2006 Xinghai Golden Peacock Ripe Pu-Erh Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-Erh

Where to Buy: Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Description:

A classic Xinghai ripe tea produced from the late 90’s until.  Xinghai tea factory is the 2nd producer of ripe tea in Menghai town (after Menghai tea factory), and has an excellent “wo dui” fermentation process.  Our 2006 Golden Peacock was aged Donguan town in Guangdong.  It’s a “Guangdong dry-stored” tea that has already lost it’s “wo dui” (fermented) taste.  The tea brews up a deep, dark but clear burgundy-brown tea soup.  The taste is sweet with a expansive lubricating taste and feeling in the mouth.  Both subtle and complex at the same time, a high quality tea leaf was used, each session lasting many infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hello tea friends!

Whilst sorting (more like rummaging) through my tea cupboards I spotted this tea had been pushed to the back. Probably when I had my aversion to all Pu-Erh tea at the start of the year. I cannot say what made me feel that way but it does happen from time to time, at the moment I dislike Jasmine teas but give it a few months and that will change. Perhaps it has something to do with the change in weather? I digress, this tea was still sealed in it’s sample packet and the words ‘Golden Peacock’ left me with some fascinating images in my mind. That is how I settled on reviewing this tea today. I also want to made a note before I begin that I am not at home while I do this review, I’m at my parents house dog sitting for the day while they go shopping in Birmingham and may not be back until late. I mention this as it changes a few things, I do not have filtered water for an example, nor do I have a self boiling kettle for each steep. At least I bought my tea ware with me in preparation.

Opening the packet is tricky but I do it eventually. Once opened I pull out a large piece of cake which has remained whole despite it’s journey. There are quite a few golden tips present on the outside of the cake and a beautiful shine. Some of the golden tips have downy hairs that I can stroke, as though the Pu Erh were an animal. I don’t know why I decided to stroke it…perhaps the heat is getting with me? Further inspection shows dark brown leaves the colour  of old, dark chocolate. The cake remnant bares a soft, dry wood and clay scent.

Steeping Parameters: 220ml Glass Gongfu Teapot. Tea Leaf 12g. Boiling Water. 2 Rinses each of 15 seconds. 

First Steep – 15 seconds

Colour is golden orange with a soft clay scent.

Flavour is mild with some sweetness and an earthy, dusky wood tone toward the after taste. The more I drink the more I can define the sweetness to being brown sugar like.

Second Steep – 20 seconds 

Still soft with brown sugar and dusky wood tones, but with added dryness.

Third Steep – 30 seconds 

Darker though still soft. Less sweet and more musky now, with old wood and dry earth notes that linger in the after taste. Also the tea liquid is dark at this point too, like red soy sauce.

Fourth Steep – 45 seconds 

Slightly sour in this steep and the wood is coming through with some cocoa notes. Still dry and mildly sweet.

Sixth Steep – 1 minute 

Similar to the previous steep though with more clay and dryness. It reminds me of autumn, the dry, musky leaves crunching under my feet as I walk through a forest. The smells of an autumn forest match this flavour quite nicely.

Seventh Steep – 2 minutes

An increase of musk though still soft and the sourness is slight. Very wooden.

Overall – I found this Shou to be mild and delicate throughout the steeps which made it difficult to describe the flavours. At least it was consistent throughout. I would say this is an everyday Shou for Pu new drinkers or those that prefer softer teas. Personally I like strength and depth in my tea which this just didn’t have, though despite that it was drinkable and pleasant enough. I had some difficulty breaking up the cake piece so I did it by hand in the middle of my steeps, partly to see if it increased strength.

I honestly cut this steeping short, originally I planned on 10 steeps rather than 7. Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t a bad Shou when it comes down to it; my personal preference is just that and I can’t like them all. I still think that for the price it’s a decent every day Shou for new drinkers and would recommend it for that. If I can be nothing else then at least I’m honest.

Happy Steeping!

Hot Chocolate from DAVIDsTEA

hotchocolateTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy: DAVIDsTEA

Tea Description:

We take hot chocolate pretty seriously around here. It’s gotta be rich, decadent and mega-creamy. And after searching high and low for the ultimate hot chocolate tea, we finally found the perfect blend. We took a flavourful base of pu’erh and black tea, then we added real cocoa nibs and fudgy chocolate chips. The result? An uber-chocolately blend worthy of the name Hot Chocolate. Dark, sweet and totally satisfying, it’s the perfect winter treat.

Learn more about this tea here

Taster’s Review:

This was another blend that I was excited to try from the 2015 Winter Collection. I love hot chocolate and I love tea. There are times, though, when I would like to have the flavor of hot chocolate, but not the added fat or calories of a true cup.

The scent of this blend reminds me of a powdered hot chocolate mix… really! I can detect the sugar and the chocolate… and I’m so surprised that this scent is coming from a tea. I’m not sure how they did it. Giving this cup a sip, I am already enjoying this one quite a bit. I taste the earthy quality of the pu-erh, but also the chocolate that actually seems lighter than expected. I think that drinking this tea a bit quicker than usual instead of sipping, brings out more of the straight hot chocolate flavor. One thing I should mention is that the flavor I’m getting doesn’t reflect a hot chocolate made from chocolate shavings, but more of a powder mix.

There is an unfortunate element of this tea that I just can’t seem to ignore: the stevia. I am someone who can tolerate stevia in many things and actually add it to my coffee once in a while. Its presence in this cup really ruins everything, though. I would recommend this blend if you aren’t sensitive to stevia and if you enjoy hot chocolate.. but otherwise, this might be one to skip.

“Planet Jingmai” Ancient Tree Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea

Planet-JingmaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Crimson Lotus Tea

Tea Description:

“A world of flavor in the palm of your hand!”

Don’t let their small size fool you. These tiny spheres of puerh are made from 300yo Gushu/Ancient Tree material from Jingmai. They were picked and processed in Spring of 2014. They have been aged loose as maocha in Jingmai until now. They are fantastic. The aroma is thick with honey. The flavor is smooth and floral with just enough bitterness and astringency to keep your palate interested. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmm!  OK, so I say that a lot when it comes to tea.  But I don’t often say it when it comes to Pu-erh!  At least, not so you – our readers – can “hear” it.  But this “Planet Jingmai” Ancient Tree Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea has earned the “mmm!”

This tastes more like honey than Pu-erh.  (When reading the word ‘honey’ in the previous sentence, you should hear it the way that Mr. Wonderful aka Kevin O’Leary says “money.”)  It is sweet and delicious and so honey-like, you’ll wonder why you’re not all sticky after drinking it.

Planet-Jingmai-PlateMy second cup is even more honey-esque.  I’m still searching for something that reminds me of a pu-erh.  It doesn’t taste earthy, it doesn’t have a mushroom-y taste.  Just beautifully sweet.  Perhaps a hint of vegetation and a light touch of floral notes.  But mostly, honey is what I taste this time too.

And this pearl of tea takes quite a while to unfurl too!  It wasn’t until after my third infusion that the orb looked more like a tea and not a ball of yarn.  After my fourth infusion, I noticed that the leaves were beginning to settle in a heap rather than staying wound in the ball.

The flavor of the honey notes begins to wane by the fourth infusion.  It was with this infusion that I started to pick up on more floral notes with hints of earthy vegetation than a strong honey-like flavor.  I’m still tasting honey notes even in my fifth infusion, but, they continue to soften with each new infusion.

By the end of the sixth infusion, the leaves had fallen away from the ball shape and had become a pile of wet leaves.  There is still plenty of flavor to them though, and I kept on going until I finished my ninth infusion.  I probably could have gotten even more from this tea!

This tea is a PLANET of flavor!  I highly recommend the journey.

2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian “Top of the Clouds” Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea

2005-Changtai-Yun-Pu-Zhi-DianTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Crimson Lotus Tea

Tea Description:

This is a very special puerh prepared by the Yunnan Changtai Tea Industry Group. The blenders who work for Changtai are true masters of their craft. The leaves in this puerh are a blend of 15 mountains, Spring picked in 2005. The name for this cake “Yun Pu Zhi Dian” means “Top of the Clouds”. Since Yunnan means “Southern Clouds” this name has a double meaning. It refers to the heavenly experience and also that this puerh contains the best from Yunnan.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve often thought of pu-erh as a cooler weather type of tea because it’s a tea that I prefer to be served hot.  As the tea cools, I find that the flavors begin to mute and become lost.

And yes, I do drink hot tea even in the summer months, in fact, I drink more hot tea than I do iced tea in the summer months, but, I don’t drink as much hot tea in the summer as I do in the cooler months.

2005-Changtai-Yun-Pu-Zhi-Dian2So when I drink a pu-erh, I’m often reminded of the cooler days of autumn and winter, but as I sip this 2005 Changtai Yun Pu Zhi Dian “Top of the Clouds” Sheng Pu-erh from Crimson Lotus Tea, the tea seems to be evoking thoughts of late spring and early summer.

Perhaps it’s the lovely notes of fruit that develop throughout the infusions, starting off with a soft hint of apricot and in later infusions, I notice that the sweet apricot notes are accentuated with a contrasting sour note of tart apple.

Perhaps it’s the lovely background note of flower that seems to bring to mind thoughts of floral aromas filling the air in the spring.  Or maybe it’s the delicate woodsy notes and hints of vegetative earthy tones that remind me of the trees as signs of their springtime foliage begin to grow.

This tea is beautifully smooth and sweet with notes of fruit and honey.  In the earliest infusions, the fruit notes are strongest, but as I continue to steep, the honey develops and the fruit begins to wane somewhat.

Meanwhile, the woodsy notes are developing.  These aren’t musty wood notes, but clean, vibrant woodsy tones.   The tea has a sweetness to it that is balanced with the aforementioned notes of sour apple.

I’ve only just been introduced to this company – Crimson Lotus – but I am quite impressed with this tea.  They specialize in Pu-erh teas.  Those new to Pu-erh will find this a fantastic resource of teas that are good ‘starting out’ Pu-erh (and since they specialize in Pu-erh, they’ll be a great resource of knowledge for you too!)  And for those of you who are more experienced with Pu-erh, I think you’ll find that Crimson Lotus has an amazing selection of intriguing teas.

As for me, I highly recommend this Top of the Clouds Sheng!  It’s delightful!

Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 from Wymm Tea

Menghai7th1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Wymm Tea

Tea Description:

This shou pu-erh brews with a rich and honey flavor and long-lasting jasmine rice aroma. Full tea leaves from high mountains in Menghai County, located in west of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, are picked to make the tea in 2008. Pu-erh tea has the potential to ferment over time, and this tea has been post-fermented for 6 years since production. Post-fermentation gives the tea vibrant flavours and richer aroma as well as deep wine colour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 is the fourth of the teas that I was sent by Wymm Tea in their lovely sampler presentation package.  These samplers come beautifully wrapped in a milk-carton shaped box.  (You can see the box in this review.)

As I’ve mentioned many times:  pu-erh just isn’t my favorite type of tea.  But, after trial and error, I learned the ways to best brew pu-erh to my liking and I’ve come to appreciate it.  It still isn’t my favorite, but I can say that I enjoy pu-erh tea.

Menghai Shou Seventh Grade
This little pillow of pu-erh is one of four that came in my little ‘milk carton’ box from Wymm Tea.

When it comes to pu-erh, though, I find that I tend to prefer sheng to shou.  What’s the difference?  Well, I’m no expert on the subject of pu-erh, but what I’ve come to understand is that sheng tea is raw tea material that has been aged while shou tea is cooked tea material which seems to accelerate the aging process a bit.  Why do I prefer sheng?  Because while my experience with pu-erh is rather limited (again, I’m no expert!), my limited experience has taught me that shou pu-erh tends to be the pu-erh that sometimes has a briny or fishy flavor and the shou pu-erh tends to be the earthiest tasting (as in, it sometimes tastes of dirt).

But NOT this shou!  This is LOVELY!  This is so lovely that it has me rethinking my stance on pu-erh!

Sweet!  Mellow!  Smooth!  All those words come to mind as I sip this.  I taste no brine, no fish, no strong earthy dirty flavors.  Just wonderfully mellow flavors.  A sweet honeyed undertone with hints of burnt sugar caramel.  I taste notes of earth but not dirt.  This is more like damp, woodsy notes, evoking thoughts of a walk through the old-growth forests here in the Pacific Northwest after it rained.  (We get some rain up here.)

I also taste very subtle hints of rice.  The description of the tea suggests a jasmine rice note, I don’t know if it’s jasmine rice that I taste (I’m very familiar with jasmine rice as it’s my go-to rice in my pantry), but then again, this is only my first cup – perhaps those flavors will reveal themselves in later infusions.  For now, I find myself in awe of the beautiful honey notes.  So sweet.  So delightful.

With my second cup, those aforementioned jasmine rice notes begin to emerge.  I taste less of that honey flavor, but more of the sweet rice flavor and that’s quite pleasant.  The flavor is still very mellow and smooth but it’s deeper and stronger than the first cup.  I taste notes of burnt sugar and rice, hints of flower and a soft woodsy note. I love that there’s not even a hint of astringency or bitterness here.  Just lovely!

I enjoyed this tea immensely!  The later infusions (I got eight infusions out of this tea!) were just as mellow and smooth – but with each infusion, I found a deeper flavor.  I never really experienced any strong earthy notes – bonus! – and I enjoyed a lovely sweetness from the notes of rice and hints of molasses and honey.  A truly remarkable shou!  This is the shou I’d recommend to someone who has had some unfavorable experiences in the past with shou pu-erh, this tea will change your mind about shou!