This is another Taochaju piece of TwoDog (whose brother you may visit in the Galaxy News Radio building).
It comes from Yiwu, an area that I quite like for its pleasantness and many faces. This one smells like a typical Yiwu, when I open the pouch.
The wet leaves smell densely sweet, somewhat nutty, with a bit of dark fruitiness and a hint of honey. It generally smells very nice, but already at this moment, I thought "hey, it is almost like YS Purple Yiwu, just a touch less interesting".
The taste could seem a bit boring from the beginning, but using the "trick" from Purple Yi Wu (having initial steepings longer than with other teas) makes even initial steepings good. I guess this is what Hobbes means when saying it takes a while to get started.
It tastes quite nice, a good, generic Yiwu. However, even the taste is kind of similar to the Purple Yiwu. As I drank more than a cake of the Purple Yi Wu, I can prepare it rather better than this Taochaju Yi Wu, but I guess that it is simply a result of more experience with brewing the Purple Yiwu. I think these teas are really quite alike.
The taste is wide, thick, sweet, somewhat nutty and with dark forest fruit (blackberries). In some steepings, there are less blackberries and more lychee (indeed, I have not found it in Yiwu yet, this is the first time, but it is not that strong).
The cooling/tingling is medium strong in the second steeping (nice in there, even goes into the back of the throat) and light or non-present in the rest.
This calls for a 1:1 comparison I thought. The Taochaju Yiwu is on the left, the YS Purple Yiwu on the right (the Taochaju leaves were stacked a bit higher, the amount was the same however, according to the scale):
After three minutes:
The leaves are similarly sized, but the Taochaju leaves seem to be in a slightly better shape, but it may be simply a result of lighter pressing.
There is an actual difference in color, although I am not sure how obvious it is from the photo. The Taochaju is more yellow-orange, while the Purple Yiwu is yellow-green.
The aroma is quite similar. Actually, to verify the similarity, me and my girlfriend ran a blind test - we tried to memorize the aromas of those two teas, then generated a pseudorandom vector of Left/Right and presented the cups to the other one who had to guess which one it is (of course, not knowing the part of the pseudorandom vector). We scored a 60% success, which is what I would call a "mildly educated randomness".
When we moved to the taste, there was a difference, although hardly a huge one. The thickness, sweetness, mouthfeel and all that are very much alike, but there is the element of lychee in the Taochaju that is not present in the Purple Yiwu. I'd say that the nutty element was slightly more pronounced in the Purple Yiwu, taking the place of lychee.
Even the size of leaves seems to be more or less the same:
Yet another indicator - wet leaves after being left overnight - confirms the striking similarity of those teas.
This was a fun session and comparation. However, I'm afraid that the price of $58 ($65 for 400g) is a bit too high for the Taochaju in my opinion. First, it is a lot for a tea without significant old tree/wild mouthfeel or any larger activity in body after it goes down the throat. Second, it is almost three times more than for what I bought the Purple Yiwu in 2010 ($24 for 400g). Ok, it is already sold out, but there still is the 2011 version which is quite a similar experience.
Further reading: Half-Dipper