Monday, November 30, 2020

Wuyi Origin Ya Shi / "duck shit" Dan Cong oolong


This will probably be exactly what I expect, since their teas tend to always be great.  Great is all relative; I mean crowded towards the high quality end of the scale, for both Dan Cong and Wuyi Yancha.  A very exceptional Dian Hong (Yunnan black), Darjeeling, or Nepal white tea can be very good, but the quality, intensity, flavor range, complex feel, sophisticated form, and even the simplicity, in one sense, can all be on another level for teas like those oolongs.  In comparison other very good teas bang on a few positive notes, while better versions of these types really come together.

So no need for much build-up or further description.  Cindy, one owner, and part of two different tea making families, sent these teas for me to try, more so than to review.  Reviewing will repeat how great I thought every Ya Shi version I ever tried from them was, but maybe something slightly different will turn up, an interesting way the roast really integrates, or a particular intensity or subtlety.  

The teas do vary year to year, I'm just not dialed in enough to pick up very minor differences on that level.  There is always a case for another tea out there being better, so I'm not claiming that this is the peak for this type, but these teas would be better than most of what is sold as "a high quality level that never makes it out of China."  Don't take my word for that; type Wuyi Origin into a Facebook tea group search bar and see what others say.

I was recommending their teas in an online comment not so long ago and mentioned this might be a rare case of a tea being too good.  You don't want to start there, experiencing teas that close to as good as versions ever get.  It wouldn't be possible to fully appreciate the experience without some exposure, and it would limit exploration of higher quality range to follow.  That doesn't come up often, adding a conditional warning that in some cases teas may be too good to experience, under some circumstances.  If you start on more basic versions you can try progressively better teas for a few years, improving brewing technique as you go as well.  It would be madness to brew this tea Western style, for example.  It would still be good but that's crazy, deciding that you don't need to optimize results for this tea.

I'll add their website description (after review), and get right to making notes for now.  That product description (with the actual tea description at the end, after the type background):

Feature : In Fenghuang, the name of Dancong  tea varieties is dazzling, which makes everyone very puzzled.

There is also an interesting story about the origin of the name Yashixiang (duckshit)

The mother tree of "Duck Shit Fragrance" grows in Xiaping Kengtou Village, Fengxi District,  Chaozhou, at an altitude of 900 meters. Its age is 78 years. It belongs to Wei Chunshi, a tea farmer. Now it is managed by his eldest son.

According to the tea growers:

This famous Bush is ancestral. The original Bush was introduced from Wu Dong Mountain. It was planted in the "duck shit soil" (actually yellow loam soil, but containing mineral chalk) tea garden. 

People in the countryside commented on the tea's strong aroma and good flavor, and asked what was the name of the cultivar and what type of fragrance.

Tea growers are afraid of being stolen, so they call it "duck Shit fragrance".

However, some people have managed to obtain tea spikes for cutting and marrying.

As a result, the name "Duck Shit Xiang" was passed on, and tea seedlings were expanded in Fenghuang area.

The aroma of this tea is very special and impressive.

This tea shape is strong, compact, dark green, moist, fragrant after brewing, high-rise, soup green with yellow, mellow and strong taste, slightly sweet and bitter, lasting aftertaste, resistant to brewing.

The bottom of the leaf is dark green and thick. 

The taste of the tea thick and round, with long -lasting feedback. 

To me this tea is an absolute steal for selling for $38 per 100 gram.  There are surely plenty of $1 / gram versions of this type being sold that aren't even close to this quality level, and in a brick and mortar shop in a high rent area this tea would probably sell for $1.50-2 per gram.  To me the quality of this tea makes the average $80 sheng cake (357 grams, typically) seem like grocery store tea.  Like a cheap loose TGY tin version, I mean, not like Lipton or Twinings; that would be hyperbole.


First infusion:  fantastic, of course.  There is a characteristic flavor to Ya Shi that's a little hard to pin down.  To me it's just a complex floral flavor set, that comes across as simple, and probably supported by limited warm fruit range.  Breaking that down is the problem; specific flowers don't come to mind.  I tend to guess at floral range flavors sometimes but I'm really pointing towards a range, more than making direct associations.  I can't identify 20 or 30 specific floral tones by smell and tasting, and that's what it would take to do that mapping.  I don't know what flowers this tastes like.

The apparent simplicity and apparent complexity, at the same time, set up a cool contradiction.  It's floral, for sure, but then some sweetness and richness could be from fruit range, like a citrus-intensive dried mango, which are warmer in effect for the dried presentation.  I'll keep going with guesses and interpretation across infusions.

Second infusion:  warmth picks up a little.  Honey-like sweetness is present, a warm version of honey.  Mineral tone is limited.  Further roasting would draw out even more warmth, and caramel or toffee sweetness, but this balance seems quite positive, left unchanged in relation to the upper-medium roast level effect.  It's moderate in this, letting the natural positive nature of the tea shine through.

To look for flaws, this could be a little thicker in feel, or I suppose aftertaste could be longer.  I'm brewing it at moderate infusion strength, and bumping that just a little would ramp up both.  There is no astringency or any other negative range to brew around, so it's just a matter of preference related to optimum form of experience.  

Related to flavor a claim that this shares ground with peach wouldn't be wrong, I don't think, it's just not the most natural interpretation, to me.  The brightness, refined nature, and intensity are all really pleasant in this.  

I could imagine someone expecting a different style related to that level of roast, so a criticism would be most natural related to that, a style interpretation, related to other specific expectations.  For being in this type range it's quite pleasant.  Even though the feel could be a little thicker it has a creamy effect that's quite nice.  Even though the aftertaste could linger longer, or be stronger, that complex set of flavors is great, and the way a bit of floral, towards-lemon citrus, and subdued mineral tone trail off is great.

Third infusion:  I did let this brew a little longer, towards 20 seconds, and it is a lot more intense for that.  I finally ended up not pushing the dry leaf amount to what would fill up the gaiwan when wetted.  That's not completely an accident when I drink more than 9 out of every 10 teas proportioned in exactly that same way.  It's what I'm accustomed to, probably more so than what works best.

Mineral plays a larger role brewed slightly stronger, a bit of rock flavor.  Feel is cool like this; it's still smooth and creamy, but a trace of dryness along your tongue adds complexity to that part.  You seem to taste the mineral with the sides and back of your tongue, in a strange sense.  

To me the "characteristic astringency" people connect with Dan Cong is related more to lower quality Dan Cong.  I can see a bit of connection with that feel range and that type of effect but it's just not a part of the best versions in the same way.  Just breaking up these leaves a good bit would probably add to that effect; people might often be drinking the poorer quality sorted parts of batches, with more whole leaf going to other sales channels.  I suppose that could be part of the "quality level that never makes it out of China" effect.  Per my limited background knowledge take people are also buying Dan Cong from lower elevation sources, from younger conventional monoculture-grown plants, with output boosted through chemical use, and the teas just aren't processed as skillfully.

Fourth infusion:  a perfume-like effect picks up.  Better Wuyi Yancha often exhibits this too, a heavy floral tone that is reminiscent of perfume, with an aromatic part that also seems to match the solvent a bit too.  I don't mean this tastes something like acetone smells, nothing like that, but instead that it's an effect that often reminds me of cognac.  

Feel is actually transitioning round-to-round too; that's different.  It had been creamy but light, then brewing a round stronger drew out more structure, and this round is absolutely velvety, where two rounds ago it was more thick in feel like cream.  The flavors are just as complex but maybe more tightly integrated now, coming across as that one dominant flavor tone, which again is really a set.  I can't imagine anyone trying this tea and saying that they don't like Dan Cong.  My imagination has limits; maybe it could still happen.

Fifth infusion:  not so different than last time, but a lemony citrus supporting tone seems a little stronger.  For a tea this complex and subtle minor shifts in brewing time would shift the proportion of what you experience.  I think the next two or three rounds would be more about that story, both about later round transitions and how changing brewing approach changes things.

Sixth infusion:  not so different than last time.  I'm going to skip the part about highlighting subtle shifts from here on out, or checking if this makes a dozen strong infusions, or fades at 9 or so, with stretching out intensity changing character.  You already get the idea.  Per my past experience the two steps that change character, higher oxidation level and additional roasting, tend to extract that flavor change at a cost of limiting durability, number of positive rounds, so this should be fine into a late count, for using moderate degrees of those inputs to change the character.

Beyond that I'm off to swimming class, the usual Sunday routine.  I could write a thousand word post about how much playing my kids have done in the last ten days, during a school break, but this step is just the normal routine.

she said it was cold.  it is the cold season, but it was close to 30 C / over 80 F.

with a cousin a week ago; they love doing poses

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Moychay Wenshan bamboo sheng pu'er


Kind of a new kind for me, from a large set of teas sent by Moychay for review.  I've tried falap before, an Assam, Indian version of what I take to be the same thing, but it may not be identical.  The same processing, of course I mean; being from a different region even if processing and plant genetics were quite similar the tea leaves might still be different.

Moychay has no description of this on their sales site page; odd.  It lists for $16.95 but doesn't include a tea amount, which probably varies slightly.  A similar pressed black tea claims there is an average of 180 grams per stick / tube, so maybe comparable?  That description means very little in relation to this different version, but it is interesting to hear what they thought of it, since it's all there is to go on, beyond customer comments:

Red tea rammed into a segment of a bamboo stem. Made in 2020 in Wenshan County, Yunnan Province. Tea in bamboo is a traditional way of storing tea among small peoples of the province.

The average weight of one bamboo stalk is 180 g. Inside the stalk: tightly pressed, brown tea buds and leaves. The aroma is restrained, fruity. The infusion is transparent, with a yellow hue.

The bouquet of the ready-made tea is vivid, fruity-and-woody, with biscuit, mint and honey notes. The aroma is deep and warm, fruity with a woody accent. The taste is rich and sweet, a bit tart, with berry sourness and minty nuances in the aftertaste.

It's that "traditional processing and storage" part I'd like to hear more about.  Yunnan Sourcing sells a related tea that can help fill that in, even if it really could vary:

Meng Song Bamboo Roasted Raw Pu-erh Tea

The Dai people in Xishuangbanna have been making bamboo roasted tea for centuries!  Our offering was made from 2019 Spring harvested Meng Song village tea that was processed first into sun-dried mao cha, steamed to soften it and then tamped into sections of a unique varietal of aromatic bamboo (that is found only in Menghai county of Xishuangbanna) and then roasted in a fire pit!

The blackened outer part of the bamboo is cut away and then lightly sanded so that it's not sooty, and the open end of the bamboo section is closed off with paper and piece of string for storage and aging!

This is a lovely aromatic tea with a fruity thick character and an incredibly unique aroma that is imparted to the tea from the bamboo during the roasting process.  The result is something very tasty and rich in flavor, which is certainly more than just a novelty!

Each bamboo section holds roughly 200 grams of tea (+/- 25 grams).

This review post of a version of Indian falap cites a passage from this Tea Leaf Theory vendor page (selling a similar tea) about that background, related to that tea type:

The Singphos, a tribal community residing in parts of Northeast India, Myanmar, and China, are believed to be among India’s first tea drinkers. To this day, they continue to process tea by first heating the leaves in a metal pan until they brown, and then sun-drying them for a few days. To make the more flavourful, smoked tea, the sun-dried leaves are tightly packed in bamboo tubes and smoked over a fire. After a week of storing these bamboos, the processed tea hardens to take the shape of the tube. 

It can then be preserved for up to 10 years, with small portions sliced off with a knife to brew a fresh cup of tea. Like wine, the smoked flavour of the tea matures more with time and we choose to pick up the ones which were aged for 4 years. When processed and brewed correctly, a cup of Singpho tea, which is had without milk or sugar, is a lovely golden-orange colour. 


First infusion:  interesting!  It tastes a little like how one would expect bamboo to taste.  I've last eaten cooked bamboo within the last week (the softer center part); it comes up here.  But this is different, a roasted version of the outer wood part, not the softer center that can be cooked and eaten.

bamboo is in the center on the left

That one flavor is a bit woody, but in a sweet and fragrant sense, not unlike how a wicker basket might smell (which could be woven from all sorts of different palm materials here).  This isn't as harsh, bitter, or astringent as I would expect, without any trace of smoke.  The roasting step would have changed the character, but how I could only guess at how.  Maybe it destroyed a lot of the normal form of aging potential, or maybe this would keep changing over time in different but positive ways.  It doesn't need to transition away from being astringent and bitter anyway, aspects which I'll say more about in the following rounds.

Second infusion:  similar, maybe a little more complex, drawing out more flavor as it infuses more completely.  That woody, towards-nutty range is interesting.  It's odd how the rest is so mild and pleasant.  It tastes a little like sheng but that would never be this mild and approachable, even in modern "oolong pu'er" style versions, processed to be pleasant when very young but not to age as well.

There's a little bitterness and dryness to it, just not much, enough to round out the feel and experience.  In general it's soft and rich, with that bamboo-wood tone standing out, and some other range beyond it, but nothing too complex or refined.  It comes across as a mix of a range of faint inputs, with some hard to pin down floral tone included, and a light lemon aspect, with deeper fruit flavor along the line of dried apricot (so not that deep and rich, more light and sweet).  

All fairly subtle, mind you; the bamboo flavor stands out more.  It's all probably closer to dried persimmon, if that's familiar, and if it's not you might want to snag a few the next time you are in a Chinatown.  It's kind of in between dried apricot and fig in flavor range.  

dried persimmons; the color can vary

I don't get the impression that this is going to transition a lot, given how it comes across as a bit simple in character, but that touch of bitterness, wood-tone, and other range might shift in relative balance.  I hadn't mentioned that I'm not brewing this light, letting it infuse for around 15 seconds, or maybe just over that, so it's not approachable related to being brewed light.

Third infusion:  I let that brew around 20 seconds, to see what it's like slightly stronger.  It's probably a little over optimum; bitterness comes out more that way.  That does help identify potential flaws in the character though, and sort out feel and aftertaste better.  I'm not sure about all that though; it's just not as good when more bitter and dry (astringent).  A roasted flavor stands out more; that probably was playing into the overall balance more than I had described, pulling the flavor towards warmer and sweeter tones.  It still tastes like bamboo but the fruit and other range is much harder to pick up brewed strong.

Fourth infusion:  much more pleasant again; brewed just under 10 seconds this round.  That balance did shift, of the aspects present earlier, but not in a way that will be easy to describe, the relative levels are just different.  That is an odd seemingly vegetal range, roasted bamboo as a primary flavor.  It's a bit like toasted rice; I'd imagine that people who love genmaicha might really like this.  It's slightly more bitter but the vegetal range more common to green tea, grassiness or seaweed, umami and such, isn't present.  Or maybe a trace of umami is adding to the complexity; if you think of sun-dried tomato while drinking and interpreting it that could be a partial match.  

I think dryness and bitterness picked up more this round than the other fruit, floral, and roasted tone range.  Some of that would relate to progression through infusions, and some from brewing it at different intensities.  Completely different flavor balance would come across at different infusion strengths.  Not the flavor aspects themselves, that would be consistent, but the relative levels.

Fifth infusion:  slightly better in terms of richness of feel; something shifted.  But the light range I was describing as close enough to lemon, floral tone, and dried apricot is heavier now, more centered on the dried persimmon range, without the lemon and floral parts.  Warm mineral tones seem to pick up; that increase in feel is seemingly paired with a shift in flavor as well.  Roasted bamboo is still present as a main flavor aspect but no longer dominant, now more integrated in other range.

To be clear I don't think this is refined and complex enough that someone who loves really good sheng would see it as comparable, or as good.  It comes across as simpler, and less refined.  Feel is fine, and there is some aftertaste experience, but it's just not comparable to how that goes in well above average quality sheng.  I don't mean factory tea; those tend to take a dozen years to be drinkable, and only become approachable with a lot of age transition.  I mean good sheng versions that are quite pleasant with just 2 to 4 years of age exposure, softening and deepening a bit, but not requiring a more complete fermentation cycle to be enjoyable.  

I'd meant to leave off taking notes at this point but having said all that I should check one more round to see where it's headed first.

Sixth infusion:  not so different.  I really like it; that last part about it not stacking up against good sheng was about meeting limited aspect range expectations, and also just being a different tea type.  After a couple more infusions the flavor effect shifted more towards pine, but otherwise just thinned, with astringency picking up a little due to stretching the timing.  All in all not bad; pleasant, approachable, and interesting.

Further conclusions:

I liked the tea, and won't add much to the description here.  It was different.

I also wanted to mention that some review comments were negative on that sales page, that one version seemed too roasted, and there were storage issues for others.  Ordinarily I wouldn't bring that up, but I was talking to a friend who reported having negative experiences with different versions of bamboo sheng, so it seems relevant to include more on that.  

Of course Moychay would probably sort out resolution if problems came up with any tea, beyond someone just not liking that tea version, so this is about background for why this tea type may be more inconsistent or problematic than others.  There's always a chance for a problematic grey area to come up, for a tea to not be destroyed by mold or whatever else but to have lost positive flavor character, which could set up aspect interpretation and resolution coordination problems between any vendor and customer.  It might not be practical for tea vendors to refund every case of someone not liking a tea type, but resolving issues related to something being wrong is different.

Although I'm mostly guessing myself, it seems obvious enough:  this adds a cooking step, and for versions that are aged storage concerns come into play, both of which add risk of something not being right.  If the tea was too roasted that would negatively affect flavor, and not roasting it enough could leave extra moisture present, which would really be even worse.  Over-roasted tea might just taste like an oolong with extra char, but any mold on a tea would render it undrinkable.  I'm not warning people to not try this type of tea, since I'm two for two for experiencing good results with similar versions, but it does seem like a relevant part of the story.

It's important to take sales-page comments for what they are worth, too.  Any comments relating to a similar but different version are completely irrelevant, and anyone expecting the type to be different than how it tends to be is an expectation problem, not a problem with the tea.  It probably doesn't help that there is no description on that sales page; the tea just is what the heading says it is.  If there are more than 2 or 3 comments on any given product then that works as a survey of input, but if there are few then people tending to report negative impressions more than positive ones would probably skew feedback range.  I've mentioned an impression of Moychay teas on sales pages before but tend never to, for spending so much time on these write-ups; I should probably add some of that.

I can't really place this tea any better, related to saying what it reminded me of, or being clearer on quality level or style than I was in the notes.  It's probably quite similar to that one falap I tried, maybe with a bit more bamboo flavor, for whatever reason.  For novelty I would recommend this tea at that price range, but then I love trying teas of different types, and this stands separate from everything but that one falap version for being different.  That falap reminded me more of a sheng with some hei cha-range mellowness, and this seems more between mild sheng and approachable light rolled oolong, with bamboo taste input present in both.

Some completely unrelated photos follow; just sharing Bangkok family life images.

a birthday event photo; my kids and I all had birthdays this month

at a local mall, decorated for Christmas

a second play area in three days; making the most of the last of a school break

it's a little odd how the pandemic isn't present here, but we still wear masks

Monday, November 23, 2020

Small batch shu processing


First published in two parts in TChing, here and here.

Oddly the tea that reminded me to write about this may or may not have actually been post-fermented as a small sized lot.  I just reviewed the first Russian-origin shu "pu'er-like tea" version that I've tried, which was pretty good.  Since it was a test batch it probably was fermented as smaller amount, but I'm not sure of that production quantity.  It wasn't exactly the same character as the most standard Yunnan shu, but since those vary it could still overlap.  It was lighter, with an odd mineral / stone taste that probably would fade over another year of rest-time, probably from processing transition (wòduī processing effect).  But it was sweet and complex, reasonably well-balanced, with a good bit of dark rye bread and cocoa flavor.

that Moychay experimental version

That's a good lead-in for talking about non-standard shu types, since that essentially had to be a variety Sinensis based shu, with a completely different terroir background than Yunnan.  But I want to cover more on specific processing approach differences instead.

A Thai producer, Tea Side, first brought this subject to my attention awhile back:

As they say, Chinese technology doesn’t assume producing ripe pu-erh out of less than 3 tons of material. Allegedly, a smaller amount of material will not heat up to the desired temperature and, in general, the fermentation process will go wrong...

That time, I thought the vertical pressure of the big mass is important. But then on photos, I saw the tea spread out over a large area in an only one-meter thick layer. To make a one-meter high heap, 3 tons are not required. Moreover, as you know, Liu Bao cha has been done for hundreds of years and its taste is very close to ripe pu-erh. To make it Chinese use just 20-30 kilos of raw materials, but fermentation takes at least one and a half years.

That is how the idea to make ripe pu-erh tea in a basket was born...

photo credit the Tea Side blog article

I've heard of two other independent sources making basket-approach shu, Moychay (that first reference), and one discussed by So Han Fan, of the Tea House Ghost Youtube channel and Guan Yin Austin-based shop fame (which was replaced with a West China Teahouse business).  At a guess this practice didn't evolve within the last decade.  I'm not disputing that the Tea Side vendor didn't sort out processing independently, only clarifying that the idea was not a unique discovery, since at least one of those other sources pre-dated it.  His results are good (reviewed here), and that article is worth a read.

In looking for a reference to So Han's process and outcome I just noticed that the Steep Stories blog reviewed a few versions only a few months ago; interesting.  So Han posts in TChing, with an overview of sheng and shu background here, but I wanted to cite that basket fermentation theme instead.

I'll keep this general, as a summary of hearsay input, because long and detailed citations don't work in short posts.  Per my recollection they were selling very small batch processed shu, created in such a way that it wasn't even turned (mixed), allowed to ferment with varying degrees of air contact across small piles.  This allowed different parts of the mix to have different characters.  The marketing spin took an unusual turn in that case, with different parts of the piles named separately (the part I didn't find a reference to).

The Moychay owner, Sergey Shevelev, has described an experimentation process essentially identical to that covered in that Tea Side blog, about making batches of shu in baskets.  The "secret" is trial and error; keep making different batches until it works, then adjust for further improvement.  It would be almost impossible to do that without exploring the original larger scale processing first, to work without those details as a starting point (as referenced in this video).  Just trying a broad range of unique versions could be helpful, as are sold on that Moychay site.  It wouldn't help that shu often tends to need a year or so of rest to really be at its best, with some versions clearing up a bit in character over the next year or two.

Since so many variables can be open to exploration (using different tea plant type inputs, adjusting fermentation level, and time, temperature based on controlling the process, amount of water used, etc.) a very broad range of potential outcomes would be emerge.  Matching the standard-types and producers results would be hard enough, and surpassing it very problematic, but to some extent "different" results could be seen as better, across a broad range.

Cha Tou, or clumps of tea that form during shu processing, which are also referred to as "tea heads," are a different but related theme.  Here's an interesting description of that, part of a Chawang Shop product description:

Classify sun-dried leaves by grades, put into pile by wet treatment to made it complete the late fermenting course quickly, the leaves producing a great deal of dissoluble sugar and pectin during the fermentation process, therefore, some tender leaves stick together and form small nuggets at the bottom of the fermentation pile. These nuggets are called "Cha Tou."

small batch loose shu and a cha tou / tea nugget from Tea Side

The idea here is that even within conventional, large-batch processing there can be some variation in results and effect (with Sergey showing that outcome in the Moychay video I also mentioned).

All this never does justice to how unique and varied small-batch produced shu (ripe) pu'er can be.  But then that's a main point here, that you can't really capture that well in a limited set of examples.  If you try a number of good versions you can get a feel for the effect and variation range, but there would be no way to fully explore the full potential.  Different material could keep being explored from different places, with different specific steps working best with that starting point.  In one discussion the subject of shu / ripe processed Tie Guan Yin material came up, something that I haven't tried.  Maybe that's just amazing, or maybe it's a bad idea; no small set of results samples would be clear indicator (of the second case; any given sample could definitely pin down one particular positive outcome).

getting off subject, fermentation level seems to vary in loose versions (from the Moychay site)

One twist is that lower fermentation level may support potential for positive long-term aging results.  Sampling what was made over the last few years couldn't tell that story.  This Teas We Like product description hints at how that could work:

90s Kunming 7581 Brick

...In fact, the original wodui process for the 7581, which continued until 1999 and includes the cake sold here, only involves about half the level of fermentation of typical modern ripe puerh. The fermented tea would be moderately heated for drying, pressed into bricks... and then sent for traditional wet storage for a number of years. After this, the tea would be rested in dry storage, often for several years, and finally sold.

As usual storage is another main input, further complicating assessing results.  There's no need to overthink it all though; trying novel teas can be quite pleasant, without zeroing in on the best possible long-term results, or sorting out all of what might be out there.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Gopaldhara Darjeeling Jethikupi and Thor, 1st and 2nd flush

I'm reviewing two more samples sent for review by Gopaldhara.  All the others have been really exceptional, some about as good as conventional first and second flush versions seem to ever get, some really novel oolong versions.  

Picking what I'm reviewing as sets randomly hasn't led to natural type-overlap themes, and again that holds up, again comparing first and second flush versions (so contrasting them?).  Luckily I can review two dissimilar teas without that throwing me off, an outcome from trying to do that a few dozen times in the past.  If the two (or more) versions don't share much for common ground the experience of one doesn't inform much about the other, eg. highlighting a feel difference, or minor flavor character, but it doesn't really hinder the review process either.

I'll cite the vendor descriptions for these and get straight to the review notes, since it does add up.

Rohini Jethikupi White – First Flush 2020

...Rohini is mostly the first garden to produce the first flush teas in Darjeeling. The workers carefully pluck the tea leaves while making sure that only the best shoots with eminent buds are plucked. This season the growth of Darjeeling tea is very slow and the workers could only bring in a very small quantity of leaves that are very special. The plucking of tea leaves is of such fine quality that the tea is mostly hand sorted with very fewer machinery works involved.

The tea bushes are grown and harvested at an elevation between 1500-3000 feet. The bushes are fresh as they have just come out of an extended period of remaining inactive cause of the prolonged winters of almost about 3 months from the month of November to January.  The low temperature experienced during winters has given a very well defined character to the tea.

This tea is made from the best quality P-157 clones which is one of the best clones planted in Darjeeling. The dry leaves are bright green in appearance and consist of two whole leaves and a bud. The teas are very mildly oxidized and are delicately processed to induce minimal damage. All oxidation done is overnight and natural with nothing being induced vigorously.

This Darjeeling fresh First Flush Tea is very light on the palette, having a very mouthful flavor that leaves a clean note with smooth finish having an abundant flavor. The flavor is full and leaves a very pleasant and distinct aftertaste with zero astringencies. The infusion has to be kept absolutely green.

In some past reviews I've talked through typical first and second flush character but I skipped that in these notes; no need to keep going through it.

Gold (Thor) – Rare Hand Rolled Second Flush 2020

The tea is extremely full and expertly fully oxidized to extract all the flavor. It takes a lot of different processes to oxidize, without crushing and cutting the leaf. Every time you crush and cut the leaf you introduce harshness to the cup. This tea is very clean with absolute no hints of astringency and harshness. It is honey sweet with a very well rounded Muscatel finish and notes of ripe fruits. It has been the best lot in the second flush muscatel category.

It is 100% handpicked with no machinery involved. The garden workers are very careful in their plucking to make sure only the best shoots with prominent buds are plucked. The top elevation of Gopaldhara Tea Estate which stretches up to 5500-7000 Ft is planted with the best quality AV2 bushes, the most preferred clones in Darjeeling.

This Darjeeling muscatel tea is super fine to taste and has all the characteristics of a premium tea. It brews into a very bright orange and clear cup having smooth fruity taste and muscatel character. The finish is long, honey sweet & captivating. It is one of our finest second flush teas and a must try for every summer tea lovers. 

I don't really make a big deal of these not including much for astringency in the notes, just enough feel to give them richness of body.  Again that's because I'm doing the third or fourth review, and I've just went through all that in others.  In doing dis-similar combined tea reviews I tend to narrow aspect focus down more just to flavor, usually mentioning mouthfeel and aftertaste aspects, but not much.  Probably what I consciously experience of those aspects narrows in trying to take more in too, and to write it all down.


I skipped taking the dry leaf photo; strange.  This is an earlier 1st and 2nd flush set.

Jethikupi: interesting for tasting like spice, like fennel seed. These are offset a lot in oxidation level, so this isn't a normal comparison of similar versions [with them being 1st and 2nd flush, as one might expect].  This is quite pleasant, although match to personal preference at this stage would relate to a take on that spice flavor.  Richness and fullness fills in general character, and the flavor is complex. One light part leans towards lemon zest. Some light mineral gives it a nice base. Something like cured hay fills in some range in between, with all that integrating well.

Thor:  a bit unusual. Warm tones I expected from the color, and some fruit and floral range, all present. There is a but of other earthy range that I didn't expect, towards cured tree bark. It's not bad, not musty or off, just not part of the profile that a expected, a light, sweeter, citrus range. Since these early rounds are still evolving I'll break that to more of a flavor list next time.

2, Jethikupi:  evolving well; the fennel seed spice is still present but a lot of citrus kicked in. This is now mainly lemon range citrus with light floral and some fennel spice supporting that, instead of the other way around.  That distinctive brightness and intensity I had expected is there. The feel even has a fullness to it, and the citrus trails a bit as aftertaste. There is no astringency to contend with; whole leaf processing seems to drop almost all that out. This doesn't have a lot of feel structure to it but the rich fullness works, versus that being a lot more edgy.

Thor: this ties together and evolves to be better too. A bit of earthy edge drops back to be a base, with sweeter tones filling in complexity.  There is some citrus but it's not dominant at all, like a light blood orange tone, a milder variation of ruby grapefruit. Warm floral is along the line of rose. It seems a hint of spice joins, or maybe it's that an initial earthiness has already transitioned to warm spice. For these both shifting that much early the next round should be different too.  Feel is full and pleasant, with no astringency beyond that fullness.

3 Jethikupi: richness ramped up, and the citrus; this is much more intense. Probably brewed a few seconds longer too, although in both cases it seemed just under 10 seconds to me. For using a much lower proportion that short timing would need to be doubled. The same flavor list in last round applies, but the proportion of those flavors is different. This is really citrus intensive now. Given that I love fruit flavor in tea best that works well for me. 

You can't even notice a spice aspect in this now but it seems likely that input range gives it a complex effect. Even though it's mostly lemon citrus it doesn't come across as one dimensional. Probably that light tone of warm cured hay fills in the experience of depth too. This is relatively sweet and very clean in character, but how it all balances stands out more than any one input. It's good.

Thor: this version is more balanced across a broader range of flavor aspects. It's not the same as last round; it is shifting. A warm, sweet, rich flavor range like apple cider stands out. It's natural to try to interpret the current round in terms of the last round so it could seem like warm citrus, rich floral, and spice instead. To me it's onto apple cider range, with a trace of brown bread relating to the evolving earthier range.

This reminds me of a tea reviewer who writes long, round by round reviews, in which he seems to describe different teas each round, Mattcha's blog. I think he's focused on the opposite theme, on changes, and is mostly communicating only what is different, even though commonality runs through the infusions. It's probably both a bias towards noticing change and a communication issue. Taken for what it probably really means it seems likely to be accurate, and is interesting. 

The other side of that is that imagination does come into play when reviewing teas. You need to disassociate with expectations, to some extent, and to connect experiential and analytic (verbal) parts of your experience that more typically never link. Interpretive bias never fully drops out, so you need to try to work around it instead, to make allowance for it, and factor it in.

4 Jethikupi: richness and warmth picks up; the range shifts. That fruit tone is still mostly citrus but a bit of watermelon joins that. The neutral-tone depth I've described as cured hay picks up. Seeing that as similar to crysanthemum instead would make sense, as a relatively neutral floral tone. It integrates better than it might sound, citrus, watermelon, chrysanthemum, and cured hay.

Thor: a bit more malt tone pulls this towards a more standard black tea profile. It's interesting how citrus is present but it doesn't dominate, how lots of range balances. Again feel is pleasant, and overall balance. A hint more dryness might join that malt tone but it's on the opposite extreme of being astringent. 

I'll give these a slightly longer soak and leave off; my patience for writing notes is running out.

5 Jethikupi: integrating even better maybe. Mineral depth bumps up a bit brewed just a touch stronger. No negative aspects show through at all; that's nice. Citrus input, the balance, is lower but it's still a main flavor.

Thor: I could almost write a new flavor list for this, like "Matt" does in that other blog that I mentioned. A number of inputs all balance, with none standing out. It's not so different than the earlier list but the effect is different, the way it shifts to not emphasize any one or two parts. That list again: citrus (just not much of it), warm floral, touch of soft malt, some underling warm mineral, fruit. To me the fruit is more like dried mango at this point.


All in all good teas. They did brew a number of additional rounds, that was just a good place to leave off taking notes.  They were not exactly what I expected, more complex and novel, not just sticking with those dominant citrus and floral tones. That's probably a good thing, Gopaldhara's tea versions including that diversity of outcomes. This description probably doesn't convey how integrated and well balanced those flavor lists came across, or how the feel contributed, but so it goes with verbal description of experiences.  

I think as with the last Wuyi Yancha version I just wrote about I tend to be more blown away when I try a version within a different range again, then after reviewing some it just seems normal for one to be so exceptional.  These two tea versions really could re-write what Darjeeling potential is all about for someone, but since I've reviewed a half dozen recently it's just the range that they all fall in.  

They are right that whole-leaf preparation, versus the more conventional chopped leaf form, makes a huge difference.  There is no "brewing around" astringency, or liking the tea in spite of that harsh edge.  It would never cross anyone's mind to put milk in them.  For the lower oxidation level first flush range that wouldn't even match very well, but it just wouldn't make sense for the Thor second flush version either.  They are just right as they are.  Probably best brewed Gong Fu style, but I would imagine these would be great prepared Western style too, it just wouldn't optimize them, per my preference.

I just saw a post about their fall harvest teas, just now released.  It wasn't in this set, of course, but their Red Thunder has probably been my favorite among all their teas in the past.  It's hard to say why, and really not fair to comment a lot on a tea version I've not tried from this year.  People who are a fan of autumn harvest Darjeeling already know what I'm talking about though.  They might give up a bit of intensity to first and second flush but they can gain even more back in complex and well-balanced character.  

Their Red Thunder description is a biased take (of course) but it will pass on some idea of that:

A limited-edition Darjeeling Autumn flush produced from frosted leaves from the best clone of Darjeeling also known as AV2. It is the rarely special as not many bushes of AV2 can be found at these high peaks. Extreme cold weather conditions which in the night can touch 0 degrees at the high elevations of Gopaldhara induces special and complex flavour of ripe fruits into the tea. The tea brews into a bright orange cup with a very rich character and full rounded and dense fruity flavour. The aftertaste is very clean and sweet with a prominent finish of Honey.

a recent biking outing in a Bangkok park (rot fai, railroad park)

lots of that park is beautiful but these trees stand out as interesting

my tea circle (photo credit to Suzana)

both kids had birthdays this month (7 and 12 now); here giving alms to monks in observance

Wuyi Origin Shui Xian, exceptional Wuyi Yancha / rock oolong

This post reviews a Shui Xian version from Wuyi Origin, sent by Cindy for review.  Really for me to try, since she's a friend, but I'll review it too.

I'm probably biased in relation to how I expect their teas to be.  To some extent if you expect a tea to be really good or instead flawed that could lead to a more positive or negative interpretation.  At this point I think I'm able to get a relatively clear, neutral read on whatever I try but I guess you never know for sure.

I don't think this tea is listed on their site.  Two versions are, of Wuyishan Shui Xian oolong, but this was identified as roasted twice, and in those descriptions both are said to be roasted three times.  This may be somewhat similar to what is listed, and I can pass on how they describe their teas:

Gao Cong shui xian 高枞水仙

Gaocong Shuixian , first of all, it is also a Shuixian Cultivar , but has not been pruned for more than 10 years. Therefore, the tea tree is relatively tall, but the age of the tree is about 50years, so its taste is still the standard taste of Shuixian . Due to the difference in roasting fire, its aroma is not as high as Huaxiang Shuixian , but the Yan yun is more obviouse , more mellow, the taste is quite soft . and clean  . Its content is rich, and the taste is more layered. Half of the aroma is condensed in water, and half floats between the walls of the cup, the texture is very silky.

Let's check the other description, which looks a lot lighter, related to the photo shown on the web page, at least:

Shui xian (Narcissus) 2020 (hua xiang 花香)

Since ancient times to present , Shuixian is like a house keeper tea in every tea family. It is famous for its mellow soup and it's suitability for aging. After some years of keeping, its soup can be like rice water, sticky and mellow. the age of the tea bush in this garden is about 40 years old ,but every year in October we did the tea tree pruning , so the tea tree is no so tall , of 2020 harvest , the roast fire temperature is no so strong , keep its  original aroma ,  very Hua xiang  (floral )  . 

These cost $54 and $38 per 100 gram, respectively, so it's not "cheap" tea.  The best versions of Wuyi Yancha that I can buy locally aren't nearly this good, although some are quite decent, and a standard price for the highest level in my favorite Bangkok Chinatown shop is 1000 baht ($30) per 100 grams.  That is more or less completely irrelevant to people anywhere else, just offering that for comparison.  

Really appropriate price depends on quality level, and for teas in the range of as good as theirs tend to get presented in different ways and sold for different prices.  A lot of vendors would be selling "teas so good that they almost never make it out of China" that aren't this good for more.  But don't take my word for it; look up "Wuyi Origin" in your favorite tea group search function, and see what others say.



Just amazing. I won't do this tea justice with a description.  To be fair I've not tried related oolong anywhere near this good since whenever I tried theirs last, so the differential in quality level is probably making this seem all the more impressive.  I've been focused on sheng pu'er for about three years, trying to get that complex type sorted, and beyond that being impossible, a never-ending task, I think I've made enough of a start that I could move on, to some degree.

It tastes like good Wuyi Yancha, smooth, rich, complex, intense, and balanced. It's hard to describe a main flavor, never mind a set. I suppose interpretation as floral wouldn't be wrong but there's an earthier, towards-spice flavor that dominates. It's like how dark tropical wood furniture smells, sweet and complex, with layers of input.  

I think it's really a complex group of flavors causing this end effect: rich floral tone, dark wood, aromatic oil, fragrant spice (like frankincense, maybe, but I don't keep up with that range). It's so clean in effect; absolutely no trace of mustiness. Of course mineral stands out too, as a base. To me that mineral is like Utah desert slickrock, warm and slightly sweet. Of course anyone else's interpretation would be likely to vary, especially about a part as difficult to split out as the mineral tone.

2:  a bit more range towards sweet leather emerges, probably the tea opening up. This is better tea than 99% of all Da Hong Pao, or what is sold as that.  Saying that a DHP version might "just be Shui Xian" doesn't do justice to how good this plant input results can be. I'd expect that this flavor is exactly what many people think DHP should taste like, at best.

In this round the mineral reminds me a little of the smell of ink. The sweetness, cleanliness, complexity, and sophistication makes that work really well. The feel is great; not rough, but with some structure. The aftertaste is very pleasant, the way that mineral carries over. It's strange to think that a couple of the other oolong samples Cindy sent will be better than this, more subtle, complex in a different way, and more novel. For what this type is there might not be that much room left for improvement; it should be exactly like this.

3: Strange that it could still be improving. The level of roast is perfect in this; I'm sure that helps.

As I contemplate the flavor more roasted chestnut is quite close to the main flavor. Those usually pick up a little char flavor, and this didn't, so maybe it's light roasted chestnut, or one cooked at a moderate temperature. The  bumped mineral and slight shift in other flavor may have prevented me from making that association earlier, or maybe it's just a gap in my ability to describe the experience.

I may let note taking go after another round. This isn't changing much and I'm a bit under the weather, just a cold. Since my sense of taste seems fine it shouldn't be covid. That's not really here in Thailand at this point anyway; we've only had 2 or 3 cases of in-country transmission in four months.

4: not so different.This includes a hint of cinnamon spice I've not yet mentioned, probably increasing in this round to become more noticeable. This probably has 3 or 4 really exceptional rounds left in it, the another 3 or 4 tapering off, then for as good as this is I'll stretch it for more after that.

It's strange that pu'er gets so much focus, for as good as teas like this are. I like sheng too, and drink shu sometimes.  The intensity and range for those is amazing, and it's cool how they change with even moderate ageing. But Wuyishan oolongs are amazing for other reasons. Lots of people know, but it may be that the rarity of versions this good detracts from their image.

5: still great, similar to last round.

The picture of the wet leaves looks greener than it does to my eyes; interesting. This does taste like the oxidation level and roast level are moderate. To me it works really well. The quality level is so evident it's hard to split out a guess at objective quality level from preference. It seems high on the scale for both.

That lighter part seems to tie to the floral component of the complex flavor range that I've not said much about. Maybe like lotus flower? That set or list of flavors integrates much better than it sounds like it would, coming across almost as on broad-scope single flavor. Such a nice tea experience.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Moychay experimental Russia origin shu


More of a large set of samples sent for review, which I'm slow to get to.  I've already tried this one before, an experimental, small-batch theme Russian shu ("pu'er-like tea," since they restrict use of that category to Yunnan).  It's good.

It's not a new subject, making pu'er, or pu'er-like tea, in smaller batches.  I reviewed versions from Thailand awhile back (which were also good), with that vendor, Tea Side, posting about the experimental trial process.  I suppose results would vary, depending on process used and starting point.  Especially for versions not made from similar Assamica plant material.  This has to be variety Sinensis plant type, being grown in Russia, since only versions of that broad plant type category tolerate colder weather (per my understanding, at least).

But I won't really look into this here, to fill in more on how this was processed, or what the plant type is, or even where it's grown.  I'll could probably only turn up a link to a later batch, since this one is sold out [or not even that, as it turned out].  This will be more about passing on results, how the tea comes across.  Maybe I'll even finally write a short review.

In looking on the Moychay site section related to loose shu (and to Russian teas, from Krasnodar) I didn't see this, or anything like it.  This video by them covers background on shu wet-pile fermentation, if that's of interest, covering a visit to a producer in Menghai.  

this is a product description, for people who can read Russian

If these batches are experimental they might sell out quickly, or only be released informally, not sold through their site.  I talked to the owner about this tea, Sergey, and he said that this #2 version is sold out, that they had some of #4 left at that point, but that kind of status would change.  Sergey is the one narrating that video about fermentation (the original Russian, not the English voice-over); in addition to being a tea vendor he is a true tea enthusiast, and a student of the subject.  Anyone regularly ordering from Moychay anyway might want to keep an eye out for it, and add a bit to an order, since for novelty alone it's well worth trying (assuming that the price is reasonable, which is typically the case for their teas).  

That Moychay site loose leaf shu section bears that out about good value (all Yunnan teas, at a glance); those are all selling for between $5 and 8 per 100 grams, so at most equivalent to just under $30 per 357 gram cake worth, with most under that.  A sampler of 4 or 5 100 gram choices of whatever sounds good would still be in the range of cost of a pu'er cake, even for shu, and it would amount to an intro to how shu versions vary.  

Just judging from the photos, the colors, a lot of it is not fully fermented, which is kind of a long story to get into here, what that means, and how it works out.  Such tea can be more subtle than fully fermented shu, but better to drink early on (needing less rest to settle), without as heavy a processing flavor requiring time to fade.  More lightly fermented versions may have slightly more aging potential, but buying a few hundred grams of loose shu to get to in another decade is kind of an odd idea.  It's completely workable, just not how that usually goes.  A bold enough person might consider trying pressing some into cakes on their own, but I'm definitely not going to try and say anything about how that might work.


The flavor is a little unusual in the first infusion, but I know from trying this before that this range will "burn off."  An online friend just described the funkiness in some lower quality versions of Da Hong Pao as tasting like "wet sidewalk," and I think this is close to what he meant.  He said those can taste like wet sidewalk and grapefruit zest.  To me lower quality DHP tends to taste like cardboard, which doesn't mean that I don't like it, since it's cardboard in a context that can work.  

This has good sweetness and interesting range.  Beyond a flavor tasting a bit like that sidewalk reference, or like how a shoe box smells, the rest is quite clean.  Even that part isn't bad, necessarily, just odd.  If this was produced this year then there's a good chance that taste would fade, or even drop out completely, within the next year or so.

There's a fruitiness to the rest that is pleasant.  Flavors are a little heavy, and earthy, as is common for shu, but quite light within the typical shu range.  It's funny how that works out, that it's light and heavy at the same time, in two different senses.  This should gain intensity and clean up a lot over this next round, and move on to other range later, if memory serves.  It's weakness is that it doesn't have the same full feel and depth some shu has, but for being a light and novel version it worked.  Fruit flavor in shu is really nice, per my preference.

Second infusion:  oddly this picked up more quite positive range and more strange flavor range too.  On the strange side, that wet sidewalk / cardboard aspect shifted, now more like blackboard, slate.  That's not as odd as it might be, but in this presentation it's a little towards cement block from straight slate rock smell.  I kind of like that part though; wet slate, the effect from cleaning an old blackboard, is a cool smell.  On the more completely positive side the fruitiness hung in there, but a distinctive root spice sort of range picked up, even stronger than that now.  I tend to get tripped up in describing floral tones and root spice range; I'm just not great with either, mapping it out further.  

This tea could be interpreted lots of different ways though, many of which would be roughly as correct, just a different interpretation.  Bark works as a flavor comparison, probably a version from a tree that had been dead for awhile, with some fermentation, a hardwood tree trunk laying out in a wet forest environment.  I kind of see this as "getting" cocoa.  The hint of fruit isn't standing out in this as much, with all the rest going on.  It's there, but hard to tease out as one distinct thing.  Maybe it's along the line of blackberry, or elderberry.  One warm, rich flavor could be interpreted as whole wheat pie crust.  I'm not the kind of reviewer that just free-associates their way through a dozen-description tasting, like that one vendor is known for, but this does have a lot going on.

I'm not talking about gap or limitation much yet though.  The earthiness lacks a grounding depth that many shu have, a heavy flavor range.  Feel is also a little thick but thin as shu range goes.  It has some creaminess, so I mean that in a relative sense, tied to a very specific expectation.  To me the character works; the set of aspects makes sense together, and comes across as complex.  Someone with more specific expectations, who either sees specific aspect range as a quality marker, or just prefers a narrower specific set in shu, per their own preference, may not like this.  I think someone open to a range of different tea experiences would tend to love it.

Third infusion:  creaminess really bumped up.  I mean the sort that turns up in a Guiness Stout, but without that one edge in that.  Some of the sweet, warm flavor range in that beer type carries over too, similar to that found in a black bread (pumpernickel and such).  Now that I think of it this is really close to a good version of a dark black bread.  It might be great to drink this with a lightly smoked creamy cheese, probably brewed even stronger than I am making it, to really get the full effect, and be able to stand up to food.  Of course it works well as a singular experience too.  I'm interpreting that root spice as moving closer to something like the spice in some rye versions, caraway seeds.

Fourth infusion:  just beautiful, the way this comes together.  I could imagine someone hating it too, the relative lightness (for shu), the heavy rye bread range, trailing into between slate mineral and shoe box, the bit of fruit, cocoa, and root spice (but those last parts seem relatively entirely positive).  I remembered a touch more fruit from that first tasting, towards the one berry range; that might just be interpretation variance.  

Again people could reasonably interpret this in lots of different ways.  Seeing the sweetness as related to dried dark cherry versus a berry would make sense.  To me the grain flavors are in between light rye, dark rye, and whole wheat pie crust, but that could be taken lots of different ways.  Cocoa stands out, to me, but a read of that as more towards forest floor would make sense.  What I'm calling lightness could be seen as thinness, a significant gap instead of a normal style variation.  Expectations related to form come into play.  And so on.

Fifth infusion:  I brewed this slightly longer, around 20 seconds instead, and heavier mineral flavor resulted (kind of what one would expect).  "Pushing" the tea in that fashion would draw out heavier and more intense flavors, and to some extent would bump feel range.  To me that makes the one flavor I keep saying is a little unusual (wet sidewalk, transitioned to wet slate, covering some white cardboard range) push on into the fermented tree bark range more.  I suppose stretching infusions from here would cause some of that to stay a main aspect.  

This tea is far from finished, but using the same 10 to 20 second infusion times wouldn't extract the same really significant flavor intensity range as it had; it's thinning.  On the positive side pronounced cocoa is extracting along with that warm mineral / dark bread range (with the last a bit narrower in form, and not exactly like the bread, now just similar).  The heavier flavors can tend to resemble a light roast coffee at this stage, which is also nice.

I haven't been mentioning aftertaste range, which is a weakness in this tea.  It just doesn't have that length of experience, which seems to be more common in sheng or oolongs than shu.


Interesting shu; very positive, as I interpret it.  

For someone with fixed or narrow expectations about shu character the opposite interpretation might result, that it's "off," or missing some parts.  Including significant range of heavier tones and depth--which this lacks--would be normal, along with more significant aftertaste.  To me a tea version just being different is often better, versus focus on repeating the best example of a standard type.  

As I see it anyone who can appreciate Liu Bao at all would have no problems with the wet slate / cement block flavor range.  Of course not everyone is on that page.  To me this tasting like dark rye / pumpernickel bread, along with a good bit of cocoa, and traces of berry or dark cherry, and root spice sweetness were all really positive.  Even the fermented tree bark part, maybe closer to peat or wet forest floor, as others might interpret that, I saw as positive.  To me the sweetness and creaminess really helped the unusual range tie together and work, and narrowness of that range across some scope wasn't much of a gap, because I didn't expect that (a lot of body structure, for example).

It goes without saying but if this is batch #2, and they've sold out and are on #4 now, that tea won't be exactly like this, or who knows, maybe not all that similar.  I'm not sure what lot size they are using to make this, or how minor shifts in air temperature or seasonal leaf character might change things.  Or just not getting the process exactly the same; it's somewhat experimental.  I wouldn't mind owning a kilogram of this, to drink it regularly, and see how it changes.  That's one way of interpreting a take on degree of success, if a novel tea is more just interesting to try, or if you'd really like to drink a lot of it.  To me this is more pleasant and interesting than an above average standard factory sheng, although those can be nice too.