240 Tasting Notes
Revisiting this tea this morning, after a long period of having a brutal head cold and having been on the road before that, it’s my first session back at the tea table in over a week. It’s also the first time I’ve had this tea since tasting the other three 2009 Yunnan Sourcing cake samples I have. This one is far and away the winner for me. I can’t get over how fragrantly and wonderfully the aroma and flavors come across. I still think the body is a little lacking in comparison to the Ban Zhang Chun Qing, but the fresh, fruity, floral characters of this tea are unparalleled in my experience. Grateful to have ordered a whole cake from JAS eTea.
Opening the pouch and selecting five grams, a gentle sandalwood and citrus stem aroma rise. The first scent off the rinsed leaf is briny, green, and pushes towards delicate paler fruits: plum, apricot, pear, and pineapple. The first two steeps are rather light, but by the third, the excellent quality of this tea has revealed itself, mouthfeel. A silky, glossy, smooth coating texture runs over the tongue, holds in the back of the mouth, and then swells and steams a while longer. A slight ethereal hint of spearmint or wintergreen alights on the roof of the mouth. Lacking that raucous, dry parching sensation that both the Bu Lang and the You Le had, I revel in the delightful heaviness of this tea.
The flavors are solid and delightful in fresh, ripe, light fruit, but for me, this tea takes it home with a thick, coating, almost syrupy rich soup. The texture shows itself as a warm pleasing, gentle, and calm grip of theanine settles over me. I could linger on this sensation, the delicate flavor and the rich texture of this tea until all time has been lost.
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Giving little dry leaf aroma, this tea unfurls slowly and begins in an incredibly mild manner. I stuck with a safe five grams, but again found myself wondering if I should crank up the leaf volume for what proved to be a very subtle tea. By the fifth or sixth steeps, when this tea finally began to push out its full essence, what came through was heavy on the bean-based oligosaccharides, fresh wood chips (think balsam, birch, and hemlock), and high floral herbs a la lavender-scented cotton, laundry detergent, and foxglove. All very enjoyable, but reserved and distant. An underlying strong wet moss and earthen floor pushed up from beneath.
Most notable for me in both this tea and the Bu Lang was the intense parching nature of the finish. That cottony, dry wood, sand, and hot moisture-less air experience has been a new kind of exit in puerh for me. It’s not the most pleasant, as it rasps at the throat and leaves me thirsty, not quenched. In a way, it also lets the classically enjoyable lingering and swelling finish evaporate more quickly.
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This tea is just downright perplexing to me. I’m having trouble gathering my thoughts about it. The dry leaf, rinse, and first steep aromas are all quiet, sullen, and distant, pushing through a hint of spice, mushroom, and moss. Flavor? Flavor? I’m looking for it. I’m searching.
In the next gaiwan over, I’ve got the session of Wu Liang from yesterday. I give it a brief reinvigorating rinse to bring it back up to temperature and then pull off a minute-long 12th steep. I felt embarrassed for the Bu Lang cake when I put my nose to the cup of Wu Liang and then loudly slurped a big sip; it was still loaded with flavor, texture, bitterness and aroma.
Moving back to the tea at hand, crickets are chirping. As it opens, it releases a distinct and surprising, wet, moldy basement on me. Aside from some slight date sugar and mulling spice character, I have little positive to say about this tea. It ends parching in an odd cottony sensation. This tea gave me a weird, bad headache.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=329
Easily the most outstanding character of this particular cake is the dry leaf and cupped aroma. It has a strong red currant and fresh cherry tomato scent. Incredibly “red” and vegetable-like. Not in a starchy way, but somewhere between green plant stems and fruit. Much as many garden-fresh tomatoes would smell like if heated just slightly. In the flavor, this translates to a lightly sweet herbal and delicate floral character, with marked pungency. Perhaps the Lan Xiang (orchid aroma) the producers are referring to?
From the forward flavor notes on, this tea is a little flatter. There is detectable astringency towards the finish, but it’s missing a certain bitterness balance and lingering swell. Longer steeps develop a curt, punchy upfront bitterness that’s somewhat unpleasant. Considering this sample employed fantastically large leaves, I may begin to sense that teas with mostly large leaves are able to put off fantastic aromas and front flavors, but lack a certain roundedness in the finish. This tea has endurance for its youth however, as it crosses the ten steep mark without much noticeable loss in depth.
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Have had a session of this going off and on as I work today, as it was one of my “spare sample” teas that was easy to get brewing, gave me a great life, and delivers long set of flavorful steeps. Wet cotton, fresh bread, green maple stems, and candied apricot. As one of the older samples in my stash, I also enjoy the time-softened edge this tea gives off.
Smeared all over the outside of this cake are long, graceful, slender, twisted curls of the tea tree, each anointed with a beautiful haze of fine white fuzz. The rinse breathes an intense, browned-caramel toffee sensation from the leaves; surprising, but enjoyable. The first steeps are nothing but pure butter, with all that delectable light, fruity Yiwu essence coming in a silky, smooth vehicle. The soup a bright, even yellow, the tea hardly oxidizes as it sits in the cup.
As amazing the leaves, the aroma, and the flavor, oh, to live for that finish, that aftertaste, that graceful departure from the tongue. Cooling and minty above, lingering, herbal and dry below. Rounded, complex, soft, elegant, tight and easily remembered. Using only a scant five grams of large unbroken leaves in a 120 mL gaiwan, the overall bitterness is much reduced, but still pleasingly balanced. This kind of bingcha is exactly why I drink puerh.
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A solid black tea, the dry leaves have a bit of musky Yunnan funk to them that doesn’t carry through to the flavor. First two steeps are brisk, floral, and light on the malt characters. A bit of biscuit and some conifer. I really like the nice small, even buds used in this tea, I think they lend it an extra sweetness. Enjoyable, but not dazzling.
Used 2.5 grams in my ~100mL gaiwan with boiling water at 2m,4m,6m,10m. This tea opens with awesome aroma, texture, and flavor complexity. Big malt and biscuit nose, nice tight pine and light smoke flavors, and a silky, tongue-coating texture. Refined, complex and enjoyable from front to back. Also, this tea is a real trooper, giving me four reasonable steeps!
Batch 903. This tea confounds me. It must be intended for aging, except that I know there are a few crazy folk who do enjoy it young and bristly. I’m not put off by the loud barking bitterness and intensity, but instead find the flavor of the tea less than desirable. It has a lightly rotten raisin kind of scent, a bit pungent and raw. I can see it being called straw and mushroom, but it doesn’t really carry the elegance or quality that those terms elicit for me. Will certainly be game for trying this tea in 10-20 years. Finally, the qi is a bit fast and unsettling, like an unstable vibration.
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