Six Famous Tea MountainsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a factory production which I have had carefully stored for over two years and now it has had 10+ years to develop into something worthwhile. I quite enjoyed my time with it yesterday! The material is comprised of mostly “chop” – very few, if any, whole leaves. Pleasant enough scent though – sweet and pure. The liquor is dark gold in color albeit a bit on the cloudy side. The sip is quite mellow and smooth – looks like ten years of age really has helped this mid-level quality material develop into something interesting. A bit fruity and a low sweetness; no real bitterness and a cooling and decent sensation throughout. Mouth action adds a little tingle to the tip of the tongue. This cake is part of the Six Famous Tea Mountain Tea Factory (Liu Da Chashan) series of six cakes composed of old tree material from well-known tea mountains in southern Yunnan (Jinggu, Youle, Mengsong, Bangwei, Bulang, Nannuo). Each cake is 100% material from that particular mountain.
The Bangwei Mountain tea forest contains many old tea trees, some 1,700 years in age. It is part of the Lahu Mountain Range in the southwestern corner of Simao. This 2005 Bangwei is definitely not the 2012 Bangwei from Essence of Tea which I thoroughly enjoyed with its honey-sweetness. That said, it does have possibilities for an interesting tea session. Opening the wrapper, I am reminded of a Xiaguan cake for I was first struck with a light smoky scent. The cake has moderate compression so it was easy to pick off tea leaves. Characteristic of factory productions, there is a mixture of whole leaves with stems and pieces. Two quick 5 second rinses and I left the wet leaves to sit in the yixing for about an hour. With the first steep, the tea soup is a deep golden color (on the verge of turning orange) but there is a hint of cloudiness. I do not detect any smoke in the wet leaf and the first sips are thick in the mouth – not sweet but not too bitter either, more a bittersweet. It has a definite mouth-watering characteristic. As I move through multiple steepings, the taste becomes what I would describe as bitter-sour and then sweet. At the end of the tea session, I sense a relaxing effect and a cooling sensation in the mouth and throat. It took me awhile to “warm up” to this tea but I must report that I really enjoy it.
Pretty, long leaves form the cake which has an inviting fruity scent. Limited number of stems and pieces. Two 5 second rinses and left the wet leaves to rest before steeping the first cup. Orange color in the tea soup. The sip yields an appealing fruity sweet flavor and suggests a thick and substantial body. In later cups there is a tiny bit of bitterness and both tobacco and woody flavors hit to offer a little balance and complexity. Good throat-feel where the sweetness continues to build. This is a straightforward tea made from decent leaves from one clearly identified growing area and I must say that I quite enjoyed my sessions yesterday and today. When I last checked, you could still find it at Angelina’s Teas for $45.
I was feeling in need of a perk-up earlier, so I decided to pull out one of the many YS Sheng samples I haven’t tried yet. The dry leaf is predominantly in shades of gray (50? no not quite, heh), with strands of beige & olive, & an aged but sweet hay aroma.
Warming the leaf brings out a sweet creamy barley shroom soup essence…hmmm…!
I’ve been through several steepings, but I can tell there are still quite a few to go.
This starts out with a very appealing taste that I can’t quite pinpoint. It’s fruity & sweet. It kind of reminds me of fruit loops a little bit, ha! In fact, for a moment I was afarid that my cast iron kettle, which I had combined a few steeps in, was contaminate by somebody brewing some flavored blasphemy in it, so I poured a few steeps directly from my yixing into a cup, & the taste continued down the sweet & fruity path! Yay!
A little tart, definitely sweet, a little floral…I’m really enjoying it, & would sit here & continue to steep it out, but I’ve got somewhere to go.
I’ll take this back up tomorrow…
Known for its gentle and mild character, I am a fan of most teas from Yiwu (like so many people). This cake is rather dark and mysterious and it holds a special place in my collection. The raw material is from purely Yi Wu old-growth tea trees (reported to be over 1000 years old). The giant whole leaves are clearly hand arranged and wrapped to form the cake – unlike anything I have seen before and when I opened the cake wrapper I was reminded a little of the grapevine wreaths you buy from craft stores.
The cake has a lovely loose compression of large dark leaves and I found a rather pleasing damp yet light aroma of sweetness (perhaps a bit like fresh hay). The wet leaf produces the scent of sweetness mixed with roasted grains and a clear gold tea soup. This is certainly not the most flavorful YiWu tea I have but with a bit of age on them, the leaves produce extremely smooth, sweet and buttery sips with decent cha-qi. This is not a particularly thick tea soup and I have enjoyed eight quite pleasant cups today. There is definitely a dose of caffeine in each cup but the tea leaves me calmed and comforted. I like this one!
After a disappointing session earlier today I picked this one out of the sample tin. I bought it some time back and have been very remiss in sampling it. Fortunately my current sheng binge is really getting me through the samples.
The dry leaf on this is gorgeous. It smells of warm horse and hay. That’s a homely and comforting smell that suggests a great brew ahead. The wet leaf transitions to a smoke and hay aroma, and the soup is orange. The first few steeps were smoky and sweet with raw carrot notes and a citrus sharpness that became a lovely bitterness. There was some astringency and the tea sparkled on the tongue. As I continued to steep and drink, it became smoother with less smoke, no bitterness and more sweetness. The astringency remained with a change towards a grape note by the end of the session. I steeped this over a dozen times and will return to it tomorrow, so I guess you could say its endurance is pretty good. This is more like what I want from a sheng and I am glad I had this one after this morning’s disappointment. It’s a great note to end the day on.
Flavors: Astringent, Carrot, Smoke, Sweet
Ooh, I’m first to write a note, but it’s a bit of a Goldilocks tale: the first cup was too weak, the second cup was too strong, but the third cup was just right.
I like Yunnansourcing’s sample packs. They are large enough to give you a chance to experiment a little. There is enough in the sample pack for another two pots this time around. In this case, I have not really needed to experiment that much, because the tea endures enough for me to eventually get it right. The dry leaf smells of tobacco and hay. It seems quite tightly compressed with chopped leaf and the overall look of the chunks is a brownish green with lighter leaves interspersed between the darker ones.
So, on with the tale. I rinsed the tea once and then steeped the first cup for 15 seconds. It was ok but a bit too weak. The liquor was well pale, and the taste was lightly smoky with a hint of tobacco and something floral. The second cup was going to be steeped for 15 seconds but then I got distracted by the kittens, and now have no idea how long it was really steeped for. The liquor was dark amber and had a seriously heavy bite to it. The third cup was again 15 seconds and was the colour of champagne. The tobacco and smoke notes dominated with a pleasing kuwei and a slight mouth-puckering astringency that shaded into sweetness in the aftertaste. The floral notes were still there but muted. As I have gone on with the tea, the floral notes have moved more to the fore and the smokiness has receded. This tea has a lot of energy and has perked me up more than relaxed me. It is robust and lively with little subtlety to it (unless the subtlety is too subtle for my palate!) but there are days when that is what you want. It’s a shame I cannot find it in the Yunnansourcing store now, because I would happily have a beeng to keep and sample every so often. Right, better run now. There’s some bears at the door complaining that someone has drunk their tea …
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Smoke, Tobacco
This one is a keeper!!! A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this cake held by a trusted seller I’ve been dealing with lately. I have long been intrigued by this 2005 Six Famous Mountains series, so I did not hesitate to purchase it. The original rice paper wrapper was a little worn after years of storage and it had a few rips in it. It was too tempting – I usually put my puer cakes directly into a special cabinet for aging but in this case I dumped out the loose leaves and scraped more so that I could fill the gaiwan and enjoy a few cups.
That was three days ago and I am now on the tenth steep. This little gem has not yet lost steam. It was a bit smoky in the first three brews (this surprised me a bit). Once I got through to steep #4, it was delightfully smooth, bright and sweet. I have been beside myself looking forward each day to a session with this tea. The cake is now in the cabinet where I plan to let it age for another year before I pull it out to pick off several chunks. I can’t wait!