The package from thechineseteashop has arrived at last. First brief sniffing meeting with the teas suggests that the nice prices are not a scam - the teas seem to be genuine and nice.
Just a short note on the price of getting the teas to Prague (which seems to be an often debated issue). The shipping was some 9% of the price and VAT was 14% (shipping from YS is generally more or less similar, of course, it depends on what tea one buys). I thought I had to pay the customs fee (as the order was more expensive than 150 EUR), but there is the rule that if one would pay less than 250 CZK in customs fee, he does have to pay anything. So it was 23% more than the retail price of the eshop. So, dear readers, if your vendor cries on your shoulder, how he has to pay loads of money on VAT and shipping, gaining only enough money from his margin so that he can buy old bread and mineral water*, think of the wholesale discount they got (which is at least 25%, probably quite often more).
*) And to pay for EMS as a mean of getting the tea to them.
I have a rather good experience with Haiwan so far. Nothing really mind blowing, but no bad stuff either. A pity that they decided to go for lower quality since cca 2006-7. I think their production may be roughly described as:
Now a quiz - who are these two?
The babbling part has been longer than usual... To the tea itself:
The dry leaves are quite green, yet not so much to make me believe that this tea is fake. The aroma is gentle, nice, towards wheat and dry fruit.
The wet leaves smell similarly, maybe a bit more woody and nutty than the dry leaves.
The liquor is light, but I've seen much lighter teas of this age too... I'd say that this tea is a good representant of what I consider to be a nice dry stored tea.
The taste starts as quite simple, but pleasant and becames more and more pronounced in further brews. It basically reflects the aroma quite well, being "sweet granary", lightly earthy, already with tones of agedness. It is not complicated, nor too complex, but it is so pleasant and in harmony that I don't mind. The tea keeps some youthful bitterness - I'd prefer it going away, maybe storing the cake in a slightly wetter environment. The aftertaste consists of slightly astringent fruitiness and lasts long.
The tea changes pleasantly over brews, getting smoother and smoother (the bitterness is mostly gone around 6th brew). Camphor tones appear after a while.
Outside the taste, the tea is really sweet and thick. Late hui gan is obvious and pleasant. The activity of this tea in mouth is noticeably, but not that powerful.
I enjoyed drinking this tea a lot. It may not be as complex and intriguing as some other teas, but it fits my preferred tastes very well and I believe it goes in the right direction and is already quite pleasant to drink now, while the price is still all right. Being exhausted after a week at AAMAS, then flying home after midnight, then 6 hours of sleep and then 24 hours long studying marathon for an exam*, I really enjoyed the relative simplicity of this tea.
*) It was an exam from traditional AI. Keeping it stylish**, I went to a dentist right before the exam.
**) The resource book for the course is AI: a modern approach, by Russell and Norvig***.
***) I wonder how many people know what I mean by now...