2010 Essence of Tea Bangwai
Celebrating news that my very first lead-author, peer-reviewed journal article has been accepted for publication, I made time for tea this morning and started off on the newest Official TeaChat TeaTasting Initiative (OTTI) – young sheng pu’er. While starting with the oldest tea in the lot (a 2005) may have made some amount of sense, I am electing to go in alphabetical order, working through the three 2010 Essence of Tea samples (Bangwai, Manmai, and Mansai), before moving on to the slightly softened teas from The Mandarin’s Tea Room – 2005 Nannuo and 2006 Yiwu. Also note that I’m eschewing a personal introduction to this tasting series, as Chip has provided quite a good introduction over at TeaChat (see above) and well, I’m busy and exuberant.
Incredibly fresh bright fruity aromas leap off the leaves. They smell just like every in-season fresh fruit skin all at once…grapes, apples, pears, peaches, cherries. All wrapped up in that delightful woodsy and mossy musk. The leaves are large and tightly folded into both broad and twisted shapes. They all have a nice even green-brown sheen with a many edges of white fur.
This tea starts off with a fairly thin, relatively bland and textureless soup, despite the leaves appearing to go through agony early and quickly. The third and fourth steeps really start to pop with fresh apricot flesh, aspen boughs, and pleasant balancing bitterness. While the product description at Essence of Tea includes “goopy” as a property, I find the texture never gets there – maybe I did not use enough leaf to elicit that character.
Evident that this is a “green” tea, it is also the youngest pu’er I have tried. It doesn’t have that raw, fresh gum-numbing youthfulness that others have, but instead, it reveals its roots as a green tea, feeling more like fresh bi lo chun than musky, wild, funky pu’er. Such youth might allow me to more readily detect the near-Jingmai essence from this tea, as I think that particular terroir has a fresh, juicy lychee or apricot sensation to it.
The most enjoyable sensation this tea provides is after it has been swallowed. Big cooling mintiness rises and a long lingering herbal licorice flavor spreads across the palate. Not unexpected for a tea lacking the wisdom of a much older one and having opened its bright green leaves so early, it empties itself by steep seven or eight and collapses into dry minerals and bark. That being said, such vibrant, high-quality leaves will likely prove to be quite outstanding in many years time.
The Sip Tip – Essence of Tea 2010 Bangwai
MattCha – 2010 Essence of Tea Bang Wai
Updated 05.27.10 – I’m re-visiting this tea in celebration of Essence of Tea’s pending 2011 puerh releases.
I think this was my favorite of the three I tried last year and again this year, it is my favorite of the three. It’s got all the elements of puerh I like, big leaf purity, a bit of sun-dried fruit wildness, a wonderful returning flavor, good texture, and a solid afterglow. This tea doesn’t need me to attach copious sensory descriptors to it today, it just works (although, I do agree with buttery and nutty, per Hobbes). Unlike the Manmai, it’s not grassy nor flinty, and to me it has more overall depth than the Mansai. Thankfully, it’s still available.