Honza of Chawangshop kindly gave me a sample of this tea, but I have been neglecting it for a long time, thinking that anything starting with "2007 CNNP" may not be of any good. Yesterday though, I felt like having a bit of something normal, I saw a sample of this tea and thought I would try it then. Upon opening the package...
It is not nanolemons on the tea, it is really moldy. What is it? A bug? A murderous attempt on my person? An experiment of mad scientist? I pondered these possibilities, but then I remembered reading that some heicha is produced with "golden flowers" fungus (Aspergillius Cristatus). Thinking this might be it, I looked it up on Chawangshop website - in the section of Hunan Heicha. Upon reading more about Hunan heicha, especially Fu bricks, I learned that the golden flowers are not only a feature, but a desirable one too. Some links to sources about Hunan heicha are at the bottom of this page.
Even though it is a "dark tea", I would discourage shu haters from stopping reading here - it is not like shu at all (and much more to my taste).
Reading that it is a dark tea, similar to dark puerh and seeing the mold, I expected that the tea would be seriously awful. All the more pleasant surprise was the aroma of wet leaves - not wet at all! It was like dried apricots with cinnamon.
Thinking I was hallucinating, I collected sufficient internal power and tasted the tea... and enjoyed it! The strong tones of dried apricots and cinnamon are still present, complemented by grain (barley), walnuts maybe a bit of dried apples. It is very good. Different from puerh , maybe a bit closer to wulongs in character, but not too close either - a new experience.
The liquor is rich, thick and feels surprisingly nice in the mouth, being vibrant - it is not as intense as in old tree puerh, on the other hand, it is notably more active than most wulongs. The aftertaste is pleasant. The tea is not as complicated as more complex puerh, but even if being on the simpler side of tea, it is full and good. Its stamina is also good.
I enjoyed the tea in yesterday warm weather, but I feel it would be truly a perfect tea for winter.
The wet leaves are large-ish and not too broken (especially given the low price), bits of fungi still present on them. They break when rubbed, as shu leaves or wet-stored sheng leaves. The price $6.90 per 100g is very low. It reminds us that even puerh used to be cheap, but then the big bubble came and puerh is not that cheap these days. I am afraid that as heicha is growing increasingly popular, it may suffer the same fate in the years to come.