Today I had some broken pieces of a Jiangcheng brick that is supposedly 10+ years old. This was purchased from one of those older Hong Kong shops. General consumers who are not tea fanatics like you or me generally don’t buy whole bricks or cakes. They buy broken pieces that were blended by the tea shops. Each shop will tend to have their own blends and different tastes, but generally speaking, they served their local neighbourhood. This is probably something in between — an unblended but nonetheless broken brick (actually, lots of bricks). The target audience is still the general drinking public. If you want to collect, you can probably ask them for the full brick, although I don’t remember them actually selling it.
The sample today is what’s left of what I bought (about 1 Chinese ounce… or almost 40g).
There’s about 10g left, not really enough for two satisfying servings, so I threw everything into the pot.
I remember last time trying this, basically when I first bought it, and thought it was a little too harsh — that’s strong words coming from me, I think. It was on the bitter side of things.
This time the tea is darker than I remembered
And the taste is similar — but somehow softer. I think brewing it in a pot (last time was gaiwan) helped. The tea is noticeably mellower. It’s sweet, but with an initial bitterness that is still there. It was entirely tolerable though, and not too nasty. In fact, the first two infusions made me think of dark chocolate — there are some aromas that smelled like chocolate, and combined with the bitter+sweet mix and the slight roughing of the tongue, it resembled a darker chocolate quite well, actually. Not the same, of course, but as far as teas go, this is pretty close.
A few infusions later the tea turned into something sweeter, with a “higher” fragrance. The chocolate notes were gone, giving way to something more perfumy. This is usually what I like best about drinking a raw puerh — even when aged some, the perfumy notes won’t go away. Cooked puerh don’t do this.
And finally, the tea turns into sweet water that is not too flavourful, but quite pleasant to drink nonetheless. At this point you’re drinking it partly just for the body and the feeling, and a little bit of that sweet perfumy notes remain. We’re talking 10+ infusions, of course.
The leaves still retain some vitality. They’re not at all dark or stiff. They are well compressed though.
A few individual leaves — the small one is a bud-sized leaf, while the bigger one is obviously more mature
Having tried drinking it this way… and perhaps with a few months of aging outside of the big canister that it came in, the tea seems quite drinkable and decent, especially when one factors in the relatively low cost. Something to keep in mind when I go back to Hong Kong again….