Compared this to two other loose puerh Mao Cha from Norbu today.
2010 Shi Tou Xin Zhai Mao Cha, Nan Nuo Shan, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
2009 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha from Xishuangbanna, Yunnan*
2009 Wulian Shan Mao Cha from Dali Prefecture, Yunnan
I have been enjoying the Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha for several months, so with my last order from Norbu, I tried a couple other Mao Cha, to see how they compared. This was my first brewing of other two young shengs. As expected, these are all wonderful teas, with more capacity for infusions than I have space in my bladder, even with the very small gaiwans, so sometime after 10 or 12 infusions, I stopped drinking the full infusions, and did a series of longer steeps, discarding the liquor, and then did a final infusion, which I estimate to be about the 20th for each, so I could finish the tasting, get the photos of the spent leaves, and go to bed!
Overall? I love all of these. The Shi Tou Xin Zhai is the most approachable in the early infusion, and is one I’ll take to work to share in some one on one meetings with other tea lovers—it’s less likely to bite back if I get a bit distracted. But at the however-many-it-finally was infusion, when all were pretty dilute and mostly had just a gentle sweetness left, I found a little more depth or complexity in the LBZ in than the other two. So….if you’re anxious about bitter, start with the Shi Tou. If you’re already a connoisseur of young sheng, and want the maximum complexity, go for the LBZ. And if you’re undecided, get the Wulian, or better yet, enjoy all of them.
*Actually, turns out the LBZ is sold out. Greg tells me that the Lao Ban Pen Mao Cha on the site is very close, and maybe better. I have a hard time believing anything could be better, but as good, maybe….
2009 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha from Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
Dry Leaves: long dark twists of intact leaves with some stems, scents of mushrooms, soy sauce, darker than the Shi Tou Xin Jai
Liquor, 1st infusion: light tan liquor, sweet and vegetal
Liquor, 2nd infusion: spicy, sweet, with that smooth earthy depths, and hint of bitterness
Someplace about the 8th or 9th infusion: sweet, earthy, lovely as usual, but the astringency of the aftertaste is definitely present and noticeably more than the Shi Tou or the Wulian
Liquor, many?-th infusion: sweet, dilute, earthy
Wet Leaves: olive green leaves of uniform color, sweet, spicy, asparagus scents