04 September, 2007

2006 Changtai Jinzhu

I'm not sure that I saved the best until last, this time. With a sense of unavoidable inevitability, here's the final installment of the terrifically titillating Dragon Teahouse tea-tasting triptych.

They say that 10% of the population have some sort of problem with colour perception. Presumably, this implies that there's some suffering going on with this colour-schemed tea tasting...

"Scottish Mountain" @ 100C in 10cl shengpu pot; ~8-9g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Not as attractive as the other two teas, but large segments of good leaves are apparent, with a scattering of large silver tips. The compression, while not as high as a Xiaguan tuocha, was tight enough to cause some leaf damage during separation. The aroma is very sweet, with a tobacco undercurrent.

3s, 3s, 3s, 3s, 3s:
From the infusions, you will correctly have deduced that "green" happens to be a very good choice of colour for this tea.

The rinse was yellow, but the proper infusions turn out orange. As cloudy as the "red" tea, neither reach the clarity of the "blue". The beidixiang is scent-free warmth, but it hands over to a long, powerful lengxiang of brown sugar.

Even though the infusion is short, the ku is potent: it attacks the instant soup touches lips, and runs its hot, metallic passage through to the throat, where it swells and promotes significant watering of the mouth. The flavours are somewhat reserved, being limited to the "sweet grain" part of the spectrum, but the texture in the mouth is smooth - perhaps from the tips.

The bare minimum of time for water touching leaves is sufficient for the quantity of leaf I have used, which includes a moment to put down the kettle, and put the hulu [gourd-filter] onto the gongdaobei. The tobacco from the aroma is only really detectable in the after-aroma.

Five infusions in, and I wave the flag of surrender - it's too energetic for an evening tea session.

Wet leaf:
Very green, and small from the pick of spring. Mostly fragments, they are not very pretty to contemplate.

Bitter, potent, strong! The ku is all-powerful, but it does not conceal a strong flavour, a particularly smooth texture, or advanced chaqi. It's just a whole lot of ku. This isn't really my "cup of tea", preferring the "blue" out of all three - which is much more to my personal preference, if a touch quiet. Over to you.


shichangpu said...

125 ml gaiwan, full boil water.

Again, a fairly run-of-the-mill puer. Feels about 3-4 years old, some honey and citrus notes, a bit of lingering bitterness. Nothing complex, and no real evolution through infusions. Started to fade at about 7 infusions, which was just as well, as my interest was waning too.

Hmmm. I appreciate the generosity of the Dragon folks, and love getting samples, but am thus far feeling badly that my reviews of their wares are not more enthusiastic. Am I missing something?


perpleXd said...

I also noticed the higher compression of the cake. It is funny that you also noticed the immediate intensity as I did in my notes, I almost disregarded it as my anxiousness to try the tea.

Thanks again for including me in the tasting, I am excited to try the blue now!


Hobbes said...

Dear Mike,

I don't want to give the game away too much with this one, but I'm impressed that the bitterness wasn't too apparent. I wonder if it's down to leaf quantity? This one almost knocked me over!

Regarding the enthusiasm for the teas, I don't think anyone can ask for more than a taster's honest opinion, so fear not.

Dear Perplexd,

I'm sure that you won't, as your notes are always very clear and independent, but please don't let my opinion sway you - I know for a fact that the "blue" cake is liked and disliked in seemingly equal amount, and so I don't want to bias the proceedings!

Toodlepip both,


P.s. For completeness, Perplexd reviewed this tea here.

Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

My impression:

Totally different to Red or Blue, this tea has a slightly sour fruity note present in the dry leaf which continues into the brewed tea. The initial impression of something smoky and woody is easily overturned and this tea is fuller and less monotone in comparison to the other two samples.

There is more Pu-erh here, but this tea is still very mild, perhaps a Changtai product. Better style leaf than the other two.


Anonymous said...

Lovely orange color, and crystal clear. I brewed in a porcelin gaiwan, odd that you should get such cloudy results from your zisha. Fruit and flowers are absent. The bitter ku extends from the very very back of palate down my asophagus, while the whole of my tounge is wondering what it missed. My water cooled a little more this time then it did during either the red or blue sessions. Might have something to do with the clarity. Materials are nothing to write home about. some are more chopped than others.

Not a bad batch on the whole. A few to contemplate drinking again if the price is right. Again and as always, hats off.



Brent said...

Here are my impressions for the green sample. I still haven't touched the others, but I will get those notes to you when I can.

Dry Leaf:

The dry leaf has a lovely range of color, from brownish-green to green, with a few off-white tips. The aroma is surprisingly pleasant (again, I'm a noob, give me a break), and smells of dry, earthy mushrooms, but with a brighter citrus/acid and floral high note.


8.1g leaf; 100mL gaiwan; filtered tap water (boiling); 8s rinse, 11s, 15s, 13s, 11s, 12s*
*These times include pouring and decanting.


In general, the liquor was sweet, light-bodied, mushroomy, and woodsy. There was a mild hui gan at times, and a strong drying astringency throughout the session, leaving my tongue battered and useless by the 5th infusion. I didn't think it was very bitter, just drying. The flavor of the brews seemed to be fairly consistent across all the infusions, though there seemed to be more sweetness with shorter brews and more dryness with longer ones.

Though others seem to have thought this tea's cha qi to be ordinary, I, having never paid much attention to the concept, thought it was a mite overwhelming. Despite the air conditioning in my dorm, I broke out in a cold sweat during the second infusion, and felt quite heavy-headed by the end of the session. It was only unpleasant in that I didn't know what to expect.


I was pleasantly surprised by this shengpu, as I have had some rather poor impressions of the shengpu genre in the past. I don't feel like I know enough yet to give this a rating, but I thought it was interesting and enjoyable.

Thanks again, Hobbes!

xdustinx said...

100ml. gaiwan, 6.0g, 10s, 15s, 25s, 40s, 65s, 90s. Liquor was a typical young sheng color. Aroma had notes of mushroom, wood, smoke, and spice. Taste had notes of fruit and menthol-like bitterness. Bitterness was very apparent through most of the infusions, only dying down near the end. But the flavor seemed to disappear with the bitterness. Mouthfeel was thin and watery. No qi noted. Probably my least favorite of the three.

speakfreely said...

Of the three, this is the only one where the dry leaf evidences a little bit of aging - from the color, and from the fact that the vegetal aroma is giving over to the warmer leather and tobacco scents. I'd say it's somewhere between '05-'06. The leaf material is similar to yesterday's "Blue" - largish, flattened, with a good bit of stem in there. It brews up a deeper yellow than yesterday's tea, slightly towards amber, but this is still quite young. Rather murky. Watery and quickly fleeting leather/smoke beidixiang. This dissapears, and a full 30s. later a surprizingly strong, sweet lengxiang emerges. The greeting has just a little ku which builds powerfully with repeated sipping, and just a little silk. While I don't expect an outstanding tea here, I already much prefer it to "Blue". A bit of huigan gives way to a lasting drymouth, which is a bit unfortunate, as I expected the former to predominate given that ku. While it's not great, not even that good, after drinking a number of weak, characterless teas, this one comes as a welcome relief. I'm going to guess it's one of the '06 Changtais.

Anonymous said...

This one has a full body contrary to the others. I liked the spicy note, which indeed seems to be one of the Chang Tai characteristics, as some already noticed.
I believe this is a Chang Tai too. I even suspect this guy to be the Jinzhu round cake.
Though I have to say I found the 2005 and even more the 2004 versions of this cake much better, this tea is rather enjoyable and tastes surprisingly "aged" (almost as my 2005 one).
To conclude, blue was definitely a no go to me. Green is rather enjoyable now, but it is not something I would buy to store twenty years. And red... I don't know... I believe it has some qualities, perhaps some would even find it very good but it is just not the kind of thing I am looking for in a tea.
Thank you Hobbes for organizing this tasting, and Gordon for providing the samples. I received a generous amount of them all.
I am looking forward to hear what these teas are even if I am rather sure about Mister Green's identity.