Chawangpu aren't making many teas this year, I've been told. Looking at the prices of raw materials in famous areas, one is not surprised. In the line of Meng Zhr of the previous post, we're still staying in Laos in this post. I've been kindly given maocha from Ban Komaen, which is the fancier of two villages in Laos where Chawangshop have sourced their tea...
I think this is possibly the first tea from 2014 I'm having and hopefully not the last one.
The leaves give the aroma of young puerh you would likely expect. They smell sugary, floral and a bit fruity.
Rinsed leaves smell very nicely too. It's not a really new aroma, one smells a lot of teas with roughly similar aroma many times a year, so the angel is in the detail really (in some teas, unfortunately, it is a devil). This particular aroma gives away its near-Yiwu character, being sugary sweet, floral (magnolia), with an element of exotic fruit and citruses. The latter elements are more pronounced than is common in most of Yiwu. The floralness is so intensive that it can resemble glue/solvents containing toluene and similar aromatics.
The liquor has standard good color and clarity. The taste follows the aroma closely, being mostly sugary and floral, with some fruitiness and light cinnamon tones. The cinnamon works interestingly with the flowers - especially the aroma of the liquor can resemble a part of aroma of a green Tie Guan Yin - I'm not saying this Ban Komaen tea is much like green oolong - I'm just noting that there is an interesting intersection of aromas and, to smaller degree, taste.
While the thickness of liquor is rather high, it is not really super-high, allowing for more taste to get to our tastebuds (this is probably the biggest difference from Yiwu teas that I could find).
The astringency is very low and while the tea can be pushed to be bitter quite easily, I would not say it's too bitter by default. Furthermore, the bitterness is of a rather pleasant sort, transforming into a good, pomelo-like long aftertaste.
The tea feels very clean and pure in its qi, being calming and soothing. It gently numbs mouth cavity and vibrates. Of course, the sensation is completely unlike the feelings imparted by pesticides.
Overall, I thought this tea to be very nice. Not a super-exciting one, but well produced and all-around of high quality. Its cost of $38 or $48 per 200g cake is quite sound (sigh...). Is it expensive? Perhaps - but compare it to young Yiwu teas that cost two or more times as much... I honestly can't say that I could discern this Ban Komaen from Yiwu. Of course, it has got some properties that make it not really like "standard Yiwu", but so does Guafengzhai and surrounding areaas...
Wow, Laos seems to be the next area to be discovered, I guess - both teas (this Ban Komaen and previously mentioned Meng Zhr) were genuinely good puerh. It was also interesting to taste these two teas side by side - it was fun to observe the difference between old and not so old trees (which were very good and clean as well, just different).