Lincang Raw Pu’erh [January 2015 Tea Drinking Report]

Big shoutouts to Dignitea, Brian, Jake, Carolyn and Cwyn for providing several of the teas for this month and allowing the content to be what it is! I hope you like long-form content, because this tea of the month report is truly massive.

In the month of January 2015, the tea of the month was Lincang Pu’erh. During this month, I had Lincang Pu’erh at least once a day (unless totally unfeasible). I’ll still consume other teas, but the primary focus is understanding and building a palate for a specific type/genre/region of tea through repetition. This is the most personal blogging type style of post for TeaDB, and the goal is to stretch my palate as well as give recommendations to interested parties.

Producers sampled from:

  • S. Mengku
  • Yunnan Sourcing
  • Fengqing Sanning
  • Mandala Tea

Also featuring teas from many other producers. Teas were acquired from many of the usual suspects (Yunnan Sourcing, Mandala, etc.).

Yunnan, Lincang Map

Yunnan Primary Growing Regions, Lincang Map.

Announcing Purchased & Tinned Teas

One thing that irks me about online reviews is when reviewers say nice things about teas without believing them. This particularly bothers me when there are free samples involved and the sample/review exchanges ends up being closer to a value proposition (tea for a good review) rather than a honest review. Human nature tends to reciprocate and this is something I am not immune from.

On TeaDB, I will now be announcing all pu’erh purchases of a certain size as well as my tinned teas. You can view the page and learn more. This page will be live and updated as I buy tea.

This is largely an effort to put my own wallet where my mouth is and hold myself accountable for these principles I value. Jake over at Drinking Teas will also be joining in and doing this and I will welcome anyone else who wants to join!

Tins

Tinned Teas.

Lincang

Lincang is a very large area and while I definitely considered splitting it up into 2-3 tea of the months, I ultimately decided to keep the whole thing together and tackle it all at once. I’ll probably end up revisiting specific subregions in the future. Unlike the previous tea of the month month (mature pu’erh), I ended up sticking to many of the core teas previously decided and made sure to session those plenty before moving onto other teas. I like this format in general. The core teas, I sessioned multiple times and are all signified below giving me better reference points than trying everything once. The other reviews were mainly one-offs, although some I had enough time to revisit.

For my own learning, I ended up separating and coordinating my tastings into a few of the major areas within Lincang. When I revisit this area, I’ll probably pick one of these. As always there’s a very real chance that teas are not really from these regions, so take it ith a grain of salt!

  • Mengku DXS Area (Bingdao, Nanpozhai, Mushucha, etc.)
  • Yongde (Mangfei, Wujiazhai)
  • Bangdong (Xigui)
  • Fengqing
Lincang Teas

Steep Away!

Approximate Brewing Parameters

About 7g/100 ml yixing, 5g/80ml gaiwan. Single (for better teas) or double rinse and short steeps.

Mengku Daxueshan

This is one of the more popular areas in the northern pu’erh regions. If you are interested in learning more about this area, please read this very informative article from pu’erh.fr.

2004 Daxueshan (Hailanghao, Yunnan Sourcing via Dignitea)

When the oldest tea is from 2004, you know it’s going to be a very green month! This was a sample kindly sent my way by Dignitea. Overall this is alright. Fairly unexciting, similar to the Kunming-stored 2006 Mengku Daxueshan. It’s medium bodied, floral with a strong nuttiness. There’s some sweet, bitter action going with a slow-building huigan. Probably a small step up from the 2006 Mengku DXS. In my opinion this is only marginally better than the S. Mengku tea.

2005 Daxueshan (S. Mengku, White2Tea via Dignitea, Brian, Jake) – Core Tea

I had this sent to me by three different people! Thanks very much to Dignitea, Jake, and Brian. This tea is quite tasty. It is firmly middle-aged and brews up as a nice red liquor. Easily the best, most enjoyable of the S. Mengku I tasted this month. I’m not sure exactly what the storage was here, but it’s further along biologically than just about every other tea this month. A solid body, with a sweet, somewhat spicy/fruity taste. The huigan is similar to the YS Yongde DXS and is mainly just in the mouth. The cooling effects are still there, but not as noticeable as some of the younger teas, likely a product of the base material. Second session brings a woody plum base. Reminds me a little of the Xiaguan Blue Mark Origin once sold. I sessioned this tea four times and it is a bit inconsistent, but notably did very well in clay. Too bad it is now sold out!

2006 Wild Daxueshan (S. Mengku, Yunnan Sourcing)

I was originally going to just use this as a core tea instead of the 2005 Daxueshan. It’s a good thing I didn’t as there’s a big storage difference. This is probably Kunming stored and has a medium body. It is floral and sweet in a youthful way. There’s still a touch of smoke. I prefer the 2005, but perhaps this is simply a stylistic difference. This is a worst version of the 2004 HLH Daxueshan. There is some nuttiness but it is alot less pronounced than the 2004 DXS.

2006 Wild Arbor King (S. Mengku, Yunnan Sourcing via Dignitea)

Sweet sugar plum scent similar to the Muyechun 002. There’s some sweet wood flavors here but it seems to be in the midst of transition. It is not as immediately inviting as the Muyechun 002.

2009 Spring of Bingdao (Menghai Henkang, Houde)

Who knows where this tea is actually from but since its marketed as Bingdao we’ll just put it in the Mengku section. Made by Menghai Kang Pai, I believe. Nice aroma of fruits. Cooling is pretty much immediate and obvious. The basic taste is OK, but the tea is still pretty rough and gets bitter very easily. There is some developing dried fruit sweetness. The huigan here is slow and isn’t really a huge asset for this tea. This tea has its virtues and it’s negatives. Once the bitterness escapes the tea (~7 or 8 infusions) it’s alot easier to do long-brews and get a bit more flavor (fruit, generic sheng taste) out.

2011 Mushucha (Yunnan Sourcing) – Core Tea

Definitely one of the better teas from Yunnan Sourcing. I spent much of my time with this tea comparing it with the 2013 Nanpozhai and alternating between which tea I prefer. Both are decent teas, and are the cream of the crop of Scott’s Lincang selection. Good, strong aroma. Lots of quick-moving bitterness that hits earlier than the NPZ and sits in the mouth. Good huigan that is more of a slow coating effect. The base material looks very nice. Overall this is still very green. Vegetal, nutty, floral, grainy, sweet. It is close but I think I slightly prefer the 2013 NPZ.

2011 Autumn Xibang (Yunnan Sourcing)

Sweet, mellow, honeyish tea. These autumn teas can be brewed different than spring teas and pushed much harder without consequence. Starts out sweet and with extended steeps gets fruit out. It’s enjoyable in a casual sort of way. There’s even some huigan.

2012 Heart of the Old Tree (Mandala Tea)

Supposedly from Nanmei in the general Mengku region. The nose is similar to Scott’s productions, sweet and inviting. Medium-bodied acorn, honey sweetness. I enjoy this much more than the face-smacking Wild Monk. I do find it fairly indistinguishable from many of Scott’s northern productions. This is in general a good thing, as Scott makes fairly priced, decent teas. There is some huigan as well. Eventually steeps into relatively bland floral graininess.

2013 Autumn Bingdao (Yunnan Sourcing)

Smells similar to all the YS productions. A little sour/tangy at first before becoming more  vegetal, grass, bitter. It’s autumn but is really strong and not the most pleasant to drink-now. This tea was probably created more for storage.

2013 Daxueshan (Xizihao via Houde) – Core Tea

Is this 2012? XZH site seems to indicate it is, but Houde says 2013. Good, sweet, vegetable aroma. The texture is also notable. More sweetness in its base. It is inviting with a complex taste. The ku is present but not overpowering and there is a very pleasant taste of sweet vegetables (snap peas?) and nuts. It is also cooling but not as green as the YS productions, although the aroma and body indicate considerable strength. This is certainly easier for me to drink now than the YS teas and its qualities are easier to take in. Part of this is less greenness but it is also a really nice softness in the texture.

Very little stomach irritation for this tea. I enjoy this tea alot, and it represents an important distinction from the YS ones. Eventually steeps into sweet water, and begins to smell more similarly to the YS teas. Slowly building/coating huigan that is deeper than average. I think this tea is very good, but have a hard time comparing it with other teas because it is so different. I initially had this tea registered as fruitier but lean now more towards vegetal.

2013 Nanpozhai (Yunnan Sourcing) – Core Tea

Immediately cooling. Lots of sweetness on the front. Interesting development of acorns, with plenty of bitterness and astringency (in steeps 4-6). There’s huigan that extends to the throat and is is generally better than most of the other teas from this month. Lasts ~12-15 steeps. This is a pretty dynamic tea, alternating between floral and nutty notes. I should note that while this is a good tea it’s also still quite green and definitely qualifies as stomach churning young pu’er (as does the 2011 Mushucha).

2014 Autumn Song (Mandala Tea)

Pressed in 2014, with Autumn 2013 Dahusai material. Some live earth notes. It has some bitterness but is overall very approachable. It has a basic floral taste and tickles the throat a little and has a pleasant sweetness and body. Still pretty cooling and a little harsh to the whole body. Kuwei lasts 5-6 steeps. Overall a pretty decent tea.

2013 Xizihao Daxueshan

2013 Xizihao Daxueshan.

Yongde

2007 Muyechun 001 (S. Mengku, Yunnan Sourcing)

Sweet, floral honey. This is a bit thin for my tastes. I prefer the Muyechun 002 although this is pretty easy to drink now. Some basic sweetness in the mouth but as expected no groundbreaking huigan. Some foresty taste to it.

2007 Muyechun 002 (S. Mengku, Yunnan Sourcing)

Unsurprisingly the compression of the sample is pretty tight. Surprisingly it is far more tasty than could be expected out of the gate. Was the storage on this really Kunming? Nice aroma of sugar plums with a pleasant floral aroma. The taste is simple but it brings immediate pleasures and is also even cooling. Makes me wonder if I am far too easy to please as I could see thisbeing a daily drinker. In the end it falls off pretty fast in steeps, eventually degrading into aimless bitterness (with longer steeps) and relative blandness (with short steeps). The taco tea of the month.

2009 Yongde Daxueshan (Unclear, Fine Pu’er via Dignitea) – Core Tea

Shoutout to Dignitea for sending the tea and shah for the rec! This is a very nice tea for the money. It has a decent body with a pleasant fruit, leathery, floral base. The base material is nice looking. Aroma is very sweet and the leaves are dark. The tea is very sweet and very infusible. This is more floral than many of the other Mengku teas, but is also cooling although I do not notice it as easily as some of the teas from Mengku DXS area.

2010 Yongde Daxueshan (Yunnan Sourcing) – Core Tea

This is the tea sold as 2010 Big Snow Mountain and is responsible for pretty extreme variations session to session.

Fruity aromatics with an immediately bitter, astringent floral taste. Others have noted light fruits but depending on the sesssion that may or may not be present. This tea is still very young. It is also still fairly harsh, cooling to the body and high in caffeine. Some light tongue action and small, slow-building huigan. Once the tea starts to get softer there is less bitterness and I can understand the fruit/sweet notes a bit more. Thinner body than the 2009 Yong de DXS. Eventually becomes just floral sweet tea. Overall this is a decent tea, with strong variations. Perhaps it’s “wildness” has a bit to do with this.

2011 Muyechun Autumn Mangfei (S. Mengku, Grandness Aliexpress via Dignitea)

More aromatic but also quite a bit less interesting and more bland than the earlier productions. Basic floral taste. This does very little to go against any Autumnal biases I might hold. Low on aftertastes. It’s not terrible but is forgettable.

2013 Autumn Mangfei (Yunnan Sourcing)

Immediately very bitter followed by a little bit of grassy, floral sweetness. Nice aroma. Not much taste evolution or mouthfeel. This is probably not a bad tea, but is too singular in its bitter taste and with so much tea to drink I turn elsewhere.

2014 Qingmeishan (Yunnan Sourcing)

Pretty standard, decent Yunnan Sourcing production. It is buttery thick, floral and bitter. Some butter. Mildly cooling.

2014 Wild Monk (Mandala Tea)

A popular tea amongst many people and I expected something far more gentle and friendly. Perhaps, I brew my teas harder than most but this tea wasn’t remotely weak. Nose is nice and very floral and the taste starts off bitter and nutty. Some floral notes appear but overall its just bitter. It’s a dark tea and reminds me a bit of the 2013 Autumn Mangfei. I can see how this is best brewed at lower temps or at lighter ratios. Brewed in the way I brew most pu’erh, I have a difficult time enjoying it.

2012 Heart of the Old Tree, 2012 Impression

2012 Heart of the Old Tree, 2012 Impression.

Bangdong (Xigui)

2013 Xigui (Menghai Yi Feng, Teavivre)

I don’t like this tea. The aroma is alright and similar to YS productions. The overall taste is bitter with a buttery texture. It is a bit thin and drink nowish and the session is over far too son. A relatively quick huigan before it devolves quickly into weird citric notes.

2014 54-46 (White2Tea) – Core Tea

The best, but also most expensive tea of the month. Aromatic. Doesn’t have the same lower register aroma notes that the TU Nahan has but has a big body and very noticeable qi. Coats the mouth. Also lots of vegetal notes (snap peas?) with the northern nutty sweetness. It is far more balanced and not as singular as the Nahan. Like many of the Lincang teas it has a noticeable cooling effect. Huigan is good and hits the whole mouth and throat. Can get astringent. I also get alot of deep, throaty huigan here which I don’t really from nearly every other teas this month. It doesn’t last forever (~13-15 steeps) but is very good while it does.

2014 Nahan (Tea Urchin) – Core Tea

Very whole leaf. Lower notes of grass & earth in the aroma. Very, very sweet, floral, nutty, and slightly creamy. Snap peas and sugarcane, a real countryside tea. While it has an interesting profile, I can’t say that this tea enthralled me. I think I prefer TU Banna productions. It does have some qi and there is some salivation. The tea also coats the outsides of the mouth. Eventually the tea steeps into a bittersweet vegetable soup. This is a very good tea, but I admire it perhaps more than I actually like it.

2014 Bangdong

2014 Bangdong.

Fengqing (Region)

2005 Fengqing Zhuan (Fengqing Sanning, Teavivre) – Core Tea

I actually own a few of these bricks as daily drinkers. All the Teavivre teas have been supposedly stored dry. However, my guess is that the storage is Guangdong dry (where Teavivre is based) as opposed to Kunming Dry. The storage for their teas is far more to my taste than most of the Kunming stored teas, and all display a significantly more mature taste. This brick has lighter compression than White Whale and has a basic sweet, warm wood (oak) base. The tea itself is firmly semi-aged and can easily still get bitter. The cooling is also fairly obvious in this tea. Compared to the Paddy Flavor this is more wood/oak/longan and less pine/forest. The huigan is better than the paddy cake too.

2006 Fengqing Paddy Flavor (Fengqing Sanning, Teavivre)

Sweet taste. Aroma is woody, sweet, and definitely better than the 2005 Zhuan. I’d guess the storage was the same as the 2005 Zhuan. Teavivre really does have some surprisingly alright pu’erh. The taste itself is not quite as woody as the aroma, but is instead sweet and floral. It’s a very easy tea to drink and has hints of longan/lychee but it still hasn’t fully developed. The base material is probably a bit better than the Zhuan but my own preferences lean me towards the overall robustness of the brick.

2006 Fengqing Tuo (Fengqing Sanning, Teavivre)

The weakest in aroma of the three Teavivre samples. Storage is likely the same as the other two. The taste is fine and is spicy wood. Immediately cooling. This is very functional but lacks any defining sweetness and is the least exciting of the Teavivre semi-aged selection.

2007 Fengqing F7813 (Fengqing, GreenTeaGuru)

Kindly sent our way by Oli of GreenTeaGuru. This tea is a standard Fengqing recipe, but is made significant by its UK Storage. It is clearly aged and has a rather unpleasant smoky aroma. The smoke is minor in the taste but is present at different points throughout the entire session, especially in the aroma. Nonetheless the tea is dense, and has a very easy-drinking, pleasant honeyed sweetness. Very small leaves. The tea dies off quickly around 8 or 9 steeps, but I am left satisfied. A decent tea from likely very average base material. Overall an interesting reference point for natural UK-Storage.

2013 Fengqing Old Tree (Fengqing Sanning, Teavivre)

Low on bitterness and high on sweetness. Extremely easy to drink, with some aftertaste that is more coating than deep and restricted to the mouth. Personally, if I were to shop at Teavivre it’d be for their older productions.

Other

2005 Mengku Green City Peak (Qingchengfeng, Pu’erh Shop via Dignitea)

A peculiar tea. The storage has definitely been dry as it is still very green. Significant buttery thickness to it with some sweet fruits. Marshaln commented on a throaty taste and I can understand that. The cooling isn’t very pronounced and overall this tea is more difficult to place than the others. It has it’s fair share of weaknesses but I do like it for the most part.

2006 Wild Spring Lincang (from Teamasters via Carolyn)

Kindly provided at the very end of the tastings by Carolyn, a reader/viewer. Hobbes had this twice when it was younger (1,2) and it has come along nicely since then. Presumably stored in Taiwan. Plum, herbal aroma that reminds me of some other pu’erhs that spent time in Taiwan. A very clean, sweet honey/fruity taste with a good texture and medium, soft body. Plenty of strength and there’s still some bitterness with a little bit of smoke. Brewed long, the tea produces considerably astringency and huigan. Nice coating effects and decent sweetness in the throat. It’s still not totally smooth especially on the throat and could probably use a little more age to round it out fully. Still it is a very nice tea with good qi. The tea continues to brew over-and-over, it’s profile eventually becoming a pleasant and simple, stone-fruit one. It’s clearly not great bang for your buck, but on its merits as a tea, it’s a fine one.

2008 Lincang Iron Cake (Baichatang, Tea Urchin via Brian)

Aroma of fruit/raisins. This has a strong body + strong standard sheng base with the taste alternating between nutty and fruity. Thankfully this tea must’ve had some humid storage (or maybe just Guangdong dry) to loosen up. Overall a very decent tea. Still fairly harsh in the front, it softens in the middle and finish. Right now this is good enough to drink, but I think it will probably improve even more in the future. The website doesn’t indicate the storage but this must’ve been stored in Guangdong or something similar as it would probably be undrinkable if it were Kunming stored. I could be wrong but it also feels like it is developing some herbalness, something I haven’t encountered during this tea this month.

2009 Jade Dew (S. Mengku, Mandala Tea via Cwyn)

Kindly sent my way by Cwyn of Death by Tea. This tea has earned some positive reviews on steepster. Grainy nose. Floral. Some hay. Texturaly interesting, sweet, cooling but is still too young for me and it has hardly any huigan. While I don’t really believe this is anything too special, it’s a well-done plantation tea that is OK to drink now for people that like youngish tea.

2012 Impression (Yunnan Sourcing)

One of Scott’s budget teas. The aroma is a generic sheng base that starts with a grainy ku. The bitterness is nicely balanced with more sweet, honeyed, floral flavors. As is expected from a blend, the taste is dynamic. It quickly descends into generic sheng/northern flavors, although there is still some nice buttery thickness there. Overall, it’s an alright tea as it’s difficult to complain about it’s very fair price. For my money, I’d spend up for one of Scott’s $35-40 blends.

2013 Yexin (Yunnan Sourcing)

Initially bitter with more vegetal/grass aspects. Medium-thin body, bitterness goes away quickly. Buttery. Some of the material seems to be cooling in nature. The overall taste is a bit thin, but it is still a decent reliable blend. Some nice, sweet sugarcane comes out later.

2010 Yunnan Sourcing Daxueshan

2010 Yunnan Sourcing Daxueshan.

Even More!!!

Blends have been around forever in pu’erh. For many of these months there’s a few teas of unclear origin or perhaps blends that might fit in here. It’s interesting to use what teas you’ve been currently drinking as a benchmark to visit some of these mysteries. This is often an exercise in futility as the power of suggestion is strong and it’s pretty easy to psych yourself out and overthink this stuff. But here’s a few teas of indeterminate base material that I’ve compared with this month’s Lincang teas.

2002 White Whale (Unknown, White2Tea)

I’m one of the few bloggers that hasn’t talked about this tea, but I do enjoy it. It’s one of my regular tinned teas, I don’t quaff this super regularly but have slowly almost finished a brick. Some have speculated this is from Lincang/Fengqing. Strong compression with plenty of stems. A pine, woodsy nose. Warm taste with more developed mature (fruit/longan/camphor) notes that are still developing. Coating huigan on the mouth. It is considerably better than the 2005 Fengqing brick, with a more mature and fully developed taste. It can also get quite bitter easily. This hits the throat a bit and sits in the mouth. It starts to thin out at around 6-7 steeps, but remains pretty good for a while.

I had the Crimson Lotus tuo for Inbetweenisode #15 the same day as this, and this has more of a pinewood, rancid taste while the Crimson Lotus tuo is more round, full, and classically appealing.

2002 Tailian “Kunming Tea Market Opening” (Tailian, Yunnan Sourcing)

Unfortunately, I got the center of the beeng and it is super compressed giving me a skewed view. Stupidly, I also seem to have purchased the wrong Tailian from that year. Still it’s not bad. A sweet, friendly profile. Floral & nutty tastes start to come in after a few steeps. Believably northern/Kunming stored tea as its form strongly resembled my memory of the 2004 HLH DXS and 2006 Mengku DXS. I think this is a bit better than those teas.

2012 Sanhezhai (Yunnan Sourcing)

Quite good. Better than I expected. I like this much better than the 2013 Fengchun. Despite my sample being extremely battered this is a very satisfying tea. Aromatic. Sweet, slightly smoky, acorn/nutty, with a surprising nice body. Once brewed a few times, the aroma is fairly distinctively northern. I would probably choose to buy this over any of the other cheaper northern productions. There is also a decent huigan.

2014 Yinxiang (Yunnan Sourcing)

Not really from this area, but an interesting comparison to the 2012 Yinxiang and vs. the Sanhezhai. Nice aroma. Bitter/sweet taste. Like many YS productions it’s loosely compressed and relatively whole leaf. Definitely a step up from the 2012 version. As expected, the tea is kind of all over the place in its profile. It does get bitter quite easily and I suspect there might be some yesheng or Mangfei in this. However, one of the benefits of blending is the mixing of flavors and tastes. Here the bitterness is balanced with sweeter more fruit/floral elements especially when compared with some of the more singularly bitter teas I’ve had..  Similar to the 2012 Yinxiang and the 2013 Fengchun it eventually descends into bitter graininess.

2002 White Whale

2002 White Whale. Everyone’s favorite Zhuan!

Producer/Vendor Notes

Here’s some notes on some of the vendors/producers mentioned here.

Yunnan Sourcing

Lincang and Simao are somewhat of regional specializations for Yunnan Sourcing, something Hobbes has written about in the past. Many other producers tend to focus heavily on the more hyped regions, whilst Scott presses elsewhere. This has helped to keep alot of his teas on the more affordable price range. For Lincang teas, the price range is relatively dramatic, ranging from $0.05/g to ~$0.25/g. Scott prices his teas very fairly, and I’ve found that the cost is relatively indicative of the quality. I’ll probably be picking up at least a few cakes from Scott in the near future. The blends in particular offer good value for their price.

Teavivre

Two points here. Teavivre seem to source from Fengqing Sanning, whose teas seem to be mainly fair and functional. Teavivre is based in Guangdong, a place that is known for its humid/wet-stored teas and all the Teavivre teas I’ve received have been clean and believably Guangdong dry-stored, a storage school I tend to enjoy. Teavivre has often surprised me with respectable entries into tea genres where specialists tend to dominate. While I’m not blown away by any of their teas, I’m quite confident in giving them as my recommendation to people just starting out.

Mengku

Overall, I don’t have strong positive or negative feelings towards S. Mengku. Their 2005 Daxueshan was very much to my taste but I suspect this also had alot to do with the well-executed storage. Their productions tend to be well-made and functional, but not really anything as special. Other than an odd cake here or there, I’ll be mainly buying smaller vendor productions as the reliable, albeit mainly unexceptional S. Mengku do not really suit my own goals for pu’erh.

Recommended Teas (doesn’t include outlier teas):

  • 2007 Mengku Muyechun 002 (Yunnan Sourcing)
  • 2009 Yong de Daxueshan (Fine Pu’er)
  • 2011 Mushucha/2013 Nanpozhai (Yunnan Sourcing)
  • 2014 54-46 (White2Tea)
2012 Sanhezhai

2012 Sanhezhai.

Thoughts & What I learned?

This month was overall a fairly fun one. The teas skewed heavily green, with the exception of the few non-Kunming stored teas which were semi-aged at best. Many of these teas are also still too young for me to drink regularly and would likely end up being purchased for the long-term.

Body & Cooling. Because of the sheer volume of teas and my own concerns about drinking so much tea for my stomach and bodyl, I’ve been conscience over how my body responds to these teas. This is an area that I’d like to improve my own attentiveness and focus on. Mengku, specifically Bingdao has a reputation for being cooling in nature (in a good way), especially in the mouth and throat. Young sheng and greener teas have a reputation on being harsh towards the body as well as cold. I believe there is an important distinction between the two effects. If I were to redo this month (or even for pu’erh in general), I’d likely be focusing alot of attention on “cooling” in the mouth vs. more of a harsh body feel/cooling.

Can Lincang be aged? I think it’s obvious that it can. While the teas this month didn’t exactly have a ton of maturation, the semi-aged didn’t show any abnormal signs of weakening. Others have also rightfully pointed out that Xiaguan (based in Dali) has a more than decent record of aged tea. How do these teas match head to head with their Banna cousins? Well.. That is a different, far more challenging question. Regardless, I will continue to purchase Lincang teas.

The question of aging teas is something I’ll continue asking myself next month for an area with a much thinner track record of aged pu’erh, Wu Liang.

Rhythm. I’m a slave to routine and especially rhythm. I tend to develop certain rhythms and follow them closely. This is especially true with these tea of the month drinking series. For me much of this has to do with caffeine intake and balancing energy + caffeine throughout the day. This month I was also especially wary of the stomach-churning nature of young pu’erhs. For most days, I’d start a Lincang session in the morning and depending on how I felt after lunch would either drink another Lincang tea or switch to ripe or aged pu’erh. This meant nearly everyday I’d consume at least one browner pu’erh and at least one (usually young) Lincang tea.

Huge thanks to all those who contributed teas and allowing this month to be as comprehensive as it was!

Tea Vendor Producer $ Quantity Cost/g Rating
2004 Daxueshan Yunnan Sourcing Hai Lang Hao $72.00 357 $0.20 Good-.
2005 Fengqing Teavivre Fengqing Sunning $25.90 240 $0.11 Good.
2005 Daxueshan White2Tea Shuangjiang Mengku $69.50 357 $0.19 Good+.
2005 Mengku Green City Peak Puerh Shop QingChengFeng  –  –  – Good-.
2006 Fengqing Paddy Flavor Teavivre Fengqing Sunning $49.00 357 $0.14 Good.
2006 Fengqing Tuo Teavivre Fengqing Sunning $12.90 100 $0.13 OK+.
2006 Mengku Daxueshan Yunnan Sourcing Shuangjiang Mengku $60.00 400 $0.15 OK+.
2006 Wild Lincang Teamasters $450.00 357 $1.26 Very Good+.
2006 Wild Arbor King Yunnan Sourcing Shuangjiang Mengku $130.00 1000 $0.13 OK+.
2007 Fengqing F7813 GreenTeaGuru Fengqing $3.48 25 $0.14 Good-.
2007 Muyechun 001 Yunnan Sourcing Shuangjiang Mengku $30.00 400 $0.08 OK+.
2007 Muyechun 002 Yunnan Sourcing Shuangjiang Mengku $25.00 400 $0.06 Good.
2008 Lincang Iron Cake Tea Urchin Bai Cha Tang $104.00 400 $0.26 Very Good-.
2009 Mengku Jade Dew Mandala Tea S. Mengku $28.00 400 $0.07 OK+.
2009 Spring of Bingdao Hou de Asian Menghai Hen Kang $54.50 357 $0.15 Good-.
2009 Yongde Daxueshan Fine Pu’er  – $58.00 500 $0.12 Very Good.
2010 Daxueshan Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $33.00 250 $0.13 Good-.
2011 Mushucha Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $102.00 400 $0.26 Very Good-.
2011 Muyechun Autumn Mangfei Grandness, Aliexpress S. Mengku $32.07 500 $0.06 OK.
2011 Xibang Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $34.00 400 $0.09 Good-.
2012 Heart of the Old Tree Mandala Tea Mandala Tea $27.00 100 $0.27 Good-.
2012 Yinxiang Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $19.00 357 $0.05 OK.
2013 Autumn Bingdao Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $48.00 400 $0.12 OK.
2013 Autumn Mangfei Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $29.00 400 $0.07 OK-.
2013 Daxueshan Hou de Asian Xizihao $150.00 400 $0.38 Very Good+.
2013 Fengqing Old Tree Teavivre Fengqing Sunning $56.00 400 $0.14 Good-.
2013 Nanpozhai Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $86.00 400 $0.22 Very Good.
2013 Xigui Teavivre Menghai Yi Feng $98.00 357 $0.27 OK-.
2013 Yexin Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $32.00 400 $0.08 Good-.
2014 54-46 White2Tea White2Tea $175.00 200 $0.88 Excellent-.
2014 Autumn Song Mandala Tea Mandala Tea $21.00 100 $0.21 Good-.
2014 Bangdong Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $72.00 400 $0.18 Good.
2014 Nahan Tea Urchin Tea Urchin $78.00 200 $0.39 Very Good-.
2014 Qingmeishan Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $44.00 400 $0.11 Good.
2014 Wild Monk Mandala Tea Mandala Tea $21.00 100 $0.21 OK.
2002 White Whale White2Tea $23.00 100 $0.23 Very Good.
2002 Tailian “Kunming Tea Market Opening” Yunnan Sourcing Tai Lian $98.00 357 $0.27 Good.
2012 Sanhezhai Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $37.00 400 $0.09 Good+.
2014 Yinxiang Yunnan Sourcing Yunnan Sourcing $20.00 357 $0.06 OK+.

Next up for February: Wu Liang.

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11 Responses to Lincang Raw Pu’erh [January 2015 Tea Drinking Report]

  1. bellmont says:

    James,

    Awesome stuff. You’ve given me some ideas for my next order from YS.

    I am trying to understand more about the cooling you mentioned several times throughout the article. Specifically, does the “harsh body feel/cooling” just refer to the young teas that hit you hard in the stomach (I think once you used the verbiage: “kicks you in the nuts and tosses you out back”)? Or, were there additional less desirable cooling sensations found?

    I also understand there is cooling from a less literal: ‘I-feel-cold-after-drinking-this’ feeling…a cooling from the traditional Chinese medicine standpoint where after consuming a cooling food (ie, young sheng) the “energy and fluids of the body are directed inward and lower, so that the exterior and upper portions of the body cool first. [Like] the flow of tree sap toward the roots in colder times of year” ** I am wondering if you experienced this more nuanced feeling while drinking tea last month.

    Peace,

    bellmont

    • bellmont says:

      **says Paul Pitchford in “Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition” –An awesome text that covers both the nutritional and physiological aspects of the body from a Chinese medicine standpoint. I recommend checking out this book if you want to understand more about the body and theories related to feelings you have after drinking tea.

    • James says:

      Hi Bellmont,

      Thanks for the comment and bring up some excellent topics! Frankly, it varies. I’ve become alot more conscientious of drinking with my body in the last year or so, but its still very much a work in progress. Detecting stomach irritation and stuff like that is easy enough. Sometimes after the session I would just feel cold, other times it’d be more of a cooling sensation (this is the preferred). I also find qi difficult to grasp, let alone describe.

      Cheers!
      -James

      ps. Thank you for the recommendation. I’ve just placed a hold on that text for the Seattle Public Library.

  2. shah8 says:

    Some points…

    As always, this is appreciated. Only the Puerh Teapot magazine does any huge cross comparisons like this on a regular basis.

    One of the things I find fascinating is just how much earlier “Bingdaos” were pretty bitter, such as the 2009 Fan Ji Early Spring Bingdao. Compared to all of the Bingdaos these days that have relatively little bitterness.

    I’ve always wished I had the chance to try the ’02 Tai Lian Kunming Market version.

    The TeaMaster’s ’06 Wild is not particularly overpriced if it’s truly a good example of northern tea. Most such comparable northern teas have a retail wish-price a lot closer to $1k. This tea is probably lacking in name recognition. Your description does sound like how a very expensive tea of that nature and age should perform. It sounds, pluses and minuses, much like my experience with the last time I drank my ’07 fall XZH JingGu Nuercha, including the problematic throat astringency. That’s pretty much what you’re in for when you buy most tea like that for aging! So don’t be too unfair to older good teas, when compared to just off the presses 54-46!

    Teas are generally pretty ready to be assessed at about 7-8 years of age, so the Baichatang was drunk at a pretty good time to assess overall quality and basic aging nature, rather than at more drain-cleaning four-five years of age.

    I’ve generally thought that the YS Nanpozhai and Mushucha line generally were too thin and delicate tasting to be very strong values. However, I did enjoy a session or two of the ’13 Nanpozhai. However, I would not say that these are particularly strong values, particularly long term.

    Nobody is ever going to sell anything remotely like Xigui for $98. The Nahan is basically Xigui without the complexity or fruitiness and that costs a lot more.

    I strongly encourage people to purchase from FineTeas…Like Houde, they have lots of fairly old prices. The 2009 DXS is a great value, but there are also:

    This tea has been featured in Teapot Mag tea comparison of late
    http://www.finepuer.com/product/2006-cnnp-yiwu-wild-arbor-tea-cake-357g

    This tea is way below current retail. It’s not totally awesome, but it *is* a reasonably decent tea of that age.
    http://www.finepuer.com/product/2002-dayi-yiwu-wild-arbor-special-grade-big-green-tree-series-357g

    And there are lots and lots of daily drinking factory teas as well priced as what you see from tuochatea.

    Perhaps you could make an estimate of where the Crimson Lotus Baiying Lincang stuff belongs on this chart? That area didn’t get any rep!

    • James says:

      Hi shah,

      Thanks for stopping in!

      Interesting re: 2006 Lincang. I’ve only had the opportunity to try this tea once and didn’t have a chance to steep it all the way out. It’s more or less incomparable to all the other teas this month, so I don’t really know what the market would be for a tea like that.

      With the Mushu and Nanpo, I can understand that and am more or less unsure about their aging potential. I do enjoy both teas, and would be curious to buy one as a measuring stick for both storage and similar teas.

      Thanks for the recs, re: Fine Pu’er. The only tea I’ve tried so far is the 2009 Yongde DXS. I’ll comb their catalog next time I place an order.

      I’ll see if I can track some Baiying down. The only time I tried it was on the TeaDB ep, way back when.

      Cheers!
      -James

  3. bellmont says:

    James, Reading over the article again, I noticed in “Producer/Vendor Notes”, under “Mengku” you said “albeit mainly unexceptional S. Mengku do not really suit my own goals for pu’erh” …I am wondering what your goals for pu’erh?

    I assumed that you are looking mostly for stuff to age, especially considering all of the ‘tins’ you currently have which you mentioned to be already “very functionally drinkable” pu’erh, as well as considering your articles on hoarding and value. I am right in my assumptions?

    Also, maybe shah8 or someone else could answer this, where is Fine Pu’er located/where do they ship from?

    peace,

    bellmont

    • bellmont says:

      –I mean: “in addition to yourself, maybe shah8 or someone else could…”

    • James says:

      Hi bellmont,

      Since getting into tea, one thing I’ve done is accumulate lots of alright pu’erh. It’s very easy to buy a whole ton of decent-enough/mediocre pu’erh. If I bought more of whatever Mengku I fancied, I’d probably end up with a whole lot more. At this point, I’m trying to raise the threshold of tea that I buy without raising or lowering my budget.

      The only S. Mengku tea I’d consider buying from this month is the 2007 Muyechun 002.

      Hope that explains!
      -James

      • bellmont says:

        Yeah, I get what you are saying about Mengku. By raising the threshold, have you changed what you look for in pu’erh? To explain more: Are you looking teas that are drinkable now or has your modus operandi changed to become more slanted toward the aging game (drinkable later)?

        • James says:

          Hi bellmont,

          Very good question and one I’m still answering for myself. At this point, I have accumulated alot of tea that I’m pretty cool with drinking regularly. This inevitably means that I’d like to buy nicer tea (for now) that is a definite step-up and not just marginally better from what I have to quaff now. It also means that I can buy good-quality teas (and not just plantation/factory teas) for later.

          The other consideration I have to take in is the amount of samples I get (both purchased and sent probono). It seems to have been growing at an even more ridiculous rate the past half a year. In the end, I’m very grateful to be a tea blogger and have problems such as this.

          Cheers!
          -James

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