seeing the error message at the top of my blog, so I guess I should finish this one. This is one that I wrote before I started taking pictures, but I'll get some pictures up when I try these teas again.

'00 Dragon and phoenix tuocha
Yesterday, while trying to find room in the large cardboard box to put the newly acquired sheng, I pulled this one out. Since it was starting to get cramped in that box, I figured that the smell of this one would negatively affect the smell of the other tea right next to it. So, this tea was out in the open when I was deciding on the first tea of the day.

6g in 10cl shu pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
Dry leaf: Very light and airy damp smell with some camphor.
Wet leaf: More earthy and damp.
The tight compression makes a light tea untill around the fifth infusion. The tea has a camphor and a damp earthy aroma. The taste is a smooth and mellow damp and earthy taste. There is a little leafiness or grassiness that suggests that it's not very old. As this tea progresses throughout the infusions, the chunk gets looser and looser. And as it get looser, a woody flavor comes out to balance the damp flavors. As you can see from the the parameters, this one has good durability. Although, I think the tight compression of the chunk makes it only seem like it got that many infusions. The strongest infusion was around the fifth infusion, rather than the second or third.

Overall, it's had enough time to mellow, but I think it still needs more time. Hopefully dry storage will lessen the damp flavors overtime.

This is another tea courtesy of Salsero. It came in the usual ziplock bags that Yunnan Sourcing ships tea, and was labeled "dianhong." After trying this tea, I found out from Salero that it's the "aged just enough" 2005 one.

7g in a 10cl gaiwan. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 60s.
I've tried this tea once before, but I don't think my sense of taste was good enough to enjoy the tea, let along write tasting notes. I remember it having a really odd aroma, and a very cloudy and thick liquor. Because of my dislike of red teas, and from what I remember, I don't have very high expectations for this tea.

The aroma of the leaves is unlike any other Yunnan red tea I've tried (not that I've tried many). The only familiar aroma is "pepper." Other than that, it's hard to describe. It's kinda sour, and possibly "earthy?"

Pouring this tea, it appears very thick and cloudy. In the cup, it's almost as dark as shu. Taking a sip, I realize just how wrong it was to have such low expectations for this tea. The mouthfeel of this tea is very smooth, and mellow. The flavor was a bit sour, but I noticed more familiar characteristics of dianhong in the actual tea. Pepper, fruit and malt or carmalized sugar. I still can't describe half of the tea, but it's what makes this one more interesting and enjoyable than any of the other ones I've tried.

This tea was just what I needed to develop an interest in red teas again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A little warning.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Still have reviews that I need to finish...

Monday, June 18, 2007

'06 Haiwan "mavin" shu

Some quick notes before I put this one off like the others.

'06 Haiwan mavin
I'm not sure if this one is a laotongzhi, or mavin. The english side says mavin, and the Chinese side has the same characters as the ones on the laotongzhi beeng.

7g in a 10cl pot. Rinse, 20s, 20s, 20s, 30s, 60s, untimed.
Dry leaf aroma: While breaking a piece off the brick, I thought it had a musty earthy smell, and a camphor smell. Is that possible? Once in the pot, it had a compost and malty smell (without the sweetness).
Wetleaf aroma: The malty became a little sweeter. Compost is still present, and now woody comes out.

1: Maybe I wasn't wrong to think it smelled like camphor. There actually is a somewhat strong camphor aroma. It's thick and smooth, but there isn't much flavor. Mostly compost and cream.
2: Ripe fruit, cream, spice, and is now more "earthy." It's very similar to Adagio's "puerh dante."
3: Sweeter and maltier. Creamy seems persistent, and compost gave up.
4: Even sweeter.
5: Same. Dying.
6: dead

I'm sure some of the descriptions I used will make anyone think this is a nasty tea. Actually, I really enjoyed it. No serious off-flavors, and is very smooth.


I still have a few unfinished posts that I need to finish before posting, but I have something I could post in the meantime.

First, guess what kind of tea this is.

And, a picture of my yixing collection.
Top (left to right): Lapsang souchong, Retired lapsang pot, shu.
bottom: High fire oolong, Tieguanyin, Sheng, Dancong (and light oolong).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Can it be?

A new post? I guess it's about time to post these notes. I recently made a couple orders from, so I have several teas to write tasting notes about. The problem is, I've been rather lazy about posting notes. I have saved several unfinished notes that I'm finally posting, and I must ask for forgiveness for the poorly written notes. Hopefully I will get into a habit of posting the notes as I try the teas, rather than putting it off.

Let's start with '06 Nanqiao 753 sheng. The first couple times trying this tea, I was suspicious of green tea being mixed in here. So, I tried it several times to figure out whether or not that's true. I still don't know if there is green tea mixed in or not, but I bought a second beeng anyway.

4.5g in 8 cl pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 30s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
Dry leaf aroma: Honey and floral. Smells very sweet.
Wet leaf: Some cigarette smoke came out.

1: There is a pleasant campfire smoke aroma with a slight mintiness. Some woodiness, and other flavors I can't describe. Maybe lightly roasted barley? Surprisingly, the aftertaste is devoid of astringency. Maybe my brewing is finally improving, or this tea is just more forgiving.
2: Even more campfire smoke. Some bitterness came out, but it's balanced with a sweetness.

After those infusions, I didn't notice much change, besides a much stronger bitterness and astringency. It's likely that my brewing is pulling out the bitterness, but I still have suspicion that there is green tea in there because of the bitterness in the later infusions. Green tea or no green tea, it's damn good. I hope it's not green tea so I can age the second beeng, but I wouldn't mind drinking them now.

'05 Jingmai "old wild tree"
This is the second time trying this tea, so maybe I'll be able to get a better idea of it this time. Yesterday, I tried the tea with what was loose in the wrapper. The cake has many dents in the sides, so there was a lot of loose leaves. I thought that it started out very smooth, and honey-like. Around the third infusion, I noticed that stale cigarette smoke came out.

This time, I broke off a 4.5g chunk, and brewed it in the 8 cl pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 20s, 20s, 45s, and one infusion that was poured when the pot dried completely.

Leaf aroma: I guess I forgot to write down the aroma when I was trying the tea. I only remember cigarette smoke and some fruit.
1: cigarette smoke, honey, wood, fruit, and it seems almost roasted.
2: Still Sweet, but now with a bitter edge.
3: Sweetness is mostly canceled out by a light bitterness.
4: This infusion was just a brewing test. Came out light.
5: Skip the 30 seconds, and go directly to 45s. There is a weird grassiness, or leafiness came out. I've been noticing lately that this flavor is common in teas that are a few years old. I wonder if the means that this tea is just starting to enter the transitional period.
6: Eh.

Overall, not that bad. Although, I would probably rather wait several years than drink it now.

'05 Jinzhen "South of Cloud" shu
This tea is baffling me. I have brewed it several ways, and each turned out different.

First time, I used 5 grams of loose tea found in the wrapper in a 35cl mug. It was brewed loose in the mug. The smell of this tea seemed to be missing the sweetness of other shus. The smell is more outdoorsy. Woody, dirt, and possibly forest floor? No sweet molasses or malt, like I've heard shu being described as (I personally don't know how to describe it).
Then, I tried it using 7g in a 10cl pot. Rinse, and 15s, 20s, etc... I don't remember the times. The tea didn't come out very smooth or pleasant.
Then, after nearly a weak of airing out, I tried it again, this time with only 6 grams. It came out light, but I at least got a better idea of the tea. From smelling the leaves, it seems airing it out improved it a bit. The first couple infusions came out decent. Then, a strong "pondy" flavor became noticeable. Maybe this tea needs more time than a few weeks of airing out.

Now for the part about it baffling me. The first time I tried it, I noticed a few small green leaves mixed in with some brown leaves. Then trying it with leaves broken off from the beeng, it was all black leaves. Then trying it again today, it's green and brown again. I talked to Jogrebe about this, and he said that he didn't notice this in the one he got.


Friday, May 18, 2007

'06 xizihao lao banzhang "yin"

One more post for today. This is another sample thanks to salsero.

I tried this one shortly after I received it, but felt I was missing something when I brewed it. At the time, I didn't know it was normal for banzhang to be green tea-ish. I saved that unfinished post, and here it is unedited:
"6g 90ml pot. 15s, 30s, 30s, 30s, 45s,
The dry leaf after rinse has an aroma of fruit, grape, and berry.
1: Aroma: woody, barely any smoke, if any. It has a light, sweet flavor like yiwu puerh. It has some floralness, and a lot of fruity. Starts with grape, and becomes a sweeer berry flavor.
2: Hay came out in this infusion. The fruitiness is stronger, but not much different than last infusion. The aftertaste is of hay.
3: Hmm, is there actually some butteriness in this infusion? It seems more vegetal, with some butteriness. Hay and fruitiness is still present, but mostly in the aftertaste.

Long enough ago for me to change my style of posting tasting notes.

I tried this tea again using 3g in an 8cl pot. I don't know the exact times, but I used 15s untill around the eighth infusion.
This tea was harder to describe this time. I didn't notice and fruit grape or berry in the aroma this time (I think I was uncertain about those aromas when I wrote them down). In my tasting notes, I only wrote down floral for the dry leaf, but I'm still uncertain. I think I'm slightly more confident saying the wet leaf had an aroma of honey, floral, and spice. The tea itself was indeed green tea-ish. It was very smooth, and without any harshness. The taste of the tea was also hard to describe. It seemed like it possibly has some smokiness, but if it does, it's very subtle. I also thought it had some hay and wood flavors. It's probably worth noting that it does have a powerful "qi."

I think my first tasting note was better than the second.

Two aged teas

Yesterday and today, tried two aged puerhs. One is a 90's yiwu maocha from Houde (thanks to Salsero), and '96 Menghai "orange in orange."

The 90's yiwu supposed to be proof that maocha can age well. I haven't tried enough aged puerhs to know if it did indeed age well or not. The parameters I used was 4g in a 8cl pot, did a quick rinse, and brewed the first 10 infusions for 15 seconds, and increased it untill it died around the 13 or 15 infusion (I lost count). The flavors that was noticeable was wood, an aged flavor, and possibly even the slightest hint of floral. It didn't seem like the kind of tea that blows you away with complexity, more of just a pleasant sweet tea, almost like shu.

Looking at the leaves, they are still quite green. Maybe this tea was stored in a fairly dry climate, or maybe that's just how maocha ages. According to Zhou Yu in the second art of tea, compressed puerh actually ages faster and better than maocha (it's starting to feel like I'm writing a paper for school now).

Now for today's tea. Today was my last day of exams, and my last day of high school, so when I got home, I decided to brew an aged sample that I've held onto for a few monthes. I've tried the Menghai orange in orange before, but I don't believe I ever wrote down notes on it.

Going back to maocha vs. compressed, this is a compressed tea, and is a couple years younger than the maocha, but tastes much more aged. Maybe this was wet stored like many other 90's teas. If it was wet stored, it doesn't have any musty, or off flavors.

Just before my scale battteries died, I measured 4g of leaf, and brewed it in the same 8cl pot. After a quick rinse, I brewed it for 15 seconds up to the fifth infusion, but it started dying, so I upped it to 60 seconds which didn't really pull much more out. It only got 8 infusions.

Overall, this tea was similar to the maocha, mostly an uncomplex, but pleasant sweet flavor. The leaves have a faint camphor aroma, but that didn't show up in the tea. Other than that it seems like it was a weak shu. There is still some green left, and I'm wondering if it will become like a full flavored shu with more aging.

While I enjoyed both very much, I'm starting to wonder if aging my puerh for so many years is worth it. So far, it seems like puerh ages into something similar to shu. So, if that's all I have to look forward to, maybe the risk involved in extended aging isn't worth it. I could just drink shu and enjoy it just as much, and I wouldn't have to worry about accidentally ruining my raw puerh over the years. The storage conditions here are questionable, and since I already enjoy young puerh a lot, it's not worth the risk.

But there is still so much stuff to learn about puer, and maybe I'll eventually decide it's worth the risk to store some long term. The teas I've tried might not have been stored the best (apparently it was common to wet store tea in the 90's), so maybe I'm just forming an opinion from only trying wet stored teas.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I need to stop waiting so long to post reviews. I saved this post after I tried the two teas, but then forgot about it.

This review is long overdue. Salsero sent me a 5g sample of this tea a while ago, but I put it off for quite a while because I wasn't sure how to steep it. Salsero, thanks for the sample, and thanks for being patient.

I'm still not sure how to brew it, but I think I have an idea of how to do it. I wanted to try it in yixing, but the slightly larger size might make a weak tea.

5g in a 10cl gaiwan. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 30s, 60s.

The aroma of the dry leaf was more fragrant than I expected. Ripe fruit, peach and some toastiness from the roasting. The rinse brought spice out in the aroma.

A small miracle happened while brewing. It came out surprisingly full flavored, and without any bitterness. Past experience with broken up leaves would say that it would be bitter even with short infusions, but that wasn't the case this time.

The taste of the tea was very similar to shuixian. I don't have much experience with dahongpao, but from the few I tried, I tend to expect it to be similar to dancong, which doesn't have a ripe fruit flavor. It was mostly a fruit, or ripe fruit flavor, and spice. It developed a light creaminess in the second infusion, but it was still very similar to the other infusions. The aftertaste left was interesting. Immediately, it was a sweet ripe fruit flavor that lingered for a while. A little while later, it became a light, but distinct peach flavor.

YSLLC dahongpao
This is probably the second Wuyi oolong I've tried, and the one that got me interested in wuyi oolongs. When I first got this one, I had two unmarked bags. One was a dancong, and one was a dahongpao. Trying this one, I was almost certain it was dancong, and the other heavily roasted one was the dancong.
8g in a 12cl pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s.
The aroma of the wet and dry leaf was of a certain kind of hot pepper (odd) and peach.
peach, roast, pepper, peachy aftertaste.
vanilla or cream.

Something about this brewing method didn't work. The tea just seemed "off." Maybe sour, maybe something else. I'm almost certain 8 grams was too much, but I also think the pot might be retaining heat too well for this tea. For some reason, this pot manages to keep the tea so much hotter than my other pots. So, I guess I'll see how this tea behaves in a cooler gaiwan. If it's the pot, then I guess I'll have to reseason it.

Out of the two, I think the one from Harney was much better than the one from Yunnan Sourcing. Although, I remember the one from YSLLC being so much better than it turned out this time.

Since I started this post, I've fallen into repetition, just enjoying old and familiar teas. I still have a lot of teas I need to try and post tasting notes for.

Monday, April 30, 2007

'06 Haiwan "early spring" laotongzhi

Somehow, I forgot to finish this post several days ago.

I tried it once yesterday, but had a hard time taking notes of it. So, I'm trying it again, and maybe I'll be able to take better notes the second time.

4g in 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
Dry leaf aroma: campfire smoke.
wet leaf aroma: floral, and slightly smoky.
Floral, butter, some berry, wood, smoke. It tasted a lot cleaner taste than I expected. The aftertaste seems non-existant untill it a strong lingering floral aftertaste explodes a minute or two later.

This is the bad part of waiting several days to finish a post. I forgot some of the things I wanted to comment on. I mostly remember being relieved that it wasn't like the 7548 (since I did buy the whole beeng without trying it first).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Second Best Teahouse continued

I have a few tea notes from the past couple days that I haven't posted, so I'll just post them all in one post before it get's out of control.

I'll start with the second best teahouse teas. Many thanks to Salsero who has sent out more teas to continue the Second Best Teahouse.

'06 Menghai 7432
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 120s.
Dry leaf aroma: Smoke and fruit.
Wet Leaf aroma: Smoke, spice, cream, and a familiar aroma of some kind of candy. Gummi bears?
I didn't take as detailed notes as I thought I did. All I put down for taste was floral, hay, slight smoke, cream, and that candy smell even came out in the first infusion. I don't know why I didn't write this down, but I remember it leaving a strong aftertaste.

Overall, it was enjoyable.

'05 Six famous tea mountain organic tuocha.
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 30s, 30s, 30s, 30s. I started with 30s because the leaves were very tightly compressed.
Dry leaf aroma: Smoke.
Wet leaf aroma: Spice and cream.
Edit: I tried it again using shorter times, and it came out much better.
. . . .

2000 Haiwan Guhua
I've been considering ordering a beeng of this for some time now, and thanks to Salsero, I can sample it first.
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s, and one long infusion.
Dry leaf aroma: camphor, and a light aged earthiness.
Wet leaf aroma: Stronger camphor, earthy, and spice.
Most of the infusions had camphor, leather, wood, earth, and spice. The first two also had a slight creaminess, and possibly ash in an ash tray type taste. As the tea progressed, the camphor became stronger and stronger untill it started becoming more of a mellow sweetness by the sixth infusion. It has been noted before that this tea is flat and lacks acidity, and I agree.

There is plenty of room for improvement, but it wasn't bad. It is still fairly young afterall.

'07 Mengyang Guoyan Yiwu zhengshan
This one wasn't part of the 2BTH.
4g in 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s.
Dry leaf aroma: Light smoke and maybe berry?
Wet leaf aroma: Light camphor and vegetal.
This one seemed to start out very green tea-ish. Vegetal, butter, and very little smoke. The aftertaste left was mostly a light (floral?) sweetness. As it progressed, camphor became noticeable in the aroma, but not so much in the taste. Berry and wood started also started coming out.

Very enjoyable, especially since it didn't have the harshness present in most young sheng. I think I will probably order a beeng to set aside to age.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


'05 Menghai Golden needle white lotus

I brewed it two ways, the first way with 5g in a 100ml pot, and after a 10s rinse, I brewed it for 20s, 20s, 15s, 20s, 20, 30s, 45s, 90s. The second way, I used only 3.3g in the same pot, and brewed it starting with 30s, and then increase it a lot after a few infusions. The first way created a good amount of astringency, and the tea didn't really stand out from any other shu. Using less leaf, the tea came out a little weak, but more things became more noticeable this way. Camphor was more obvious, along with some other flavors I have a hard time describing. Malt, chocolate, and wood come to mind when drinking it, but that's probably not the best way to describe it.

Most enjoyable for a shu.

'06 Haiwan 7548

I have tried the '98 7548 from Jing before, and liked it, so I decided to order a young one, and hopefully have it age into something similar to the 7 year old tea (at the time I tried it). From what other people have said, I was expecting an unpleasant cigarette smoke aroma in the tea, but when unwrapping the tea, I was wondering if it was a lightly fired shuixian. It has a fairly strong ripe fruit aroma.

I used 4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s.
In a preheated pot, some smoke comes out to balance the fruit aroma, but the smoke is fairly light. The tea has a more obvious smoke and hay taste, but ripe fruit is still there. The smokiness fades away very fast. By the third infusion, smoke is very faint, and is mostly just floral and ripe fruit. It left a fairly strong ripe fruit and floral aftertaste.

After that point, I was unable to finish the tea because I had to leave, but I think I got a good idea of the tea from those four infusions. From smelling the beeng for the first time, the ripe fruit smell seemed very odd, and I expected it to go away, but it's apparently part of the tea. Since that flavor doesn't seem common in unoxidized leaves, I did a more thorough inspection of the not-so spent leaves for oxidation. Many of the leaves did have red marks, and few of them were completely red. I doubt those red areas are from "fermentation" because it's only a year old. So is this oolong puerh? Will oolong puerh age into anything good? It seems to have what it takes to be ageable, but I'm not sure if oxidized leaves will age well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'06 Menghai "Spring of Menghai"

Many thanks to Salsero for this tea.

I have had this tea sitting in my puerh humidor for some time now, and I think it's about time I tried it.

5g in a 75ml pot, rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
The leaves right off the cake don't have much smell, but when placed in the heated pot, it releases an earthy smell. I smelled the pot before the leaves went in, and it didn't have any tea smell, so it's not from the pot. I also tried made this tea with leaves loose in the wrapper in a gaiwan, and i had the same aroma. I have had the tea in a humidor at 70% for a few weeks, but can it actually accelerate it enough to create that smell?

Rinsing the leaves brings out a different aroma, but didn't really tell much about the actual tea. The tea turned out to be very floral, and slightly fruity. It started developing some woody notes, peach (like dancong) and some butter. It leaves a good aftertaste.

Very nice now, but I look forward to what this will change into.

I have an update about the '01 yinhao tuocha. I wet stored it for a while to see if it will change at all, and it went stale today. Either I did something wrong, or it's not puerh.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

'01 Kunming Blue Label

Many thanks to Bill (Ancient Tea Horse Road) for this sample.

I tried this tea two ways: Gongfu, and a slightly modified "professional tea tasting" method. For gongfu, I used 6g of leaf in a 90ml pot and after a rinse, I brewed it for 20s, 30s, 30s, 15s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 120s. For the modified tasting method, I used 2g of loose leaf in a 150ml gaiwan.After a flash rinse, I brewed it for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Out of the package, the leaves have a cool minty aroma with a barely noticeable smoke smell. Once placed in the heated vessel, an aged "earthy" aroma comes out, along with a strong smoke aroma. For the first gongfu infusion, the earthiness came out, but disapeared after that. For the second method, the earthiness was noticeable, but not as strong. For both methods, one thing remained the same: smoke. There was a strong cigarette and campfire smoke flavor throughout. The is also some woody and leathery flavors. When the tea, leaves, or cup cooled down, the mintiness aroma would come out.

It wasn't bad, althought the smokiness really threw me off. The original aroma of mint suggested that the tea would taste minty, but it was smoke that came out. Maybe in a few more years.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuocha, tuocha, and tuocha

'04 6FTM "Silver tips" tuocha
I wanted to make some more puerh, but I don't want to break any off the cakes I have aging, so I decided to finish the rest of this sample. My previous thoughts of this tea was that it would be a "drink it now" tea, so I'm going to try brewing it a little weaker than last time to try to get a more enjoyable tea.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s.

I noticed an aroma in the dry leaves I didn't notice last time. A very pleasant minty aroma. I don't think it's camphor or menthol. Something more like a light wintergreen?

1: The leaves in the heated gaiwan give off a slightly aged aroma, and the rinse brings that aroma out more. The tea has a slightly smoky aroma with the same minty aroma the dry leaves have. The tea is very smooth, mellow, and not very complex. It has a slightly smoky taste, and some camphor. I would have originally thought that this was still very young, but the smell of the leaves made me look for an aged flavor in the tea, which is barely noticeable. As the empty cup cools, it has that minty aroma.

2: Some complexity came out, and it now leaves a lingering floral aftertaste. Still has some smoky notes which smell like cigarette smoke in the aroma, but the taste is more of just campfire smoke. As the tea cools down, the minty aroma comes out.
3: The aroma is a stronger minty and smoky smell. More bitterness came out, but is followed by an equally strong sweetness. I think this is the first time noticing "qi."
4: The aroma is the same as last. More bitterness than flavor in this infusion. Considering that the leaves are very chopped up, it's not surprise that it's dying.
5: The mintiness dominates the aroma. Very strong bitterness.

It's better than I remember. I don't think it has enough in it to be stored long term, but a couple years of storage might improve the flavor.

After trying this tea, I decided to try the '01 yinhao tuocha again. It's one of the first puerhs I got, and one that I never wanted to try again until now. When I first tried it, I noticed a strong bitterness even when brewed fairly weak (compared to how I brew it now) and I mostly remember cigarette smoke. If smoke changes into camphor, then maybe this one had enough time for that to happen.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan and after a rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, end.
There are a lot of leaves covered in white hairs. After brewing, the leaves expanded to be barely any bigger than teabag fannings. I know, I know, I need to take pictures. Maybe someday I will be able to.

1: Aroma: lapsang puerh. Very strong smoky smell. Not cigarette smoke like I remember. The very chopped up leaves created a good amount of bitterness. The taste of this tea reminds me of stale green tea. Mostly stale green tea, and smoke.
2: I'm going to stop it here. Very bitter, and is just a smoky, stale, bitter green tea.

Terrible. It tastes more like a 6 year old green tea with a strong smokiness rather than puerh. No wonder why they were only about 3 dollars.

I guess while I'm trying tuochas, I'll try the last one in my collection: '05 teji Nanjian tuocha. This is the first raw puerh I've ever tried, and because I liked it so much when I first tried it, I bought 5 more. I broke two of them into loose tea to see how loose compares to compressed. This review is leaves from a compressed tuo.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 15s, 30s, 45s, end.
The aroma of the dry leaf is smoky, woody, and perhaps some berry?
1: The aroma is smoky, and woody. The taste is the same as the aroma. I'm no longer doubting that I smelled berry in the dry leaves, because berry comes out in the aftertaste.
2: Very interesting, but bitter. Starts woody, smoky, vegetal, and some other things I can't describe, and then ends with a sweet, berry flavor.
3: More bitterness than flavor, but a smokiness comes out in the aftertaste.
4: Bitterness decreased, and so did flavor.

Maybe it might be more enjoyable in a couple years. This is another one that I don't think will be able to be stored long term, but might still improve a bit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bai Hao and Wu Ling

Today hasn't been the best day to drink tea because I've been getting my room ready to be painted, but I now have a chance to try another tea. This is another tea thanks to Salsero.

'05 Bai Hao from Dragon Teahouse
I used 8g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 60s, 120s.

The leaves after the rinse smell like a combination of red tea, and that purple oolong. Thankfully, it doesn't taste like the purple oolong. It's like a red tea with kind of a grainy and woody taste. it leaves kind of a malty and grainy aftertaste. The following infusions where pretty much the same.

Not bad. It has a kind of flavor I would describe as "refreshing." It may be blasphemous to say this, but I think it would make an excellent iced tea.

'06 Summer Formosa Wu Ling from
I had a little more free time than I thought, so I'll try another tea. This next one is a light oolong which isn't exactly my favorite kind of tea, but after smelling the leaves, I couldn't wait to try it. Before, I mostly noticed a grainy and buttery aroma in the leaves, but now, I notice gingerbread in the aroma.

Now, how to brew it? Since it's a light oolong, it should either be brewed with cooler water and normal times, or boiling water, and shorter times. Using Boiling water makes a couple good infusions, but then makes it hard to brew the tea without cooking the leaves. And I just have no clue what temperature to use if I use cooler water. Hmmmmmmmmm.

I'll take my chances with cooler water. I heated the water untill the bubbles got large, and just started getting rapid. I decided I would pull out the thermometer to find out how hot the water is just for the purpose of blogging about the tea. It was almost exactly 85C.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a very quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s, and one long infusion.

1: Putting the leaves in a heated gaiwan brought out a stronger, green tea like scent, with gingerbread and butter. Then after a rinse, a stronger vegetal aroma came out. The tea itself smells very green tea like, with gingerbread. It tastes like a green tea with gingerbread, and shortbread.
2: The aroma of the tea is mostly a green tea like scent. It tastes very similar to green anji from Adagio. Buttery and vegetal. Gingerbread is very faint in the light aftertaste.
3: Gingerbread has returned in the aroma. The tea tastes the same as last infusion, with an added minty type bitterness.
4: It's starting to lose the smooth sweetness, but gingerbread came back in the flavor.
5: A light grainy flavor. A flavor I have found to be common as lightly oxidized teas start dying. Although, some gingerbread is still present.
6: Light, minty astringency.

Surprisingly good. It's not the kind of tea that blows you away with complexity, it just has a very simple, but pleasant flavor. Light oolongs aren't exactly my favorite kind of tea, but this one seems to be an exception. Maybe it has to do with the gingerbread flavor. This is the first tea that I noticed a gingerbread taste in.

/me waits for Salsero to read his and laugh at me for saying that I actually enjoyed a tea that was secretly scented.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Shu day

(This was supposed to be posted yesterday)
First day of spring break, and it's a winter wonderland outside... Sigh.

Earlier, I decided to get my shu pot ready so that I could use it to try a sample Bill (Ancient Tea Horse Road) sent (thank you so much, Bill). I have had this pot for a while, but never used because the handle broke a day or two after I got it, and because I rarely make shu anyway. I fixed the handle with super glue, and started seasoning it, but I'm not sure if it's ready for use or not. The first tea I made in it was Menghai Caravan tribute tuocha. The result was surprising. I have never been the biggest fan of shu, but it came out surprisingly good.

Now that I know that the pot is ready for use, I brewed some of the '03 7581 Kunming brick.

I used 7g of leaf in a 100ml pot, and after a slightly long rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, 30s, 45s, 60s, and one really long infusion.
1: Kinda light, and kinda pondy?
2: Woody, and almost fruity? Is it possible that there is almost a ripe fruit flavor?
3: Earthy and pondy.
4: Some spiciness, and still woody.
5: lightened up into a light pondy taste.
6: Still dark, but not much flavor.

I noticed something interesting about the dry leaf of both shus. The 7581 still had some moisture left, and the Menghai was very dry. And when comparing the taste of two teas, the menghai was astringent, and the 7581 wasn't.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Song Zhong Dancong

With all the new teas I've been getting lately, I forgot just how many teas I have left that I need to use up. I even have some oolong samples from my First order from Jing tea shop. So, I need to start finishing them up.

First, I think it's time to actually try the song zhong dancong from Teaspring, and post tasting notes. I tried it once, but I couldn't tell if it was a light or dark dancong. The dry leaves appear very dark for a dancong, but I don't remember it being like a darker dancong.

I'm trying something that is possibly stupid. I'm going to brew this similar to how I brew yancha. I used 9g in a 120ml pot, and brewed it for 30s, 30s, 60s, 250s. Hopefully I won't die from tannin overdose.

1:WOW. This is exactly what I aim for when brewing dancong, but have never gotten it anywhere near how this infusion came out. It has a very thick mouthfeel, and a surprisingly low level of bitterness. The flavor is a creamy peachiness. It tastes like a milan dancong, but it lacks any kind of an aftertaste. It's mostly a mintiness that is felt in the back of the throat.

2: Already lightened up a bit. 15 more seconds would probably help. Although, it still manages to leave a stronger aftertaste than the first infusion.

3: Flavor lightened again, and is slightly more bitter. This one leaves a fairly strong menthol like aftertaste.

4: I decided to up the brewing time a lot. This one had more flavor, but was still kinda light. It left the same menthol aftertaste.

I'm really surprised that 30 seconds worked as well as it did. I didn't have as much luck with the following infusions as I did with the first infusion, but using more time should fix that.

As for the tea, I'm still trying to figure out if it's light or dark. There is no doubt that it's been roasted, but has it also been oxidized? It tasted like milan dancong, but left a menthol like aftertaste which is something I only noticed in light dancong. So, my guess is it's a light dancong with a stronger roast.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Lao Tong Zhi and Lao Cong Shuixian

Again, I'm trying these teas thanks to Salsero. The first is a laocong shuixian from Dragon Teahouse. I tried this tea yesterday, but being the procrastinator I am, I didn't post it until now. For this tea, I tried getting serious about the ratio of crushed to whole leaves. I separated the two, and created about 20% of crushed leaves.

I used 12g of leaves in a pot, and added the crushed leaves to the middle. After a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 90s.

This tea only got one and a half good infusions. I think that the crushed leaves caused that. I need to try the tea again without crushed leaves to get a better idea of the tea, but for now, this is just a tasting note of the one strong infusion.

The flavor of the tea is pretty much just a sweet ripe fruit flavor with a light roasty flavor. The aftertaste goes from a slightly stronger toasty flavor, to an even stronger version of the initial taste.

After trying this tea, I think I now know what it means to have a monotone aftertaste. After I first tried the dahongpao from YSLLC, I was told that it had a monotone aftertaste (I think it was Kibi who said that). I was new to oolongs at the time, so I had no clue what that meant. All I knew is that the aftertaste was unlike anything I've experienced before. This tea is just like that one. Lightly fired, and leaves a strong aftertaste that is just a stronger version of the initial taste. It might not be a very interesting tea, but it's at least an enjoyable one. :) I will post new tasting notes when I try it again.

After summoning the courage, I decided to try the '06 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi beeng. This tea seems to have a reputation as having an excellent aging potential. So, 7g will be good for learning what to look for, and hopefully the rest of the beeng will be good for aging.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for: 15s, 15s, 30s, 60s, 120s.
I wrote descriptions about each infusion, but after each infusion, I found it harder and harder to describe the tea. So, I decided to just summarize it.

The dry leaves have a strong smoky aroma, and that strong smokiness is present in each infusion. After the second infusion, it became a cigar smoke taste. It also had the usual floral, and vegetal taste, and even had some fruitiness in the first infusion. There were also other flavors that started coming out in the later infusions, but I fail to describe them. This tea also left a very intersting aftertaste. The first two left a mellow sweetness, and the later infusions left a strong aftertaste with so many changing flavors.

So this is what an age able tea should taste like. It's not as bitter and harsh as I was expecting. The first infusion was actually kinda sweet, but progressively got stronger and harsher. Overall, I have no doubts about the aging potential, and I'm really curious how this one will age.

And soon enough, I'll have the answer to the lack of humidity. I ordered an analog hygrometer, and a gel humidifier. All I need to do is build a box out of wood to store it in, and I'll have a puerh humidor. :)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lao Cong shuixian

I lied in my previous post about lowering my infusion times. Earlier today, I brewed some of the rougui from JTS using 12g of leaf and 15s infusions. That made kind of a boring tea. The mouth feel was on the thin side, and the flavor was light.

So, now that I'm more confident that 30s will make a good infusion, I decided to brew some the the lao cong shuixian I got with my first '07 green tea order from Teaspring.
I used 12g in a 150ml pot, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 20s, 45s, 120s.

1: I can already notice a good amount of complexity just by the smell. Charcoal, spice, creamy, and slightly medicinal. Charcoal and creaminess seems to dominate this fairly young tea (may be from old bushes, but it was produced not too long ago). There is also a bit of chocolate and coffee, but it's not as noticeable as other teas. It leaves a pleasant, fruity aftertaste.
2: This one has more notes of spice, mixed with the charcoal. A bit of creaminess works it's way out in the aftertaste. After some time, it has kind of a menthol-like coolong effect on the tongue.
3: Creaminess came back, and now mixes with spice and charcoal. It leaves a faint fruity aftertaste.
4: Spice is a lot stronger in this infusion. Not much charcoal is left, and there is only a faint creamy taste.

This is one of the more enjoyable yan chas I've tried recently. The strong creaminess of this tea isn't something I've found in yan cha for a while. Although, I think this tea would benefit from a year of aging to tone down the charcoal.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Shuixian and Liu An

This past week hasn't been the best week for trying new teas. Earlier in the week, the temperatures went up enough that the only teas I wanted to drink were green teas, and maybe young sheng. The last couple days were cooler, but I wasn't home enough to make tea. I was out practicing driving for my driving test, which was today. It took a few years, but I finally got my license. Now that that's over, I finally have time to try more teas.

I tried this tea yeserday, but I was unable to post this. I tried the '92 shuixian from the three shuixian samples from Tea Masters. I probably should have saved this tea for when I had more time to drink tea. I ended up using less leaf, and same times so that it would only get three infusions. I think I need to go back down to shorter infusions because 30s is starting to be a bit too harsh.
I used 10.5g in he 150ml pot. After a quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 90s.

This is probably the most interesting yancha I have ever tried. There are a few flavors I haven't noticed in any yancha before, and I cannot describe them. Other than that, it slowly changes into a light coffee taste, and then leaves a lingering floral aftertaste. In the second two infusions, the flavor lightened up enough for the chocolate taste to come out more, and an herbal taste also came out.

My second Teaspring order came yesterday, and one of teas was liu an. I have been curious about he liu an is like for a while now, so I decided to order a sample.

I used 7g in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, 30s, 120s, and one last, really long infusion.
1: It looks like shu, smells like shu, and tastes like shu. The flavor then turns into a bit of woodiness, and a slight vegetal taste. Strangely, it finishes off with a slight smoky taste.
2: This one has a more noticeable musty smell. It came out with a much thicker mouth feel, but i didn't seem any different from last infusion.
3: It lightened up a bit. It's mostly woody, and kinda "earthy."
4: Sill light, but now the flavor seems a bit different. Is it possible that there is some floralness in this tea?
5: Dead.

If I tried this tea without knowing what it was, I would think it was a shu. Although, I kinda like it more than the shus I've already tried. It just seems like it's a more interesting than shu.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

'97 Shuixian

This the the second tea of the three shuixians. I reviewed the '04 one before I got sick. Now it's time to see what it's like 7 years later.

I tried this tea in a gaiwan yesterday, but it came out kinda weak and boring. I didn't want to post those notes, so I'm trying it again, this time with yixing.

I used 12g of leaf in a 150ml pot. After a quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 60s.
The dry leaves are fairly broken, which is probably from being roasted so many times.
1: Fairly strong coffee taste with some dark chocolate, and slightly woody. It slowly changes into a strong, lingering dark chocolate flavor.
2: Lightened up quite a bit. This one has more chocolate than coffee.
3: Lighter version of the last.

This kind of brewing made it more interesting than when it was brewed in a gaiwan, but 30 seconds did not work for this tea. Since most of the leaves are broken up, it probably needs shorter brewing times.

As for the tea, I did notice a change. This one is a bit more complex than the '04 one. It also didn't seem like it had any charcoal flavor left.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Homebrews

I started brewing my own beer sometime after Christmas, and in the time I have brewed three beers. The first one was an Irish Dry Stout, which was from a kit. This beer only sat in primary, so it was bottle conditioned. Bottle conditioning using dry yeast was a big mistake. There is more yeast in the bottle, so the beer picks up more of the yeast's flavor. This review is after the beer has sat in the bottles for more than two months. From previous experience, I know that it should be chilled to numb the palate (it's that bad). A slow pour creates a good sized head. The first noticeable thing about the beer is the soda pop like carbonation. It also feels like it coats your mouth just like sugary soda. It tastes like it's possibly contaminated, but it's possible that taste is from the yeast. After allowing the beer to warm up, and the carbonation to die down, the flavor started to come out, which actually isn't as bad now. Still has the nasty coating, but the roasted grain came out more. It's not exactly coffee or chocolate, and it's not exactly a roasted flavor, but I can't describe it any other way. It's still pretty bad though.

The second one is a mystery style. It started out as a Vienna lager, but the lager yeast that was used didn't start within 48 hours, so I pitched in ale yeast. It's possible that the lager yeast later kicked in because this only took two days to finish primary fermentation. So, it might be an amber ale/California common (lager yeast fermenting at ale temperatures). This one was not made from a kit. I made my own all grain recipe, but when I got to mashing the grains, I failed to extract much fermentable sugar, and flavor. In attempt to get it to normal, I added a can of amber malt extract. When adding it, I was careless, and didn't sterilize anything. After 4 days in primary (including the two days of inactivity), 2 weeks in secondary, and a month sitting in the bottles carbonating, the result was a very nasty beer. The lack of sterilization allowed bacteria to grow in the wort, and it only got worse as it got older. I ended up dumping nearly 48 bottles of beer down the sink. That later turned into a controversial decision when one of my brother's friend found out that I had alcohol I didn't want. It's funny when 17 year olds beg for alcohol.

Dumping that beer allowed me to make the next beer: a porter. Porter is one of my favorite styles, so I didn't want to be careless about brewing this one. Instead of using dry yeast which isn't very good, I used WYeast British ale yeast which is a strand that works well for porters. I also sterilized the hell out of everything to prevent contamination. The beer sat in primary for a week, and then in secondary for 3 weeks. I bottled the beer only a week ago, and added enough priming sugar to create only a small amount of carbonation. One week isn't enough to fully carbonate the beer, but I'm impatient to try the beer. I tried the beer after letting it warm up about half an hour. Opening the cap made a faint popping sound, so some carbonation has been created. Although, there is not enough to create any kind of head, even with a forceful pour. There is still some sweetness from the priming sugar that will be fixed in time (about a month). The first noticeable taste is the esters, or fruity tasting by-products of the yeast. There is still a good amount of active yeast floating the the beer that might be increasing that taste. The normal porter flavors aren't as noticeable. It takes some time to taste the coffee/chocolate that is normal in porters. It will probably take some time for those flavors to come out more.
This is the first beer that I'm not disappointed with the outcome. Sterilizing the hell out of everything and using better yeast has paid off.

Two Yiwu puerhs

Lately, several people have ordered samples of two Chen Guang-He Tang Yiwu puerhs from Hou De, and posted reviews of those teas. Thanks to Salsero, I now have a chance to try them. I got the teas a couple days ago, but a cold has prevented me from trying any new teas. My sense of taste and smell has returned, and I can finally try the samples.

I'm going to start with the '06 Autumn Yeh Cha. This would be a good learner piece as I already know what more experienced puerh drinkers think of it. All the reviews I read said that this is not a good puerh. I wonder if I will think it's like other puerhs I've tried, or if I will be able to tell that it's not a good puerh.
I used 7g of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan. After a quick rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 90s.

1: Starting out a bit light. Mostly floral, and there seems to be a hint of honey. It doesn't leave much of an aftertaste.
2: The leaves are waking up. More floral, and also is more bitter. It seems like an aftertaste wants to come out, but is muted.
3: Floral and woody, but somehow, it seems like it turns into a watery taste. The watery taste is the closest this infusion came to an aftertaste.
4: Nothing new.
5: Dying.
6: Mellowed out, but is pretty much dead.

I wasn't sure if I would be able to tell if this was a good or bad tea. It seems like everyone who has reviewed this tea thinks that this is not a good tea, and I was expecting that I would not have the experience to tell. It did seem rather boring. There wasn't much complexity, and didn't leave much of an aftertaste. I didn't write about the clarity in the notes, but this was a fairly cloudy tea. From what I read, that is not good when considering aging potential.

And now to try the '06 Autumn Cha Wang. This one got higher ratings than the Yeh Cha.
I used 7g of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan and after a rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s.
1: After rinsing, it has a very pleasant, kinda fruity aroma. The liquor is very clear. It is floral, but it seems like there is also some fruitiness. The aftertaste is similar to the sweetness of green tea. Very enjoyable so far.
2: The flavor came out more. It's still floral, and slightly fruity, and now more woody. It leaves a fruity aftertaste. It still has a nice sweetness that is balanced with some bitterness.
3: It seems like there is now more of a berry flavor. Other than that, it's about the same.
4: Same, except that some astringency is coming out.
5: Same.

I'm noticing a pattern, and since I'm starting to notice the harsh effects on the stomach, I'm going to stop here.
I think this is definitely the better of the two. It's actually probably the most enjoyable young puerh I've tried so far. I really like the fruitiness and the berry flavor of this tea. I think this one has a better aging potential than the yehcha.

Friday, March 16, 2007

2004 Shuixian from Teamasters.

No school today. :)
I got a surprise in the mail today. The mailman came up to the door, and I was expecting it to be my order from teaspring. It turned out that it was a package from Tea Masters with three shuixian samples. Wait, I didn't order anything from Tea Masters... It turns out that it was a gift from Salsero (thank you so much). I'll try these going from youngest to oldest to get a better idea of the change.

I used 10.5g in a 150ml pot. I brewed it for 30s, 45s, 90s, 180s, 300s.
1: The dry leaves have a pleasant chocolaty aroma. The aroma of the liquor has a bit of dark chocolate, and some roastiness. It's a very smooth tea with a full mouthfeel. The taste is kinda chocolaty, and nutty. It seems like it has been aged long enough to mellow out the "fired" taste. The aftertaste is almost coffee-ish. It slowly changes into a little longer lasting floral aftertaste.
2: Not quite as smooth and mellow. A charcoal flavor is more noticeable. There is still a good amount of dark chocolate, and now has a bit of a coffee taste. It has a slight astringency. The aftertaste isn't as strong as the first infusion. Maybe it should be brewed for a minute.
3: the smooth taste returned, but it could probably be improved with a longer infusion. Still has a charcoal taste, but the chocolate lightened up. Not much more.
4: The color of the liquor got a lot lighter, and so did the taste. I'll try one more with 5 minutes, but I think it's dead now.
5: Dead

I'm now really curious how longer aging will affect this tea. I may have underbrewed most of the infusions, but the first was enough to know how interesting of a tea it is (interesting in a good way).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

2006 Yiwu maocha from Dragon teahouse

I just recieved a few more teas from Salsero (thanks!). He had 5g of Harney dahongpao left and he wanted my opinion of it. He also included two other teas, and since I don't know how to brew the dahongpao with only 5g of leaf, I decided to try this one first.

This time, I'm going to try using yixing. I have a very dense pot that I have been considering using for young puerh. I used 7g of leaf in a 120ml pot. After a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 5s, 15s, 30s.

1: Mostly floral. Some vegetal, and some menthol. Leaves a floral aftertaste.
2: Mostly the same but stronger. I'm not sure if I have a taste stuck on my tongue, but it seems like it left a floral and a grainy aftertaste.
3: Floral, camphor, slight grain and hay. The aftertaste isn't as floral, and is mostly grainy.
4: I didn't reheat the water for this infusion, so it's slightly cooler than boiling. Noticeably lighter, and tastes slightly watery. Flavors still the same, and the aftertaste is mostly graininess.
5: Back to boiling. Not much flavor, and is fairly bitter.

If this wasn't a Yiwu puerh, I would think that it won't age well. It will probably be good now, just with different brewing parameters. Either less leaves, or more leaves and cooler water.

I think I have made up my mind about this pot. It was destined for bitter young sheng. Since it's fairly dense, the flavor won't be altered much at all, and it will still have the benefit of the higher temperature.

Monday, March 12, 2007

8 year old Tieguanyin

I used 7g, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 60s, 60s, 90s, 180s, 300s.

1: A little light. It still has a roasted/charcoal flavor. There is also some graininess, and maybe a plum flavor? It seems like there is some kind of fruit in the taste. It leaves a sweet creamy and fruity aftertaste. Where's the floralness?

2: A little more aged character came out. It's kinda hard to describe the aged character. Maybe herbal? There is a slight orange peel flavor mixed in also. Again, it leaves a creamy and fruity aftertaste.

3: Same, except herbal hint came out more.

4: More fruity, but still mostly herbal.

5: Same, but lighter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

'04 Six Famous Tea Mountain "silver tips"

I used 7g, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 60s, 60s, 90s, 120s.
The leaves after the rinse have a fairly strong menthol or camphor smell. Even with the long 60 second infusion, it's not very harsh at all. The camphor smell in the leaves didn't come out much into the tea. It has the usual floralness. The second infusion brought out a lot more flavor, as well as bitterness and astringency. There is a fairly strong camphor taste, and some floralness. There isn't much smokiness. The third infusion had a stronger camphor taste, and also has a good amount of smokiness. Still has floralness, and maybe some hay-like flavors.

I'm not sure if this would be a good one to age. Obviously my lack of knowledge when it comes to puerh is the reason why I don't know, but I'm not sure if this is strong enough to age. I brewed it with 60 seconds which is longer than normal, and it still wasn't very harsh. Also, the tightly compressed tuocha will age very slowly.

Does anyone know where the leaves were harvested? Hou De doesn't list the harvest area.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

'04 Six Famous Tea Mountain shu

Today seemed to be a lazy day when it comes to tea. The spring weather made it possible to spend most of the day outside, so I didn't have as much time to make tea.

The only tea I reviewed today is the '04 6FTM shu. Salsero included a suggestion on how to brewed it, but I first wanted to try it using a method closer to western brewing. When I first got some shu, I would just throw some leaves in a cup, fill with boiling water, cover and let sit for up to half an hour. It used to work very well. So, I brewed it with 3g of leaf in the new 150ml thick-walled gaiwan. The tea had almost no mustiness, which would make this better than the other shus in my opinion. The overall flavor is mostly just earthiness and some woodiness. I don't think this kind of brewing is strong enough to get a good idea of the tea. It was lacking mouthfeel, which could be blamed on the brewing. I'll give Salsero's suggestion a try. I'm sure it will be a lot better than this.

Update: I tried it again using Salsero's suggestion. I had a hard time getting the leaves to an exact 7.5g, so I used the 8g I already had cut out. After a rinse, I brewed it for 60s, 60s, 90s, 120s. The result was a fuller bodied tea. I'm used to shu coming out very dusty. The dust in the tea makes it seem like I'm drinking dirt and hot water. This tea didn't have any dustiness in it. The flavor is pretty much earthiness and woodiness. Again, it lacked mustiness, which is definately a good thing. Overall, this was definately the most enjoyable shu I've tried. I'm still not a big fan of shu, but this wasn't bad.

Friday, March 9, 2007

'05 Ming Yuan Hao Yiwu

I already have one of these cakes sitting in my closet slowly aging, and I already have tasting notes, but I need to try it with more leaves to get a better idea of the tea. Previously, I only use 3g of leaf, and it came out like green tea. Something like that doesn't sound like something that would be good for aging.

I used 7g leaf, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 30s, 60s.

I wish I had a camera to take a picture of this tea. The chunk of leaves just looks so artistic. The long leaves definitely make this a "spaghetti" tea. The very long leaves needed the rinse to loosen up, to fit in the gaiwan. It's definitely not like green tea anymore. The flavor is a little stronger, and now tastes more like the average young sheng. Is that a camphor taste? It seems like it's possibly camphor, just not a very distinct flavor. It also has a good amount of smokiness. Although, it turned out a little watery.

For the third infusion, I decided to up the infusion time to 30 seconds. It brought out a little bit of bitterness, and a fairly strong astringency. Smoke is the first noticeable taste. It's kind of hard for me to describe the other flavors. My best effort would be to describe it as floral, fruity and vegetal. The longer infusion brought out a lot more interesting flavors, and also brought out a fairly sweet lingering floral aftertaste, with hints of what seemed to be malt.

Will this age well? I still have no clue. Apparently Yiwu puerhs are normally not harsh, and can be sweet, but still manage to age well.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Second Best Teahouse

Ok, maybe the Best tea house is in China, but Salsero has devised a plan to make it possible to have a second best tea house, here in the US. He sent packages with four puerhs to Mary, Even Odd, and me. I got the package today, and was surprised to see that it was a rather large package. I was only expecting three puerhs, but he threw in a lot more. Lot's of interesting looking teas (who knew Assam had a great fruity aroma?) Salsero, thanks for all the tea!

Menghai Dayi 0622 Chi Tse
I used 7g in a 100ml gaiwan, and after a rinse I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 10s, 20s, end.

It started off mellow with kind of a woodiness and some floralness. It started developing some harshness after the third infusion. I think part of the flavor is a developing camphor taste. The later infusions leaves a momentary sweet floral aftertaste, but then turns into a lasting menthol-like aftertaste. The wet leaves in the gaiwan are somewhat chopped up (Sorry, I don't have any pictures).

With my extremely limited knowledge about puerh, I think it might be a good one to age (don't listen to me, I know nothing about puerh).

The puerh isn't exactly soothing to the stomach, so now I'll make something that is. Salsero included two shuixians from Hou De (more over roasted oolongs?).

Regular shuixian
I used 9g of leaf, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 15s, 30s, 60s, 120s.

1: Starting out a little light. It has a toasted grainy flavor. The toasted grain kinda mixes with floral in the aftertaste.

2: A stronger roasted/charcoal flavor came out. There is a slight creaminess, and the normal floral aftertaste.

3: It's mostly a very mellow charcoal flavor. It doesn't have as much an aftertaste, but it has a cooling, menthol effect.

4: A little bit of coffee came out. This one seems to show the little bit of age the tea has. It's starting to taste similar to the other aged teas I've tried.

5: Same.

6: Same.

Brewing this makes me realize just how much better yixing brews tea. I need to brew this tea in yixing.

As for the tea, this is a pretty good tea. It's labeled as a good everyday tea, which I would agree with, if it was priced a little cheaper. There are better teas for the same price.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dark roast Rougui

I already have tasting note for this tea, but this time, I'm brewing it in my yancha pot. I'm curious what kind of an effect yixing will have on the tea. Brewing tea in this pot has always made weak tea, and I thought that the pot would take, but not give back. I eventually figured out that this pot is 150ml, not the advertised 120ml, so, chances are that I didn't use enough leaves. I recently boiled the pot to remove the noticeable clay flavor, and I've been seasoning it with rinse rounds of yancha brewed in a gaiwan. I'm hoping that it will start acting normal so I can start using it whenever I brew yancha.

I used 1g of leaf for every 10ml. 15g of leaves. 14.5g in 150ml would be proportional to my normal 9g in a 100ml gaiwan, so it shouldnt't be much different from gaiwan brewing. Somehow, it seems like 15g crammed the pot with dry leaves. There is about 80-90% leaves in the pot. After a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 5s, 10s, 30s, 120s. This pot takes a bit longer than 10 seconds to pour, so the tea had a little extra time to brew while it was being poured out.

1: I can actually taste the cinnamon this time! The charcoal is still present, but at least it's not dominating this time. It also has a fruity, creamy lingering aftertaste. So far, yixing has made an impressive difference.

2: Very strong. It actually tastes just like a strong coffee. I'm just sitting here waiting to see if the flavor changes. Tick tock tick tock, and now it's starting to show up. Some creaminess developed, and is slightly fruity.

3: Charcoal and coffee. Not much else.

4: A little underbrewed. Coffee and charcoal lessened up, and a touch of creamy came out. It leaves a light, fruity aftertaste.

5: Oddly sweet flavor, that is balanced out by a slight bitterness that shows up a few seconds later. Light coffee taste persists.

6: Not much flavor.

This tea is much better the second go around with it. I'm not sure if it was the pot that made the difference, or the greater leaf to water ratio, but at least I know that it's an enjoyable tea, and that the pot will make excellent tea.

Another thing I noticed about the pot was it's ability to keep the leaves warm in between infusions. I try to not let the tea sit long enough between infusions to get cold, and since gaiwan cools fairly fast, it only lasts about an hour. I brewed this tea at a much more leisurely pace, and it took nearly three hours to finish. The leaves did not get cold at all in that three hours.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Everyday Milan Dancong from Jing tea shop

Time for a little recovering with dancong. Dancong has been one of my favorite teas for a while, and I have recommended this particular one many times because of the quality, and the 5 dollar price tag. I haven't written a tasting note for it yet, so maybe it's time to do so.

I used 1/2 (7g) leaves, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 10s, 15s, 30s, 60s.

1: Dry leaves have a strong, fruity, peachy aroma. The initial taste is a little light, but I noticed the normal fruity, and peachy. This particular one also has a more noticeable roasted taste. Although, the roasted taste is very light. The taste comes out more in a peachy, creamy aftertaste.

2: A touch bitter, but not unpleasant. Again, the initial taste is light, but the aftertaste comes out really strong. The creaminess isn't as strong, but the peachy flavor got stronger.

3: This is more fuller flavored. Initially, it has a creme brule flavor that is balanced with the peachy flavor. This one has a honey-like sweetness, but is balanced by a light bitterness. Again, it leaves a lingering aftertaste.

4: A little underbrewed. It's similar to the first two.

5: A little minty. I think the tea is pretty much dead.

6: Not much flavor, and is fairly bitter.

Dancong is still difficult to brew right. I should have brewed the first two for about 10 seconds, and maybe do the third for 15s. Then maybe 30s, then 60s. It definately doesn't have 9 infusions in the leaves like I used to think.

Bad brewing aside, it truly is a delicious tea.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Dark Roast Tieguanyin from Generation tea

This is the last tea from Salsero that I haven't tried yet.

I used 7g of leaves (a layer on the bottom of the gaiwan), and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 30s, 45s, 90s.

1: I didn't know how long to brew it, so I jut let the color of the tea tell me when to pour. It turned out very light. It has a roasted taste similar to hojicha.

2: It's like a strong hojicha. I noticed that the leaves smell like the TGY I home roasted a couple monthes ago. Maybe the people at Generation tea roasted it?

3: Now it tastes like the my home roasted stuff. The home roasted stuff doesn't taste like normal high fire oolongs made by skilled tea makers. It's more like burnt popcorn kernels.

4: Same, but a little light.

5: Same.

My guess is that they took a light TGY and roasted it. It was like mine, only not so horribly done. It was basically a boring, and slightly sweet roasted flavor. It's not bad on occasion, but it does get boring fast.

Formosa Shui-Sa-Lian red tea from Hou De

Time for the next tea.

I used 5g of leaf, which was 1/2 the gaiwan. After a rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 30s, 60s, 120s.

I was going to write tasting notes for each infusion, but they all came out pretty much the same, so I'll just make it into a general description. It

It is kind of refreshing after trying the purple one. It's another fruity black tea that reminds me of Indian red teas. There is definitely some malty sweetness in this tea. The malty sweetness comes out even more in the aftertaste.

It might just be that anything tastes good after the purple one, but I actually enjoyed this tea.

Wild "Purple" Oolong from Generation tea

I just finished descaling my kettle and teaware, so it's time to try another tea. I think I might be able to try the last of the teas today, so I'm going to start with lighter with the purple oolong, and work up to the stronger dark roast tieguanyin. I was sure how to brew this one, so I used 9g, which is what I'm used to using. After a rinse, I brewed it for 1s, 5s, 10s, KO.

1: After rinsing, the leaves smelled kind of like yerba mate. Slightly grainy, with some smokiness. The taste is also similar to yerba mate. It has a grainy and smoky taste just like the aroma, but it also has a strong medicinal taste.

2: I removed a good amount of leaves from the gaiwan. The aroma is the same, and the medicinal taste lessened up. It's almost exactly like yerba mate. It has kind of a cooling effect on the tongue, and the medicinal taste is the one that sticks around.

3: It doesn't taste like yerba anymore. It's mostly just medicinal. That cooling effect with the last medicinal taste is just not pleasant at all, so I'm going to stop now. *gargles mouthwash*

I think this is more like Chinese medicine than tea. After drinking it, everytime I breath in, it's as if there is medicinal flavored dust in the air. It just won't go away.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Shuixian from Generation tea

Lately I've been trying several different teas Salsero gave me (other tasting notes are on the forum). This time I'm trying the shuixian.

I used 3/4 leaves (9g) in a 100ml gaiwan and after a rinse, I brewed it for 5s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 60s, 120s.

The last few teas I've tried were very unusual teas, and this one actually smelled like a normal shuixian. Normal is good.

1: Smells a little grainy. It has a nice roasted flavor, with some grainy and nutty flavors. It left a sweet floral aftertaste, but didn't last long.

2: The graininess came out more. It actually seemed like there was a hint of floralness in the initial taste before the floral aftertaste came out.

3: Still grainy, but now with a bit of a woody taste. Again, it left a floral aftertaste.

4: initially, it didn't seem like their was any graininess, but it took a few seconds for it come out. I didn't notice any kind of floral aftertaste with this one. Maybe it was underbrewed.

5: Again, mostly a grainy taste. Again no aftertaste. I don't think it's underbrewed as I brewed it longer than I normally would, and it has a slightly more noticeable bitterness.

6: Flavor lightened up a lot. Again, mostly just graininess, and no aftertaste.

There isn't much more to say about this tea. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I just wonder why the aftertaste disapeared in the last 3 infusions.