2015 Autumn Ge Deng, Yunnan Sourcing

With my most recent order, I decided to sample the most expensive cake in Scott’s most recent autumn line just to see what the fuss is about… I plan to sample through the majority of his 2015 autumn teas eventually and post them up here, hopefully this will be a good benchmark.

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When I warm up the dry leaves they smell intensely pungent and sweet, with a typical Yiwu straw aroma. I resolve to just drink the rinse, which is a very pure pale yellow. And it’s good. Nuanced, complex, and actually already plenty thick, there is subtly interwoven sweetness and bitterness that one expects from high quality Yiwu teas. The rinsed leaf smell is also of note; there is a very specific meaty aroma that I can’t quite place my finger on, perhaps in the realm of saucisson, weirdly enough.

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The first real steeping reflects a very elegant and proper Yiwu tea, with balance and poise, no one element really clamoring for my attention, but still with plenty of moving parts in play. The bitterness really lingers though, which is no complaint. Minutes after this cup, my mouth still tastes of wildflowers and honey. The second infusion is yellow and DENSE, bordering on gold. Very pungent soup, and the bitterness has picked up also. Tasting notes for this infusion are as follows: Wild honey, orchids, sweet grass, a little cream.

I continue to be surprised that an autumn tea can be so rich. Most I drink are either watery or lacking this kind of thickness and vigor. I suppose the $88 price tag on a 250g cake isn’t for nothing… I wouldn’t say this tea is life changing or anything, but it’s certainly worthy of some mad respect. The price tag just makes this difficult for me, because $88 is already the upper end of what I’d usually spend on a full size cake. Of course price is subjective and only has meaning in the context to ones own pu budget, and I certainly wouldn’t call this cake a waste, so I resolve to forget about price and continue drinking.

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Now in the middle steepings, this tea is smooth and creamy, having settled a bit from the rowdiness of the second and third cups brewed from these leaves. I’m not really sure what else to say about this tea right now… I think fans of Yiwu will love it, and even then there’s something in here for everyone, whether its sweetness, bitterness, complexity or the thick, textured mouth feeling the tea leaves in its wake. Perhaps one strike against it is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of huigan (lingering throaty sweetness). In fact, it’s the bitterness that lingers more than the sweetness, which again is not necessarily bad, just something interesting to note.

The later steeps are silky smooth, quintessentially inoffensive Yiwu tea with tender grassy and floral notes. Not a bad place to end up, in the scheme of things… Very nice tea overall, no critical flaws and a lot going for it. Again, the price tag means I won’t be springing for it, unless I ran into some unexpected cash, and even then there are a couple other big ticket items on Yunnan Sourcing I’d purchase first. But especially for fans of Yiwu tea in particular, I think this is still a solid buy.

May all people who hear this song be guided towards tea they find pleasing and away from tea that is objectively bad.

-Ginko-san

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