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.