Another pleasant surprise from Chawangshop. Now, I wouldn't like to give the impression that everything I've had from Chawang is great - some older teas were a bit too wet to my taste. Some were not that interesting. Nevertheless, many of them are very good. This one is available at: http://www.chawangshop.com/index.php/pu-erh-tea/puerh-cake/2005-menghai-gu-cha-bing-raw-400g.html
This cake is interesting in three ways:
a) It is a blend. A very well harmonized blend. It seems to me that a lot of fancy new production is single-mountain. Although I enjoy drinking these single-area cakes to find out about tastes of various regions, they mostly have weaknesses - and good blends are able to fix these.
b) It is Kunming-stored, yet nicely aging. Certain Kunming stored teas were too dry. This one is very nice.
c) It is very cheap ($14 per 400g cake).
Let's start with dry leaves and liquor:
It was rather a dark day. The liquor is very pleasant, honey-like colored, has a good spark.
Dry leaves smell grassy. When I first tried the tea, I though "Ok, $14, will be an universal Menghai thing, booooring, Sidney". Leaves after rinsing were entirely different. A bit of grass is still present, but the aroma is very sweet, complex, like fine at-least-a-bit-aged Bu Lang. Not at all universal Menghai.
The taste is lovely and you can still more or less tell which part is Bu Lang (dark, sweet, woody) and which is Jingmai (flowery, nutty). I dare say that in this case, the tea is more than just sum of its parts.
In general, it is pleasantly dark-ish, sort of sweet, woody/flowery, darker honey, with slightly bitter, long enough aftertaste (Jingmai is more present there). The cooling feeling which I enjoy is present. Later infusions are becoming lighter, more nutty and honey-like. Definitely enjoyable.
After the powerful sweetness of aroma, I'd prefer more sweetness in taste actually, but a) this may (I think it will) come with age, b) this cake is cheap, I can't expect it to match $200 cakes. At the current time, after the smelling the aroma (which is awesome), the taste could feel a little underwhelming.If I did not smell the wet leaves though, it would have felt overwhelming.
The slight bitterness, while perfectly acceptable in such a young tea also prevents this tea from being truly great.
Anyway, these two minor flaws did not convince me out of buying more and two tongs will be departing to daddy soon... I'm looking forward to drinking this in 5 years.