Monday, November 29, 2010

2006 CNNP 7581

This brick is the last part of my purchase from Pu'erh Shop.
I seem to be on a trend with 2006 pu'erhs. I have another cake to review after this one and it happens to be 2006 as well.
So far it seems to have been a time for good bricks and cakes to be produced. I haven't tasted an awful one yet.

This is a landmark for me, as it is my first encounter with a CNNP cake. In some cases that can be good or bad, so it seems. There is much information floating around about CNNP cakes that I have been trying to make sense of. I understand the basic concept of the government control, but everything else is a bit ambiguous.

In my basic understanding of the recipe number, in this case being "7581," the first two numbers indicate the year that the recipe was made. In this case, 1975.
The second number denotes the grade of leaf that was used. That being said, the grade only refers to the size of leaf, not the quality. This brick's grade happens to be 8.
The last number is the factory number, under the CNNP regulations. The number 1 on this brick shows that the factory where it was produced was Kunming.

The brick is not as heavily condensed as it looks. It actually pries apart very nicely with just a butter knife. I have not upgraded to a pu'erh pick or knife yet, but that will be fixed sooner or later. Purchases are unpredictable for me, seeing as I am a college student and I always regulate my money pretty carefully.

The dry leaf smells of nuts, leaves, and wood.
Imagine walking through a deciduous forest and taking a deep breath...That is how this tea smells. It is very different from other shu pu'erhs I have cross paths with.
There is no damp, musty dirt aroma from these leaves at all. I presume this was a dry stored tea because of this.

The nose of the liquor was full of surprises and unconventional characteristics.
The same forest smell was there, but now imagine that you are walking through that deciduous forest after a good amount of rainfall.
Damp logs and wet, piled leaves are what come to mind.

The curve ball: sweet cinnamon rolls.
I breathed in the scent again just to assure myself that it was not being imagined.

This trait definitely stands out from other shu pu's.

The taste was, not surprisingly, full of more surprises.
A creamy, velvet liquid flooded my taste buds and proceeded to coat my mouth.
Sweet raisin and sassafras were presented to me.

They were thoroughly enjoyed for the next 7 infusions. Those tastes and textures maintained their consistency throughout the session, only dwindling after the 7th infusion.

A lingering wheat aftertaste left my mind pondering on this tea for quite sometime.

With a full stomach and a very pleasant feeling, I leave you to enjoy a session of your own!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Enjoying My Tea

Today's tea; Gingko's Yunnan Golden Buds.

There will not be a fancy review, but I will spill some thoughts onto this page.

When reviewing tea, I focus on the tea. I focus on all the aspects of the aroma, appearance, color, history, brewing technique, flavors, textures, and anything else that gives a specific tea it's attributes. There is also the process of writing about the tea, and attempting to take decent photos to represent the tea as realistically as possible.

Today, I decided to do something different.
I decided to focus on nothing.

I sat back, relaxed, and sipped the tea.

Sometimes this represents even more aspects of a tea. The feeling of the warm brew as it travels down into your inner core and the warmth that it brings are feelings that are missed when one's mind is too focused.

A few sips into my session, there was knocking on the door of my humble dorm room. I said, in a friendly tone, to come on in.
One of the hall residents sat down. I gave him a cup, which he gladly took, and we talked.

I would have missed out on so much if I would have had a solitary session.
Tea opens one's eyes to so much if it is given the chance.

Enjoy your tea, my friends.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2006-8830 Menghai Dayi Nannuo

This is another cake in my order from Puerh Shop.
Some may ask, "Why another Nannuo?"

My response, "I want somewhere to begin."
Gaining knowledge from one of the regions that is well known for its puerh is very valuable to me. I believe that I may gain some experience in acquiring a taste for this region. I will move onto other regions too, but I figure that Nannuo is a good starting point on my journey.

This bing is good looking. There is a healthy mix of full leaves and buds and the colors are eye-catching.
The compression on this one is fairly strong. I figured it would be since it is a big factory label cake.

The scents coming off of the cake is very light. It reminds me of the smell of oatmeal; a weak grain sort of aroma. Next, add some rose petals and cocoa. That is the basic aroma of this bing.

The liquor smells basically like the dry leaves except a bit more strongly expressed.

The taste;
very floral, namely rose. It is a bit astringent at first, but it finishes with a wonderful sweet mango note.
The fruitiness is a compliment to the bitter entrance. This cake is well rounded and well mixed, in my opinion.

The following infusions present different personalities of this cake.

The astringency is taken down a notch and leaves the mouth watering mango.

Strawberries decide to emerge from the cup a few infusions later. The entrance is sweet, and the finish is a bit puckering.

To finish the session, a vegetal mushroom flavor leaves the earthiness of this cake with me for a while.

This cake does not have too many dimensions to it, but it is good quality. I will love to see what this cake will be a few years down the road.
Hopefully by that time I shall be well into my journey.


Friday, November 5, 2010

2008 - 0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai"

I spent a few days becoming acquainted with the new cakes I purchased, hence the small absence in posts.

Like I said in my previous post; these cakes changed my view on shengpu.

I had read on Bearsbearsbears that this was a very decent cake, and on the Half-Dipper I read that cakes made from Nannuo maocha are lighter, which I decided was a good starting point to my introduction to quality sheng puerh cakes.They both had wonderful suggestions.

This is a cake that was sourced and produced by Puerh Shop.

I wont go into depth about the tea's production information; read it on the label.

The American flag is a great touch. I feel like this was somewhat produced to fit the American specialty market, and they did a wonderful job.

The cake is very pretty! There are many full leaves and buds. The compression on the cake was enough to hold it together, but not enough to make me take a knife to it. I was able to pull out full leaves very easily with just my hands.

Right when the wrapper is opened, an army of aromas invaded my olfactory.
The most striking feature was the prominent sweetness and the floral attributes.
Along with that, there were distinct notes of honey, cherry and a woody earthiness.
For someone not so well versed in the ways of puerh, this is very inviting!
Usually I do not get this excited to drink a tea, but this was so different and I had the urge to dive right into it.

I tend to like to brew shengs with a little less than the recommended amount of leaves because I do not want to pull out too much of the bitterness that sometimes comes with shengpu.

The taste really presented a vast amount of flavors for me to keep track of. It is difficult to narrow it down so will list them all:
mellow sweetness, melons, floral notes and cocoa.
The texture was rich and creamy, but surprisingly light in body. A mild astringency followed that rounded out all the notes and pulled them together in harmony.
In some ways this tea reminds me of brie cheese; mellow, creamy, smooth, easygoing and a bit earthy.

With all puerh, there is a definite earthy quality that can be presented in different tastes. With this cake it was shown through deep wood flavors.
Another thing I notice is that the light bitterness plays an important roll to the flavor profile of this tea. Without the bitterness, the brew would be lacking in depth and complexity.

Some leafy greens emerge in the middle infusions but bring along sweet cherry notes with it. It is incredible how flavors can change throughout a session.

The tea lost complexity around the 7th infusion, but I pushed it to its limit none the less. I wanted to extract as much as I could out of this special tea.

This cake still has a youthful vigor to it, but it has matured to a wonderfully enjoyable stage. I would recommend this cake to anyone trying to get into the flavors of shengpu.

Wonderful session to say the least!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Pu'erh Journey

I never really quite understood the pu'erh hype, especially shengpu.

Now, don't get me wrong; I had enjoyed my fair share of shu and sheng pu'erh tea, but I had never seen the reason people are so fascinated by it.

Sure there is a sense of secrecy, mystery, and variety behind pu'erh, but in my mind it really did not amount to that much. There are hundreds and thousands of aficionados of pu'erh that employ a vast knowledge of everything under the umbrella of pu'erh. Some connoisseurs seem to have the entire list of factories and recipes memorized and could detect any of their flavor profiles in one sip. It fascinated me how little I really knew (and still don't know).
I was content enjoying my traditional oolongs and greens, as well as the occasional white and black teas. I concentrated my knowledge and flavors around those types, and kept a small bit of pu'erh on hand when I felt like indulging in a different dimension.

I decided to splurge and order a few cakes from Puershop...
That was money well spent.

The appreciation that I now have for pu'erh has risen to a whole new level.

I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with the fine Readers of this humble blog.