This afternoon-early evening, it was only me, a ladybird and a sample of Shi Kun Mu Yi Bang.
The cake is available at Chawangshop at a rather substantial cost of $85. I learned not to put too much faith in expensive cakes as I was often unnecessarily disappointed.
This morning, I was rather succesful at improving out two-photon microscope signal processing software, therefore I felt like rewarding myself with tasting this lovely looking cake. Listening to nice chinese music, looking at the ladybird on the bonsai and my clay dragon friend, it was a really rewarding and relaxing experience. One needs that in the middle of programming cockroach models, looking at neural reactions in mouse brain and usual studying for school. The darknes was falling slowly- when I started, the sun was shining; it is completely dark outside now. The tea changed along with the changing light. Speaking of light, it makes furry tea look stunning, which is the case of this piece. It's furry as a large spider:
It smells mellow and quiet, nutty, the liquor has a good, honest color. It is clear, but not sparkling.
The first two brews were, as with many Yi Wu/Yibang/Manzhuan teas, almost too much without taste - I have to learn how to prepare these first brews so that I enjoy them as much as the rest. Although the taste was still waiting to be released from the leaves, one could notice substantial thickness (even for the area) and good, cooling and mouth-watering mouthfeel.
When the taste comes, it is a good one, not unlike a typical of Yi Wu, above-average nuttiness, fruitiness becomes more pronounced with further brews. It also has a deep honey taste which I love. The taste lasts long and evolves nicely (enjoyable bitterness is present if one desires it). As with many Yi Wu teas, changes in taste caused by aging are not that obvious as with teas from other regions (i.e., 2004 and 2010 Yi Wu taste rather similarly, but 2004 and 2010 Bulang will be quite different). Although the tea feels strong and complex, it is quiet and calm at the same time (which is the case with many gushu teas), the taste not being its main virtue. Yes, the taste is pleasant and harmonic, but I would not pay $85 only for it, were it not backed up by the mouthfeel. Speaking of mouthfeel, this tea has a very pleasant mouth-numbing feeling, which you can find in another Yibang cake - the 2010 Scott's production from Yunnan Sourcing. The taste spectrum is also rather similar, though the difference in age is clearly noticeable.
It is a really subtle tea - if drank in a hurry, one could fail to notice its qualities and how it is different from another Yi Wu taes. Taste-wise, it is similar to, for example, 2010 YS Purple Yi Wu, but the overal feeling is different and where YS Purple Yi Wu captivates me with nuances and complexities of its taste, this Yi Bang gives me a broader feeling of well-being and inner calm.
It sort of reminds me of this photo: http://www.michaelfreemanphoto.com/media/bc4f2c76-0911-11e0-9d45-d748771bcb7c-yibang - at first, one sees a greyish photo, but when looking closer, many hidden motives appear. The site is a good source of tea-related photos, worth looking if you don't know it already.
This is a good, pleasant tea, although I think that those not too well versed in puerh would get similar enjoyment from much cheaper and ordinary cakes. However, if one has several hours to spend with a tea and concentrate on it, this one may give a lovely tasting event.