čtvrtek 28. února 2013

A big comparison of three Lapsang Souchongs

I'm learning to write like a journalist, am I not? Despite the flashy title of this post, the comparison is going to be rather small... And I'll write off one of the three at the beginning and from the other two, only one is "real" Lapsang Souchong (LS). This is the way of journalists, it seems... take a flashing title with a distant connection to reality and print it in big letters. Anyway, back to tea.

The three competitors are:
Premium Lapsang Souchong from thechineseteashop; $24.95 per 100g: available here
And my previous notes: here

Waishan Xiaozhong AA from Chawangshop; $8 per 100g: available here
My previous notes: here
And Hster mentioned it: here

Premium Lapsang Souchong from jingteashop; $23.50 per 100g: available here
I haven't had this one before so there are no notes. There are Yoda's notes in Czech.
With pleasure, I would like to add that Longfeng sells this tea for $22 per 100g, well done! The Czech description states AA grade, like the Waishan Xiaozhong above. It's not in the "official" Jingteashop description so I'm not sure how much is the grade rooted in reality. These A* ratings are only approximate anyway. They probably make sense when considered in one maker, but I don't think it is always true that an AAA tea has to be better than another AA tea.

Now, although the LS from the thechineseteashop is a "proper" LS, it lacks sweetness of the latter two and is somewhat coarser, therefore it gains today's bronze medal and goes back home.

We're left with the Waishan and Zhengshan, seemingly incomparable  as the latter is three times as expensive. However, a tasting reveals these teas to be surprisingly comparable. When I had these two teas prepared in gaiwan, having multiple steepings (LS is often good when prepared using only one big steeping), after one another, I had a really hard time pinpointing the difference. Today, I put them side by side, preparing them in an entirely identical way, in identical bowls.

Pictures first (Waishan on the top):

The Waishan has a bit larger leaves (though they stil are definitely xiao) and less golden tips. 

The Waishan (to the left) has somewhat darker liquor.

How do these teas compare then? Both are good LS, a mixture of dried fruit, smoke, lychee and cocoa. Both have a good aftertaste and similar stamina. However, they approach their actual taste from different directions. I summarized their development (dry leaves->liquor aroma->taste) in the diagram below:

Therefore, although the Zhengshan seems to be a lot smokier than the Waishan before one actually tastes these teas, both of them ultimately reach the good balance between smoke and dried fruit. The largest difference is probably in amount of lychee, which is stronger in the Waishan. The Zhengshan maybe tastes a touch more spicy. While the Zhengshan starts with a bit of the smoke right away, the Waishan starts lighter, with less smoke and more fruit and the smoke appears gradually, it basically baths and complements the aftertaste. I like the development of Waishan more, but it may be just that I'm more used to it.

Both teas are lovely, sweet Lapsang Souchongs with a good balance of smoke and non-smoke components. I can not say I'd consider one better than another. However, the price makes the choice quite easy to me. 

Nevertheless, if you are Czech, you do not know Lapsang Souchong and you are not willing to order from abroad (or you would order just the Lapsang, therefore paying a hefty shipping fee), I can surely recommend the LS from Longfeng too (if it is still available) - it is also a very nice tea.

úterý 26. února 2013

2008 Fu Cha Ju Wuliang

As I mustered enough courage to try TWO teas from Wuliang in a couple of previous days, I thought I've got to keep the wave rolling and have another one - from Fu Cha Ju. Fu Cha Ju is, if nothing else, an uncommon factory, trying various new ways how to make puerh. Some of them, I do not favour (i.e., aging in plastic bags). Some of them, I tend to like as they give larger variance to puerh world (i.e., adding tea flowers to Jingmai teas). I fondly remember the 2005-6 teas from FCJ which Yunnan Sourcing was selling and which I liked. Even their Ailao  and Wuliang, both from 2006, I believe, were quite good.

I guess that this Wuliang from 2008 is also a bit uncommon as it does not bear a slightest hint of smoke. It is even sweet and pleasant. The tea was put in a drier after pressing, which could be why it is unusual. Anyway, I took pictures of leaves after steeping and they do not look like wulongpu or hongchapu. I'm just saying that this is not a common-style Wuliang (and I'm grateful for that). I guess that this tea is like if I took young Wuliang and said "Ok, please, develop these potentially pleasant features and get rid of the unpleasant ones". 

The dry leaves are brown-green, a reasonable color for a 2008 tea. I am not sure where it aged, but it must have been someplace good. The aroma of dry leaves is really nice, fruity, like strawberries. I often thought that if many Wuliangs shifted a bit, their green-ness would become pleasant taste of strawberries. There was even a nice 2003 minicake from Wuliang which sort of did that. Anyway, this Fuchaju Wuliang does the shift perfectly. It is a bit surprising as the 2006 Fuchaju Wuliang which should be similar, was a lot woodier.

The wet leaves smell powerfully sweet, fruity and complex. The fruitiness starts like strawberries with canned lychee, transforming into a generic mixture of lighter garden fruit and as the leaves cool down, it becomes darker and darker (and even sweeter). Sweet tobacco can be detected too. An interesting "aftersmell" happens, reminding me of herbs and licorice. But it's quite faint - it springs up and goes away quickly. However, such is the case with aftersmell, it tends to be rather volatile. Or maybe just my brain needs to adjust more. I remember well the times when I could not detect aftersmell of any sort.

The color of the liquor is standard orange I'd say. Clear and nice. It is, similarly to the aroma, very tasty. The taste is strong, intense, fruity and "wide", while being rather straightforward. It is several tastes together, but they all go in the same way, there are no "countermelodies", if you what I mean. The taste is a mixture of garden fruit, with the strawberries being more obvious than other fruits. Although the first one or two steepings give the impression that the taste is a bit shorter than one would desire, further steepings show that the length of taste is quite saatisfactory. After a couple seconds, it gets a bit jammed by bitterness and later astringency (which is mid-strong).

While the stamina of the tea is quite good, later steepings can be a bit thin in taste (although the tea is generally nicely thick) and a bit "empty". I did not have the urge to push the leaves to their limits really. Nevertheless, I had some 6-7 really good steepings. 

In some steepings, there is a nice, gentle, but long activity on the tongue. In some, it is neligible. I guess that this points to a smallish portion of old tree leaves in the cake.

That guess was sort of confirmed when I dissected the contents of the teapot, see below. Most leaves were like the on the right - large, not too thick, while there was a portion of leaves like on the left side - stronger, more  leathery, with stronger stem, which is a feature one associates with older tree leaves. I put representatives of those two sorts of leaves into two bowls and poured hot water over them. The bowl containing the left sort of leaves had slightly thicker liquor, with less taste (and the tastes were rather "high") - but there was good actvity on the tongue. On the other hand, the bowl containing the right sort of leaves (no pun) had much more taste, but it was quite quiet when it came to mouthfeel.

Similarly to the Wuliang I wrote about previously, I did not feel any qi flowing through me when I drank the tea. But that is really a personal thing so it's difficult to say that generally.

I think that this tea is good and tasty. It is really extra-easygoing, I can imagine serving this to about any visitor to our place, a thing that can not be said about many puerhs. Maybe this easygoing-ness might alienate some hardcore puerh drinkers. Anyway, I do not consider myself favouring hardcore puerh and so this is a great Wuliang for me. The price seems really nice to me too. It's only $31, which is about right or a bit less than "right" for a 2008 tea with very nice taste, but which does not shine in cooling of mouth and qi. It's nowhere near glittering beauty of some gushu cakes, but, on the other hand, it's a lot tastier than many of these. I guess that it boils down to what whoever prefers. 

What is it like compared to YS/LF Wuliang I wrote about in the previous post? I think it's about the same in the matters outside taste, however, in taste, this one clearly wins it for me as it has no smoke and a quite pleasant and unusual fruitiness on the top. It's more expensive, though...

neděle 24. února 2013

2012 YS Chen Xiang/2007 Longfeng 5yrs commemorative cake

I'll start this post with a little background on "both" of these Wuliang teas, then I'll write about their taste and I'll conclude with discussion of pricing.

1) Appetizer - some background
Longfeng has made an edition of two cakes to commemorate their 5 years anniversary on market. This Wuliang piece from 2007 is one of them (the other one comes from 2012 Yongde material). It is a tea of "Longfeng own production" - which means "made by Scott and paid by Longfeng" - we're used to that already. But things are even juicier this time: http://www.yunnansourcing.com/store/product.php?id_product=2174 The previous "own productions" were, at least, disjoint with what Yunnan Sourcing was selling. However, it is no longer the case. Wait for the dessert to read more about that. Now, however, let's get back to the tea which has nothing  to do with dirty politics (good for him).

2) Main course - the tea itself
The tea comes from Wuliang, an area I'm not too fond of, despite its relative cheapness.  However, I dislike prejudice even more than I dislike Wuliang, so I approached the tea with pure mind. It was harvested in 2007 and pressed in 2012. Therefore, it aged 5 years in loose form, which makes it a bit unusual (and the cake falls apart easily too).

Before I venture into describing the taste, I have to add that this tea, in my opinion, badly needs yixing. When I prepared it in a porcelain tester or porcelain teapot, it was almost nasty, dominantly smoky (in an unpleasant way), etc. In yixing, the smoke is somewhat ameliorated. 

The wet leaves smell Wuliangish, woody, a bit smoky (like a half-burned log), with some dark fruit under that and something I'd describe as "perfume" - which is weird, but I've seen a chap on steepster saying that too, so there may be something about it. This combination of aromas is good, as some Wuliangs I had were just half-burned log with extra dose of unpleasant vegetalness.

The liquor is light orange (not as dark as on the photo, I got to have a talk with my wide-angle lens and its exposure setup) and smells nicely - woody and perfumy.

The taste starts as buttery (this gradually disappears as  steepings go on), woody-dark fruity, very decent and friendly, given that this is Wuliang material. Good complexity and thickness (very good, given Wuliang). The smokiness is rather light. Unfortunately, as steepings go on, the smoke and woodiness take over the liquor and while they are never unpleasant, they do not greatly please me either. But even my girlfriend (who dislikes smoke in tea even a tiny bit more than I do) deemed the smoke acceptable. It rather reminds me of Xiaguan production and Xiaguan style of smoke. This tea is somewhat similar (imho a bit better) to some of the 2003 Xiaguan "X-Mark" serie. Fortunately, the smokiness/woodiness is more akin to 2003 Xiaguans, rather than modern Xiaguan smoke that I dislike. I guess that this Xiaguanesque character is one of reasons why Mr. Prachar chose to sell his tea as his own as he seems to like Xiaguan a lot (well, surely much more than I do).

The aftertaste is nothing to write home about, there is some smoky vegetalness; on the other hand, there is light, long tingling which I like. Qi? No. But I guess you can't expect too much from a cheap Wuliang.

3) Dessert - conclusion
I rather enjoyed drinking this tea and for more Wuliang-loving people (Hobbes?), this might be a tea worth pursuing. It's a fine, unassuming tea, and a cheap one too: $24 per 400g cake from 2007, which is, in today's era of young tea craze, a very good price for anything. I certainly enjoyed it way more than I enjoyed YS 2011 Wuliang - which may be result of a couple extra years of aging, not necessarily superior material.

Now, $24 is good price, is it not? And Longfeng asks about $28 here. So far so good. However, things get uglier when you realize that Longfeng asks $28 per >>200<< grams, while YS asks $24 per >>400<< grams. 

Things get even worse with the other cake from Longfeng "own" commemorative edition as it is the Yongde for which YS asks $18 per 400g and LF still asks $28 per 200g. Talk about a markup... Unless you want to, I won't write about that Yongde cake. It's not bad, actually it's good for $18, but it's not that interesting yet. For the $56 per 400g asked by Longfeng, one will do much better with Finepuer's Daxueshan which is like two classes higher tea and costs about the same. Of course, if you return to "normal" pricing of YS, the $18 is a good price.

But, if you preordered both of the commemorative cakes from LF, you were given the awesome opportunity to buy 1kg of Xinghai tea nuggets at the "extremely discounted" price of cca $75...while it costs $39 at YS site. While this is still a big markup, it's probably almost feasible (if you wanted to buy just that 1kg, you'd have to pay a lot on shipping). However, the babbling about how the offer is only for the "worthy" who preorder the commemorative cakes, and how great bargain that is - that is not feasible.

I ask myself what went wrong. Is the Czech puerh scene really in such a bad state that we should consider YS's most basic cakes to be some great teas commemorating an important anniversary? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not flaming against the cakes from YS, which, although not the top of what market offers, are priced very competetively and I'd say that they are a rather good buy for the people who like these regions. What I'm against is robbing and making fools of local people. I know of several people who bought whole tongs of these commemorative cakes... My condolences. Tong of both 2012 and 2007 tea cost you about 6960 CZK after discount. If you have rather bought 4 and 4 of the respective cakes from YS, you'd have had 200g of each more, in more practical packaging for aging, and you'd have paid  less than 4800 CZK, shipping and VAT included. Not mentioning you'd have cheap shipping by that time so for the spared money, you could buy a whole lot (2 kg) of that super-duper Xinghai nuggets if you wanted them. And you'd have good discount coupon for the next time.

pátek 22. února 2013

Two times Kang Zhuan: 85 and 93

I started delving into mysteries of heicha about a year ago and I must say it is a very pleasant journey. For a long time, liu an, liu bao, fu bricks and all that good stuff, were not commonly seen on the internet. Now, the situation gradually improves and more and more good tea can be bought.

Today, I'd like to write about two Kang Zhuans (bricks made for Tibet) I tasted recently. The first one is a cheap one, from 1993 ($32 per 0.5 kg), while the 1985 costs more ($165 per 0.5 kg). Anyway, both are dirt cheap, compared to puerh from that times. 

I must forewarn you that I did not prepare these teas in the traditional way (if nothing else, the herds of yaks are very few in Prague), but good old fashioned gongfu style. Also, I am not really that well acquainted with countless different heichas so add another pinch of salt to the one that is taken by you when you're reading my ordinary posts.

The leaves are, well, scruffy. But most heicha bricks are not composed of the sexiest material, without harming the very quality of resulting liquor.

The wet leaves do smell remarkably nice. Probably not too complex, nor exciting, but very nice. The aroma is warm, sweet and aged (sort of like a dry stored sheng - not superdry, howewer, far from that).  As steepings proceed, light camphoriness appears.

The taste is mostly fine aged sweetness too. An important thing is that it is a "tasty sweetness", not only a general sweetness without any own taste. The taste reminds me of the aroma I smelled when we were cutting some aged wood (not rotten or anything; a good dry old wood). I'd say that "aged wood" describes the taste fairly well. I'll say once more that it is by no means feeling musty or rotten. Similarly to the aroma, pleasant taste of aged camphor makes appearance after a couple of steepings. Even though the tea is some twenty years old, the taste is still vibrant and energetic. Although it is not really complex (as containing many intermingled tastes), it is very rich and full in mouth, with good hui gan.

The taste lasts for a reasonably long time and as it goes away, it is accompanied by a light, pleasant tingling. There is not a significant aftertaste right after that, but there is a light long-term aftertaste - not dissimilar to unrefined brown sugar. In other words, nice.

Astringency is just a touch above zero, rather unnoticeable. The same goes for bitterness.

Honza who sent me the tea suggested  to use less leaves than in puerh - which worked well, when I prolonged steeping times. Without that, the tea was good, but less interesting. The prolonged steeping times lead to somewhat lower stamina though. 

The tea is not rich, not poor in energy - it has some, but it is not a tea which would just make me stare into emptiness for many minutes.

The more I drink this brick, the more I like it. I'm learning how to prepare it better and I'm growing surprised how similar this can be to a good aged puerh. True, it is less complex than good cakes of early 90s, it also has lower stamina, but heck, it's whole lot cheaper too. 

While after the first two tastings, I thought that this brick is "merely" good, now I'd say that it is a BB (brutal bargain) and is probably the cheapest way of getting to know aged tea. It has aged character, and it is the character of good, dry storage. While heicha climbs up in price too, it is still nowhere as expensive as puerh. I hope that this lasts for a couple of years until I can make a good archive of older heicha. 

Will the large increase in price be linearly reflected in quality? It is unlikely (and it is not so indeed), but only a very naive person would expect that.

The leaves look similar to the 93 leaves.

The aroma is stronger and more "energetic" than in the 93 brick, more herbal too. Also probably more nutty and creamy. Some notes found in dry stored pu are detectable, but luckily in minuscule amount.

The taste is definitely "more about taste" than in the 93 brick. It is more energetic, stronger, creamier, etc. Although it is clearly of higher class than the 93 brick, I slightly miss the warm simplicity of the former. However, the 85 brick retains a lot of warmth, it is stilll sweet, tasting of aged wood, nuts(later steepings taste strongly of chestnuts) and some herbs and minerality. There is some good cooling and stronger vibrations than in the 93 brick. Also, the aftertaste (almost milky) is longer. 

Astringency is medium, it sure seems stronger to me than in the 93 brick. It is a bit disturbing, actually.

Stamina is a lot better than the stamina of 93, which is a bit surprising, as the leaves look rather similar.

So - this is clearly a higher class product than the 1993, but the price jump is quite big. Where I'm sure that I'll be getting some of that 93 brick, I'm not so sure with the 85 one.

Anyway, both teas are certainly worthy and I recommend trying them both if you like aged pu. Both are warm, comforting to stomach and aged indeed. I just should note that when I prepared the tea as I prepare puerh, it was not at its best, a bit too simple. Some experimenting leads to much better results.

neděle 17. února 2013

2012 YS Man Zhuan

While I never yet really disliked any tea from Manzhuan, I also have not yet found a truly great tea coming from there, the 2004 Shi Kun Mu being probably the closest to that. I thought that this cake from Yunnan Sourcing was priced quite fairly ($20 per 250 bing, supposedly from 80-100 yrs old trees) - such a price could be expected in good plantation material, but sounds quite good with the trees from which this tea originated. Therefore, I grabbed a sample.

Upon opening the pouch, I was frankly surprised at the degree of  compression - this cake is tight as Tommy Reck's piping! 

The aroma of dry leaves is somewhat surprising, stepping rather far from the "close-to-yiwu" cluster. I don't think I'd know where to place it, had I not known it's from Manzhuan. It is heavily floral and sweet.

The liquor is yellow, with a green tint I have seldom seen up to now. As it oxidizes, it gets more orange (as seen on the picture below). It does not smell too distinctly.

In mouth, it becomes clearer that this is really from near Yiwu - while it's not that thick, given its origin, it is rather thick compared to, e.g., Bulang teas; also the lubricating feeling is quite typical of regions near to Yiwu, I believe. The taste is floral indeed (while avoiding  unpleasant vegetalness that I dislike in young pu) - it's like orchids and lillies after being sprinkled with water. Although the taste is not entirely the same, this feels to me like Baozhong wulongs. Beware, this is not a "oolong-pu", it's just the floral tastes that are shared by these teas. Also, it is not like "lucha-pu" - it's just a fair, proper puerh, which has a very flowery and green taste spectrum. 

I think that the flowery tastes could be perceived as soapy, in a way, but there are a lot soapier teas. Also, as I eat a lot of bananas these days, I think that there is an aroma of green bananas. Also, as steepings go, the taste of other young fruit appears, although it never becomes too strong. Also, the fruitiness can be emphasized when the liquor is drank colder. I think that this tea is actually better drank a bit colder than most other teas. When I drink it really warm, the taste is almost too weak.

Despite the tea having quite a "high" taste, it overall feels darker than green tea or Baozhong - there is "lower" or darker body, which does not sport a strong taste, but it has a good presence.

The taste is mid-long, which is fine in young tea. After a couple of seconds, pronounced astringency appears. Luckily, despite the considerable strength and length (minutes) of the astringency, it is not an especially unpleasant one. It feels a bit strange, but not bad. In some steepings, it was accompanied by light tingling. A certainly positive thing is that this tea is quite good for stomach, quite unlike most young tea.

I noticed a curious thing in wet leaves - some of the leaves have an uncommonly curved serrations (top), while most (70%?) leaves are "ordinary" (bottom):

For me, this was not a "fall in love" tea, but a "this is new puerh experience" one. Nevertheless, it seems priced fairly to me and is fun enough to drink. Well done! 

čtvrtek 14. února 2013

2012 YS Jia Bu

While I said I'd write about young Yiwus for a while, I'll start with a randomly picked YS's Jia Bu. I thought it was Yiwu; it is not, but it's reasonably close. It's not far from Xikong and Yibang, which are definitely among my favourite areas. 

Although the tea purportedly comes from small leaf varietal, it looks like a mid-leaf varietal to me... or it's maybe just large leaves from small leaf varietal:

The aroma of wet leaves is indeed somewhat similar to that of YS's Xikongs, while being slightly, but clearly different. I sense sugariness, dark grasiness, a bit of animality, a bit of floweriness and fruitiness (lighter, exotic fruit). As steepings go, the aroma of wet leave gets increasingly vegetal, not entirely in a positive way.

The liquor smells dark grassy to me. I think that among Yiwu-esque, this is the greenest one I know.

While the liquor is not thin (but thinner than most Yiwu/Xikong/Yibang), it feels/tastes very hollow and eroded. Many boring Yiwus are at least redeemed by pleasant sweetness. Well, this tea is not really sweet enough. I checked whether I got the spring or fall version, but I should have the spring one... 

Steepings 2-4 were reasonable... light sugariness, dark grassiness (someone could call a part of it sweet tobacco), but nothing too great I'm afraid. The not overly great taste is made worse by a really strong bitterness and medium-strong astringency. They rather go away after 5 or so steepings, but then, nothing much good is left anyway, the tea just gets weak. Even when I used less leaves and longer (or shorter) steepings, the bitterness was a real killer. And unlike some other bitternesses found in small-leaf varietal (e.g., most Jingmais), the bitterness does not transform into anything pleasant. It just stays and hurts... After a while, there appears a bit of lingering aroma suggesting that there could be a transformation to longer aftertaste, but in vain...nothing. Even after several experiments, I could not make this tea be anything better than a rather drinkable, although a boring one (via colder water, less leaves, longer steepings).

Now, this Jia Bu is supposed to come from ancient arbor. Unimpressive taste (well, it's worse than that here, but let's forget about it for a while) may be redeemed by features of the tea that are beside taste - cooling, overall body feel and qi. An example is Hailanghao's Yiwu. It was a surprise to find this Jia Bu absolutely silent. I detected no cooling at all, no energy, nothing. The tea was overall either aggressive and unpleasant (to me, at least) or boring and hollow.

Given the impressive price tag ($75 per 250g), I found this tea a rather horrible experience...

čtvrtek 7. února 2013

Gu Puer 2001: Yibang, Yiwu, Youle

This post is supposed to conclude the tasting of 2001 Gu Puer 6FTM set. I previously wrote about Bangwei, Banzhang and Nannuo, all of which were reasonably good. It is a bit of a paradox that I usually like the three Ys (Yibang, Yiwu, Youle) very much and they stayed below my expectations.

I was very keen on tasting the Yibang and it is the first tea I tried from the set...
And I was quickly disappointed... All the pleasantries I usually associate with Yibang were missing. I got slightly sweet, woody, overly astringent liquor. When I came back to this one, it became clear that the tea is not really bad, nor good, but my expectations were probably too high.
While it is similarly priced as the 2004 Yibang Shi Kun Mu, it is largely inferior. I guess that even some cheap ($20-40) Yibangs from 2002-4 would give this tea a run for his money.

It has a very nice taste of raisins, it is reasonably sweet and thick. Mouthfeel is stronger than in most teas of the set. There is a bit of woodiness and smokiness in the background and these aspects become more and more dominant as steepings pass by, which I do not like. The tea does not excel when it comes to stamina either. 
Again, there are way cheaper alternatives to this tea, providing the good raisin taste and being similarly noninteresting in other areas. E.g., 2004 Xinfu Yiwu comes to my mind (pros - no smokiness in background, low price; cons - must be prepared carefully or it may get sourish).

I like this the most from the set of three Y's. And when I retasted it along the Bangwei, I guess I like this a bit more than that one too. This was the last sample from the set I opened. Being at least a bit acquainted with the rest of the set, I did not expect much: some teas in the set have a tendency to be a bit smoky and I do not like smoky Youle at all. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that it is not the case. While I did not detect any feature I associate with Youle, the tea tastes young-aged, decently sweet, nutty and rather pleasant. It is still somewhat astringent, but ok overall. 

What do the tea in the set have in common? I'd say that all of them feel to me like lower-mid quality material, with fairly good storage - the result is drinkable, but unexciting tea. While this elevates them high above certain sour dry mummies, they do not quite match the higher quality teas from 2000-3. None of the set amazed me, be it in the matter of taste or overall body feeling. I hope that the generally high astringency will go away eventually.

If I was to sort the teas in this set according to how I enjoyed them, it would be probably: 

I'd say that the the first two teas were fairly good (and possibly worth the cca $80), the third to fifth had some good points and some bad points, but the teas were enjoyable when I stayed positively attuned. And the last one, Yibang, was, I'm afraid, rather disappointing.

It was a good experience to taste the set. If nothing else, the Banzhang was educational. Also, the Nannuo cake showed me that the area is not as unpleasant as I thought and that I should give it another try. Whether this experience was worth the $55, I do not know. After all, there are some nice teas available for $55 per cake (albeit often 200-250g). I.e., the educational value of this  set seems to me as higher than its "enjoyment value". 

By the way, all of the set tasted better to me than the 2000 Qizi bing from Gu Puer. That one is far too smoky for me, which is a pity, because there are some good things under that smoke... Well, I may write about it eventually.

What are your opinions on the Gu Puer 6FTM set? It sounds unlikely to me that so few people would try that, but the other blogs seem silent about the set...