2007 Changtai 5th Anniversary
While browsing a table of bingchas during my visit to TeaTrekker, I put this cake to my nose and said, “Ooooh, this must have Bulang in it.” I was delighted, no exuberant, to read on the description that this tea was in fact a blend of Bulang, Nannuo, and Ge Lan He, the latter I am not familiar with. While the raw smokiness of Bulang is characteristic, it is relatively unique, so my identification of the leaf source may not seem like much of a feat to some, but to this young student of pu’er, I was quite pleased with myself. Accordingly, I purchased the cake.
At home, I was pleased by the spicy smoke character that reminded me immediately of an Episcopalian Easter Vigil service bedecked with a thurifer belching clouds of frankincense. I was also pleased to find, that unlike the multitude of sheng pu’er samples I’ve fought with, the leaves released themselves from this cake willingly. After a rinse and a lightning quick first steep, the spicy, resinous pine-like smoke aroma jumped out of the cup. Unfortunately, that was the last time I was impressed by this tea.
In the cup was an overly subtle, simple, and rather limp soup. The texture was not satisfying, there was nary much kuwei and I kept digging for complexity and brightness. Instead, this tea proved safe. The orangeness was not detracting in that the tea had a cooked or hongcha-like flavor, it just yielded a mild, safe blend without much punch or power. Briefly, I considered that a 4 year old cake may exhibit signs of softening or slight age-induced oxidation to produce the orange-edge, but upon inspection of the leaves, that proved to be a faulty suspicion.
The flavors were not bad or offensive, never any cigarette and only the faintest hint of sourness six or seven steeps in. Instead, it just didn’t have any capturing essence, any piquant uniqueness that made me want to love it and revisit it. I took the steeps out into the tens of minutes, but ended up with an overly thin and grassy cup, proving a lack of endurance. Perhaps I should I have been suspicious of a “commemorative” tea, or, perhaps I should give myself more credit and not purchase tea because I have impressed myself. More likely, though, I’m not alone in the feeling that this tea is boring.
The Half-Dipper – 2007 Changtai “Hou De”
Black Dragon Tea Bar – 2007 5th International Aged Puer Party Memorial Cake