Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Essence of Tea Yiwu GuoYouLin and Trusting Gushu Claims

These days are quite different that when I first started drinking puerh.  Back then nobody really understood what “ancient” “old tree” “gushu” really meant or how to distinguish between such stuff from even some factory produced puerh.  Yeah, it was that bad back then.  Nowadays, a lot of people have come to understand that most of these claims can be immediately disregarded.  I feel that Essence of Tea is an exception to that rule.  To me the care and strict oversight that David and Yingxi’s use to source tea = truth.  If David, says that his new Essence of Tea puerh is (fill in blank) than I have no doubt that it is (fill in blank).  I have the highest level of trust for David with his sourcing on his fresh puerh nowadays.

This kind of guarantee of authenticity however comes with a price.  This is only fair because to guarantee such claims must take an enormous about of time, energy, and effort on the part of David and Yingxi.  If I was both in a financial place where I could spend the money and was serious about acquiring young fresh pure ancient puerh of a famous producing area, I would be pre-ordering Essence of Tea’s 2018 puerh.  No questions asked.  But because I am not in such a place right now, I am simply humbled by a chance to sample such things and enjoy the experience which unfolds.  Please come along with me, sit down, and enjoy…

This tea came from a small selection of puerh trees protected in the Yiwu State Forest that were discovered in 2004.  Essence of Tea has given this tea the bold claim of “the best tea we’ve ever pressed”.  This tea sold out fast but used to go for $450.00 for a 400g cake.  It is the last of the free samples included in my last purchase from Essence of Tea (thanks again David).

Dry leaves carry a deep and rich odour of multifaceted fruits.  Concord grape odours in a slightly deep forest smell.  Many rich high notes are released into the olfactory.

First infusion has a slightly syrupy sweet fruit taste.  There is a nice crispness to the taste but also a depth to it.  The aftertaste is of high fruit tastes which don’t last too long before a sandy taste reveals itself.  Overall, this first infusion surprised me because I was expecting lots of top notes but wasn’t also expecting lots of grounding depth.  Right off the bat this tea has a full feeling to it.   The throatfeeling is subtle but deep.

The second infusion shows off more of this profile with an initial taste that is not too sweet nor that fruity but has nice slight fruit taste in a deeper profile of slight grains, forest tastes, bread tastes which comprise just as much of the taste profile, especially in the middle profile after the initial syrupy sweetness has almost disappeared.  The fruity sweetness re-appears stronger in the breath and in the aftertaste compared to the first infusion.  The mouthfeel has a nice, mild, almost sandy texture.

The third infusion has even less initial sweet taste but more of a mellow apricot bread taste to it.  The aftertaste is a thick blanketing taste of dried fruits and breads.  This tea has a very deep, heavy profile to it for such a young tea- very nice sustenance.  The mouthfeel develops a sticky, syrupy feeling to it to match the syrup taste. The throat sensation is opening, viscus, and thick.

The fourth infusion starts with slight fruits that are overpowered by a deeper foresty taste.  There is a nice spike of surgery returning sweetness before being dragged out into an apricot bread taste of fresh yeasty baking.   The bread tastes are the dominant ones, the mild initial sweetness is becoming less.  The aftertaste is of dry fruit.

The fifth is completely different which has a tingling suragry slightly cooling initial taste with a cool menthol like sweetness being more prominent here with the fruity sweetness now almost unnoticeable and this cooling pungent menthol surgary sweetness now emerging.  There is another depth to the taste which tastes of syrup.  This infusion starts to show signs of a woody taste emerging also.  The initial- and aftertaste is less exciting than the long thick middle taste.  The qi of this tea is actually very mild and is mainly felt as a light sensation in the head and a very clear mind.  It feels very unimposing in the body and is very mild and approachable for such a young puerh.

The sixth infusion is much the same with a deep evolving taste over a long profile.

The seventh infusion has a vegetal initial taste where there is a complete void of sweetness now.  That taste is the dominant which slowly gives way to some bread-like taste and a very faint returning coolness followed by bready and dried apricot fruit tastes in the aftertaste.  The aftertaste is now where the most action is.  The rest of the infusion is dominated by a slightly bitter and more standard vegetal taste.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is mild but full.  The throatfeeling is deep and mild achieving a nice complete but mildly stimulating sensation.

The eighth has a much smoother and harmonious taste, more blended together now- vegetal, bread, slight wood, barely dried apricot.  The mouthfeeling and throatfeeling becomes slightly drying here and is getting noticeably stronger.

The ninth infusion starts off with a dry and slightly puckery fruit notes over vegetal notes then transforms to a woody taste then to a nice bread-like returning sweetness with slight cooling.  The cooling sensation brings a wood and faint sugar notes.  Overall the profile is turning more wood-like and the mouthfeel and throatfeel start moving out of the medium-mild stimulating and more into the stronger slighty gripping stimulation at this point. 

The tenth and eleventh has a nice robust bread, wood, melon taste which is nicely blended throughout.  The taste is nicely harmonious here along with the mouth and throatfeeling feels quite satisfyingly complete.  The vegetal/ bitter note is gone leaving nice tastes left to thoroughly enjoy.

The twelfth has a grainy-cereal taste as the dominant here.  There are woody, syrupy edges to it here but it is grain tasting throughout.  The mouthfeel is mild to medium full- the throatfeel is deep and light. 

The thirteenth and fourteenth has much the same tastes.  There emerges a fruity mild returning sweetness in these later infusions.  Still very much enjoyable here.

The fifteenth and sixteen becomes even more mild but still enjoyable and harmonious.  I am still doing only flash infusions here with no need to add any extra time to enjoy this tea which I think could potentially just make it bitter and dry.  This tea has great stamina.  Overall, this tea has a very mild qi and very little bodyfeel.

The seventieth and eighteenth become more mild but still not really bitter and are enjoyed.

If acquiring true, pure gushu is the top criteria for your puerh buying then look no further than Essence of Tea.  However, based on taste/smell, qi, bodyfeeel/ mouthfeel alone, this tea would not be worth it for the average person.  Once providence is added to the equation and if you are one who values such things, this puerh is immediately worth it- especially in a climate where such things are becoming harder to actually and undeniably verify.


Steepster’s Tasting Notes and Commentary

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