úterý 18. března 2014

2002 Bulang

This tea is another from my current Chawangshop spree. I do really like Bulang tea with some age (similarly as I tend to dislike young Bulang tea) and so I was looking forward to this.

It comes from a small factory (I appreciate that even though the wrapping and all that is CNNP lookalike, it is not marketed as such), which can mean many things. Theoretically, "small factory" or "private production" brings artisanal qualities to mind, a lot of effort and attention to detail, etc. In practise & my experience, it often means poor storage, lack of expertise in processing, etc. Of course, there are reputable small-scale makers, I'm rather talking about no-name small factories. The good thing about these is that indeed, there are gems between their teas, that are a lot cheaper than they would be, were they from a well known maker - but these gems are rare and most teas from such factories are just bad. But if you have somebody to sort through these teas for you, well, that's nice (and I think that it is a good way how to add value to selling tea).

The leaves seem quite small to me, while not being terribly broken. They are still rather green (not that obvious from the photo) as well - the tea does not seem to have aged that much from their looks.
Rinsed leaves smell herbal and medicinal, with some honey, leather and general sweetness (not that much, though).

The color of liqor is light, but not too much so.

In mouth, the tea feels a bit dry (dry wood and leather, with medium bitterness and astringency) and not so thick, which is not great, but the other (dominant) tastes are pretty nice: a mixture of herbs and that good blend of honey and medicinality that sometimes occurs in Bulang tea. A small amount of aged earthiness is present as well and complements the rest nicely. While the amount of sweetness is decent, I'd like a bit more in a tea of this taste spectrum. Nevertheless, the taste is very well balanced, powerful, rich and I like it. It's a proper, "older school" sort of puerh, no superthick namby-pamby flowery puffiness.

The taste hangs around mouth for a good amount of time, though it does not bring a significant amount of buzz, nor qi.

This tea seems very interesting to me as it combines the "dry wood" Bulang (which I do not like too much) with the "medicinal and honey" Bulang (which, on the other hand, is one of my most favourite genres of puerh). I'm still not certain of the relation between these two families of Bulang teas - is it that the former transforms in the latter via aging (that would be nice!), or the difference can be spotted even when the teas are young? We'll see in a couple of years.

For drinking now, the tea is, in my opinion, too drily stored (which causes still notable bitterness, lack of qi and thickness, etc.) - on the other hand, the storage was not nearly too dry to kill the tea - it does age and develop, which is good. Especially fans of more dry stored tea might enjoy this tea a lot as it is pretty tasty and rich, for a tea stored that way.

When I started drinking this tea, it was available for $85, which was quite ok, in my opinion - teas with this taste spectrum are seldom cheap and this tea seems rather good. Currently, it costs $150, which is rather too much for me to consider purchase. I think that the price is still quite good compared to for what are some (much worse) dry stored teas of this age sold, but there are enough two-eyed kings for me to pursue elsewhere...

pondělí 3. března 2014

1997 CNNP Red Mark

I consider it fortunate that Chawangshop stocks more aged tea now than it used to - and this 97 Red mark is one of these (I think it's the most expensive puerh in the shop as well). 
Red mark seems to be a popular recipe and it is for a good reason - the reason being, that it is good (both raeson and tea). Also, while I've tasted quite a few 7542s (especially the pesty "private order" ones) which were way off their original recipe, the Red marks I've had belong to the same cluster - maybe not being so popular since some time, therefore less worth faking?

The leaves seem to be quite good to me - they are not really broken and are quite strong as well.

Rinsed leaves smell really well - very sweet and full, slightly earthy, spicy and honey-like. It is distinctly aged in a way (no young aromas at all), but at the same time, it is not one of those teas that get muddy via too wet storage - this is still a clean and vibrant tea.

The color of the liquor (one of lighter ones) gives away what is suggestted by the aroma already - the tea has seen some humidity, but just right.

I enjoy how this Red Mark tastes very much - the sweetness is still there and so is the smoothness. Both these features are usual in an aged tea, but they are quite distinctly above-average here (given the age). The taste is a mixture of comforting warm peat, deep, warming sweetness and slightly spicy "heights". It slowly travels through the mouth, spreading peace and love around, gradually changing into vibrations, fresh-plum long-term aftertaste and then leaving for good (well, until next cup is taken). 

It is still quite active in mouth (with slight astringency left). As a good aged tea this is, it is comforting overall, making one feel "simply good and healthy". I'm not too keen on talking about "medidative states", but this tea does change my perception and when I let it, it brings me "elsewhere".

The stamina is good (and definitely above-average in this price range of cheap-ish aged tea) - 20-30 steepings over 2-3 days are easily doable.

At least for me, this is an excellent tea - for a good price ($168/cake), it rewards the drinker with a good, aged feeling and remarkably nice taste; a real pleasure. When it comes to buying this tea, the question is not "whether", but "how many cakes"...