Monday, March 16, 2020

2006 “Rustic Zhongcha” from Teas We Like & Nostalgia Puerh Trends

There is something about this description that laid down a bit of a challenge which I couldn’t resist…  So far every tea that has been offered for sale on the hyper curated Teas We Like have basically been ready to drink.  Either aged out or at least pushed past any harsh or awkward stages for this we are all grateful.  The description of this one is subtle but suggestive, “Highly recommended for further aging.”… Unable to turn off such curiosity I purchase one of these ($165.00 for 357g cake or $0.46/g) in a re-order of the 2005 Nan Qiao Double Lion Bulang.

There is a recent puerh trend of puerh nostalgia I just want to touch on here.  Basically, a renewed appreciation for traditionally processed puerh that used old production methods and left the end product sometimes smokey and sometimes with charred leaves and even other burned wood stuffs or other random stuffs (hair, plastic from processing bags, other plant leaves, ect) pressed into the cake.  There are going to be people who will never get why you would want smoke and char in a puerh.  Those people, I guarantee, were not drinking puerh back in the day when the material was of much better quality that you can generally acquire today but the processing methods were not always perfect.  I suppose there are also those that have never tried these old school puerhs and are new to it all but find something alternative in a rustic puerh.  This is the lure of these nostalgic puerhs.

Right away this puerh gets extra bonus points for “authentic rustic” when the unwrapped bing has a thread of plastic that is sometimes common in older factory puerh.  These strands usually come from falling off the tarp or bags used to transport tea leaves.  I also find a long black strand of hair also very very common in older puerh cakes - double bonus!  This stuff doesn’t faze me because some of the best aged tea I’ve tried had some of this… truly rustic.

The very distinct mesquite odour of the dry leaves comes on strong then a bunch of depth is revealed in the smokey overture.  Faint autumn leaf, creamy sweetness, cheery fruitiness, woodiness, slight humid storage basement note.  Very complex with strong and subtle notes presenting at once in the nose.

The first infusion has a surprisingly sweet onset a vibrant, tangy sweetness that has a tingling pungency on the tongue and feels surprisingly vibrant and fresh and mainly sweet with a subtle mesquite then a bit of pungent than a long vegetal sweet potato sweetness.  The mouthfeeling is sticky and soft.  The throat opens nicely and deeply.  There is a very long tangy cherry sweetness and almost a vegetal like sweetness minutes later.  Overall, this first infusion can be described as quite acrid, cooling and pungently sweet.  The Qi is strong in the chest almost immediately.

The second infusion has a sweet mesquite onset that reminds me of BBQ sauce in its thickness.  There is like a port wine like nuance to this puerh’s taste.  Like a deep, rich sweetness of grapes.  There are also other layers of sweetness like blackberry, sweet potato, even a vegetal sweetness.  The pungency is fuzzy and stimulating.  This puerh seems very vibrant but yet coated in some faint smoke and depth.  The smoke is faint not strong.  This puerh is very tasty and complex in its layers.  It has a deep in the throat reach and numbing cooling sensation in the mouth.  The Qi is very alerting

The third: A thick caramel sweetness comes fast then a slight mesquite then a pungency pushes a creamy sweet and almost fruity nuance deep into the throat.  The mouthfeeling is numbing and there is an overall feeling of vibrant and active pungency and out right numbing.  The puerh feels very pure, despite its questionable processing.  There is an uplifting, re-energizing overall feeling to this puerh.  The Qi is making the mind sharp and body restless.  The sweet aftertaste is very long and sometimes like port wine or sweet potato even Chinese date taste.  The storage of this puerh is really interesting and does well for something like this.  It feels dry stored- the leaves are still olive green but it has a suggestion of deeper humidity.  It works really well to bring out the polarities of depth and lightness of this puer.

4th comes off with a chalky, powdery sweet taste, there is nuances of caramel, potato, vegetal, date that is trapped in a blob of saliva in the mouth.  There is a under-reaching pungency in here that pushes out a long returning sweetness- some woodiness, port, slight oak, and mesquite. The smoke is throughout but is mild.  There is a richness to the taste here as well like a roasted coffee subtle bitterness that comes out on the breath.  It has a mineral taste to it as well almost like a Yancha (cliff tea).  The mouthfeeling is silky and chalky and sticky.  The Qi is vibrant and energizing.

The 5th infusion has a caramel apple date like onset.  It has a robust rich almost coffee like vibe to it.  The flavor really stays long in the mouth, throat, and breath.  There is nuances of chestnut, minerals, dates, woods, faint smoke throughout.  The smoke is not upfront just faint.  The sweetness is rich and long.  This puerh is really dazzling, vibrant, active, and rich in these first infusions.  The Qi is warming in my body and is not harsh.  I would say this is sufficiently aged for most to drink now and doesn’t necessarily need to be aged anymore to enjoy.  The Qi in the head is starting to feel floating and expansive.

The 6th infusion has a sweet, rich, almost nutty, roasted coffee like feeling.  There is some bitterness still in here but it is integrated into a roasted nutty bitter like nuts can be bitter.  The belly feels an intense warming sensation.  The mouthfeeling is almost sandy, oily, sticky feeling.  The taste really stays in the mouth, throat, and breath for a long time.  There is a chalky sweetness up front as well that has glimpses of melon high notes and pear skin still present.  The strength and length of taste is profound and surprising really.

7th starts with a incense woody subtle charcoal with a creamy sweet finish there is some mild pungency, woody, there is more of a woody creamy sweet thing going on now with much less pungency and more of a subtle creamy sweetness, woody incense charcoal and the mouthfeeling, throatfeeling and aftertaste is starting to wane a bit now.

The 8th has a mesquite sweetness with incense the sweetness is a vegetal sweetness with a long creaminess that comes out in the aftertaste.  There is faint smoke throughout and a full sticky, almost dry, coating in the mouth.  There is a bit of rich nutty sweetness in the aftertaste.  The Qi is more relaxing in the mind now and heavy in the body.  The length and complexity of this puerh seems to drop off fast in typical factory style.

The ninth I leave in the cup for a while and come back to a cup that has a woody incense taste with a subtle creaminess.  There are suggestions of Chinese date in the returning sweetness.  The taste is still sunny but not as full or complex and much more incense, woody, charcoal now.  It can’t seem to get deep into the throat so I’m going to push it with a 20 second stepping now…

The 10th oops I flashed steeped it again out of habbit… hahahha.. this one has a more rich nuttiness to it also a sweeter mesquite tastes.  Lots of woodiness comes out of here in the end.

11th is at 30 seconds and pushes out a thicker creamier sweeter broth- the sweetness dominates throughout here. Some incense and woody base.  Creamy almost yeast-bread sweet aftertaste.  The pungency was also pushed out more giving this one a fuller and longer sweetness now.

12th is at 45 seconds and pushes a pungent sweetness out nicely again.  There is lots of creamy sweetness pushed out and a deep pungency.  This puerh needs quite a bit of nudging earlier on than most but the result is really nice as not much bitterness comes out.  There is a distinct incense base taste.  The Qi gives up quite early too and now is a bit stuffy in the chest and floaty in the head.  A long creamy sweetness can be found here.

The 13th I push longer… and it gives back nice camphor woody pungent and sweet notes with a sticky mouthfeeling and pungency that tries to go into the mid throat.  Creamy bread like sweet finish. 

I long steep the 14th and out comes a sweet and woody with a resounding pungency of cool.  This infusion starts to get a touch dry.  The smoke is faint here.

I put this one into an overnight steeping…

I like this tea and it’s a factory production to a fault.  Very tasty early on with a very active stimulation in the mouth but poor stamina typical of factory puerh.  I think it will age into a very date tasting and camphor tasting puerh. Better than Menghai factory stuff of the same age.  Very nice stuff.

I’m happy to have one and if I hadn’t just ordered a bunch of Double Lion I might have even bought another.


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