No Frills. 18 Quick Hits, Less Premium Young Tea Report

Ripe Pu'erh

One of the perks (or drawbacks) of having a blog is literally drowning in tea/samples. I’m not really in the market for young tea, especially not cheaper young tea. This is mainly because I don’t drink these teas nearly often enough and the number of samples I cross path with are more than enough to satiate my sporadic young tea craving. As a result, I cranked through this batch of samples pretty quickly in a series of shortish sessions.. Here’s some quick impressions on thoughts on teas I’ve had recently that were priced beneath the Fomo Report on more premium teas (>$0.40/g).

  • Prices often go up for vendors around this time (around Chinese New Year).
  • I sent a number of the leftovers of these samples otherwise known as the Grinder… Complimentary reading and second opinions on Grill’s instagram.

Tasting Notes

2016 YS Mangfei, $0.10/g

Scott has always done well in this price range and is a known quantity. He selects for well-valued, strong tea. The Mangfei is bitter, nutty, vegetal with a decent body. There’s a consistent bitterness and a decent backbone to it with the sweetness transforming. Like many northern teas it has a cooler nature. At $39/400g, it’s decent. For those interested in aging teas and are fans of this tea, I’d also suggest taking a hard look at the Sihazhai blend. With more components to it, the blended nature will probably make it interesting when older.


2016 YS Shanhou, $0.16/g

This is a worst version of the Huangshan and personally I’d just spend the extra $16 for something at least a step or two up. More vegetal and has similar floral and acorn nutty notes. It has a similar level of richness which is enjoyable. Small hints of some sourness. It’s decent, but I’d rather get the Daqing or Huangshan.

2016 YS Huangshan, $0.19/g

Fairly similar to the 2015 version which I enjoyed. Rich, thick aroma. Florals. Tea thickens with more bitter florals and nuts. It has decent depth and a touch of qi. Gets nuttier as it brews. As in 2016, probably my favorite of Scott’s Jinggus I tried this year.

2016 YS Daqing, $0.20/g

I think I like this more than the 2015 version. It’s not as bitter, but is thick, creamy, and nutty. Not quite as floral, slight bit more qi.

2016 YS Nahan, $0.21/g

There are fans of Bangdong but I’m not one of them. Please do note that these ratings are very much subjective.. This is bitter, creamy, nutty, and very vegetal. There’s also a distinct tangy/sourness and softness to the texture, that is especially emphasized when compared with some of Scott’s other northern teas. I suspect this is an improvement over the 2015 Bangdong Scott pressed and also a tea that performs well with a lower temperature for a less vegetal brew.

2016 YS Bawai, $0.31/g

This is in contention for one of the best/most interesting teas of this month. It’s also a bit more expensive.. How’d a $124 sneak into the cheapo report? Well it narrowly missed the cutoff and is a tweener. Decent tea. This seems to be the successor of the Mushucha/Nanpozhai and looking over some of my old notes it seems to be at least broadly similar.

In my first session, I had this in the midst of a bunch of older teas and it was just too strong for me to enjoy. My second session was in series with a younger teas, where it was far easier to appreciate. It is initially soft, thick, bitter, nutty, and all around robust with some moderate qi. There’s quite a bit more depth, mouthfeel and general engagement to this than the Mangfei or Nahan. There’s some vegetal aspects ot it, but it’s overall more floral, nutty than the Nahan and far more to my tastes. Good longevity too. Worth a sample to see if you like it.

2016 Bitter Leaf Daxueshan Huangpian, $0.08/g

This one is fine and pretty much as expected. Nutty, floral, a touch sour. Aftertaste is restricted to mouth. No throatiness or much depth.. It’s smooth and easy to drink, but not super-thick or particularly exciting and if you’re set on getting some Huangpian I’d either look to the Alter Ego (haven’t had) or W2T’s Fade. They’re really not much more expensive and are likely much better.

2016 Bitter Leaf Year of the Monkey, $0.10/g

This tea is about the same level as other vendor’s daily drinker house Yiwu productions (i.e. Tea Urchin, W2T). Tastes like Yiwu and while it is light and a little thin, you can’t really complain for the price. Sweet, soft, florals, aromatic back of the mouth sweetness.

2013 Bitter Leaf Hummingbird (Jingmai), $0.20/g

This has a couple engaging steeps early, with molasses and florals and a decent body. Eventually thins out a bit with building bitterness and nuttiness. Soft texture.

2016 Bitter Leaf Secret Forest (Yiwu), $0.30/g

Bitter, moderately thick. Floral, nuts. Not particularly transformative. It doesn’t really taste like normal Yiwu pu’erh and took a bit to get used to. On the plus side it is decently oily and more flavor-forward than something like the lighter, more standard Year of the Monkey.

2015 Bitter Leaf Winter Wings (Bangdong), $0.37/g

Similar to the YS Nahan. A touch lighter and sweeter but also plenty drinkable if you like the creamy, nutty, vegetal profile. This is not as strong, bitter, or vegetal as the YS. A bit fruity in aroma and in a few of the infusions. While the YS tea probably could benefit from steeping it lighter, this may need the extra oomph from boiling water. This also really sweetens up once you get to 6 or so.

2016 Essence of Tea Yibang Small Tree, ??

This came in the Essence of Tea club I believe. Florals, butter, nuts. This is fairly bitter and not as high-note dominant as I’d expect from a young sheng. There’s some nice density in the mouthfeel and some coco. Not nearly on the level of the presumably more expensive Big Tree but decent enough.

2016 Essence of Tea Wuliang Wild, ??

It’s lighter than all of the YS Jinggus in body and dies faster. Dark leaves (presumably purple). Sweet barnyard, very light bitterness. Has a sappy mouthfeel early that is decently engaging. Suspect this is more for drinking in the next few years than aging in the long-term.

2016 Essence of Tea Wuliang B, $0.11/g

Far more of a normal tea than the Wuliang Wild. Lighter-colored leaves. Sweet cherryish, grain, barnyard. This is more of a normal sheng Jinggu/Wuliang profile. Starts out comparatively bitter and is thicker but lighter and not as thick as the YS Jinggu teas. Cool nature. Longevity is just OK and it dies fairly quick.

2016 Essence of Tea Wuliang H, $0.23/g

Overall better than the B and the best of the EoT Wuliangs. It is thicker, higher, more throatiness, and all-around more complex. There’s a bit of sourness and hay early before it settles into a light bitter floral, with lingering sweet feelings. Some similarities to the YS Jinggus in a fluffy soft mouthfeel but also distinct. It is a bit less viscous but has some qi. Far more durable than the B as well. On the negative there is consistent drying for the first 10 or so infusions.

2016 Denong Tranquility, $0.26/g

Denong is resold by Bana tea and has had some circulation in the west for a few years. Not cheap, but consistent and reliable. This is an enjoyable drink and doesn’t offer as much bite as many of the other teas from this report (i.e. the Bawai). Smooth, laid back, with good enough thickness. This tea can be pushed much more and offers comparatively more sweetness that lingers mainly in the mouth. Tastewise it’s decently conventional Lincang, acorns and florals with some vegetal overtones. Lasts 8-10 steeps.

2016 Denong Commemorative, $0.27/g

I prefer this to the Tranquility. Big, soft, oily. Thick in throat. It loses viscosity somewhat fast, and moves towards a more vegetal profile but is very tasty while it lasts. Sits in throat and roof of mouth.

2016 White2Tea Fade, $0.12/g

Smooth, rounded. Still fairly green. Some throatiness. The best thing about this is the amount of decent qi for a reasonable cost. Can be pushed around without consequence much easier than other young sheng.

Tea Producer $ Quantity Cost/g Rating
Huangshan Yunnan Sourcing $75.00 400 $0.19 C+/B-.
Daqing Yunnan Sourcing $78.00 400 $0.20 C+/B-.
Shanhou Yunnan Sourcing $59.00 400 $0.15 C.
Mangfei Yunnan Sourcing $39.00 400 $0.10 C.
Bawai Yunnan Sourcing $124.00 400 $0.31 B-.
Nahan Yunnan Sourcing $82.00 400 $0.21 C.
Fade White2Tea $24.50 200 $0.12 B-.
Yibang Small Tree Essence of Tea C.
Wuliang Wild Essence of Tea C-.
Wuliang B Essence of Tea $45.00 400 $0.11 C.
Wuliang H Essence of Tea $46.30 200 $0.23 B-.
Commemorative Denong Tea $27.00 100 $0.27 B-.
Tranquility Denong Tea $26.00 100 $0.26 C+.
Winterwings (2015 Bangdong) Bitter Leaf $74.50 200 $0.37 C.
Hummingbird (2013 Jingmai) Bitter Leaf $72.50 357 $0.20 C.
Daxueshan Huangpian Bitter Leaf $29.50 357 $0.08 C-.
Seceret Forest Bitter Leaf $59.95 200 $0.30 D.
Year of the Monkey Bitter Leaf $34.50 357 $0.10 C-.

Worth Checking Out

These are relatively inexpensive teas and are very subject to your own personal preferences. I could see any of these teas being interesting to sample and try.

  • YS Mangfei
  • YS Huangshan
  • YS Bawai
  • BL Year of the Monkey
  • EoT Wuliang H
  • Denong Tranquility
  • Denong Commemorative
  • W2T Fade

3 responses to “No Frills. 18 Quick Hits, Less Premium Young Tea Report”

  1. James,

    I am always available to take cheap tea samples off of your hands. I hate to see you suffering like this. Just here to help.

    Seriously though, I do wonder at the price tags of teas more expensive than the ones above. Based on the few samples I’ve had of more premium stuff, the experience did not justify a 5-10x price increase from the bargain stuff. But, maybe I’m just a cheap date with a bad palate!

    Thanks for the reviews,

  2. Hi James,

    I appreciate your take on this tier. It can be tricky it can be to categorize baby teas. Have you tried the 2016 YS Han Gu Di? I think the Bawai has enough going for it to be moved up a tier.

    I’ve had enough premium sheng to arrive at a similar conclusion in that there are many instances where the difference in price between tiers do not reflect the difference in leaf quality and one’s drinking experience.

    Anyway, I really liked this post!

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