Well… as promised, I have tried the cake.
I didn’t add a lot of leaves. Partly is in case it turns out to be terrible and I need to give it back to her, and also, because I didn’t know how it will turn out.
The tea…. tastes quite nice, I suppose.
It’s hard to describe a Yiwu. There is something plain about it, almost boring. There’s nothing going on, in a way… it’s very flat, not very alluring, not very fragrant. Yet, there’s that mouthfeel, especially, in this case, the feeling down the throat, that you don’t usually find. This is not perculiar to Yiwu, but IS perculiar to good tea. A properly made tea with good materials, usually of older trees, will have that throat feel that you otherwise cannot get. This is, for example, lacking in the Xizihao 97 Yiwu — the taste remained in the mouth, not down the throat.
The first infusion looks pretty normal, like a Yiwu
I brewed it longer… in fact, I almost consistently overbrewed the tea, in a way to compensate for the low amount of leaves I used, and also because I want to test it out and make sure I got everything.
My infusions after about 7 were something like 3-5 minutes each, with the last one about 10 minutes before I decided it was done. There’s more left in it, but I didn’t feel like brewing it anymore. There’s a bit of dryness that is associated with this tea, and which was not as obvious in the tea I tried when I decided to buy at all. That’s disappointing. Then again, this cake is quite freshly made. In fact, the first cake of the tong felt a little, just a little, damp in a way. The leaves felt like they haven’t been fully dried — there’s still a bit of moisture. This is, according to folks on Sanzui, quite normal, and that sometimes it’s advised that the first cake be taken out of the tong in order to make sure its quality doesn’t suffer. Otherwise, it can be a bit worse than the rest of the tong.
One thing that bothers me a little with this tea is the dryness, and also the somewhat reddish leaves in some cases. That’s an example of leaves that went through the kill-green process either a little late, or have been improperly handled somewhere along the way before the kill-green took place. That’s another issue with these teas — a lot of the tea farmers are quite relaxed about this sort of thing, and thus produce tea that are of varying quality. Some are better than others, and some batches are nicer than others. It just depends on what your luck is.
I think at the end of the day, this is quite a nice cake, and uses materials that are indisputably large tree, most likely Yiwu given the taste profile. I am still feeling coolness in my throat, an hour after I’ve finished drinking the tea.
I am hoping that I can score something even nicer if/when I do go to Yiwu next spring.