I’ve actually had a cake of this for close to a year now, but this was my first time trying it. Like is typical of most Yunnan Sourcing raw pu’ers, the compression is very light and you should have no trouble prying off leaves. Upon examining the steeped leaves at the end of the session, the leaf integrity looks very good and the leaves healthy and well processed. As these are some sort of hybrid, the leaves are smaller than you are accustomed to seeing in pure assamica.
I used 8.8g in a 130ml gaiwan and after a brief 5s rinse and a five minute rest I proceeded to do a total of nine steeps, the timing for these being 7s, 7s, 10s, 12s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 75s, and 90s. As I like to do with young, pure teas, I drank the rinse and it was strong, fruity and sweet. It had the taste of white grapes, followed by a long aftertaste of some sort of dried fruit reminding me a bit of maybe plum or raisin.
The first proper steep was soft and oily, with the taste of white grapes. This tea turned out to be the most cooling I’ve had. Almost immediately I felt chilly right down to the bone, with the sensation being especially prevalent in my arms. The second steep was very similar: soft, oily, with the taste of white grapes and still very cooling. It was quite great.
In the third infusion things were amped up. The mouthfeel was nice and slick and the tea really oily. The effects of the tea were really potent. There was an amazing, calming cha qi that slowly spread through my body and could especially be felt in my limbs. Gradually I started to feel a bit silly and slightly tea drunk. I don’t remember much about the taste as it felt irrelevant. I know it had a bit more edge, a bit more bite to it. This brew was damn good.
As I was preparing the fourth brew, my motor control was quite f’ed. Perhaps somewhat fortunately the effects did settle down as I was drinking this steep, allowing me to finish the session with a more clear head. The tea itself continued to be soft and oily, with hints of astringency, but not really. The following steep finally lost the oiliness, but the tea had a quality of going down very easily. The taste was green, with hints of astringency and maybe some slight sweetness.
The mouthfeel began to diminish and the flavors simplify starting with the sixth steep, but the tea was still very much in the easy-to-drink phase. The tea soup was characterized by being very clean tasting. I accidentally ended up pushing the tea a bit for the seventh infusion by over-steeping it a little, but this wasn’t really a bad thing as it allowed me to assess how the tea performs when pushed a bit harder. The result was quite mineral tasting, now with some minor bitterness as a result of over-brewing it. It was still very drinkable and comparable to a decent green tea with some bite to it.
Steeping number eight started to be quite astringent with still some bitterness as well, so I adjusted my brewing time conservatively for the last infusion that I did and managed to produce a green mineral taste with less astringency and close to no bitterness. The flavor profile was rather simple now, but I would expect the tea to potentially go at least a couple more steeps like this before giving out. I decided to call my session here, however.
All in all this was a great tea. Don’t let the price tag fool you, this tea performs at least in the mid mid-tier if not high mid-tier. As a fan of Yunnan Sourcing’s Da Qing Gu Shu, I’d say this tea is not as great as that one, but it’s comparable and only costs half as much, making it a great budget alternative. This will be a great tea to both drink now and to age for later. The cha qi is nice and decently potent, but not overpowering. Both the strength and longevity seem about average, the tea doesn’t feel overly thick in the mouth, but the mouthfeel is rewarding. There is some mild astringency and a hint of bitterness if pushed, both of which are considered positives for future aging prospect. I should also note that this tea is highly aromatic, with the dry leaf, wet leaf, the lid of the gaiwan, tea liquor and the empty cup all providing different aromas that evolve and change over the course of the session.
An amazing value!
Flavors: Astringent, Green, Mineral, Sweet, White Grapes