David of Essence of Tea has challenged us, the humble drinkers of puerh, to question what it is we value in our teas . For him in chronological order he values….
2. Body Feel
4. Mouthfeel/ Throatfeel
(Thanks to blog commenterDavid for directing me here and allowing me to reflect on this).
In my experience with wild teas (or yesheng) they tend to do better than puerh teas in the categories that David values most in tea. So with this logic, it makes sense that any puerh drinker that also shares David’s values in teas may also prefer yesheng over puerh. So it is then not surprising that this year Essence of Tea has preferred to focus on wild tea with just as many wild tea offerings as puerh in 2017.
This direction in going with more wild teas than puerh teas also signals to me that puerh of this quality and purity has just simply become too expensive (here and here) and David, with an eye to the future, is looking to offer an alternative to us mortals who can’t always afford to drink such things regularly but who are unwilling to give up quality and purity (and their souls). This is also a likely reason for Essence of Tea also positioning themselves in the liu bao market as well. They also happen to be two markets (wild tea and liu bao) that have not been an active focus of any western vendor. So this direction to me is very very smart.
Wild teas tend to offer very nice qi experiences and are usually quite clean and are often easy to drink teas. David is a Qi guy, I am a Qi guy. So why not give wild teas a chance? I think if anyone does share these same values in tea, they are really going to love wild tea- they should try it.
Okay, let’s see how this 2017 Wuliang wild, the tea we will sample today, does with this criteria. This sample was sent along with the purchase of the 2008 Qianjiazhai Wild Malaysian Stored. I believe it is from a similar garden as the2016 Wuling Wild that was an Essence of Tea club exclusive last year. Apparently, this 2017 version is noticeably lighterthan last years. Okay… let’s sit down and meditate with this one…
The dry leaves smell of raisins and fruit. It reminds me of raisin bran cereal. There are some plumb notes in there as well. There is both a freshness and a depth to the odour.
The first infusion is a very light and refreshing watery broth of subtle, distant fruit tastes and pure sugary sweetness which slowly grow on the breath. There is a suggestion of chicory in the background. The mouthfeel is light and soft and there is a soft opening of the throat. Its “sweet wild” profile is immediately obvious by a near complete lack of bitterness here.
The second is more vibrant but still gentle and watery. There is an initial burst of vibrant candy-like sweetness, almost watermelon, bumble berry tastes. This infusion is of very sweet sugary tastes and an aftertaste of sweet melon and candy. The breath has a slight turbid dirt rubbery fruit taste that is characteristic of most wild tea.
The third infusion is more of this very sweet, very clean almost candy-like sweetness initially. This infusion the sweetness has a subtle buttery edge. The mouthfeel is more established now and has a thin but very full coating feeling in the whole mouth. The throat feel is not as expansive but rather somewhat opening. The breath holds a barely fruity taste but doesn’t hold it for too long. The qi is very very clean and brings a soft, crisp clarity. It really makes me feel good and happy. It’s a cheerful qi!
The fourth develops a more buttery edging to wildflower sweetness initially which the full mouthfeel holds nicely. The aftertaste is pretty much an extension of this taste as it develops that characteristic rubbery, turbid taste.
The fifth infusion starts to water down a bit with less sweetness now as the buttery taste seems to be the dominant one now as it ducks quietly into the aftertaste. The only fruit suggestions duck and dodge in the rubbery, turbid wild tea aftertaste. Minutes later I can still feel it try to push through but only if I pay close attention.
The sixth starts to flatten out harboring that turbid, rubbery, almost fruity aftertaste in its initial taste and throughout with not much evolution in the mouth now. The seventh is much the same.
Five to ten more seconds were added to each additional steeping after this. The eighth and ninth had a more distinct fruit taste lingering in the aftertaste as a result. The initial taste has a melon, almost berry feel to it. Definitely more fruity tastes have been pushed out with these longer steepings.
Tenth similar to above but now fruity tastes are waning. There is a monotone taste that is quite light, fresh, slightly sweet, and yummy. The eleventh steeping these tastes are even more muted and watery so a few minute long steepings are employed next.
The twelfth once again has pushed out a nice berry, typical WuLiang terror tasting brew. It finishes with a rhubarb and berry aftertaste. The thirteenth is steeped even longer but the tastes have more of a typical turbid, rubbery, wild taste so these leaves are put into an overnight steeping…
This wild tea is all about its crispness, freshness, purity, mouthfeel and initial taste. It is the softest wild tea that I have ever tried and I think it would be a great introduction to wild teas for those who appreciate the vibrancy of fresh sheng puerh. It lacks a deep and complex throat feel and long breath feeling for a yesheng.
This wild tea is really not harsh on the body, nor is it bitter, so, it could really be consumed immediately. Quite naturally, this is the way wild teas are traditionally consumed by the minorities of Yunnan. It also really does contain the Wuliang taste profile that is found in Wuliang puerh. Those that enjoy the taste profile of Wuliang and enjoy fresh young raw puerh will probably also enjoy this as a nice introduction to wild tea.
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