Year of the Rat 2020 Yiwu Raw Puer

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
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Sweet, Vegetal
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Edit tea info Last updated by Togo
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 oz / 120 ml

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3 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Gongfu, and in a way a sipdown… I was craving Yiwu yesterday afternoon so I finished off my last YoT Rat dragonball, from the sampler I bought earlier in the year. Thankfully I still have an entire...” Read full tasting note
  • “Bitterleaf kindly threw in a full bing of this with my recent order upon me reaching a milestone in their Tea Miles program, so I decided to give it a shot while the tea was at its greenest. The...” Read full tasting note

From Bitterleaf Teas

This staple Yiwu production has returned for another year. One of our personal favourites, this tea presents classic Yiwu character, with a pleasant fragrance nice sweetness. Pressings from previous year have developed even more noticeable honey and fruit notes with storage.

We still recommend this tea for beginners as it’s generally quite friendly and approachable, however, the lack of rain in 2020 has produced much denser tea, which in this case gives the Rat a little more bite. While the tea is still on the gentler side, this bodes well for maintaining a depth of flavour in cakes that are stored.

One of the aspects that makes this tea what it is, is the material used. This tea comes from converted fangyang (放养, or “left to grow”) trees that started off as plantation terrace trees over 40 years ago. For over a decade, these trees have seen no pesticides, weed killer, pruning or fertilizers, and have only been picked during the spring.

This style of farming does come with some sacrifices though. As the trees compete for space, some require relocation (with varying success). There is also reduced output and laborious hand-weeding over the course of a month each year.

In our opinion, the results are worth it. The deeper roots and more concentrated yield produce a tea richer in fragrance and flavour than typical plantation productions in this price range. And of course, all this without the presence of any pesticides or harmful substances.

In previous years (2017-2018) we tested this tea against the EU Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of 191 and 440+ pesticides, both passing with ease. Although this particular year’s tea has not been tested, the tea is from the same land and our confidence in this tea and relationship with the farmer remains strong. If you would like a copy of the lab results for previous years, please contact us.

This year’s wrapper features artwork by UK based artist @NME. Please be sure to check out his Instagram and Facebook for more.

Picking period: Pre-April 8

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3 Tasting Notes

12951 tasting notes

Gongfu, and in a way a sipdown…

I was craving Yiwu yesterday afternoon so I finished off my last YoT Rat dragonball, from the sampler I bought earlier in the year. Thankfully I still have an entire untouched cake to still break into because this pu’erh is good!! Lovely huigan following a mix of syrupy stewed citrus and hint of more bitter greens and lemon rind/pith. Astringency increases over the session, but in subtle increments that I loved/appreciated – way nicer that being mouth fucked with astringency right out of the gate. The liquor feels thick & smooth but textured – if that makes any sense at all…


Not really a music pairing here, because I was playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc while I was enjoying the session. Yes – I am getting into the series a little bit late, but I’m still really enjoying it! I started the anime last night too…

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123 tasting notes

Bitterleaf kindly threw in a full bing of this with my recent order upon me reaching a milestone in their Tea Miles program, so I decided to give it a shot while the tea was at its greenest. The artwork is a looker and the cake loose enough in compression to make breaking off leaves a breeze without much risk of breaking too many of the leaves themselves. The appearance of the dry leaves can be deceptive, as their dark hue reveals a very verdant green color when reintroduced to water.

The bing gives off a pleasant sweet fragrance, whilst the wet leaves reveal more of a vegetal character. My order included a 120ml Yixing jiangponi clay gaiwan which I intend to dedicate to dry stored sheng of all ages, so Mickey made a natural choice for breaking it in. I used 8g of leaf and freshly boiled water as is standard for me. I didn’t keep notes as this was more of a casual session, but I used more or less my standard brewing times for sheng.

For such a young sheng, the first thing I noted about the tea was how fragrant it already is. Typically I find young raws processed according to my tastes to lack fragrance in the first year, but gradually start to develop it as the months and years go by. Then, as I took my first sip of the rinse, what immediately hit me was the potency of these leaves. I’ve had the year of the rooster and year of the dog iterations of this tea, and I can say this year’s harvest is a real powerhouse. The trout this year was even worse than last year from what I hear, resulting in even denser, more concentrated tea than many of last year’s offerings from Yunnan. If this tea is any indication of what to expect from the rest of this year’s teas, I’m excited to taste them.

The flavor is immediate. Aftertaste is much more subtle, but it’s there and lasted me hours after the session. Sweetness is the most prominent characteristic. There’s definitely a verdant freshness present in such a young tea, but it’s not a leafy or grassy greenness, rather more of a vegetal character. While it’s been a few years since I last had it, I’m reminded of the Yunnan Sourcing spring 2015 Da Qing Gu Shu and Jinggu teas in general. I got hardly any bitterness and astringency was kept largely in check. Later longer steeps saw a growing roughness creeping in, which in my experience seems to be typical for young teas and tea produced from younger trees. I found longevity to be good, but stopped the session prematurely to avoid dealing with the roughness.

Overall an excellent tea and one that performs well above its price point. I prefer this year’s iteration to previous vintages I’ve tried and it’s the first one I can recommend without reservations for someone looking for a quality tea that doesn’t break the bank. Mickey is a great daily drinker for immediate consumption, but the added potency makes this one a great candidate for aging as well. Not a tea I would have necessarily caked myself as I tend to prefer teas that are a bit closer to midrange or even high end, but definitely a tea that I’m happy to receive a bing of and one that will be in regular rotation this summer.

Flavors: Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

Sounds great! I am looking forward to getting some fresh sheng, so far I haven’t pulled the trigger though.

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