I didn’t feel much compelled to revisit the Golden Monkey from earlier today and want something I’ll drink a full 200mL per serving of. That generally means puerh for me unless I’m testing something out for work. I’m glad to see someone happened to have this guy already in the system. Scott is still selling the 2006 bingcha that he listed alongside this little guy, but ran out of the mini-bings quite a while ago.
I bought this mini-bingcha right at the start of 2009 and have pretty much left it alone since that summer. I haven’t been moving it around like I should have – it’s been sitting in its wrapper, inside the box, inside an open nylon mesh bag, in the coolest corner of the coolest room in the house since mid-2009 when I should’ve introduced it to a bit more warmth at least once by now. Sitting raw puerh in cool, dry conditions really does nothing for it but allow the outside to stale a bit if it has any breathing room. The innards are still able to shift for the positive a tad in terms of mitigating bitterness, but that’s about it.
Three back-to-back infusions at 85C and 30sec each following a rinse. I used flakes pulled from the top portion of the cake, penetrating to the center depression on the other side, further separated (wriggled, not snapped) into portions .5-1.5cm in diameter and shaken free of any dust. 8g/200mL in my duan ni shi piao pot for young sheng puerh and mao cha.
This is a very green cake with a lot of silvery buds across the top. Underside has a bit more twigs, but the leaf composition is pretty young overall. Steeped leaves are slightly muddy yellow with a greenish tinge (in-between olive and a cooler ochre). Infusion color is gold and very clear.
Dry fragrance is very much like old Bai Mu Dan… Dry fallen leaves, a touch of hay, a hint of carnation and muscat grape. Wet leaf aroma is crazy-scary-smoky. Very potent right after a rinse and diminished to a more approachable mix of burned driftwood, gravelly sand, and juniper after three short infusions. Liquor aroma carries these notes in a milder aspect and accompanied by a distinct pollen characteristic. Combines wonderfully with the taste, which is lacking any smokiness.
First infusion is very crisp, high end of moderate body, and lightly mouthwatering. Mineral impression makes up bulk of flavor. Mixed with liquor aroma it is highly reminiscent of the taste and smell of the air on a cold foggy summer morning on a beach on Mendocino’s coast. I suppose Monterey is similar, but the beaches tend to be a tad coarser sand and the combined smell of cyprus and redwood is a bit more prevalent farther north.
Second Infusion brings pollen characteristics to the tongue in a big way. Pleasant, light bitterness and almost-yolk, slightly cottony flavor pops in a second or two after swallowing with a resurgence a few more seconds later. Leaves the mineral taste (gravelly) lingering afterwards… Comes off as a rocky crisp-sweetness. When cooled, the rocky and polleny flavors merge to form sort of a warm, dry hardwood flavor.
Third infusion has a much more evident crispness to it – I hesitate to say “snap”, as that has more of a vegetal connotation to me and “zing” a tannic connotation, but it is a very refreshing and lasting crispness. Walk up to a waterfall on a warm day ‘til the cold mist is soaking your clothes, open wide and breathe deep. Lotsa oaky leafy-acorny-woody-polleny goodness… Kinda tastes like Yosemite’s Mist Trail smells in late spring or early summer. As it cools, it takes on a sort of cattail characteristic in the nose – this is helped by a somewhat starchy aftertaste. More evidently woody as it cools, too. Body is a tad thicker now, but still just the low end of what I’d call full-bodied… about on par with 20% by volume sugar water. Speaking of sugar – about a minute after finishing my cup the back quarter of my tongue and throat are hit with the same encompassing sweetness I get when emptying a packet of Stevia or Splenda into a paper cup and forget to hold my breath. Certainly not the sweetest tea around, but with this late aftertaste I’ve gotta categorize it as a sweet tea for me.
Very tasty and easy drinking, whereas it was a tad more aggressive than I preferred right when I got it. There’s enough potency that I feel I can let it rest in its cool hiding spot another year without adverse effects, but I do think it’s time that this summer I’ll expose it to a bit more warmth and humidity. Kind of a joke to attempt any aging on a mini-bing, but if I can succeed in not finishing this off super fast I’ll be happy.