The Keyxing brick from thechineseteashop has accompanied me on many a morning tea session. No, it's not a particularly superb tea, but given its age, it is rather cheap ($60 per 235g brick) and I often treat myself with a few cups of cheap young-aged puerh in the morning. It's not the taste I seek, nor a great complexity, it's just that it makes me feel good and other kinds of tea do not. Complexity and good taste is what I want from my afternoon sessions.
As a sample of the 94 Keyxing brick was quite cheap in Finepuer, I thought I'd try it too and do a comparison of these two bricks.
Generally, the bricks are quite similar, same sort of leaves, very similar color, very similar feeling when I drink it in the morning. They both lived a lot of their lives in HK (I can not imagine liking a HK stored tea three years ago). However, a 1:1 bowl comparison shows some differences (and, a bit surprisingly, both teas, especially the 94 brick, performed worse than in my tiny morning teapot).
Dry leaves, the 90s brick to the left, 94 brick to the right:
The 90s brick is a bit more dark brown, while the 94 is greyish.
The 94 brick has more of the white coating and occasional moldy fleck, but it's not too bad.
Steeping both leaves for about five minutes in total, I sniff the cups after two minutes already:
90s aroma: rich, dark wood, some nuts and a bit of chocolate, camphor
94 aroma: lighter, more "grey", like lighter wood, more creamy
Both cups smell quite similar. And after five minutes:
The color of both liquors is quite similar, the right (94) brick has sort of caught up on darkness of wood. Still, there is a difference in the woodiness - I finally took out my small collection of woods, so now I can say that the 90s' woodiness is a mixture of cedar and padouk (padauk), while the 94's woodiness is more like zingana with a touch of a carp (a fish, not wood :)).
The taste comes next:
90s: Aromatic mixture of dark exotic woods (the cedar is pretty dominant there I guess), very light smokiness (the cedar sort), slightly nutty, with some treacle. The aftertaste is nice, plummy, with some camphor.
94: Somewhat lighter way of agedness, also woody, more nutty and chocolatey than the 90s brick. So far so slightly better than the 90s brick. However, what I do not like that much is the taste of carp which is more pronounced in the taste than in the aroma. Nevertheless, the carp does manifest itself so much in a mini-gongfu I do in the mornings. The aftertaste has more woodiness than the 90s brick, but is similar in structure.
Both teas have significant activity in mouth, but I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised by sharpness of the feeling in the 90s brick - it was never like that when I brewed the tea in a mini-gongfu way. Both teas work rather well, but I preferred the not-so-sharp feeling of the 94.
Second steeping (another 5 or so minutes) to test the stamina of these teas shows similar color and similar (low) degree of drinkability:
Overall, I think the teas are rather similar, the 90s brick being more a mixture of woods, the 94 a mixture of some wood, nuts and chocolate (and the unfortunate carp). For my morning sessions, both bricks are well suited - not too complicated, but nicely young-aged, "warming the insides" and both leaving me feeling good. If I had to choose from these two, I think I'd pick the 90s brick from thechineseteashop as I feel it has a bit more depth and no carp (but as I said, the carp is not really strong in a mini-gongfu). However, I'd pick the 90s Red Mark from thechineseteashop over both of these really, it's cheaper and better...