First, thanks to Nicholas at Misty Peak Teas for the sample.
The leaves look decent enough considering their unprotected life in USPS shipping for a few days, with no barrier between the leaves and the envelope. Thankfully a 4g chunk of cake survived and enough loose leaves remained whole enough to get about 6g total leaf for a session. I notice that the cake must be made of quite the blend of materials: fuzzy buds, small fragments, small leaves, large leaves, leaves with stems, a large chunk of what appears to be bamboo (seriously), and other parts of the tea plant.
After a rinse, the wet leaves, minus the unusable material, turned out to be quite aromatic. The scent is thick and fruity and carries far from the gaiwan, turning highly herbaceous later on. I notice they are very green, oolong-like, and have a fair share of bruising. Unfortunately, the strength of aroma does not carry over to the soup, which is as weak in body as it is in coloration. Yet, with subsequent infusions, both of these aspects grow in depth, though the soup remains definitely yellow throughout. The extent of this increase is not large, however. This tea is very slow to start, not really granting a full experience until the fourth or fifth infusion. This would normally not be much of an issue, but soon after this mark, it is quick to die out, or grants more fullness at the expense of too much roughness with long steep times.
Given this shengpu’s youth, it seems to have not had much time to develop any textural intrigue nor qi. I found the both to be quite lacking, though the tea did seem to have a decent bit of caffeine to it. While it had some good flavors to it, its form, which is what I am most interested in with pu’ercha, was weak.
Each sip opens quite undramatically, soft in body and faint in taste besides an introductory sweetness. There is a faint buttery aspect that I commonly find in very young sheng pu’er. It gets better in the development, though the duration is short and seems to peak at a medium intensity. Complexity is introduced at this point—a basic blend of fruity and floral spectrums. The sip quickly passes into the finish, which is drying and has some bitterness forward in the mouth. I’m left with a faint coolness in the throat, which is at least one promising aspect of this tea.
During later brews, the development’s intensity increases and the duration is extended to a small extent. The textural components are not aided by the longer steeps, instead increasing in the forward bitterness and astringency. The aftertaste was tasty flavor-wise, but again, lacking in mouthfeel. I found the aroma in the cup after the soup was drained to be suggestive of quality, though. It was thick, floral and fruity, with the dark sweetness of caramel.
I would rather not speculate on this tea’s aging potential, but from what I’ve heard the average Yiwu cake does okay over the years. I would say this is probably close to one of those averages, but it’s really too young for me to tell. However, I find its lack of strength (I would have even liked to have seen more power in the bitter department) given its extreme youth to be concerning. The proportion of junk to leaves in the small sample received is also concerning, and seems to indicate a lack of care during processing, as does the fair quantity of red-hued leaves.