Well, I didn’t buy the cakes last weekend for nothing. I bought them so I can better try them out at home, with a view of making a purchase decision should either one of them (or both) turn out to be good.
So, here’s the first up.
This is a 2005 cake made with leaves from “Zhangjiawan”, which is literally “Zhang family bay/harbour”. There are obviously no harbours or bays in Yunnan, so it was probably in reality just near a small lake or some such with a place for boats to park. Many, many Chinese place names are like that — so and so family’s something. The most famous is probably “Shijiazhuang”, a big city not too far from Beijing, which literally means “Shi family estate”. No, most people who live there aren’t surnamed Shi, although, once upon a time, they probably did.
Zhangjiawan, after doing a little research, seems to be in the Mengla area, which is south of Yiwu near the border with Burma. I’ve had a few Mengla teas before, ranging from good to merely ok. The leaves used in this cake, at least from the surface, look quite big. The surface of the cake is also surprisingly dark. I suppose the fact that it’s been sitting on a shelf has something to do with it. No matter.
The tea, as I expected, still tasted quite young, but perhaps lost a little of that initial harshness you get in a brand new tea.
The first two or three infusions were almost fruity. A nice sweet flavour, little bitterness, and quite pleasant. Qi is very obvious — it started running circles in my body. After only a few sips I could feel the heat, which is not usually the case with most teas. This is definitely a big plus.
The tea is medium bodied, with a good depth and nice throatiness. The coolness you get from drinking a good young puerh lingers around the back half of the mouth, well after the tea itself is swallowed. Under the lid there wasn’t much aroma, although there was a faint hint of some floral notes in the middle infusions. Mostly, it was neutral or has a bit of that “green” smell. There was some roughness on the tongue, and some bitterness shown through in the middle infusions, but nothing too bothersome or out of line. In fact, if it didn’t have either of those, I’d be more worried.
The leaves look well processed
And there’s something from all sizes….
I must say I am rather impressed by the tea. The qi alone makes it interesting, because I rarely start sweating all over when I drink a tea. I can’t really find any fault with this cake. I remember when I tried it at the store, I thought it lacked something, but perhaps brewing conditions were not optimal so it was rather hard to say with any sort of certainty how it was like. Making it at home, under my own controlled conditions and using my own hands…. I have to say this is a very good tea.
Looks like I’ll be picking some of this up, unless, of course, the Youle proves to be far better. Even then, I will probably still pick a few of this up anyway, because it’s always good to have variety.