Hello friends! Today I'm reviewing something very special. I had the opportunity to try a huangpian sheng from 2012 made by Xizhihao Daughter Teas (XZH for short). XZH is a boutique puerh producer in Taiwan, founded by Tony Chen in 2005. Mr. Chen is quite passionate about puerh and selects top-quality material to provide such amazing experiences with his tea cakes. I've long heard of XZH and their wonderful teas and was extremely excited to try this sample of a 2012 huangpian that I received from a friend.
Without further ado, let's get into this review:
Quick rinse of 30s (huangpian needs longer brews and higher leaf quantity to really have a quality brewing)
Dry leaf: medicinal aroma, sweet cherries, slightly cough-syrup like (in a good way- it's more like the strong smell plus the hint of medicinal notes)
Warmed gaiwan: Chinese dates, menthol, slightly sweet and sour, very medicinal aroma
Rinse: cookie dough (floury, sugary, slightly savory aroma to be precise), reminiscent of a Xiaguan 8633 I had; taste: lightly smokey flavor, hints of wood and vanilla are present;
1st steep 30s: The leaves in the gaiwan smell amazing, very medicinal aroma. I love the smell coming from the warmed leaves. The tea is noticeably darker in color; this brew is extremely sweet. I'm getting high notes of vanilla and wood, almost like an oaky flavor. It's very drinkable and goes down smooth- there's only a slight astringency on the roof of my mouth.
2nd steep 45s: This steep is noticeably orange. There's a slight bitterness (common to shengs) but it's really not noticeable and quite muted because of the delicious and sweet TCM flavor. There's a hint of vanilla and dates present here. It reminds me of those yogurt covered raisins, with a vanilla note combined with the nice sweet and fruity flavor of a raisin. Very calming qi- it's potent and I feel it in my stomach.
3rd steep 60s: Very oily, slick broth, yet it goes down so easily and smoothe. Notes of cherries and date with a (very noticeable) hint of vanilla. It's very, very sweet and relaxing.
4th steep 1m30s: Very woody and grainy. It's still insanely sweet and relaxing. It's more vanilla bean forward, reminding me of a Crème brûlée.
5th steep 2min: More of that cookie dough-like flavor. It's very creamy, vanilla forward, and I'm getting more of those woody dates. The energy is more warming and heady now, I feel it in my head. Very nice.
6th steep 3min: Very heady energy. I'm getting the tea-drunken puerh burps now. There's now notes of raspberries and cream? This is a complex and fascinating tea, especially for a huangpian.
7th steep 4min: Lighter color, more woody and grainy now. Still insanely sweet.
8th steep 6min: It's got a slightly minty cooling effect now; there are notes of clover (floral and sweet but also green).
9th steep 10min: More of that clover florality (yes that's my signature word now okay) and a honeyed sweetness. It's still kicking strong. It's drying on the roof of mouth and the tip of the tongue. There's a nice huigan.
10th steep 12min: This might be my last steep. It's more astringent and woody, having more grainy notes as well. There's still a nice, floral huigan.
11th steep 12min: It's definitely dying and more drying, but the energy is still slightly there. I'm going to push it one more steep and call it good.
12th steep 15min: It's mostly dead now. There's still a sweetness and thickness, but it's lost flavor other than that. Overall verdict: I am amazed by this tea. I rarely find shengs that affect me or where I can legitimately feel their energy. This was a surprise and hit strong but with a delicious and complex flavor profile. I don't know the price for it, but I'd say it's likely in the $0.70-$1.50 per gram range (I think in 2017 it was about $0.70/g, and XZH has annual price increases to account for age). It's most definitely a special tea and I really enjoyed this experience. This is one of the most qi heavy, mind-melting teas I've had. I've never been so relaxed before and I got tea drunk quite early on. If this is any indication on how amazing XZH's teas are, I fully understand why they are so highly sought after and recommended in the top-tier puerh world. If you get the chance, order some of their samples, it'll be worth it. You can order them from @sanhetang_xzh on Instagram by sending a DM, or by email. You can also reach out to Shinzo Shiratori at @teawithanattitude on Instagram, as he's a distributor for XZH. They also have a Facebook group, XZH Daughter Tea Catalogue and Info Page, where you can request to join and order directly off of there.