neděle 17. listopadu 2013

3x 99 Yiwu maocha, 2008 Bada, 2012 Autumn Yiwu

Hello again! The bad thing about being most of the day in school is that there is litle time for tea at home, which also means less time for writing. Ah, can't be helped I guess. Anyway, I collected my paper notes on these three "Slovak" puerh teas to convert them into online form.

By the way, it's probably like that for longer time, but it has been brought to my attention (huge thanks Marketa) that Google added space for storing photos at Picasa. I.e., if you, like me, have filled the 1GB quite quickly and had to link to other websites, it's possible to upload pictures "natively" again.

Many thanks to Peter from for providing these teas!

Let's take it chronologically again, starting with the grandpa of these three:

1999 Yiwu maocha

Pretty, is it not? And it smells quite good too - like an aged Yiwu. There is some additional humidity on top of that which I enjoy.

Rinsed leaves smell sweet, aged and decent, with small amount of fishiness. It seems to me that the variance in aged maochas is a lot smaller than in cakes or even tuos... 

The liquor is quite dark even for a 99 maocha, almost pitch black. That's not a bad thing though, just saying...

In mouth, I'd say the tea is "adequate". It's aged, it's kind of sweet and full (though not really like a cake), with a bit of vanilla. There are still remnants of fruitiness, which make it quite interesting. Also, small amount of extra humidity seems to make this tea stand out a bit in a lot of generic aged maochas - it's actually quite nice. It is a decent approximation of good, rich aged tea, but it's not really "it", if you know what I mean. Anyway, it's pleasant enough to be sure. 

Compared to the 99 Yiwu I tasted recently from Origintea, the one from seems a bit richer, less fishy and overall better (and a lot more expensive too).

Two things that I did mind slightly (not like they're bad, it's just that one slightly expects them) was general lack of qi and not that great stamina. The tea gave me about 10-11 steepings, while decently aged cakes from 90 can often give up to 20. 

I seem to appreciate loose aged tea less and less, which is unfortunate, given that it is cheaper than compressed tae. Such is the price of learning I guess. 

So - I did enjoy this 99 maocha, but do not expect aged tea enlightment. Also, it seems a bit more expensive to me than it should (0.6$ per gram). The 2001 BGT seems like a lot better tea to me an it is actually cheaper. But it's just my ill-judged opinion so don't go by it :)

2008 Bada
Bada boom! 

Teachum Brano from Slovakia wrote highly of this tea and therefore I was quite eager to taste it. Is it good? It sure is. I may miss something in it, but it is good nevertheless.

The aroma is explosively fruity, sweet, with some darker notes which make it obvious that this is not really a young tea anymore.

The taste is...explosively  fruity too. There is a good mixture of various sorts of fruits - darker jam, ripe garden fruit and some fresh, higher, grape-like tops. Even though the taste is a bit on the dry side, it is full and sweet.

It has got some nice huigan, which I enjoyed. Not much qi, unfortunately.

The strange thing about Bada seems to me that even these which taste really good (this 2008 Bada or Menghai's 2003 Bada), there is something I miss in them, there is a sort of hollowness in comparison to "classical" regions, such as Bulang or Yiwu.

But still, it tastes really nice - I think that for most people, it will be a great tea and they won't mind what I minded a bit.

2012 Yiwu
When I first tasted this tea, I thought "ah, another generic young Yiwu". Later, I realized it's more. Even though the basic form is indeed usual youngish Yiwu - wet straw, sweetness, sugariness and dark forest fruit. The bonus is that this tea is fun to drink, which can't be said about all young Yiwus. The fruitiness is accompanied by slight mixture of "candy" and camphor.

Therefore, I'd say that this is basically a very well done Yiwu tea - perhaps  not astonishing, but it makes you think "hey, this is definitely better than normal". At the same time, it's good to realized that given today's crazy pricing of Yiwu, it is rather cheap. 

Smoothness of this tea is quite remarkable - it's smoothness itself in the initial steepings, becoming a bit astringent with time, but not in an unpleasant way.

You could say that it is autumnal, which is baaaaad, but I don't think that's really true. Autumnal tea can be good from time to time and this one is an example of that.

neděle 3. listopadu 2013

1998 Fu Cha Ju Jingmai with tea flowers

After some time, I tasted something new. Most of my tea sessions happen in school these days, so there is not really enough time for taking pictures or tasting anything special. And, not knowing why, I recently started feeling that I want to become better acquainted with the teas I have in greater quantity. Nevertheless, I had a free(ish) afternoon, so why not to have something interesting? And this Fuchaju tea interesting is. Scented teas are not something I'd usually drink, but the addition of tea flowers seems like a nonviolent way of enhancing a tea (I think that especially Youle and Jingmai might profit from these). Also, the addition of tea flowers does not seem to change the basic character of a tea. When I had 2005 Fuchaju Jingmai and 2005 Fuchaju Jingmai with tea flowers side by side, both these teas were essentially similar, the latter being a bit sweeter and more rounded. But the addition of tea flowers seems to be nowhere near adding jasmine or magnolia, in means of overall change to a tea.

I really enjoyed that 2005 Jingmai thing with flowers, but that was about it, I haven't encountered anything like that, until Honza of Chawangshop sent me a sample of the 1998 version, also by Fuchaju (btw. Chawangshop also made Jingmai cake with tea flowers this year, I'm quite curious what it's like). 

What do seven teas of aging do to an already pretty good tea (given that the source material is the same, which it probably isn't)? And what do three years of aging change in a tea lover? Wasn't it just a whim of years past that I liked the combination previously?

The leaves do not look like a 1998 tea (spoiler - the tea feels younger overall, but it's not a problem), but it seems that the cake has been just stored in a rather dry environment. 

The dry leaves smell of meadow flowers and fruit - a bit more like Youle than like Jingmail, but pretty nevertheless. There is no trace of agedness, on the other hand, there is no trace of faults in aging process either. 

The wet leaves smell really good, explosive - a myriad of interweaving fruits, jam and ripe wine grapes (white). Further components are herbalness and "apples with cinnamon". In general, the aroma is very harmonic.

(the second photo has a more faithful color). You may see that the liquor is quite light, though perhaps not as light as one might expect, given the greenness of dry leaves. Also, it is obvious that Oxford water is hard indeed (this is after filtration). 

If you can free your mind from the shackles of expecting a normally aged tea (I can), this is a very interesting and enjoyable tea, being good in many areas. The taste is simply good. The tea tastes youngish (2004?), but the darker and complex background suggests that there is is indeed some further time spent aging. What is important to me is, that a) there is no sourness/bad red fruit/hem string taste from dry storage, b) aged Jingmai hongcha-iness (btw. I think you could cease expecting a normal aged tea just because this is a Jingmai tea).  The taste contains a mixture of garden fruits, ripe white grapes and meadow flowers - all mixed with a honey-like sweetness. It is very good in being balannced, with full low, mid and high tones. It is like high-class aged white wine in many aspects.

What surprised me the most was the extraordinarily strong and pleasant aftertaste. It is fruity and honey-like and it is really, really uncommonly good. There is actually an intersection with what is found in the "aged Jingmai hongcha-iness", but it is not strong enough to stand out in a peculiar way.

What makes this tea a very good one (and strictly better than the 2005 version) is good and fast huigan, good tongue-tickling and quite obvious and "world-connecting" qi.  

Overall, I enjoyed this tea very much. It may not be the most typical example of puerh (actually, it is rather an outlier), but I find it very complex, refreshingly new, while it manages to keep the good aspects that puerh can have. Only thing that was slightly disturbing me was the rather high astringency, but that was only a minor thing, hardly a big problem.

I don't think that this is a tea that needs further long-term storage. But for drinking now or in a couple of years, it seems like a really good choice.