Four boxes of tea are on their way as I am running out of samples. Recent excavations of my tea drawers (no snakes in there) have yielded a small bag with a sample of Scott's Bang Ma.
Spring brings us fresh leaves and this tea feels fresh too:
The dry leaves smell like usual light-fruity Mengku (this sort of tea often reminds me me of Burgundy wine, often with the same unpleasant stomach-feel). Not expecting much, I rinsed the leaves.
The liquor smells only very faintly, after mushrooms. Not that pleasant.
Contrary to other bloggers, I found the taste to be actually rather bitter (maybe i used more leaves), not as harmonic and rich as the aroma. The fruitiness starts a bit thin, but from the 3rd brew, it gets more and more like blackberries - I enjoy these brews very much! A bit of grain complements the fruit nicely. I enjoyed that this tea was, unlike some fruity Mengku, rather full (not as much as Yi Wu, but still good). The aftertaste is quite rough, heavy on tannins (I like Matt's "chalky"). I found occasional rare hints of tobacco. Hints of honey appear in later brews. However, the peak of this tea is not that long, it gave me two or three wonderful brews, five or so nice brews and the rest was only "allright".
The mouthfeel after swallowing the tea is reasonable, pleasantly cooling. Marketa who is probably learning to become a grandmaster of empty cup aroma appreciation notes (and she is right) that the aroma of empty cup is quite intense and good. It is. I like these high bone porcelain cups as they are sort of hybrid between a cup and a wengxiangbei.
The leaves are large and muscular*, largely intact:
* "The british leaf is on the march" jumps to my mind, in a Spode-ish voice.
This tea is not really heavy on noblesse and smoothness, but it at least it is interesting. If the darker tastes stay there and get even deeper and more pronounced, this may be a real treat in future. I am actually tempted to buy more of this tea. Scott asks the paltry sum of $27 for a bing - a very nice price in my opinion.
There is one thing about Scott's cakes. At least in the short term (we have to wait for the long term), they get better. There are several of his pieces which I found not that lovely when too fresh - this tea felt distinctly hollower, for example; more stomach upsetting. Now, after a year, most of these problems are gone and Scott's teas have brought me many pleasant tea sessions.