Sunday, May 12, 2019
2013 Chen Xi Hao Gao Shan Zhai and Xishuangbanna Storge
I had my eyes on some Gao Shan Zhai from another vendor over the last year but still haven’t purchased any. The Gao Shan Zhai region in Yiwu is known for some pretty delicious puerh being higher altitude relative to other regions in Yiwu and all. This production ($114.49 for 250g cake or $0.46/g) is a collaboration between Zheng Si Long and Chen Xi Hao of which the wrapper bears its name. It was kindly sent in a complimentary care package by Tiago (thanks again)...
Dry leaves smell of perfume florals, subtle fruit, and woody rainforest floor.
First infusion is a woody almost flat syrup taste there are almost floral notes in there as well but strong predominating dry wood tastes. The mouthfeel is slight sandy and astringent, slightly bitter.
The second infusion has a flat dry wood, slight malty taste with slight brown sugar taste. The mouthfeel is fairly stimulating slightly dry and astringent. There is a very mild cooling then a long brown sugar and dry wood aftertaste which lingers on the breath.
The third has a more cohesive dry wood, slight malt, and brown sugar taste which plays out in the aftertaste. The taste profile is pretty simple and obviously single origin material. The mouthfeel is slight dry and slight astringent pretty simple as well but enjoyable enough.
The fourth has a distinct deep malty sweet, almost syrupy medical herbal taste. The menthol returning is more pronounced and there is dry wood underneath everything. The thickness of the liquor here increases its viscus feeling and it makes for a denser taste. The Qi is mild and relaxing.
The fifth has more of this malty, herbal medicine taste with wood underneath. The liquor remains medium thick now and the aftertaste is long carrying some of the initial tastes of wood, malt, and herbal medicine but in a mild wave of menthol and in a brown sugar sweetness. The taste is long on the breath and now has a nuance of complexity and charm.
The sixth infusion becomes denser and more complex still with a dense layering of herbal medicine, woods, malty butterscotch but now there is a pronounced tropical fruit sweetness that lingers throughout it almost has a bubble gum sweet edge to it. The Qi starts to mildly alert. The mouthfeel is slightly oily but mainly mildly astringent- the dryness is gone. This infusion the sweetness becomes quite apparent.
The seventh infusion is dense and malty sweetness, mild wood now and herbal medicine tastes. It has a nice medium to thicker feeling and long menthol sweetness with slight tropical fruit and almost bubble gum sweetness.
The eighth is becoming heavy on the menthol/eucalyptus from start to finish. There is more woody taste in the initial and sweeter taste in the aftertaste with a strong medicinal herbal quality throughout.
The ninth is very menthol, malty sweetness with topical sweetness under heavy camphor much the same as last infusion. This infusion seems to be more licorice tasting.
The tenth is strongly menthol/eucalyptus in taste so much that it drowns out other aspects of the profile.
The eleventh is almost creamy menthol onset woodier in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is significantly astringent, almost but not really dry, slight pucker. The Qi of this tea is mildly relaxing with a bit of head sensation of lightness of the brain.
The twelfth infusion is strong menthol/ eucalyptus through and through. The tea is becoming more astringent to in these later infusions.
The 13th is much the same this infusion is a bit more sweet wood and menthol. The profile changes very little from initial to aftertaste.
The 14th shows signs of sweet woods, herbal medicines, and an underlying tropical sweet taste under medical notes. The taste is quite bold even now but is not as sweet as it is astringent and pungent menthol. The pungent menthol is really something.
The 15th has an almost peachy sweet onset now, woody, slight licorice, almost herb, long cool sweet aftertaste. Still lots going on here, much to enjoy. 16th is a touch bitter and astringent but similar tastes, more wood almost a sour grapefruit taste. Faint tropical fruits.
The seventeenth is sweet peach, woody, almost herbal medicine like before shifting to a slight cooling and long sweet aftertaste. This puerh has some great stamina with the taste complex and full late into the session.
The eighteenth and nineteenth give off sweet tastes, medicinal tastes, woody tastes, long sweetnesses.
I really stuffed the teapot with these leaves but this tea could go on for quite some time, I suspect. I overnight steep it and a greeted the next morning with a very viscus and dense butterscotch/ caramel sweetness. It’s so full that I decide to put it though another few day-long steepings.
This tea has what I consider “harmonious Qi” it doesn’t overtly feel relaxing or simulating and to someone with little experience almost feels like no qi but in the end this qi makes you feel good. If you are tired, you will feel more alert and if your simulated it kind of makes you feel relaxed. I think this puerh has this type of energy to it. It can easily be overlooked by those who are less sensitive.
Tastewise, this tea is a winner. It has much to enjoy as far as tastes go. It’s a bit unique in how pungent it is. This feature will do it well 10 years down the road.
I believe that the storage is clean moderately humid Xishuangbanna Storage. I remember a time that Xishuangbanna storage was a dirty word in puerh circles. It was synonymous with poor storage or forgotten tea. It’s my understanding that Mr. Zheng of Zheng Si Long has been instrumental in elevating the profile of Xishuangbanna storage of which this cake seems to be a good example of.
*I ended up trying to replicate this type of greatness a few days later and was unsuccessful at pulling together a great session like my first experience above. The second time didn’t have as much pungency, depth, or stamina, Qi seemed weaker too. Might have to pick up a cake to investigate further when I finally do an order of Zheng Si Long from Tea Encounter.