It is a beautiful piece. It smells good, looks good, tastes good. I did not have to think twice when choosing what to buy. I have already mentioned my new interest in 2011 sheng and I have ordered several samples lately to confirm that I really enjoy drinking them now. This has been one of the blind purchases when I simply trusted my instinct more than any review.
The smell of dry leaf is sweet, the smell which stays in the cup is sugary and thick. The tea broth is sparkling yellow and gives away its sweetness easily with a simple look. It is aromatic, sweet on the tongue with a trace of caramel and in further infusions it uncovers its rawer side at the back of the tongue.
Given the fact that the cake is very young, it can have a powerful impact on a sensitive drinker so for those who prefer softer flavour it is better to keep the steep time shorter. Nevertheless, its rawer, more “aggressive” side of fresh young cha qi is quite interesting too. The aftertaste takes its time before entering the scene but when it comes, it is refreshing returning sweet, bringing the strong aroma of the tea back to life.
If you had a chance to taste 2010 YS NanNuo YaKou, a sample I reviewed here last year, you would probably find her 2011 sister more complex, more aromatic, thicker and also sweeter. When I tasted NanNuo YaKou, I was not very impressed by the sample as its fresh characteristic was not what I was looking for in raw puerh at that time. However, my taste has developed or changed and now I am looking for the exact opposite.
And all this makes me think that the more I taste tea as a simple ordinary consumer, the more I realize how much I do not enjoy comparing anything. I do not like saying what is better and what is worse as I somehow do not believe in these categories, at least they do not work for me. I agree, of course, that the quality of leaf, environment as well as processing is definitely an enormous part of the final outcome and it is something to be taken into account, especially when one is a vendor or a producer.
As a consumer I believe that I can choose intuitively what I like, or what speaks to me. I can therefore say that for me this cake is great which is absolutely subjective statement and again, I am not sure how different it can be after a few years of aging. I really like its fresh flavour as this is something I value the most at the moment but again, all of this is changeable and impermanent.
2011 YS “Ban Po Lao Zhai”
Aroma: Strong, sweet, floral
Flavour: Sweet, thick
Bitterness / Smokiness: Some, very light / None
Aftertaste: Returning sweet, refreshing, long-lasting
Read the whole review and photo documentation here: http://teadropping.blogspot.com/2012/02/strange-encounters-2011-ys-ban-po-lao.html