The summers seem to be a lot hotter of late, which means that we have been drinking lots of lucha (Xinyang Maojian, mostly) and plenty of wulong, primarily qingxiang [green scent; i.e., not heavily roasted].
I usually consider Teamasters productions to be the most reliable, of which M. Erler's Dayuling has been by far my favourite for many years. I was delighted to see Houde stocking tea from this area a few seasons ago, and this summer, I have been drinking a similar product from Essence of Tea. The latter came in both qingxiang and nongxiang varieties, and were as good as I remember those from Teamasters. When the sun is high, you would have to try very hard to beat the buttery sweetness of Dayuling.
Funnily enough, we have a honeysuckle bush growing along the fence outside our conservatory which has precisely the same aroma as both teas...
Small- and medium-sized leaves
The Jinchanghao sample pictured above also comes from Essence of Tea, where the whole cake costs £75. I must admit that I don't usually buy tea at that price, and have done so on only a few occassions (such as the exceedingly friendly 1997 Henlichang "Bulang"). Hence, I tend to stick to younger cakes, with the ever-optimistic hope that they will grow pleasant under my care. However, it's enjoyable to try samples of the more aged cakes, in order to educate the tongue a little, and, primarily, to enjoy some beautiful tea.
It is a clean orange, as may be seen below, and has an encouragingly long, sweet aroma. It is well-oxidised (presumably through aging), and is sweet, clean, and heavy in the mouth. Shengpu of this age tend to remind me of various types of wood, and this reminds me of rosewood: sweet, sharp, clean.
It is a touch to dainty and elegant for my tastes, which tend towards the beefy and robust, but it was a pleasure. Its bright, refreshingly energetic character fits rather well to a day that promises yet more blistering sunshine...