This was my first puerh from Jalam Teas, courtesy of Togo. I performed some cursory browsing of the website. What I gleaned is that this company does a monthly subscription box with one-100g puerh cake. Sale of that specific tea is reserved first for subscription members and later opened to the public. The club costs $19/mo + shipping and handling of CAD $3, USD $5, International $6. Seems like a viable option for sippers wanting to explore the puerh-producing villages at a reasonable and focused pace; however most of the tea offered is young sheng and as evidenced by this tea, it is not something I could immediately drink 100g of in a month. The 100g cake size might not appeal to people looking to store sheng puerh for the long-term.
That said, I found this to be a nice sheng to drink on a warm afternoon. I can see where this tea would be heading in a year but I’m not experienced enough to determine a more distant future. It has the hallmarks of a young sheng that will supposedly store well: the bitterness and astringency come to the forefront after the first 4 to 5 steeps.
Otherwise, it starts off with a very fruity profile with Menghai characteristics, the county in which Hekai is located. Sour moving to sweet plum is the dominant note in aroma and taste for several steeps and it lingers long in the nose. There is also a strong umami and whisper of smoke that present early. It reminds me of a Greek dish called kreas me fasolakia, or beef with green beans, a dish seared then stewed with tomato sauce. That fades out before the astringency and bitterness come in strong. But before their arrival, other tastes move through including yellow pear/skin, minerals and butter. The aftertaste is fruity, quick to arrive and everlong, starting with plums and moving to white grapes, semi-sweet white wine, and buttery apricot. The mouthfeel in the first few steeps is satisfying — it’s almost syrupy and coating yet very buoyant in the mouth… again like wine. Returning sweetness is decent and of course gets stronger as the bitterness comes out.
The understated powerful energy of this tea slowly crept in and damn if I didn’t feel heavy. An intense craving for pizza overtook me, as a strong young sheng commands: “Get some food in that belly!” So I went to Round Table, had a huge salad, a thin crust veggie pizza and a beer then came home to watch Jeopardy. Good way to wind down the work week. Overall, this He Kai Old Tree Sheng is a nice tea with potential and I would like to store a cake for a year before trying again.
Edited to add a song: Foo Fighters — Everlong
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Clay, Fruity, Green Beans, Hay, Mineral, Mushrooms, Paper, Pear, Plum, Sweet, Tart, Umami, White Grapes, White Wine