středa 11. dubna 2012

Two bits from Yunnan Sourcing: 2011 Ba Da and Chen Yun

Let's have a look at two young teas made by Scott of Yunnan Sourcing I have tasted recently. We'll start with
Ba Da
My previous experience with Ba Da teas was not the best - they were generally pretty woody and tobacco-smokey. Not that some people would not enjoy these features, even I enjoy them from time to time, but my heart generally lies with other areas and tastes.

This tea is pretty consistent with my previous experience with Ba Da. It is probably better than others, but it is still a one-eyed king with a cataract in the land of the blind. I agree with Scott that it tastes of tobacco and pines. The tobacco is tobacco smoke actually - the not-burning tobacco smells quite differently from burning tobacco and both tobaccos are to be found in puerh, which sometimes results in confusion. The smokiness of this tea is sort of similar to certain Mangfei teas, but it is at least a bit ameliorated by the pineiness.

I have read Hobbes' notes recently and wondered about his description of taste. I quite agree about the ripe grass and grassiness in general. Actually, I believe that what I label as tobacco smoke&pines is surprisingly similar to wet ripe grass and that these two ways of description of the taste converge to each other in a way.

I think that fans of "hard" sheng might quite enjoy this tea. I must admit that I enjoy softer, more easily approachable cakes.

Further reading: Half-Dipper
And a surprise (for me, at least)... Me... Ok, it happened, I wrote about this tea already :-/

Chen Yun
This is a blend from Lincang, an area which falls into the category of "percussion areas" (e.g., Ba Da, Bang Dong, Yi Bang), being probably a triangle.

Six years ago when I was drinking several  lower-level Lincang puerh, I wrongly fell under the impression that Lincang is an area producing only hard, smokey teas which were not to my taste. Luckily, I got to better tea since then and now I know that Lincang houses some of the finer teas I've met. And Mengku, a subset of Lincang, is a whole another world too - although most of Mengku teas I've had did not make it past "quite enjoyable",  none of them were bad.

Back to this Chen Yun. Throughout the tasting, I felt that this is a pleasant tea, with a spectrum that fits my tastes, but it is not really powerful, nor outstanding in any way. It was lightly sweet, the "sweet granary" taste I generally enjoy was there, but it felt like it has not unleashed its strenghts yet. Actually, today I visited a tasting of en primeur Bordeaux wine - the feeling was similar in a way - some of these wines were also quite quiet and not yet developed.

I think that if this tea grows stronger with age (which is perfectly possible), it may be quite good. If not... it may be still a pleasant light drink. At $20, it is not an expensive experiment.

Even though this contains more of my favourite tastes than the Shang Chun I've tasted recently, I enjoyed the Shang Chun more for its vibrancy, strength and interesting development between brews.

Further reading: Half-Dipper

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