The autumn is coming, which is nice. Another nice thing is that I got a big box full of tea :-)
This & three more upcoming posts will be about four recent Guan Zi Zai cakes: 2011 Jing Mai, 2010 Jing Mai, 2011 Pa Sha, 2011 You Le. I bought these for vertical tasting - I'm going to taste them (and other cakes too) now and retaste them every half year to watch their progression systematically. I did not expect them to be particularly great but a pleasant surprise is always a pleasant surprise. And I do like all four regions a lot.
To get started, this cake is not a pleasant surprise. It is not an unpleasant surprise either though.
The wrapper and the cake inside look nice (Guan Zi Zai wrappers are usually thought nice):
I realize that I am spoiled by nicely looking puerh - the former thought that it is an usual looking cake means it is a nice, shiny cake. Dry leaves are shiny and slightly furry.
The aroma of the cake is not particularly captivating. It is strong and pungent, but not too characteristic of Jing Mai I know.
The aroma of wet leaves is also powerful, but too pleasant. It is to be expected from so young spring tea I believe.
The tea liquor is surprisingly dark:
I am afraid that certain wet postprocessing may have been applied. I do believe I can feel it in the taste a bit. It is different from wet taste from Hong Kong or such areas. I managed to get this taste when, in an experiment, I kept a young sheng in 95% wetness and sprayed water on it for two weeks. The tea has became much darker, got more aged taste, but got that unpleasant and difficult-to-describe taste too. Luckily, the unpleasantness is difficult to notice here.
The taste, when we do not mind the slight weirdness, is very green. The tea is astringent, bitter (not overwhelmingly) and light I would say. But it is not bad, I would not say that. I think it is like a 16 years old boy trying to demonstrate his newly acquired strength to the world around - there are some promising features, but it does not work yet. The tea's power is its main good feature. According to my (limited) experience, the tea should not just turn to ordinary generic sheng.
The aftertaste is long and rather nice.
I'm not entirely sure whether this is pure Jingmai material or not... There is an element of Jingmai, definitely. But it is a bit like it was mixed with not-so-special leaves.
I did not particularly enjoy drinking it (but nothing wrong about that - when tasting wine en primeur, the taste is largely different from the resulting taste too). But at least I did not find it repulsive and I am generally intrigued to see where this tea will go.
And one photo from today's walk to the north of Prague which reminds me of this cake. The tea octopus.
Addendum, summer 2012 - the tea sat down nicely. Light red taste is still there, but the Jingmai component is more noticeable than it used to be - a rather ok tea actually!