Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2005 Changtai "Yun Pu Zhi Dian / Top of the Clouds"

Pressed by: Yunnan Changtai Tea Industry group
Harvest: 2005 Spring

So I finally got my Crimson Lotus Tea package, it took an ungodly long time to arrive a whole two days. I decided to start off with one of the samples Glen included rather than one of the 2015 cakes I’ve been lusting after since this is one of CLT’s teas that I’ve been avoiding. I’ll admit I am slightly prejudiced against puerhs not pressed by vendors, while I have had a lot of good factory cakes at the same time I had quite a lot more bad factory cakes. At the same time I am rarely disappointed with cakes pressed by the vendors themselves, but then again CLT is a small curated store so they must really believe in this tea. Anyways Crimson Lotus Tea describes this as:

This tea was featured in the Serious Eats article Where to Buy Amazing Tea Online. Sample sizes are available.
This is a very special puerh prepared by the Yunnan Changtai Tea Industry Group. The blenders who work for Changtai are true masters of their craft. The leaves in this puerh are a blend of 15 mountains, Spring picked in 2005. The name for this cake “Yun Pu Zhi Dian” means “Top of the Clouds”. Since Yunnan means “Southern Clouds” this name has a double meaning. It refers to the heavenly experience and also that this puerh contains the best from Yunnan.
This is the one that I mentioned in our blog post from Lijiang. This is the first sheng puerh that really opened my eyes. That vendor was selling these cakes for $400USD/cake! We found a better deal with Changtai themselves. We bought as much as we could this Spring, but sold out of most of it quickly. We tried for a while to get more at a good price, but this tea has been going up in price every month since. We finally got our hands on some more to sell. 
This puerh was aged since 2005 in Guangzhou, China. This hot, humid city was perfect for aging this puerh. This tea will brew smooth and mellow with intoxicating aromas and flavors. Apricot notes are often present.

Dry Leaves: I got a nice big rectangular 7g sample, it is very tightly compressed. There is an interesting smell, at first I was thinking it was meaty, but the more I let it sit I started to get a smoked salmon or salmon jerky smell. I want to be clear it did not smell fishy, but it does have a nice salmon-y smell and a slight woodsy smell.

First Steeping
Temperature: Boiling
Brewing Time: Six Seconds
Aroma: Smoky, Salmon and Fruit
Flavor: Mineral, Peach and Smoke
Tasting Notes: I decided not to be cautious with this tea, normally when I sample a Sheng for the first time I start brewing with water around 170oF, but there was something about this sample that made me throw caution to the wind. And I did three quick rinses with boiling water for five seconds each before drinking this. There is a nice pleasant bitterness (kuwei) to this tea, but there is some lingering sweetness to it. Instantly I was impressed with the slight sourness of this tea, I love sourness in teas! The liquor is very syrupy, not necessarily thick though.

As for the flavors and aromas this was quite an interesting tea. The brewed tea had a similar smell to the dry leaves, although the salmon smell was more cooked salmon than anything else, this is not a particularly fishy smell, but it is there and I would not describe it as unpleasant. I do not think I have ever had a Sheng with a good fishy smell so this was quite a new experience for me.

Second Steeping
Temperature: Boiling
Brewing Time: 10 Seconds
Aroma: Smoke, Salmon, Tobacco and Fruit  
Flavor: Wet Stone, Peach and Smoke
Tasting Notes: There still is a nice moderate bitterness, but at the same time there is that sweet lingering aftertaste which balances the bitterness out. It is very drinkable, not that the last infusion was lacking, but the new tobacco smell gave this a lot of depth. I am not normally one for teas with tobacco aroma, but this was pleasant since the tobacco was not overwhelming either the Salmon or the Smokiness.

As for the flavors the peach is starting to become stronger and in a couple infusions will become the dominant flavor. I had some trouble describing the dominant flavor, in the last steeping I described it as minerals while this time I settled on wet stone and in the subsequent steeping I’ll settle on iron, but none of these really fit the taste exactly although I do feel they are satisfactory descriptors since in the first infusion the taste lacked the slate taste of this steeping, but the following steeping tastes more like iron. I suppose my palate and ability to describe

Third Steeping
Temperature: Boiling
Brewing Time: 15 Seconds
Aroma: Smoky, Salmon, Tobacco and Fruit
Flavor: Iron, Peach and Smoke
Tasting Notes: This infusion is pretty similar to the previous although the Wet Stone is more Iron-y than the last which makes my mouth tingle a little bit like the moment when you try drinking an acidic citrus juice too soon after brushing your teeth. Nevertheless this is quite pleasant.

So yeah I may have to rethink my purchasing habits, while I do think I am going to continue primarily purchase vendor pressed cakes since I do not have to worry about them being faked and they generally are priced well. Crimson Lotus Tea is currently selling a 250g Top of the Clouds cake for $60 and a 25g sample for $12, definitely worth trying if you want a Sheng with a good decade under its belt. This was quite a good tea especially considering its age and price, as you may know most shengs I drink are quite young since I do not really have the patience or self-restraint to hideaway a cake for a couple years.


Just a guy who likes tea.