King Tea Mall “Yi Wu Ma Hei” 2018 Spring Puerh Tea Review

5g of this tea was included as a sample in a teaware order from King Tea Mall (this is where I got those tiny glass cups I use for taste testing) and I must admit, I was quite intimidated by it.

If, like me, you’ve not tried puerh tea before, there are some things you should know. There’s a full puerh explanation article coming to Izzy’s Corner soon, but for now here are the basics. If you’re already a pro, just skip this bit and head down to the tasting notes.

  • Puerh is a post-fermented tea type.
  • It’s packed into tea ‘cakes’ which are just compacted tea leaves in a disc shape. As this was only a 5g sample, it came loose.
  • It can only come from specific areas in the Yunnan region of China. It’s the same with Champagne only coming from the Champagne region in France.
  • There are 2 types, sheng (raw) which ferments naturally over time and is green, and shou (ripe) which is fermented on purpose before it’s packaged, making it black, darker and richer.
  • You should gongfu this type of tea instead of brewing western-style (I have an article about that if you’re unsure).

This is a sheng puerh from 2018, making it young. After a little research, I found that sheng has typical green vegetable notes and a strong bitterness when young that disappears with age. Puerh from the Yiwu mountain range is typically peaceful with a high aroma – but as I’ve nothing to compare it to at this point, I can’t comment on whether it’s a typical Yiwu sheng or not!

Yi Wu Ma Hei Puerh at a Glance

Izzy's Rating
3.5/5
  • Tea: Yi Wu Ma Hei Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Flavour: Various steamed green vegetables with a smooth, bitter-free flavour

Although I’m inexperienced with Puerh (at the time of writing) I still managed to detect a variety of flavours that transformed through 15 steeps. It’s very smooth and not bitter in the slightest.

king tea mall puerh tea

Full Review - Yi Wu Raw Puerh

Izzy's Rating
3.5/5
  • Type: Loose leaf
  • Tea: Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Origin: Ma Hei village, Yiwu Mountains, Yunnan Province, China
  • Flavour Notes: Steamed cruciferous vegetables, medicinal, pak choi, camphor, vegetable sweetness, grassy, unripe melon, steamed green beans
  • Aroma: Leafy green tea, plums, malt and vegetables
  • Milk or Lemon: Don’t add anything but water
  • Where to Buy: King Tea Mall Official Website

The first thing you do when you get this tea is… leave it alone. Some of the best advice I received for this puerh was from the Steepster thread Sheng brewing advice which gives you tips on how much and how long to brew it. Opening the packet and letting it awaken for a week will help it develop flavour wise.

The dry leaf was dark and had this rich malty and plum aroma with a hint of camphor. As for flavour, it went a little something like this.

Flavour

  • Steep 1, 10 seconds, medicinal pak choi flavour and steamed veg aroma.
  • Steep 2, 15 seconds, complex cruciferous veg flavour with a hint of sweetness and strong camphor aroma.
  • Steep 3, 15 seconds, the same as #2 but with a gentler flavour and saltier aroma.
  • Steep 4, 20 seconds, no change.
  • Steep 5, 20 seconds, weaker but still that distinct, leafy green cruciferous vegetable flavour.
  • Steep 6, 50 seconds, less vegetable-like, more green tea-like and more mellow in flavour with a hint of bitterness.
  • Steep 7, 2 minutes 30 seconds, the vegetable flavour has turned almost grassy and astringent with an unusual sweetness that reminds me of unripe melon. It’s the flavour of the thin slither of green right at the edge of a slice of honeydew melon.
  • Steep 8, 6 minutes, mellower vegetable notes – predominantly green beans – with the unripe melon notes and a sweeter aroma. The texture has become quite drying.
  • Steep 9, 10 minutes, the same as above.
  • Steeps 10 through to 15 gradually weakened out and didn’t reveal anything new.

I enjoyed the experience of drinking this tea over an afternoon, but I can’t say I enjoyed the tea itself. From my research, I’d say it’s a typical sheng that’s unusually bitter-free. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the cruciferous vegetable family and the flavour didn’t do anything for me.

One experience with a tea isn’t the same as another. Read this tea review for the exact same tea on Steepster to see what I mean. I couldn’t detect any stone fruits, powdered sugar or buttery notes!

How to Brew This Puerh Tea

I had exactly 5g to work with and used my 110ml gaiwan, hence the slightly longer steep times. I debated this for quite a while. 5g of sheng would be a bit light for 110ml so I considered using less water, but in the end went with the full 110ml and started with 10 second steeps instead of 5 or 7 seconds.

Use boiling water fresh from the kettle each time and do a flash rinse to shake off any tea dust.

I drank this over an afternoon, without food, and had no trouble sleeping at the end of the day. I don’t think it is very caffeine heavy.

As for texture and colour, it was very soft smooth throughout. The colour was a honey amber colour that didn’t change much from the first to last steep. The texture started thick but thinned out a little to the end. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it syrupy, but it wasn’t watery either. Bubbles held at the edge of my cup.

sheng puerh wet leaf

Image credit: King Tea Mall. I completely forgot to take a picture of the wet leaf!

Why King Tea Mall?

I can vouch for King Tea Mall. I had a good experience buying from them, obviously as I received a free tea sample! The teaware was also perfect, in case you consider buying that from this brand too.

A quick scroll down the About page makes the company seem more personal. It’s run by John, a family man and tea fanatic.

I’d definitely consider purchasing tea from King Tea Mall in the future once I have more experience with puerh. The website isn’t overly helpful or explanatory for beginners.

If you’re all about tea sourced directly from China, this is great. If you want organic certifications and well-written English descriptions that clearly outline what to expect… look somewhere else.

Summary

Although not my cup of tea, this was a nice sample from King Tea Mall. I’d recommend the Yi Wu Ma Hei puerh to those that usually stay away from young sheng because of the bitterness. This was lovely and smooth!

About Me

I’m just your average tea lover looking to explore the varied and mystical world of tea. Whether you like puerh, white, black, green or even herbal teas, you can find something to whet your appetite at Izzy’s Corner. Check out my Tea Review Index to browse all teas or use the tags below to navigate.

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