Teaside cross-section tasting

// Published December 19, 2018 by mgualt


Thank you to Valeri for a nice cross-section sample of his offerings at tea-side.com.  Below I’ll review two 2006 Hongtaichang  teas, a 2004 Hongtaichang, a 1993 Thai loose, a 2017 teaside black tea production, and a tea-side 2016 tea. All of the teas are Thai, except the last one from Myanmar, and all are sheng, except the single black tea, which is made from puerh varietals.  

1. 2006 Hongtaichang

Two 2006 Hongtaichang raw puerh (Left:Ming Dee; Right: 0802)

The Ming Dee has a light brown dry leaf, in contrast to the blackish brown of the 0802. Both have a good dry aroma, slightly musty/dusty book but zero trace of mold or wet storage.  The wet leaf had a bit of funk on the Ming Dee; the 0802 had a deep shengy sweetness, immediately preferred the wet aroma far more on the 0802.

06 HTC Ming Dee

  1. Rose incense, grain, mild sweetness, similar to Xiaguan 2003. Factory style blend.
  2. Incense, tartness, more rose incense, slightly sweet-smoky
  3. Reminds me of Feitai Xiaguan productions from this era, and even more of certain Changtai cakes, especially the 2005 Red Chengtai. Strong incense now.
  4. More classic midaged factory blend, warmer, tastier

06 HTC 0802

  1. Spices, cumin, milky, active aftertaste.
  2. Striking sweetness. Thick, sharp sweetness/tartness and sweet aftertaste
  3. Grain, acidity, sweetness, very good empty cup aroma, resinous.
  4. Taste is not smoky. Very classic midaged sheng taste. Reminds me of brown Changtai, but more spices.  Spicy, roasty, more complex bitterness.

Both are very good, well enough aged to drink very pleasantly today. The storage and aging seems a bit faster than Taiwan, in that there was a lot more incense in the taste and less bitterness, and so it seems closest to some Singapore or Malaysia storage that I’ve tried recently.  In the mid steeps, I noticed a milky creaminess of the development texture and taste in both these teas, and it struck me as a storage note.  Very similar to Changtai blend style, and some Xiaguan Feitai.  I preferred the 0802 over the Ming Dee, it was more interesting and characterful.  Ming Dee 5.7, 0802 6.2.

2. 2004 Yuen Neun Hongtaichang

2004 Yuen Neun Hongtaichang

Sweet woody dry smell. Wet leaf is very organic, mushrooms, clean.  

  1. Clear orange liquor. Thick, dark orange. Very slight rose incense
  2. Slight resemblance to Biyun Hao older teas from 04-05. Thick. 
  3. Dark, twisted  hearty leathery leaves. 
  4. Reminds me of the 2001 green sun. Not smoky. Blank arrival, thick but not much oomph.
  5. Good taste and aroma. Reminds me of the 01 2nd batch One Leaf. 
  6. Thick. Gentle, aromatic and herbal. 
  7. Longer steeps give more oily texture, more active, very good. Deep heat in the bottom of the stomach.  

This is cleanly aged natural storage with old-fashioned good material and processing.  Hearty leaves, tight twisting of leaves.  Feeling of depth and warmth, not smoky, not spicy, but oily, thick, herbal.  7.0

3. 1993 Chiang Rai Sancha

Some slight geosmin on the dry leaf, minerals.  Looks kinda like Yancha in the sense of having large twisted crispy roasted appearance. Looks like loose sancha. The damp leaves are funky, mineral, pavement. The wash has the aspect of suburban flood water.  

  1. Strong mineral taste. Not a ripe style of taste. Not geosmin or funk. Some slight sweetness. Clean and clear
  2. Dark brown-rust colour. Mineral smoothness, thick texture. Soft, with an aftertaste like yancha, with a slight roasty aspect.
  3. Minerals, geosmin but not quite like beets, more wet gravel. Some warming in the face. Gentle.
  4. Milky, slightly drying. Eye heat.
  5. Very smooth, silky, aged tea, mineral. Potent for the digestion. Milky. 
  6. Longer steep gives some juiciness actually! Milky aftertaste. Slightly calming. Strong mineral notes.
  7. Very clear, dark brown-red. Oily. Some shou notes now. Storage is like the late steeps of a HK stored 1995 Jincha I have. Long steeper. Still active after several more steeps. Mineral. Some mild acidity. 

Tightly twisted huge leathery leaves. Thick stems. Very good material.  Many good late steeps. The tea is more akin to light traditional Hong Kong storage teas, very pleasant, very aged, strongly mineral, and strikes me as good to drink with a heavy meal.  Traditionally processed light wet stored tea with plenty of age. 6.6.

4. 2017 Teaside light ferment Black tea

5.5g/100 ml gaiwan. Black tea made from Puerh material, with light fermentation.  This definitely has more fermentation than a Darjeeling first flush; it starts off with a light, fruity-floral black tea like a Korean Hwangcha.  Perfumed, clean, thick, sweet aftertaste. Development is a bit darker and bitter.  There is a bitter dull aspect to this with more sweet surroundings. It reminds me of some Taiwan black teas I’ve tried, strong sweetness and fruitiness. It’s not as darkly sweet or cinammon/spicy as a Dianhong. In the mid steeps, it becomes more bitter, less like a red tea, but very interesting, and potent. After steep 5, milky, bitter with sweet highlights, very warming. Very potent.  5.8

5. 2016 Teaside Lord of the forest

Right from the dry leaf, this seems to be a blend between usual puerh and alternate varietals.  A small number of small, odd-coloured yellow and red leaves among unusually black leaves and some more normal large brown-gray coloured leaves.  The dry leaf has a smell of pungent vinegar, cider vinegar.  6.8g in a 120ml gaiwan.  The aroma of the wet leaves is not normal puerh. Lots of red and red-tinged green.

  1. Yellow-green colour. Has some young rose-incense notes, funnily! Wax, pungent powder, thick. quite good. May be a blend of material between normal and odd varietals.   It has the nice sweet aromatics but also the strange green herbals and thickness.
  2. Very bland arrival but striking sweet aftertaste and a strong herbal-vegetal component. Oily. Green. Not bitter. Sweet huigan. Quite warming, especially in the neck and chest.  Blasting heat. Really perfumed pungency, but the taste is not right, it’s more herbal floral in taste.  Nice twist rolled large leaves.  The empty cup aroma if you leave it for a while is extremely pungent vinegary resin, very reminiscent of cat piss. Left overnight, the cups are absolutely cemented to the saucer because of the stickiness of the resin. 
  3. White tea, cat piss, acidic, notoginseng. 
  4. Oily, briny, juicy, veetal, quite interesting.  Strong sweet aftertaste mixed with vegetal herbals. 

This is an interesting tea, in that it has a very strong and specific cat piss empty cup aroma, with a very high resin content and very noticeable huigan.  But it doesn’t strike me as a standard varietal sheng Puerh. It seems to me more like a blend of really excellent puerh material and alternate varietals.  I have not had a tea like this before, but it has some extremely good aspects as well as some less pleasant vegetal green aspects. 5.9.

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