2015 Huang Shan Gushu, YS

I let the rinsed leaves sit and steam for a few minutes. Afterwards, they smell sweet and perfumery. I believe that this tea, younger than one year, is still settling from being picked and processed. It is cloudy, sweet, pungent and just a little rough around the edges. It has the profile one would expect from a Simao-grown sheng puer; granary sweet with musky notes of honey suckles and fresh greens. With the second infusion the soup grows a deeper, darker dense golden yellow, as notes of vanilla extract and malt emerge.

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Given my last week’s observations on the progress one of of Scott’s 2014 teas, I think this one will definitely improve over the next several months; as noted, it’s got it where it counts, but is still a little too straightforward and active… It hasn’t settled yet into subtlety and balance like the Bangbao Village has. Which is not to say that I’m NOT completely in love with this tea anyway… It’s almost cotton-candy sweet, has tons of mouth-feel, and a really good bitter edge. I think this will really be at the top of its game in summer 2016-17 as far as young tea goes.

The later steepings (I think I’m on five now…) are HEAVY, sweet and almost spicy. There is a borderline iron-ore quality sitting within fragrant summer flowers and fresh garden spinach.

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The interesting part about late steepings for me is the subtleties that are harder to detect when all of its initial flavors are coming out, especially in the case of the HSG which is so flavorful out the gate. There is a very slight olive oil quality in both fragrance and feel, and plenty of sweet grassy and mossy notes that come out as well. It is this more than anything else that makes me think this will be a really excellent tea very, very soon. For people like me who enjoy a very pure, green and balanced tea, this certainly seems like a worthy investment. Again, I don’t think it’s at the top of its game this very minute, but I’m speaking of course to my own personal tastes… It’s definitely too perfumery still for me to really give it my full endorsement, but this is a really good value, especially right now when I feel like this is on the cusp of true greatness.

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As a final note, I have to just give it up for Scott Wilson; I really think the teas that he makes in this price range ($80 iirc) can go toe to toe with multi-hundred dollar gushu cakes that other outfits put out…

 

2014 Bangbao Village, YS

Today’s notes:

Very clean, oily young tea. In addition to the pure, oily soup, the BBV is pungently floral, more so than most young sheng puers, in fact. There are notes of, well, Tie Guan Yin to be frank, but against the backdrop of a densely yellow sheng. I honestly don’t mind this, so long as it Remembers Who It Is, Simba, which it does. The mouth feels are no joke and there is real kuwei.

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I’m gonna go out on a limb here and claim that young sheng is best to drink in its second and third years. I’ve noticed in the teas I’ve had recently that they seem to clear up after their first year, in which the teas can be more dirty and forward. The BBV has, in my opinion, transformed from a tea that was straightforwardly pungent and floral into a tea with real subtlety and depth, whilst not venturing yet into middle aged flavors which can feel awkward for many years before settling.

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Really though, this is terrific tea with lots going on for it. Maybe I’m just having a good session, but I can’t really find any fault with this tea. I suppose there’s nothing MAGICAL about it, but there doesn’t really need to be… Magic is in the ordinary, not the extraordinary. It’s extraordinary already to sit here in a human body enjoying this little cup of plant-water from the other side of the planet, which by the way, is still going strong at almost a liter in. If it’s thinned out a little, the backbone of bitterness has stepped up to compensate. It’s nature is clearly buttery and floral, as it always has been, but the nature has been clarified, like there is no more confusion or pretension.

So yeah, overall a solid cake, at least for the time being. Gotta say I’d drink it again…

Signing off,

-Ginko-San

2012 Xin Ban Zhang, YS

This morning was one of my personal favorites, 2012 XBZ from Yunnan Sourcing.  Again, my lightly edited notes:

I think I pulled a center piece, because the first steeping was thiiiiiiin. Things quickly picked up, however, because round two was bolder with the tobacco base I expect from this tea, complimented by ephemeral notes of sweet white grapes. Round three is where the action is though… The soup is densely yellow and we finally get to bitterness and barn straw (which is, if you’re being honest, the reason to drink a young Bulang-Shan puer). As expected from a bit of Colorado dry storage (I’ve had this one for about a year), this tea seems a little less flavor-forward than it once was, but more bassy and textured. The initial flavors are the aforementioned tobacco and barn straw, but damn does it have dat returning sweetness (otherwise known as huigan).

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This is certainly one of Scott’s more expensive offering at this moment, but I can’t really say that it’s not worth it either, as long as you understand what you’re getting into. That is to say, it’s actually pretty subtle, but its easily one of the most complex and rewarding teas in my admittedly humble collection. Again, this is much less about initial flavors than it is about a nice oily soup with lots of nuances. Maybe others with different tastes and storage conditions will find something totally different, but then again, I think that’s part of the magic of puer-cha…

Again, thank you everyone for taking the time to read this little blog post.

Go now in peace,

-Ginko-San

2002 Little Yellow Mark, W2T

First up, the tea I happened to drink this morning: W2T’s Little Yellow Mark, a dark and fragrant little Zhong cha cake.  I was gifted the cake by a buddy trying to slim down his collection, he recalled that I liked the tea.  Quite a gift indeed… My thoughts while drinking, lightly edited and added to:

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Dear lord, this is real tea. The storage is clean enough to make the LYM smooth like butter, and also dry enough to retain some of its tangy green sheng nature. Soup is the color of dark straw, going on deep red. If I push the leaves, there seems to be some smoke, and of course some bitterness, but the baseline here is sweet mahogany and honey. This tea strikes me as being a really good age right now, with its middle aged awkwardness fading, settling into maturity, but still with elements of what was probably its original character; wildflowers and dense grassy sweetness.

On the negative side of things is the aforementioned smoke. However, that seems to crest at steeps two and three and then eases off. Otherwise this tea is smooth sailing, easy to drink and fairly complex. It’s probably a good example of longer term dry storage.  Again, this seems like a great age and storage condition.  It’s obviously not cheap, but it’s also old sheng.  This is one of those teas that really paints a picture in my mind; in this case a dank, dark, secluded little forest.

Thats it for now, friends.  I appreciate your taking the time to read my tea-drunken ramblings.

-Ginko-San

Welcome

Why hello,

This will be the first post on the Cuckoo’s Song Tea Blog.  I decided to start writing this blog as a way to plug into the online tea community and to share my thoughts and experiences of tea and tea drinking with anyone who finds themselves interested.  As you maybe can tell, I intend for this blog to focus mostly on  Chinese tea, particularly sheng puer.  This is for no particular reason other than this is the tea I purchase and drink the most, I imagine all sorts of teas will creep in here at some point.

I also intend for most entires to be fairly simple and straightforward.  While I may throw in some stray thoughts here and there, I would mostly like to share just my stream of consciousness experience of sitting with and paying attention to the day’s tea.

A little about me: I live in Colorado, have a graduate degree studying Buddhism, and have previously worked in a Chinese tea shop where I learned the nuts and bolts of tea and tea making.  I currently work an office job and have been collecting and drinking tea for two and a half years.  I have Gong fu whenever I’m able, and keep a gaiwan on my desk at work where I drink sheng, shu and Yunnan black teas mostly.

I hope you find something interesting in this blog, and I look forward to sharing with you.  For now I will leave you with a picture of my current tea area.

Best Regards,

-Ginko-san

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