Monday, August 12, 2019
2018 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn Ai Lao Secret Garden vs 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn Nan Po Zhai
Shhh… don’t tell… it’s a secret… wait a minute… Yunnan Sourcing doesn’t keep things secret… limited… promotional video You Tube… quickly sold out of the 2018 Spring Ai Lao Secret Garden ….
This puerh sells for $88.00 for 400g cake or $0.22/g but was kindly gifted to me (Blogger premium) for review when I purchased a large amount of samples a month ago. Thanks Scott for this interesting one…
Dry smell of creamy sweetness and layers of sweetness underneath with a lingering pungency.
First infusion is of a mellow fruity taste that is slow to evolve in the mouth but increasingly ratchets up in to an expanding mouthfeel of honey, potato, a mellow fruits, there is a deep slow lingering pungent and subtle candy finish. The mouthfeel and throatfeel are full and come in like a wave. This puerh is like a soft sunrise… and this is only the first infusion…
The second starts almost spicy and woody with a long slow evolving taste. The mouthfeeling is really full and cottony but yet astringent. There is taste of potato, some fruit, slow wave of underlying pungency, candy finish. The throatfeeling pushes the saliva into the mid throat trapping it there with deep tastes.
The third infusion starts with a very thick cottony mouthfeel with a certain astringency to it. There is a mellow fruity taste with intense returning creamy sweetness. The stimulation in the mouth is quite strong and very stimulating. There are notes of pumpkin, potato, woodiness, a fruitiness familiar to Ai Lao but that I can’t seem to explain. The Qi is mellow and a bit relaxing in the mind. The mouthfeel is a wonderfully intense experience. There is a bit of astringency more than bitterness. The Qi is making me feel silly, and lax and a bit giddy. I also feel a touch restless. The astringency is felt on my empty stomach. These early infusions show the signs of some space in the taste profile typical of Ai Lao but the intensity of the mouthfeel and interesting slow moving evolving taste give it a different kind of complexity.
The fourth infusion starts with a thick juicy fruit taste which crests with a mild pungency then a distinct creamy sweet then the complexity of woody, pumpkin, sweet fruits, play in mouth. The mouthfeel is really a beautiful thing here. Very engaging and involved deep mid throat. Interestingly, not as much on the breath minutes later though.
The 5th start is a woody almost fruity thing then it dives into a distinctly sweet caramel returning sweetness. There is some creamy sweet tastes that reveal themselves as the caramel receives, then there is a fruitiness then woody and bitter astringency, and more sweetness. This has a long and engaging finish but minutes later is a touch rubbery on the mouth. The mouthfeel is very thick and stimulating and focuses most of its energy on the throat.
The sixth infusion starts strong caramel sweetness pungency, mellow fruity orange taste, woody, astringent, slight bitter, fruity again. The flavours come on strong and thick but take turns in the stimulating mouthfeeling.
The seventh infusion comes on quick with a thick orangey fruit soup with a returning sweetness of creamy sweet then potato, woody, fruity juicy tastes in a stimulating cotton thick mouthfeel.
The eighth infusion starts thick orangey fruit, slight wood, faint pungent with a creamy returning sweetness. The mouthfeel is less intense but still moderately thick. The orange fruit taste lingers in the mouth.
The ninth starts with an interesting mix of pungency slight coolness and orange peachy fruitiness. The taste evolves in the mouth and a quick returning sweetness delivers a creamy sweet, then long peachy orange notes. The Qi is mild to moderate and makes me feel slightly relaxed and a bit giddy and physically restless.
The tenth infusion has a quick bitterness which turns into a mellow mild buttery orange fruit taste. The orangey peachy sweetness lingers on. The taste is less vibrant and intense here.
The 11th infusion has a bitter orange fruit start with a faint pungent which marks a small bump in the fruity taste. The mouthfeel is drier here but maybe less astringent. The Qi has a mellowing effect on my thoughts. It also has a happy vibe to it.
The 12th infusion starts mild bitter then fruit than faint pungent then more orange then slight drying in mouth. The throat feeling is slightly constricted here.
The 13th starts off bitter and quickly moves away to a smooth faint fruity slight woody orange fruit feeling. The mouthfeel is stickier and throat a bit lighter sticky here. The Qi is mild, light, and happy.
The 14th infusion starts off a bit fruity and a bit bitter then goes orange and almost bitter orangy finish. This puerh looses its finesse in these later infusions but the orange taste is kind of unique and interesting in and of itself.
15th starts a touch sour/bitter with mellow orange and slight peach underneath. There is an almost unnoticeable coolness with bitter dry finish.
16th and 17th have a bitter sour onset with woody and orange tastes. There is a dry scratchiness in the throat here and a muted orange aftertaste is noted. I put this one into long infusions from here…
This Ai Lao is probably the best I’ve tired pegged with the name “Ai Lao” admittedly I only tired a handful from this region. I understand that this producing region covers a very very large area so there is bound to be lots of variability here. This Ai Lao has some characteristics that are typically Ai Lao which are a juicy fruity feeling and a more spacious taste profile. Conversely these are also some characteristics I peg in a typical Autumnal puerh productions. Its flaw is just the fact that it is Ai Lao, nothing more. It’s slow evolving taste profile and strong engaging mouthfeeling and especially throat feeling in the early and mid session are real nice and make this puerh a nice treat. The Qi is mild-moderate and relaxing in nature. In later infusions they develop a tight dryness when the pot is packed as full as I did with this session. I’m not a big fan the dry throat but that will probably age out in time or can be steeped around.
To compare to the 2018 Yunnan Sourcing Autumn Nan Po Zhai this one is very very different in almost every way. The strength of the Ai Lao is the long thick slow to evolve flavors of each sip. The strength of the Nan Po Zhai is the mind melting and body busting Qi. The weakness of the Nan Po Zhai is the strength of the flavor. The weakness of the Ai Lao is that its dry scratchy throatfeel if over brewed or leafed heavy. Overall, both nice Autumnal productions are unique and interesting to drink. To lob another 2018 interesting Autumnal puerh in to the mix, I would say the 2018 white2tea Snoozefest is also pretty interesting to drink for its price but it is a bit cheaper and not quite as much going on as these.