This is the last pu'er sample sent by Golding, a shop in KL, Malaysia, a Jing Mai gushu sheng pu'er, tea from old tea tree plants. They are in the process of updating website content, to add more detail, and there's an additional Facebook contact; always different pictures and notices on those. According to the shop owner this version is a 2016 tea, with only a 2013 version shown on that site.
My first thought on tasting the first infusion was that this is something different, likely my favorite of these samples, but more comparison tasting would help determine that. It's still sheng pu'er but the range of some aspects is different, aromatic and floral to a different degree.
I'm brewing this way on the light side, following up on that working well for others. Aromatic and floral pretty much describes the main initial infusions, but doesn't do them justice. That flavor must be a certain flower, maybe in the orchid range, but not the light, sweet, bright honey orchid familiar from Dan Congs. It's richer and rounder, a step towards lavender. Or maybe that just is close to lavender; I'm not great with floral scent memory.
The overall effect stands out in the sense of being novel and interesting, but not at all in terms of which particular aspect is so interesting. This is a new way for a tea to have a rich feel, a general theme that comes across differently in different exceptional teas.
Some of the effect must be from what's missing; the flavors are clean and balanced, with no negative aspects at all. There's no bitterness (which wouldn't be negative to people who like bitterness), no astringency to speak of, related to that bite. Mineral tones are part of the context of flavors but that aspect range is subdued, nothing pronounced, and not related to any corresponding bitterness or astringency.
The tea isn't transitioning so much; not sure where I expected it to go. I brewed one infusion longer to check that effect and it did start to have that astringency in sheng; apparently completely eliminating that is possible through brewing lightly, with the same general flavors aspects. It's interesting to consider where preference for that might lead others to brew the same tea in different ways.
It's a nice characteristic that this tea isn't going to stop brewing any time soon; around 10 infusions in it seems to be getting warmed up. The flavors soften a little, gain a bit more depth, but don't shift much. Even brewed lightly it's got a fulness to the feel, and a lingering aftertaste. As far as mouthful effect or where the tastes land on your tongue someone who cares about that could do reviewing it more justice.
After trying these I'm still not clear on where I stand on pu'er. There's something to the type, of course, a novelty and depth of different dimensions not found in other types. Aging adds yet another. I reviewed that topic in another post, and the one thing everyone agrees on is that there are different approaches and preferences related to aging.
I really enjoyed the different pu'er versions I tried from Golding, this one, a Bulang Dragonball, a Jing Mai Xiao Shu, and a Nan Nuo gushu. I suspect that if I went back and comparison tasted them I'd change interpretation a little, and probably add more depth to the descriptions. There is a lot more story to be told about Golding producing their own teas as well, about experiences with that process, and insights into the types of pu'er-related claims that make for heated discussion in tea circles. Some of that I may get into later based on more input from a Golding owner.
At the same time sheng pu'er doesn't match my natural taste preference as well as more roasted oolongs, or even black teas, mostly related to Chinese-style versions of those. That doesn't stop me from enjoying pu'er and green teas, also well outside that range, and I'll continue with pu'er. I bought a cake of an aged Hong Tai Cha Thai version this year (so really hei cha, not pu'er), the third sheng cake I've bought, in addition to several shou. I experience some degree of natural preference shift in different teas and types, changes over time, and it's been interesting to see to what degree I can anticipate and lead that.
More on Wuyishan teas is coming next, along with reviews of an interesting set of samples from Nepal, but I will get back to pu'er.