Would love Aged Sheng sample suggestions.


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Would love Aged Sheng sample suggestions.

Postby toastedtoads » Sep 17th, '08, 22:19

Hi all, I'm new. I actually work for Harney & Sons and while I love their tea and the experience I'm getting, the one tea they really lack is Pu Erh. I have had a couple Shu samples from Harney & from Upton, and while I really like them, I know I'm missing out on something potentially wonderful.

I actually had a two hour tasting session at The Tea Gallery in NYC today. We tried http://www.theteagallery.com/Phoenix_Oolong_p/op-p.htm and something they call Elegant Queen which I can't find online. Both are absolutely wonderful oolongs.

However, what interested me the most was the 2006 YiWu Mountain - brick which was wrapped in bamboo. (Also can't find online.) This was my very first experience with Sheng. I've been reading about it a lot, and even though it's fairly young, as a first Sheng I thought it was really good. The first few infusions were very astringent but as we went on to the fourth, fifth...eleventh infusions it mellowed a bit and tasted woodsy and perfume-y all at the same time.

I know I have a dangerous potential to become obsessed with pu erh quite easily and would like some guidance on some really nice young and aged sheng to try (without breaking the bank).

Thanks for the help!
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Re: Would love Aged Sheng sample suggestions.

Postby wyardley » Sep 18th, '08, 01:40

toastedtoads wrote:I actually had a two hour tasting session at The Tea Gallery in NYC today. We tried http://www.theteagallery.com/Phoenix_Oolong_p/op-p.htm and something they call Elegant Queen which I can't find online. Both are absolutely wonderful oolongs.


I'm guessing Elegant Queen is a fairly high roast / oxidation Tie Guan Yin - maybe sweet more than bittersweet. Best Tea House, from Hong Kong (where Michael did some of his training) carries a tea of the same name (don't know if it's the same tea or not).

"Phoenix Oolong" usually refers to Feng Huang (phoenix, i.e., Phoenix Mountain) Dan Cong, or Feng Huang Shui Xian, which typically have a lychee, peach, or orchid type flavor.

However, what interested me the most was the 2006 YiWu Mountain - brick which was wrapped in bamboo. (Also can't find online.) This was my very first experience with Sheng. I've been reading about it a lot, and even though it's fairly young, as a first Sheng I thought it was really good.


I have this one, from my first and only visit to the Tea Gallery. It's been a while since I tried it, though.

Did you ask Michael if he has any aged sheng he could sell you small samples of? His prices are not cheap, but he's local, and he has access to some good teas.

I know I have a dangerous potential to become obsessed with pu erh quite easily and would like some guidance on some really nice young and aged sheng to try (without breaking the bank).


I think most people would agree that Hou De is the main vendor who has what you're looking for (samples of aged stuff); his prices are high, but not unreasonable, and his reputation for honesty and transparency is fairly good. Of course with tea and teaware, there are a lot of things that are never for sure, but I have gotten some stuff from him that I'm pretty happy with.

His selection of aged sheng (especially ones that samples are available of) kind of ebbs and flows, but I'm guessing there may be some new stuff when he gets back from Taiwan. I would suggest the late 80s Menghai 7542, but he doesn't seem to have any right now. You could try emailing them (they may be a little slow in responding until Guang gets back), and see if they have any stuff they're willing to sell you a sample of - my guess is that he can suggest a few things to try.

The 60s ba zhong huang yin is really, really, really good. But at that price ($157 / 10g), you may not want to start on such a spoiled note, and if you do get some, I'd save it til you have a lot of practice brewing.

For teas that have a little bit of age, but are not really yet "aged", you could try these two:
http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... c1d98f29f6
http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=796
(haven't tried either of these personally)

I think I tried this sample, and liked it:
http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=805

For younger stuff, a lot of folks like Yunnan Sourcing; he doesn't have much older tea, though.

Stuff that's from '99 / 2000 is starting to get to the point where it's drinkable, but I personally can't drink too much of this stuff the way it is today. You should definitely seek out some examples of raw tea that's aged 20 years or more.

Maybe this is obvious, but storage condition with this sort of tea is *very* important, so if you're trying a sample with an eye for purchasing and not just as a learning experience, make sure you're getting a sample of what you're actually going to buy (more or less), and either way, try to find out the storage condition. A good comparison would be to buy both the dry and wet stored Menku Yuán Yě Xiāng samples from Hou De to try the same tea under different storage conditions.

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=559
http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=799

My other advice is brew every sample you try at least 2 times (at first), if you have enough of it.

Most importantly, make friends with other tea people, both where you live and online, because that's your best chance of getting to try some things you are unlikely to be able to easily buy at any price, or at least without selling a car or two. Maybe you can even get yourself invited to one of the weekly sessions at Tea Gallery.
Last edited by wyardley on Sep 18th, '08, 02:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby thanks » Sep 18th, '08, 01:55

http://cgi.ebay.com/2007-Menghai-Tea-Fa ... m153.l1262
This is my favorite raw Menghai recipe. Very finicky and hard to brew when young, so this is a good place to hone in your sheng brewing skills.

http://cgi.ebay.com/2005-Guoyan-Lao-Ban ... m153.l1262
This is a fantastic young sheng. Also worthy of the price, believe it or not.

http://www.jingteashop.com/pd_1999.cfm
This is a great adolescent pu'er that I find to be very good, but still needs some years of mellowing out. It's notable for it's age in that it's not just a camphor, woody, mellow tea with some astringency like most Menghai's of similar vintage (especially 7542's of around this time), but that it also has some great complexity and cha qi. Wonderful potential in this one.

This tea, http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=559, and this same tea, but stored differently http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=799 are both fantastic for their age, and are decently priced. The dry stored version is, in my opinion superior of the two, but only slightly. This is the best way to see what different storage conditions can do to pu'er. Great learning experience, and delicious too! Great way to broaden and "train" your pallet.

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=746
I love this tea. Really love it. Only was able to snag one cake before it sold out, but I'm so glad I did. Extremely active tea, dry stored, excellent flavor profile, and very complex. Great durability, it's showing excellent potential. First session with this tea proved a bad experience, but by the time I was done with the sample I knew I had to get a cake.

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=756
This is another great example of dry storage at it's best. While a great tea, I think it's still overrated and overpriced. However, even with that being said, this is a tea you must taste at least once. It's tenacity will challenge you. The most active tea I've ever had at this age. Impressive.

http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=989
I absolutely love this tea. I'm very upset it sold out so quickly :(. This one will also challenge your brewing skills, but the payoff is more than worth the effort. Great potential in this adolescent cake.

http://www.nadacha.co.uk/index.php?page ... t&Itemid=1
For it's price and age, this tea absolutely cannot be beat. When I had my first session with this tea, I really was not that impressed. It came off as fairly generic for such an old tea. Wood, camphor, etc. The next session I had with it showed an evolving complexity over multiple brews and really surprised me. The next session also was fantastic. I brewed this tea for hours until it gave up. The storage of this is especially impressive considering it's an 80's tuocha.


These are a few teas that I think really give a fairly broad range of pu'er flavors. Samples are so incredibly important, and try your best to hesitate on buying cakes until you're able to sample them one way or another. Samples are also great in that the more different pu'er you drink, the better your brewing methods, the better your flavor profile, and the better you're able to pick up on a tea's quality. I own teas that I impulse bought when I first started because they looked good, but now think are complete trash.
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Postby shogun89 » Sep 18th, '08, 16:02

Well, no need for me to say anything, you guys hit the nail on the head, Welcome to the forums!
Man you guys never had trouble hitting the minimum ord count on your school essays! :lol:
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Postby toastedtoads » Sep 18th, '08, 23:03

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm going to email Hou De and see what they recommend. I have to wait for another paycheck or two to actually place an order though.

wyardley, thanks for clarifying what Phoenix Oolong is. That explains why it tasted familiar. Harney's has a version although it's not as high quality, but it has the same sort of floral apricot notes to it.

I guess I'm going to find out how good my willpower is since I really should take the time to taste things and get to know what it is I like and not just go crazy.

Wish me luck and thanks for the warm welcome! ^_^
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Postby Salsero » Sep 18th, '08, 23:59

We are always ultra interested in hearing first impressions and casual tasting notes. Do check back in! Most of us are only one baby step ahead of you in this game.
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Postby wyardley » Sep 19th, '08, 03:28

toastedtoads wrote:Thanks for clarifying what Phoenix Oolong is. That explains why it tasted familiar. Harney's has a version although it's not as high quality, but it has the same sort of floral apricot notes to it.


My understanding (someone jump in if I'm wrong) is that the varietal is Shui Xian (different, though possibly related way back, to Wu Yi Shui Xian), and that Dan Cong refers to the single bush versions of teas made from this varietal (i.e., leaves from a single bush are processed separately from other bushes).

Imen's take on the whole thing, in a lot more detail, is here:
http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2007/12/get-to-know-phoenix-tea-2.html
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Postby heavydoom » Sep 19th, '08, 15:29

you have a cute puppy.
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So I went shopping...

Postby toastedtoads » Oct 13th, '08, 14:20

This is what I ended up getting:

From Puerhshop - 2005 Jinggu Arbor Tree Beeng (to practice my brewing skills)

From Hou De - Samples of each:
2001 MengKu "Yuan Yieh Xian" of MengSa, Thick-papered
2001 MengKu "Yuan Yieh Xian" of MengSa Mountain Thin-Papered
1999 Da Du Gan "Yunnan Yuan Bao Chi Tse"

Will post tasting notes (in a new thread?) when they arrive.

I know I'm just starting and haven't even bought enough to store, but what is "too low" humidity to store puerh? I'm assuming I have an addiction brewing (pardon the pun) and am already planning on where to keep my tea. Should it stay in the house which is temperature controlled but with forced air heat would stay very dry? Or put it in the garage or something with a higher humidity but fluctuating temperature? My father is a carpenter and I went to school for scenery construction (among other things) so a pumidor is not out of the question, I just don't want to encourage myself.

Any suggestions?
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Re: So I went shopping...

Postby wyardley » Oct 13th, '08, 15:07

toastedtoads wrote:I know I'm just starting and haven't even bought enough to store, but what is "too low" humidity to store puerh? I'm assuming I have an addiction brewing (pardon the pun) and am already planning on where to keep my tea. Should it stay in the house which is temperature controlled but with forced air heat would stay very dry? Or put it in the garage or something with a higher humidity but fluctuating temperature?


First off, there's no single opinion on this. But I think good basic advice is 70-90% relative humidity at the most humid point of the year. If the summer is really hot and humid, it's good to let the tea have some time to dry out in the winter (but too dry is bad). I think being in a temperature controlled house wouldn't be ideal, but you'd want to keep the tea isolated as much as possible from super drastic fluctuations in temperature, and if it's in the garage, make very sure that the tea is well protected from odors and possible leaks.

Seasonal fluctuations are supposed to be good, but drastic fluctuations within a day should be avoided. Odors and light are of course to be avoided. Store large quantities of tea together with the exact same tea, or if you have smaller quantities, store similar types of tea from within a 3-5 yr period together.

Read Chan Kam Pong's "First Steps to Chinese Puerh Tea" and / or the series of articles he wrote in Art of Tea (which was included as an appendix in the book I mentioned). Also, read the series on Cha Dao about aging puer:
http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/06/pers ... -puer.html
http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/08/pers ... -puer.html
http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/10/pers ... -puer.html

Mr. Chan is a perfectionist, so take some of his advice with a grain of salt.
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Postby toastedtoads » Oct 29th, '08, 09:29

Well I've recieved everything and am SLOWLY working my way through it. I got all excited for new tea and then ran out of vacation so I've been very busy with work. If you want to read about my progress & tasting notes you can check out my blog which I am really trying to actually update as I need to keep notes somewhere.

http://toastedtoads.blogspot.com

Thanks all for helping me figure out my first purchase. Once I see which ones I tend to enjoy more I'm sure I'll be back to ask how to progress next.
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Postby brandon » Oct 29th, '08, 17:57

2005 MengHai "Meng Song Gu Cha Shan Peacock"

I love this less than Thanks, but its pretty good. I have 1/2 - 3/4 of a beeng left, PM me for samples. (first 3 takers get it, sorry)

Edit: 2 left.
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Postby tenuki » Oct 29th, '08, 18:57

I dunno, 'aged shen' means over 15 years to me, certainly over 10.
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Postby thanks » Oct 30th, '08, 02:46

brandon wrote:2005 MengHai "Meng Song Gu Cha Shan Peacock"

I love this less than Thanks, but its pretty good. I have 1/2 - 3/4 of a beeng left, PM me for samples. (first 3 takers get it, sorry)

Edit: 2 left.


I completely understand. It's a little rough and pretty wild, but I can't wait until another five years has passed on this beeng. I wish more of the 05 Peacock series was more widely available in the west, I would have loved to try the other mountains.
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Postby brandon » Oct 30th, '08, 05:42

You're right thanks - I've been eying up the new set of single mountain Menghai peacock teas over at YSLLC for awhile.
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