Saturday, October 6, 2018
10 Years to Sharpen A Sword: 2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu
Jia Dao (779-843)
It has been quite a ride David and Yingxi … 10 years. Over these last 10 years, much has changed in the puerh world and we have learned many things. As I shared previously on this blog, David and I go way back to when it first started. I had a feeling, and it is so fitting, that this 2018 Spring EoT 10 Year Anniversary Yiwu ($560.00 for 400g cake or $1.40/g) comprised of GuoYuLin or protected state forest material would magically make it to my tea table. On the wrapper is commissioned calligraphy of the above Tang Dynasty poem by Jiadao.
The first line in the poem above suggests that David and Yingxi have spent 10 years learning. There is humility in these lines, patience, meticulousness, carefulness, responsibility. They, like us, are students of tea- this great mystery of puerh. They are also our teachers and have taken us on this beautiful 10 year journey with them. It has taken us to the most pristine puerh trees, to the tea markets of Malaysia, to the Warehouses of Kunming, and beyond. This first line not only refers to them as students but also as business people, and probably, about each other as a couple.
The totality of David and Yingxi’s acquired experience, hard work, patience, learning from past successes and failures and knowledge of what makes puerh so wonderful is presented to us right now. In this very cake “Today, I hold it unsheathed before you”!
That is a LOT of hype to live up to…
Dry leaves smell of fresh foresty, deep wood odours as well as lingering but not overly sweet distant cherries and plumbs.
First infusion has a sweet onset followed by a deep forest taste then sweet fruity then a sweet icing surgar pungent finish. Wood tastes appear under the sweet and a slight almost rubbery feeling in the mouth and throat. It is immediately apparent that this puerh has interesting depth to it. The mouthfeel is mild and sticky in the tongue but nice and opening in the deeper throat. The liquour is a golden brown hue to it, unique among puerh this young.
The second infusion starts off with a burst of sweetness that is part fruity and part icing sugar- there is a deeper sweet taste in here as well- like edges of dried apricot mix with mainly freshness. The wood base appears throughout giving another dimension of depth in this puerh. The mouthfeel is somewhere between astringent and sticky.
The third infusion is surprisingly strong it has edges of slight bitterness and astringency but is nuanced by layers of sweetness and forest/woodiness. The aftertastes is pungent and the throatfeeling is deep. There is strength and power in this Yiwu. The falvours are both vibrant and deep. The taste of the skin of a prune plum is interesting.
The fourth infusion is a powerful astringent and sweet wood affair. The mouthfeel becomes almost puckery with an astringent plum and, in some ways, slightly candy-like with a sweet edge. Wood tastes are still there but the astringency even hits the corners of the mouth. It is not at all that choking astringency at all but a full, healthy, bringing out the flovours type of ordeal. I consider removing leaf but the intense mouthfeeling and throatfeeling bode very well for this tea.
The fifth infusion has much more of a round taste in a powerful full mouthfeeling. The fruity taste stands out and is long and round throughout the profile. I love this mouthfeel- this will be an amazing tea for aging. The sweetness almost has 3 layers to it. The aftertaste feels almost spicy and warming with a pungency mixed with astringency. The Qi is really starting to kick in an pushes me into a mild sweat, my head and thoughs feel stalled. My mind is crisp but my thoughs are slow. Its effect is strong.
The sixth infusion starts into a very nice round malty sweet or deep sweetness ininitally. The wood tastes round out the profile. Highnotes and fruit tastes glances the midprofile and sticks around. The taste has mellowed but is equally complex with many deep and high nuances. The moufeel now seems almost as sticky than astringent.
The seventh infusion taste of deeper, darker fruity tastes initially like grape and plumb the wood/ forest taste is underneath and almost seems to blend with the darker fruity tastes. The profile of this puerh is very long and ends in a pungent cooling taste. There are some grainy and even nutty notes in the mix as well here. The lips are tingling here as fruit tastes pop.
The eighth starts off with fruity grape like sweetness which tapers off into a slighty grainy slightly woody taste. The aftertaste is long and pungent. This infusion starts to loose its boldness but not much complexity.
The ninth infusion starts with that blast of fruit before deeper forest tastes and astringency and mild bitterness appears. There is a deeper warmer spicier note developing in there as well. The aftertaste is almost bready, almost candy, and quite pungent. The throatfeel of this tea is quite deep- very nice.
The tenth infusion has a deeper fruitier taste with nuances of wood and forest. The fruit taste is almost like a blackberry preserves type of taste mixed with grape and plum. Qi makes for a relaxing session with a noticeable thought slowing Qi.
The eleventh infusion I add 15 seconds to the flash to push it a bit. It gives off a malty fruit taste of nuanced dried and fresh fruits. A grainy taste develops over a returning pungent sweetness.
The tweveth infusion has 20 seconds added to the flash infusion and has a fruity taste, slightly astringent, slightly bitter. Long fruitiness in some pungency. The mouthfeeling holds but the fruitiness is less here.
The thirteenth has 25 seconds added and has an apple pie like taste initially with bitter and astringency tucked in there. Woody tastes emerge and start to dominate now. The aftertaste has a grape fruit edge which is long lasting.
The fourteenth is at 35 seconds and gives off a very fruity grapy taste the fruit taste is deep here but there is a certain vibrancy to it still. This infusion is much more fruity again. A rubbery taste is in the aftertaste with a mild lingering fruit sweetness and menthol.
The fifteenth is steeped for maybe 50 seconds and is a touch bitter and astringent and woody and not as fruity. There is a rubbery barely fruity lingering aftertaste along with wood tastes there.
The sixteenth has a minute or so on there and gives us a more woody taste mixed with lingering fruits and lingering menthol. The mind is nice and relaxed curled up by the fire somewhere and yet there is a robust feeling in the chest, a subtle fluttering feeling that give me a soft nudge of energy throughout this session.
The seventeeth is put into a long infusion and is a bitter, very astringent, fruity taste. Interesting but truly overpowering.
Overall, this is one of my favorite new fresh tastings of Yiwu puerh in recent times. Last year, Essence of Tea released a 2017 Essence of Tea Spring YiWu GuoYuLin that I had the pleasure of sampling. The description of the tea on Essence of Tea’s website stated that this was their favorite tea pressed to date- it sold out pretty quickly. I think this one is considerably better in that it offers a much more engaging astringency and mouth feeling as well as a deeper throatfeeling. Apparently, many GuoYuLin puerh in 2018 have shown much more astringency due to this year’s weather patterns. Some see this as a negative but in my experience this can be a big positive. The astringency ensures that the tea will have might even with age. Another thing is the Qi, the qi is much more deep and penetrating and overt in this 2018 than the 2017 as well.
“Ten Years to Sharpen a Sword” to me means that the last ten years was just the beginning. The true treasure from Essence of Tea has been presented to us in this extraordinary example of puerh tea. If this is any indication of things to come, I welcome it.
Congratulations David and Yingxi.