Thursday, November 2, 2017
2008 Essence of Tea Qianjiazhai Wild
I remember us exchanging emails, swapping samples, and sharing dialogue in the comment section of MattCha's Blog way back in 2008. I can't believe its been 9 years!
What you have accomplished in 9 years is something absolutely beautiful for puerh drinkers- you have brought us some of the most natural, pure, puerh teas that we couldn't have even imaged 9 years ago.
I think I am not only speaking for myself, but for many others who love your direction and vision of puerh, when I say “Thank You”.
David of Essence of Tea was very active in the tea blogging community in the earliest days. Honesty, integrity, pushing purity and the idea that the old trees of Yunnan are something to be valued, loved, and protected are imbedded into the values and continuing evolution of Essence of Tea throughout these years. Really, it is a beautiful thing.
When he heard that MattCha’s Blog was up and running again, he was one of two old bloggers (now vendors) who immediately tried to contact me to send samples. When there was a recent outcry that there was not enough quality semi-aged puerh from Western vendors, he responded by promising to offer more. This speaks to the kind of integrity David (partner Yingxi) and Essence of Tea stands for and this is one of the reasons I wanted to purchase some of that semi aged puerh that he had just released.
This 2008 Qianjiazhai Malaysian stored wild tea or yesheng definitely peeked my interest. Upon my return to puerh I marveled at David’s post on the giant ancient yesheng treesof Qianjiazhai. His first release of semi aged yesheng was just months ago, this 2008 Qianjiazhai ancient wild tea tuocha, sold out very quickly before I could place an order.
I get from David that Qianjiazhai is one of the most famous locations for wild tea so I feel that we are all very fortunate to be able to purchase some. To give you an idea of how popular Qianjiazhai’s wild tea is, fresh picked wild tea from Qianjiazhai this year cost 1600rmb/kg ($241.00/kg or $0.24/g). This is not the price that the vendors sell the final product but rather the cost to them before processing. So with that being said, I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to just try a tea like this, never mind be able to purchase enough to enjoy for the future. I paid $120.00 for a 400g cake ($0.30/gram). I was feeling optimistic about this one and purchased two of these. I don’t think I have to outright say that I feel this is quite a bargain, that is, if the tea actually checks out.
Also I wondered how this yesheng compared to my 2008 Yunxian Huimin yesheng? Even though the only thing they would share would be the picking date and a reasonably close location. The comparison might help me even further understand the basic feeling of Yesheng which, as I previously stated, is really different than puerh (see here and here). This comparison is perhaps the topic of another post.
Anyways, let’s see if this one is the great deal and special yesheng experience I feel it might be or maybe I was completely wrong about ordering all this aged wild tea. There is only one way to find out…
Dry leaves smell of deep currents and has a slight dirt aged and deep penetrating fruit odour. It has a deeper, wetter storage smell than what I’m used to in a semi-aged wild tea. Instantly upon unwrapping, my wife exclaims, “Aged Puer!” Good guess.
The first infusion delivers mellow, watery, aged humid storage notes with an aftertaste of soft evolving fruit taste. The throat opens nicely with a watery barely cooling throat sensation. The mouthfeel is nice and round for a wild tea, better than most I’ve tried. There is a slight muddled, slight chalky, trying to be floral taste on the breath minutes later. The cool sensation on the breath is noticeable. This infusion has the feel of a second wash, really. It is obvious here that this is a “sweet wild” tea not a “bitter wild”.
The second infusion delivers a nice monotone fruit and slight aged dirt note. There are solid suggestions of sweet vanilla notes. The aftertaste still carries a nice coolness in the throat. The throatfeel is deep with barely suggestions of floral and fruit. The qi is mainly felt in the head and gives a relaxing, spacey feel. The body qi subtly kicks at the stomach and shoulders feel light.
The third infusion delivers a nice slight tart cherry and aged dirt taste with waves of vanilla. The mouthfeel becomes more astringent and nicely full here and the saliva is pushed out of the deep throat causing me to clear my throat. Subtle sweet taste emerge to fill the gap.
The fourth and fifth infusions starts with a watery, slight dirt aged initial taste then transforms to a soft barely plum-like taste and slight hints of vegetal tastes flash by as well. The aftertaste remains cool and has a simple dirt and barely fruit current taste. There is a soapy perfume aftertaste with edges of fruit. The mouth and throat feel are very nice.
The sixth and seventh becomes a more aged tasting deeper but light tastes of current, dirt, aged woody tastes. The aftertaste still carries a significant coolness and there is more of a woody taste. There is a noticeable cinnamon taste left behind. This infusion really tastes lots like a humid stored, semi-aged puerh.
The eighth is much the same but becoming more muted now. There is a chalky berry taste that emerges here. The qi is solid and makes the head float.
The ninth there is a muted, watery berry fruit nuance under the watery aged taste. The mouthfeel and throat feel are nice still which makes this one enjoyable even into the later steepings.
The tenth holds a bit more of this flavor but the eleventh is watery and flat despite being put to minutes long infusion. So it’s time for an overnight infusion…
More than any wild tea I have tried this one resembles puerh the most because of its fuller mouthfeel, and returning cooling sweetness as well as woody, dirty aged notes. I think if there are any semi-aged, Malaysian storage puerh fans out there this would be a great “gateway yesheng” for them to try. I kind of get the feeling that Qianjiazhai is like the Laobanzhang of Wild Tea. Certainly, this tasting puts it up there in my books. In some ways, this is the most “puerh tasting” wild tea that I have tried and doesn’t really represent the typical wild tea profile. The popularity of this region is maybe due to its close resemblance to puerh.
Overall, I’m happy with my purchase of these two bings.