It took me a couple of years to warm up to Bitterleaf’s original 2018 Naka and by the time I started liking it it had appreciated so much in value that buying a bing wasn’t even a consideration. Now we finally have a follow-up and after some deliberation I decided to grab a cake of it blind (along with a sample). My very positive session with OG Naka only heightened my expectations for this tea. Now, with a couple of months under its belt, I could wait no longer.
From the first sip, this is one of those teas you just know to be good. And it puts a smile on your face. Or makes you say out loud to your drinking partner, “This tea is pretty f***ing good,” in my case. And like in the case of other teas of this caliber, trying to pin down what it is that makes it so amazing is quite elusive, and frankly you find yourself beyond caring.
Instead of trying to describe what it is that makes Eminence great, I’ll simply describe what it is like instead. …But since I don’t want to repeat myself, if you haven’t read my OG Naka review yet, I ask you to go do that, because pretty much everything I said about OG Naka applies to Eminence.
Then what’s different? Well, my expectation of Eminence being a much more subtle tea was totally mistaken. It somehow manages to be even more flavor-packed than OG Naka, which is saying something. Whereas I don’t recall OG Naka being particularly bitter, Eminence again surprises by being quite bitter indeed. Not in a bad way, I’d say, but not in a good way either. It could be a deal-breaker for some, though.
Of course the star is the yan yun, and it is absolutely massive! I didn’t think OG Naka could be so utterly beaten, but Eminence does just that. This goes hand in hand with the texture, which is where I felt OG Naka fell somewhat short. While also possessing a huge body, it is the texture that grabs my attention here. It is crunchy! It honestly (almost) feels like there are small crystals, small grains of salt, in the tea soup. After each cup my jaw feels a bit tired, like I’d just finished chewing something. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a soup so… physical.
But in terms of differences, that’s about it. The longevity is about the same. OG Naka might even have a slight edge. But then again Eminence brews up stronger, so they are pretty much even. Both carry a fragrance in the mouth, but I think Eminence more so. Honestly most things the big E takes just a step further.
But is the gushu worth more than twice the price of OG Naka? For me the answer is a resounding yes. But for you it might be more of a maybe. Eminence honestly shot directly up to one of my favorite teas. Granted, the first session is essentially the honeymoon period and things can change. But I don’t see that happening.
My recommendation is to try OG Naka first and move up to Eminence if you like it. Naka truly has a unique terroir worth experiencing. When you drink your tea, please remember to give thanks in your thoughts to the trees it came from, the people who produced it and people like Bitterleaf who make these teas available to us.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Mineral, Sweet