2013 Xiaguan “Holy Flame” Baoyan Raw Puerh from Crimson Lotus Tea

Hello Tea Friends,

Today I will be reviewing an interesting and somewhat traditional Tibetan  tea called Holy Flame. This tea is intended to be used as the base for Tibetan Yak Butter Tea (Po Cha) which is consumed daily in Tibet. I have tried some instant mixes for Yak Butter Tea in the past and honestly found them disgusting, though saying that I am not a buttermilk fan in general. I found it to be far too salty and sickly that I couldn’t drink it. Perhaps having it fresh would make a difference but I may never find out. Either way when I saw Holy Flame for sale and the intention for the tea I was immediately interested to try it. I may not have liked Yak Butter Tea but I may like the Sheng base. I also like the idea of drinking something that is common in Tibet and actually what they would drink themselves. Though I have never visited, Tibet has always been a wondrous place in my mind

Opening the packet (which has awesome wrapper art by the way) I can note the Chinese characters for Xiaguan which is a district in China as well as being a town near the Southern end of Yunnan. Primarily speaking this region is very well known for their tea production and have some wonderful teas to boast. The brick is rather dark in colour with a hue of brown, dark brown and dark green colours. I can also note some stems/sticks are present and the leaves are a mixture of sizes as though they were loosely chopped before processing. It smells musty and wooden though subtle with a hint of smoke.

The tea has some steeping instructions on the website.

Use 5-10 grams of leaves and brew with 75-150ml ( 2.5-5oz ) of water at or near boiling. Rinse once for a few seconds. Start with quick steeps under 10s. With each re-steep adjust the steep time to your taste.

My steeping parameters: 100ml gaiwan, 7g leaf, boiling water. I will also rinse the leaf as suggested.

First Steep – 7  seconds 

The tea soup is light brown in colour and bares a dry earth and smoke scent.

The flavour is mild in comparison to it’s pungent aroma. There is a smoky taste with some astringency in the after taste that leads to some dryness. Further bowls show an increase of depth and it becomes stronger though not by much.

Second Steep – 7 seconds 

The astringency is stronger and now bares a wooden must that somewhat matches the scent. It’s certainly strong and powerful considering such short steeps. The smoke still lingers in the aftertaste.

Third Steep – 10 seconds 

This is a more balanced steep in terms of astringency and smoke, either that or my pallet is used to it. However, the dryness has increased in the aftertaste and leaves my tongue almost dry.

Fourth Steep – 15 seconds 

The first sip comes across as astringent but it quickly softens into a smoky melody that envelopes my tongue and dances on the taste buds. Also the dryness is still present though not much of an issue.

Fifth Steep – 20 seconds 

Even on this steep it’s strong with ever pressing smoke and astringency. Also some sweetness coming through in the after taste.

Sixth Steep – 25 seconds 

This is starting to relax in strength but it’s still at a nice level. Smoke and wood with astringency still hang in the aftertaste.

Seventh Steep – 30 seconds 

It’s certainly starting to calm down but still has each flavour present.

Eighth Steep – 40 seconds 

And the flame burns out. There is little left in this steep apart from subtle smoke, a distance memory of a once lively Holy Flame that burnt bright.

Conclusion: This Sheng packs a pleasant punch with a lot of  mouth feel that makes you wonder what each steep will bring. Like the flame of a candle; it burnt brighter and intensified until it inevitably burnt itself out to leave a smoky finish. Alright that is enough fire talk, I will extinguish any more fire based puns before I get on someone’s wick.

On a more serious note, it promised to be a strong tea and it delivered. Not only that but considering I used average leaf weight for minimum steep time it produced eight successful steeps. While this may be cheap and intended to be used as a base tea I like it as it is. It’s very suited for an everyday tea and I know I will end up taking this to work to drink so I can close my eyes with each sip and pretend I’m in Tibet.

Until next time, Happy Steeping!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Raw/Sheng Puer
Where to Buy: Crimson Lotus Tea

logoDescription:

This tea is a literal staple of the Tibetan diet. Xiaguan is the largest supplier of tea to the people of Tibet. This brick is cheap and affordable and a great source of energy. It is primarily used to make Tibetan Yak Butter Tea. It is consumed daily with barley powder. These bricks are called “Baoyan” (宝焰) which means “Holy Flame”.

We found these bricks without wrappers being stored in Tibet while traveling there this Spring. We bought what we could and created our own wrappers. This isn’t a fancy tea. It is however unique and cheap. It is meant as a daily drinker for people living in the highlands of the Himalayas. This is a very strong tea. It will be smoky with hay and alfalfa notes. It brews smooth but with bitterness and astringency. It pairs perfectly with yak butter.

These bricks were Tibetan stored since early 2013. The Chinese characters stamped into the face of the brick say Xiaguan (下关).

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

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!

Moonlight Beauty Raw Pu-erh Loose Tea From Teavivre

Fullscreen capture 6242016 15913 PMTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Raw Pu-Erh Loose Leaf

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Tea Description:

The moonlight beauty tea is developed by the local Yunnan tea makers based on the continuous summarization and deepened understanding of the new trend of pu-erh flavor. It is a new breed of pu-erh tea. Made of the tender buds of large-leaf tea and processed with the method similar to that of Fuding White Tea. Moonlight beauty tea has a rich bouquet and clear yellow soup broth. As for as taste is concerned, this tea has a smooth, pliable, sweet and fresh mouthfeel without any bitter note.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Thank you Angel from Teavivre for sending me this sample to try.

I love the name of this tea, Moonlight Beauty sounds so pure and happy. The website says that though this tea is a raw Pu-Erh it is also similar to a white tea due to the processing of the leaves. You can see the similarity when you inspect the leaves.

In appearance the leaves are long and fairly thin with lots of downy hairs. They are a very pale green, almost white colour and they bare a soft, fresh scent of grass and pepper. Enough to smell like a Pu-Erh but living up to it’s subtle nature. The leaves are also crisp to the touch and could easily be broken into small pieces with fingers.

I will be using 5g of leaf in a 220ml teapot with boiling water. 

First Steep – 1 minute 

After the first steep the leaves now smell malty and wooden, a real contrast to their dry form. The tea also shares hints of wood and malt, with pepper and sweet pine. The liquid is very light yellow.

In flavour this is more subtle than it smells. The first thing I notice is the smoothness of a fresh pine and sweet peony notes. The after taste is dry and slightly nutty. It actually reminds me of a Bai Mu Dan white tea in flavour.

Second Steep – 2 minutes 

More peony and slightly sweeter than the previous steep, though just as mild. More drying in the after taste too. It tastes like spring rain drops that have landed onto flower petals, that imagery is in my mind every time I sip.

Third Steep – 3 minutes

Slightly sour during this steep but with a creamy finish and just as much peony. It has to be said that the dryness is somewhat spoiling it’s subtle elegance.

Overall – I am not a fan of white tea usually and that is exactly what this tea reminds me of. It’s not very Pu-Erh like except for the peppery, wood notes in the leaves once you start to infuse it. That being said it was still a pleasant and non offensive tea. I don’t think I could drink it all the time though, it’s just too mild for my personal taste. I imagine it’s great to keep hydrated with on hot summer days though. I also imagine that the mild nature of this tea would make it rather forgiving should you over steep it. Essentially it remained very similar throughout all three steeps.

Thank you again Angel for the opportunity to try this tea.

Until next time, Happy Steeping Everyone!

2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen

ShuTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh Tea

Where to Buy: ES Green

Tea Description:

This cooked(ripe) loose-leaf pu-erh tea has been produced in 2005. Slim tea buds are covered with gold fuzz. Neat and clean.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen is a ripe, cooked loose-leaf pu-erh tea from 2005.   For these tea leaves you will see slim tea buds that are covered with gold fuzz.  The leaves from the 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen are neat and clean as is the flavor of the offering.

Even though this 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen smells a bit like wet wood and old cigars once infused it was quite pleasant to the palate!  This infused very dark but also held up to multiple infusions, too.  After a few moments at room temperature the flavor seems to peak at it’s flavor rush to the taste buds.

Pu-erh teas – it seems – I either love them – or hate them.  This one is the first one I put in the middle category because I do like it quite a bit but also can’t say I LOVE it and have it have it every day.  It is an offering to linger on – to take your time with – to appreciate and enjoy the time and artisan-ship that went into it.  It may not be for everyone but if it is for you then by all means…celebrate it!  I, for one, will have another cup!

Pu’er Tea (Raw Loose Leaf) from Cloud Nine Teas

Loose-Raw-Puer-leaves-and-cup-500x500Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu’er Tea

Where to Buy: Cloud Nine Teas

Tea Description:

A bold fragrance, slight astringency, a hint of bitterness and a sweet aftertaste: this is raw Pu’er tea at its best. We love its explosive pick-me-up quality, and we think you will too.

Place of Origin

Simao, Yunnan, China

Harvest

Spring 2015

Storage

Airtight dry storage recommended (sealed in a zip-lock bag. BPA-free)

Brewing & Enjoying

The goal is to bring out the tea’s essential oils. Raw loose Pu’er is best brewed at around 85-90 degrees Celsius with filtered water.

Steep at least 5 grams of leaves for 10-20 seconds and watch them open up. Discard the water (the ‘first wash’) to remove residual dirt particles. Drink the second infusion onwards. If the tea becomes too astringent, drain the pot/gaiwan*, remove a few leaves and re-infuse.

This brilliant raw Pu’er will sustain as many as eight or even ten infusions, though infusions two to five are the most enjoyable.

Enjoy the Pu’er buzz!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Pu’er Tea from Cloud Nine Teas is on tap for today at Sororitea Sisters.  This Pu’er Tea is a raw loose leaf tea that Cloud Nine Teas offers on their website with a warm and fuzzy product description.

Personally I find this tea to be a nice offering.  It’s certainly a more gentle pu-erh tea.  Maybe even the MOST gentle pu’er I have ever had thus far.  Once infused it has a fairly drab yet see-thru color that lays in the cup.  The taste and smell are on the sweeter side, too.  It’s both thirst-quenching and clean and makes you crave more.

Having said that…there may be people out there that are looking for a more earthy, wormy, dirt-or-woodsy type of pu’erh…in which case…I don’t think this is the pu’erh for you.  It’s a more mellower, groovy, and laid-back type of pu’erh and I appreciate that.

This is a pretty good raw pu’erh to start with if you are new to this type of tea.  Nicely done Cloud Nine Teas!