Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017 Yunnan Sourcing Blinded Puerh Tasting Event Alpha & Beta

This is classic, old-style, puerh blogger fun and games!  It was a bit of a puerh blogging tradition back in the day to sample the latest Yunnan Sourcing brand puerh blinded and see how poorly you could guess the tea producing area.  This sport was usually orchestrated by good ol’ Hobbes of the Half-Dipper (see here, here and here).  These events always kept me sampling teas from different areas at times in my life when I would have not otherwise sought that out.  So I am grateful that Hobbes and Scott had taken the time and consideration in organizing these events in the past.  On my return back to puerh tea I was back and forth with Scott of Yunnan Sourcing about reviving this tradition and he loved the idea.  So here we are (Thanks again Scott)…

As per tradition and as a homage to the old Half-Dipper/ Yunnan Sourcing Events of years past, the samples were labeled only with Greek letters (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta).  They were sent to many of the current puerh bloggers who agreed to have a little fun with this (as well as myself).

I can only surmise that my ability to guess such areas has likely decreased substantially since my long absence from the puerh scene.  Back in the day Yunnan Sourcing was producing tea from a lot of the classic/ popular areas mainly in Xishuangbanna and they were producing much less tea.  That first Yunnan Sourcing Tasting Event there were only 9 teas produced by them to guess from, in 2017 last I counted there was 34!  At that time, I would say my guesses were a touch below 50% - not bad at all!

I have no experience with any of Yunnan Sourcing brand puerh from 2017 or even the last number of years and a lot of the puerh we might be sampling will likely be from areas I have not even tried.  However I will put it all out there for you readers and fellow bloggers and guess my best. Hahaha..  Although I was supplied enough dry leaves for two sessions per sample in my small pot I have based the notes below on a single sampling.  I look forward to sampling them again after reading all the other tasting notes and seeing how my experience with them will change with this knowledge.

Now that I have adequately lowered expectations and nicely self-handicapped myself lets dive right into the Alpha sample… hahahaa….


The dry leaves smell of very spicy pungent and dominating mushroom fungus funky odours and more distant sour/sweet notes.  This immediately smells like an interesting puerh or it is a blend???

The first infusion emits a very spicy pungent sweet initial taste and slowly develops into a watery mushroom profile in a light mouthfeel.  There is a soft returning sweetness of sweet, barely cotton candy taste and slight grassiness.  The mouthfeel is very light and the throatfeel even lighter.

The second infusion starts with a more bitter-sweet pungent taste followed by bitterness and that base mushroom taste.  There is a more grittiness to the taste.  The aftertaste displays signs of vegetal tastes, hay, mushrooms, and pungent tastes.  There is not as much sweetness here.  The mouthfeel becomes a soft graininess in the mouth.  Minutes later there is a sweet-pungent turbid like taste in the throat.

The third infusion starts with a slightly creamy-flat-gritty bitter-sweetness.  There is a pronounced vegetal taste initially followed by hay and mushroom tastes.  A mild cotton candy like sweetness expands in the throat and evolves slowly into a turbid vegetal taste.

The fourth starts with a grainy, hay, vegetal like sweetness with just edges of cream.  It carries the base taste of mushrooms and hay into the aftertaste which has a nice opening cotton candy sweetness.  All this happens on a mild grainy mouthfeel and throatfeel which is grainy at the top throat and slightly opening at the mid throat.  The effect pushes some saliva into the mid throat- holding a turbid slight sweet vegetal mushroom taste there minutes later.  The qi of this tea is very alerting and invigorating on the mind but very mild on the body.

The fifth has a melon initial taste now that develops into a slight pungent mint sweetness.  The base taste is slight mushroom vegetal taste.  The aftertaste has a turbid vegetalness to it.

The sixth has a slight bitter-sweet taste over grains and hay.  The granary hay taste joins mushroom in the base taste.  The aftertaste becomes bitter as well as still slightly sweet.  There is a gumminess in the mouth afterwards.  The seventh tastes much the same as the sixth.  There is lots of layers of flavors to this tea.

The eighth infusion starts slightly bitter-sour vegetal taste and to sweet.  It moves to sweet bursts and then to mushroom hay tastes. In this infusion the sweet nicely pops transitioning from bitter to sweet then opening up to the base tastes.  The mouthfeel of this tea is mild and grainy but full.

The ninth starts to flatten out a bit in the initial taste but still retains much flavor throughout the profile.

The tenth starts to hollow out under flash steepings.  With melon watery tastes over faint sweetness mushroom, and hay.

The eleventh and twelvth is much the same starting with a watery sour sweet vegetal taste with mild hay and subtle returning sweetness.  The mouthfeel is slightly sandy and mild.  The qi of this tea is nice and gives a partially euphoric type feeling in a whole lot of alertness.

I let this one overnight steep after leaving it sit for a few days in the pot and I am left with a sour almost briney taste sweet woods.

Out of all the samples in this even this one was the hardest for me to determine. When I was actually drinking it I was leaning to either Simao or possibly Yiwu in my thoughts.  I also tasted some Mengku notes in there as well.  I’m guessing its Simao maybe this  2017 Yunnan Souring Brand Da Qing Gu Shu.


Larger, loosely compressed leaf and bud dry leaves smell of nicely sweet rose florals.  The odours are juicy and light, slightly fruity.

The first infusion is light and watery and has hints of barely sweet icing sugar that transform into a slight barely noticeable vanilla and vacuous barely noted sweetness.

The second infusion starts off a touch sour and creamy.  It carries a barely creamy fluffy sweetness.  It has a slightly tart and puckery drying taste and mouth feeling.  The astringency opens the mid throat up to faint sweet/ creamy note in distant forest/wood notes.  Overall this tea starts off very light in taste with a more stimulating mouth and throat feel.

Third starts with a slightly creamy sweetness.  The sourness is less now but still noticeable.  The taste profile is short and relatively simple.  It ends with a mildly astringent throat feel, faint florals and sugary sweetness.  There is a slight dry wood taste starting to emerge.

The fourth opens with brisk, short initial tastes of sour sweetness.  A dry wood base taste is emerging and gets stronger with sour wood tastes in the aftertaste along with slight florals.  The mouthfeel is moderately drying and astringent.  Overall the taste profile is short and simple with this tea in a fairly simulating throat and mouthfeel.

The fifth has an almost grapefruit like sour sweetness as well as a creamy sweetness that makes its way past the dry wood taste to the aftertaste.  In the aftertaste the creamy sweetness expands in the slightly astringent throatfeel.  The qi of this tea is relaxing and makes the head feel stuffy and expansive, like a pressure or build up there.  It also makes the arms feel light and airy.

The sixth is smoother in taste with less sour and more muted creamy sweetness up front.  There are faint notes of vanilla and barely notes of florals in this clean tasting infusion.  The mouth and throat feel are nice as they are moderately astringent but never choking or restricting.  The qi sensation in the head starts to build into a very qi stoned, floating feeling.

My guess is Lincang puerh likely Mengku, it tastes almost in some ways like the famous Bingdao area and definitely old arbour.  My guess is this 2017 Yunnan Sourcing BrandHe Bian Zhai.

The seventh infusion is very nice and smooth with clear sweet creamy, not really floral tastes over very light woody notes.  This tea is very clean, very tight, simple in taste, complex in qi, nice in mouth/throat feeling.  The sweetness has an icing sugar taste.  There are no turbid or vegetal or forstesy tastes in this tea just a very pure tasting, short profile.  The qi is very very euphoric.

The eighth infusion becomes more creamy, cohesive, and tastes much more sweet.  This tea is just starting to shine with pure, sweet, surgary tastes.  The sweet taste lingers in the throat.

The ninth infusion presents with creamy sweetness again.  There are almost fruit notes in there now.  The sweetness softly swells in the mouth and lingers in the aftertaste.

The tenth infusion I start adding 10 seconds to the flash infusions and it results in a touch stronger but not that different taste profile.  If anything the mouthfeel becomes fuller with a touch longer infusion time here giving it a similar but more full taste.

The eleventh infusion I add 5 more seconds to the flash infusion (15 seconds more) and the result is a faint mango taste as well as a gummy wood taste dominates the soft profile of this tea.

The twelfth infusion I drop back down to 10 seconds to see I there is still any of the lighter tastes left.  I am greeted with light sweet mango fruit tastes with develop into a rubbery wood taste in the aftertaste.

The thirteenth infusion is much the same but has a pronounced sugary aftertaste amongst the rubbery wood tastes.

Fourteenth is considerably lighter at a 10 second steeping.  The fifteenth has an enjoyable fruit hue to it over the sugary sweetness and clean profile.  There is a slight rubbery after taste here.

This tea has some nice stamina to it as well.  This is mainly due to the lack of bitter or over astringent flavours which allows this one to be pushed to the end.

An overnight steeping pulls out more sweet, clear, clean suragy notes… nice.

I have avoided reading/ watching these other blogger reviews of this tasting even to remove bias from my tastings.  After posting I am going to read these:

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