čtvrtek 5. února 2015

200? Ailao and 1998 8582 Red Mark comissioned

200? Ailao
This is one of the teas that TwoDog has sent me the ones I've actually ordered. Unlike most other ones, I find this fairly nice. Maybe it's the prior (Ailao) which made me expect something band, smoky, and aggressive. The first impression from the aroma was just that - smoky and aggressive. Fortunately, after that, things did improve. The cigarette-style smoke is more clear in aroma than it is in taste and the taste itself is ok - light, fruity (sort of similar to Chawangpu's purple Baoshan cake), somewhat bitter and astringent. There is not that much going on otherwise though, which is what I suspect to be one of reasons why this tea did not make it among the teas sold by Paul.

1998 8582 Red Mark comissioned
It is slightly unfortunate that after having the 1998 tuocha from teaclassico, that I quite liked, I can't seem to enjoy the rest of the teas I got from them - they seem strangely stored and have off tastes. Such as this 8582. I mean, I never got excited over a 8582, but this one is not only not that interesting, but it feels really strange. The aroma of rinsed leaves seems to be ok at one moment and is intimidating the other moment. The tea is not really rich, nor deep in its character - it's very clay-y and really really astringent (it leaves a smooth sandpaper feeling for minutes). I like a bit of earthiness in my puerh, but this tea does not feel right to me...

One thing can't be denied - the huigan is good though.

úterý 27. ledna 2015

2002 Little yellow mark (White2tea)

What is this LYM? Little yellow mark or Little yellow miracle - both are equally valid I'd say.

This is one of the teas you can't really fault. First, it is fairly thick and sweet, in a very "well defined" fashion (imagine the sound reproduction of double bass - it can be either all-over-the-place-boom, or a well focused, if bassy, sound - the sweetness is like the latter in the LYM). At the same time, there is a lot of taste: gentle, but clear. I taste wood (a hint of sourness in it), camphor, but also garden fruit and meadow flowers. It has got a very balanced, smooth, and elegant character indeed. It feels fairly northern to me, perhaps there's a good deal of leaves from Mengku?

Some teas hit hard with a single trait; this LYM takes a different approach, providing many subtler traits that are superbly added together, producing one of the most pleasing teas I had recently. Looking at prices of teas over the internet (ugh!), I find it quite underpriced at $149.

sobota 24. ledna 2015

Still alive (with more teas from Chawangshop)

Hello again! Long time no see I guess... I have decided to transform this blog, as I no longer have the compulsion to dissect teas, photograph every piece of sparkling fur on the leaves and such things. I am not living in an interesting region tea-wise, nor do I possess noteworthy knowledge (such as MarshalN) of which to write - so I won't write as much, rather than to inflate my posts with meaningless words.

I still drink tea (lots and lots), but I enjoy it more simply now - I just enjoy it and that's it. So my opinions will be shorter now - we'll see if they're still of some use to some people.

What captured my attention recently? Teas below came in a box from Chawangshop

2014 spring Te Ji Huilong
One cannot resists when his beloved wife asks for some more green tea for work-time-drinking, to provide a change from the ubiquitous puerh. I picked this one hearing good things about Huilong and it certainly did not disappoint us. Due to its processing style and innate strength, even though it's early 2015, this 2014 Huilong is still powerful and good. It's tasting very fruity, not much flowery, full and quite sweet, with a bit of honey taste. There is plenty of bitterness should one want so, but it can be also steeped to be almost bitterness-free. It's also got that "puerhy" kick in mouth - it feels vibrant and alive. For $7.5 per 100g, this is great stuff.

1998 Fengqing green in green
This is the second tea with fairly dryish storage that I like (the second one is 2002 Little yellow mark from TwoDog). The aroma of dry leaves is fairly boring - I was afraid it would be another messy overdried cake, but it's not. The taste is very balanced, there is a little bit of clay, some ripe fruitiness,  plums, spice, a bit of camphor and generic woodiness; the aftertaste is long and has the pleasant component of slightly unripe fruit, which is refreshing. It is quite active and buzzing in mouth. Despite being fairly dry, it has an overall harmonising effect on me.

There is detectable dry-storage-sourness, but it's quite controlled and does not negatively interfere with the main stream. Also, it can feel a bit like hongcha-tasting at times, but in a puerhy-style, no problem either.

$218 is not cheap though... I guess that the bargain-ness really depends on preference for a style. While I find it much better price than most tea from this time with similar (or drier) storage, I'd still prefer the 90s red mark (bought for $160 a year or so ago) readily.

Heichatime...
2011 Hunan Zhu Xiang Ji
This brick (with website description indeed suggesting a fancy product) was again something quite new to me. It's got the strength of puerh, aged taste of bamboo-stored heicha (not overpoweringly so, though, it tastes a lot more dark woody/earthy than bamboo-y) - but at the same, it's got the taste of dried raisins/plums you can find in aged oolong! Together, the two types of taste mingle wonderfully to create a really lovable tea.

It's perhaps not as deep now, feeling-wise, but I suspect that aging process can help with that. Tasting this tea was a great experience to me.

2011 CNNP Hei Jing Zhuan
For me, this tea is much less prepared for drinking compared to the one above and needs a lot more storage (or using a low amount of leaves). This is really a brutal tea, that can get quite sour and impossibly bitter when oversteeped. When treated better, it is fairly sweet and herbal heicha, pretty decent. I wonder how it will transform with aging - there is surely ample strength for that.

1996 Sichuan Yibin tuocha
This is one of more puerh-like heichas I've had. On top of somewhat generic (but very nice) good-heicha-aged-taste, the main taste is of honey, which I really enjoy. Rich, mellow and good is this tea.

2011 Shaanxi Shouzhu Jingwei Fu Zhuan
This is one of better Fu bricks around... Unfortunately still not as great as the 2007 CNNP one, but very good nevertheless. It does not feel hollow/dried out, has plenty fruitiness and spicy taste and it is an overall super-pleasant easy drink...


Otherwise, I get a lot of pleasure from Haiwan 2006 Pasha - it is aging very nicely. And another good one is Yunnan Sourcing's 2010 Purple Yiwu (gosh, is it five years? I feel old...) - it has awoken from its slumber and developed into a really nice and honey-tasting mellow (not weak!) Yiwu...

Next time, I'll write about teas by TwoDog and Teaclassico... See you soon, dear readers!

středa 20. srpna 2014

2003 CNNP Big Zhong 7542

And here goes another tea from Teaclassico - a 7542 from the year of 2003, for a promising price of $129. There is perhaps no recipe more classical than 7542 and a rather many have found their way to my cup, generally to my pleasure. I even had a 2003 example, thanks to generosity of MarshalN - and, slightly surprisingly, it seems to be similar to the one currently in my teapot. Why surprisingly when it's the same tea from the same year? Well, because 7542 (showing that 42 is not the complete answer!).

Being not too wetly stored, there is still a clear degree of green-ness in the leaves.

And it is good! Not surprising, but still good - and very balanced. 7542 is a generally balanced recipe and the year of 2003 is, with this type of good storage, is right between youth and age, in my opinion.

It is very thick and sweet (with light honey taste), which always appeals to me, as does the (also present) tingling and cooling of palate. The taste is a good mixture of warm earthiness (not realy storage wetness though), woodiness, herbs and a sort of fruit. None of these dominates the others, leading to feeling of richness and complexity. It's well within the characteristics of 7542, which probably says more than an attempt at direct description.

Unlike in most other real 7542s I had, there is a chestnut tone in the aftertaste, suggesting there might have been some tobacco smoke taste earlier.

It's still perhaps a bit young to drink - it is thick and silky, but there is still bitterness that is painfully obvious when you use more leaves; similarly, there is an astringency that can be clearly felt. MarshalN's sample was more ready in these aspects

All in all, a very solid tea at a solid price; perhaps not surprising, nor very dynamic, but good, and I'll be happy to enrich my teabox with one of these I think...

neděle 17. srpna 2014

1990s CNNP Apple Green Tuocha

I recall that as a young boy, 6 or so, I've dreamt of unexpected discovery of a hoard - the general form was looking under the bed and finding a package of collectible cards in there (anybody remembers Middle-Earth game? Not the after-movie LoTR.). Surprisingly, such a thing once happened - a small deck of cards that fell out from a book I was taking out of library. My parents said they did not do it so I have forgotten them there myself or there are supernatural forces out there. Nevertheless, I had to wait about 20 years for the next miracle - how does it sound that your darling wife comes home to you with a paper bag filled with packages with labels starting with 1980s, 1998, 1990s, etc.? Sure sounds good to me! However, this time, there were no supernatural forces behind it, as the package has been most kindly provided by Hobbes (thinking of it, the presumption of non-supernaturalness might be invalid). The teas come from Teaclassico and we'll get to them  all soon. Let us start with the 1998 Apple green tuocha. Or, rather, spelled "toucha" at the website, which always sounds like "gotcha" to me. Based on online shops and discussions, I wonder whether toucha is US and tuocha being used by the rest of the world?


The white coating is quite clear and it does not seem to be present only at the surface of the tuo, but also inside, which, together with tight compression, suggests a rather wet storage (where dry HK storage is written at Teaclassico's website).

Rinsed leaves, however, do not smell all that damp - there is some classical aged mixture (with fishiness as a not-entirely-welcome bonus), but as they cool down, the aroma gets sweeter, more fruity and more woody.


The color of the liquor is dark brown rather than dark red one might be used to - I wonder what are the variables explaining the progress in hue with aging.

The tea does smell quite interestingly, reminding me of coconut milk with some sort of fruit.

In the initial steepings, there is an unwelcome fishiness in the liquor, but it's not too bad (certainly not making me pour the tea out) - and the tea is already sweet and reasonably smooth. As the taste goes away, cooling feeling takes its place. Fortunately, the taste of fish soon dissipates and gives way to much nicer spectrum of tastes - wood, herbs and garden fruit - all quite aged, but not really earthy. The fruitiness gets strongest in the aftertaste - it's a bit like what you get from 85+% chocolate.

The tea can be well felt in mouth - there is still bitterness left and it is overall active, cooling and sometimes numbing.

What is always important in tea is - do its parts work in harmony? I feel that they do  here. The tea is not really "normal" - on one hand, it is covered in white frosting, on the other hand, it has very little if any taste signs of much wetness in storage. The color is not exactly ordinary either. But I  like it - it tastes clean and right. I wonder if the discrepancy between looks and taste might be explained due to initially wet storage with a drying-out period afterwards. Sometimes, such an approach causes weird flatness and lack of body, but if it has been done here, it has been done right.

While the tea is not super-excelent, when I saw the price of $83 per tuocha, I thought it is not entirely horrible, certainly not a complete ripoff. Then I've noticed that it's a 250g tuo, not a 100g - at first, I thought "This cheap? I'm not buying that" - but after looking again, I reconsidered - I am.

neděle 3. srpna 2014

2013 Chawangpu Shuang Shu

I believe this is the last of Chawangpu's teas from 2013 I'm writing about. It has been a good year, with teas like Hua Zhi, Lao Yu (!) or He He that I consider very good. I kept postponing the "final tasting" for some time, but the time has come at last...

This is one of the more expensive teas at Chawangpu at $90 per 400g of tea (sold in 200g pieces).


It's probably quite a fancy tea, old tree material, pretty, whole leaves and all that.

The aroma of rinsed leaves is deep green, quite sweet, having a mixture of flowery aromas, such as lilies or magnolia. It has nothing of the "flowery meadow" (found, e.g., in Youle or Bada) - this is more like what you can smell at a flower exhibition.


After a year or so of existence, the liquor is greeny, turning into pale orange.

The first impression upon tasting the tea is the sweetness and then thickness. Other than that, the taste is buttery and sugary, with the above mentioned "garden" floralness (if I went more deeply botanical, I'd say I taste violets in there). However, even with tea stove water (that makes the taste more noble and clearer), I can't help feeling I'm missing something in the taste.

The old-tree-ness is not only apparent in the taste, but also in the pleasant cooling feeling it leaves in the mouth. There is no bitterness transformation due to no bitterness present... however, we're reminded that this is a puerh by the astringency, which is not indecent, but still noticeable. Eventually, it goes into a nice long-term aftertaste.

One locally famous chef has once said about a certain food that it is good, but it lacks the right jeb, which is a somewhat vulgar (he's a chef) Czech word for a "one instance of sex" - it is usually used as a verb (to-have-sex), but used like this, it basically is a punchy way of saying "the kick". I guess that the G.W.Bush's brother, Jeb, might find it difficult to lead a common life in the Czech Republic... Anyway, I remember this because this tea, in my opinion, also lacks the "X factor", despite being quite good otherwise.

I can drink this and be happy, but I won't be excited about it... which is not a major concern, of course, just noting... In this regard, it is similar to the previous year's Jingmai (leaves from there are also present in the Shuang Shu and the taste has not changed dramatically between 2012 and 2013) which ticked basically all the boxes of desirable properties, but failed to excite me too...


pondělí 21. července 2014

Mid 90s CNNP Ba Zhong Red Mark

This tea originally came from Origintea to Hobbes, who has kindly gifted me with a sample of this. It happened after the announcement that Origintea is closing - given this tea, sadly. In my first order sampling their around-2000 puerh and some oolongs, I've received very nice oolongs (even one from Tony's private stash that was among the best oolongs I have ever had), but the puerhs were, unfortunately, not to my taste, being uniformly distributed in the range between "where is the dissinfection" to "rather good". I am well aware that the prices were not that high, but I have had many much better teas from that tea even in that price range, so I don't buy that argument entirely. Therefore, it is perhaps unexpected that this "gravestone" cake should be good, especially as the part of its marketing was its low price.



The cake looks amiably brown and rusty, containing a mixture of all sorts of materials (leaves, huangpian, twigs,...). It is rather lightly compressed too. The dry leaves give a happines-inducing aroma of clay.

After rinsing, the  clay/earthiness goes away surprising quickly, leaving nuttiness (cashew). The edges of the cake seem to me to be a bit more earthy - possibly due to larger area being in contact with aging-inducing surroundings in there?


Even though the tea has seen some wetness, it is not really dominant at all. The color of the liquor is not too dark either, for a mid-90s tea either (mind that this is quite a deep cup). It's like if this tea was kickstarted in HK and then moved somewhere to dry out. It ttends to form a layer of something on the surface, I wonder what it is. I don't think that it's merely Oxford water this time.

When a normal amount of leaves is used, the taste is mainly about old paper, wood and slightly rancid nuts, feeling slightly stale and hollow overall. Nevertheless, the taste tends to hold for a good amount of time, however not-awesome it is.

Hobbes suggested to me to use more leaves  than normal - when I have done so, the tea has improved, becoming stronger and more concentrated, without acquiring sharp edges. It essentially becomes a quite nice, easily drinkable aged tea with enough sweetness and thickness to feel pretty good. With many leaves used, it can also sometimes cool the tongue down, which I do enjoy. It is calming and recharging at the same time, which is what I like about teas with some age to them.

What I miss is the long-term aftertaste of fresh plums that is often found in Red Marks (and in 7542 recipe too). There is a hint of it, but not enough.

Overall, even though this is possibly the weakest 90s Red Marks I've tasted, it is still plenty good for normal drinking and I'm always looking forward to tea sessions with it -  not bad at all! I just wonder what the price was - could someone please fill me in on that?