Time to test out the Badass King! Similar to the YS Hekai, I used half of my sample in my 160ml Yixing zini teapot, which ended up being 13.1g. My teacup and cha hai were also the same, both made from Jianshui clay.
The scent of the wet leaves after the rinse is quite sweet and herbaceous. The taste mirrors this in the rinse and early steeps. The tea is cooling, herbaceous, high-noted and fragrant. Definitely complex and multifaceted. The initial qi is almost immediate and quite calming.
As the infusions progress, hints of bitterness start to emerge, along with an active, perhaps even somewhat titillating feeling at the back of the tongue. At this point the qi has switched gears and I’m starting to feel quite alert. The body is quite thick, especially once the tea cools a little. I’m now getting dark cherries in the aftertaste and this is reflected in the wet leaf aroma as well, which is quite rich at this stage.
As I entered the mid steeps, the tea suddenly got incredibly sweet all of a sudden. Actually a bit too sweet for my taste. I was now getting some hints of dark wood in the finish and gradually some touches of dark chocolate started to reveal themselves in the aftertaste. This was accompanied by an appropriate growing bitterness, which thankfully counterbalanced the sweetness by eventually overtaking it. Unfortunately the nature of the bitterness wasn’t enjoyable in the same way as say in the Hekai, it just kind of was, but it was still better than nothing.
Things continued to improve, with the chocolate gaining a nice acidic quality to it. This was also joined by touches of a winey, alcoholic character. There was some rounded, slightly peppery upfront bitterness, which was replaced by a subtle sweetness in the aftertaste alongside a pleasant lubricating feeling from increased saliva production.
The mouthfeel improved with the extended infusions toward the latter half of the mid steeps, inducing slight euphoria and becoming very oily in texture. The qi returned from energizing back to calming. The taste was full, yet subtle with incredible depth. At this stage it was no longer easy to pin down any individual flavors as they had all begun to blend together to form one whole.
Once we got to the late infusions, the taste obviously simplified a lot as expected, but still retained more depth to it than your average shu. There was also still plenty of body, even requiring some effort to swallow at times. The taste was fairly typical but difficult for me to classify. I’d likely say more earthy than woody, but probably a mix of a bit of both.
I had no expectations going in, but man was this a great session. While I liked the Hekai ripe a lot, I was even more impressed by the Ba Wang. At its most complex, this was honestly probably one of the most complex teas I’ve drunk, and I’m not talking just ripes. Then again it’s a blend which would help in that. Whereas the Hekai is an exemplary single origin tea, this one is a great showcase of what a skillful blend of premium ripes can bring to the table.
Whereas I’d quite possibly say that purely in terms of taste I actually preferred the Hekai to the Ba Wang, I noted in my review for that tea that for whatever reason it didn’t have that wow factor for me, whereas this one did, to a degree. That just goes to show that taste is but a single facet of a tea and not even number one priority for me personally. The Hekai is a great tea in its own right, but Ba Wang as a whole most certainly ranks higher in my book.
As such I was certain Ba Wang would be the more expensive of the two, but no, it is slightly cheaper. That makes it all the more easier to recommend. I think it’s in a great place already, but in the same breath I will note that this is definitely a tea that I would recommend storing for at least a minimum of five years to get the most out of it. I’ve noted great changes in much lesser teas than this and would expect a blend like this to hold great potential within it. Obviously ultimately it’s up to you.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Earth, Herbaceous, Pepper, Sweet, Tart