Much like the 2016 Wu Liang, I’ve had a cake of this for close to a year, but this was my first time trying it out. The leaves are large and the cake loosely pressed so I was able to pry off nine grams’ worth of leaves simply by inserting my pick just below the top layer and giving it the slightest of nudges. This was enough to cause the large intertwined leaves to start unraveling and thus I was essentially able to brew this session with the equivalent of mao cha. I did my customary 5s rinse followed by a 5 min. rest before proceeding with the actual brews. The rinse itself had a luxurious mouthfeel and taste, in the same way one might describe silver needle as luxurious.
I did eleven steeps total, the timing for these being 6s, 6s, 8s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 75s, 2 min. and 3 min. I was impressed by how effortlessly the first infusion flowed. It had one of the archetypal young raw flavor profiles I’ve seen before, but I’m not sure how to describe it in terms of actual taste. The second steep was darker in flavor and maybe a bit grainy both in terms of texture and taste.
The third steep had a very clean taste. There wasn’t anything that’s easily described in terms of concrete flavor notes. There was however a sweetness that emerged after you’d drunk the tea. Steep four was very reminiscent of a dan cong in terms of mouthfeel and taste. There was even some mild astringency that was very similar to what you’d find in a dan cong. The flavors were accompanied by a nice, very unique sweetness. The unique sweetness continued in the fifth infusion, this time being present immediately. The sweetness only got more potent as the tea cooled down. There were also hints of perhaps a vegetal character somewhere in the background.
Over the steeps the mouthfeel had gotten thinner at each step and the sixth steep was the first time I also saw a drop in flavor. The taste was predominantly mineral, nothing particularly interesting. The next steep was harsher, possibly due to the larger increase in steeping time. What was noteworthy about it was the qi. First my tongue started to swell and rise toward the roof of my mouth. Eventually my entire mouth and jaw felt numb like after being administered a local anesthetic at the dentist.
Steep eight presented even more harshness, but also more sweetness in the finish. The lasting aftertaste that was present in practically every steep in this session was particularly prominent here. Thankfully the harshness decreased in the ninth steep, although there was still some. The taste was mineral and sweet with a quite nice mouthfeel.
The second-to-last infusion wasn’t thick, but just for this one steep the mouthfeel returned back to being really luxurious and lubricating. The harshness was gone and the tea had become gentler and decently sweet. The mouthfeel was oh so nice. At this point I found myself starting to feel a bit silly and slightly tea drunk. Unfortunately the session was cut short quite abruptly as the eleventh steep produced hardly any taste while having a very nasty character to it. There was color, but to me the tea came across as dead.
Overall this is definitely a quality tea. It’s a shame I reviewed it right after the 2017 He Tao Di as that tea was so spectacular it would’ve been hard to get excited about anything short of awe-inspiring. The attribute that stood out most about this tea was the long-lasting aftertaste which you could expect consistently from each steep. Although the qi was ultimately nothing massive, its presence really helped lift this tea above some of the less noteworthy competition. There’s quite a bit of cumulative sweetness already and I would expect this to only enhance as the years go by. Although not very consistent during this session, at its best the mouthfeel of this tea was very good and just like the sweetness I hope it will improve over time. During the middle steeps there were times when I wouldn’t have been able to tell this apart from a dan cong, which might make this an interesting one to try for fans of dan cong teas.