I've been enjoying these two teas in the past months, but somehow neglected writing about them. They certainly deserve mentioning. It is no secret that they are good. In 2010, the Yun Pin would be "not cheap" and Xin Yun Chen "damn expensive". However, we live in 2013 and $100+ young cakes are not exactly a scarcity. In today's context, the pricing is ok. And the quality is, in my opinion, better than ok. Also, Master Shi Kun Mu (SKM) has shown that he can make a well aging tea previously. Most of recent young producers of fancy cakes are much less experienced, which is why I'd be willing to pay a bit more to SKM than to the owners of eshops who started making their own tea recently.
For me, both of these cakes are some of the best post-2010 fancy cakes, not only because of (now) reasonable pricing, but even in terms of absolute quality. They both are already developing a character that is to my liking and makes them drinkable for pleasure; it's not like my feeling about most new "ok, young, green, boring" teas.
Ok, le's start with the cheaper one ($42), Yun Pin from Lincang:
2010 SKM Yun Pin
This is a Lincang cake, a blend of Mengku and Yongde. I may think that I, at least a bit, see many facets of Yiwu or Bulang, however, Lincang doesn't seem to have a specific "Lincang" taste to me. Neither Mengku, nor Yongde; they both contain several sub-clusters and from time to time, I find a new family of tastes there.
The family of tastes in this tea is not really common. I've met it only once before, in Longfeng purple label of 2010 (the 2009 version was a completely another tea from another place).
The good looking, unbroken dry leaves emit a nice aroma of fresh exotic fruit.
The rinsed leaves emit even nicer aroma of fresh exotic fruit (mango, papaya), riding on a sugary sweetness; with some flowers, possibly. The fruitiness has some intersection with the one found in Jade poles green tea from YS or Chawangshop... However, even though this pu is light and fresh, it is by no means green, vegetal, or lacking in depth.
The liquor has, for a Lincang tea, unexpectedly good thickness and sweetness. High tones of the mango and papaya are very well harmonized with sweet (dark sugariness) base and "puerh thingness" fills the area between them. The main body of the taste lasts long and gradually changes into a smooth and pleasant aftertaste (with a degree of astringency; low bitterness though).
After the exciting start, the tea does not bring too many new tastes or development and it has a tough time keeping all my attention to itself. But it may be just that I'm more used to more aged tea these days...
The buzzing mouthfeel is good and, in cooperation with inspection of leaves, shows that the amount of old tree leaves is not exactly homeopathic.
I'd be slightly worried of long-term aging of this one... I can imagine the light exotic fruit turning into hongcha tones which I found, e.g., in 10 years old Jingmai... I prefer the usual aging process of puerh a lot more.
Overall, I think this tea is interesting and well suited even for immediate consumption due to its low bitterness and overall not-too-cold character. It's really a pleasant, easygoing tea with some extra features, such as the good buzz.
I mentioned its similarity to Longfeng Purple label 2010, which, marketing bollocks aside, was a pretty good tea in my opinion. I remembered it fairly well, but I took my last bit of sample to compare it... It's still good. However, the Shi Kun Mu's Yun Pin is clearly better: fuller, sweeter, with better buzz and less bitterness. Therefore, if you enjoyed the Purple label of 2010 as much as I did, consider trying this Shi Kun Mu; it's only marginally more expensive.
2010 Shi Kun Mu Xin Yun Chen
This one is more blended and it can be felt in a lot greater complexity. Where the Yun Pin mastered one or two dimensions, the Xin Yun Chen tries to handle many more.
Although there is, as in the Yun Pin, an important aspect of young, fresh fruitiness, it's a bit different style (I guess that it comes from Mangzhi or Yibang), which single-handedly makes drinking this tea a pleasant experience to me.
It is overall darker than the Yun Pin, both in color and feeling. There is plenty of dark sweetness, which should become more pronounced with further aging. Also, I believe that the tea prepares itself to develop the taste of sweet grain. Although the taste is yet preparing for its peak, I believe it may get very, very good eventually.
It has a long aftertaste, with some sweet camphor; very nice. However, the rather heavy bitterness takes its toll on easygoingness of this tea. It's a lot more hardcore than the Yun Pin.
Mouthfeel is, in one word, excellent. Thick, vibrant, buzzing and cooling.
This could be quite a luxurious tea in some 5-10 years... Although it's good already, I don't think it's really ready for immediate consumption yet.