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Tea Reviews

Would you like to review our tea? Here is your chance to tell others about the taste of great teas. Send us an email at teareviews@thechineseteashop.com and tell us about your experience with tea. Select up to 3 different teas from the Online Store and we'll send you free samples. Remember to include your shipping address in the email.

 

Pu-Erh Tea Cake, "Iron Mold", Import/Export Corporation, 1990s (Raw/Sheng)

Its becoming apparent that the more I drink Daniel's tea, the more I learn what exquisite tea is supposed to taste like. The 1990's "Iron Mold" Pu-Erh is no exception. I realize now that the age factor for tea plays an incredibly crucial role in how the flavor and essence exists in relation or even opposition to the initial taste. One could not drink this Pu-Erh without taking notice of how the flavors change in the mouth and throat--five, ten minutes after one glorious sip!

 I have had many mid-grade Pu-Erh's that can be described as "earthy" or "muddy," however not until enjoying the 1990's "Iron Mold" have I tasted both notes of earth as well as sweet, fruity sensations in the same spiritually uplifting moment! The initial flavors of the tea present me with a sort of poetic image of "muddy rain" and a deep sweetness. Upon swallowing my mouth, tongue and throat were enveloped by notes of mango, blueberry and plum. This was nicely accompanied by hints of cinnamon, caramel, and vanilla, all which lended themselves to making this tea so surprisingly sweet! The color of this fine Pu-Erh ranged from mahogany to a deep, powerful blood-orange. Thinking back now, I'm amazed how greatly this tea made me feel so connected with nature through its flavors; as if I were a fresh seed in the soil and damp earth and grew until I were a ripe fruit. How amazing!

Reviewed by: Aaron basskin
Date: Aug 16th, 2013
Location: NC, United States

20 Year Old Tie Guan Yin

2012 Tian Rui Xiang Lao Ban Zhang

2012 Lao Ban Zhang Tea
A sample of this fine Lao Ban Zhang cake was gifted by Daniel Liu of The Chinese Tea Shop. He provides excellent background on this tea and on Ban Zhang in general on posts on his vendor blog (see here and here). Especially interesting is his commentary on Lao Ban Zhang, Xing Ban Zhang, and Lao Man 2012 Lao Ban Zhang TeaEr and the statistics on tea in Lao Ban Zhang. No doubt, old Lao Ban Zhang is the talk of puerh circles. Let's see what this cake has in store...

 

The dry leaves are a multicoloured mix of medium young fuzzy leaves, mainly buds, which give off a savory-meaty odour with thin tobacco smoke, strong pungent deep forest odours and sweet light fruit smells under all of it.

The first infusion pours a pure vibrant yellow. Sweet, cool, pungent tastes expands in the mouth there is a light, savory base that is barely noticed underneath it all. A long pungent pure tingling occurs on the tongue. Minutes later sweet, slightly creamy, root beer tastes

 

2012 Lao Ban Zhang Tea

The second infusion presents with sweet, clear, pure initial tastes which numbs the mouth with a soft tingling mouthfeel before pungent-sweet notes bring on light candy-melon-fruit notes. The mouthfeel reaches the mid-throat and opens it with a soft-creamy-candy-sweet coolness.

 

 


2012 Lao Ban Zhang Tea

The third infusion has an initial taste that is pure, sweet, and stretches into a cool, sweet taste. The mouthfeel sticks to the teeth, saliva pools deep in the throat, and a strong vibrant banana-melon, sweet creamy-candy aftertaste is

 

 

2012 Lao Ban Zhang TeaThe fourth infusion sees a sweet, pure, initial taste that is smothered by a mouthfeel which coats the whole mouth and throat. After this sensation recedes, there are barely savory-pungent notes under more vibrant, distinct sweet creamy fruit notes which open into the throat. The qi is very relaxing and cooling to the extremities. In the core there is a slightly warming sensation.

The fifth infusion is much the same with more distinct sweet candy-like fruits in the initial taste. A cool sweetness starts to gain momentum in the throat then slowly expands outward. There is a very light pungent taste caught in the mouthfeel which adds separation and depth from the dominating sweet high notes. This depth is clear in this fifth infusion.

 

2012 Lao Ban Zhang Tea

The sixth infusion has even more distinct fruits and sweet high note tastes up in the initial flavour. The thick mouthfeel overtakes these light flavours somewhat and leaves a long, fruity-sweet aftertaste behind.

In the seventh and eighth infusions everything becomes slightly softer with the high notes still quite strong but more smooth, less distinctly vibrant here. There are noticeably tangy melon edges now. These high note tastes are most noticed along with distinct returning coolness in the aftertaste where they maintain there overly vibrant quality. The qi strongly brings up the mood, and intensely focuses the mind, and makes the hands and feet feel cool, almost tingling.

 

 

2012 Lao Ban Zhang TeaIn the ninth infusion crisp, sweet high notes begin to be muddled with forest notes in the initial taste

The tenth infusion sees a slight, quick flash of savory and bland forest which turns sweet then is washed away with a mouthfeel which later brings sweet-creamy fruits on the breath. The mouthfeel continues in the deep-mid throat and mouth but is becoming slightly less dense now.

In the eleventh and twelfth infusions sweet, but mild banana-like fruits are in the initial taste and distinctly span the profile of this infusion. The flavour has softened considerably now. The mouthfeel softens but continues its strong presence. There is a long-candy-like aftertaste left in the mouth.

 

 

2012 Lao Ban Zhang Tea

In the thirteenth infusion there is more wild foresty depth found but still may high notes to be enjoyed. This tea has stamina because in the fourteenth infusion is finally starts to loose lots of its flavour. There is still a faint spattering of previous flavours, the mouthfeel still full in the throat.

Put to an overnight infusion these leaves give a pungent, cool, vibrant offering of fruity high notes.

Peace

 

 

Posted by Matt
Thursday, September 20, 2012

http://www.mattchasblog.blogspot.ca/2012/09/2012-tian-rui-xiang-lao-ban-zhang.html

Mattcha's Blog is one of the best and most popular tea review sites on the Internet. The reviews are passionate, knowledgeable and objective and are beautifully written and presented. Whether you are new to tea drinking or an expert, this site is a must see. Visit http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com for more great reviews.

2012 Tian Rui Xiang Lao Ban Zhang


Pu-Erh Toa Cha, Xiaguan Tea Factory, 1990s (Green/Sheng)

Rating (out of 5 pots):

Quality of Leaves:

Taste:

Value:

Recommend to others: absolutely yes

Reviewed by: DBJ
Date: 8/26/2011
Location: Waverly N.Y.

Please describe how you are preparing the tea (brew times, water temperature, type of teapot, etc): I brewed grams of leaf in a 80ml hong ni yixing using locally sourced spring water at a full boil with a fifteen second rinse to help loosen the chunks

What did you taste on the First Brew?: steeped for seven seconds very nice mellow flavor this tea is has mellowed allot and starting to genuinlty taste aged but still has a tiny bite and some vibrancy in the mouth that lets you know it will defiitly get better with more time

What did you taste on the Second Brew?: Steeped about 10 seconds. the chunks  of the toucha are still together in the pot but loosening briningn on a bolder flavor

What did you taste on the Third Brew?: steeped fifteen. The flavort changes to a little to have a tea taste to it

Additional Comments: this tea is has mellowed allot with its age I think the storage on this has been excellent (for my taste) enough humidity so that the tight toucha has aged but dry enough that it still has allot of life in it. this tea doesn't peak till around the eighth infusion But will easily go 15 or 20. This tea is not the most complex or interesting  when compared to some of the othe aged bings but does evolve over the infusiuons rather than just weakening. I think its a great value everyday drinking  I canot see myself getting tired of this tea

Pu-Erh Toa Cha, Xiaguan Tea Factory, 1990s (Green/Sheng)


2005 Shuangjiang Mengku "Daxueshan"

This is the second of two pu'ercha samples kindly provided by Daniel, of Vancouver's aptly-named Chinese Teashop. Like the other sample (which was a 2005 Yichanghao), this comes from a brand that I have come to appreciate for making solid tea. While it may not stop the clocks, the brand usually provides me with decent tea at a typically low price.

 

I recall ST being so kind as to provide me with a sample of the 2004 version of this cake, whose name, of course, refers to "Big Snow Mountain" in Yongde County, of Lincang diqu [prefecture]. Shuangjiang, which is where the Shuangjiang Mengku Tea Co. is based, is also in Lincang. That whole area reminds me of beany, savoury flavours, which I find entirely adorable.

 

The sample comprises medium-sized leaves in large fragments. Daniel is generous with his quantities, and I believe that some of this sample has since made its way in a care package to Matt. This is a fitting end for it, because Matt was the reason I have these samples from Vancouver in this first place - so thanks again.

 

 

I found the 2004 version to be somewhat reddened, but this version from a year later does not appear to be too cheekily processed. Yes, they are a mainstream brand not known for their hand-crafted extravagance, but they are well-known for being good blenders. When you have good Lincang leaves to work with, you can work wonders, it seems.

This is a very appealing tea. It is sticky, sweet, and leaves behind a candy-like aroma and a gripping kuwei [good bitterness] in the mouth. I wrote that it is "enjoyable, sweet, and nicely mouthwatering with no obvious flaws".

It marches on well, and delivers stable, honey-like tones with a thickish body, and a good grip of the tongue. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking, but I even detect a little bean-like character, in the Mengku fashion.

There is just enough fun and tantalising naughtiness in this tea to keep my coming back for more infusions. At $40, it's well-priced, and compares well with other 2005 cakes. Shuangjiang Mengku tea is seldom very expensive, but, like this little fellow, provides plenty of interest for the relatively low price.

Decent.

 

Reviewed by Hobbes (The Half-Dipper)

10 June, 2011

http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/2011/06/2005-shuangjiang-mengku-daxueshan.html

2005-shuangjiang-mengku-daxueshan


2005 Yichanghao "Zhengpin"

My erstwhile chum, Yichanghao. Yet perhaps not entirely erst, for you keep on delivering solid, reliable treats at a very decent price.

Ladies and mentlegen, I give you the 2005 Zhengpin

The dry, dusty, shoelace looking leaves of mainly brown were placed in the warmed teapot and rinsed. The first infusion yields a rich creamy sweet start carrying a malted creamy finish. In the taste under the creaminess is a layer of sour wood and even cooling eucalyptus finish in the mouth.

 

The aftertaste is woodsy and fairly dense with a touch of sweetness. The mouthfeel is quite satisfying with the mouth and tongue tingling just slightly from having the mouth's saliva retreat into the throat.

 

 

As shown above, the leaves are fragmented and dark - although certainly less fragmented than in the lesser recipes. I am surprised by a distinct lack of aroma in the dry leaves.

This character, oddly enough, continues in the cup. It cannot be said to have a significant density of flavour, and yet it does have a big, fat body and a dominant presence in the mouth. It is a fascinating thing: light in character (being mainly pinewood), and yet thick, sweet, and satisfying.

This sample was generously provided by Daniel, of The Chinese Teashop of Vancouver. In months past, I mentioned that I had queued up a half-dozen samples or so, only to find that the postage was a huge amount; this has since been remedied, and the store looks entirely appealing in its range and pricing (certainly on the Western scale).

This cake currently sells for an entirely reasonable $45. There isn't a huge amount that one can find of any quality from 2005 for less than that price, and this does a very good job of keeping my attention throughout the session.

Caveat emptor: I am a confessed Yichanghao fanboy. If you like their products to a lesser degree, then temper my enthusiasm at the appropriate heat.

Reviewed by Hobbes (The Half-Dipper)

08 June, 2011

http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/2011/06/2005-yichanghao-zherngpin.html

Pu_Erh_Tea_Cake_Yi_Chang_Hao_Jing_Pin_Chang_Tai_Te


2005 Yichanghao "Zhengpin"


In the mail yesterday came a large box of puerh samples care of Hobbes of the famed Half-Dipper. Basically, it is what was leftover from every sample he has tried over the past 3 months or so. If anyone follows The Half Dipper they know that Hobbes samples a lot of tea- expect lots of puerh reiviews over the next few months or so.


The first one that stuck out was this sheng puerh from the Changtai factory, a tea reviewed just days ago by Hobbes. This sample is a puerh that Daniel of The Chinese Tea Shop had sent him but yet a tea that one has not yet tried. So lets open up the sample bag and see what its all about...

The dry, dusty, shoelace looking leaves of mainly brown were placed in the warmed teapot and rinsed. The first infusion yields a rich creamy sweet start carrying a malted creamy finish. In the taste under the creaminess is a layer of sour wood and even cooling eucalyptus finish in the mouth. The aftertaste is woodsy and fairly dense with a touch of sweetness. The mouthfeel is quite satisfying with the mouth and tongue tingling just slightly from having the mouth's saliva retreat into the throat.

The second infusion starts off with a greenish wood start leaning into a woody, sour, almost lime-like flavour in a woody forested base. The aftertaste is crisper than the first infusion with freshly sawed lumber tastes floating above rich wood notes. Even after just two pots the qi of this tea is strongly euphoric and relaxing. Listening to the birds chirp outside, life couldn't be better.

The third infusion presents with sandy grainy sweet, slightly metallic, wood- there are light vanilla notes in there as well. All these tastes turn into malty, grainy, sweet wood. The mouthfeel is very satisfying stimulating even the middle throat slightly. The aftertaste is somewhat creamy malty wood that both shows some sharpness and richness. The chaqi is relaxing on the mind and lightens the body. It nudges at the stomach just slightly.

 

The fourth infusion reveals a sweet, tight wood start. Its mainly malty wood body stretches throughout the flavour profile and where it is quite obvious. The finish of crisp wood, a touch of spice among pine, is welcomed.

 

The fifth infusion shares a mild, a bit creamy, malty, newly sawed wood initial taste. There is a grassy raw throatiness to things here. It finishes as simple crisp wood in the mouth. The mouthfeel is somewhat drier now.

 

The sixth and seventh show a juicy sweet wood taste with movement to something deeper before resorting back to simple sweet wood in the mouth. The feel in the mouth remains solid.

In an attempt to shake the last few infusions of solid but simple tastes, this tea submits to a handful of hours long infusions which reveal vibrant berry and plum flavours intermixing with pine. There is still depth in the mouthfeel of this tea during these infusions.

Hobbes' (The Half Dipper) Tasting Notes

Peace

Posted by Matt
Thursday, May 5, 2011

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/2005-yichanghao-zhengpin-puerh.htm

Mattcha's Blog is one of the best and most popular tea review sites on the Internet. The reviews are passionate, knowledgeable and objective and are beautifully written and presented. Whether you are new to tea drinking or an expert, this site is a must see. Visit http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com for more great reviews.

Pu-Erh Tea Cake, Yi Chang Hao Zheng Pin, Chang Tai Tea Factory, Year 2005 (Green/Sheng)


1997 Menghai "7542 Orange Mark"


This sample was sent compliments of Daniel at The Chinese Tea Shop. The dry leaves have a faint sour fruit odour to them as well as a very unnoticeable dry storage smell. When the water is boiled it makes its way over the dry leaf, embracing it, rising it. Then the first infusion is prepared...


 

It delivers a very soft, buttery, slightly floral upfron ttaste that is not so sweet. It has a somewhat greeny wood, earth base to its flavour. It slowly turns into a very soft and creamy caramel. The aftertaste has very light, not that full, barely earthy, caramel taste. The mouth feel is soft like moss in the mouth.

 

The second infusion comes on with a soft, creamy, earthy mineral taste. There are light undercurrents of caramel with very subtle returning floral plummy sweetness. The after taste develops into an earthy almost plummy taste in the mouth. Spots of subtle coolness come up as a cool barely floral menthol on the breath. A throat feel develops as a mossy sensation dwells in the top middle of the throat. The third infusion is very much like the second.

The chaqi that develops is mild, tranquil, and calming with just a slight warmth sauntering about through the body.   

The fourth infusion presents with that creamybuttery smooth start with a taste that is not that powerful nor sweet. It turns into a mineral, almost coco, taste before adding a lingering caramel sweet note that lingers in the aftertaste. This tea is soft and smooth all the way through from mouthfeel to flavour, smell and qi.



The fifth and sixth infusion show more of its greeny wood base as the initial flavours of mild creamy earth carry almost no sweetness. There is a faint floral plum caramel taste in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel supports the overarching smooth feeling of this tea.

 

The seventh infusion carries a mineral-earthy-wood initial taste which has lost most of its creamier tones. The taste shuffles to dry wood with an almost unnoticeable coolness to it. The aftertaste turns into a flat dry wood.

In the eighth infusion light green wood tastes are mostly noted. There are back notes of caramel notes that are hardly sensed and trickle into a dry wood taste. There is also touches of mineral and spice that are faint and mostly present as the first tastes are registered.

The infusions that follow contain a very light plummy wood taste that fades away on the breath. The next few infusions share very light flashes of spice and soft smoothness but all fade away quickly to a green woody taste. The mouthfeel here is isolated to the front of the mouth. This tea fades away fast and by the twelfth infusion it is just a memory- these tasting notes and a touch of plummy water.

Peace

Posted by Matt
Thursday, May 5, 2011

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/1997-menghai-7542-orange-mark.html

Mattcha's Blog is one of the best and most popular tea review sites on the Internet. The reviews are passionate, knowledgeable and objective and are beautifully written and presented. Whether you are new to tea drinking or an expert, this site is a must see. Visit http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com for more great reviews.

Pu-Erh Tea Cake, 7542 Orange Mark, Menghai Tea Factory, 1997s (Green/Sheng)

1980s Menghai "7572" Puerh

Menghai One usually doesn't consume much shu puerh, indulging only occasionally during the hot summer or once in a while for meditation. Today one has a craving for some old shu.

This sample was gifted by Daniel at The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver, who stocks a nice variety of cakes. It is of the classic 7572 recipe. This recipe was one of the first to be pressed into a cake by Menghai in the 70s. Let's boil the water, take in the moisture kicked up by the kettle, and enjoy some classic shu...

The smell of the dry leaf is pretty generic- the dusty, stale, must of a long storage. Faint dry wood notes predominate. The tea is placed in yixing and a rinse pushes outmore of the smell of storage.

 

Menghai The first infusion reveals an initial burst of sweetness under the strong heavy characters of this tea. A velvety mouthfeel is full of creamy but sharp coco notes. The aftertaste is slightly fruity with a nice grain character to it. Minutes afterward creamy chocolate is carried with the breath. The mouthfeel further evolves into a mild comforting dryness which coats the mouth.

 

With creamy chocolate echoing in ones mouth the second infusion is prepared. It starts off with a slight sour-sweet burst lying in the thick oily soup of coco and decomposing wood. There are very medicinal notes that hide under other flavours then fade away. The mouthfeel is malty, thick, oily, and finishes slightly dry. The chaqi moves downward warming the lower cavity and comforting the stomach.

The third and fourth infusion start once again with a sour-sweet kick. There are raisin-like and medicinal notes here but they are smooth and meld into creamy coco on the breath. The mouthfeel remains viscous with a slight dry finish. It really gloops over the mouth and paints it in a thick coat all the way to the throat. The chaqi is quite heavy and burrows deep and downward. Ones hands and arms feel almost cool in juxtaposed with the light, soft warming feeling down below.

 

The fifth and sixth infusions have much more woody notes up front along with thick creamy coco notes that dominate the creamy taste of this tea. Thin dry wood stretches into chocolate in the aftertaste as well. The mouthfeel is very full but slightly less oily. The chaqi is compounding and bringing elevated alertness. One quiets here in the present.

The seventh, eighth, and ninth infusions maintain the core creamy, smooth coco, velvety taste with a progression to more dry wood notes in the aftertaste. The woody flavour is a creamy, velvety wood much more than it is drying. One takes a break from this tea and goes for an evening walk before returning to the table.

 

The tenth infusion comes once again with more woody, dry notes within the creamy coco base which is becoming more and more ghostly as the session progresses. Slight plum now accompanies wood notes.

The eleventh and twelfth infusions are long and slightly dry. Milky wood notes and many sweet, fruity hints are in there as well. The mouthfeel has lost its oily core but applies a thin fuzzy coating over the mouth and throat.

 

This tea is taken for a few more long infusions late in to the night before being put to rest with an overnight steeping. In the morning, one is greeted with cinnamon, mainly musty storage, and deep medicinal tastes.

Peace

Posted by Matt Tuesday,
February 1, 2011
http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/1980s-menghai-7572-puerh.html#uds-search-results

Mattcha's Blog is one of the best and most popular tea review sites on the Internet. The reviews are passionate, knowledgeable and objective and are beautifully written and presented. Whether you are new to tea drinking or an expert, this site is a must see. Visit http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com for more great reviews.

1980s Menghai

1990s Puerh Tea Brick, Menghai Tea Factory (Green/Sheng)

Rating (out of 5 pots):

Quality of Leaves:

Taste:

Value:

Recommend to others: I found this tea to have good flavor, with excellent hui gan and qi.  I particularly enjoy the return of sweetness on the tongue, long after the sip.

Reviewed by: bevbyrnes
Date: Feb. 23, 2011>
Location: Seattle, WA

Please describe how you are preparing the tea (brew times, water temperature, type of teapot, etc): I prepared this tea using a porcelain gaiwan, with fresh boiled water, pouring several infusions starting with 7-second steeping and building eventually to 90-second steeping by the 8th infusion.

What did you taste on the First Brew?: Initial fragrance of leaves shows good camphor. Taste was clean wood with camphor on the breath, surrounded by a distinct sweetness.

What did you taste on the Second Brew?: Fragrance strengthens with plummy fruit while camphor recedes. Taste of clean woods deepens, with hui gan developing plum fruit layers.

What did you taste on the Third Brew?: Taste-wise, this tea is strong good clean woodiness. There is a wonderful returning sweetness that rises long after the sip.

Additional Comments: While I found this tea to have good flavor I was particularly impressed by the development and nuances of the hui gan, which starts out initially with camphor notes but soon develops plummy and floral layers on the returning breath. Very nice. Also, this tea possesses an interesting and very active qi which grows with each successive infusion, moving throughout the body before eventually settling in the core. When I drink this tea I inevitably take my time with it, in part to allow for the return of that wonderful sweetness between sips, to take in the nuances of the hui gan, and also to observe the movement of qi. A very enjoyable tea.

1990s Puerh Tea Brick, Menghai Tea Factory (Green/Sheng)

Pu-Erh Tea Brick, Xiaguan Tea Factory 1990s (Black/Shou)

Rating (out of 5 pots):

Quality of Leaves:

Taste:

Value:

Recommend to others: I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good, strong shou pu-ehr

Reviewed by: kamitea
Date: Nov 10th, 2010
Location: Kamloops, B.C. Canada

Please describe how you are preparing the tea (brew times, water temperature, type of teapot, etc): Boiling water in a Yixing teapot that I use only for shou pu-ehr.

What did you taste on the First Brew?: 15 seconds. Hints of the flavours to come with a gentle sweetness and a hint of mushroom

What did you taste on the Second Brew?: 5 seconds. The strength of the tea begins to come through. Still a gentle sweetness, but the strong earthiness of later brews is more apparent.

What did you taste on the Third Brew?: 5 seconds. Strong, clean earthiness.

Additional Comments: I drink this tea often and it can have a very strong, dark broth, but if you begin with quick steeping times, early brews will have a nice sweetness that will also return in later brews (7th-10th). After the 3rd brew I increase my times by 5 seconds and the middle brews have a balanced, round, earthy flavour that is very good.

Pu-Erh Tea Brick, Xiaguan Tea Factory 1990s (Black/Shou)

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