MarshalN has sent me, several very interesting teas along the lovely set of TGYs and this is one of them. I'm very grateful for all of them: first, the teas would be impossible for me to obtain otherwise. Second, it's a very good opportunity to "taste a fellow blogger" (especially one whose opinions I value so much). People have different preferences - some prefer dry storage, some prefer normal one. Some do not believe in aging of Jinggu, some of Yiwu. And I think that when one reads about a tea on someone else's blog, it's good to have a calibration (e.g., if someone who likes dry sour mummies recommends a tea, I know what not to buy). If I read about a tea which MarshalN has blogged before and drink it alongside, it will (hopefully) give me more insight into the rest of his posts.
Now, this tea is available from Sunsing and it costs about $130. I believe it's priced fairly.
Looks yummy, does it not? And smells too - light storage aroma and nuttiness.
The tea had some issues in a tester so I decided to go for gongfu with stove today.
The wet leaves smell sweet, lightly aged, somewhat like chocolate with nuts, maybe sweet barley. I could be easily talked into spiciness. In the first couple of steepings, there's a light storage aroma. Overall, the aroma is reasonably complex and "wide", surprisingly aged, given the age, but very clean. At times, some youthful aspects appear too, but are not really that noticeable, I'd say.
The taste also starts a bit musty in the first 1-2 steepings, but not enough to make it unpleasant. It seems to me that Manzhuan has a tendency to acquire some aged tones earlier than other areas. There is plenty of nutty agedness, along with some sweet barley and chocolate.
It is nicely sweet and thick. The taste is not as intense as it could, I'd prefer it a bit more intense, but it is very nice and rich nevertheless.
It's good to keep it in mouth for a while as the tingling gets stronger. When I quickly gulped a cup, it did not bring that much enjoyment from the point of mouthfeel. Hui gan is good and long, feels strong even in throat. There is a long term aftertaste. It is not yet as strong as in more aged tea, but the tea seems to be well on the way to it.
The long term aftertaste was more pronounced in a tester, but I probably should have rinsed the tea more before putting it there as the mustiness was maybe a little strong for a tea of this quality.
The tea posesses light qi which (at least for me) worked very nicely with the whole tea session. This tea was not explosively tasty, nor surprising, but it just felt good. And "right", I might say. A lot of tea has some weird aspects - this one does not. To me, it feels clean and kind. Also, it did well to my stomach.
$130 is, in my opinion, a reasonable price for such a pleasant and all-around positive tea.
Along with the SKM's 2004 Yibang and 2004 Menghai from Chawangshop, I'd put it probably after the Yibang, before the Menghai.
On the other hand, I had a bit of the 2004 Yibang after the session (to compare it to the Manzhuan) and thought it was a bit too dry. I asked Honza about it, he told me it comes from the same warehouse, but different altitude in there. It probably had less humidity than the piece I wrote about some time ago - as a result, the Yibang I have now is good, with potential, but needs more time to be as good as the one I had before. I think I'd rather have this Manzhuan for immediate drinking on most occasions.