I got a package from Chawangshop a week ago. There was more then five kilos of tea- autumn greens, aged oolongs some shu touchas but mostly shengs. And many samples of course...The tea I am going to talk about today, is not my favorite from that package but definitely worth to mention. It is Yibang Cha Wang Yuan cake from 2002.
I had sample of this tea few months back. The reason why I have decided to go for whole cake is what we can call "stage of aging". The seller claims that the cake was stored in humid Banna for first few years. It has created something in the tea profile what I miss in many cakes of similar age. Or maybe, it is just harder to find it for a reasonable price here, on west.
You can see even from pictures, that the cake is not fancy or perfect. Yes, there are stems and older yellow leaves. And yes, there is mixture of different leaves, shapes and sizes. But all this give a natural look to it and I think that "not looking fancy" does't mean poor tea. Probably also those impefections are involved in its price- 38usd for more then ten years old tea is (unfortunately) very cheap these days.
To see single mountain Yibang tea of this age is also very rare, at least for west audience. I am not sure if testing such example can give you any idea how your fresh Yibangs are going to age. This one is not distinct in any common way- not strongly sweet, smoky, fruity, bitter, floral. But rather there are all those aspects, mellowed by age. I wouldn't label it as overwhelming and really powerful tea, but I enjoy it. For me it is like forest in rain - calming and pleasant experience.
As you can see on wet leaves - it is still quite green. It is interesting thing about the color and aging. I have made side by side testing of this tea and Hong Kong stored 7542 from 2003. The HK tea was much darker in both leaves and liquer. But taste and aroma of the Yibang was more "aged". 7542 is probably better tea with potential and future, this Yibang on other hand is very nice to drink right now, but I am not sure about its potencial for long term aging.
|You can find surprisingly big leaves in this cake- Yibang should have small leaves as Jingmai, shouldn't have?|
I will tag this cake as "ready to drink now" anyway. There is some aged quality I like and profile, which is different from what I have. Next time, when a vendor is going to warn me that a tea was stored in humid place in its early live, I will sit up and notice. It is worth to try.
|Testing new kettle...|