You might notice I don't list the year for this cake in the title of the review. The vendor quotes it at 2001, and I don't believe it. I have had several teas from 2000-2001 and if this tea is actually from 2001, it still tastes like it was made no more than two years ago. I don't mind that I don't believe it: I didn't notice the year when I bought it (too much sake!), but I do feel it's kind of deceiving?
Year: Quoted at 2001...more likely 2004-2005
Producer: Mengku (Shuangjiang? Rongshi? not specified)
Region: Lin Cang, 1000+ year old trees
Bought at: Seven Cups (Direct link to cake)
Leaf: Very dark green, large-ish leaves, mostly rolled, many broken. No hints of aging/brown, though some leaves are so dark green as to be black. Twigs here and there but not many. Not much aroma when dry.
Infusion Parameters: 6g in 90ml gaiwan. 10s rinse, 60s+ rests, 15s, 15s, 15s, 25s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 85s. Boiling water.
Leaf aroma when wet is vegetal and without smoke. Sour in the 1st infusion, with vegetal notes and some straw. Leaves have already un-chunked themselves. Liquor is clear honey gold and very smooth.
The subsequent infusions are full of flavor but still mild. Completely without bitterness, the sourness is surprising. Early notes of tobacco fade away as quickly as they came, replaced by some well-hidden floral notes and woodiness. The last brew was mentholated, with a fruity overtone on a mostly woody flavor, like the stem of an apple. It held a consistent strength across 7 infusions; it could have lasted longer, but I tired of it. It never gave me dry mouth like many other cakes do after so many infusions.
One last suprise was that the leaves weren't all that big afterall. They were more middle-sized.
Overall: It's not the best of its genre, and it's certainly not the worst. Its flavors were unexciting, but it held its strength and lacked smoke. I have only done one tasting, however, so I will revisit this review in the future if my feelings change.
Ageability: I can't really fathom. I have lingering suspicions that it won't age well beacause its flavors are meeker. Also, if this is from 2001...(pause for disbelief)...it hasn't aged well, as nothing dramatic has happened in five years, and the only evidence of age is its lack of dry-mouth. But, I am no expert, and I am open to the cake aging into something unique, mostly because I don't think I'll pick it up again to drink.
Would I buy this cake?: Well, I already did. I don't think that, had I had a sample of this tea first, that I would have bought it. For $40, I could get a better pu.