Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Best of 2018: the 2018 Zheng Si Long Gedeng vs Fresh Maocha

The 2017 Zheng Si Long Gedeng was a pretty memorable Gedeng area puerh experience.  It tasted very characteristically Gedeng without costing a crazy amount.  Its taste and energy still in my head for that price.  This 2018 Zheng Si Long Gedeng goes for$282.85 for 400g cake or $0.71/g.  Tiago of Tea Encounter provided me both the fresh mocha and cake sample before I purchased the full cake...

Here is what the tasting notes of the very fresh maocha of the same material looked like:

Intense fruity, cherry, foresty deep, sweetness, cherrywoods in the dry leaves.  Mild icing sugar onset, slight cherry fruit and mild cooling floral, cherry candy sweet finish. Dominating deeper forest woody base under less obvious high notes throughout. Deeper mid- throat feeling. Gripping mouthfeeling felt in back mouth fuller mouth covering. Medium astringent/ bitter.  Opening in throat.  Mild Qi in back of neck/shoulders. Nearly warming.  Woody tastes dominate high notes faint on the breath/ returning sweetness. Turns into mainly woody tastes.

Dry leaves smell of the dry leaves have a very sweet fruit balanced with a very intense pungent evergreen and deep forest odour.  The odour is quite penetrating and fresh but also grounding.

First infusion tastes of initial taste of minty vegetal green and slight vegetal depth.  There is a mineral taste and almost a seaweed taste but mainly this strong minty base profile which is nicely invigorating.  There is a touch of sweetness in the first infusion initially then it returns slightly creamy but the pungent mint taste is throughout.

The second infusion has a mineral green vegetal onset.  There is mint across the profile, some mineral, stone taste, there is a subtle sweetness that emerges in the aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is slightly slippery.  The pungent mint is throughout and lingers in the throat.  It has an invigorating taste.  The minty pungent taste in the aftertaste is long and cool.

The third infusion starts off minty and dry woody forest almost rock mineral.  The taste feels deep and layered with sweet and pungent mint and barely bitter wood forest and a savory rock mineral seawater type of nuance.  Shah8 describes this characer of Gedeng as halibut, and I think it’s a pretty good descriptor.  The mouthfeel is somewhere between slippery and sticky.  The throat is stimulated and feel sticky.  The Qi I feel it in the head and mind.  In the body a bit in the upper back and spine.  It’s starting to build in the body and open the spine.

The fourth infusion starts with a vibrant minty taste layered with mineral and wood and vegetal forest.  The presentation is really cohesive, not single notes floating on top of each other but rather like a thick dense package.  There is a creamy sweetness that is long on the breath.  The mouthfeel is a nice stimulating almost tingling feel with slippery and sticky and almost dry.  The mouthfeeling and taste work well together and result in a decent depth of flavours.

The fifth infusion start dense in the mouth with distinct minty character throughout along with dry wood, forest, mineral, seawater, and finishes in a long mild creamy sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is gripping and full.  There is sweetness in the minty taste then creamy sweetness in the aftertaste but mild bitter and savory notes in the body.  Qi starts to give me a racing alertness.

The sixth infusion starts woody, savory, mineral, almost talc rose.  The mouthfeel is really thickening up nicely- it offers the mouth nice stimulation here.  The flavours are real stuck together and feel real full with the stimulating mouthfeeling.  The throat feels sticky almost dry.  The intensity of the Qi sensation is almost overpowering.  The chest thumps, mind explodes, and body is in a state of profound lightness, escape, calm. 

The seventh infusion starts more minty with wood being secondary and savory undernith that.  The aftertaste is less creamy sweet and more dry woody bitter and mineral with barly sweetness.  The mouthfeel is slightly gripping here.  The Qi is as big as it gets.

The eighth infusion has a minty rock like initial taste more pungent her and dry woody gripping almost.  Very stimulating mouthfeeling.  Soft pungent mint in breath.  Overall, gripping woody, minty, mineral rock.  The

The ninth infusion has an almost juicy onset, distinct pungent, long creamy sweet aftertaste under wood.  The mouthfeel is very nice almost on the edge of too gripping but I really stuffed the pot with leaves.  The Qi is strong and invigorating, I can feel it in the spine.  The Qi has a certain stimulating intensity on the mind.  Space between should blades opens up wide.

I have to walk away from the tea table for a hour or so the Qi is such that it almost overtakes me and I step back.  I come back to a 10th which is almost sour sweet, juicy and mildly minty, it has a juicy, fruity theme that comes out as mineral but also sweet and juicy, almost creamy with obvious vegetal nuance.

The 11th is much the same with only mild mint and more distinct dry wood with mineral rock but a distinctly sweet nuance throughout.  The aftertaste is a long creamy sweetness.  The sweetness really arrived after the hour rest of the leaves.

The 12th infusion starts almost bitter vegetal with mineral.  Less sweetness which shares room with very mild bitter vegetal wood and is creamy sweet.  There is a mild pungency throughout.  Nice full mouthfeel that holds in the creamy sweet finish.  Qi and Qi and Qi.

The 13th is a touch sour, vegetal, a longer mineral taste here, slight seawater, halibut, long creamy sweetness.  Full slightly tight mouthfeeling.  The mouthfeeling of this tea and the dense flavor presentation are great.  Big, big Qi.

14th infusion is more woody bitter vegetal and less sweet and nuanced minerality, sea tastes.  The minty quality just lingers in the back of the profile this late in the session.   Qi is strong, alerting, chest racing.  There is a warming qi and feeling in spine.

The 15th is nice juicy wood fruit with stronger mineral.  16th is much the same a bit more bitter woody mineral.  The subtle tastes of halibut and mint are much less here.

The 17th and 18th present with a slightly mineral taste and mild forest.  A nice creamy sweetness appears in the aftertaste.  Qi here is more spacey and alerting with a nice warmth and spinal release thing happening to me.

The 19th continues to thin out- the flavor just is not as dense and is a light mineral, almost floral thing with a nice mild sweetness prevails.

The 20th I push a bit with longer steeps and is nicely sweet and mineral and a bit woody bitter.  Its time to put this one into an overnight steeping. 

This tea has nice stamina, dense taste, nice stronger Qi and body sensation, stimulating mouthfeeling and throatfeeling.  This is another great Gedeng from Zheng Si Long.  Out of all the teas I sampled from 2017-2018 this puerh definitely has the strongest and most interesting body feeling sensation of opening between the shoulder blades and in the spine.  Warming body sensation as well. The whole package that this puerh offers with Qi and body feeling is really profound. Both times I’ve tired this Gedeng I have had to step away or be overwhelmed by the power.  I can highly recommend this for those who buy for the body sensation.  Overall, the Qi in here is really big and imparts a complex effect on the mind, chest, muscles, and spine.  Beautiful really.

Comparing this cake to the fresh maocha from a year ago…  well first it should be stated that I overlooked this one big time.  I think this might be to the voluminous maocha rendering me unable to pack the pot as good and less about this puerh’s progression.  What I found amazing was the body feeling and stronger Qi which I downplayed a bit in the more diluted fresh maocha.  I couldn’t even remember that the maocha had this feature until I looked back at the notes.  Boom!  There is was in the notes all along- but the strength wasn’t as obvious to me in these early underleafed notes!  The year aged cake had much more mintiness and pugentness to it but the overall taste of evergreen forest and mineral sweetness along with deeper mid throatfeeling and mouthfeeling remained more stable in both.

***It turns out that I purchased the last cake a month or so ago!  I really wanted to get this review out because there were some samples left but now it is completely sold out!  I was only privy to the same information on this tea as everyone else but after I purchased the last cake Tiago of Tea Encounter told me that this was the most popular Zheng Si Long and sold out in just months! This is not some limited run this is the full production selling out in a matter of months. I am fortunate to have purchased a big 400g cake of this and feel that its value is much much higher than this already high price.  A cake like this could easily sell for twice the price.  I have sampled a lot of tea since coming back a few years ago but none had a stronger Qi sensation as this puerh.



shah8 said...

You may wish to try the EoT Gedeng from last year!

Matt said...


Yes I should acquire some and compare it here on the blog. Similar price, area, year,..

I remember you saying of the Essence of Tea Gedeng something of the effect of - this is the very bottom tier of the most premium Gedeng material. Not a totally ringing endorsement... haha haha

David’s description on the site handicaps this one also saying it becomes overly astringent in later steeps which this Zheng Si Long doesn’t really do. Maybe it’s that woody bitter as I describe it above?

There’s only one way to find out...


Matt said...

Probably my 2nd favourite cake of 2018...


Curigane said...

This bing was extremely treasured in China last year. I also like the fact that you reached the same conclusion as many tea experts without me telling you how successful this tea had become. It speaks very much about you and your blog. I'm very happy that you got the last one.

Matt said...

Curigane (Tiago),

Well, if a puerh decimates your soul half way through a session, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out... hahaha