After hearing so many good things about EoT teas and after having a good experience with their mid aged and aged section, I decided to try their young production too. I often do not enjoy Bulang tea, but the teas I enjoy from there are among the teas which bring me the most enjoyment (along with Yibang I guess, possibly Jingmai). The thing is - all the great Bulangs I've had were pre-2005 - and I have never tasted these when they were young, therefore I do not know the features I should look after in young Bulang.
The dry leaves smell like a rather ordinary dry woody Bulang (which I do not enjoy too much). And they are surprisingly orange:
The wet leaves are way more interesting and characteristic - given the genre, there is a lot of sweetness and a very nice leatheriness/animality. When I brewed the tea using less leaves, trying to make it drinkable, the animality was less obvious.
The liquor is, in my opinion, too orange for a 2012 tea... It smells like an ordinary dry-wood Bulang without smoke - sugary and leathery (some would call it mushroomy I think).
The good thing about the taste is, that the redness of leaves/liquor does not manifest itself too heavily in taste. The tea starts as sweet and generally pleasant, but with a really brutal Man'E style bitterness. I avoid teas having this kind of bitterness - I found the same bitterness in teas from 80s and 90s, with no signs of it getting transformed and flawing the overall experience. It is very different from, e.g., Jingmai or Banzhang bitterness which tends to transform very well.
The other brews are rather similar to each other - the base of the taste seems to be a very good dry-wood Bulang, but once the heavy bitterness strikes, it wreaks havoc and ruins any possibility of pleasantry.
I believe that the tea would have a reasonable mouthfeel if the bitterness was not so persistent. As it is, I do feel slight tingling on the tongue, but it is fought vigorously by the bitterness. And the bitterness wins.
There are hints of pleasant long-term aftertaste (when the bitterness, at last, vanishes), but nothing otherwordly enough to justify the previous experience.
I tried the tea brewed with my usual amount of leaves, using short steepings - strong, bitter, not that enjoyable; not too many leaves, longer steepings - strong, bitter, even less enjoyable; not too many leaves, shorter steepings - only the bitterness left really.
The tea has its brighter moments - it is occasionally nice. Once the bitter part of leaves gets weak, the mouthfeel is nice (and that is around the 8th brew - not too many teas can keep the cooling/tingling feeling up to there) and there are hints of good taste... but shortly afterwards, the tea loses its steam entirely and vanishes.
Looking at the wet leaves does not do too much justice to the tea - the amount of damaged red leaves is huge (much worse than in TU's Ding Jia Zhai) - and even the green leaves (as the one to the left - that one is the best leaf I could find) have burnt serrations (thanks Hobbes!). One does not expect this in a $110 cake.
I fought the tea valiantly, never been disgusted enough to throw the leaves out - even though bitter, it was drinkable. But I do not think I can enjoy this kind of tea, especially given the huge price. Its biggest deficiency is, for me, lack of anything pleasant. The bitterness which I doubt to vanish anytime soon and the amount of damage to the leaves make the experience only worse...