středa 16. října 2013

Tasting Origintea: 2001&2 Haiwan HOP, 2003 Purple Dayi, 1990s round cake

While I was quite content with the loose leaf teas from Origintea, I remember that when I tasted some of the compressed stuff, I was unimpressed at best and horrified at worst - which is unfortunate, because the owner of Origintea, Tony, is such a nice chap. Most of the teas tended to suck - these, I'm giving them a second chance (and they are better than they were indeed, if nothing else, weird storage smell in some of them is gone). I think that some of them are a grand example of why overly dry storage sucks - and no, it is not that the tea ages slower and retains complexity, that's nonsense. The tea gets too dry and I don't think it would ever get better. MarshalN has written about one such tea (2001 CYH) here. I'll write about the CYH in future too. 

Today, there's some optimism, at least - it is called "The good, the bad, the bad and the weird".It goes chronologically.

2003 Menghai Purple Dayi
I usually like Purple Dayi and this one is not an exception.

The compression is heavy indeed. Nevertheless, these chunks smell pretty good, of plums, mint and raisins. After rinsing, it is interestingly sweet, with tones of longan - it feels rather northern, but without the occassional northern hardness. There is some camphor in the background, and, unfortunately, an element of hollowness.

In mouth, one quickly can tell that this is a decent tea - sweet, thick, long-lasting (both in taste and number of steepings) and rather tasty. In the first steepings, it feels Mengku-ish, with a mixture of longan fruitiness, overripe garden fruit and some wood. Later, another family of tastes chimes in (feels more like Bulang to me) - some meadow flowers and dark brown honeylike sweetness. The element of hollowness from the aroma is not present at all, which is good.

Both families of tastes work well together, creating a nice, dark taste spectrum, and in means of pleasure, it is not important which one dominates at a given moment.

Overall, this is a very warming tea with calming qi - very good for this kind of cold Oxford days.

2002 Haiwan HOP
Supposedly 50% from Yiwu, I'm afraid that this is a pretty bad tea. Just look at the leaves and color of liquor.

Is this a 2010 tea? No... 2008 then? No... But it surely does not have a color of normal 2002 tea either (I don't think it's a fake though). It has been stored very dry, obviously.

The aroma of dry leaves is a bit smoky - same with rinsed leaves, which add some woodiness and rancid walnuts to the mix.

The taste is nothing to write home about either. There is a rancid nuttiness, generic sweet wood, emptiness and a large component of "plain weirdness".

Qi? No way. Some activity in mouth is there, but I'm not sure if it's a bug (pesticides) or a feature here.

This tea is, in my opinion, dead and gone. Even if you revive it, it will be hardly much good - it's probably better to invest your energy elsewhere.

2001 Haiwan HOP

This one has a bit bigger and better conserved leaves than the 2002. It is also quite without smoke. But that's unfortunately about it when it comes to good stuff.

This is a hollow, dried out tea, without much energy in it. When it manifests some strength, it does so via weird tastes and unpleasant sourness.

It is somewhat drinkable when you have zero expectations, but otherwise, I'd steer clear of it.

1990s Round cake
The previous two teas were largely without positives - the same can't be said about this cake, despite its numerous shortcomings.

The dry leaves smell quite nicely, of nuts. The wet leaves smell rather earthy, but not in a classical puerh way. A lot of red fruit and woody tannins is also present. Some laundry and some nuts finish it up - nothing too great, though not tragic either.

In mouth, the tea is very sweet, in a positive, warming way. It starts a bit fishy/mineral, followed by sweet woodiness (not too great). However, it feels good in mouth overall, being thick and sweet.

After a couple of steepings, the fishiness subsides and gives way to drier woodiness and a taste I'd call "laundry". Simply put, it does not taste very good.

Nevertheless, it causes pleasant vibrations in mouth and the overall warming feeling is accompanied by a qi that takes some time to build up, but is rather obvious (to me, at least) - and which is calming and soothing. Therefore, even though this tea does not taste too good, I would not say it totally sucks - it also has some good aspects about it. In overall feeling, it bears some similarity to Guan Yun Gong teas...

čtvrtek 3. října 2013

2001 & 2004 Big Green Tree Yiwu

Peter of has been so kind to send me samples of his slightly more aged samples (from 1999 to 2004). I am doubly grateful for these, as all are pretty good... 

Today, let us have a look at two BGTs (private production, not an "official" one):

2004 Big Green Tree Yiwu
The cake is already dark and brown, mummy alert is off. It is a "black ribbon" edition (i.e., rich  in black hair). 

Rinsed leaves have a good aroma. It seems to be of the "dark forest fruit" sort of Yiwu, along with further fruitiness, but it is very nicely aged  already, one easily sees the additional depth. The aroma suggests (and the taste later confirms) that this is, quite interestingly, right between a tea's youth and old age. I had both a piece from the cake's centre and a piece further from it - the non-central part is quite a lot more aged. That is not surprising, due to strong compression of the centre, but it was interesting nevertheless - one does not compare a tea's centre and non-centre every day.

In taste, there is some very light fishiness - not too bad, but it slightly disturbed my first couple of steepings. Along that minor unpleasantness, a lot of pleasant tastes marches on - lovely forest fruit, some clay and moss. Later steepings introduce more of overripe fruit and powidl, the more aged tones get stronger and nuts appear in the taste and aftertaste.

The tea has plenty of good sweetness and thickness. Activity (vibrations, rather than cooling) is good, it starts behind teeth and moves to the back of oral cavity. There is some qi, but it is not really that developed, in my opinion.

All in all, this is quite a good tea and its price ($80 or so) is very competitive. I'll buy some of that, methinks...

2001 Big Green Tree Yiwu
At last, I unpacked my camera, which is why I hope to post more photos regularly again.

The nicely colored leaves (yay, Guangzhou storage) emit a peaceful, aged camphory aroma. The aroma becomes much more interesting when the leaves are rinsed: it has tones of sweet wood, camphor, overripe forest fruit and some red fruit. It is sweet and suggests excellent storage conditions.

The taste is undoubtedly of the "somewhat aged Yiwu" family, but it is deeper and more complex than most of these. This Yiwu tea is very sweet, in a caramel way, which mixes with tastes of raisins, overripe forest fruit and plumminess (the plummy component actually starts to dominate the taste after a couple of steepings; it is a bit like 06 CGHT's Yiwu Yecha). The sweetness is both deep and wide and I find it entirely lovely. There were some slightly disturbing (laundry-like) tastes in the first two steepings, but I guess that they're just an aspect of the plumminess.

The aftertaste is also very nice, with a bit of camphor and later long-term aftertaste of young plums. These good post-taste features are paired with pleasant numbing of mouth (not the bad pesticide-like sort of numbing).

It definitely has stronger qi than the 2004 version. Still, it is not an "in your face" qi powerhouse, but it needs some time to build up instead. 

This is a tea which has many good features and little to no bugs. However, I found it lacking in "X factor" - although I enjoyed the two sessions with this tea, they were by no means "wow sessions". Anyway, I guess that this is purely personal and you might have even better time than I had (and it was pretty good already) with this tea.

Both the 2001 and 2004 versions of BGT sold by are, in my opinion, very nice teas, well worth sampling.