I had a sample of the autumn 2014 Da Qing and loved it. I decided to opt for an entire cake, but went with the spring version.
I have to say that the autumn version was more approachable as a “drink now” sort of tea – a bit sweeter, etc. This one definitely slaps you around a bit. All of the flavors (floral and vegetal) are pretty big, but nothing off-putting. The bitterness never surpasses what you would find in a fairly tame IPA. At the same time, I see a lot of potential with aging.
It’s a bit unfair reviewing this tea so young. It is still developing and settling down. But, man, there are some great flavors and lot of power. Excited to see what the next ten years will bring…
All-in-all, the experience is very balanced, and very dynamic. There are nuances in the flavor if you seek them out. Everything you would expect when paying a premium for gu shu.
Speaking of price, I paid $80 for this cake, and it was worth it. It is now up to $100. So, regardless of your tea budget, just be aware that this tea appreciates in price fairly significantly. You will pay a premium to get this tea with even just a couple of years age on it.
Dry leaf – apricot, bitter green leaf, sweet floral. In preheated vessel – more intense fruit notes – apricot, prune.
Smell – grilled zucchini (some smokiness, some sweetness, some vegetal notes), sweet floral, hints of orange and apricot.
Taste – combination of floral and vegetal: again, sweet floral and grilled zucchini. Some chocolate notes in development. Savoriness fades during development, floral ramps up, and then bitterness arrives in finish. Bitterness fades to citrus and apricot fruity sweetness aftertaste.