07 June, 2007

TeaCuppa Tasting Denouement

Thanks muchly to all of the tasters involved, and also to TeaCuppa for providing the samples. As promised, the identities of the teas:

A: 2005 CNNP Shupu
B: 2005 Luxi Shupu
C: 2005 Tiandiren Shupu

D: 2005 CNNP "Big Blue Mark"
E: 2005 Jiangcheng Yesheng
F: 2005 Simao Yesheng

I post these mostly for your information, as the process of matching samples to names is but a subsidiary activity - however, in all fairness, there was just one taster who correctly identified each tea.

Step forward... VL of Tea Logic!

Bravo, sir. In the "comments" to this thread, I shall post all of the reviews that I received.

Thanks again, and toodlepip,



Hobbes said...

Courtesy of John at Cha Bei:


TEA ‘A’ - Luxi Tea Co. Organic 8821 (never heard of this place)

Aroma: Very light smell, nothing overly appealing

Taste: Light taste, a little sour.

Liquor: Brown, but not a dark brown; thin and watery

Overall comments: Average tea quality


Aroma: Mid-strength (neither strong nor light); not bad – better than average.

Taste: Quite good, however, still young. Needs a few years until its taste is ideal.

Liquor: Dark brown / almost black; quite syrupy

Overall comments: A young tea – needs a few more years. However, quite a good quality tea.

TEA ‘C’ - Menghai Tiandiren Factory

Aroma: Nice, mid-strength smell. Evident in a good quality shupu.

Taste: A little light, but nice and refreshing.

Liquor: Mid-brown colour, a little thin.

Overall comments: Good, yet still a very young tea. In 2 -3 years, the tea will be very good quality, even better than Tea ‘B’


1) B (7 out of 10)
2) C (6 out of 10) – but will exceed B within 2 – 3 years
3) A (4 out of 10)


TEA ‘D’ - Simao Wild

Aroma: Quite strong, not of A grade quality

Taste: Strong, astringent taste; a little bitter

Liquor: Very light gold colour, very watery

Overall comments: Not very good quality, not long lasting (can only use for a few servings)

TEA ‘E’ - Jiangcheng Wild

Aroma: Older, wild and uncultivated smell

Taste: Not strong, young taste. A little dry and sweet.

Liquor: Gold / light brown colour, a little watery

Overall comments: Not long lasting, however, A-grade quality tea.

TEA ‘F’ - CNNP “ Big Blue Mark”

Aroma: Normal, average smell (not light, not strong)

Taste: Quite strong and very bitter, longer lasting

Liquor: Darker gold / light brown colour, strong looking

Overall comments: Not good quality tea, comes from a younger tree


1) E (8 out of 10)
2) D (5 out of 10) – better leaves
3) F (5 out of 10) – better smell

Hobbes said...

Brent at Teanerd:

Shupu notes
Shengpu notes

Hobbes said...

Mary at PalatabiliTEA:

Shupu notes
Shengpu notes

Hobbes said...

VL from Tea Logic:

Shupu notes
Shengpu notes

Hobbes said...

Bill at Ancient Tea Horse Road:

Shupu notes
Shengpu notes

Hobbes said...

MarshalN at his Xanga site:

Samples A and B
Sample D
Sample F

Hobbes said...

Do nudge me if I've missed you!



Anonymous said...


-Ian, (C.O.B.)

David Lesseps said...

My private email sent to Hobbes regarding the "bonus" Teacuppa sample:

First, sorry I did not post any notes on the other teas. I've been the recent recipient of many different young sheng samples, and I'm discovering that I've lost all interest in tasting the young stuff. The pleasure has gone out the window -- all I want to drink as of late is sheng with a minimum of 6 years to it. Perhaps it's a further sign of the aging of myself. So, when my Teacuppa samples arrived, grateful though I was, I just did not have the stomach for them. After reading your notes, that aced it for me -- I just couldn't make myself do it.
Your note today piqued my interest. Oh, something aged, now that's more interesting -- so I gave it a shot.

First appearance: very black, dry, brittle, smokey leaves and stems. Some spots of white stuff here and there. Hmmmm...
Method: 7g in a 150ml gaiwan. 10s rinse, 10s rinse, 20s pause, 10s, 10s, 20s.
When I first poured the water on the dry leaves, there was an immediate froth of brown foam. Oh my, not a good sign. When I smelled the gaiwan, it was awash in pond and smoke. Uhhh, are you sure this is sheng? To be careful, I gave it a second rinse. More pond and smoke. What I presume a visit to Scotland smells like. The 20 second pause was for gathering my courage.
1st infusion: smell of pond. Surprisingly clear liquor -- cinnamon brown-red. The taste comes on sweet and quickly fades away to nothing, and then returns with a burnt-plastic bitterness. Oh my, not only is it unpleasant, but it's backwards.
2nd infusion: more of the same. I accidently inhaled a little too much, and I started to cough. Not pleasurable at all.
3rd: One sip and I threw it out.
Wet leaf: large broken leaves, dark dark green. Not shu, but something strange about them. They have an odd crinkly texture about them -- not very flexible or lively.
Overall: Something is wrong with this. I don't know how old it is supposed to be, but I gather that something went horribly wrong with the storage -- intentionally or otherwise. My guess is that this is relatively young tea that has been wet stored for a quick age and then put into a very dry climate to hide the soak. This tea is "aged" in the same sense that my socks are after a days hike and a nights drying by a campfire.

My advice to the Teacuppa folks: spend a year or two drinking puer and learning what is good and bad, before they start selling it. I appreciate the chance to sample the teas, and I hope they don't mind the harshness of my criticism.

looking for mouthwash,

shichangpu said...

so david, what'd you drink afterwards to get rid of the taste?


Hobbes said...

Thanks for reminding me, Ian! You sent these to my Googlemail address, which is why I didn't find them just now. :)

Ian/Conquest-of-Bread wrote:



A: Light, too lght, and acidic. Feels almost semi cooked. Light liqour, very
clear soup. Lacks the roundness and mouthfeel of a good shupu.

B: Dark woods, mahogany, camphor, mulch. Goes down very smooth, pleasent,
more so than 'A', but not particularly complicated.

C: Very small leaf grade, (I feel confident that this is the 8821), Does not
cleave without substantial damage to leaf, tight compression. Initially, a
bit of smoke in the aroma, which is off-putting. It gets washed out rather
quickly, however, making way for decomposing wood, a touch of sweetness.



D: Exceptioanlly clear, A light golden yellow, dull. Very strong, bright,
acidic notes of plum, some strong qi. Might be worth drinking in some years,
the spent leaves look nice enough, but its youngeress is very evident. Gave
me abit of a stomach ache. (Blue Mark?)

E: Awful clartiy, tobacco aroma, it sticks around too, Not a pleasent
tobacco aroma, more like a burning cigarette. Dark soup, coming at the price
of cloudiness. Deep bass notes, but not the ones I want to hear.

F: A good compromise betwen the two above. Having almost the dark soup of
'E', and almost the clartity of 'D', I found this to be the most drinkable.
It is maturing with much less akwardness, and gets little sweet after a few
brews. Some more complicated mineral flavors, with a touch of smoke,(not
unpleasent). Clarity still leaves something to be desired.

I was not terribley impressed by any of these teas. I might consider
purchasing 'F', or 'D', if the price is right.

Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

Did I really guess them correctly? Hmm, I'm sure I wasn't the only one...

Anyway, my tasting notes for the extra sample, the 1999 Ke Yi Xing sample are here.

In short, it was most likely a shou with a bit of sheng mixed in, then wet stored. Shed/muddy potato taste, but clear liquor.


Hobbes said...

Ah yes, I forgot that one - thanks for adding it. I've got a sample of that here, too, which I'll try and get around to tasting when time permits. Thanks for the warning on the sheng-shu mixture.



Hobbes said...

By the way, I feel duty-bound to admit that I laugh aloud every time I read your description of "shed"-like tastes! I've never tasted a shed, but, with the aid of the keyixing, hopefully the mystery will be resolved!

Yours in the culinary appreciation of garden furnishings,


Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

I think my definition of a shed differs slightly from the norm, in fact I may be using the wrong word. What I mean is more of a makeshift building, without a floor, used for the temporary storage of potatoes, carrots, instruments, old magazines, and the like. Perhaps with a covered hole in the ground in the centre to make a cold store.

This is a сарай in Russian and in fact a direct translation is a barn, but I somehow seem to prefer the word shed.

Apologies for my bad English :(


Hobbes said...

Prince Charles famously marked the garden shed as a gentleman's only place of sanctity and repose. There is something almost temple-like in my father's shed, it has to be said. A definite reverential hush, a sacred quiet, a tangible presence of otherness. And the pu'er-esque stench of woodstain, old pipes, and damp leaves. :)



Mary R said...

Ah! I loved your shed comment, VL! My grandparents in Pennsylvania have a similar construction in their back yard, which Grandpa uses to dry his onions, garlic, and other root vegetables as well as store his ancient tools for various manly pursuits. Around us grandkids, Gran and Gramp usually call it the garage, but every now and then we'll here them say "Run out to the stodola and get me..."

I can't speak for the сарай, but my grandpa's garage has a very unique, earthy-cool smell. Shoot, now I want to take a vacation and go visit them!

Hobbes, thanks again for organizing this whole event and compiling everyone's notes. It's pretty awesome.

MarshalN said...

Hey, not fair, I didn't even get sample C!

Hobbes said...

Ah, but do you have a shed? A man's shed can make up for many shortcomings...

Bill said...

Darn, I would of gotten them all right if I didn't mix the China Brand and Luxi! Blasted!

Steven Dodd said...

Steven at Steven Dodd's Journal:

Shupu notes
Shengpu notes

Hobbes said...

Thanks, Doddy - I hope that life is treating you well!