I’m a big fan of the 2020 vintage of Drink Me, I personally even prefer it to the more expensive Resistance from the same village, but unfortunately by the time I had my first session with it in fall 2020, the tea had already sold out. When I saw it was being featured again in the 2021 lineup, I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and order a cake blind. Even if it ended up not quite living up to the 2020 harvest, the original was such an exceptional value I saw no way I could go wrong with my purchase.
After two weeks in transit and letting the teas acclimatize in my pumidor for a week, here we are having my first taste of this tea. It’s quite early to be tasting a tea this young, but I wanted to get a review out early, so that others have a chance to jump on this tea if they so choose, while they still can.
I will start off by briefly describing my memory of the 2020 tea from when I last had it a few weeks ago and then proceed to discussing how the 2021 harvest compares to it. The 2020 Drink Me I recall being very thick with the consistency of that of plant based oil. Very floral with a gentle bitterness to it, although bitterness might not even be the best word to describe it. I even got some interesting milkiness in the early steeps. An excellent tea for the price.
Now jumping to the 2021 harvest, this year’s tea might actually have a stronger flavor to it than the previous year, although I don’t quite recall exactly how strong the 2020 spring was and don’t have any of it left to check. That being said, while I can’t quite put my finger on how I’d describe the fragrance of this tea, it struck me in its current state as much less floral than the 2020 harvest at one year of age. The tea is also noticeably more bitter than I recall its 2020 brethren being, but still gentle compared to many other Bulang teas. The bitterness does persist, though, which might be a deal-breaker for some. Longevity is good and I was able to still get a perfectly serviceable brew at 3 minutes and even the final 5 minute infusion was decent and not just plain sweet water. The thick and oily consistency has been carried over from last year. The effect of the tea is energizing, not too aggressive.
While the OG Drink Me was similar to the neighboring Hekai, it still had its own unique character. This year’s harvest I found much more similar to Hekai and a bit less distinct (in its current form). If you really love Hekai, that might be a good thing. If you are like me and are a bit lukewarm on Hekai, maybe you might enjoy the 2020 Drink Me a bit more. Most of those who enjoyed last year’s offering will probably like this year’s as well, but there might be some to whom the 2021 vintage doesn’t quite deliver what they loved about the 2020. With age the two teas will hopefully start to converge a bit more, while retaining some of their individual charm.
Overall still an excellent tea even before looking at the price tag and after doing so just a phenomenal value. If you are a fan of the original, Hekai teas, or just Bulang in general, I think this is a quite safe blind purchase if you haven’t ordered Bitterleaf’s 2021 dragon ball sampler yet. At 13.5¢/g the value is nuts. I think this tea is perfectly ready to drink right now, but will only get better in the next couple years as I witnessed with the original. Only the bitterness could be a turnoff for some, but those individuals probably shouldn’t be eyeballing a Bulang tea in the first place. I recall the original being friendlier in that regard, but unfortunately that ship has sailed. In any case, if you are at all interested, I would act fast just in case history repeats itself and this tea remains as popular as it turned out last year.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Sweet