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Default An old vendor returns

On Feb 27, 6:38*pm, dogma_i > wrote:
> Does RFDT still have a following?
> This post may read like a promo or shill. That is not my intention;
> rather, I hope to make a good and non-self-promoting resource more
> rapidly available to fellow tea-drinkers - at the risk of driving up
> prices and depleting stocks of what I hope to acquire!
> Many of us rememberDavidLeeHoffmanfrom his days running Silk Road
> Teas, or have seen him in the Les Blank documentary film. SRT changed
> hands a few years back, withDavidexiting the business for a time. He
> is now back, d/b/a The Phoenix Collection. Product choices, currently
> available only by paper mailing or conversation, cover a manageable
> selection of "normal" teas and many Pu-erhs (some older than most of
> us), currently being inventoried for sale. He has a more businesslike
> management now than in SRT days.
> I just received a test order of 14 teas covering several of the usual
> styles. What follows are brief notes, just to give an initial sense of
> how the offerings shape up. Prices seem to be in line with quality, with
> several favorable exceptions. Minimum order seems to be 1/4 lb. for
> loose teas, and whole cakes or other natural units for others.
> David'sGreen Private Reserve
> "All In This Tea" focused mainly on greens, so I wanted to try whatever
> he currently picks as his signature offering. It is apparently made from
> a varietal called Mei Zan (or something like that). Leaves are about 1"
> long, very clean and uniform. They appear to this untrained eye to have
> been rolled and then flattened, perhaps by pan-firing. Color is a dull
> green-gray. Flavor is more vegetal than brothy; I usually prefer the
> latter, perhaps more Japanese style, but find this one quite appealing.
> Wondering if the dull color might indicate processing that would render
> the product more robust than senchas and the like, I have left a sample
> open to air. It seems to be holding up pretty well. I'm always looking
> for good greens that don't have to be rushed into the cup to avoid
> staling, and this may be one such.
> Lu An Guapian
> This all-leaf style is one of my favorite Chinese greens, for the
> buttery taste (like a malolactic chardonnay) and forgiving brewing
> requirements. This lot was a good example of the style, and a good value
> at $40/lb. I give away a lot of melon-seed to beginners as well as
> swapping with more experienced friends, and enjoyed this one.
> Golden Bi Luo
> Wanted some nice Yunnan Gold, since those I've tried in the past two
> years have been disappointing. (The hoarded remnant of a large lot of
> 2007 from Yunnan Sourcing is holding up OK; some of these seem to keep
> well.)David'srecommendation was this snail-rolled example, which is
> very pretty and would make a good gift. It is a brighter and cleaner
> taste than most tippy or all-bud dian hongs I've tried. For me, that's a
> plus: most of them are cloyingly sweet/musky for my taste even when made
> thin, suited only to the tiniest cups. This is more refreshing and
> invigorating, like fino vs. oloroso sherry. Bit pricey, but reasonable
> for the quality - and produced good liquor for many more steeps than I
> would expect from a dian hong. (Showing how tastes vary, one gold-loving
> friend strongly preferred the rather cheaper offering from
> Why it's good to try a lot of leaf...
> Phoenix Bird Oolong, High MountainDavidwas justifiably famous for these at SRT, and this example respects
> the tradition. Only made it twice so far, so can't say much, but it
> certainly ranks among the best of the 30-40 I've tried. It did well with
> three characteristics I look for in dan cong-type oolongs: strong flavor
> for at least 12-15 steeps, persistent taste in the mouth for hours
> afterward, and minimal astringency in later steeps. Latter is a real
> issue for me with most Phoenix oolongs; I wonder if this one might be
> slightly more oxidized/fermented than usual? (Leaf color post-brewing
> supports this hypothesis.) As is frequent but not universal with the
> type, the unbroken, twisted leaves are delicious chewed up right out of
> the bag.
> Fisted oolongs not reviewed he a very reasonable everyday Tieguanyin,
> and a competition grade of the same style. Somebody accidentally (?)
> took these away with a bunch of other outgoing bags, and I need to get
> some back for a careful tasting before commenting further.
> Pu-erh Cha Wang, 1995 King of Tea
> I never met one of these I didn't like, and rarely met one I could
> afford. This one runs to form: $320/lb and stunningly good. With intense
> flavor from a small pinch of tippy leaf, and no problem extracting 15 or
> more good steeps, it's actually a bargain per unit pleasure. -Just kind
> of a high ante. Of the dozen or so of this style that I've tried, the
> only comparable one I recall was from Roy Fong, some years ago, and (I
> think) about the same price.
> Bamboo Fragrance Pu-erh (green)
> I have yet to love a bamboo-roasted Pu-erh, and this is no exception. So
> I don't feel competent to comment on how good it is or is not for the
> genre. Perhaps there's a special trick to brewing these that someone
> could share.
> Tibetan Brick Pu-erh 2002
> About as ugly as they come: twiggy, loose, powdery, completely composted
> cake. I was not optimistic. Turned out to be delicious from the first
> steep. (I only do a "rinse" when tea is visibly dirty; don't want to
> miss anything, and early notes are sometimes best.) Pretty good but
> predictably pondy at the start; free, however, of mildew taste. Later
> steeps were wonderfully sweet and complex, and quite different from many
> "normal" pressed-cake ripe Pu-erhs. This one must have been carried on
> the back of an especially pleasant horse. Or perhaps whatever processing
> technique produced the friable structure did something especially good
> for the chemistry. Certainly not a shu Pu-erh of the sort that allegedly
> converges with old sheng; rather, excellent as a separate species.
> Liu An 1999 basket
> Melon seed that's been to hell and back? I don't usually like these
> cousins to sheng Pu-erh. This one is a rare exception. When made weak
> and oversteeped or at too low a temperature, it tasted to me like one of
> the smoky malts - say, Talisker or Laphroaig - with too much water:
> harsh, smoky, a huge hole in the middle where all the real flavor and
> fragrance belong. With plenty of leaf, boiling water and in-and-out
> infusions, it is rich, complex, sweet and a lovely color, and lasts for
> many infusions. (I've made it three times so far, and ran out of time at
> more than ten, with plenty of flavor left.) Possibly the best example
> I've tried yet - of only 6-8, to be sure.
> Nannuo Mountain Wild bingcha 2002
> Specially recommended by the vendor. Good, powerful, but by my standards
> still on the rough side for drinking. Tastes like it might age well.
> Nannuo Mountain "Camouflage" bingcha 2006
> Even rawer than above, with similar promise. Visually, a stunning cake -
> among the three or four prettiest I've seen. Big leaves, well assembled
> in a cake pressed lightly enough to remove single leaves w/o damage.
> Another great gift or presentation-serving tea, IMO.
> Yiwu bingcha 2004
> This small (250g) cake smelled mellow and sweet dry, and followed when
> wet. It's a sure winner, for those who prefer the sweet and fragrant
> Yiwu character. Though still young, it is quite ready to drink. I made
> it several ways; though abuse could make it a little astringent, it was
> good for many delicious steeps under all circumstances. I plan to get
> more of this to store, in hope that it will keep all the good aspects
> while losing the few asperities.
> Green Pu-erh large-leaf 1995
> Best, perhaps, for last. I've not yet had maocha I didn't like a lot;
> presumably, it's not worth the trouble of handling such a fragile and
> low-density product unless it's pretty good. (Or else most maocha is
> better than most pressed cake, which I rather doubt.) The one is just
> plain stunning. Don't know how else to put it, and I wouldn't mention it
> at all hadDavidnot affirmed that stocks are solid. It's a pretty leaf
> dry and drained, and infusions are good first to last. I've made it with
> water from about 150F to boiling; all did fine, though somewhere between
> those extremes worked much better. Though the infusion is still more
> green than red, I'd call this a ready-to-drink Pu-erh: further aging
> will no doubt change it, but could hardly make it much smoother. In my
> experience, this is flat-out the easiest sheng Pu-erh to brew well and
> possibly the easiest to brew to its best potential. And at $80/lb
> (equivalent to about $63 for a 357g bingcha, if bingcha were really 357g
> as promised), that's a very fair price for the age and quality. I'll be
> loading the shelves with this one.
> As a side-note, I've been experimenting a lot with adding divalent
> cations (calcium/magnesium) to the too-pure local tap water. Since these
> Pu-erhs are so good and yet (for the sheng) still unripe, they make
> interesting test subjects. I find dramatic differences, whether the
> salts are added in brewing or to the fair pot. (Still teasing these
> effects apart; might report later.) I recommend exploring at least this
> one variable in water when exploring interesting teas.
> Would welcome others' experiences with DLH offerings, since I can't
> quite afford to try all 300.
> -DM

David has begun selling wholesale - its true. If you don't want to buy
1/4 lb of tea from him -- I've been given access to his tea collection
to sell online -- I have only David Lee Hoffman Teas right now, 9 to
start, ramping up shortly -- they are at