2009 Zhimingdu Hekai
During the early months of this year, I experienced a purchasing glut. One order from China Cha Dao included a couple of Zhimingdu mini-cakes, based on a recommendation from Hobbes. I like trying new things in small quantities and their single-region nature fit the bill. Staving off instant gratification, I have waited until now to give these a try. The Hekai proved to be a lesson in appreciating things for what they are, not what you wish they were.
Fighting with the dense little bing, my first session pulled leaves from the bottom, inner portions of the cake a la bearsbearsbears, while the second session included more of the showy, large attractive leaves melded to the front of the cake. Differences were not particularly noticeable, in large part due to the fact that this tea is fairly tempered. I was surprised to not read in Hobbes’ brief description of the very certain orangeness and lack of textural depth in this tea. A terrace or plantation origin shows through as that muddy green straw flavor, but it’s not overbearing.
Various rich flavors exist in spades, as does front-palate bitterness, but thickness, minty coolness, and returning sweetness escape this tea. And this is where I realized I’m reading this tea wrong. I’m craving and wanting this to be big-leaf, single-tree gushu, but that’s not the right way to approach it. This is a small, sampler bing intended to show off character from a particular region for a fun, cheap, easy experience. For that, it’s a completely adequate and apt tea. But, it also reminded me of what I’m searching for in sheng pu’er, a fresh, green, minty flavor, full of texture and with a captivating chaqi. For that, I’m going to have to leave behind the discount mini-bings and focus on some big-dollar samples. Onward in the search, with a little more experience under my belt.
The Half-Dipper - 2009 Zhimingdu “Hekai” and “Bingdao”