Su, being so awesome, mailed me two samples of tea to try from her stash in Malaysia: a 2003 Changtai factory sheng and a 2006 sheng brick by Pingxiwangfu. Today, we drink the 2003 Changtai.
The brown-gray-green leaves with leaves distinctly separate from one another show the tea aged in a drier environment. The dry leaves carry a strong, sweet fragrance.
Once rinsed, the steaming leaves smell like suede, then like raisins. The first infusion is biscuity and sweet: carob, Darjeeling, fresh cut wood. It lingers on the soft palate and the back of mouth with an evaporative effect. Tasty, but the liquor is a bit thin.
The bitter flavors in the next infusions reminds my guest of the smell of dried pine needles. The Darjeeling muscatel flavor continues, very pleasant, and with cacao chalkiness underneath. In terms of flavor and aroma, Changtai has done well by these initial infusions.
But then, something changes. The sweetness disappears, replaced by the kind of bile-tinged flavors so strongly associated with leaves from Lincang. For a few infusions, its musky and alkaline flavors show some Lincang leaves are in the mix, and they thankfully bring a stronger mouthfeel and aftertaste to the tea, softening eventually into savory, bready flavors and more chalky sweetness.
I enjoyed the tea for its flavor and aroma, although the Lincang elements surprised me. I wish it had a thicker body and more aftertaste early in the infusions, but these features improve in later infusions. The still-present bitterness implies that the tea has room to grow as it ages, I think.
The blend is a mix of many larger leaves and some broken smaller leaves, most leaves having thick veins and a healthy tensile strength. No bud sets in the blend raise a suspicion that none of the leaves were harvested by hand, or they were handled very roughly in transport and manufacture.
My gratitude, as always, to Su for providing me these little treats!
Do you remember the brilliant LJ tea tasting you hosted from 2007? I thought it would be marvelous to get the original gang to see if any of them have samples left and how well they have aged in the different corners of the states. Most of the samples will be 7 years old with Phyll's sample is the oldest '99. I still have enough of the samples left for multiple brewings.
You're welcome Jason!I have a good feeling about the age worthiness of the this tea so I bought another beeng to keep. Will send you another sample of it in 10 years!
I like this not broke leaves and beauty color.
I've only tried Pu'Erh tea a few times when I was traveling through Yunnan in China, since it was practically everywhere. I liked it, but not as much as green or oolong teas. That was a while ago though and I also suspect I got the 'tourist treatment', meaning they unloaded some lesser teas on me. I've been reading so much about Pu'Erh teas recently, that I feel I should give them another chance. I get the distinct feeling I'm missing out.
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