Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Very Good Lao Man E: 2011 Tea Urchin Lao Man E Spring
Certain puerh producing areas have a certain character, feel, or qi to them. Lao Man E is widely known for both its intense bitterness and its Qi sensations. In the West, I feel like Tea Urchin played a big role in Lao Man E’s notoriety. This tea was the very first offering of Lao Man E from Tea Urchin. The vendor description is as follows...
A special release from our first ever pressing of Lao Man E. A blend of the finest sweet & bitter Lao Man E gushu leaves,topped off with 10% wild tea tree leaves (adding some extra bitter kick). We only made 10 of these 357g cakes, so get in quick! You can read about the making of this tea on our blog.
When returning from my puerh buying hiatus, I found it quite interesting that there is no review or mention of this tea on the internet. Just one blog post by discipleoftheleaf back in the spring of 2012 (link). I guess this is understandable due to its rarity and high price at the time of release($128.00? for a 357g cake). Naturally the full cakes sold out quite quickly. However, the site showed that there were nine 30g samples left for purchase at $16.50 for 30g ($0.55/g).
On Tea Urchin’s BlogI noticed that there is a picture of 12 of these pressed Spring Lao Man E cakes, but on the website it states that only 10 cakes will be sold. I imagine that the 11th cake was broken into samples and the 12th is a prized possession of Eugene and Bell. The rarity of such a production immediately lured me into a purchase of one of these with my very first order from Tea Unchin in early May 2018.
After receiving this sample, I really did sit on it for a little while, waiting for the perfect day to sample such a special tea. When choosing a puerh to drink on a given day I don’t do this haphazardly nor do I do it randomly. I try to choose a tea which best harmonizes my energy. Today, I choose this bitter Lao Man E…
In Traditional Chinese Medicine each flavor has an energy, a season, a direction, ect. The flavor of the Heart is bitter. The Season of the Heart is Summer. The bitter taste is said to Drain (Heat) in the Heart. The bitter flavor in general is both Heat Clearing and Damp Draining. It is especially beneficial for draining Damp-Heat.
It just so happens that lately I have been slightly pulled out of balance by a case of too much Damp-Heat. The abnormally hot and humid weather as of late has only made this imbalance more entrenched. The weather today is hot and humid, above 30 Degrees C, the deep heavy lying dark clouds are pleading for a release in this close humidity. I can’t think of a better time to heed the warnings of the over-the-top bitterness of this Lao Man E and just dive right on in…
Dry leaves smell of intense fruity with undertone of hay and woods and even raison/ grape.
First infusion has an intensely bitter initial taste with a nice buttery taste and a creamy almost fruit hay taste. The mouthfeel and throat feel are slightly sticky and softly astringent. This initial taste of butter and even slight raisin is strong and long lasting in the mouth. The cha qi is intense very intense and pushes one into an immediate sweat. The body feel is cloudy and light- the head floats away.
The second infusion has that intense initial bitterness. The aftertaste has a fruity faintly sweet, raison and butter rum taste. Despite the bitter the mouthfeel is full and oily and not dry nor astringent. The buttery rum and raison taste is stuck on the breath minutes later. The mouthfeel and throat feel are sticky and gummy.
The third infusion shows maltier raison notes over an increasingly bitter initial taste. The taste is not a simple taste but dense in some respects. The bitterness doesn’t relent in the profile. It slowly diffuses over the span of minutes. The qi is big.
The fourth infusion the bitterness is getting more intense. It is hard to imagine drinking this tea for the taste. The flavours splash into the mouth even a fresh berry taste in the initial appears quickly. It’s simply too bitter to enjoy yet the flavours are brilliant in here malty rums and raisons in a buttery sticky mouth and throat feel. There is a mild cooling on the breath minutes later.
The fifth infusion is bitter bitter bitter and much the same… maybe more bitter.
The sixth is a touch more cohesive in taste the malty tastes come to getter nicely. Strong qi.
The seventh infusion is again much of the same tastes but more together now. Malty, buttery, rum and raisin, almost fruit, barely sweet- big qi.
The eighth infusion… finally the bitter is starting to back off to a more tolerable level. There is a bright berry fruit taste in there briefly in the initial taste. It has a malty raison buttery base taste. The mouthfeel is sticky. There is a mild cooling aftertaste with slight raison and faint berry. The ninth is similar with a more raison and fruity notes emerging now. There is a nutty taste left on breathe.
The tenth infusion is still at a flash infusion. It presents as almost watermelon kind of mango like buttery sweetness initially. The base taste is much less malty raison and more cooling in aftertaste now. This tea is transforming.
The eleventh infusion starts off with a nutty buttery bitter taste then slowly transitions to raison. There is dried fruit in the aftertaste as well as a distinct coolness now. The tongue feels sticky and a little numb. The throat is sticky and open.
The twelfth infusion has an almost fresh watermelon velvety buttery initial taste with a bitter that slowly builds then drops off. It has a nice coolness on the breath. The deeper, richer, maltier, nuttier deeper flavor profile is gone leaving a different taste to this tea.
The thirteenth infusion starts with a creamy buttery taste which turns into watermelon then into a cresting bitterness. There is a coolness and barely sweet taste in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is sticky and nice. An almost chewed out gum taste is left on the breath along with these tastes.
The fourteenth infusion starts with a fresh pop of fruit then trails into a bitter which crests into a returning not that sweet cooling feeling on the breath. The aftertaste is like gum almost rubbery.
The fifteenth infusion is much the same but with a long nutty aftertaste. There is an interplay of nutty tastes that seem to emerge in some infusions and not in others.
The sixteenth and seventeenth are quite nutty also with the higher fruit tastes disappearing and leaving a barely bitter and mainly nutty profile. There is still a cool sweetness with nutty tastes in the aftertaste. It is important to note that the taste is still quite full at this point with no signs of giving up. The rubbery gum taste is gone and a pleasant nuttiness remains.
The eighteenth and nineteenth has a touch of watermelon again the nineteenth has this slight fresher fruit touch with a thicker nuttier taste. This is a good tasting tea. Still significant qi in there. Significant sticky mouth feeling.
This tea has great stamina the twentieth is steeped a bit longer but the tastes are much the same just a bit more bitterness really, a bit more depth to the tea. I long steep the 21st just for fun and a very strong, bitter brew with a strong cooling aftertaste is what happens. Sweet high fruit, watermelon, lots of nuttiness. I think this is hands down my favorite Lao Man E I have ever sampled. I really enjoy the 10% wild leaf addition, it adds more interesting depth and pumps the qi up even higher. This tea seems to last forever…
As the rain finally falls down… I am at peace…
Think I might clear those samples out …