The peeps at TeaChat decided to go on a sampler review rampage, specifically with the new sampler packs offered by US vendor Puerhshop.com. I've ordered the "Taste of Mellowness" (shu) and "Spirit of Yiwu" (sheng) samplers, as well as some individual samplers.
Mmmm...pu! This is just one of many sizeable chunks in the Yunmei sample.
Jim Liu, the proprietor, stuffed my box full of this tea plus a few extras. Thank you to Jim for providing the biggest samples around at a fair price. I bought very little tea from Puerhshop before this, but Jim has certainly worked hard to attract more of the marketplace to his site.
2006 Yunmei "Yue Chen Yue Xiang" Shu Pu'er
The bumpy underside. Beneath the surface of the Yunmei cake lies a rougher inner truth!
Gongting grade on the outside, average grade on the inside, the Yunmei "Yue Chen Yue Xiang" (lit., "The older, the more fragrant") looked and smelled appealing. I'm still learning how to brew gongting shu consistently tasty from brew to brew, so the discovery of that the Yunmei cake's blend charmed me. Still, I had some issues brewing the sample. The first time too much leaf in the pot made the brew too strong. The second time I overcompensated for my previous mistake and used too little leaf, making the tea flat. The third time was just right...maybe.
The hot wet leaf in the pot evaporated grain/barley notes and dried cherry or jujube. No muddy texture or flavor, just lots of clean wet bark/forest floor flavor. No pondiness/fishiness to speak of, and barley did appear in the flavor in the first infusions. Subsequent infusions were perfumed with rose and talc, finishing with sweetness and lumber, with no negative traits to speak of, getting progressively "cleaner" in taste. It began to die at infusion 5, totally dead in infusion 6, tasting only of mineral water.
In sum, I enjoyed this tea once I adjusted myself to its techniques. Thankfully, the sample size is large enough that, now adjusted, I can probably enjoy this tea another 8 brewing sessions, maybe even update this post with new discoveries.
Pros: clean, no pond, interesting aromas
Cons: died quickly, a bit finicky about leaf:water ratio
Cost: If you buy a cake of this (US$16.50 or so), you're getting decent shu. Considering that buys you some 50+ gongfu sessions, you're looking at approx. $0.33 per gongfu. At 5 good infusions, that's about $0.07 per cup. Cheap.
Verdict: If I bought this cake, I'd not be disappointed. At its price and its lack of negative flavors, it makes for good everyday tea. I rarely stray away from major factory (Menghai, Xiaguan, Fengqing, Haiwan) shu pu'er, but this is an example of properly made shu. I'm looking forward to finishing it off.