I recently ordered over a dozen ripe samples from Yunnan Sourcing. This ended up being the first one I tried. I weighed my sample and put half in my 160ml Yixing zini teapot – this ended up being 12.9g. My other teaware consisted of a cha hai and teacup both made from Jianshui clay.
The Hekai starts off sweet and fragrant, moving to pleasingly bitter in the early mid steeps. After this I experienced a complex woodiness before the tea started simplifying. While not the most viscous tea, there should be enough body to satisfy most people. Mouthfeel is a similar story and the light syrupy texture offers enough tactile feel to not make the tea feel disappointing in the mouth.
I don’t seem to be very sensitive to the wet pile taste in young shu, so I might not be the best judge of this, but at least to me this Hekai tastes quite clean, without crossing the line of tasting TOO clean. I found the tea to have a quite noticeable, mostly grounding cha qi and I even felt quite lightheaded after the session, so I would recommend eating something before and after the session. For those looking for a really casual brew this might be a bit of a minus.
All in all I was very pleased with this tea. It actually reminded me a lot of the Yunnan Sourcing 2016 Golden Needle ripe, which I’m a big fan of, but which unfortunately sold out rather quickly. That tea has more of a berrylike, winey character in typical Bulang fashion as I recall, while this one is more woody, etc., but their profiles share a lot in common. I’d actually say this one is probably somewhat higher quality, while in terms of taste the Golden Needle may have had more of a wow factor on me. While I’ve noted the Golden Needle to have aged nicely so far, I’d expect the Hekai to possibly have even higher potential in the long term.
The Hekai is a very nice ripe and relative to the price especially so. While it’s somewhat more expensive than your average shu, the quality should be very noticeable to a seasoned drinker. I’ve drunk many a tea that offered similar quality at double the price. Those who haven’t been fans of single origin ripes in the past are unlikely to be converted by this one, but to others I would definitely recommend sampling it if you’re at all interested.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Sweet, Wood