čtvrtek 14. března 2013

2007/8 Blue Mark (Menghai, Wistaria TH) (and piggybacking 2005 Wistaria Jinggu)

The journey through the box with samples of Wistaria's teas seems to come to its end, unfortunately. While I have received packages filled by larger sum(goodness), I don't think I'd have ever received a package with larger mean(goodness). With most semi-random picked samples, I find the ratio of success to be 5%=great tea, 20%=good tea, could buy (if I had the money and price was ok), 70%=drinkable, but would not buy, 5% awful, not to ever touch again. However, with these six Wistaria samples, I see the ratio as 50%/34%/16%. 

Without further ado...
2007/8 Blue mark
Yesterday, it witnessed the death of Ahab (Hobbes' recent post inspired me to read Moby Dick again) and somewhat brightened the grim end of Pequoda.

The pouch says it's from 2007, but other source say 2008 so I'll stick with that. I think that 2007 is the birth year of Red mark (What is it like? Has anyone had that? MarshalN?). Anyway, one year does not matter that much, I guess. 

The Blue mark is a Menghai blend. That may mean a variety of things. Most of awful sheng in generic asian shops is "Yunnan King/Emperor/Mighty ruler of the universe,..." puerh, but "Menghai green" wins the silver medal for average awfulness, I guess. However, there are good Menghai blends too, e.g., the Spring of Menghai from Dayi. There is good reason why I chose to mention that one - it offers a partially similar family of tastes as this Blue mark.

The dry leaves smell somewhat mushroomy. That may sound a bit scary, but it's quite ok. Mushroominess is sometimes found in puerh... I still vividly remember the 2005 Guoyan Nannuo, which, after a couple of steepings, tasted like a boletus. Blah. I thought it ok back then (was it 2007 or 8?), but at that time, we had mostly even worse puerh around so it felt comparatively better. It's fun to read Czech message boards about puerh from these years too. It feels like there were living trilobites around back then.

Rinsed leaves reveal a very to-my-liking aroma of certain sort of meadow flowers, sweet granary, leatheriness and general "Menghai shengness" (in a good way). If I inhale long and deep, I smell animality (as of cattle), which I do like both in tea and wine. No mushrooms, thank  god. So far so good.

The taste is right lovely, of clay, sweet granary, meadow flowers, a bit of leather. Since the 2nd steeping on, the garden fruitiness jumps out of the cup and further improves the already good impression of the first steeping. In a tester, the clay and garden fruit were so intermingled that I thought it to be the "Banzhang stone fruit" taste, but gongfu reveals that these two tastes are a bit more separated than that. Maybe after two years, they will come together? Still, the tea tastes/feels to me like there is a portion of leaves from near (or within?) Banzhang. I also believe that it will develop honey tones in future. Later, towards the death of this tea (7-9th steeping?), the mushrooms appear again. At this stage, however, I do not mind them. I take is a folly of starting-to-be-senile tea

The liquor is propertly thick, sweet and lubricating. There is a somewhat surprising light acidity in there, but I rather like it. 

The astringency is  still quite high, but it seems to be that sort which should go away eventually. Bitterness can be kept low and pleasant.

There is some activity and energy, but I must admit that the good taste of this tea was what interested me the most.

As pleasant, full and sunny tea as it is, this still tastes/feels to me like a $50 cake, not a $80-100 one. I think that given the price, I'd rather stick with 2006 Spring of menghai. But let's not diminish the fact that  this Blue Mark is a nice tea and I think it should safely age into a very good tea.

2005 Tai Yue (Jinggu)
Ah, Jinggu, where were you sleeping when aroma was given to regions by God? Why did not you wake from your slumber when interesting tastes were given by God. Why were you acting dead when good body feel was given by God, only to wake up to lift and carry the bag of boredom which nobody else wanted?

There are drinkable Jinggus (YS's recent ones, 2010&11 XZH Laowushan, 2003 Bailong Jia Ji), I even know of one that I would call "rather good" (2003 Bailong Te Ji). However, I still wait to see an exciting, great and magnificent Jinggu. I think that most Jinggu teas I had were best represented by a tuocha made for local market by Teanet. The tea is inoffensive. The tea is drinkable. But it makes me ask myself who would want to make/ drink such a tea and why.

The Tai Yue from Wistaria is definitely an above-average Jinggu. In means of performance, it, I believe, falls somewhere between the Bai Long Te Ji and XZH Laowushan. It rather feels like an average of these two. There are some ok feelings and subtleties from the XZH, while the solid base reminds me of the Bailong Te Ji.

As other above-average, this is not a bad tea, but it just does not offer anything interesting to me.

I was thinking of how I liked the six samples from Wistaria...

The Zi Pin (Yiwu) wins it for me because of its mighy qi, mouthfeel and very nice taste.

<great puerh>
I could not decide whether I liked the Mengsong or Nannuo more. They both offer strong, good taste, good mouthfeel and nice qi. To me, they are like two poles of puerh: The Mengsong being light (but strong), sunny, "primitively pleasant" tea, while  the Nannuo is darker, more "intimidating" and maybe more serious than the Mengsong. It depends on momentary mood which of these I'd drink.
</great puerh>

<very nice puerh>
Fourth, I'd rank the Blue Mark. It's good.

Fifth, the Jiang Chen (near-Yiwu) is for me. It is still a good tea, but I don't adore this family of Yiwu tastes as some others. Right now, I might consider it a bit more tasty than the blue Mark, but I think that after a couple of years, I'd certainly take the Blue mark over this one. 
</very nice puerh>

<ok puerh>
Well, Jinggu... 
</ok puerh>

So, thanks to SilentChaos/Tony/Origintea for this tasting opportunity. Seldom have I spent $99 on samples this wisely.

12 komentářů:

  1. Okay, about JingGu...

    How did Wistaria compare to those YS xiaobings?

    Next, JingGu vis á vis Yiwu is something like this:
    JingGu do not usually taste as good as a decent Yiwu. It is usually pretty flat, with all of the complexity being of the baroque sort, with little depth.

    JingGu of good breeding usually has way more power in the mouth and throat than any Yiwu, and sometimes is a substitution for some in China for LBZ.

    JingGu of good breeding will also have way more qi than the majority of Mengla teas other than genuine GFZ or Youle of high quality.

    JingGu in general tends to have more sensate sweetness, particularly tonguetip, and eventually a general sweetness like LBZ/N. Bulangs. Cooling is the same or more than Yiwu. Neither region tend to thicker broth or less thick than the other. Tea by tea thing.

    So when you evaluate JingGu, it's about whether the basic flavor is good or appealing to you, since it's going to age roughly like Mengku will, with a bit more woodiness/herbalness. You should check whether it has strong qi and good sweetness (with the whole leaves unless you're specifically for Dabaicha).

    This does seem to be tricky because good JingGu is rare, since plantation Yiwu can be very decent while plantation JingGu can be a pretty inferior product.

  2. Hello,
    compared to the YS Xiaobings... difficult to say, because of the big age difference. I can't tell where the YS one will shift.

    Concerning the power in mouth, qi, sweetness and all that, my experience with Jinggu/Yiwu is exactly the opposite of yours. Do you know at least three "well bred" Jinggu teas, preferably somewhat aged? If so, which are they?

    I do not want to sound overly antagonistic. I'm just wondering where to find that good Jinggu tea. Because I surely know great Yiwu teas, while I do not know any great Jinggu. I wonder - have you had well stored well bred Yiwu from 2000-2003? From what I have read, it seems to me that you drink younger tea in general. Many Yiwu teas, in my opinion, tend to fall aslumber at circa 1-2 years from the pressing and the sleep lasts for 3-5 years, when the tea is relatively boring. But it can get very good later. If you had these sleeping Yiwus, no wonder you do not like them as much.

    1. P.S. Concerning the Wistaria/YS Jinggu, it seems to me that the Wistaria is a higher level tea. It would be more fair to compare the Wistaria Jinggu to YS's Ancient Arbor Yiwu, I guess. I can imagine the Ancient arbor Jinggu aging into a similar thing as the Wistaria one...

      I guess the closest Jinggu I know is the 2010 XZH Laowushan. However, I do not see how any of these two could become very good via further aging. Still, the future may prove me wrong, I admit.

    2. Well...

      I consider the Lao Wu Shan to have better qi than the XZH Manzhuang. I don't really think that tea is a great example of a JingGu, since it has many "wuliang" type features.

      I have never considered Yiwu to be a particularly sensate-sweet tea. The 2004 YangQingHao is virtually the only Yiwu I have (or quickly thinking, sampled) that is particularly sweet. No Yiwu I've ever had can match a JingGu in sweetness, as a rule--not even some mediocre-bad JingGu. Good Yiwus tend to have sweet flavors, like vanilla or caramel that you'd find in something like the '99 Song Charactered. JingGu typically does not--they tend to age towards dry wood, weedy herbals.

      Yiwus just aren't sweet like the '03 JingPin Bulang or the '06 banzhangs I have, or Jinggu Nu'ercha '07 or certain Yibangs. You won't think you're drinking something already sweetened with honey with most Yiwu I've tried.

      As for sheer power in sensations and qi--no, a high end JingGu will kill virtually any Yiwu, full stop. Those guys can deliver huigans and qi pretty close to Banzhang or Bingdao? levels. They cool a lot more, too.

      A top Yiwu is usually better because they are much more well rounded teas, with depth and character in the taste, enough qi, enough cooling, much less bitterness. Both top Yiwu and top JingGu are really rare in the marketplace, and I see few people selling top JingGu on Taobao (just guessing, since I don't know how good the tea actually is). Most of that stuff will not make it to any market.

      Most of my experience is with Sanhetang JingGus. Yes, I've had my share of '99-'03 Yiwu. I don't own any cakes because decent Yiwu from that time period is fantastically expensive. Sanhetang JingGu are much more reliable teas than Sanhetang Yiwu, but on a good day the Yiwus are better than all but perhaps the Puzhen, which can be insanely good.

    3. I don't think that Manzhuan is a good example of Yiwu (well, it is not Yiwu...) either. I find the area rather boring.

      Agreed that with most Yiwus, it's not like honey-sweetened (though general sweetness is often ample), however, there are such Yiwus too. It's a large area with several important sub-clusters.

      Again - please, tell me of three high-end Jinggus. Kill virtually any Yiwu? Hmm, qi seems an awfully personal thing to me. But if you get a chance to taste, e.g., the Wistaria's Zi Pin, do so.

      I don't think that Banzhang would have necessarily strong qi... Concerning Bingdao, you had some real Bingdao? Seems awfully expensive to me.

      I think that very decent Yiwu can cost less than $200 per cake. Are the XZH Jinggus a lot cheaper?

      According to what I drank, I would not consider Sanhetang Yiwus as a measure. And definitely not a measure of how good Yiwu can be; they can be much better. Then again, I might not had the great XZH Yiwus. However, given my previous experience with XZH, I'll much more readily invest into Wistaria's teas.

    4. I've actually purchased a 100g tuo version of the Zipin. I drank it up, so I am quite familiar with it, given obvious acknowledgement of the differences in leaf quality between the cake and tuo.

      I've had plenty of different areas of Yiwu as well. As a group, they don't do much actual sweetness, especially before some age.

      Houde still has the '07 Kuzhushan. Bannacha had a JingGu that was so approved of, they sold out. You can also get a sample of the Huangshanlin from Jas-eteas.com. Knock yourself out. Not promising instant revelation--I think only the Puzhen was instantly obvious to be great. The rest generally take more sessions to truly grasp the appeal.

      Never had any for sure Bingdao.

      If a Banzhang doesn't have strong qi, then it's not really worth having. Banzhang with good taste, complexity, and durability are much more rare than Banzhang with qi. Especially on the durability part. Without the qi or dynamicism in the mouth, you're better off buying Nannuo.

      I do not really think of the Wistaria Zipin as being much more than something on the level of Nadacha with age to it. They will not beat a CGHT, and head to head, yes, the Sanhetang '06 and '07 yiwu would normally beat it by some margin, and would absolutely crush it on a good day with little question about it.

      Your opinions are yours and you are welcome to satisfy your needs as you please. In any event, you can't even buy the '07 (spring, someone's still selling the fall GFZ in Taiwan) easily while the shop nominally will sell you the '06 for US$400+. You *can* buy the '06 fall CGHT if you rummage around Taiwan enough.

    5. I see. Interesting thing with the Zipin tuo, I haven't realized they made one. With the Jiang Chen, the difference was significant (though not groundbreaking). With the cake version, I was impressed by its heavy qi. Some others felt it this way, some did not. If not, then I can't say the tea would be entirely impressive otherwise. Comparing it to CGHT... Don't know enough of these. However, the 2001 and 1999 from Houde seemed clearly inferior to the Zipin to me.

      Thanks for the tips on the Jinggus, I'll be looking for them in future.

    6. I've not had the CGHT '99/'01 stuff. I've had the '03, '06 Fall, '07 Spring.

  3. As far as storing and aging, my personal state of knowledge sez that north of Menghai city, the only tea I suspect that will age well within reasonable time periods is proper Daxueshan. Everywhere else, you're just along for the ride until it's old tea.

    Some things get better--Mengku and JingGu gets sweeter and retains qi. Mengku gets a bit of that aromatic and barky woodiness. Jingmai gets red, preferably with nice longan flavors, but most seem to lose qi. Same with Yibang. Other places, like Bangwei or many areas of Wuliang do not have a good history at all when it comes to aging. Will have to cross my fingers for Nadacha Bangwei '10. So forth and on.

    1. Some Mengkus age quite well, I guess. The Yuanyexiang is a very good tea. That 2003 Mengku from YS ages reeasonably too.

      Yibang - not same as Jingmai. 2002 Yibang from Chawangshop, or 2004 SKM Yibang are not red at all, they age quite normally.

    2. I have not been as happy with aged Mengku or Yibangs in my experience. With Mengku, JingGu, and their like, dry storage all the way, baby. I certainly will never buy Yibang, or the Yiwu north of Yishanmo with the idea that they will be good agers.

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