Dry leaf: SMOKEY, SWEET, EARTHY (mesquite wood/smoke, wild honey, blackstrap molasses, baked pears, autumn leaves, green stem, light wood)
Smell: SMOKEY, EARTHY, some SWEET (bonfire, cured tobacco leaf, raw walnut, some wet rock minerality. In gaiwan – noticeable apple cider notes)
Taste: EARTH, SMOKE, OIL, PEPPER, FRUIT (autumn leaves, hay, leather, wood smoke, ash, resin, camphor, cooked walnut, nutty oily sweetness, bittersweet, peppery spiciness. In gaiwan, several fruit notes are present – plum, date, fig, pear, apple cider, stewed fruit)
SO… Cruising through Yunnan Sourcing’s page, I stumble upon Hai Lang Hao, whose cakes are well out of my price range – the first one I see is over $300. I chuckle to myself, but continue down the page. Lo and behold! I see a cake for $25 amongst its more costly brethren. I had to get it, just out of sheer curiosity.
The dry leaves themselves are a little disappointing – tons of spindly stems, some even with no leaves at all on them. So, basically I’m thinking this is the cake made with all of the reject material from his actual cakes.
That said, it actually is pretty awesome (and it’s not all stems – don’t get me wrong!) Assuming it is some of the reject pickings – I imagine they are still coming from the bushes that provide the material for his more expensive offerings. What does that mean? It means we can get some pretty awesome flavors for a bargain price.
Really enjoyable – brewed several times in “young” yixing pot and several times in gaiwan. Gaiwan brought out all of the fruit notes above. Yixing “stole” these flavors and provided an oily, nutty, smooth experience.