Thursday, May 17, 2018

Verifying a “50 Year Old Puerh Brick”


This is one of the three pieces I picked up at a local Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacy in town.  To me it is the most unlikely to be what the sellers says it to be so it should be the easiest to confirm out of the three purchases that day.  I actually would have not even bought it if it wasn’t for me verifying the authenticity of the other “1970s” bings.  It is definitely the long shot out of the three.

As I said in the initial post, the herbalist was told they were 50 years old puerh from his herbal distributor.  He couldn’t verify the claim.  He said it came from Hong Kong.  He said that it’s the best tasting puerh that he’s carried- much better than the other 2 cakes I purchased.   He says that he is not a puerh tea drinker.  I remember that these bricks were not available for purchase in this same shop in 2009 when I picked up a 2004 Xiaguan tuo for a few bucks.

After inspecting the wrapper closely, it looks newer than the 50 year old claim so immediately I am doubtful.  The wrapper paper looks and feels like the newer type of wrappers used and there isn’t the telltale signs of aging that you would expect on a 50 years aged brick such as yellowing/ browning, teats and holes, and other wear.  If it was stored in Hong Kong I’m pretty sure it would have at least some of these signs after 50 years.

I open the plastic wrap sealing this cake and the dry leaves are a deep reddish colour.  Dry leaf smells of woody odours and piled autumn leaves with a faint plum odour.  It looks and smells like shu puerh to me.  The obvious piled autumn leaf odour indicates that this tea hasn’t really mellowed out for 50 years.  The odour would be mellower and not as sharp.  Also, there is a complete absence of old storage notes to the dry leaf at all.  No dusty, musty, attic, old library odours what so ever.  A 50 year old tea is sure to have some of this. Maybe it was just really dry stored for a long long time and kind of preserved in this state?  It is terribly dry here on the Canadian prairie…

The first infusion is impressive, much better than expected, but a bit inconspicuously lively…

It starts off creamy and sweet with a pronounced date and creamy sweet nuance in leafy woody aged tastes.  The taste is very sweet and ends is a cool menthol on the breath.  The mouthfeel is oily and lubricated with a very slight mild graininess and almost astringency left on the tongue and throat.  The aftertaste is long and very enjoyable.  The sweetness is a thick dense syrupy sweetness.

The second is very thick, dense, oily and heavy syrupy sweetness.  There is also a light sweetness as well gliding overtop the heavier sweetness.  Deep leaf pile and slight wood give this aged tea solid complexity.  There is a deep low smokiness as well.  This tea seems like it is a shu puerh from 5-10 years old tops.  It’s hard for me to tell exactly now old but likely between 5-10 years not 50.  Qi is a bit relaxing and stimulating but nothing too out of the ordinary.

The third infusion starts off with a typical creamy sweet shu puerh notes.  The aftertaste is creamy and slightly sweet.  The mouth has a certain astringency to it.  There is a leafy piled taste and woody taste to it.  At this point it seems obvious to me that this is for sure shu puerh and most likely mid-late 2000s is my guess.

The fourth infusion starts again with a creamy smoothness.  This tea is so shu puerh- creamy sweet dense slightly cooling aftertaste.  Slight woody notes, creamy almost icing sugary on top.  The mouthfeel is full and slightly sandy on the tongue.

The fifth infusion is much the same.  There is a slight scratchiness to the throat.  It really tastes like some standard shu to me here.  It contains the classic shu base profile taste.  It’s not at all bad but not 20 years old, never mind 50 years.  There is a nice vanilla note that is pretty long in the throat in the sixth infusion.  There is a bit of dry astringency in the throat.

The seventh is becoming astringent and drying with a dry woody leaf taste.  There is a slight cooling.  The stamina is not there.

This ones the dud.

For $47.00 for 250g.  This tea is not worth it but still a totally drinkable item.  I have actually gone to this puerh at work a few times and quite enjoyed it.

My guess is a 5-10 year old shu- nice enough to enjoy as a daily drinker.

Peace

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

100 Year Old Liu An & 70s Puerh Cakes: Urban Legends Do Come True!


Everyone has, I’m sure, heard the story before…

Walk into a Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine shop and start a conversation about old tea.  Old herbalist goes to back of store and pulls out old basket, container, ect.  In it is some puerh, liu ann, oolong, or liu bao that is 100 years old.  He is unaware of the value of such things or doesn’t care about selling such things for prices that defy his logic as a practitioner of medicine.  Think about it this way, would your doctor sell you medicine that is 1000x marked up?  No, of course not, in some ways this breaches ethical behavior.  So in the end you walk out with thousands of dollars’ worth of antique tea for very little money.  If you are a puerh drinker or drinker of aged teas this could possibly be hitting the Holy Grail….

And, no word of a lie, this just happened to me!

Readers of this blog will know that I have hit a patch of bad tea luck as of late.  Over the last month or so I have had an allergic reaction to seemingly delicious tea, I have had a few orders sell out just before purchase, and had an expensive, favorite teapot break.  With this said, I knew things were looking up.  But this… this is an extreme swing in the opposite direction.

I have actually frequented this old Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacy before.  This was the same shop that I got a nice haul from back in 2009 when I picked up some items in this post.  Nothing too remarkable but good drinking 90s and early 2000s tea.  I actually visit this shop fairly regularly and had developed a relationship with the very old Cantonese speaking herbalist there.  I remember seeing two unwrapped, shrink wrapped, bings of puerh back in 2009.  It looked a bit sketchy and the herbalist said that it doesn’t taste as good as the Xiaguan tou I picked up.  I pretty much just forgot about it until I was in the herbal pharmacy a week ago.

When I saw the same two old bings again still with the $35.00 Canadian dollar price tags on them, I thought to myself, well they are at least 9 years old now and are still here.  They are probably not legit but, why not try them out for fun?  When I inquired about the two lonely bings the old herbalist said they are from the 1970s.  I immediately perked up because they actually do look like a certain cake from the 1970s.  He then tried to dissuade me, claiming that they taste bad like old puerh and old Chinese herbs.  He instead tried to sell me the only other puerh in his shop- 1 of 2 generic wrapped 250g puerh bricks which he says are 50 year old and taste better.  He is not a puerh drinker himself and after a bit of conversation he claims that he got these from his herbal distributor many years ago.  They are the only puerh he carries.

I decide to pick up one of the “1970s bings” for $27.20… I mean what’s too loose at that price anyways?

I took it to work on a day that was extraordinarily busy- one of those days where you are basically running all day without sitting.  I steeped it in a one of my Korean one cup steppers.  Honestly, I was 99% sure this was not what he said it was.  Although it was so busy I could not give it any attention, I got the impression that this was possibly a 1970s bing.  A few days later, when I had a bit of time to give it some attention, I immediately confirmed that it is most likely a 1970s bing!

So as soon as I could, I went back to the old herb store and purchased the other “1970s” bing as well as one of the other 250g bricks.  These bricks had not been at the store when I inquired in 2009 and didn’t even look that old, but after confirming the 1970s bing I wanted to find out for sure.

The old herbalist and I chatted for a bit and he confirmed that he didn’t know for sure if it was a 50 year old puerh brick but that is what the herbal distributor told him when he bought it.  He couldn’t remember how long he had stocked the brick.

Then he asked me if I knew what Liu An tea was. I told him that I was a big fan of it.  He emerged from the back of his store with an ancient looking basket sealed in an old, yellow tinged clear bag covered in a thick layer of dust.  In talking with him he said that it was a 100 year old Lui An basket and could personally confirm its approximate age.  When pressed about it he said it could be anywhere from 100-50 years old approximately.  It certainly looks quite old.

I ended up paying $334.00 in total and walking away with 4 apparently old teas- 2- “1970s bings”, 1- “50 Year Old Puerh 250g Brick” 1- “100-50years Liu An Basket”.

I hope to post extensively about tasting and trying to authenticate these “old” teas in the coming days and weeks.  I am sure some are not what they say but what if…..

I hope you will join me.

Peace

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Teapot Feng Shui


When buying a teapot I think very few people in the West think about feng shui.  When I look at the blogs and photos online I think Westerners buy a teapot because they like the way it looks or they hope that it will bring out the best in their tea.  Of course, these are very very important considerations when purchasing a teapot. I think a third consideration should be feng shui.  At least, it has always been important for myself. 

It’s true that a teapot should be in the esthetic of the person making tea and should have a feeling of being authentic for them.  It should be selected to bring out a certain quality in the tea.  Never will one pot be the best pot for all tea or all puerh tea or for every individual or every tea setting or for every guest just like one type of storage will not be optimal for every variety of puerh.  So choosing to use a certain pot or purchase a certain teapot should take this into consideration.

“Feng Shui”, in very general terms, is the placement of objects in an environment to impart a certain energy.  Throw out your images and preconceptions about what the term “feng shui” means to you and think about this very simple idea of feng shui.  When it comes to preparing tea, when pertaining to the teapot, these elements of feng shui should be considered…

The energy of the tea space in general.  What spaces do you use to prepare tea?  Is it just in one room or in different rooms and spaces?  At work and at home?  Will you use the teapot in just one of these spaces or move it into others?  What direction is the space? How is the light in the space?  What is the energy in that space like? What is the feeling of the tea area?  Is it a lively, active, or busy room or space- full of Yang?  Is it shared with many people or does it get lots of traffic?  Or is a quiet, relaxing, tranquil space, meditative space- full of Yin?

The energy, choice of implements, and arrangement of the tea setting.  Almost all of the above questions can be asked about the actual microcosmic environment or space of the tea setting.  What is around and on the tea table?  Are the implements arranged on the table in a certain logical order that follows the natural movements of preparing tea and/or serving tea?  Do the implements and teawears harmonize with each other or do they create a clash of energy, styles, feelings?  Does the volume and proportion of the teapot, cups, serving picture make sense or is one too big or two small? Is there deliberate choice behind the tea implements or is it just random?

The teapot shape, form, energy, and colour. After you have answered these questions for both the tea space and tea setting you can ask: How do you wish to influence, change or harness the energy in this space with your teapot or tea setting?  Do you want to increase a certain energy or mood or decrease it? Or harmonize with it? How do you wish to harmonize the Yin and Yang in your tea space?  The teapot is arguably the centre of the tea setting and tea space. So how will it influence this energy?

…If you wish to impart more Yin nature you should consider a darker colored and more neural clay or glaze.  Gray, purple, or dark colored clays are more Yin. The pot many contain phrases written on it that are passive or contemplative. If you want to harness more Yin you may also look for a pot with more feminine form, a rounder form, softer lines, and with a shorter spout.  The pot should look soft, smooth, and relaxing.

…If you wish to impart more Yang nature you should consider a brighter, richer, vibrant colored clay or glaze.  Red, green, blue and colorful clays are more yang.  The pot may contain phrases written on it that mention movement or transition in nature.  If you want to harness more Yang you may also look for a pot with a strong masculine form with stronger lines and more pronounced handle, lid, and spout.  The pot should embody dynamism, activity, and action.

Or a teapot that is a balance of Yin/Yang with both of these elements from Yin and Yang to create a certain balance within the pot itself.  Brown or Yellow clays tend to also do this.

Harmony with the seasonal change.  How does the teapot influence the seasonal energy?  Does you pot harmonize with the season? Or does it balance the extremes of seasonal weather, colors, and scenery/ esthetic (such as using warming colors in winter).

Energy of guests or solitary arrangement.  How does the teapot influence the feeling you are trying to impart to your guests?  Does it harmonize with the energy of your tea gathering?  Or does it attempt to balance the mood?  Perhaps the teapot attempts to cultivate a certain energy that is lacking?  If the teapot is used mainly for solitary tea steeping then maybe it attempts to balance/harmonize one’s own energy?

Balancing practical considerations with Feng Shui.  Of course there are practical implications for choosing a teapot.  Maybe you only have one or two teapots.  Or maybe a certain teapot really brings out a certain quality in your tea but goes against many of the points above.  Or maybe you are transitioning your tea space, tea setting, tea table to a different esthetic…

Or maybe you have just never put too much thought into any of this…

Maybe you will now (or maybe not)?

Peace

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Minimalist’s Teapot Tally


Readers of this blog will know that I have been having a bit of a teapot shortage lately (here and here).  I stated in a recent post that I actually own very few teapots despite a deep appreciation of them and significant immersion in learning about them in Korea.

Below is my grand tally of all the teapots I own…

Currently, I only have two working teapots:

I have this grey one from David Louveau that is aging gorgeously with use.  It is quite a small pot maybe around 100ML and I use it mainly for puerh or any sample or tea that requires such a size.  At first, I was a bit critical of this pot but only in use has its true nature been revealed.  This pot was gifted to me by the potter himself and so is naturally very special to me.  Currently, this pot sits at work for the very rare instance I have time for a gong fu session throughout the day.  I love this pot.

The other is this teapot from Korean master potter Kim Kyoung Soo, it is also grey.  This pot is a Korean masterpiece and I usually only use it for Korean tea.  It is quite wondrous and out of all the pots I came across in Korea, I am happy to have this one.  That speaks volumes considering that I was immersed in 1000s of them at that time.  I have it at home but steeping puerh in it, which I have reluctantly done lately doesn’t feel right.

I used to have a cheap Shui Ping red clay Yixing teapot that I purchased in China.  It is a modern pot of simple craftsmanship that could hold about little over 150-200ML I think.  I used this pot at home for puerh.  I had dropped it on my Korean ceramic Kim Kyoung Soo tea table and cracked the lid in half a few years ago but it was a simple break and I would easily still use it. A few months back I was trying to unclog the golf ball filter with a tooth pick and it broke off a sizable chunk of the filter.  After that the uneven jagged filter became a serious problem because it would easily catch tealeaves and clog after every use and would be very hard to unclog.  The back pressure would cause the lid to pop off.  One day I just tossed it- it was a lost cause.  Its undoing was my fault and I had the David Louveau pot above of similar size so I didn’t bother to replace it.

My family and I steeped puerh daily in my big “Gum Sa Do Yae” Zen 250ML pot, a gift from my teamaster, until its recent demise.  I have posted an appreciation of this beautiful zen tea pot before.

That’s it!  Just these two… that is definitely teapot minimalism!

 I have used the gray Kim Kyoung Soo teapot over the last little while (here and here) to brew old aged puerh but I really feel like it is not doing the aged puerh justice so I have decided to look for a replacement for this beloved pot.

These days, in our house, we are using an old metal tea strainer and immersing the puerh tea completely into large cups before pulling out the strainer with a fork… I never thought it would come to that, but that is exactly how we drank some of the 2006 Mengku Arbour King Brick this morning and some 1990s aged Bulang a few days ago!

In a way, I feel like this is more authentic in a minimal sort of way.  If there are any readers out there who steep puerh with a teacup strainer basket- you are my hero.

Peace

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Teapot Collector Vs. Teapot User


After my recent teapot breakage I have been meditating on the whole concept of teapots.  Although I have written a ton on such things (see here and here), I feel that I have much more to say about teawares.  Please reader, join me in a series of posts that look at the beloved teapot…

To me the teapot is both an object of art in and of itself and an indispensable element in the greater art of tea.  The later could either be as the performance art of tea ceremony or in the skillful art of preparing tea or “gong fu cha”.

If you see the teapot as only an object of art then it serves no actual practical purpose other than that of art itself.  If you like to collect this type of art and display it- that’s fine by me because I also enjoy looking.  However, to me, the real art of the teapot is in its use.

The teapot is 3-D, three dimensional, because it is sculpture.  To view a teapot in a photo or on a screen is to not do it any justice.  When appreciating sculpture you have to see it at different vantage points to truly appreciate it.

The teapot is also functional art in that it serves a purpose- to make tea.  Historically, it was made for this purpose and because tea holds an important part in many societies- its make was both practical and for appreciation.  This appreciation developed into an art.  In actually using the teapot to make tea, we can we also appreciate its art on a deeper level by picking it up and appreciating its texture, its weight, the sound its lid makes when closing it, the sound hot water makes when filling it, the sight of its pour.

However, only by making tea in ceremony or, alternatively, by brewing gong fu cha (with great skill) can we reach the deepest level of appreciation.  At this level the teapot is only a smaller part of the art of preparing tea.  Its selection, to improve the tea steeping esthetic as well as to improve that particular tea which you intend to steep.  Basically, you are selecting that teapot because you think it will improve the taste or bring out a certain desirable quality in a certain type of tea.  The selection of a certain teapot also should be in harmony with, the guests, season, other teawear, the environment, the person preparing the tea, and in the esthetic of the guests you are serving.  It is at this level where art emulates life.  And life is tea.

I suppose, issues of art aside, there is also the financial part of this as well.  An old unused teapot can command very high prices these days.  I’m currently finding the price of quality yixing has gone through the roof lately, mirroring the price of puerh.  Part of this is art collecting, part of this is increasing interest in puerh, part of this is in speculation, part is that old items are just being valued at the same price of a new pot of similar quality.

On the other hand, to actually use the teapot is essentially devaluing it.  Risk of breakage increases.  For me, using it with a bunch of small children around, breakage is an almost certainty.  I think some teapot collectors out there might have groaned when they saw that last pot of mine busted up.  However, I think it was definitely the teapot users out there who could identify with this inevitable situation most.

It goes without saying that I am in the puerh drinker and teapot user categories.

Peace

Monday, April 30, 2018

“Mid 60s Raw Wild Loose Puerh” from Teamasters and Advice on Brewing Very Aged Puerh


Shortly after my beloved Yixing pot broke I looked for something to console myself.  Surely some old aged puerh will bring up my spirits.  I pulled out this sample of wild puerh from the 1960s gifted to me from Stephane of Teamasters or included in an order, I can’t remember which but I am very very grateful.

I actually think it was included in an order just to put me in my place about my alternate view of “wild puerh”.  I heard it from a few vendors when I posted that it really doesn’t feel like puerh to me.  There were groans heard around the tea world I’m sure… hahahah.  I have never had aged wild tea before so this was going to be a real treat.  There is no greater joy for a puerh drinker (or wild tea drinker) than to drink tea that was produced before they were born...
Dry leaves smell of old dust and dirt.  I close my eyes and smell deeply and if I didn’t know I was smelling puerh I would probably think it was just dust and dirt.  But I know its very old puerh so my mind seems to think I smell some old woody leathery notes under the almost exclusive old dust and dirt smells.  It smells like you are in an attic that hasn’t been open in decades or opening a hundred year old book in the old part of the old library in town.

I have a predicament.  I don’t have a pot that is small enough for this sample to ensure the proper grams/volume.  The solution- brew it in your smallest pot that you have and add just enough water to hardly cover the leaves (I really need to get me some more yixing fast!).  For this pot it means only half full of boiling water, just enough to barely cover the leaves then pouring it out of the pot immediately with flash brews.  If I tried to just steep these leaves in the whole pot, I would have pretty much wrecked these priceless puerh leaves.  With old tea, my limited experience and observation of teamasters is that you need to push it pretty hard.  That means boiling water, lots of dry leaves, maybe even longer infusions if it starts to show weakness.  Otherwise what’s the point?  Watered down aged puerh- to me that’s crazy.  Don’t do it.

I quickly flash rinse the leaves.

The first infusion is a very light woody aged slightly dusty with edges of a leathery taste.  There is a taste in here that only very old puerh has but I fail to explain it better than earthy-woody-almost raisin. Yes, there is still that returning coolness in the aftertaste and throat.  The mouthfeel is watery and viscus with a thin sandiness in the mouth.

The second infusion starts with almost flat dusty woody earth aged taste.  Then it switches back to a cooling returning sweetness. There is fruit taste almost like a plum that turns quickly to dried apricot and lingers for a long time in the aftertaste.    There is a note of leather underneath it all.  The dried apricot aftertaste is quite distinct, not a just one of those faint hard to recognize things, it’s quite obvious.

The third infusion actually tastes much the same.  I don’t know what I’d add here.  The mouthfeeling and throat feeling has just a slight comfortable astringency.  The feeling in the mouth and throat is full and is coated in a thin veil of sandiness like that from a very soft beach.  The qi is profoundly grounding, euphoric, optimistic, soft.

I stick my nose and waft deep odours from the wet leaves in the pot between each infusion.  Prizing every moment with this gift.  The wet leaves just smell very similar to the dry leaves- primarily dusty, earthy, old aged taste but more wet smelling like when the first rain hits after the snow melts and all the dust and dirt from sanding the icy winter streets seem to take on the spring air.

The fourth infusion has more of resinous wood feel to it.  The woody dusky earthy initial taste begins with it and it tails itself into the aftertaste.  There is still long dried apricot but it is a touch less apparent as before.  The qi is very big in the head.  It has a mild cozy lightness and barely warmth in the body.  It makes the body feel limber and expansive.  There is a cool menthol like taste on the breath 5 minutes later.  Breathe in.  I feel really high from this.  The head feels clear but the world moves slowly around me.

The wet leaves start to develop a menthol like odour and smell more of wood and menthol and less of dust and dirt.

The fifth infusion the initial taste of wood is more dry and crisp although still carrying a bit of dust like aged taste.  The resin taste of wood seems to be gone and the dryer crisp taste of wood seems to have replaced it.  The apricot taste seems stronger than the fourth infusion.

The sixth infusion has more of an earth-dirt-dust dominating taste throughout.  There is wood underneath, of course, cool menthol returning sweetness with that same sweet dried apricot taste.  The cool menthol returning aftertaste is stronger here.  I’m still just flash brewing this.

I had to leave this tea for a hour or so then when coming back I resumed the session and in the seventh infusion it tasted more of creamy subdued woody- dusty –earth.  The cooling aftertaste was less and so was the long apricot aftertaste.  The mouth and throat feel is more of a chalkiness now rather than a fine sand.

The eighth infusion has another flavor profile emerging… there is an almost spiciness just before the apricot comes in.  The apricot aftertaste is back strong.  Yummy!

The ninth infusion the mouthfeel and throatfeel are amazing and continue to improve.  Its this dense but light chalkiness which I love.  In it are aged tastes, slightly cooling aftertaste, and apricot aftertaste.  Nice.

The tenth infusion is much the same.  The mouthfeel continues to really fill out.  The energy is very nice.  I burn it off with a 5 KM run then back to the tea table.

The eleventh has a thick, whisky like woodiness now. There are also salty notes probably just generated from my run and the resulting change in mouth chemistry.  The aftertaste is significantly less apricot and more smooth wood.

The twelfth is more of this richer woody aged taste.  The mouthfeel is nice and chalky very mildly astringent. Beautiful Qi.

The thirteenth and fourteenth offer that aged woody camphor taste.  A new note, a floral one seems to emerge faintly recognizable but welcome in this mainly woody aged taste profile.

The leaves sit dry overnight and I resume steeping the next morning with a few more pots of tea.  I add 10 seconds or so to the flash steeping and it pushes out mainly just aged leather and camphor tastes with a slight returning coolness in the aftertaste.  The high note nuances are gone.

I push this into longer infusions now 20 minute and longer to push something more interesting out of the predominating aged flavor.  Otherwise you are just pretty much just dragging out the inevitable.  Doing this guarantees some nice autumnal leaves taste, aged camphor, woody, dirt tastes in a soft chalky mouthfeel.  There are just glimpses of fruit on the breath.

I put it to overnight infusions and a rich obvious nutty taste is dominant in aged tastes.  Yummmy.  There is still significant mouth feeling so I put it under water for another night.

I am still steeping this, think it’s been underwater for about 4 days now and have to get back to it tomorrow.  I will probably be boiling these leaves down over the stove when they seem to be giving up.
Peace

Update:

I get back to this one after 4 day long steeping and it gives off a watery aged leathery wood base taste with soft fruity notes in a little bit of a funk fermented taste.  The mouthfeel is pretty light here and the taste is a bit watery.

I throw the leaves into a small stove top pot and decoct them at a boil for a few hours.  The resulting brew is exquisite!  It is reduced into an very thick, viscous and oily liquor of thick sweet maple-syrupy-molasses like sweetness in a leathery aged taste.  The dense and heavy sweetness is long and very thick in the mouth.

I have a cup of this at the very end of a very busy work day.  The qi sensation is like nothing I've felt before.  It completely revitalizes me and expands my head through the clouds- big Qi.  It feels as if I consumed a few shots of espresso without the jitteriness but with profound mental release.

I think its safe to say that I've had a great week.

Peace

Friday, April 27, 2018

2003 CNNP “Small Green Mark Iron Cake” and Steeping Puerh by “Keeping the Root”

Dear Scott Wilson,
I just wanted to thank you for being the powerhouse you are in the Western puerh scene.  I think it would be hard to think of another person who has had greater influence.   Since I started drinking puerh you and Yunnan Sourcing were there and you are still there stronger than ever.  Even though I was away from purchasing puerh for a long time, upon my return I have felt that Yunnan Sourcing still had the same basic philosophy and feel to it despite the obvious rapid pace of change.  This says a lot.  You have stuck to your principles while still managing to evolve to the always changing puerh tastes and fads.  Nowadays, you can virtually find any type of puerh, any type of storage, from any area at Yunnan Sourcing.  Thanks also for your efforts at empowering buyers with as much information as you can pass on about the tea you sell.   I really appreciate it.
Sincerely,
Matt
I purchased this one from Yunnan Sourcing ($85.00 for 357gcake $0.24/g ) a month or so ago along with the 2005 CNNP “Big Yellow Mark”.  Like the Big Yellow mark, this one has no date stamped on it.  It also has no neifi either.
Dry leaves smell of clean dry wood with a very mild sweet pungent odour.
First infusion is full interesting cherry blossom florals and plumby, mainly sweet, subtly sour cherry.  There are even salt tastes as well as a dry bark wood taste as well.  This tea is a tasty one.  There is slight astringency in the mouth and the tongue.  This first infusion is fragrant and lasting.
The second infusion has more of an oxidized wood taste up front the sweet notes are secondary and linger in the aftertaste and build into a very sweet burst of returning flavor.  The lips and mouthfeel are slightly chalky.  This tea has that cotton candy cottony mouthfeel and lingering sweet aftertaste.  There is not too much depth to ground it.
The third infusion is much the same tastes really.  The plumy, cotton candy returning sweetness is very nice.  The mouthfeel has that light chalky, talc taste and feel which I value in puerh.  Both the sweetness and woodiness are more pronounced in this third infusion as the iron compression slowly comes apart in the pot.
The fourth is much the same with the dry wood bark taste becoming dominant across the profile of this tea.  This flavor is simple but just enough to give it something to anchor the resounding high notes that are much less in this infusion.
The fifth starts off woody, dry bark, slight astringent, kind of sour, almost dry before it traverses to chalky, dry, astringent sweet cotton candy plum.  The dry wood taste and feel is throughout even in the aftertaste now.  The breath is a sweet cherry plum taste.
The sixth infusion has a thinner sharper quality to it with a division of tastes between dry woody in the initial and base, and sweet plumy aftertaste.
The seventh infusion still has a nice progression of taste.  It starts dry wood then slides into that sweeter, barely talc, faint cotton candy-plumy sweetness.  It is less obvious but the progression is still here in the seventh infusion.
The eighth infusion is of almost dry earth and dry wood base tastes there is only a little left in the aftertaste resembling the sweetness and fruitiness in the first infusions.  There is a slightly bitter wood taste throughout.  The mouthfeel isn’t really dry, just sandy slight dry astringency.
The ninth becomes watery and light in its initial taste.  Then it slowly develops a dry woodiness which turns into a sweet barely plum aftertaste.  The tenth infusion is much the same.  It’s still there but faded.
The tenth doesn’t leave that much left to enjoy faint watery tastes, barely there.
Overnight infusions are vibrant and fruit still so I do a few of these and really enjoy them.  The qi of this tea is very light a mild relaxing feeling that’s about it.  You feel the mind relax and the head float just ever so slightly.  In the body you can ever so slightly feel it in the belly.
Bravo for Scott at finding a solid iron bing to offer us.  On the site it states that this was Shanghai stored and is somewhere between wet and dry stored.  I would say it’s much closer to dry stored but that’s just my evaluation.  This puerh is interesting for a few reasons.
First, it offers puerh drinkers in the West a chance to taste fragrant aged dry storage.  I think there are few cakes for sale in the west that offer this.  The reason is because this taste profile is highly valued in China these days and is a sign of both good storage, age and dryness.  As a result, often cakes that display this profile are usually quite expensive and out of the price range of the average buyer in the West.  I think only because this is a generic CNNP without verified date or region can it be offered so cheaply.
Secondly, it offers a nice example of how the higher notes can really age so nicely in the tighter compression of an iron bing.  Although, this iron bing is not really pressed super tight it still offers the best of an iron bing as far as the high notes go.  It isn't a CNNP "Blue Mark" but this CNNP "Small Green Mark" has something to it.
So, I must have stocked up on this cake then right?  While, I am sitting with just one of these and feel OK with that.  It’s quite a simple tasting tea in some ways, really, but it still has enough going on.  It has a certain dry purity that I enjoy but it is not overly complex beyond its incredible fragrant fruity high notes.  I almost feel like the price is almost worth it for these notes themselves and the age.  Yet, even these notes start to fade after the first few infusions.
I sometimes steep teas that fade quickly by “keeping the root”.  It’s a phrase used by teamasters to describe a type of brewing where you always leave a bit of the last infusion in the fair cup.  It can also describe the technique of always leaving a bit of tea in the drinking cup or even in the actual teapot.  I use this technique with puerh that fades or drops off fast to maintain these fleeting notes.  I just leave ½ the tea in the fair cup before steeping the next infusion.  It works amazing for some teas.  This one really benefits from "keeping the root”.
When reviewing puerh on this blog I never do this sort of thing because I want to be more clear on how a tea is actually preforming from infusion to infusion.  However, after this first tasting I’ve been steeping it with the root and enjoying it.
Peace