I took a break from my aged raw puerh marathon to give this tea a try. It sounded interesting when I read about it on Yunnan Sourcing, and I ordered three 100 gr cakes. One for testing and the other two for additional aging, though having now tasted the first cake, I’m not entirely sure additional aging will change or improve the tea. The “cake” is highly compressed. It’s in the shape of a cake, but it isn’t actually a cake. The compression is more like what we think of with tightly compressed bricks. The true shape is a puck. If you try the tea and don’t like it, you can always use it as a coaster under your sofa’s feet As you might expect, the first couple of rinses/infusions don’t yield much with this high of compression, but after it gets going, it brews up very dark even with fast infusions. Giving a rinse and letting it sit with the lid on after draining the pot helps immensely.
If I were blind tasting this, I would guess that it is a ripe. It has some of that flavor, but it also shares some similarities to a well-aged raw and it packs a punch in the caffeine department. Its lack of strong earthiness, barnyard, leaf pile taste make it taste different from many ripes. It’s very clean. There is some front of the mouth sweetness and it feels thick and viscous in the mouth. I don’t get any bitterness when drinking the tea, but the aftertaste has some bitterness. I tried pushing the tea early on to over a minute with boiling water, and it doesn’t change that much, so brewing parameters are not that much of a factor. There is a little back of throat feel for me after I have stopped drinking. There is very little fragrance to the tea soup or the wet leaves. I get a little dark chocolate scent from the wet leaves, but even that is light. The tea packs a punch like a can of Red Bull. Just a few 40 ml cups into the session, and I could feel the tea’s effect.
I’m on the fence on whether I would recommend it or not. It’s extremely clean, but it’s also (for me) one-dimensional. If one were wanting to try ripe puerh for the first time, it’s not a typical ripe, so I don’t think it would be the best introduction. If one had never had an aged raw, it could give a hint of that, but it’s not quite like the real thing, so is almost there good enough? If someone likes a smooth, thick, creamy, somewhat bland ripe, this might make a good daily for them. It could be that my aged raw marathon is influencing my review of this.
Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Sweet, Thick