Wrapping up Western Xishuangbanna / Menghai county in my taste tour through Yunnan…
Region 1/4: Western Xishuangbanna – Menghai county. Location 3/3: Bu Lang mountains
OK – first, the tea:
WIth absolutely no proof and very little experience to guide this opinion, I think this tea will age well.
I’m drawing this conclusion based on a recent session that I had, which followed me eating a bowl of cereal. Normally I session tea well after I eat, but Bu Lang kept tying my stomach in knots. So, off to pantry I went to prep myself for battle.
My previous sessions yielded notes that had things like “PARSLEY” underlined several times. It was herbal – really, really pungent, dried parsley, herbal. It still is… But, my post-cereal session muted the effects of the parsley notes and instead highlighted the underlying sweetness and fragrant, sweet floral character of the tea.
So, following this kind of empirical evidence, I’m guessing that with age, the pungent herb character will die down, and what will follow is the sweetness I noticed. The pungency, I think, will work to its advantage with age. Lots of strength to build off of.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this tea at first, but now I’m scratching my head. This may be worth buying now and forgetting about for a few years. Could have something really special on your hands. Right now, though, the initial experience is sort of a nice parsley tisane…
OK – now, the region:
Based on this limited exposure, I noticed all three Western Xishuangbanna teas shared the parsley/dill herbal notes in some fashion. Also present in all three teas was a vague fruitiness that I can only describe as Juicy Fruit gum – sort of light peach, orange, berry, gummy sweetness.
I would also venture to say these really do need some age on them before you get a lot of decent flavors out of them – I’m talking at least 5-7 years. Pasha was the oldest of my group (5-6 yrs), and it was also the clear winner in terms of taste.
Anyway, interesting group. Really enjoyed Pasha, and after my Raisin Bran battled the parsley notes in Bu Lang and revealed some nice depth of flavor, I am certainly intrigued… For the price, probably worth an investment to age.
Dry leaf – pungent dill and parsley, light menthol. In preheated vessel – light smoke, fruity, saccharine sweetness
Smell – light ash, pungent green herb, petrichor (always wanted to use that word – rainy, wet, earthy, mineral)
Taste – dried parsley, tomato stalk, petrichor, pollen, white pepper. Aftertaste – light mineral sweetness, cardboard, light menthol, some hints of orange, peach, and berry. Some chestnut notes in later steepings.