Tuesday, October 16, 2018
2018 Spring Essence of Tea Gua Feng Zhai and Thoughts on Blending Huang Pian
This fine sample made it to me free in a recent yixing teapot order along with these others (here and here). The description on the Essence of Tea website for this Guafengzhai states, We left some yellow leaves in this cake since the quantity was so small and priced it accordingly. This gives a good range of flavours in the resulting tea. This is something interesting and new. I have not ever heard of this before but it makes sense to me as a possible way to both add depth of taste as well as to help keep the price down (because this region is pretty expensive these days). It appears that this 2018 Spring Guafengzhai has just recently sold out but used to go for $224.00 for 200g cake or $1.12 /g .
The dry leaf smells amazing, like puerh candy with a layered high noted sweetness and subtle rainforest sensibility. “This will be good tea” I think to myself…
The first infusion has a nutty roasted squash taste which transitions to bold pungent flavours then into a quick moving splash of returning sweetness. The mouthfeel is gummy, and sticky and nice. There is sticky rice base taste throughout and intense sweet tastes pop up here and there. First infusion shows nice signs of complexity. The tea pours a golden yellow colour that is similar to the 2018 Spring Essence of Tea Yiwu. This might have something to do with the long processing that David is a fan of or maybe it is a product of the weather this spring in Yiwu? Or the addition of the huang pian (“yellow leaves” or the big yellow mature leaves they usually discard when sorting the picked leaf)? I’m unsure but it is something I am not used to seeing in such young puerh.
The second infusion has an initial nutty sweet initial taste mixed with a fair bit of pungency there is a squash like and sticky rice base taste under the flavours, slight wood. The returning sweetness has a cooling menthol finish with light, soft candy like sweetness. The throat feel is medium depth and the mouthfeel is soft and slightly sticky.
The third infusion has a slightly woody, swash, nutty onset which transitions to a long pungent taste where sweetness returns. At first the sweetness is a minty pungent mix then it trails off into a mild candy-like sweetness. The mouthfeel has a mild tingling feeling.
The fourth infusion has the same woody, squash like, nutty onset but it is leaning towards less nutty now and more woody. The pungency is a touch less now or maybe it just carries a squash like sweet taste. The sweetness unravels into a mild candy sweetness. The mouthfeel is mild and the mild throat opens unpretentiously. The qi slowly and gently builds up in the body.
The fifth infusion has a more cohesive taste to it now woody even savory onset that transitions to pungency then to sweetness. The initial taste has shifted a bit here the throatfeeling is on the edges of constriction in the mid throat. The mouthfeel has a mild sticky, almost dryness to it.
The sixth infusion starts with an almost juicy nutty treading toward bitter but not quite onset. The taste transitions to more woody then to a soft quick pungency then to a woody, almost watermelon and squash sweetness and less an intense candy sweetness.
The seventh starts with a nutty squash like taste with undertones of wood and pungency. The sweet returning taste is less now and mixed with a menthol pungency.
The eighth begins a slight almost milky woodiness with and ending nutty taste and returning pungency that is cooling and not as sweet. The qi is a nice relaxing Qi but not overly present. The physical body feels like its floating a bit. The mind relaxed.
The ninth has a woody and nutty onset with a mild pungency and faint on the breath returning sweetness. It weakens here and seems to need pushing early on.
The tenth is pushed 10 seconds beyond flash and gives us a pumpkin/ squash taste with an almost bready and woody like taste. The sweetness is almost a bread like sweetness with a faint nuttiness lingering beneath.
The eleventh infusion is pushed 30 seconds and delivers a woody, squash and sweet potato like taste. The mouthfeel is shored up here and is almost silty in the mouth with a nice woody pungency.
The twelfth is put under a 30 steeping is mainly dry wood. Not too exciting, slightly drying in the throat almost bitter finish with subtle suggestions of menthol. Qi is a mild relaxing kind of thing but nothing notable really.
The thirteenth is a good 30 seconds plus and comes out rather grainy and cereal tasting mainly with a slight pungency.
The fourteenth is long steeped and gives off a nutty almost juicy but drier wood taste. The mouthfeel is dry here and constricting in these long steeps.
I put it to an overnight steeping and get better results with a very viscus full syrupy sweetness with fruits and gourd tastes and full coating in mouth.
Overall, I would have never guessed this to be from the Gua Feng Zhai producing area. The huang pian leaves mixed in gives it an interesting and contrasting depth that you wouldn’t normally experience in a Gua Feng Zhai puerh which is usually quite light and pungent. It almost tastes autumnal, unnami, deeper, and warmer. I wonder if we are going to see more of this mixing of yellow leaves? It’s almost worth trying for this experience.
The qi is of medium- mild intensity and makes the body feel as if it is floating at times and the mind feels a bit relaxed. The mouthfeel can be a bit off putting and dry and almost constricting if this tea is pushed too hard. This tea lacks stamina and had to be pushed hard early but then the dryness feeling in the throat and mouth are more apparent.
Reflecting on my day, I felt pretty good drinking this yesterday…