The following unpublished notes are from about a year and a half ago…
This 2011 Bing Dao Bing Dao Tea Refining Co goes for $ 252.00for 500g Qing Bing or $0.50/g. This factory is actually quite famous and, although relatively unknown in western tea circles, is kind of to Bing Dao as Chen Sheng Hao is to Lao Ban Zhang. The price seems quite low for this factory and production and my experience with this cake also confirms this. I think the best years of Bing Dao productions that I’ve tied are: 2009 & 2011 are notably considered better than 2008 & 2012 with 2010 somewhere in between here. Not sure if I’ve tried enough to say clearly but that’s where I am so far…
Dry leaves are quite subdued compared to the 2010 Yong Chun of yesterday. These leaves are not that fragrant just a bit vegetal with a faint long icing surgar sweetness. The leaf compression is also very different with these ones being stone pressed and visually the leaves look less humidly stored and the others a significant tighter compression with a bit more humidity to the leaves but not significantly.
First infusion has a very vibrant peachy sunny fruity sweetness. There is a nice apparent cleanness of this drier storage and the peach taste rides into the distance with a low and long cooling underneath and some mild but full vegetal green in the distance. The mouthfeeling is slippery stone and the throatfeel feels deep. There is this faint deep mild stimulating astringency that is almost unnoticeable now but pushes a creamy sweetness through the profile. The taste is really good. The colour of the liquor is very close to the 2010 Yong Chun even though this one tastes much more dry stored.
The second infusion has a pungent cool right off the start that can be felt in the nose. The pungent movement that is slightly cooling mixes with the vibrancy of this puerh there is vegetal mild but full base and a vibrantly sweet creamy taste that is full of aromatic high notes of florals and fruits. The mouthfeel is quite stimulating and full but mild and the throatfeeling is deep. The Qi is nicely relaxing and the breathing slows and Heart slows down and you can feel the palpitation in the body. Very nice. This tea is quite nice.
The third infusion has a thick fruity onset with pungent coolness throughout. The thickness of the taste and layered fruity and floral and especially thick creamy sweetness is excellent. The mouthfeel is thick and sticky and the mouthfeeling and throatfeeling are very nice and give the strong sweet, cooling tastes lots of depth. There is a touch of sour initially but its quite faint and there is this super faint creamy expansive astringency that adds depth as well.
The fourth infusion pours out a thick syrup sweetness of fruit and almost wildflower the coolness dives into the thick and pulls it along. There is a long aftertaste and thick mouthfeel and deep throatfeel presentation. There is a bit of bitter astringency here but it is lost in the thick sweetness and long deep coolness. The Qi pushes me into a deep stoned spaciness a strong high and my chest feels split open and my body and mind seem to separate and pause. The Qi is very good. There is a minutes long aftertaste of pear and pineapples and dense creaminess.
The fifth infusion has a thick fruity presentation with a coolness riding strong in the background. The pronounced coolness, thickness, very sweet fruitiness, full mouthfeeling and deep throatfeeling with intense Qi and bodyfeel make this a very excellent and complete Bing Dao for me. This puerh is of good value for this reason alone. The thickness of the initial fruits creates an unswayable depth that doesn’t fade even minutes later. There is this interesting high sweet almost green tea and floral sweet pop that happens minutes later in the back of the throat. Very nice.
The sixth infusion has a more diverse very sweet fruitiness and creamy sweetness to it. There is pear, pineapple, dragon fruit, tangerine, and a creamy type of sweetness. There is starting to be more astringency that comes out here too in an almost woody nuance. The throat feeling is very deep and the coolness comes at the onset and stretches throughout.
The seventh is thick sweet and a bit of woody astringency along with deep long cooling. The peachy thick sweetness is very nice and flanked by a very stereotypical long deep coolness. The mouthfeeling is losing a bit but the throat remains deeply opened.
The eighth infusion has a peachy thick fruity and less astringent woody taste to it. There is a touch of coco that comes out of a mild bitter sweet taste in there as well. The creamy sweetness is long and intermingles with coolness long into the aftertaste. The Qi is powerful and typical of high quality Bing Dao and pushes me into a stoned state.
The ninth infusion has a more bitter sweet astringent presence to it which results in a lovely dark chocolate nuance. There is a thick sweetness underneath and full chalky mouthfeeling. The thick fruity sweetness and creamier sweetness is still a significant presence.
The 10th has a juicy fruity onset with lighter pungency and a nice significant coco taste without much bitter astringency here. The dark coco taste is long and satisfying. The Qi gives me a nice stoned feeling. The mouthfeeling is thining out a touch and is more a chalky fullness now. The throatfeeling is medium deep.
The 11th and 12th are juicy peach to start with a creamy sweet under belly that is paired with cooling pungency and a coco finish. The mouthfeeling is a chalky slight tightness and the throat is mildly simulated and open to a mid-deep level. The coco taste is now long and even can be found minutes later. Semi aged Bing Dao tends to develop some of these bitter sweet coco notes. The Qi is really felt in the chest and makes me feel stoned.
13th and 14th have a peachy pear onset and the liquor is thinning out considerably. There is a sunny bright vibrancy in these steeps. There is also a slight mineral edge to the infusions now. A long cooling moves with the sweet tastes through the aftertaste of sweetness.
The 15th has a bit of bitter astringency that has a woody and even coco suggestion with the sweet fruity, floral, and especially creamy sweet riding low along with a cool pungency. The Qi is more relaxing stoner now.
The 16th I long steep it and out comes more florals and thicker feeling of woody and sweet honey fruits. The mouthfeeling and deep throat are reestablished here.
The 17th is a good 20 min steeping and the result is thick viscus fruits and low and long cooling underneath. It also pushes a strong stoner euphoria out of these leaves.
The 18th another long one with a similarly strong effect. The stamina and strength is solid in this one too.
I think this one completely flew under the radar for the following reasons:
1- Tea Urchin doesn’t market any more. No slick marketing machine or social media presence = no one pays attention.
2- There is no description or tasting notes on the website unlike most other puerh on their site which leads you to believe that maybe its not as good. This is kind of what I thought about this one.
3- There are no reviews of this puerh out there none on the site, or steepster, or blogs, nothing- besides Shah8’s and I thinkeven he underrated this one a bit especially considering that he reviewed it 3years ago and the price is still the same.
4- The 500g cake size is daunting and if you are not sampling to buy then sometimes people will just skip it altogether.
Pictured Left to Right: 2010, 2011, 2016
I drank the 2010 Yung Chun Bing Dao and 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Bing Dao Lao Zhai before and after this cake to compare them and then put them all in an overnight steeping.
The overnight steeping of the 2010 Yong Chun is the most interesting, the leaves are a bit darker and much more tightly rolled and traditionally processed than the other two. It is more processed in the older school factory style and you can see some chopped leaves in the mix as well. There is still some delicious tropical fruity nuances that play out here with a long sweet creaminess and forest vegetal with a long cooling pineapple and creamy sweet aftertaste. There is still a bunch of bitterness that presents as dark coco and adds a lot of depth. I guess I steep the other two out for much longer so there is much less but this to me at least speaks to the durability of the 2010 Yong Chun which had a significantly more bitter and astringent profile. I like this one but its just not “Bing Dao” enough for me to pay the premium on this one but it serves as a great counterpoint to the other modern produced bingdao compared here.
This 2011 Bingdao Refining Co. Bing Dao was mainly mineral, alkaline, forest almost stone like, it still has a nice thickness to the mouthfeel though and some coolness and very very almost not there sweetness.
The 2016 Yunnan Sourcing Lao Zhai Bing Dao is the least exciting of the bunch with a more flat in taste with a somewhat fruity finish. The mouthfeel is chalkier here and nice mango fruit can be found in there. The leaves for this one are much larger than the other two and much looser compression is obvious with a more typical gushu presentation with long stems on the leaves.
In a general sense you can compare them this way:
For me the classic Bing Dao profile which is of good quality has the following: Long obvious coolness throughout profile and often comes at start of profile not just at the returning sweetness, Light everescent fruit creamy sweetness, thickness of taste and a subtle vegetal forest mineral base, some mild coco like bitterness and a bit of astringency that comes out with aging, and a pronounced Stoner Qi effect.
This tea basically has all these qualities for me the thickness and Qi are particularity strong and they are also what I value most.
And so this is the one that I ended up caking out of the group of samples ….
(Ended up drinking up the last of these samples a few weeks before publishing this old post and the 2010 Yong Chun is aging much better in taste than the 2011 Refining Co but it still is not Bing Dao enough for me to consider purchase at that price.)
*I think this is the last of these Tea Urchin posts until I dig and find some more*