Although one may read it all over the internet (almost), it seems that this year's production of Essence of tea is not that good (I have not had most of their earlier cakes, but I've heard a lot of tell). Is the Baotang going to redeem the previous two cakes?
No, these two look different... The problems start when I rinse the leaves - when they open a bit, they are often too oxidized and burnt. More about that later.
The wet leaves give a peculiar aroma - smells to me like 60% flowers, 20% cattle urine, 20% manure/animality. The latter 40% actually makes the tea interesting, I think these aromas are features, not bugs. The smell better than it seems written. However, I'd vouch for 40% manure myself, the 20% urine-ish part distracted me.
The brew is a bit darker than it should I think. In the 2012 Bulang, I did not taste any redness - here, I can taste it quite distinctly at the start of the session; it does not give the floweriness much breathing space.
Further brews bring some smoke, but not really too much (it's better after the tea sat down for a while) and grassiness. And bitterness too. This tea is a very nice one when it comes to bitterness - one may brew it sweet (though boring, in my opinion), as well as more strikingly bitter (well... also not really fun to taste). The good thing is, that when I brew it more bitter, the redness is not nearly as noticeable. I wonder whether the strong bitterness of the 2012 EoT Bulang isn't what helped with the redness of the leaves not manifesting in taste.
All in all, the taste is quite unimpressive. The aftertaste is gentle and allright, coming mostly from the transformation of the aftertaste (as opposed to an aftertaste from the main body of the taste).
Feeling in mouth is not stunning either. After a while, however, some movement on the tongue appears, as the bitterness transforms into aftertaste. It is nice actually.
So far, it has not been too good. However, being as deaf to cha qi as I am, I can feel it strongly here! It feels really good, embalming and kind.
Before summing it all up, let us have a look at leaves:
This is some 6th or so brew - and little burnt pieces are still numerous. There is a lot of such burnt dust there.
The proportion of brown and burnt leaves is lower than in the Bulang (and definitely higher than in the Bangwei).
Nice, green leaves with low level of burning make some 50-70% I'd say.
When I finished the tea session, I felt grotesque - I have not had such a disharmonic, yet harmonizing tea for a long time. The disharmony is a result of not interesting (or maybe slightly unpleasant) taste and the redness, pitted against the very nice energy.
I think that the taste may sit down, calm down, and become an undisturbing part, serving as a small table where good energy may be displayed and appreciated.
Indeed, this tea is not a redeemer I am afraid. I don't think I'll get to any more of the 2012 EoT's teas, however, I'm looking forward to their 2013 edition. Even though the three teas I have tasted recently were not really that good (i.e., fitting my tastes/desires), they had something interesting, at least (which I can not say about the Xizihaos, for example).
Further reading: Vacuithé