After some time, I tasted something new. Most of my tea sessions happen in school these days, so there is not really enough time for taking pictures or tasting anything special. And, not knowing why, I recently started feeling that I want to become better acquainted with the teas I have in greater quantity. Nevertheless, I had a free(ish) afternoon, so why not to have something interesting? And this Fuchaju tea interesting is. Scented teas are not something I'd usually drink, but the addition of tea flowers seems like a nonviolent way of enhancing a tea (I think that especially Youle and Jingmai might profit from these). Also, the addition of tea flowers does not seem to change the basic character of a tea. When I had 2005 Fuchaju Jingmai and 2005 Fuchaju Jingmai with tea flowers side by side, both these teas were essentially similar, the latter being a bit sweeter and more rounded. But the addition of tea flowers seems to be nowhere near adding jasmine or magnolia, in means of overall change to a tea.
I really enjoyed that 2005 Jingmai thing with flowers, but that was about it, I haven't encountered anything like that, until Honza of Chawangshop sent me a sample of the 1998 version, also by Fuchaju (btw. Chawangshop also made Jingmai cake with tea flowers this year, I'm quite curious what it's like).
What do seven teas of aging do to an already pretty good tea (given that the source material is the same, which it probably isn't)? And what do three years of aging change in a tea lover? Wasn't it just a whim of years past that I liked the combination previously?
The leaves do not look like a 1998 tea (spoiler - the tea feels younger overall, but it's not a problem), but it seems that the cake has been just stored in a rather dry environment.
The dry leaves smell of meadow flowers and fruit - a bit more like Youle than like Jingmail, but pretty nevertheless. There is no trace of agedness, on the other hand, there is no trace of faults in aging process either.
The wet leaves smell really good, explosive - a myriad of interweaving fruits, jam and ripe wine grapes (white). Further components are herbalness and "apples with cinnamon". In general, the aroma is very harmonic.
(the second photo has a more faithful color). You may see that the liquor is quite light, though perhaps not as light as one might expect, given the greenness of dry leaves. Also, it is obvious that Oxford water is hard indeed (this is after filtration).
If you can free your mind from the shackles of expecting a normally aged tea (I can), this is a very interesting and enjoyable tea, being good in many areas. The taste is simply good. The tea tastes youngish (2004?), but the darker and complex background suggests that there is is indeed some further time spent aging. What is important to me is, that a) there is no sourness/bad red fruit/hem string taste from dry storage, b) aged Jingmai hongcha-iness (btw. I think you could cease expecting a normal aged tea just because this is a Jingmai tea). The taste contains a mixture of garden fruits, ripe white grapes and meadow flowers - all mixed with a honey-like sweetness. It is very good in being balannced, with full low, mid and high tones. It is like high-class aged white wine in many aspects.
What surprised me the most was the extraordinarily strong and pleasant aftertaste. It is fruity and honey-like and it is really, really uncommonly good. There is actually an intersection with what is found in the "aged Jingmai hongcha-iness", but it is not strong enough to stand out in a peculiar way.
What makes this tea a very good one (and strictly better than the 2005 version) is good and fast huigan, good tongue-tickling and quite obvious and "world-connecting" qi.
Overall, I enjoyed this tea very much. It may not be the most typical example of puerh (actually, it is rather an outlier), but I find it very complex, refreshingly new, while it manages to keep the good aspects that puerh can have. Only thing that was slightly disturbing me was the rather high astringency, but that was only a minor thing, hardly a big problem.
I don't think that this is a tea that needs further long-term storage. But for drinking now or in a couple of years, it seems like a really good choice.