Wuyi Yancha 2020, Part One

Last year I talked about Wuyi Stone Oolong tea, (Or Wuyi Yancha,) when I received an assortment of them from white2tea, starting from this post on “Iron Arhat“.

A type of Wuyi Yancha, Da Hong Pao, or “Big Red Robe” can be among the most highly desired, (and expensive!) teas grown in China, especially if it comes from the legendary few original tea bushes allegedly chosen by a monk and designated when he put his “Big Red Robe” over them.

While none of these teas are original Da Hong Pao, many of them were chosen by Jon Huarong Li of Tong Xin Teahouse to represent the best Wuyi Yancha teas he tasted in 2019.

To celebrate this year in Wuyi tea, he created a “Premium Yancha Tasting Flight“. It is a set of 12 single dose samples of (mostly) 2019 Wuyi Yancha teas.

Also, in 2018 I had ordered a selection of Wuyi Yancha from Yunnan Sourcing. Some of the varieties overlap with the teas from Tong Xin Teahouse and some don’t. But they provide interesting contrast to the Tong Xin teas.

First up is Tong Xin Teahouse’ Lian Hua Feng (aka Lotus Peak) Shui Xian. ‘Shui Xian’ is the tea varietal and ‘Lotus Peak’ is the tea garden in Wuyi where the tea is sourced.

Because I didn’t write down any notes about this tea, I will simply quote the description from the Tong Xin Teahouse website.

“Today, I want to talk about Shui Xian, the lotus peak in Wuyi rock tea. It is one of the thirty-six peaks in Wuyi Mountain, and it is also well-known. The Shui Xian tea garden has a good environment, old trees, long fragrance, and obvious rock charm. The Shui Xian tea garden uses boiling water to Chong Pao, which has a longer fragrance. The dried tea has both the fragrance of orchid and flowers. People familiar with rock tea know that Rou GUI has made it very well A tea has the fragrance of osmanthus. Shui Xian makes this tea very well. He has the fragrance of orchid. This is a kind of fragrance of his. We say Yan Cha is made with the right technology, which is to make the characteristic fragrance of rock tea. This year’s Wuyi rock tea production process has been greatly improved compared with last year. We say that the most difficult part of Yan Cha process is Bei Hoo. If it is baked high, it will have a burning smell and cover up its fragrance. If it is not baked enough, the tea soup will have a green and astringent feeling, the fragrance is not enough, or the tea soup is thin, and there is no alcohol thickness, so this fire is particularly difficult to grasp.”

Tong Xin Teahouse


Wu Yi Shan “Lao Cong Shui Xian” Old Bush Oolong Tea, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

“”Lao Cong” (or old bush) Shui Xian is grown in the Jiulongke area of Wu Yi.  Jiulongke is included in the “Zheng Yan” (lit.  “Proper Rock”, meaning strictly the original area of Wu Yi Mountain) area of Wu Yi Mountain.  This Lao Cong is grown and picked from 100-150 year old bushes.  Shui Xian is the oldest varietal of Rock Oolong and has been grown in Wu Yi for several hundred years.”

Yunnan Sourcing

My Notes:

Fruity-flowery scent in pre-heated pot.

Full flavor and scent in early steeps.

A little astringency/bitterness in longer steeps.

Good length of flavor and decent resteepability.

Whole leaves, no stems.


Wu San Di Lao Cong Shui Xian, 2015, from Tong Xin Teahouse.

“Lao Cong Shui Xian generally refers to Shui Xian tea trees with an age of more than 60 years. Shui Xian belongs to large leaf type, late growth type, and semi arbor type. Its leaves are larger than those of ordinary small leaf type tea trees. Its growth environment is generally humid, and its surrounding ecological environment is good. Lao Cong tea trees are covered with various parasitic plants, especially moss. Lao Cong Shui Xian has a high age of trees, so it absorbs a lot of natural breath and has a unique flavor of mountains and varieties. It is difficult to pick Lao Cong Shui Xian because the tea trees are very high and it is necessary to use stairs when picking tea.”

Tong Xin Teahouse

My Notes:

It’s funny, some of the notes from the yancha from Yunnan Sourcing sometimes mention a marijuana-like smell in the flavor notes. I got the hint of marijuana smell in some of their teas, but here it is, in this Tong Xin Teahouse yancha full on, from the wet leaves to the tea in the glass.

Medium charcoal roast flavor as the tea cools in the glass and a strong earthy mineral character grounding the tea.

Great length of flavor and very good resteepability.

Even though this tea has had since 2015 to settle, it is a bit of a bruiser. You have to like big teas, to like this one.


Lian Hua Feng (aka Lotus Peak) Rou Gui from Tong Xin Teahouse.

I again spaced on notes for the Lotus Peak Rou Gui, so will reproduce the notes from the Tong Xin Teahouse website.

“Wuyi Mountain Rou Gui, also known as Yu Gui, why is it called Rou Gui? Because of its strong fragrance of cinnamon, it was named this name. Rou Gui is a kind of tea with high fragrance, which is charming and domineering. There are more than 200 kinds of fragrant materials in it, and it is also the most fragrant and changeable tea among all Wuyi rock tea. Therefore, Rou Gui is loved by so many people. It has a strong sense of mystery. The tea in Wuyi Mountain scenic spot is called Zheng Yan tea, whose quality is also excellent. When we make the first four bubbles, we can choose to make soup quickly (3-5 seconds). Because it’s a highly fragrant tea with a strong fragrance, the first four bubbles can reflect the essential characteristics of cinnamon and what kind of fragrance it belongs to. From the beginning of the fifth bubble, we have to soak it consciously for some time (1-3 minutes). Many people say that it’s not good to make this tea without fragrance after eight to nine bubbles, not eight to nine. The tea after jiupao drinks its astringency, water alcohol thickness and Gan Tian degree, which is what we call “Yan Yun”. Not every tea is the same. There are many misunderstandings among tea makers. I will share this conclusion with you because many Yan cha in the tea market are not the tea planted and produced in Wuyishan. They are sold to you as the tea of Zheng Yan in Wuyishan. In fact, as long as you taste it with your heart, you can distinguish its good from the bad. It’s easy to drink a cup of tea, but it’s hard to taste a good cup of tea. I just share some of my experiences over the years. Maybe some of my friends don’t agree with me. I hope you can put forward more opinions. I will accept them with an open mind.”

Tong Xin Teahouse


Wuyi Shan “Classic Rou Gui”, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

“Rou Gui means Cinnamon in Chinese (肉桂茶).  It’s varietal of Wu Yi Mountain rock tea that has been around since the Qing Dynasty.  First flush of spring tea is picked, wilted, fried, wilted again then lightly roasted to bring out it’s subtle bouquet of aroma and tastes. Our Rou Gui is a medium roast level and can be brewed 7 to 10 times easily using the gong fu method of brewing.  The brewed tea produces a golden tea soup with hints of fruit and chocolate.  A lovely tea that can accompany you on almost any tea session.”

Yunnan Sourcing

My Notes:

Super solid well balanced flavor.

Good body.

Decent resteepability, as long as you keep early steeps short.

Moderate length of flavor, with a bit of lingering bitterness and a nice perfume.


Ma Tou Yan “Rou Gui” Zheng Yan Rock Oolong Tea, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

“Ma Tou Yan Rou Gui 马头岩肉桂 (lit. Horse Head Rock Cinnamon) is a unique varietal grown in the “Zheng Yan” Ma Tou Yan 马头岩 area of Wu Yi.  Zheng Yan (正岩) refers to the innermost protected area of the Wu Yi Heritage site.  It’s a protected area separate from the scenic area and outsiders are not allowed inside.   The “Zheng Yan Growing Area” refers to these tea gardens: tiānxīn yán/天心岩, mǎ tóu yán/马头岩, huìyuàn/慧苑, zhú kē/竹窠, bì shí/碧石, yànzi kē/燕子窠, jiǔlóng kē/九龙窠, yù cháyuán/御茶园, yù huā dòng/玉花洞, shuǐ lián dòng/水帘洞, fo guó/佛国, táohuā dòng/桃花洞, guìlín/桂林, sān yǎng fēng děng děng/三仰峰等等. Ma Tou Yan area is 425 meters high.  Rou Gui varietal has been grown here for over 100 years and many of the bushes are quite old.  The mineral taste of the Zheng Yan area is present in this tea.  The processing style is a medium-high level of roast done respectfully over several months time.  The taste is silky and sweet… roast taste is there but not strong and will fade over a few months.  Nice thick body with a long lasting sweet cinnamon-like after-taste.  Tea can be infused 7 to 10 times if brewed gong fu style.”

My Notes:

Darker Roast/Heavier Oxidation

Chocolate and camphor flavors.

Very Good length of flavor and fair resteepability.

Flavors of the later steeps edge towards herbaceousness.

A nice chest based lightness.


First Grade Gong Pin Da Hong Pao via Tong Xin Tea House.

“My Aunt Chen Zhenying has 40 years of practice and research experience in the Tea Research Institute. She has rich experience in the cultivation, cultivation, management and traditional rock tea production technology of the tea garden. Besides the fourth Quxi of JIUQUXI, Wuyishan, is the seat of Wuyishan Tea Science Research Institute and the former royal imperial tea garden. Now, most of the famous varieties of Wuyi Mountain are from here. Today, I want to share this tea with you from the Dahongpao made by Aunt Chen Zhenying. What is the matching Dahongpao? It refers to the Dahongpao (generally 4-5 strains of tea) which is made up of more than two strains of tea. The main ingredients of rock tea are cinnamon and Narcissus.”

Tong Xin Teahouse

My Notes:

In my limited experience with Wuyi Yancha, I think this tea is as close to perfect as I have yet tasted. It is such a wonderful balance of perfume, roast, and astringency.

A seriously great tea to contemplate, and turn over, again and again, on your tongue and in your mind, on a cold winter’s day.


Wu Yi Shan “Hua Xiang” Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong Tea, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

“A premium lightly processed Da Hong Pao from Wu Yi Shan. “Hua Xiang” means flower aroma.  It’s a method of light processing that is unique and brings out a flower aroma in the tea when brewed.”

Yunnan Sourcing

My Notes:

Sweet cannabis scent to the dry leaves in pre-warmed pot. Slight roast flavor in the scent of cooled tea.

Light oxidation.

Large Leaves, no stems.

Sweet floral lingering flavor, almost like pastille candies. Spring in winter.

An unusually low level of oxidation on this Wuyi Yancha. Almost a bit like a white tea made from yancha varietal.

A little astringency in the later, longer steeps.


2018 Wild Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong from Wuyi Shan, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

“Grown naturally in a small family plot in Tong Mu Guan village in Wu Yi Shan, these Da Hong Pao varietal tea bushes have been growing without human involvement and are picked twice a year in May and late September! The aroma is at once nuts, chocolate and floral, while the taste has these elements too, but also some slight astringency to complement it’s pungent and vibrant nature.  Sweet and thick in the mouth the tea that reminds just how good unadulterated naturally grown tea can be!”

Yunnan Sourcing

My Notes:

Grassy, vegetal smell in pre-heated pot.

A little bitterness/astringency to the liquid as it cools.

Some stems and buds noticeable.

Almost like a green tea made from yancha varietals, even a bit of nuttiness.

Good length of flavor, but not very many steeps.

Clean aftertaste and clear cha qi.


Zheng Yan Hua Guo Xiang Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea, Spring 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing (not currently available).

“Da Hong Pao is the quintessential Wu Yi Rock Oolong varietal. Our Zheng Yan 正岩Hua Guo Xiang (花果香 Flower Fruit Aroma) was harvested in May 2018 and tirelessly processed through roasting and resting, and only available for sale by mid-June (this is fairly typical for Wu Yi rock oolongs).
“The tea leaves come from mature bushes that grow in an area with heavy mineral content in the soil. This superb (and classic) environment for Rock Oolongs is felt when cupping this divine tea! Thick, sweet, viscous, and complex with tons minerality, cannabis, fruit and flower tastes melded together into something that is better experienced than talked about.
Zheng Yan (正岩) refers to the protected areas of the Wu Yi Heritage site. It’s a protected area separate from the scenic area and outsiders are not allowed inside.”

Yunnan Sourcing

My Notes:

Smell in the pre-heated pot has a strong floral and roast character, reminding me of Chinese incense.

Sweetness and astringency in flavor, thick soup.

Very unusual flavor of the tea also reminds me of Chinese incense and perfume.

Moderate resteepability.


Qi Lan From Tong Xin Teahouse.

“Qilan, one of the representatives of Wuyi rock tea, is a very distinctive kind of rock tea. People familiar with it all know that rock tea is famous for its water and not for its fragrance. Today’s Qilan, which I share with you, is made by my brother Gao Peng. Description: Its fragrance is fresh, full-bodied, not as fierce as Qilixiang (seven mile aroma) yancha, but has its own penetrating power, Its first two Infusions are standard orchid fragrance. It’s like an empty valley orchid which spreads its fragrance. It’s particularly elegant and refined. However, from the third infusion, its fragrance has changed into an obvious Gardenia fragrance. The fragrance is stronger, stronger and more vigorous. The fragrance is rich, clear and sweet, which is intriguing. Besides the fragrance, the soup of Qilan also has its own characteristics. The soup is extremely sweet. At the entrance, I almost thought that I was drinking fully fermented black tea. However, when I drink it, I feel like walking in a quiet valley and meeting an independent orchid. I am happy to pick it up and suck the nectar of its flower juice. Its sweet smell of flowers is like the magical dew from heaven.”

Tong Xin Teahouse

My Notes:

Pleasant smell in the pre-heated pot.

First narcissus/lillies, then medium roast and medium oxidation.

There is an implied candy scent of fruit pastilles in the aftertaste.

Good resteepability and very good length of flavor.


Jin Mu Dan from Tong Xin Teahouse.

“This Yan Cha was cultivated from the Wusan Di Tea Garden. Jin Mu Dan tea is a clone, shrub type, middle leaf type, and an early-growing species. The fertility of buds and leaves is strong and tender. Jin Mu Dan was bred with excellent quality, strong lines, long fragrance, mellow and sweet taste, bold flavor and quality characteristics of a Tie Guan Yin varietal. In fact, Jin Mu Dan was bred by the Tea Research Institute of Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences from 1978 to 2002. A crossbreeding between Tie Guan Yin and Huang Bi creates the unique taste and aroma of Jin Mu Dan.”

Tong Xin Teahouse

My Notes:

Excellent smell in the pre-heated pot, sweet orchid and narcissus.

Medium roast flavor and oxidation.

Complex and perfume-ey aftertaste, with a lingering sweetness.

Of all the teas, the 4 that stand out the most are the Ma Tou Yan “Rou Gui” Zheng Yan Rock Oolong Tea and Wu Yi Shan “Lao Cong Shui Xian” Old Bush from Yunnan Sourcing. From Tong Xin Teahouse, the Wu San Di Lao Cong Shui Xian and, (especially!) First Grade Gong Pin Da Hong Pao.

Kamjove Gongfu Teapot

Kamjove Tea Pot
Kamjove Tea Pot

I’ve mentioned “Gong Fu” tea brewing before and talked a bit about the necessary paraphenalia (Paraphenalia for Gong Fu Brewing).

It turns out the Gaiwan (Gaiwan) is the most controversial aspect of Gong Fu Tea Brewing with some of my friends, some complaining they didn’t feel they were coordinated enough to operate Gaiwan. Always burning their fingers, spilling tea, and what not.

As I probably destroyed a bunch of nerves in my fingers working as a line cook in restaurant kitchens in my 20s, my finger tips are no longer so sensitive.

However, I was looking for something that would be a bit more convenient and simple for gong fu tea making while traveling.

When I was at the San Francisco International Tea Expo, I saw quite a few vendors using a small combo strainer and share cup, and it put it into my head to track one down.

This pot and strainer combo from Kamjove, (KAMJOVE Glass Gong Fu Teapot with Filter, 300ml,) looked pretty good.

You put your tea in the top compartment. Cover with hot water. Then wait a few seconds. Push the button on the top and the tea strains through a filter into the carafe. Repeat as necessary. When your tea leaves are spent, tap them into the compost pile and rinse out the two sections.

I like that it is mostly clear glass (the strainer section is clear plastic, though the filter itself is fine metal mesh). The tea it makes is good. A bit different tasting from most of the gaiwans and tea pots I’ve used, tea from every type brewing vessel is different, but it is a lot simpler to use than gaiwans and easier to get the tea leaves out of than tea pots, especially early in the morning when you’re not quite awake. If I were to venture an opinion, I would say it makes good green and black tea. As a bonus, the fact that it has a filter strainer, means it will work fine for both whole leaf and broken leaf teas. I don’t think I’d use it for Puerh or Oolong, the thin glass loses heat too quickly.

It’s a good compromise between convenience and quality for hassle free loose leaf tea.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #GongFuTea #KamjovePressArtTeaPot

Dripd O’Bitters

Dripd O'Bitters
Dripd O’Bitters

Dripd O’Bitters, 2019, from White2Tea.

Dripd O’Bitters is a ripe PuErh tea which has been blended with chenpi.

There are two big classifications of PuErh tea.

The main type, and traditional type, is called Raw or Sheng PuErh.

It is basically green tea, made from a specific type of tea plant from a specific region, which is partially dried and then aged for years or decades.

The second type is called Ripe/Cooked or Shou/Shu Puerh.

Ripe Puerh was invented in the 1970s The idea behind Ripe Puerh was to accelerate the aging process of the tea so it could be sold sooner. While what they ended up producing isn’t exactly flash aged PuErh, it is a tea that is worthy of contemplating for its own merits.

Ripe and Raw Puerh start the same. Leaves and buds of the tea plant are picked, withered briefly, then mostly dried to form what is essentially a rough looseleaf green tea, or maocha.

For Ripe Puerh, the maocha is put into a big pile, kept damp, and repeatedly turned using implements like rakes for a month or two, allowing it to ferment and further oxidize before being completely dried and/or formed into cakes.

If Raw Puerh is sort of like funky green tea, Ripe Puerh is more like funky black tea. Especially if it is a freshly made tea, Ripe Puerh can have very strong funky taste, (wet pile taste,) reminiscent of certain Belgian farmhouse ales. There is some Brett happening in there, for sure. While the funk of Raw Puerh increases with age, the funk of Ripe Puerh tends to calm down with age. Older Ripe Puerh can exhibit stonefruit or chocolate flavors, alongside the usual notes for PuErh tea, camphor, mint, etc.

For Dripd O’Bitters, White2Tea took an already somewhat aged Ripe PuErh and blended it with a type of citrus peel called “chenpi”. Chenpi is the dried peel from a small orange. Chenpi sometimes used in Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments, “to regulate ch’i (or qi), fortify the spleen, eliminate dampness, improve abdominal distension, enhance digestion, and reduce phlegm.” As near as I can tell, chenpi seem very similar in flavor and character to the Italian Bitter orange called, Chinotto (Citrus myrtifolia).

In traditional Chinese medicine, foods are often divided by their warming or cooling natures. Teas are also divided up this way. Unaged Green and white teas, including puerh, are considered cooling, while aged Puerh, Aged White, Black, and Ripe Puerh are considered warming.

Chenpi also have a strong warming element, making drinking a ripe Puerh and Chenpi blended tea, a good choice for weather where you need to warm yourself up.

However, according to wikipedia, “Traditional Chinese medicine urges caution in using Chenpi when red symptoms occur such as red tongue or redness in the face. In addition, pregnant women or those who have menstrual problems should use it carefully.”

In any case, Dripd O’Bitters’ flavor does remind me a bit of Chinotto soda or certain Italian Amari, especially Torani Amer or Amer Picon.

The funk of the Raw Puerh is noticeable in the first few steeps, and not overpowering, while the flavor of the orange develops later, as an aftertaste, or in the later steeps, noticeable as a pleasant bitter flavor on the sides of your tongue. Dripd O’Bitters as a young tea doesn’t have a great deal of re-steepability, but it is a tasty, and warming, diversion for a chilly day.

#tea #cha #White2Tea #RipePuerh #ShuPuerh #ShouPuerh #TeaOfInstagram #DrinkTea

“Wet Storage” Raw Pu-Erh Tea

For the last couple months I’ve mostly been drinking young Raw/Sheng Pu-Erh Tea fresh from factories or distributors that is less than a year or two old.

However, there is another element to consider, which is the aging of Pu-Erh Tea.

To go back over the basics.

All tea comes from varieties and species of the Camellia plant, usually Camellia sinensis or Camellia assamica.

Most Pu-Erh tea is made from varieties of Camellia assamica.

Tea is made by picking the young leaves and buds of Camellia bushes and trees.

After the leaves and buds have been plucked they can be processed by simply drying them relatively quickly. The result of this is what is called “White Tea”.

If, instead of simply drying, you first steam or shock the leaves in a wok, the green color will be fixed, and, after drying, the result is “Green Tea”.

For Pu-Erh Tea, the leaves and buds are allowed to wilt slightly, shocked, (as with green tea,) and then dried. The result is a product called “maocha”, which can then either be aged as it is or steamed slightly and formed into various solid shapes for ease of transport and aging. The most common shape is a disk shape, commonly called a “bing” or “beeng” which will weigh between 100-500g, (357g being the “traditional” weight for a full size bing) . These Bing are usually wrapped in paper and then further wrapped in bamboo leaves in groups of 7, (7, traditionally, but sometimes more or less). This package of 7 tea cakes is called a “tong”.

Pu-Erh collectors and enthusiasts highly prize Pu-Erh which has been stored well for many years.

As you might imagine, the weather in the area where the tea is stored, and the exact conditions of the warehouse it is stored in, affects how fast it matures and the character it takes on.

“Wet Storage” Pu-Erh comes from warehouses in areas like Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Guangdong, which are quite warm and humid in the summer months. In these areas where aging proceeds relatively more rapidly, a 15 year old Pu-Erh might be considered “partially aged” or “aged”, depending on the exact conditions of the warehouse.

“Dry Storage” Pu-Erh is stored in areas where the humidity and temperature are lower in summer and it might be cooler in winter. An example of a common dry storage city in China would be Kunming. Tea stored for 15 years in a dry storage warehouse would still be considered relatively young Pu-Erh.

While it is not intentionally infected with mold spores, (some other Chinese teas are intentionally infected with types of mold,) “Wet Storage” Pu-Erh can take on flavors that resemble mold or mildew, depending on your sensitivity to those flavors. Some may even show mold visually. Some people like those flavors, some do not.

A tea friend of mine is super enthusiastic about wet stored Pu-Erh, so I thought I would give them a try and see how I felt about them.

Conveniently, Yunnan Sourcing offers a Guangdong Aged Raw Pu-Erh Tea Sampler. The teas in the sample are all at least partially aged, most having been stored in Guangdong for around 15 years.

One of my favorite parts about Yunnan Sourcing’s listings for aged teas are warnings like this, “Wrappers may be bug bitten from humid storage conditions.  If you are squeamish don’t order this tea!” and this, “Wrappers have disintegrated a bit due to bamboo worms that eat the bamboo leaf tongs. It does not impact the taste of the tea!”

So, consider yourself warned!

2005 CNNP "Big Yellow Mark" Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake
2005 CNNP “Big Yellow Mark” Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

2005 CNNP “Big Yellow Mark” Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake.

Initial impressions in scent are of smoke. No real Wet Storage Funk, the YS site notes this was stored in, “dry Guangdong conditions”. Presents fairly bitter in early steeps. As the steeps advance changing the smoke evolves to leaf tobacco and finally leather.

Be careful with the steep times on this, or you may find yourself in a little over your head. This is a STRONG in every sense of the word tea, burly and a little harsh, both in flavor and in buzz. I can’t say I find it entirely pleasant.

2006 Pasha Mountain Gu Shu

2006 “Pasha Mountain Gu Shu” Guangdong Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake.

Fairly leafy, stemmy cake, not very bud heavy.

Pleasant, mildly bitter tea with some astringent notes similar to a black tea. No detectable funky “wet storage” flavors. Lingering complex camphor, herb, and fruit character in the lengthy finish. Strong, clean, fast acting head buzz.

A very well balanced and drinkable tea, especially for the price.

2004 Millenial Old Tree Big Snow Mountain Mengku Raw Pu-erh
2004 Millenial Old Tree Big Snow Mountain Mengku Raw Pu-erh

2004 “Millenial Old Tree” Big Snow Mountain Mengku Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

Oof, I have a hard time with this one.

If you want a good example of funky camphor/mushroom “wet storage” raw Pu-erh flavor, this one has it. And from what other people write about this tea, this isn’t even that funky. Not sure I can deal with really funky wet storage, if this is mild!

On the other hand, whatever is growing on it, has transformed the later flavors of the tea into an interesting thick brown sugar-like flavor. No bitterness or astringency. Strong, warming, chest centered buzz.

2003 Feng Qing Jia Ji Er Deng Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake
2003 Feng Qing Jia Ji Er Deng Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

2003 Feng Qing Jia Ji Er Deng Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

Early flavors remind me a bit of black tea, but with very little bitterness or astringency. Some mild smoky character. Lengthy sweet aftertaste reminds me a bit of roasted chicory. No musty wet storage character to speak of.

Another very well balanced tea, with a very interesting aftertaste. Might be my favorite of the sample group!

2004 Gu Pu'er "Cha Ma Gu Dao" Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake
2004 Gu Pu’er “Cha Ma Gu Dao” Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

2004 Gu Pu’er “Cha Ma Gu Dao” Aged Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake.

A little smoke in the nose. Mild, well balanced complex flavor with only slight bitterness and astringency. More floral and herbaceous with lingering tobacco, freshly cut wood. No sweetness, but a nice camphor and herb lift in the later steeps.

A very, very good tea, but a completely different experience from the other four.

As an exercise, I find drinking these well aged teas to be a fascinating exercise. But as I contemplate their flavors, I am not sure I find the taste of “Wet Storage” to be my favorite at this point in my life.

Out of the five, two I don’t really enjoy; The Big Yellow Mark is just too rough for me and the “Wet Storage” character of the Big Snow Mountain is just not enjoyable for me. 2 I find intriguing enough that I will enjoy the rest of the sample, Gu Pu-er Cha Ma Gu Dao and Pasha Mountain Gushu. Finally, one I find enjoyable enough I might buy a cake, the Feng Qing Jia Ji Er Deng.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #YunnanSourcing #Puerh #RawPuerh #GuangdongAgedPuerh

Tianming Long Pa Village You Le Mountain Gushu Ancient Tree

Tianming Long Pa Village
Tianming Long Pa Village

2015 Spring Tianming Long Pa Village You Le Mountain Gushu Ancient Tree Raw Pu’er from Mud and Leaves*.

Another thing you sometimes run into with Pu-er tea is really long names!

“This raw / sheng pu’er tea was picked in Spring 2015 and is a single estate tea from Long Pa 龙怕 Tea Garden in You Le Mountain 攸乐山 (also known as Ji Nuo Mountain 基诺山). The tea trees in this garden are ancient trees at 150 + years old.”

Mud and Leaves

First they give you the the year and season that the tea was harvested. Spring leaves are usually more highly prized, and thus more expensive than tea leaves from the Autumn harvest. They are perceived as being more tender and elegant in the flavor of the tea they produce.

Tianming is the tea company in Menghai that produced the tea.

“Long Pa Tea Garden” is the specific tea tree garden on “You Le” Mountain where the leaves came from. That the tea leaves came from a specific garden and were not blended leaves from the whole mountain or the whole region, makes them more special and seasonal.

“Gushu Ancient Tree” is a bit redundant, as “Gushu” is basically the Chinese word for “Ancient Tree”. This term can be a little squishy, but in this case, we will take Mud and Leaves word for it that the trees these leaves came from were 150+ years old, pretty old for tea trees, though not unusually old, for old Pu’erh tea trees. As the tea trees age, the feeling is that they gain character and the tea they produce has more energy or life force, similar to how doing Tai Chi in an old forest feels different from doing Tai Chi in a parking lot.

Smelling the leaves, you can tell for a pretty young raw Pu’erh this is already starting to shed it’s youthful exuberance and develop some nice dried fruit character!

This follows through in the brewed tea, there is good body to the soup, and a tasty bitterness, which lingers and fades to sweetness. It is all very clean, with no off flavors or smells. The cha qi, or tea energy, is focused and calm.

This is a very nice Pu’erh as it is, but I am super curious how it would develop in a year or five.

*I received this tea as part of a sampler I won from Mud and Leaves after entering an instagram based contest.

#Tea #Cha #Puerh #RawPuerh #ShengPuerh #MudAndLeaves #TianmingTeaCompany



2019 Dangerfield Raw Puerh from White2Tea.

“The 2019 Dangerfield was blended with an intention of being a poor man’s Naka.”


Sometimes there is an, ahem, danger with Puerh, in that there is a lot of jargon and knowledge of that jargon is assumed. For example, before receiving this tea and doing a little research, I had no idea what the characteristics of “Naka” Puerh would be and why it would be prized.

Na Ka is a village in the Menghai county of Yunnan China. For a long time tea from this village was highly prized and not allowed to be sold outside of China.

Authentic “Naka” has gotten to be quite expensive, (#white2tea sells a 2005 Naka for around $1 a gram,) and is known among Western Puerh fanciers for its strong body centered cha qi. Young Naka from old trees is also known for a middle bitterness that gives way to a long lasting sweet aftertaste.

This is not Naka, but is a blend of Raw Puerh which is intended to evoke the flavor and physiological effects of an aged Naka Puerh.

The early flavors are clean and on the dry side, a bit earthy. These give way to a medium level middle palate bitterness. The bitterness fades leaving an lingering appetizing sensation of lightness and sweetness on the palate. The cha qi is more of a slow build than a fast head rush, but it is noticeably there and also clean and pleasant. Not a bad trip.

I have not had an actual Naka, but I can tell you this is a good, well priced Puerh that will not disappoint, either if you are looking to expand your tea drinking horizons, or if you are an experienced Puerh drinker trying to shave a little money off your tea cake budget.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #White2Tea #RawPuerh #ShengPuerh #Puerh #Naka

Tianming Pasha Dashu Big Tree

Tian Ming Pasha Dashu Big Tree
Tian Ming Pasha Dashu Big Tree

2017 Spring Tianming Pa Sha Dashu Big Tree Raw Pu’er from Mud and Leaves*.

At $33 for a 357g cake, this seems almost too good to be true!

But it is a good, solid, clean tasting Pu-Erh that, as they say on the Mud and Leaves site, would make a fine “daily drinker”.

Like the Tianming Bang Dong, the flavors are on the forest floor/umami side of Pu-Erh. There is a small amount of bitterness, but not as strong as the Bang Dong. It has good length of flavor, as well. Cha qi, aka tea energy, is also lighter than the Bang Dong, but decidedly present.

I’m a little sad that I’ve already drunk my way through the sample I’ve enjoyed drinking it, but onwards and upwards!

*I received this tea as part of a sampler I won from Mud and Leaves after entering an instagram based contest.

Tianming Bang Dong Big Tree

Spring Tianming Bang Dong Big Tree Dashu Raw Pu'er
Spring Tianming Bang Dong Big Tree Dashu Raw Pu’er

2018 Spring Tianming Bang Dong Big Tree Dashu Raw Puer from Mud and Leaves*.

“This tea has a nice clean aroma, strong cha qi, and a pleasant slight bitterness that combined with its vegetal and mineral flavours is quite refreshing. This is one of our daily-drinkers.”

Mud and Leaves

I do not disagree with this assessment at all.

The flavors are on the leathery-tobacco-sun dried black olive side of the flavor spectrum, with very little fruit or sweetness showing up yet in this tea’s flavor profile. The bitterness is there, but not harsh, though this tea is very young tasting and a bit wild-ish. It will probably settle down in a couple years. Some herbal lightness in the later flavors and a lengthy lasting aftertaste.

I’ve been drinking lightly steeped and lightly dosed green teas for the past few weeks, so the cha qi of a heavy dose of this did snap my head back a bit.

Strong immediate light head buzz and later a little creeping crunchiness in the muscles of the extremities. I have a feeling I won’t be sleeping for a while tonight.

If you’re looking for a strong, solid, buzzy, reasonably priced, daily drinker Pu-Erh, this could be a good choice.

*I received this tea as part of a sampler I won after entering an instagram based contest.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #MudAndLeaves #Puerh #RawPuerh #ShengPuerh


The first two most likely Chinese teas you will find in America are probably jasmine or the sort of indeterminate Chinese black tea usually served in Chinese restaurants. The next most likely is probably Dragon Well or Gunpowder Greens. After that, you might find the smoked version of Lapsang Souchong. A certain amount of Scotch drinking and/or cigar smoking tea drinkers are quite fond of the in-your-face, drinking a campfire, flavor of Smoked Lapsang. While I used to be among the Scotch fancying Lapsang drinkers, cigars have never appealed. And, I haven’t drunk a Lapsang Souchong tea for a few years.

A smattering of single dose 8g samples of Lapsang from Fujian province teas arrived via the July @white2tea club and presented me with the option to revisit my opinions and prejudices regarding this opinion provoking tea.

Traditional Lapsang
Traditional Lapsang

Traditional Lapsang

As I discussed in a previous post, “Traditional” Lapsang Black teas from the Wuyi region of Fujian province are NOT smoked.

This tea is very similar to the “Lapsang Wild Tea” from Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea. There are notes of sweet potato and dried fruit with a dry menthol/camphor finish. This is a very well balanced black tea and I could see making it a daily drinker (if I didn’t have so much other tea to drink).

Herby Lapsang

Herby Lapsang

I don’t know if this feels Herb-ey to me. I feel like there is a bitter-sweet orange character along with a bit of sweet potato and a very long finish/aftertaste. More elegant than the “Traditional Lapsang”, this is one of the better black teas I can remember having recently.

Of the Lapsangs, this is my favorite. It has great length of flavor, nice character, and a very clean feel. I would definitely make this a special occasion black tea, if it were available.

Fruit Bomb Lapsang
Fruit Bomb Lapsang

Fruit Bomb Lapsang

The last of the “traditional” lapsang is the Fruit Bomb. This one didn’t really grab me. It didn’t have the elegance of the Herby Lapsang or the slightly rustic character of the “Traditional”. Just not a very complex tea. I’d drink it again, but I wouldn’t search it out. (Of course the problem with single dose samples, is you never know if it is your mood, a fluke in preparation that day, or some oddness.)

After the fruit bomb, we switch over to the smoked versions of the tea.

PIne Sap Lapsang
PIne Sap Lapsang

Pine Sap Lapsang

Pine Sap Lapsang, on the other hand, is a smoked Lapsang Tea.

For a Smoked Lapsang, it is fairly balanced, you can tease out the tea elements underlying the campfire scents and flavors. It shows a bit of affinity for Oolong teas with a strong menthol element in the finish. However, it is a tea you will be tasting ALL day. You might brush your teeth once, you might brush your teeth twice, but you are still going to be tasting campfire and pine sap when you go to bed at night. So, if you don’t enjoy smoky flavors, this probably is not a tea for you. A good tea for cold winter nights (and it might make a nice addition to a hot toddy).

Smoked Lapsang
Smoked Lapsang

Smoked Lapsang

It’s funny, this lapsang is actually smokier tasting up front than the Pine Sap Lapsang, but somehow I enjoy it more. Weird.

Anyway, this is pretty much exactly like drinking a campfire. Super-smoky, but with a decent, somewhat sweet, black tea backbone. Interestingly, while it is smokier up front, the smoke flavor recedes more in the aftertaste, isn’t as cling-ey, and it is the core of the sweet tea flavor the sticks in your mind. If I were drinking smoked Lapsang, this is the one I would drink.

While I enjoyed trying all these Lapsangs, the ones that really stuck with me were the “Traditional” and the “Herby” Lapsangs. I am definitely now more curious about black teas from Fujian!

#Tea #Cha #White2tea #Lapsang #TraditionalLapsang #PineSapLapsang



Jinjunmei from Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea.

Jinjunmei is a Black Tea from the Wuyi region of Fujian, specifically, a village named Tongmu.

Unlike traditional and smoked Lapsang teas, Jinjunmei is a relatively recent innovation.

“In 2006, another innovation took place in Tongmu. A Fujian official asked Jiang Yuanxun, the biggest manufacturer in Tongmu, to make some tea as a gift using bud tea and without the familiar smoking. The tea was made by Liange Junde, the tea master that worked for Mr Jiang at the time, and the tea Jin Jun Mei was born. In 2007, it went into production and rapidly became the most expensive black tea ever sold in China.”

Seven Cups Tea

Jinjunmei is essentially the type of early spring, carefully picked, all bud material that would normally be used for Silver Needle (or Baihao Yinzhen) White Tea. But, instead of being processed into White Tea, it is fully oxidized and then dried.

As I mentioned, Baihao Yinzhen, due to the labor necessary to carefully pick the individual spring tea buds, tends to be the most expensive of Chinese White Teas.

Making a Black Tea from this type of material is a true conspicuous luxury move.

The early flavors/scents are citrus-like. Secondary flavors evoke peach and pear. The aftertaste is subtle yet lengthy, returning to the citrus-like character, with a touch of mint-camphor overtone.

It is a lighter and subtler tea than the unsmoked Wild Lapsang, as you would expect from the material.

It is another great tea to try, whether it ends up being your favorite Black tea will be a matter of personal taste.

#Tea #Junjunmei #Cha #Yinxianghuaxiatea #DrinkTea #InstaTea