Bulang Elemental ball from Crimson Lotus Tea
Hello hello hello, friends! I recently ordered tea from Crimson Lotus Tea (who honestly sell some of the best tea available) and included with my order was this sample dragon ball. I'm a big fan of what Glen and Lamu do at CLT and their shou puerh is honestly the best, highest quality available (I miss dark depths!), and their shengs are amazing and ethereal. So, having a nice little bulang ball from them was a treat.
Bulang is one of my favorite regions for puerh- it can be burly, bitter and aggressive, but it can also be extremely sweet and spicey when grown, processed and brewed correctly. I also have been known to enjoy getting punched in the mouth by my tea- I sometimes want my tea to assault my tastebuds with a powerful left hook and leave me thanking them for the experience. Enough tea-masochism, though.
Here's what their website says about this ball: "This is a very approachable Bulang experience. It's not too aggressive but presents a clear energy with great aroma and body! Each dragonball is individually steamed and hand rolled. They weigh 8 grams and are perfect for a session in your gongfu2go portable tea brewer or gaiwan / teapot. This material is from Spring of 2019 and was picked from small arbor tree material growing in Bulang."
So, let's get into this tea.
8g dragon ball
Dry leaf: honey sweetness, nice florality
Warmed gaiwan: There's a nice, punchy, honey sweetness, combined with a greeny smell of a nice young sheng. Very typical aromas for a quality bulang.
Rinse 15s: The liquor is a very, very pale cream color; the fairness cup smells sweet and like fresh sagebrush. Taste: light, sweet and refreshing. Very little tea flavor but there is the classical bulang spicey honeyness/sweetness, with a nice honey aroma on the gaiwan lid.
After rinsing for 15s, I let the ball sit in the warm gaiwan for 10 minutes to open up. I also poured boiling water onto the gaiwan tray and placed the gaiwan onto it to facilitate heating.
1st steep 10s: straw yellow; still light and sweet but getting a hint of punchiness waiting
2nd steep 10s: Okay now the bulanginess is coming out to play. I'm getting that characteristic smokiness. There is a pleasant astringency present, but it's minimal. Nice vegetal flavors upfront with a sage-y huigan.
3rd steep 10s: wow. This is kicking now. Very relaxing warmth down the stomach. Bulang bitterness coming through but it's nicely balanced with the honey sweetness.
4th steep 15s: There is a blueberry huigan; I'm noting a vegetal bitterness classic of a robust bulang- this is a strong tea. It punches me in the face. I love it. This is what I enjoy with bulangs- they make you pay attention to them.
5th steep 30s: The energy in this is insane. My whole body feels warm. I really dig this qi, dog. Bitter as all frick but also balanced by this amazing and almost undescribable cooling sweetness in the throat when I breathe. So, so good.
6th steep 45s: The nose on this is literally desert sagebrush and I love it. Astringency is present and drying near the roof of mouth and front of tongue; maltiness/dry vegetals coming through too, almost like a hay? Very interesting
7th steep 60s: The bitterness is subsiding and giving way to maltiness. It's now wheaty and malty and good.
8th steep 90s: Maltiness is stronger, brew color is now lighter. I think this is dying so I'll start ramping up my steep times.
9th-12th steeps: The blueberry huigan is still there, nice and present in the back of the throat. The maltiness is subsiding with each steep and the tea is definitely getting weaker. It's still good, don't get me wrong, just dying. The bitterness has completely left, as has the sweetness. Now it's mainly just wheaty deliciousness. I managed to push this for 12 steeps.
Overall review: 5/5. This really is an approachable Bulang experience that has a nice balance of punch-you-in-the-mouth flavors and smokey, spicey honeyness. This was given to me in my order as a sample.However, it retails for $11.99 an order, with each order including 6 of the 8g dragon balls. That breaks down to $0.25 per gram (as I'm calculating a full order of 48g of tea). Overall, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. It's an approachable experience for a Bulang and won't break the bank, plus it's perfect to brew grandpa style or on the go in a thermos or at work. It's a nice size for convenience and is honestly great quality. Glen and Lamu have done it again with this one.