Another Puerhshop sample, I'm finally making headway into the reservoir of samples I ordered from Jim. The link to this cake is here.
As is obvious from both the vendor's picture and the picture here, one of the striking features of this cake is the distinctness of the leaf. You can see where every leaf starts and ends, and they shine with plump health. The grade is higher, maybe grade 2 or 3 leaves, with plenty of silver furry tips.
It smells smoky, and tastes a bit that way, too, not overwhelming. The best word I could use to describe the taste is balanced. The flavor and texture--not thin--coat the mouth, but thinly. The bittersweet flavor, not too vegetal, reminds me of jinggu tea but with more oomph: not as crass as big factory tea, but in the same style. Where factory tea tends to be bitterly floral, this tea has more subdued aromatics in the cup. The aftertaste remains long, giving it a liveliness that makes it easier to enjoy, despite its bitter, smoky elements that put me off. I'd become accustomed to milder, sweeter Yiwu and Yiwu-analogous young sheng; this Jingmai spoke itself boldly and brought back my awareness of pu'er's regionality.
A curious blend
The leaves did yield something odd: a blend of about 10-15% dark, larger, leathery, strange leaf. Perhaps aged maocha, perchance over-oxidized or over-fried, maybe maocha from another location, maybe wild tree tea, who knows. I picked these leaves out and put them next to the others to illustrate.
At $15.90, it's a cheap and interesting pu'er with some strength and few negatives.