I was in a mood for something special today. At the same time, I am trying to go through some of my YS pu-erh samples to see if I want to order something in the current sale. That’s why I grabbed this sample, so generously provided by derk. As far as I can recall, this is the first single source Yi Wu tea I have had a chance to try. It proved to be special indeed. As TJ Elite already mentioned, I also found it to be a complete experience, as well as a tea that rewards patience. I think that in order to appreciate a tea like this, you really need to take your time.
Starting with the dry leaf scent, I didn’t notice any strong aromas there, just a generic sweet, honey aromas. On the other hand, the smell of the wet leaves initially reminded me of leaf and grass based compost, cream and some faint fruity note (maybe clementine?). Later on throughout the session I also noticed aromas of oak forest, steamed milk and pecan tart.
From the very first infusion, this tea is soft and creamy in the mouth with appreciable thickness and full body. Taste of the first infusion is dominated by umami. There are flavours of toasted rice, fish meat, sweet grass and some lemongrass in the finish. Aftertaste is pretty astringent and has hints of citrus skin (not the zest). The astringency in the aftertaste turns out to be a generic feature of the tea. It comes in various shades and is always there and always gradually transforming, but I never found the peaks of it to be unpleasant, which is quite remarkable.
Second steep brings more bitterness, somewhat akin to slightly unripe walnuts, and notes of fresh spinach, fish broth and charcoal. It is more metallic and mineral, the latter becomes especially pronounced in the aftertaste. The liquor is mouth-watering and very lubricating. Infusion number three is the most astringent from the get go and also reaches a peak thickness. There are honey and sandy soil flavours that give way to a super long aftertaste with allspice, sweet wood and wax like aspects. The taste and the constrictive feeling stays in the mouth and especially the throat for ages. At this point, I was kind of hit by the enveloping cha qi, and I started lucid dreaming for a while. I don’t think that can be attributed just to the tea though, I was already in a somewhat dreamy state to begin with. What I did notice though is that the tea helped enhance my awareness and clear my mind later on throughout the session.
Steeps 4 to 7 were underwhelming compared to the first three, but still very enjoyable. I figured they were shorter than they should’ve. As a result, the mouthfeel is thinner and buttery rather than creamy. The taste is still bitter, with more of a floral edge. I would compare it to tea tree oil at times. The aftertaste is slightly cooling like some alpine herbs. Over time, as the astringency peters out, some sweetness and suble fruitiness emerges.
For the next steeps, I increased the times more radically, which resulted in a return of thickness in the liquor. Somewhat unexpectedly, infusion #8 immediately reminds me of Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not sure if my mind is playing tricks or that note is really there though. It’s one of the stranger associations. Steep 9 is even longer, now up to about 1 minute. It has more bitterness, but I feel like it’s a different kind of bitterness almost. I can’t quite out a finger on it. It seems a little metalic, woody and vegetal but ultimately is like none of those. In the aftertaste, I get a slightest touch of camphor. The next infusion tastes a bit of alcohol and again has a strong bitterness that transforms into tart sweetness supplemented by the lasting astringency that’s of course still there. Despite the mouthfeel being more watery and displaying some chalkiness, it still has a decent viscosity. I love how the astringency in the aftertaste gives way to the floral fragrance over time.
My final steep is #12, about 5 minutes long. It is not super complex, but has slightly muted astringency and displays a lot of the coarse-grained qualities of the tea. It’s as if the tea—after showing all of its complexity—displayed a kind of a blunt summary of the session.
I am tempted to buy this tea. With the sale it comes out as $0.56/g which is still a lot for my current budget. However, I feel like this tea is special and will age well too. I will have think about it :)
Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Char, Citrus, Cream, Fish Broth, Herbs, Honey, Lemongrass, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Red Wine, Sand, Spinach, Sweet, warm grass, Tea, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood