Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea Yiwu GuoYouLin and Trusting Gushu Claims

These days are quite different that when I first started drinking puerh.  Back then nobody really understood what “ancient” “old tree” “gushu” really meant or how to distinguish between such stuff from even some factory produced puerh.  Yeah, it was that bad back then.  Nowadays, a lot of people have come to understand that most of these claims can be immediately disregarded.  I feel that Essence of Tea is an exception to that rule.  To me the care and strict oversight that David and Yingxi’s use to source tea = truth.  If David, says that his new Essence of Tea puerh is (fill in blank) than I have no doubt that it is (fill in blank).  I have the highest level of trust for David with his sourcing on his fresh puerh nowadays.

This kind of guarantee of authenticity however comes with a price.  This is only fair because to guarantee such claims must take an enormous about of time, energy, and effort on the part of David and Yingxi.  If I was both in a financial place where I could spend the money and was serious about acquiring young fresh pure ancient puerh of a famous producing area, I would be pre-ordering Essence of Tea’s 2018 puerh.  No questions asked.  But because I am not in such a place right now, I am simply humbled by a chance to sample such things and enjoy the experience which unfolds.  Please come along with me, sit down, and enjoy…

This tea came from a small selection of puerh trees protected in the Yiwu State Forest that were discovered in 2004.  Essence of Tea has given this tea the bold claim of “the best tea we’ve ever pressed”.  This tea sold out fast but used to go for $450.00 for a 400g cake.  It is the last of the free samples included in my last purchase from Essence of Tea (thanks again David).

Dry leaves carry a deep and rich odour of multifaceted fruits.  Concord grape odours in a slightly deep forest smell.  Many rich high notes are released into the olfactory.

First infusion has a slightly syrupy sweet fruit taste.  There is a nice crispness to the taste but also a depth to it.  The aftertaste is of high fruit tastes which don’t last too long before a sandy taste reveals itself.  Overall, this first infusion surprised me because I was expecting lots of top notes but wasn’t also expecting lots of grounding depth.  Right off the bat this tea has a full feeling to it.   The throatfeeling is subtle but deep.

The second infusion shows off more of this profile with an initial taste that is not too sweet nor that fruity but has nice slight fruit taste in a deeper profile of slight grains, forest tastes, bread tastes which comprise just as much of the taste profile, especially in the middle profile after the initial syrupy sweetness has almost disappeared.  The fruity sweetness re-appears stronger in the breath and in the aftertaste compared to the first infusion.  The mouthfeel has a nice, mild, almost sandy texture.

The third infusion has even less initial sweet taste but more of a mellow apricot bread taste to it.  The aftertaste is a thick blanketing taste of dried fruits and breads.  This tea has a very deep, heavy profile to it for such a young tea- very nice sustenance.  The mouthfeel develops a sticky, syrupy feeling to it to match the syrup taste. The throat sensation is opening, viscus, and thick.

The fourth infusion starts with slight fruits that are overpowered by a deeper foresty taste.  There is a nice spike of surgery returning sweetness before being dragged out into an apricot bread taste of fresh yeasty baking.   The bread tastes are the dominant ones, the mild initial sweetness is becoming less.  The aftertaste is of dry fruit.

The fifth is completely different which has a tingling suragry slightly cooling initial taste with a cool menthol like sweetness being more prominent here with the fruity sweetness now almost unnoticeable and this cooling pungent menthol surgary sweetness now emerging.  There is another depth to the taste which tastes of syrup.  This infusion starts to show signs of a woody taste emerging also.  The initial- and aftertaste is less exciting than the long thick middle taste.  The qi of this tea is actually very mild and is mainly felt as a light sensation in the head and a very clear mind.  It feels very unimposing in the body and is very mild and approachable for such a young puerh.

The sixth infusion is much the same with a deep evolving taste over a long profile.

The seventh infusion has a vegetal initial taste where there is a complete void of sweetness now.  That taste is the dominant which slowly gives way to some bread-like taste and a very faint returning coolness followed by bready and dried apricot fruit tastes in the aftertaste.  The aftertaste is now where the most action is.  The rest of the infusion is dominated by a slightly bitter and more standard vegetal taste.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is mild but full.  The throatfeeling is deep and mild achieving a nice complete but mildly stimulating sensation.

The eighth has a much smoother and harmonious taste, more blended together now- vegetal, bread, slight wood, barely dried apricot.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling becomes slightly drying here and is getting noticeably stronger.

The ninth infusion starts off with a dry and slightly puckery fruit notes over vegetal notes then transforms to a woody taste then to a nice bread-like returning sweetness with slight cooling.  The cooling sensation brings a wood and faint sugar notes.  Overall the profile is turning more wood-like and the mouthfeel and throatfeel start moving out of the medium-mild stimulating and more into the stronger slighty gripping stimulation at this point. 

The tenth and eleventh has a nice robust bread, wood, melon taste which is nicely blended throughout.  The taste is nicely harmonious here along with the mouth and throatfeeling feels quite satisfyingly complete.  The vegetal/ bitter note is gone leaving nice tastes left to thoroughly enjoy.

The twelfth has a grainy-cereal taste as the dominant here.  There are woody, syrupy edges to it here but it is grain tasting throughout.  The mouthfeel is mild to medium full- the throatfeel is deep and light. 

The thirteenth and fourteenth has much the same tastes.  There emerges a fruity mild returning sweetness in these later infusions.  Still very much enjoyable here.

The fifteenth and sixteen becomes even more mild but still enjoyable and harmonious.  I am still doing only flash infusions here with no need to add any extra time to enjoy this tea which I think could potentially just make it bitter and dry.  This tea has great stamina.  Overall, this tea has a very mild qi and very little bodyfeel.

The seventieth and eighteenth become more mild but still not really bitter and are enjoyed.

If acquiring true, pure gushu is the top criteria for your puerh buying then look no further than Essence of Tea.  However, based on taste/smell, qi, bodyfeeel/ mouthfeel alone, this tea would not be worth it for the average person.  Once providence is added to the equation and if you are one who values such things, this puerh is immediately worth it- especially in a climate where such things are becoming harder to actually and undeniably verify.


Steepster’s Tasting Notes and Commentary

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Short History of Wild Tea/Yesheng As I See It

Traditionally, wild tea/ yesheng was not aged like puerh tea.  This is a rather recent idea.  The qi of wild tea was to Clear Heat in the body and the leaves were consumed fresh by the minorities of Yunnan.  The more bitter the taste the more effective it was at Clearing Heat.

It is almost impossible to find aged wild tea or anything earlier than after around 2000.  This is because it was not readily consumed outside of Yunnan and there was not much of any market for this product outside of Yunnan.  Really, its history is that of a local medicinal (however, puerh tea also was historically thought of as medicinal).

My hypothesis is that its popularity coincided with two factors discussed below.  First was the steady increase in puerh prices to a point that was not sustainable and the resulting burst of the puerh bubble.  The second factor was the steady influx of outsiders trying to make money off of the puerh boom.

To me it seems like 2008 was the first big year in wild tea production (just based on what I saw that year and years previous not on actual data if such data even exists).  As those buying up fresh maocha for puerh encountered inexcusably high prices of raw material in 2008 people thought to buy and press much cheaper wild tea into a puerh like shape and market it as such.

So essentially, the puerh bubble marked the birth of modern wild tea/ yesheng as we see it today.  Ever since then wild tea has steadily increased in popularity and has also carried increasing prices to reflect this.  As reported in a previous post, the 2017 year brought very expensive prices for the wild tea of famous area Qianjiazhai.

Aging wild tea is therefore a relatively new concept.  However, the recent consensus is that wild tea actually ages quite well.  The jury is not 100% out on that one because I don’t know if there is anyone out there to sample truly aged wild tea but so far so good.  The aged wild tea that I have aged and sampled are doing quite well.


Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea Nancai Ancient And Finding Other Obscure Puerh Producing Villages

Has anybody ever heard of Nancai? Certainly not me.  Since my return to puerh there seem to be about a billion more puerh producing villages in our vocabulary.  Whenever I have no clue where an area is these days I refer to this all important list.  However sometimes areas are not even on that list!

Sometimes vendors either transliterate the Chinese name slightly different than what might be listed here (I had transliterated a lot of Korean tea vocab that had never been written in English) or maybe have done so deliberately so the exact area of the tea cannot be easily located.  I wonder if Nancai is the Nasai: on the list?

Either way it’s all about the tea anyways eh?

This one sticks out on Essence of Tea 2017 offerings as it is one of two more affordable options ( the other affordable puerh, WuLiang H Ancient).  The Nancai goes for $80.00 for 400g cake ($0.20/g) and the WuLiang H Ancient for $81.00 for 400g cake ($0.20/g).

Okay lets us meditate with this one for a while…

Dry leaves smell of very intense cherry notes over a deep pungency.

The first infusion has a surprisingly very creamy initial taste where it slowly unravels in the mouth from intense buttery/creamy sweetness and slight wildflower to slight fruit.  The mouthfeel is immediately present and nicely coats the mouth with soft astringency.  There is a slight cooling aftertaste that has a faint creamy sweet finish of ghostly sugar which pops and fades quickly.

The second has almost peppermint candy-like nuance with a sugary sweet finish over clean astringency.  The qi is light in the body and mind.

The third infusion has nuances of a deeper fruity taste with both deep foresty tastes and slight sweet tastes but neither are strong, nor are they dominant.  The teeth feel squeaky as the mouthfeeling clings to it too.

The fourth infusion roots nice cherry fruit sweetness and barely noticeable notes of pine wood in a mildly pungent foresty-deep subtle background taste.  The initial cherry fruit sweetness has more longevity now and clings a bit better to the aftertaste in the full and just slightly astringent mouthfeel.

The fifth shows off some buttery notes initially before softly astringent fruits start to take over.  The sensation and astringency is all in the mouth and less in the throat.  The throat feel is just mildly stimulated with a soft opening feeling in the mid throat.

The sixth becomes slightly watery and just a touch flat so more time will be added to the flash infusions.  There are still initial cherry fruit notes but the creamy edges are lost to an astringent wood note.  The qi sensation slightly dizzys and wobbles in the head nicely.

The seventh infusion has a slight rubbery, gummy fruit taste- the fruit tastes a tampered by a generic woody taste.  The sweetness dances slightly on the breath.  The eighth is much the same as this puerh has seemed to hit the ceiling.  In the eighth a new green grapy, dragon fruity taste emerges.  It is retained in the ninth as well but overall the taste is fleeting.

Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth still have some fruit tastes that skirt around a full astringency and a slight puckery mouthfeel.   Still worth pursuing late steeps for this tea because the fruit notes, although not complicated, nor strong, nor clear, are still very much present and enjoyed in the mouthfeeling.  This tea will not lay down yet.

Thirteenth and fourteenth infusions the fruit tastes are all but gone and a licorice and fennel seed taste is left in the mouth.  There are barely noticeable edges of fruit in the throat.  The rest is pretty much just flat puerh taste.  The astringency in the mouth never gets too constricting.  The qi feeling leaves the head shaking gently like a balloon in the wind.

For those who appreciate puerhs with a sticky astringency and stimulating mouthfeel without being too strong or off putting might appreciate this particularly clean puerh.  This tea is also very harmonious in the body with less harshness for a young puerh.  If there are those out there who like a stronger mouthfeel in young puerh without having to pay the price for it, this one might also interest you.

Overall this has characteristic of that good feeling Essence of Tea style that is just slightly rough around the edges but very pure, clean and harmonious.  Overall this tea is not overly complicated but is nice as an affordable entry point to fresh, young Essence of Tea puerh for 2017.  Hats off to David and Yingxi for offering something more affordable but that still has the overall feel and quality of Essence of Tea puerh.  I think in 2017 that is a lot harder to accomplish than it ever used to be.


Arek's (Puerh Blog) Tasting Notes


Friday, November 10, 2017

3 Top Western Vendors of Korean Tea

I have been meaning to update my large list of all places big and small that sell Korean tea to the Western world but have been putting it off.  Since my last update, I actually think less vendors are selling Korean tea.  If I were to shorten the list to places I have actually ordered from and would continue to order from it would only contain the below three North American (Canada & US) vendors…

1-      Morning Crane Tea- Arthur Park has been offering his group buys of famous Korean teas for years now.  His prices are what you would actually pay in Korea (or maybe even cheaper) and his list of producers range from famous co-operative collectives and old traditional tea producers some of which are featured on this blog from years ago.  Why look any further?  He has a group buy coming up in November here so please contact him if you are interested here:

2-      Good Green Tea- Sam of Good Green Tea set up this business for his mother who is a teamaster in South Korea simply to promote Korean tea culture.  Good Green Tea is the official distributor of Juro, arguably the most famous traditional tea producer in South Korea.  Jokro is one of my absolute favorites and Sam offers it for cheaper than you can buy in Korea.  This is classic Korean tea for prices you can’t get in Korea- you can’t beat that!

3-      O5Tea- Pedro has been personally sourcing Korean tea since 2009 and brought Western fame to producer Kim Jong Yeol.  I used to regularly drink tea with him upon his arrival in Canada and the most amazing thing is you can too!   I highly recommend sitting down with him (or his lovely staff) when in Vancouver to have some Korean tea proper at his teabar.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Appreciate Wild Tea (Don’t Compare It to Puerh)

1-      shouldn’t compare to puerh because it’s not puerh (see here and here)

2-      Those people out there who have compared wild tea to puerh, thinking that it is puerh or something puerh like, will likely be disappointed because it is really quite different (here and here and here).  However, those who maintain an open mild will enjoy good wild tea (here and here).

3-      Sweet wild tea is the wild tea which I am familiar and was almost exclusively the type of wild tea marketed and sold in the mid-late 2000s.  So it is this profile that I wish to explain. Bitter wild tea will have an intense bitterness that will appear in throat and tongue.  Bitter wild tea is blatantly and obviously bitter, if it doesn’t have this quality then, to me, it is sweet wild tea.

4-      Leaves- look different, purple hue or darker color almost purplish/ reddish colour, the dry leaf odour is usually much more perfume and fruitier than standard puerh, sometimes there is a subtle smoky odor that will usually dissipate as the tea ages.  The high notes in the dry leaf are much more intense than standard puerh.

5-      taste of sweet wild tea often feels weaker than puerh in the initial steepings, so there is an inclination for those who are unfamiliar with it to add more leaf

6-      The initial taste burst feels a bit ungrounded compared to conventional puerh with few deeper notes to root or ground the taste down.  These tastes are usually intense fruity tastes.

7-      The middle of the profile is always vacuous and empty feeling compared to standard puerh- this is not a sign of bad wild tea, rather, it is a sign of legitimate/true wild tea.

8-      The mouthfeel is always weaker than the throatfeel in good quality wild tea.

9-      The returning sweetness has a different profile than standard puerh.  Puerh usually has a strong cooling and sweet aftertaste where wild tea usually lacks a cooling aftertaste and tastes slightly rubbery or bitter with a much more intense fruity returning taste.  Wild tea usually induces salivation at this point and the degree to which it does, I feel, is a sign of quality because it makes the aftertaste in the throat fuller and longer lasting.

10-   Another sign of quality, for me in a good wild tea is the taste and strength of the flavor that gets pushed into the throat and therefore breath minutes or hours after swallowing.  This is a special feature of wild tea that puerh tea does not have.  The flavor, intensity, and duration of this lingering breath taste is a sign of quality to me.

11-   Both young conventional puerh and young wild tea is a bit tough on the digestion.  All young wild teas I have tried, if they have even a small bit of bitterness, tend to be a bit tough on the digestion.  This effect depends on your own body constitution and will decrease or go away as wild tea ages.

12-   Wild tea’s qi sensation is always stronger than conventional puerh and the body feel is often stronger as well.  To me wild tea is all about the qi sensation.

The above list is based on my own experiences with wild tea/ yesheng.  For those familiar with wild tea, what would you add to the list?  How do you appreciate the uniqueness which is wild tea?
I hope this list will help those just getting in to wild tea to appreciate it more.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea WuLiang Wild and Reasons You Might Enjoy Wild Tea More Than Puerh

1.       Agrochemicals

2.       Body Feel

3.       Cleanliness

4.       Mouthfeel/ Throatfeel

5.       Qi

6.       Flavour & Aroma

 (Thanks to blog commenterDavid for directing me here and allowing me to reflect on this).

In my experience with wild teas (or yesheng) they tend to do better than puerh teas in the categories that David values most in tea.  So with this logic, it makes sense that any puerh drinker that also shares David’s values in teas may also prefer yesheng over puerh.  So it is then not surprising that this year Essence of Tea has preferred to focus on wild tea with just as many wild tea offerings as puerh in 2017.

This direction in going with more wild teas than puerh teas also signals to me that puerh of this quality and purity has just simply become too expensive (here and here) and David, with an eye to the future, is looking to offer an alternative to us mortals who can’t always afford to drink such things regularly but who are unwilling to give up quality and purity (and their souls).  This is also a likely reason for Essence of Tea also positioning themselves in the liu bao market as well.  They also happen to be two markets (wild tea and liu bao) that have not been an active focus of any western vendor.  So this direction to me is very very smart.

Wild teas tend to offer very nice qi experiences and are usually quite clean and are often easy to drink teas. David is a Qi guy, I am a Qi guy.  So why not give wild teas a chance?  I think if anyone does share these same values in tea, they are really going to love wild tea- they should try it.

Okay, let’s see how this 2017 Wuliang wild, the tea we will sample today, does with this criteria.  This sample was sent along with the purchase of the 2008 Qianjiazhai Wild Malaysian Stored.  I believe it is from a similar garden as the2016 Wuling Wild that was an Essence of Tea club exclusive last year.  Apparently, this 2017 version is noticeably lighterthan last years.  Okay… let’s sit down and meditate with this one…

The dry leaves smell of raisins and fruit.  It reminds me of raisin bran cereal.  There are some plumb notes in there as well.  There is both a freshness and a depth to the odour.

The first infusion is a very light and refreshing watery broth of subtle, distant fruit tastes and pure sugary sweetness which slowly grow on the breath.  There is a suggestion of chicory in the background.  The mouthfeel is light and soft and there is a soft opening of the throat.  Its “sweet wild” profile is immediately obvious by a near complete lack of bitterness here.

The second is more vibrant but still gentle and watery.  There is an initial burst of vibrant candy-like sweetness, almost watermelon, bumble berry tastes.  This infusion is of very sweet sugary tastes and an aftertaste of sweet melon and candy.  The breath has a slight turbid dirt rubbery fruit taste that is characteristic of most wild tea.

The third infusion is more of this very sweet, very clean almost candy-like sweetness initially.  This infusion the sweetness has a subtle buttery edge.  The mouthfeel is more established now and has a thin but very full coating feeling in the whole mouth.  The throat feel is not as expansive but rather somewhat opening.  The breath holds a barely fruity taste but doesn’t hold it for too long.  The qi is very very clean and brings a soft, crisp clarity.  It really makes me feel good and happy.  It’s a cheerful qi!

The fourth develops a more buttery edging to wildflower sweetness initially which the full mouthfeel holds nicely.  The aftertaste is pretty much an extension of this taste as it develops that characteristic rubbery, turbid taste.

The fifth infusion starts to water down a bit with less sweetness now as the buttery taste seems to be the dominant one now as it ducks quietly into the aftertaste.  The only fruit suggestions duck and dodge in the rubbery, turbid wild tea aftertaste.  Minutes later I can still feel it try to push through but only if I pay close attention.

The sixth starts to flatten out harboring that turbid, rubbery, almost fruity aftertaste in its initial taste and throughout with not much evolution in the mouth now.  The seventh is much the same.

Five to ten more seconds were added to each additional steeping after this. The eighth and ninth had a more distinct fruit taste lingering in the aftertaste as a result.  The initial taste has a melon, almost berry feel to it.  Definitely more fruity tastes have been pushed out with these longer steepings.

Tenth similar to above but now fruity tastes are waning.  There is a monotone taste that is quite light, fresh, slightly sweet, and yummy.  The eleventh steeping these tastes are even more muted and watery so a few minute long steepings are employed next.

The twelfth once again has pushed out a nice berry, typical WuLiang terror tasting brew.  It finishes with a rhubarb and berry aftertaste. The thirteenth is steeped even longer but the tastes have more of a typical turbid, rubbery, wild taste so these leaves are put into an overnight steeping…

This wild tea is all about its crispness, freshness, purity, mouthfeel and initial taste.  It is the softest wild tea that I have ever tried and I think it would be a great introduction to wild teas for those who appreciate the vibrancy of fresh sheng puerh. It lacks a deep and complex throat feel and long breath feeling for a yesheng. 

This wild tea is really not harsh on the body, nor is it bitter, so, it could really be consumed immediately.  Quite naturally, this is the way wild teas are traditionally consumed by the minorities of Yunnan.  It also really does contain the Wuliang taste profile that is found in Wuliang puerh.  Those that enjoy the taste profile of Wuliang and enjoy fresh young raw puerh will probably also enjoy this as a nice introduction to wild tea.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

2008 Essence of Tea Qianjiazhai Wild

Hi David,

I remember us exchanging emails, swapping samples, and sharing dialogue in the comment section of MattCha's Blog way back in 2008.  I can't believe its been 9 years!

What you have accomplished in 9 years is something absolutely beautiful for puerh drinkers- you have brought us some of the most natural, pure, puerh teas that we couldn't have even imaged 9 years ago.

I think I am not only speaking for myself, but for many others who love your direction and vision of puerh, when I say “Thank You”.


David of Essence of Tea was very active in the tea blogging community in the earliest days.  Honesty, integrity, pushing purity and the idea that the old trees of Yunnan are something to be valued, loved, and protected are imbedded into the values and continuing evolution of Essence of Tea throughout these years.  Really, it is a beautiful thing.

When he heard that MattCha’s Blog was up and running again, he was one of two old bloggers (now vendors) who immediately tried to contact me to send samples.  When there was a recent outcry that there was not enough quality semi-aged puerh from Western vendors, he responded by promising to offer more.  This speaks to the kind of integrity David (partner Yingxi) and Essence of Tea stands for and this is one of the reasons I wanted to purchase some of that semi aged puerh that he had just released.

This 2008 Qianjiazhai Malaysian stored wild tea or yesheng definitely peeked my interest.  Upon my return to puerh I marveled at David’s post on the giant ancient yesheng treesof Qianjiazhai.  His first release of semi aged yesheng was just months ago, this 2008 Qianjiazhai ancient wild tea tuocha, sold out very quickly before I could place an order.

I get from David that Qianjiazhai is one of the most famous locations for wild tea so I feel that we are all very fortunate to be able to purchase some.   To give you an idea of how popular Qianjiazhai’s wild tea is, fresh picked wild tea from Qianjiazhai this year cost 1600rmb/kg ($241.00/kg or $0.24/g).  This is not the price that the vendors sell the final product but rather the cost to them before processing.  So with that being said, I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to just try a tea like this, never mind be able to purchase enough to enjoy for the future.  I paid $120.00 for a 400g cake ($0.30/gram).  I was feeling optimistic about this one and purchased two of these.  I don’t think I have to outright say that I feel this is quite a bargain, that is, if the tea actually checks out.

Also I wondered how this yesheng compared to my 2008 Yunxian Huimin yesheng? Even though the only thing they would share would be the picking date and a reasonably close location.  The comparison might help me even further understand the basic feeling of Yesheng which, as I previously stated, is really different than puerh (see here and here).  This comparison is perhaps the topic of another post.

Anyways, let’s see if this one is the great deal and special yesheng experience I feel it might be or maybe I was completely wrong about ordering all this aged wild tea.  There is only one way to find out…

Dry leaves smell of deep currents and has a slight dirt aged and deep penetrating fruit odour.  It has a deeper, wetter storage smell than what I’m used to in a semi-aged wild tea.  Instantly upon unwrapping, my wife exclaims, “Aged Puer!”  Good guess.

The first infusion delivers mellow, watery, aged humid storage notes with an aftertaste of soft evolving fruit taste.  The throat opens nicely with a watery barely cooling throat sensation.  The mouthfeel is nice and round for a wild tea, better than most I’ve tried.  There is a slight muddled, slight chalky, trying to be floral taste on the breath minutes later.  The cool sensation on the breath is noticeable.  This infusion has the feel of a second wash, really.  It is obvious here that this is a “sweet wild” tea not a “bitter wild”.

The second infusion delivers a nice monotone fruit and slight aged dirt note.  There are solid suggestions of sweet vanilla notes.  The aftertaste still carries a nice coolness in the throat.  The throatfeel is deep with barely suggestions of floral and fruit.  The qi is mainly felt in the head and gives a relaxing, spacey feel.  The body qi subtly kicks at the stomach and shoulders feel light.

The third infusion delivers a nice slight tart cherry and aged dirt taste with waves of vanilla.  The mouthfeel becomes more astringent and nicely full here and the saliva is pushed out of the deep throat causing me to clear my throat.  Subtle sweet taste emerge to fill the gap.

The fourth and fifth infusions starts with a watery, slight dirt aged initial taste then transforms to a soft barely plum-like taste and slight hints of vegetal tastes flash by as well.  The aftertaste remains cool and has a simple dirt and barely fruit current taste.  There is a soapy perfume aftertaste with edges of fruit.  The mouth and throat feel are very nice.

The sixth and seventh becomes a more aged tasting deeper but light tastes of current, dirt, aged woody tastes.  The aftertaste still carries a significant coolness and there is more of a woody taste.  There is a noticeable cinnamon taste left behind.  This infusion really tastes lots like a humid stored, semi-aged puerh.

The eighth is much the same but becoming more muted now.  There is a chalky berry taste that emerges here.  The qi is solid and makes the head float.

The ninth there is a muted, watery berry fruit nuance under the watery aged taste.  The mouthfeel and throat feel are nice still which makes this one enjoyable even into the later steepings.

The tenth holds a bit more of this flavor but the eleventh is watery and flat despite being put to minutes long infusion.  So it’s time for an overnight infusion…

More than any wild tea I have tried this one resembles puerh the most because of its fuller mouthfeel, and returning cooling sweetness as well as woody, dirty aged notes.  I think if there are any semi-aged, Malaysian storage puerh fans out there this would be a great “gateway yesheng” for them to try. I kind of get the feeling that Qianjiazhai is like the Laobanzhang of Wild Tea.  Certainly, this tasting puts it up there in my books.  In some ways, this is the most “puerh tasting” wild tea that I have tried and doesn’t really represent the typical wild tea profile.   The popularity of this region is maybe due to its close resemblance to puerh.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase of these two bings.


Friday, October 20, 2017

The “New” Menghai Factory 2007 Recipes Meant for Dry Storage -2007 Menghai 0712, 0752, 0772 Recipes

In 2007 Menghai released a bunch of new recipes and used the Old School numerical system to appropriately number them.  I believe 2007 was the only year these “07” recipes were released.  I remember seeing them in the shops in Korea in 2007/2008 but I don’t think I ever tried them.  Currently, Tuo Cha Tea sells three of these which are still currently available (0712 $36.00 for 357g cake or $0.10/g, 0752$35.00 for 400g cake or $0.09/g , and 0772 for $32.00 for 400g cake or  $0.08/g). Yunnan Sourcing also carries the 0772 for $40.00.

Are you ready to try some Menghai Factory recipes that seem to be totally overlooked?


Dry leaves smell of faint distant fruits and deep fresh vegetal notes.

First infusion sends flat, watery, slightly bitter, slightly sour, but nice and creamy fruit notes and dry wood notes into the mouth.  A mild caramel sweetness appears as well.  There is a simple, sharp vegetal feel to the tea- the taste is not long or strong.  A mild cooling appears in the breath with a slightly longan fruit taste.  Overall the taste is nice especially fruit taste which is dominant here and develops nicely over the mouthfeel which makes the tongue tingle.  The qi is strongly alerting.

The second infusion consists of a slightly tart, creamy sweet initial taste, a mild sour middle taste, and a sweet fruit finish.  There are edges of dry wood and sweet fruit in the profile throughout.  The tongue tingles and has a slightly dry and full mouthfeeling and even mild upper throat feeling.  The qi is still too strong on the stomach to drink this tea on a regular basis, it needs a few more years of storage.  This tea has very contained flavours which are not expansive nor complimentary but they are nice and clear and crisp.

The third infusion delivers smoother, less harsh fruit taste.  The initial taste becomes more fruity, if not mildly bitter, and the aftertaste becomes more dry wood now.  There is a nice bright cherry fruit edge to this tea as well as a stronger slight bitter astringency.  The fruit taste becomes long in this infusion with a slight minty coolness.

The fourth offers more in the way of fruitier tastes the bitter and wood tastes now fade a touch allowing for the cherry fruit to be the dominant flavor if steeped lightly.  If steeped more aggressively you will still get a measure of astringent bitter that seems to like to uproot cherry tastes in the profile, either way.  The tastes are simple, singular, and tight.

The fifth has the same but a longer cooler aftertaste now over a mouthfeel of soft and just slightly astringent coating.  The cooling lasts a while on the breath as does a nice cherry powdery taste.  The cherry taste is quite nice here.

The sixth has deeper, almost smokey, woody tastes up front which stretch through the profile of this steeping.  The strong cherry tastes of last infusion more linger in the background now.  The slightly astringent mouthfeel and throatfeel are not too much but root singular flavours firmly in their place.  A returning sweetness is slightly cooling, slighty sweet with a touch of powdery cherry taste.

The seveth becomes more harmonious mx of flavours with dry wood and soft cherry and a general slight woody forest feel now seen for the first time here. 

The eighth and ninth is much the same with a slight coco almost milky slight foresty bitterness that reminds me of Bulang.  The taste profile is very simple.  A cooling sensation is mild on the breath.

The next few infusions don’t hold much more than dry, flat, woody tastes with a barely noticeable cooling aftertaste. 

This tea overall has a standard taste and feel of decent young Menghai Factory puerh.  It still has a great deal of strength in this recipe and needs to age more to be drinkable.  I image this turning out to be a nice standard factory tippy blended tea with another 5 years of dry storage.


Dry leaves smell of pungent, deep forest with a slight plum edge.

First infusion is of simple sweet melon tastes, crisp wood that evolves into a deeper cane sugar sweetness and metallic taste.  There is a subtle sour taste throughtout in this first infusion.  There is also a very faint smoke which adds a nice element to the taste.  The aftertaste is slightly cooling, and again clear and almost metallic and apple sweetness.  This first infusion is quite flavourful and has a nuanced layering of different flavours. 

The second infusion is a clear almost absent initial taste that has that same simple sweet onset.  There is flat metallic, dry wood, taste that evolves into a sweet green bean taste in the aftertaste along with a very mild coolness.  There are mild flashes of different faint fruit tastes as well.  Overall, the taste is very clear, pure, but a little lacking.  Some sessions I’ve had turn into a dirty turbid taste here where others do not.  The mouthfeel is quite weak and this is probably why.

The third has a flat single barely wood note than immediately interfaces to a sweet metallic cherry note which fades fast in the mouth.  The mouthfeel becomes just slightly sticky here.  The aftertaste is short and tastes of cherry fruit.  The qi is a very standard alertness.  There is definitely some qi that lingers in the chest opening it slightly.

The fourth has a medicinal onset turning into slight dry wood and then into a barely sweet aftertaste.  There are notes of beans and very mild cherry- more of a choke cherry finish.  The mouthfeel is weak but getting stronger, and is mainly dry and mostly covering the front of the tongue.  There is a very faint, lingering bubble gum and rubbery sweetness that lingers minutes later.

The fifth infusion has a medicinal wood start but the sweet rubbery bubble gum sweetness now lingers throughout the profile.  This note is really not very sweet but noticeable.  The taste profile of this tea is narrow but clear.  The body and mind feel slightly spacy on this tea but the feeling is good… a good spacy qi feeling.

The sixth infusion delivers a metallic sweet profile throughout over a barely medicinal and crisp newly chopped wood taste.  The sweetness swells slightly into a cherry taste in the aftertaste.

The seventh has a tight metallic, sweet, dry woody and slight medicinal taste.  There is still a slight cooling in the breath and slight edge of bubble gum sweetness.

The eighth loses a bit of the sweet flavors, metallic flavours, and medicinal flavours and is more of a thin woody taste with a slight cherry and cooling aftertaste.

The ninth becomes smoother and more round with slightly creamier malty fruit cherry tastes over a thin wood and bean base.  The initial taste is more full in the mouth here and the tastes mingle together much better now.

The tenth starts with sweet clean clear cherry note which lingers throughout the profile.  The taste is light, clear, crisp, and slightly sweet.  This tea is enjoyable and takes a while to get going.  The mouthfeel is now much fuller and leaves a slightly dry and slightly sticky coating on the tongue and even upper throat.  A gummy, rubbery cherry sweetness is left on the breath minutes later.

The eleventh is much the same, quite enjoyable here still a slight coolness in throat.  The sweet taste is now like an icing sugar sweetness with a nice bean and wood barely noticeable base taste.

The twelfth is much the same still quite vibrant, tasty and sweet.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel is a really slow buildup for this tea but now feels nice as flavours layer over top.

The thirteenth still has a long icing sugar and cherry sweetness over wood and slight metallic and flat wood tastes.

The tea is consumed like this for a few more sessions retaining a mild sweet cherry taste.

This tea’s taste is good but overall to muted and weak with still a predominant bitterness apparent.  My wife happen to try some of this tea and exclaims, “This tea is NOT good.”  When this tea is brewed in our large Yixing pot it pours too slowly and pulls too much bitter and dry wood out of the leaves.  Flash infusions from a small teapot deliver more enjoyable tastes. 

It seems like it should be good but its profile is really just too thin to do anything super interesting.  What is best about this tea is the later steeps.


The dry leaves smell of distant forest- slight sweet and dry grassy crispness.

The first infusion delivers brisk clean fresh pine/ wood notes along with a slight edge of plums.  The taste is really clean and simple fresh wood and plums in a thin but lightly and airy mouthfeel.  The clean fruit taste strings out faintly on the breath.

The second is much the same with clean tight notes of slight wood to start then it now evolves in to a much longer and defined cherry/ plum taste with just an edge of cool sweetness.  I am already surprised by this puerh- its good.  Its sweetness is fairly strong here and feels like it sticks to the teeth and sides of the mouth.  The qi is clean and offers a clean head feeling, alerting but not overly so.

The third infusion is much the same very clean, crisp, clear, long, simple profile.  There is a certain completeness about this tea that I really like.  It starts with slight wood then is whisked away by long slightly cooling cherry fruits.  The mouthfeel feel is full, thin but has a light airy, satisfying stimulation.  It seems to softly open the upper and even mid throat.  A sweet almost tart cherry is left in the mouth minutes later.

The fourth infusion has a more of a creamier taste trying to attach itself to the long sweet profile of this tea.  The aftertaste becomes a bit rubbery even metallic tasting.  This infusion is a long line of clean cherry tastes.

In the fifth infusion the light, fresh, newly chopped wood taste shares equal space with the sweetness which becomes less vibrant here but just as long.  The rubbery and metallic taste remains in the mouth.  The tea’s qi brings a nice clean clarity to the mind, it seems to effect the body much less.

The sixth infusion is a nice, simple slight woody and watery slight fruit taste.  Traces of cherry fruit linger on the breath.

The seventh gets a bit woodier with a crisp clean cherry finish.  What this tea lacks in depth it makes up for in its simple and clean taste.  The fruity finish starts to kick up tropical fruit tastes on the breath here adding a bit more complexity to the finish.

The eighth gets more woody and flat in the initial taste where the aftertaste continues to offer nice clean sweet taste and slightly cooling aftertaste.

The ninth and tenth and eleventh have a nice long sweet and now even flowery sweet taste.  It taste like green grapes, a nice flavor nuance.  The wood taste is almost non-existent here so long sweet tastes rule. 

The 07 series recipes seem to be designed especially for dry storage and seem to thrive in those conditions.  They all have a clean newly chopped woody feel and crisp cherry fruit taste profile to them.  They all have a similar mouthfeel, taste profile and even Qi feeling.  These tastes remind me of the dry stored mainly 7542 recipes of the 90s that I tried 10-15 years later if you were to completely drop off the deeper base flavor, thin out the mouthfeel, and string out the high fruit note...  Hahahaha… maybe that’s too much of a stretch.  Although these recipes are way simpler in taste, they all have that resemblance.

Out of the three 07 recipes I seem to be drinking the 0712 the most but don’t intend to re-order any of these.