Tuesday, July 18, 2017
2008 Nan Jian 912, Aging Wuliang Puerh and Breaking Into Iron Bings
I threw in a cake of this one to sample in my order of 2008Wild Arbour King cakes from Yunnan Sourcing a few months back. It was (and still is) selling for $40.00 for a 400g ($0.10/gram)cake but was included in the 12% sale at the time (by pure coincidence a 10% off sale is on now). This cake is a popular, cheap everyday drinker in the West. It is certified organic, iron pressed, composed of Wuliang/Lincang materials. This cake has been stored in Guangdong most of its life before heading to Yunnan Sourcing’s drier Kunming storage.
I am a fan of iron bings. I like how the aged and semi-aged iron bings taste. They seem to age slower and have a mix of aged taste as well as some retained youthful qualities from the tight compression. They also give an old school kind of feeling to them and are often slightly stronger tasting cakes that are often a touch bitter. It would be interesting to see one of the newer trendier producers offer an iron bing cake. This cake was stored in wetter storage so I’m expecting more of a noticeable dichotomy than usual here.
I have developed a method to remove the leaves of iron bing cakes without hassle. Basically, I just angle the whole bing at a 45 degree angle on a very hard surface and apply force. The leaves come off pretty easily.
Personally, I am not always convinced that tea will get better with more age. I remember Mr. Kim telling me that sometimes aged tea is best after 8-10 years. Then will decline. I think this is especially true for puerh that tends to be more fragrant with a mellow flavor. I feel that Wuliang puerh fits this description. I have very nice full tasting and vibrant Wuliang from 2011 but I have been drinking it lately not aging it further for this reason. I believe it should only be aged long enough so the rawness and ill effects of fresh sheng are reduced- then it is best consumed. I guess only time will tell. Let’s try out this Wuliang/Lincang from probably the most famous of Wuliang factories- Nan Jian Tulin Tea Factory…
Dry leaves smell of old wetter storage- a meatier smell with very little in the way of fragrant high notes.
The first infusion has a watery, bland, not quite sweet and juicy, taste in the mouth. There is some suggestions of melon fruit before quickly disappearing in the mouth. There is a faint, almost floral, mild cooling aftertaste.
The second infusion starts with a stronger profile of mild tobacco and leather over a slight bitter astringent vegetal taste. There is a bean taste in there as well then a slight suggestion of sweet fruit before a soft/ mild cooling appears. This infusion is over a thin, slightly dry mouthfeel.
The third has slight melon fruity taste over a significant slight tobacco, leather and slight bitter vegetal taste. The cooling aftertaste is just slight. Minutes later nice rock sugar tastes well as distant floral mildly present themselves. There is very little throat feel but rather a thin, slightly drying astringent mouthfeel which coats the mouth and makes the teeth feel sticky.
The fourth infusion is much the same as the second. The long tobacco/ leather and slight bitter vegetal tastes dominate the profile of this tea over only mild suggestions of something more complex and subtle.
The fifth infusion has more of a watery slight juicy fruit feel but it is still dominated but tobacco, leather and slight bitter astringent vegetal taste. The mild cool aftertaste remains.
The sixth and seventh and eighth infusions are more subtle in taste with a slight crisper cooling sweetness trying to unsuccessfully push through the deeper base tastes. The taste remains very stable. This tea can be steeped for many more infusions and yield basically the same simple tastes. It has durability on its side. The qi of this tea is mild alerting and slightly relaxing- very standard qi. It is totally uncomplicated and changes very little from infusion to infusion. Its taste and feel is simple, reliable, and predictable. It is totally drinkable and there is no off taste or chemical feeling but it just isn’t that interesting. There is a simple honesty about this cake and for those who like the flavors and this type of storage I can see how it could be an everyday drinker for them. For $40.00 you are mainly paying for the storage and age of this cake. I can’t see myself buying another.