The journey through the box with samples of Wistaria's teas seems to come to its end, unfortunately. While I have received packages filled by larger sum(goodness), I don't think I'd have ever received a package with larger mean(goodness). With most semi-random picked samples, I find the ratio of success to be 5%=great tea, 20%=good tea, could buy (if I had the money and price was ok), 70%=drinkable, but would not buy, 5% awful, not to ever touch again. However, with these six Wistaria samples, I see the ratio as 50%/34%/16%.
Without further ado...
2007/8 Blue mark
Yesterday, it witnessed the death of Ahab (Hobbes' recent post inspired me to read Moby Dick again) and somewhat brightened the grim end of Pequoda.
The pouch says it's from 2007, but other source say 2008 so I'll stick with that. I think that 2007 is the birth year of Red mark (What is it like? Has anyone had that? MarshalN?). Anyway, one year does not matter that much, I guess.
The Blue mark is a Menghai blend. That may mean a variety of things. Most of awful sheng in generic asian shops is "Yunnan King/Emperor/Mighty ruler of the universe,..." puerh, but "Menghai green" wins the silver medal for average awfulness, I guess. However, there are good Menghai blends too, e.g., the Spring of Menghai from Dayi. There is good reason why I chose to mention that one - it offers a partially similar family of tastes as this Blue mark.
The dry leaves smell somewhat mushroomy. That may sound a bit scary, but it's quite ok. Mushroominess is sometimes found in puerh... I still vividly remember the 2005 Guoyan Nannuo, which, after a couple of steepings, tasted like a boletus. Blah. I thought it ok back then (was it 2007 or 8?), but at that time, we had mostly even worse puerh around so it felt comparatively better. It's fun to read Czech message boards about puerh from these years too. It feels like there were living trilobites around back then.
Rinsed leaves reveal a very to-my-liking aroma of certain sort of meadow flowers, sweet granary, leatheriness and general "Menghai shengness" (in a good way). If I inhale long and deep, I smell animality (as of cattle), which I do like both in tea and wine. No mushrooms, thank god. So far so good.
The taste is right lovely, of clay, sweet granary, meadow flowers, a bit of leather. Since the 2nd steeping on, the garden fruitiness jumps out of the cup and further improves the already good impression of the first steeping. In a tester, the clay and garden fruit were so intermingled that I thought it to be the "Banzhang stone fruit" taste, but gongfu reveals that these two tastes are a bit more separated than that. Maybe after two years, they will come together? Still, the tea tastes/feels to me like there is a portion of leaves from near (or within?) Banzhang. I also believe that it will develop honey tones in future. Later, towards the death of this tea (7-9th steeping?), the mushrooms appear again. At this stage, however, I do not mind them. I take is a folly of starting-to-be-senile tea
The liquor is propertly thick, sweet and lubricating. There is a somewhat surprising light acidity in there, but I rather like it.
The astringency is still quite high, but it seems to be that sort which should go away eventually. Bitterness can be kept low and pleasant.
There is some activity and energy, but I must admit that the good taste of this tea was what interested me the most.
As pleasant, full and sunny tea as it is, this still tastes/feels to me like a $50 cake, not a $80-100 one. I think that given the price, I'd rather stick with 2006 Spring of menghai. But let's not diminish the fact that this Blue Mark is a nice tea and I think it should safely age into a very good tea.
2005 Tai Yue (Jinggu)
Ah, Jinggu, where were you sleeping when aroma was given to regions by God? Why did not you wake from your slumber when interesting tastes were given by God. Why were you acting dead when good body feel was given by God, only to wake up to lift and carry the bag of boredom which nobody else wanted?
There are drinkable Jinggus (YS's recent ones, 2010&11 XZH Laowushan, 2003 Bailong Jia Ji), I even know of one that I would call "rather good" (2003 Bailong Te Ji). However, I still wait to see an exciting, great and magnificent Jinggu. I think that most Jinggu teas I had were best represented by a tuocha made for local market by Teanet. The tea is inoffensive. The tea is drinkable. But it makes me ask myself who would want to make/ drink such a tea and why.
The Tai Yue from Wistaria is definitely an above-average Jinggu. In means of performance, it, I believe, falls somewhere between the Bai Long Te Ji and XZH Laowushan. It rather feels like an average of these two. There are some ok feelings and subtleties from the XZH, while the solid base reminds me of the Bailong Te Ji.
As other above-average, this is not a bad tea, but it just does not offer anything interesting to me.
I was thinking of how I liked the six samples from Wistaria...
The Zi Pin (Yiwu) wins it for me because of its mighy qi, mouthfeel and very nice taste.
I could not decide whether I liked the Mengsong or Nannuo more. They both offer strong, good taste, good mouthfeel and nice qi. To me, they are like two poles of puerh: The Mengsong being light (but strong), sunny, "primitively pleasant" tea, while the Nannuo is darker, more "intimidating" and maybe more serious than the Mengsong. It depends on momentary mood which of these I'd drink.
<very nice puerh>
Fourth, I'd rank the Blue Mark. It's good.
Fifth, the Jiang Chen (near-Yiwu) is for me. It is still a good tea, but I don't adore this family of Yiwu tastes as some others. Right now, I might consider it a bit more tasty than the blue Mark, but I think that after a couple of years, I'd certainly take the Blue mark over this one.
</very nice puerh>
So, thanks to SilentChaos/Tony/Origintea for this tasting opportunity. Seldom have I spent $99 on samples this wisely.