sobota 30. června 2012

Two times 2007 Xizihao: Dragon and Phoenix and Chawang

The following commented-out text will probably make little sense to most people, so feel free to skip it. But as I know that numerous computer scientists read this blog, I just had to share the following application of theory:
 Having passed an exam from Complexity recently, I realized that Borodin's gap theorem (a part of the assignment) is actually a very useful tool for tea merchants. When translating my notes about the Xizihao 2007 Longfeng, I felt the tea did, again, badly. But - let us have

- PRICE: a Blum price measure

- x: a reasonable price of tea
- g(x) a Xizihao pricing function (2^x maybe?). 

Borodin's theorem says that then exists Houde pricing function T(x) so that PRICE(T(x))=PRICE(T(g(x)))

This may be interpreted that Houde Xizihao prices are as reasonable as Houde prices of reasonably priced teas. Thus, if Houde has reasonably priced  teas, his Xizihao pricing is also sound. Therefore Houde is a nice store!

2007 Xizihao: Dragon and Phoenix (Longfeng)
We'll start with the cheaper of the pair, though by no means a cheap cake (Jas-etea has it cheaper than Houde, by the way). It is a blend of Hekai, Bulang and Youle. I have never had a pure Hekai, so I can't comment on that, but elements of Bulang and Youle are certainly there.

Now, the dry leaves - they are not as "fancy" as the other stuff I had from Xizihao which gives me hope that this might be, at last, to my taste.

The compression is high and as a result, dry leaves do not have much aroma. Wet leaves do have a very good aroma on the other hand - something like red berries and a bit of animality, with a good amount of low sweetness.

The liquor itself does not smell too strong, but I do not perceive that as a negative - many good thick teas do not smell too much actually.

I was surprised by how thin the tea was in the 1st brew. It was very light, sort of empty, with a touch of overripe fruit and meadow flowers (Youle part, I think). In the 2nd brew, it became a bit better and thicker, luckily. At this time, the taste is allright, decently flowery and with a good mouthfeel. But I can not help but feel that the tea is too light in taste and richness (even though the liquor is reasonably dark). At the end of main taste of the 2nd brew, a more solid woodiness comes (Bulang-style wood). The third brew is similar to the 2nd - even though I push the tea hard, it does not fight back at all. A bit of pleasant honey appears, at least. The fourth brew is downright weird (on both tastings I had), being almost unpleasantly citric and sour. Nice honey blinks through the sourness, but is pushed back too much. The fifth brew and oncoming (few) ones are allright, nonoffensive drink.

The nice mouthfeel of 2nd brew gradually vanishes which is a pity. The tea has, perhaps not surprisingly, not much stamina. 

I feel that I am deaf to the positive features of recent Xizihao (if any, of course) - don't tell me that there are none with the price. But people who drank it with me confirmed most of my observation. What is wrong then? Me? The storage? Only inferior Xizihaos being sold to the West? I do not know. 

Further reading: Half-Dipper

2007 Xizihao Chawang
This is my first smoky-smelling Yiwu tea. When I opened the package, I thought a modern CNNP has infiltrated the bag.

I do not think it is a natural smokiness as it is almost not present in the aroma of wet leaves and in the taste.

The wet leaves smell gorgeous - the smokiness is only in the background; there is solid dry woodiness, dark forest fruit and intense sweetness. The smoke manifests itself in the "aftersmell" shortly after. 

The tea is thick and "present" from the first brew on and has a very good mouthfeel (which lasts more than first three infusions). So far so good. 

The issue is that first two brews have only a faint taste. It is an interesting taste - "mystical fruit", but too weak really. There is a tiny bit of smokiness in background, however if I have not smelled it in dry leaves, I might not notice it at all.

The third, fourth, fifth and the last, sixth brew have more taste, but it leaves me wondering if I did not prefer the tea tasting weakly. When the leaves open, I found two possibilities there: steep it shortly/use smaller amount of leaves and have a boring, but drinkable thing. The other possibility is to use normal amount of leave/normal steeping times and get a strangely tasting thing. I can not say the taste would be ulltimately bad - it is just really strange. There is more of the smoke and unpleasant bitterness.

The bitterness kills a bit of the good mouthfeel, so I resort to shorter steepings to enjoy the feeling, at least.

If I forget about the taste, this tea is really nice - feeling good, being thick and sweet. However, as I said in earlier Xizihao posts, there are teas with these features which have a good taste on top. And they have double the stamina.

Chawang? Hardly. A Chasquire, at most for me.

Further reading: Half-Dipper

This was the last of younger Xizihaos I have tasted in this batch (and possibly the last ever). I do not like expensive tea unless it is truly justified and, in this case, I feel it is everything but.

However, I found a good use for the rest of these samples (still, if you want to try them, just drop me a comment - as long as I do not have to do much getting them to you, I'll gladly do so) - little taste and generally good mouthfeel sound like a good additive. And indeed, I made some good house blends with them. I have some cheap teas which, when brewed right, taste very well, but some of them lack a bit of extra sweetness or better mouthfeel. Mixing them 1:1 with a well chosen sample from Xizihao, I get a very good taste with reasonable mouthfeel, thickness and all that. One would expect more than a "good additive" from teas costing that much, but in the end, I am glad they are not entirely wasted.

pondělí 25. června 2012

Several pieces from thechineseteashop

Although my overall level of happiness with teas from thechineseteashop is reasonably high, there are some teas which did not thrill me too much. Let's give them a few lines here too.

2003 Tung Qing

This tea is exceptionally cheap, given its age. While I enjoy drinking good and not cheap tea, the delight of finding things which are cheap and good at the same time is large.

The dry leaves suggest this tea might be a great find! The aroma is slightly smoky, not too much though, having a nice, sour-ish fruit aroma.

However, that is where the good things end. The aroma of wet leaves is weird, hard and unpleasant. The taste is not much better. The sour-ish fruit, which sometimes means lovely overripe fruit in taste, leads to not that pleasant sourness. The smokiness is quite unpleasant and upsets my stomach. The taste is not brutally unpleasant (only unpleasant), however the lack of anything positive sends this tea to hell. Actually, there is a sort of good mouthfeel. But the long-term aftertaste is not pleasant at all and I eventually have to wash my mouth. 

When one does short steepings, this tea is drinkable. But why to drink it when one has kilos of better tea?

1990s CNNP puerh cake

This tea was interesting from the first moment.
First, it is probably a "diamond grade" - Xiaguan presses golden ribbons into their "premium" tuochas - here, some glittering things are pressed into the cake (these may be seen for example in the middle of the first image). 
Second, when does one meet overripe banana in puerh? I did, this time. A mix of rather dry agedness and banana seems promising.

I must admit that I thought the tea to be interesting, definitely, as the banana is in the taste too. However I did not find it to be too pleasant. There is agedness, there is sort of sour overripe banana and plums manifest themselves in the aftertaste. Although all these features are interesting, they do not go that well together, in my opinion. Future aging may improve it though, bringing more harmony to the tea.

On the second tasting, the banana was less notable, but the tea still felt slightly "weird".

1995 Fu Zhuan

After the quite lovely 2007 CNNP Fu brick, I eagerly expected this Fu brick. However, it is all-around worse. It feels too dry and powdery -  both when dry leaves are considered (they contain a lot of twigs and mess and fall apart), but the dryness and powderiness is in the taste too. There is a pleasant taste of dried fruit, true, but it is not as pronounced as in the 2007 brick. The liquor tastes vapid and sort of hollow, as if the tea was over zenith.

Coming from worse material than the 2007 brick, it is not a surprise that this tea is not as good... Still, I wanted it to be good, wondering how such an half-aged Fu brick would taste. Not bad, to be sure, but not shining either.

pátek 22. června 2012

2005 Changtai Yichanghao Jing Pin

Changtai is a brand with which I have only little experience. I was pleased to see their tea in the Chinese teashop so that we could become acquainted. Since I like Yiwu so much, why not to start with a tea from there?

Dry leaves smell nutty, with element of ripe fruit and camphor.

The wet leaves smell very good, mostly Yiwu/Yibang (dark fruit, honey, nuts), but with an interesting camphor/minty part (sort of Bingdao thing).

The liquor smells faintly sweet. That is not too surprising, I do not know many highly aromatic Yiwu teas.

In mouth, this tea clearly is from around Yiwu. Actually, if I was to guess the area, I'd say it is Yibang. Contrary to most Yiwu, it is not that fruity, it is more nutty, with honey and some sweet wood in background. The aftertaste faithfully holds to the main taste and progresses well.

In the second brew, there is some nice Yiwuish overripe fruit, the camphor is more pronounced than in the first brew. The aftertaste is less fruity, nutty The overall feeling is very smooth and pleasant. At this stage, I feel that if the tea stays this good, it will be a very nice session.

A surprise though - the tea gets even better! The taste is pleasantly nontrivial, having many well cooperating components. It gradually becomes more and more like honey with nuts (the style is similar to the 2004 Shi Kun Mu Yibang - not really as good, but still very nice).

The activity in mouth is very nice and enjoyable in this tea.

I can not complain about this tea. It is full, rich and makes one feel good. The price of $46 is, in my opinion, a rather good one. Not a steal, but not too much either (given the western supply). Since thechineseshop wisely offers to sell 50g, this tea is quite easily accessible too.

středa 20. června 2012

1990s CNNP Red Mark

Although the study of computational complexity (the last exam of semester, at last) is definitely one of more pleasant things to do, one needs to take a break occasionally. Why not  to spend it with the Red Mark* from thechineseteashop? 
*) Now I may impress girls saying "Yeah baby, true story, I drank the Red Mark", but since you look so good, you may touch me.

I wondered how would "<2002 Hong Kong & 2002 > Canada" stored tea be like. Not that dark looking actually. And from what I have seen, containing unusual amount of tips (they look more obvious on the top of the cake which I forgot to take photo of - I can take the photo of it if any of you, dear readers, desires so).

Despite the occasional flecks of mold, the tea smells fresh, aged and nutty. By the way, I am not too experienced with molds in tea - is there a danger that these small flecks will spread around the cake and ruin it?

The aroma of wet leaves is quite lovely - sweet, nutty and with a bit of dried plums (yum!).

The first brew is almost too light to evaluate (it reflects the aroma well, but lacks depth). The 2nd and oncoming brews are much better. These are pictures of the 2nd and the 3rd one:

Although the clarity is not bad, it is not strikingly good either. Anyway, clarity is, in my opinion, generally an aesthetic thing and sort of hint, but nothing too determining.

The taste is quite full, aged (young-aged), when I push the tea a bit, there is a bit of bitterness, but not much. When no pushing is done, it is sweet, round and not bitter at all. The combination of agedness, nuts and dried plums is an excellent one.

I think that the thickness is high in general, but not high among aged (not dry-stored pre-2000). The mouthfeel is really nice - maybe not notably above-average strong among teas of 90s, but compared to, let's say 2004-6 teas, it is remarkable. 

The lovable taste of fresh plums in the long term aftertaste which I first met in the Qing Bing is here too, which gives a big bonus to the already mighty (given the price) performance of this tea.

The energy of this tea harmonizes with me - I can feel my body from another perspective, "in depth" - moving in a way which makes sense when I drink the tea, but the feeling disappears a while after. Although it is energizing inside, it sets my attitude to outside world to lazy and slow.

The stamina of this tea is pretty good. 

I do not see any faults in this tea (maybe a bit of funkiness in the aftertaste of the 1st brew, but nothing of such kind later), while it sports a good taste, good mouthfeel, good energy and good long-term aftertaste. This all comes for a very reasonable price.

Going back to polynomial hierarchy, I feel that this was a very good tea session.

pondělí 18. června 2012

2011 Tea Urchin Four Peaks Lao Man'E

This is another sample kindly provided by Hobbes, originally coming from Tea Urchin - the owner of eponymous and excellent blog. While there are many blogs about tasting tea, the number of blogs, giving information on where the tea does actually come from, is much lesser - therefore every blog like that is precious, especially when written so well!

This orchid almost died a year ago. But we brought it back to life and it rewarded us with her beauty. Ok, back to relevant stuff...

I took this Lao Man'E first, wondering what a sweet one (see the description) tastes like. I can not recall having any good Lao Man'E prior to this one. I always felt they were a rather poor approximation of Lao Banzhang, not having the most positive features, while adding some negative ones as a bonus. 

The dry leaves are green (surprise), young and fresh. However, the aroma of wet leaves tells us that this will not be another tarty young tea. It points towards heavy sweetness with dark fruit and a slight undertone of animality/manure. So far so very good.

The taste itself starts lighter and young, but not too grassy, luckily. It has an interesting, sweet character, pleasant light earthiness appears. There is pleasant transforming bitterness - lashing the tongue with a cat o' nine tails, but pouring a healing potion right after.

Before the second brew, the dark fruitiness appears more in the aroma of wet leaves, how about the taste? It is there too. Light earthiness mingles with dark fruitiness - I have not met this combination so far and I like it very much. The rather heavy bitterness does not disturb me at this stage. There is an excellent blackberry aftertaste. The after-aftertaste keeps some of the bitterness - but as this tea is from Lao Man'E, it could be much worse. The third brew is slightly less fruity, the bitterness at the end heads towards pine needles, leaving a minty feeling. I do not think it is in full harmony with the earth/dark fruit yet. For quite some time, I do very short steepings, getting thick, tasty and still active liquor. The activity is quite good, by the way, being strong across all brews.

What I really can not imagine is the 2012 Spring Lao Man'E - supposedly having strong bitterness, contrary to this one (which I found very good, yet strongly bitter too). Righto, if I ever need to commit a suicide, I'll go for the 2012 Spring Lao Man'E.

In general, this tea is very strong and explosive - most young puerhs (probably except XZH) are, but this one is stronger than most.

Thanks to Hobbes & Tea Urchin for this excellent specimen, I enjoyed it very much!

pátek 15. června 2012

Two times hongcha

I used to enjoy hongcha a lot, but then the puerh bug has bitten me and my love for hongcha started to fade. I recently got a sample of Dian Hong from Hobbes (thanks!) and some Lapsang Souchong from thechineseteashop (I paid for it, but thanks nevertheless).

My trusted old hongcha teapot (my first one, likely of not too good quality) - what a surprise to open it after two years and smell hongcha!

Feng Qing Diang Hong Golden Tips goes first:
This tea comes originally from teavivre and is not really a cheap, considering it is a red tea. A personal downside is that I do not enjoy Dian Hong that much, I find it often too meaty and heavy, being lighter in means of thickness and taste "wideness" (sort of similar to some heavier Beaujolais) and I do not feel that well after drinking.

This one certainly looks beautiful:

Taking my first sip from the cup with, the tea is distinctly dianhongish. It is quite meaty, chocolate and roses, rather intense - surprisingly so, considering the tipsy nature of the tea. Compared to the previous Dian Hongs I have tasted, this tea is more interesting, with more tastes jumping out of the cup and surprising me (peachiness which appeared in the aroma sometimes appears in taste too). It makes me feel slightly hollow, but it is not that unpleasant so that I would stop drinking. We made it to 8th brew together, parting as friends. 

It did not have a really good stamina. I kept the brews shorter, not wanting a too strong liquor, but 8 brews is not much.

I think that the enjoyability of this tea (at least its taste, if not longevity) largely depends on your attitude to Dian Hong. If you like it, I think you may enjoy this one a lot.

Further reading: Half Dipper

The second piece... Premium Lapsang Souchong
Among hongcha, Lapsang Souchong (LS) is one of my favourites. The issue with it is, that most of it being sold is weird Laphroaig-style smokiness (not that the original LS would not have a sort of smokiness in it, but it is quite different). The more original style LS is somewhat difficult to obtain. However, thechineseteashop looked trustworthy enough to me (and it, by the tasting so far, is solid). This tea is even more expensive than the previous one. What does "premium" grade mean? I think that the following scale is often used: "Premium" or "Superior" (no one except crazy westerners would drink it); "King" or "A" (basic level), "Emperor" or "AA" (possibly good tea), "AAA" (generally quite good).The premium grade is especially lethal in case of premium shu minituocha. Luckily, in the case of this LS, the premium actually means that the tea is good.

The leaves are tiny and somewhat cut:

The aroma is slightly smoky too, but only very gently - and dried fruit in the aroma sings "I love being a genuine Lapsang Souchong" (the name suggests why it has not become a hit song).

The color is amber and the liquor is clean. It smells beautiful - there is a gentle mix of a hint of smoke, dried fruit, coconut and a bit of lychee in the back.

The aroma reflects the taste well. The first brews are slightly more smoky than the rest (but nowhere near the usual smoke of fake LS). It is quite complex and well balanced, definitely very enjoyable. Actually, contrary to the official description, I can not find longan in it, but lychee instead - a pleasant taste anyway. But the main body of the taste is dried fruit and coconut I'd say.

The aftertaste is reasonably long and there is some interesting mouthfeel.

I would personally enjoy more sweetness in the tea. It has a rich taste, but it feels a bit dry - thick sweetness could elevate this tea into a really great thing. Maybe I'll blend it with Cheng Guang He Tang's 2006 Ye Cha some day - that one is basically pure sweetness without much taste.

Today's winner is, for me, Lapsang Souchong because I simply prefer its taste spectrum and the feeling it gives. But these teas are very different and any real comparison would be hard to do. 

středa 13. června 2012

2003 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi

The package from thechineseteashop has arrived at last. First brief sniffing meeting with the teas suggests that the nice prices are not a scam - the teas seem to be genuine and nice.

Just a short note on the price of getting the teas to Prague (which seems to be an often debated issue). The shipping was some 9% of the price and VAT was 14% (shipping from YS is generally more or less similar, of course, it depends on what tea one buys). I thought I had to pay the customs fee (as the order was more expensive than 150 EUR), but there is the rule that if one would pay less than 250 CZK in customs fee, he does have to pay anything. So it was 23% more than the retail price of the eshop. So, dear readers, if your vendor cries on your shoulder, how he has to pay loads of money on VAT and shipping, gaining only enough money from his margin so that he can buy old bread and mineral water*, think of the wholesale discount  they got (which is at least 25%, probably quite often more).
*) And to pay for EMS as a mean of getting the tea to them.

I have a rather good experience with Haiwan so far. Nothing really mind blowing, but no bad stuff either. A pity that they decided to go for lower quality since cca 2006-7. I think their production may be roughly described as:

Now a quiz - who are these two?

The babbling part has been longer than usual... To the tea itself:

The dry leaves are quite green, yet not so much to make me believe that this tea is fake. The aroma is gentle, nice, towards wheat and dry fruit.

The wet leaves smell similarly, maybe a bit more woody and nutty than the dry leaves.

The liquor is light, but I've seen much lighter teas of this age too... I'd say that this tea is a good representant of what I consider to be a nice dry stored tea.

The taste starts as quite simple, but pleasant and becames more and more pronounced in further brews. It basically reflects the aroma quite well, being "sweet granary", lightly earthy, already with tones of agedness.  It is not complicated, nor too complex, but it is so pleasant and in harmony that I don't mind. The tea keeps some youthful bitterness - I'd prefer it going away, maybe storing the cake in a slightly wetter environment. The aftertaste consists of slightly astringent fruitiness and lasts long.

The tea changes pleasantly over brews, getting smoother and smoother (the bitterness is mostly gone around 6th brew). Camphor tones appear after a while.

Outside the taste, the tea is really sweet and thick. Late hui gan is obvious and pleasant. The activity of this tea in mouth is noticeably, but not that powerful.

I enjoyed drinking this tea a lot. It may not be as complex and intriguing as some other teas, but it fits my preferred tastes very well and I believe it goes in the right direction and is already quite pleasant to drink now, while the price is still all right. Being exhausted after a week at AAMAS, then flying home after midnight, then 6 hours of sleep and then 24 hours long studying marathon for an exam*, I really enjoyed the relative simplicity of this tea.
*) It was an exam from traditional AI. Keeping it stylish**, I went to a dentist right before the exam.
**) The resource book for the course is AI: a modern approach, by Russell and Norvig***.
***) I wonder how many people know what I mean by now...

pátek 8. června 2012

1990s Small Yellow Label

Another bag of the package from EoT is here, rejoice! I did, at least. I do not remember why I skipped this small yellow label in my first order, probably the not so keen reviews. Although I prefer quality in tea, I believe that quantity is also important and I thought that the tea is so cheap that even if it is no good, I won't be disappointed.

The aroma of dry leaves is quite  clean. I was afraid of wet storage, given the price, but it is all right. It is probably not that obvious from the photo, but there is some green left in the leaves.

The liquor is darker than what I expected (this is the 2nd brew, still lighter than most). What I find to be a pleasant feature is its clarity - when I pour it, it throws sparks as a fiery opal.

The aroma of leaves is nice - already sort of aged, but clean. It is like nuts and the aroma of wet forest - not rotting though.

The taste starts quite thick, nicely sweet, a little less assertive than I would prefer. There is a slight fishiness for a while but it disappears before it gets really annoying.

In the second brew, the fishiness is almost gone (and completely gone later). There is surprisingly a lot of greener tastes and astringency, given the dark color of the liquor.

Since the third brew on, the assertivity improves. The little left astringency is a bit intrusive and disrupts the overal smooth feeling. Still, it is to be expected in a tea of this age I guess. Actually, I do not mind that much that it is not a gentle, sweet nectar only. And from around 6th brew, the bitterness gradually vanishes and a pleasant, aged taste and feeling stays for many more brews.

The mouthfeel is a realy joy, the tea would be worth its price to me for the mouthfeel enough. I enjoy keeping mid-aged and aged teas longer time in mouth, the feeling gets more intense.

Although I am yet not overly attuned to energy of tea (sometimes, I just can not feel it in a tea), I do feel it here, moving something inside me. I feel like if small blue sparks go down to my loin.

Wet leaves do not break easily when rubbed, but they do break more than dry stored leaves. I wonder how more knowledgeable people would describe the storage of this tea. Is this the famed traditional storage? I like it anyway.

The tea description and reviews on the EoT website mention, that the complexity is somewhat lacking. I sort of agree, but I wonder if this tea does not suffer from being this cheap (more about that in the article mentioned in this post of MarshalN). When Nada writes that the complexity is not that high, one expects the tea to be not that complex. On the other hand, if the tea was described as surprisingly complex, I believe there could be more reviews in such tone. I mean, I may be completely without taste or something, but I did not find this tea to be too low in complexity. One, of course, does not expect another Qing Bing for this price. But this tea is still quite young and will develop further. The price of this cake is, in my opinion, very good to say the least (speaking of complexity, I found it to be notably more complex than the 92 loose leaf for example). 

Let me give you an alternate description:
This Small Yellow label tea is a famous 7532 recepture, produced by CNNP and is one of their best cakes of 90s era. It was stored in XYZ, in a premium warehouse specialized at high quality tea, to be exported to tea connoisseurs around the world. The taste is extremely rich and complex, classical taste of greatly stored 7532. Noble aftertaste with tones of plum treacle lasts extremely long and shows how this tea is going to age in the oncoming 20 years. The bitterness present in this tea and slightly unbalanced taste means this tea will develop into a marvellous tea one day, there is plenty of potential for further aging. Strong cooling feeling proves that the leaves come from gushu trees. Due to our good relationship with my tea master,  we managed to secure five whole cakes of this rare tea purely for the local market. The supply is extremely limited, we suggest you place orders as soon as possible. Because of the growing demand for top quality aged puerh, we will not be able to keep the excellent price of $1.50 per gram for much longer.

See? That's how money is made. I am fairly sure that some people would rate the tea much higher after reading such a description, who would dare to say that the tea is not that complex - he'd look like a fool who does not know what is really top tea about.
Running into risk of annoying you, dear readers, I will once more say that there is at least one person who prefers to buy from a modest, nice person with genuinely nice tea, rather than from big mouthed wannabes.

I'll drink this tea a few more times, but now it seems to be the ideal candidate for my first whole semi-aged cake I will buy.

Further reading: Something smuggled in

středa 6. června 2012

2005 Gan En Banzhang

The BB (Banzhang benchmark) comes! When I read about it in the Leaf few years ago, I thought "hmmm, I'd love to taste it sometime". And now I can - what a pleasant surprise. My gratitude to EoT for selling it for quite a reasonable sum (given the fame of the cake). New packaging seems to be introduced - the well known and well functional bags (with cute sticker on it):

The aroma of wet leaves is pretty good - dark sweet, attractive. I find it similar to less fruity Syrah - not really fruity, but smooth, heavy and rich.

The aroma of empty cup is very good and as my local empty-cup-aroma specialist, Marketa, realizes, it is present in the aroma of the liquor - not that frequent phenomenon. 

The taste itself is very nice, really enjoyable - dark smooth sweetness, very clean, like molasses. There is no smoke which disturbed me in many Banzhangs (possibly fake ones too). If I had to analyze the taste, I'd say there is wood and garden fruit, but I feel that "dark smooth sweetness" is a better description of the overall feeling.

In the second brew, tones of dwarven bamboo and "light ground after spring rain" spring up and that is when I start enjoying the tea even more. In these two tastes, it is similar to the great 2002 Pa Sha brick sold by Longfeng some years ago. I think that this is the first tea of this kind which I found to be better than the brick (to the defense of the brick, I have to say it was much cheaper, that was a great find of Longfeng).

From the third brew since, fruity tones become stronger (peaches?), but they do not bring disharmony to the pleasant mix of dwarwen bamboo and light ground. It is really very pleasant - nothing negative is to be found. The tea is quite elegant, yet not overly light in character. Even the sweetness is just about right to my taste.

Further brews are very consistent, the tea is quite strong (I'm somewhere around 15th brew now). It is fairly obvious in comparation with the 2010 Xizihao Laowushan and 2009 golden brick - where I had to use 40s for the 6th brew in case of these teas, I used 10s for the 6th brew of this Banzhang and I got more flavor out of the tea.

After the taste, there is a good cooling and tingling feeling.

The aftertaste is good and comes "continuously". Hui gan is excellent and comes at the right time. In general, the tea is very smooth and consistent - there are no hollow parts in its character.

Earlier, I felt that many Banzhangs (potentially not pure, of course) had a sort of dark, slightly intimidating energy. Contrary to that, this tea feels sunny and "kind" (and I'm saying that during a rain, I'm not just hypnotized by the weather).

Spent leaves are still strong and nice:

I enjoyed this tea a lot and I'm looking forward to the next tasting of it. It is not so cheap so that I would say that it is a steal and everyone should buy a tong. But it is worth buying a sample, at least. For me, it is the most pleasant Lao Banzhang up to now. The YS Banzhang Chung Qing could become similar though, I think these two teas are possibly similar in character.