The rinsed leaves give off an etherealy sweet bar straw aroma. I let them sit and steam for a moment or two before the first steep, which is a pale champagne yellow. But judge me not by the color of my soup, the Yi Bi implores us, for color matters not. Its ally is the Qi, and a powerful ally it is… It has both texture and depth. Barn straw is the base, but there is a very distinct white grape flavor. The second steeping is more appropriately deep yellow. A deceptively thin initial flavor makes way for a burst of returning sweetness; it grips the back of my tongue with sweet grape and caramel tones and doesn’t let go.
Last week I left off with a teaser about Yiwu terroir. While the Poundcake is certainly on one side of that spectrum, a smooth, thick and sweet young tea, I find that the Yi Bi occupies the other side. It’s not terribly smooth and not at all thick, but it has similar base flavors and is, in my opinion, several orders more complex. This tea seems to be all about the aftertaste; straw, tropical fruits, toffee, caramel, all loaded with a serious huigan. Not to knock the very excellent tea that is the W2T Poundcake, but as far as Yiwu goes, this is much more my cup of tea.
I may have just overloaded the gaiwan (the chunk I pulled out weighed exactly 9g), but on the fourth steep there is some really invigorating bitterness that emerges. It is pungent and earthy, while retaining its more subtle and ethereal qualities. It’s certainly a light bodied tea, as already noted, but I really don’t find that to be an issue at all; it is perfectly being exactly what it is.
There is a smokey and savory quality is steeping number five, which I wonder may be the result of wok charring (it seems odd that it would emerge only in a later steeping if this were the case though). A few minutes after that cup, there is still a sweet and leathery feeling left in my mouth. Like I said, the aftertaste here is no joke. Steeping six has it all: pungent damp straw, intense bitterness, tender floral and fruity notes, and, have I said it enough already? H U I motherfucking G A N (returning sweetness).
I really can’t imagine that this would be everyone’s cuppa, what with its thin body and relatively intense bitterness, but that’s not a problem; everyone has different ideas of what the good is. Whereas someone else might prefer something smoother and more subdued, I greatly appreciate the Yi Bi for its complexity and forwardness.
Anyhow, I hope anyone who’s taken the time to read this quick little review benefits from my experience, even if it contradicts their own. There seem to be few absolute truths in this world of tea… Except for boba. Boba is an abomination and must be put to death.
Under the guidance of good pu and sound advice, may all beings attain the path of good tea.
Go now in peace,