Another from the "Taste of Mellowness" set of Puerhshop.com, now sold out.
2003 Songpin Imperial Puerh King
This roughly gongting grade shu pu'er received some good reviews from the folks at teachat, becoming popular enough that it's recommended to pu'er newcomers. It's got a hefty pricetag for a non-Menghai shu, some $33 for a 357g cake, supposedly hand-pressed and supposedly made in Yiwu. A closeup:
The leaf grade is very high. These little golden buds don't hide any unsavory leaves underneath; the grade remains consistent throughout the cake. I brewed this tea 4 times in a yixing pot and once in a gaiwan, my notes are as follows:
The brewed leaf in the pot smells strongly of spearmint, then trails off to a (good) cooked meat smell. Using very little leaf, this tea packs a punch, evidence of its grade. Soft, round, a little spicy at times, a little blandly woody and grainy at others, the tea is balanced and benefits from long steeps after the third steep or so.
I caught some unpleasant pondiness in every session, except when brewing at home using softer water. Less leaf also seemed to leech out out more pond. Still, at its best and with softer water, the tea is rich, and its only fault is that it doesn't last more than 5 good steeps.
Pros: balanced and round, very rich
Cons: occasional pond, not tenacious
Cost: expensive, but this grade normally is. Perhaps a decent buy considering its age and that it needs less leaf to perform well.
Verdict: interesting flavors, high grade, and a few years age make this a good tea and a good tea for beginners...if they don't mind throwing down $33.