First experience with an ancient gardens tea from Farmer-leaf turned out to be a highly interesting experience in terms of fragrance, viscosity, general structure, in lack of a better term, and mellowness.
I used around 4 grams in a 90m gaiwain, which lasted med for 9 attention-focused infusions & 5 less focused through several hours with long steeping times of more than 20 minutes.
The leaves picked in the Da Ping Zhang ancient garden in the Eastern end of the old forest.
Initially, very delicately fruity notes from the package (I’ve kept the 100gm cake stored in the originale packaging from Farmer-Leaf (a plastic zipper bag of high quality). It’s my impression that humidity conditions remain favourable to a European climate (Copenhagen), but experimenting with different setups is on my to-do list.
Impressiosn / tasting notes / thoughts
Very oily first infusion – around 5 seconds. Balanced structure, classic Jingmai orchard notes, flowery, very high viscosity. Infusions vary a lot over time – and I found it non-linear in its progression, e.g. oiliness remaining throughout the sessios while the bitterness / tannin expression oscillated a lot.
Some teas can be drunk in large quantities (drinking like an ox), while teas of higher quality, to my somewhat limited experience, cannot.
Tea drunkenness is often mentioned in notes and it makes sense that high-gade leaves from ancient trees punch a heavier mineral profile.
I bought to cakes a couple of months again with the plan of tasting one right-away and re-taste a couple of times a year, whilst trying to save the other one for 5-10 years.
First-grade Pu Erh – Future expectations
As noted previously, my experience with teas of this quality is limited. The closest thing I have to compare to is Farmer-Leafs’ Shengtai 2015, which at the time of purchase cost £35 for a 357g cake (at present the He Huan costs $58. I’m looking very much forward to retasting this particular at different age ranges, expecting being on a journey with a yet to show itself trajectory.
Producer’s own description of the He Huan 2018:
The tea features an oily and active mouthfeel. The tea leaves your mouth with heavy sweetness and flowery fragrance. The tea has a good upfront bite, medium bitterness is present and remains just long enough for you to notice it. This is a fairly aggressive tea, not because of high bitterness and astringency, but because it feels active and dynamic in the mouth. (source)