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Recent Tasting Notes
I’m a fan of the Big Snow Mountain in Mengku, so I ended up picking up a cake of this blind. The price was reasonable and I’m close to finishing another 357g bing in my short-to-medium term shu box, so there was an opening. My experiences with Daxueshan have generally been very positive, so I had high expectations for this one.
Since I own a bing, I didn’t want to review this based on just one session, so I did two to get a better feel for it. For my first session I used 13g of leaf freshly broken off the cake, while setting aside 10.5g to wait for my next session three weeks later. My teapot of choice for the first session was my trusty 160ml Yixing zini while for the second I used a 100ml Jianshui. The resulting sessions were quite different. While the difference in leaf-to-water ratio is obviously a big factor, as can be the choice of clay, I’ve found that at least with sheng pu’er breaking off the leaves you are about to drink a couple of days in advance can make a shockingly big difference in the tea (although I haven’t done a more scientific A/B).
My first session was a bit of a mixed bag. While I enjoyed the tea, I also found it to have some underlying unpleasant qualities to it. I find a lot of Yunnan Sourcing ripes to exhibit this when they are young, but my experience with the cakes I’ve owned is that it tends to go away after a couple of years, so hopefully it’s just the youth of the tea speaking.
Even the black teas I’ve had from Daxueshan have exhibited rather potent cha qi, so I was expecting this tea to be more active than your average shu. And in the first brew it did show signs of that. The tea felt warming and I could sense some form of reaction in my body. But after that nothing. On the other hand my notes mark that the tea had good body and a nice, smooth texture.
In terms of taste, there’s a fleeting bitterness present in the first half of the session. later replaced by a growing sweetness in the finish. I dry woodiness is the main character I get from this, along with otherwise a fairly standard spectrum of shu flavors. Overall somewhat boring in terms of taste, though.
In my first session I experienced the tea starting to taper off around the seventh infusion and while I stopped at nine I could have probably squeezed in at least one more, but in all likelihood it probably wouldn’t have been great.
I don’t know if it’s the heavier leaf-to-water ratio or what, but my second session was more positive. The tea was notably stronger (as one would expect), but interestingly I found the body and texture somewhat lacking until I got to the later infusions where the brewing times were longer. There the body was still somewhat unsatisfying but the texture became very pleasing. Either this stems from the difference in clay or it’s just a product of the inconsistencies of tea.
Perhaps thanks to leafing harder, the effects of the tea were also more noticeable this time around. Nothing crazy, but I could still feel some slight throbbing in my upper back and a general warming sensation a few brews in. While I could still detect some slight underlying unpleasantness in the tea, the more abrasive nature of the first session was mostly gone.
In addition to stronger brews, leafing the tea heavier also improved its longevity by quite a bit and I was able to easily get eleven brews out of it with at least one more being a possibility. The late brews are actually probably where the tea peaked for me because of the improved texture. While still a fairly standard shu affair in terms of taste, the second session did have more character overall.
Overall I think this is a nice tea with potential to hopefully grow. Had I sampled it beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have caked it, but I don’t regret grabbing it as it’s going to serve its purpose. I think the price is fair for what you get. No standout features right now, but hopefully it’ll start to shine a few years down the road. I seemed to prefer it leafed quite hard, but feel free to experiment for yourself.
Flavors: Bitter, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Roasted, Sweet, Wood
Incredibly, meh. Better than a lipton tea bag. Not a lot interesting in this herbal leaning white tea/tisane. Really dries my mouth out and gave me a headache. I’ll use this as an excuse to see how ye sheng ages. Throwing it in the back of my tea storage to be forgotten for a while.
Flavors: Cucumber, Herbaceous, Malt
Bingdao area ripes aren’t something you see on the market every day, so obviously I had to try it. I actually picked up a cake of this blind for aging and a sample for having a couple sessions with it now to get a feel for it and its potential trajectory. For this review I used the same teaware and tea-to-water ratio as I use for most of my ripe reviews for consistency. These consisted of 13g of tea in a 160ml Yixing zini teapot along with a cha hai and teacup both made from Jianshui clay.
5 Villages brews up really dark yet the wet leaves aren’t pitch black but brown, so the fermentation isn’t on the heavy side. Ripes can sometimes offer some of the richest aromas at least to my nose, but this one seems rather straightforward and typical for a shu with its mainly cherry-like aroma. Hopefully the aroma will develop with age.
Taking my first sip of the tea, my first impression of it is it being both very typical for a ripe yet fairly unique at the same time. The flavor profile is familiar yet the tea adds a small twist to it with its own unique character, which is not necessarily easy to pin down immediately. I’m tasting earthy tones and some typical berry sweetness. There’s a touch of bitterness, but it fades quickly and does not persist. The tea is certainly drinkable, but there’s a slightly unpleasant edge to it stemming from this being a young lighter fermentation ripe. Most Yunnan Sourcing ripes tend to have this, but it should diminish within a few years.
The second infusion is among the best. It is sweet, very sweet. I’m getting much more of a cherry/cola taste now, cola being a descriptor I’ve seen others using for ripes, but this being the first time I’ve found it apt myself. The soup is now full-bodied and the mouthfeel pleasing. The aftertaste is stronger and longer than with most shus and interestingly more sour than bitter or sweet. There’s also some cooling going on in my mouth.
The rest of the infusions end up varying in terms of body, from a tad light to about what you’d expect from a ripe, although the strength of the tea holds much more consistent. While the upfront flavors are fairly standard, the aftertaste is what makes this tea at least somewhat unique. It has hints of fruit with a bit of tartness and a touch of sour. The fruits could be something like sour cherries, although at times I also get something more citrusy and closer to something like grapefruit. I even pick up on somewhat of a green, leafy character.
My favorite steepings end up being two, four and seven. The tea grows more balanced as the infusions progress, before eventually simplifying to a fairly standard shu affair toward the tail end of the session. The tea holds up surprisingly well, though, and ends up having one of the best longevities I’ve encountered in a ripe.
Ultimately, an interesting tea to session, but still not necessarily the most engaging. And again, in terms of enjoyment, it’s a nice tea, but not exactly an instant favorite of mine. But the quality is good. Not something that screams high-end to me, but it’s up there in the upper midrange or perhaps entry level high-end. If I think back to ripes that did strike me as high-end, I think the luxurious, velvety, active and engaging mouthfeel is what sets those teas apart from this.
5 Villages has an interesting flavor profile, though. Hopefully with age the fruits will become more defined and pronounced. This is also one of the most cooling teas I’ve had. While that doesn’t really earn it any extra points, it’s still always something interesting to note.
So, is it a good tea? Yes. Is it worth the price? For most people probably not. Is it worth sampling? If you’ve already sampled other high-end teas like the ones offered by Hai Lang Hao. I don’t think the Bingdao name alone is reason enough to jump at this tea over other alternatives on the market. From Yunnan Sourcing’s own more premium ripe pressings I’d personally recommend sampling the 2019 Lao Man’e and 2019 Ba Wang alongside or over this one. I don’t think I reviewed it, but I recall the 2020 Bronze Label Peerless also being quite good.
So how do I feel about purchasing a cake of this blind? Any regrets? No, no regrets. Most Yunnan Sourcing brand shus I generally don’t like that much when they are young. Based on their cakes that I’ve happened to have in my own storage for a few years now, though, they do generally tend to improve noticeably with age. The lighter fermentation lends itself better to the medium and long term. This tea’s actually already pretty good as it is. I bought it for its aging potential, which does seem to be there. The novelty factor did obviously also play a big part for me, and no matter how it turns out, I’m simply curious to see how the tea ages.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cherry, Cola, Earth, Fruity, Sour, Sweet, Tart
Beetroots. Mold. Mushrooms. Damp soil.
Bittersweet, spicy/dry finish. Interesting for sure, however I don’t see so much complexity and I’m not a big fan of this flavours. It brings to my mind images of Slovenian forests, dark and wet, with a rusticity difficult to describe. I think “lack of humanity”, “bears and worms”, “grey sky”.
Mild alerting qi.
June 2021… the tea is developing well, having let go of some astringency and deepening in its flavor profile. The aromatics of hay and camphor are still present, and a pleasant bitterness is here, which turns into a sweetness in my salivary reaction. This tea has depth, and will continue to integrate and deepen in my view. In my storage conditions I will try it again in three years.
Thank you, Meowster! Still delving into these teas. Though this is described as ripe, if I didn’t know it was a ripe, looking at the leaves, I’d be questioning it. Some of the leaves have a greenish tint to them, so I would guess that it’s a ripe mixed with raw… and not sure if any puerh producers actually do that or why they would WANT to do that. The flavors would be so different, it’s like they would be battling each other. But I think this is ripe. The steeped leaves have a very bready fragrance. The flavor is a bit on the lighter side, but I didn’t steep very long on that first steep just in case this was partially raw. The flavor is almost like a sticky rice flavored puerh also with a boozy rum flavor at the end of the sip, which is new, and maybe coffee. The second steep is very smooth and leans more towards the typical PUERH flavor. I think I’m hyping this puerh up… All of the steeps had that boozy rum flavor throughout, which is definitely unique to this. I wonder if it was whatever that greener leaf was… that I also have never seen in ripe puerh before. Otherwise, these steeps were amazingly consistent in flavor!
Steep #1 // 22 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 3 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Steep #4 // just boiled // 10 minute steep
2021 sipdowns: 87
Happy Father’s Day! Today the prompt is to “drink a tea that reminds you of your father.” Just like during the Mother’s Day prompt, I’m the only tea-drinker in my family so I don’t simply have a tea they favor to drink, and have to think a little outside the box.
My Dad’s morning drink of choice is Tang… yes, that extremely fake tangerine-flavored powder you dissolve in water. I think he’s been drinking it since he was 16, and he still attests that “if it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for me!” I used to have some strongly tangerine-flavored teas (I remember a green one in the past) but since I’ve been going gangbusters on sipping down and strict about not reordering anything, I couldn’t find any in my current stash. But I did find this pu’erh stuffed in a tangerine, which I thought would be a good choice, both for the “Tang” inspiration tangerine flavor as well as the earthy notes of the pu’erh, since my Dad is a very “down to earth” sort of guy.
I actually got this tea for free from a barista working at Snake River Tea one year during my yearly trip there during a local anime convention; my friend and I ordered tea there every day of the convention, and on the last day I made a $100+ loose leaf order, and he just tossed this shrinkwrapped puerh-stuffed tangerine into my bag. It was easy for me to find the same one on Yunnan Sourcing, so if I like it, at least I know where to get it… because Snake River Tea closed down during COVID, for good. I was pretty upset about that…
I know I’ve tried a “tangerine stuffed pu’erh” before and I had a WICKED time breaking it out of the shell… the inconvience sort of offset the enjoyment I had from the tea. This one was SUPER easy though; the top was scored off, and after pouring out the tea, the rest of the shell was easily crushable to get little eggshell pieces of it distributed throughout the tea. I brewed this cup western with about 3.5g of the leaf and the tangerine “lid,” for 5 minutes in 205F water.
The brewed tea is thick and dark, with a sort of medicinal/peppery citrus scent. The cup is quite nice! The base pu’erh is strongly earthy but doesn’t taste like dirt in a cup, which is my typical experience with pu’erh. There is a hint of smoke, and a noticable peppery taste. The tangerine itself is not overpowering, but leaves a slight citrusy note in the cup which definitely makes the flavor more pleasing for someone like me, who typically avoids pu’erh. I also loved how easy it was to open and break down compared to the “Xinhui Green Mandarin Orange Ripened Pu-erh” by TeaVivre that I’ve tried in the past.
A satisfying cup… which I’m going to sip on while I call my dad.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Medicinal, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Tangerine
I had this quite few years ago and possibly was mesmerized by the numerical code. But it was unusual at the time, more shengy if that’s even a thing. Now coming back to it I see how greener bricks can develop. Basically, sampling and deciding to buy bulk raw liubao to time lock for few years. Ideally in two different humidity microclimates.
The scent of the wet leaves brings back memories from forgotten summer holidays. North eastern italian seaside. Maritime pine trees, sand. The small flat my grandparents used to rent. The liquor is sweet, full and holds the same mystery.
Then flowers, honey, cream, medicinal herbs. Spicy but polite. Good presence in the mouth. Delicate honey aftertaste. Feels different from puerh (it’s my first heicha).
I find it very enjoyable and comforting.
On the later infusions it gets dryer, floral and spicier. Raw potatoes. I like the aroma at this point but also I find it a bit heavy. Feels slightly stimulating and relaxing at the same time. I got around 8 infusions.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Herbaceous, Honey, Spicy