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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2009 Guan Zi Zai Jing Mai Wild Arbor

See product description here

I've been sampling whole load of young sheng from my recent order, and I'm pretty glad that I didn't order cakes right off the bat - some of these are stinkers. Now, most of them are stinkers not because they taste horrible, but they weren't my cup of tea. As of now, I'm looking to purchase for immediate consumption...not worrying too much about storage. Since I'm going to be gone for two years, now's not the best time to start collecting. I also figure that in the near-future it'd be clearer what kind of cakes are going to age and which ones are not. Hopefully any cakes I buy will start to age as usual once I move them to a more suitable aging environment.

So, I'm reviewing this cake as it is, without considering if it's going to age well or not. I'm starting to find that I like pu'er with character, raw and fierce...and from what I've tried so far I'm really digging stuff from Bu Lang or Jing Mai. And I don't like many of the Lin Cang/Meng Ku samples that I have, but maybe I'm not drinking the right stuff, or stuff from this region doesn't fit my needs.

So, onto the actual tea. I've returned to this tea a few times, just to be sure that I like it enough to buy a whole cake. I think I'm sold. The product description reads that this tea's "bitterness is rivalled only by Bu Lang." Very nice

The remaining piece of my original sample

There's a nuttiness that permeates this tea. From the dry aroma to the wet aroma to the actual tea itself, it's always there. This seems to be a trait common to teas from this area, IIRC. I'm quite happy to distinguish that, but perhaps I wouldn't be in if this were a blind tasting between regions. There's also a "savory" element in the tea, which is also apparent in the wenxiangbei. Quite smooth and creamy, a slight bitterness in the tip keeps this tea interesting, and which also also compelled me to order a cake once I'm done with all the samples I have. It seems fairly durable, but I didn't keep an exact count of how many infusions it went through before descending into simple honeyed tea water (though I went through half a pitcher of water, which is fairly remarkable since a whole pitcher lasts for three sessions).

I have a fair share of samples from Guan Zi Zai, and they've all left me with a good impression so far. But I'm still a greenhorn in sampling young sheng, so perhaps my opinion doesn't count as much. Would be nice to see other peoples' impressions of offerings from this company, especially the ones that are up on Yunnan Sourcing, which are all 2009 cakes.


Anonymous said...

I like Jingmai too though I don't know enough to compare it to others yet. You just need to realize that other people's opinions aren't worth more than yours when it comes to the Puerh. This is because some people will like some terroirs that others don't like. And is there a Puerh that's just bad in the eyes of everyone? I'm not sure if that's possible. --Spirituality of Tea

shibumi said...

Jason, I commiserate with your journey... But I think your spirituality aspect of tea drinking may be detrimental on some levels. Of course people have different preferences in tea, but if a tea is clearly bad (dead, off-tastes) only a fool would not be able to recognize the quality and assign a value to it. Even tea rolled in s*&! may not be bad to everyone, but it is to most people. In a world where puerh is viewed as a collectible and it is saved like vintages of wine, people's opinion of the tea matters in a cost sense, not to your individual experience with the tea, but all the knowledge colors our purchases, and PQR is not possible to determine with keeping some kind of scorecard.

All of my teamasters can take pleasure in whatever has been placed before him, but if given a choice of tea they would pick the superior tea. (Chaqi and rarity become the main determining factor).

shibumi said...

BTW, very nice review and pictures.

Maitre_Tea said...

If the pictures are good, than that must mean that the dry leaves are at least decent, because I take horrible photos! I'm glad you liked my review, and I hope I'm not the only one that's really adoring stuff from Guan Zi Zai.

It's one thing when you have tons of people before you gushing (or denouncing)a tea, but when you're the first person to review a tea...it makes me wonder if it's actually good tea in a technical sense, like the processing, maocha, etc., or if it's just me spouting the nonense of a neophyte

Anonymous said...

Shibumi: Yes, I do want to add that I guess you're right when it comes to aging Puerh. In that case, it's not worth it to save a cake that won't age well and appreciate in its worth in the eyes of most people. I should specify that flavor is in the eyes of the beholder more so when it comes to raw, young Puerh. --Spirituality of Tea

Anonymous said...

pay this guy (Jason Witt) no mind, he is truly an idiot's idiot. On every blog that I read he rears his ugly face, to make some insipid comment about the "spirituality of tea." He tries to make serious comments on teas that people blog about, but it comes off sounding foolish. I wonder who buys the rubbish that he's trying to sell.

Bret said...

I,m glad to see a review of this tea as Ive had my eye on these cakes myself, especially the Ban Zhang. When you get around to that one please post your thoughts. By the way sometimes a beginners take on teas are even more valuable than the seasoned sheng drinker. Their perception isnt skewed by preconceived ideas about what a tea should look or taste like. We tend to make comparisons with teas we have had previously and if they are not similar then the teas are perceived as suspect.

Anonymous said...

The XZH jing mai is definitly worth the sample if profoundly not the cake.