Friday, March 15, 2019

In Search of Bada & 2016 Chawangshop Manmai (Not Selected) Gushu

Oh, to be not selected… do you remember what it felt like to have your hand up in class and to be not selected by the teacher?….

…So in many ways I feel kind of bad for this free sample of 2016 Chawangshop Manmai (Not Selected) Gushu that was sent along with my recent order of 2016 Chawangshop Bada

Wait a minute… it was selected as my free sample… that has to count for something?…

This is coming from someone who has a long history with Bada area puerh but who has never been able to close the deal and select it…

In my mind it goes back quite a while actually…

My search for a good Bada area puerh was first piqued back in 2006 and 2007 when I tried the famous puerh mountain cake series by Douji in those years.  While I ended up going for the Yiwu cakes instead, their examples of Bada were pretty good and left an impression on me.  As time passed I convinced myself I need some Bada puerh in my drinking repertoire but this proved to be no easy task.  Firstly, because it’s hard to find quality Bada and secondly, very few Western puerh vendors sell Bada (even the might library of Yunnan Sourcing onlybrings us 3 such Bada area cakes ).

One of the best Bada’s in my memory has to be the famous 2010 Essence of Tea Manmai.  This one sold out and was at a time that I was not really buying too much fresh young puerh. However, as time went on I seemed to crave the simple satisfying Bada profile more and more.  One time in 2012 or 2013 I got quite desperate and rather weak and my puerh drinking buddy in Victoria had to twist my arm in an attempt to prevent me from overspending on a measly 2003 Bada toucha (thank you my friend)… but in the end I was still left without any Bada.

I think part of my yearning for Bada has to do with Hobbes continual hyping (maybe even exaggerating) of very economical Bada cakes on this blog around this time.  He highlighted many Bada from Chawangshop which were priced at $17/$18 for 200g cake at that time.  He is also credited for the speedy selling out of the 2012 Bada (I never tried that one but did sample their 2013).  His sketch of the Bada profile depicted in Star Wars images is forever seared in my mind when thinking of Bada as well.

Today I choose this 2016 Chawangshop Manmai Gushu ($40.00 for 200g cake or $0.20/g)…

Dry leaves smell of weeds, dandelion, cut grass, salty seaweeds and creamy sweetness.  Vegetal sweetness is the phrase that comes to mind.

First infusion is very light hay and dry grassy notes almost ghostly icing sugar taste in a very watery light broth with very faint coolness and, dry hay sweetness returning.  Very mild here in this first infusion.

The second infusion starts with more strength in its icing sugar sweetness.  Icing sugar is the base taste here.  It stretches out long on the breath.  There is only faint hints of hay in the distance.  This is mainly just delicate and pure long sweet icing sugar taste.  The taste is very long on the breath.

The third infusion is much the same pure and strong icing sugar taste.  There is a faint note of string beans in the background.  The mouthfeel is juicy feeling and moderately lubricated feeling.  The sweet pure aftertaste is very long.

The four infusion has a very very mild touch of bitterness which is just a blip to induce sweetness in the mouth.  A quick grape-like sweetness pops and recedes quickly there very faint sweet hay.  Very nice icing sugar sweetness along with a creamier, more solid sweetness over top.  Qi is very mild relaxing type.  Mainly in head.

The fifth starts with an astringent glimpse then a creamy, malty almost caramel sweetness, almost cookie like, there is a longer grape note and returning coolness with layered sweetness of grape, icing sugar, and creamy sweet.  There is a certain clarity and purity to this tea.  The aftertaste somehow gets trapped in the mid to deep throat but the mouthfeel is so subtle almost mossy.  The aftertaste is very long. 

The sixth infusion has that same quick astringency then unravels into creamy malty sweetness.  There are very mild notes of dry hay in the distance.  This profile is dominated by sweet layers.  The mouthfeel has a mild astringent feel to it now.  The sweetness is denser now as well. The qi can be felt nicly fluttering in the heart as well as giving the head a mild spacy sensation.  The long mild pungent coolness drags these sweetness out.

The seventh has a bubble gum, almost grapey taste initial sweetness that has an almost juicy almost hay and woody undertone.  The grape sweetness is the most pronounced in the initial taste and the creamy sweetness is the most pronounced in the aftertaste icing sugar sweetness is the most noticeable on the breath.  It’s a layered, pure, vibrant sweet layer thing going on her.  The qi is starting to build and excite the mild making the world rush around me.  My heart flutters.

The eighth infusion starts with a grassy but juicy almost grape fruity burst.  Just as above, the sweetnesses take their turn unraveling.  The mouthfeel is mossy, mildly sticky.  It is mainly felt on the lips.  The throat opens deeply.  The aftertaste is very long.  The qi sensation is really nice.  I can feel it in the superficial face, like it’s numb.  I feel quite high from this one.

The ninth infusion starts with a quick moving astringency, then grape, then wild mint, then creamy, slight malt, then icing sugar.

The tenth infusion starts with a more drawn out almost citrus like astringency with a buttery taste underneath.  The creamy and icing sugar sweetness play out in the aftertaste/ breath.

The eleventh infusion is sweet and buttery almost hay sweetness.  The mouthfeel is sticky and almost sandy.  This infusion has lessened in the initial taste but the aftertaste remains long and very sweet.

The twelfth infusion is almost dry wood and hay with a buttery sweetness underneath.  The returning sweetness is strong and unwavering pure long sweetness.

Thirteenth infusion turned out a bit bitter initially with a dry woody aspect.  Might have not got all the tea liquor out of the pot.  The aftertaste is much the same.  This tea makes me break a sweet.

The fourteenth is more buttery and flowery along with an increasing and lasting bitter astringency.  The aftertaste is stable and nice.

The fifteenth is buttery and hay tasting with long sweetness over a bitterness and slight dryness that now enters the aftertaste.  A returning coolness is trying to punch through.

The sixteenth I put to a 30 second infusion and push out more buttery and layer sweetnesses in both the initial and aftertastes.

The seventeenth I put into a long infusion and get a deep dense dark honey sweetness with some bitter and astringency.

I ended up steeping what was left of the sample today with a much fewer grams of dry leaf and got a completely different session out of it.  Today’s under leafed session was very grassy, weedy, and dandelion.  The bitterness was much less but the icing sugar finish was almost unnoticeable.  This tells me that this puerh need to be pushed hard to a point that it is slightly bitter so there is a strong returning sweetness.  I also question how this one will age out give then weaker presentation today.

Overall, this one has decently nice Qi, a nice long aftertaste, this puerh is real crisp and nicely processed.  I feel a very very mild itch in my body so I wonder about the purity but overall it feels pretty good in my body.  I won’t be ordering this one but for $40.00 xiao bing it’s a decent enough deal as this one is significantly better than its price tag, I think.
Surely, a solid choice for the budget drinker looking for something of quality on the cheap.


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