[Spring 2019 harvest]
I am big fan of black teas made from the ye sheng varietal, and this one won’t change that. I slightly prefer the light roast version, but both are good.
The aroma of dry leaves presents no surprises – it is sweet and leathery with a roasted meat note in the background. Wet leaf scent also has the expected notes of tobacco and oak wood, but is more floral and earthy than I would have thought.
Taste is pretty savoury and bitter, with a tart backbone and an earthy finish, which reminds me a bit of an aged loose leaf shou. There are flavours of burnt food, fireplace, and curry leaves. Liquor texture is fairly thick and bubbly, but also somewhat coarse and astringent. The highlight of the session is the long-lasting aftertaste which starts off with a sort of umami character, but eventually molasses sweetness arrives to take hold.
[Spring 2012 harvest]
Along with the 2019 version, I also bought one from 2012 as a chance to do an interesting aged black tea comparison. The main takeaway is that the aged tea is slightly sweeter, quite a bit smoother, and less pungent than the fresh one. It also has a softer, more coating texture.
The aromas are generally a bit more muted and subtle here, but possess an intriguing complexity. Before the rinse I can smell notes of strawberries and forest, while afterwards it is a more woody scent.
The taste is also more woody than the 2019 version, and has some notes of black pepper, cranberry, cinnamon, and eucalyptus that I did not detect in the other one. There is a noticeable throat-cooling sensation that really distinguishes the aftertaste of the two.
All in all, I don’t have a favourite among the two, but the aged one is a very elegant tea. It is reminiscent of aged whites and tian jian.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Burnt Food, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fireplace, Forest Floor, Leather, Meat, Molasses, Oak, Plants, Roasted, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Tobacco, Umami, Wet Earth, Wood