Black Tea Cakes?

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

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Nov 14th 14 2:15 pm
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Black Tea Cakes?

by MEversbergII » Nov 14th 14 2:15 pm

I've seen that Yunnan Sourcing sells ~100g cakes of Yunnanese black tea. I've had a generally positive relationship with Yunnanese blacks, but I can't help but notice how very cheap these cakes are.

Does anyone have experience with the YS cakes, or with black tea cakes in general?

M.

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Nov 14th 14 2:38 pm
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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Poseidon » Nov 14th 14 2:38 pm

I recently got two cakes from YS but they were puerh. I can say that I think their quality is very good for the price. As for black tea cakes, Im interested in them but have never ordered one.

Nov 14th 14 2:49 pm
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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by ethan » Nov 14th 14 2:49 pm

Somebody must gamble $4.50 for 100 grams & add it to an order.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Alucard » Nov 14th 14 3:30 pm

I just received the 2013 FENG QING DIAN HONG BLACK TEA CAKE and glad that I ordered it. The tea can be quite strong but once you learn the best amount of leaf and steep time you'll be rewarded with a rich and smooth brew. I've only had two sessions and so far so good.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by MEversbergII » Nov 14th 14 4:07 pm

ethan wrote:Somebody must gamble $4.50 for 100 grams & add it to an order.
I must certainly am, at that price :lol:

I was just making sure it wasn't straight up vile; why spend 4.50 when you don't have to ;)

M.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by drinking_teas » Nov 14th 14 11:23 pm

I've heard that they're average quality stuff - nothing special, but good quality.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Tead Off » Nov 15th 14 4:59 am

MEversbergII wrote:I've seen that Yunnan Sourcing sells ~100g cakes of Yunnanese black tea. I've had a generally positive relationship with Yunnanese blacks, but I can't help but notice how very cheap these cakes are.

Does anyone have experience with the YS cakes, or with black tea cakes in general?

M.
Yunnan black teas are very cheap to begin with. I would think that going through the trouble of making them into cakes would attest to their lower quality when compared to the loose tea sold at YS. How can the same quality be cheaper when made into a cake? More work. Am I missing something? :D

Nov 15th 14 6:09 am
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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Alucard » Nov 15th 14 6:09 am

M,

When you email YS asking them the quality difference let us know what they say :)

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by PurplePotato » Nov 15th 14 6:53 am

I have their autumn 2012 version (drunk on red) and like it. Nice flavor and some qi. The biggest issue I have with it is the lack of complexity, I've tried brewing it gong-fu style, which resulted in many identical brews.

I've ordered quite a few teas from YS, and although some were better than others, I've had yet to have anything bad, despite low prices.

Nov 15th 14 4:27 pm
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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Alucard » Nov 15th 14 4:27 pm

M,

One more thing:

This is the first cake I've had so it might just come with the territory - when prying off a piece it does create quite a bit of tea particles and even after a rinse I still need to use a strainer for all subsequent fusions. Most of the 'intact' leaves are broken too. Despite this I still like the brew.

Nov 16th 14 11:39 pm
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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Alucard » Nov 16th 14 11:39 pm

I've had some more time with this tea and wanted to provide my notes.

First off the 2013 cake I got the description says it's made from 2013 spring and autumn leaves, perhaps left overs? I don't know.

Notes -

First brew is rich and smooth with honey/bees wax like undertones, quite nice. Subsequent brews become increasingly bitter and less flavorful (i.e. bland). Not really worth drinking after 1st-2nd brew.

The outer layer of the tea cake has large leaves, but inside is finer chopped leaves. This caused a slow pour and possible over brew in yixing pot. Results were similar using a gaiwan. On the YS site there is a video of a someone brewing the tea in a clear pot multiple times and the leaves look large to me, no chopped leaves. Maybe I got a bad batch.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by Tead Off » Nov 17th 14 12:22 am

Alucard wrote:I've had some more time with this tea and wanted to provide my notes.

First off the 2013 cake I got the description says it's made from 2013 spring and autumn leaves, perhaps left overs? I don't know.
This is one of the main reasons for low cost. Autumn harvest is considered less desirable. In Yunnan, the price of Autumn Puerh is always lower than its Spring counterpart, sometimes a lot lower.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by shah82 » Nov 18th 14 2:08 am

Black tea cakes can get very expensive--Sanhetang made some ultra-expensive 2008 and 2009 hongcha 200g cakes, and I imagine others have done as well.

Jingteashop used to sell black tea brick made in the '80s that was okay, and I definitely wished that I could have bought some of the Yunnan Sourcing fengqing tea cakes 400g from 2009 or 2010. Those looked good, and sold out reasonably quickly.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by puyuan » Nov 18th 14 2:15 am

"Gushu" hongcha has become somewhat popular in taiwanese circles, so quite a few producers have decided to press such cakes. I think the earliest one I've seen was by JMT. I just got a little Yiwu hongcha from a friend who sold me some private pressings earlier this year... And I'm hoping to get a sample of a gushu hongcha cake that Mr. Zheng Tianfu pressed this year. The results can be quite surprising (I loved the wild purple leaf black tea version of the EOT cake, which I didn't like at all, for instance) but I tend to feel a little saddened by seeing material of this quality giving up after 6-7 brews.

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Re: Black Tea Cakes?

by shah82 » Nov 18th 14 8:02 pm

I am not enthusiastic about the idea of gushu hongcha. I didn't like the EoT wild tree gushu hongcha that much, and much prefer the puerh cake. Do not think they are the same leaves, though, and they definitely were from different years.

The first real issue is that hongcha isn't as potent in qi or aftertaste. You also get more of a flagrantly pleasant flavor from the oxidation process, but this generally happens at the expense of dense and loud basic flavor.

The second issue is that big leaf tea leaves oxidize into something very malty and sweet with little sense of refinement, in comparison to fine black teas made with black tea cultivars. I am generally always going to prefer the well made qimen, fine souchoungs, yixings, modern Taiwan varietals, and Sichuan teas to any dayezhong hongcha.

Most gushu black teas, from my perspective, I understand as "gushu". I think there's some gushu black tea being prepared for sale now, but these things are usually accidents, compared to the more systematic use of gushu for shu or white tea.

I do wish people would press cakes of Subcontinent black teas (especially Assam), and rooibos. Some of these guys do age reasonably well at least over the short term.