A really nice budget ripe available from Yunnan Sourcing. (Actually, it’s sold out now, but originally sold for $16 for 357g).
Overall, a fresh hardwood note is the primary flavor. However, unlike many “woody” ripes, this one is not drying in the mouth. It is instead balanced by a very prevalent creaminess that is lubricated and thick. In addition, the hardwood notes carry some cereal notes (e.g. cream of wheat) and cherry wood flavors. The creaminess has hints of cocoa, vanilla, milk chocolate, and very slight bourbon cask.
This is one of those mind-game teas – I knew it was a budget ripe and thus used it as a daily drinker for some time. I didn’t think much of it until I brought it home for a real gong fu session. It really opened up and showed its character.
This is hard to give marks on because the flavor is spot-on. Absolutely no off-flavors, and the balance of woodiness and creaminess is excellent. Personally though, I just wish some of the underlying flavors had a little more pop – but that’s not exactly the character of ripe pu’erh anyway. For the money, this is a steal, particularly if you value smooth, well-balanced ripes.
Dry leaf – cream of wheat, grits, some almond, wet wood, some seashore notes, dark molasses, coffee grounds
Smell – cream of wheat, cherry wood, fresh hardwood, seashell, hints of vanilla-cask creaminess
Taste – woody upfront, cream of wheat, hints of creamy cocoa; finish of cherry wood and creamy cask. Some hints of coffee grounds (pleasant) in aftertaste. Later steeps develop an interesting minerality that reminds me of seashells – also very pleasant.