neděle 2. září 2012

2011 YS Nan Po Zhai

echo "Thanks for this sample" | Hobbes.

The teapot awaits...

This tea comes from Nan Po Zhai in Mengku, Lincang. The only other pure Nan Po Zhai cake I know is its 2012 counterpart. Actually, when I was thinking over my criticism of crazy new puerh not bringing much new, but costing much more than it used to, I realized that there is a good thing about it (from a tea student's point of view) - the fancy teas are not called "Green puerh", nor "Lincang Puerh", but now, we are often speaking of single villages - and I do like to know how different villages taste. Still, I guess I prefer blended things and I do not much care about what exactly is it composed of, but it is enjoyable to zoom closer and taste different villages too.

The dry leaves are healthy and furry, smelling lightly floral. 

The wet leaves do not smell all that great to me, very green and floral. Liquor is similar, the aroma is sort of like Mao Xie or of a green TGY. 

Nevertheless, all these aromas and all that are just an appetizer for the real drinking. And the tea does well there. 

The first brew is not particularly great, "just another young sheng", I am thinking. The floralness is still rather strong, it is like a lily of valley or acacia - that "young spring" aroma. Rather lovely, but I tend to enjoy different aspects in puerh. Also, a bit of "young sourness" is present. Mouthfeel is good, although not really cooling that much, it is active and present.

The second brew becomes darker and heavier...

And from the third brew, things are good. The basic characteristic is "Mengku fruitiness", but as the village is more specific than just "Mengku", the description will be too. The floral aspect is still there, but does mix well with the light fruitiness. I may prefer dark Yiwu fruitiness in general, but this kind of fruitiness is also good and more refreshing. I think it is like papaya the most. 

I feel happy and relaxed, like on a beach in late afternoon, where waves are murmuring with the fresh, salty wind - and I have nothing to do, except wanting to finish the juice in my hand. Day critters prepare to go to sleep and night critters are just waking up, preparing for a night carnival. Peace...

The tea has good sweetness, combined with a good deal of pleasant bitterness; some people might have an issue with it I guess. As it transforms well and complements the fruitiness, I do not mind it. I may even enjoy it, it gives a bit of a kick to the experience. The sourness  of young sheng is long gone (it was not too notable in the 2nd brew already and completely gone in the 3rd one).

The mouthfeel is still very nice. Due to the bitterness, it is not as pronounced as it would be in smoother tea, but it is there and I like it. The aftertaste of this tea is light, floral-fruity and comes from the transformation of the bitterness, rather than from the main taste.

Although the brews no. 3-6 are very satisfactory, the tea does get a bit worse after that. The bitterness starts to overwhelm the peaceful components of taste and the tea gets unnecessarily aggressive. This may be, to an extent, regulated by the drinking temperature. When the tea is hot, there is not much beside the bitterness. When I let it cool down a bit, the taste from previous brews gets stronger and fights the bitterness valiantly. The problem is that the "Mengku hollowness" appears; I can not snatch too much of such tea from scratch. Let's put a whole batch into hatch to cratch, lock the latch and get in touch, without a grudge... Ummm. no, I'd be a terrible tea rapper. Simply said, too much of such (not again...) tea does not do me too well and that is why I do not drink that much Mengku teas. It's like I have an issue with Burgundy wine which does me unwell in a very similar way. 

Although I did not think much of this tea when I started my first tasting, it quickly became "a very enjoyable tea" and in further tasting sessions, I did not mind the worse start of this tea at all. If you know that things are going to get good, it is not that difficult to overcome a bit of hardship (the first two brews are not that bad, it is just that the rest is better).

The wet leaves show two distinct grades of leaves used:

I'd like to taste this tea after a year to see where the less satisfactory brews (1,2,7+) go.

At the current price of $70, the tea lies a bit above what is my maximum for a young tea (and my Mengku limits will be even lower), but I do not think it crazy. Yes, the tea does have its shortcomings, it does give me only 4 very good brews, but I simply feel that I like it and that is it.

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