Shout out to Honza for including a sample of this in my last order. The other two Chawangpu cakes (Mengsong and Hekai) tasted a bit off due to shipping and the dry DC winter, but this sample doesn’t seem to be affected by its transcontinental trip or the environment.
The dry leaf came as one whole tightly compressed chunk and smelled like charred sandalwood with subtle hints of fruit. The wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of a smoky yesheng purple tea varietal without being overly so and with more sweet grass in the background. The leaves are mostly small and only somewhat broken due to my poor prying efforts.
Initial steeps are much brighter, lively, and savory than I expected. The smoke, though still there, moves to the background after the 3rd steep revealing classical pu’er flavors of camphor (some have interpreted as gasoline), dried fruit, sandalwood, sweet peas/grass, and other sharp savory/floral notes I associate with an unmanaged tea garden.
The tea soup is very pure, bright, nicely thick, and oily. Good Bulang energy that stays in my chest instead of my head which I like very much. Not much in the way of mouthfeel, but pleasant savory/borderline floral aftertaste.
It’s a comforting tea. Not impressive, yet it’s hard to explain why I this tea as much as I do. It’s certainly worthy of drinking now or aging. Here, the smoky hint is actually comforting and interesting. If the price stays this low, I may just add this to my next purchase from Chawangshop.
Addendum: 9 steeps later, the tea leaves are still flavorful with good strong energy. I’m only now noticing the mouthfeel and cooling/tingling sensation that accompanies the huigan. This is good base material.