2016 EoT Club Tian Ba
July 27, 2016, 5g/70ml gaiwan [3.5]
Both mushrooms have a very sweet smell of overripe fruits.
The mushrooms are made entirely of buds. This seems to be known as Yabao, although the Yabao I have seen is usually sold loose and the leaves are smaller and have silver hairs. These are perhaps more mature buds than usual. It seems unusual to press these into tuocha, perhaps they were processed in a way more like pu’er?
Also, the buds are from wild trees in Wuliang — this together with the taste makes me wonder what the varietal or even the species of these trees is. My best guess is that these are buds from purple wild varietal, one of the purple varietals which are abundant in Wuliang.
Tian Ba “Bitter”
Wet leaf smells like tomato soup. The wash is clean, vaguely fruity taste, some salivation, but more reminiscent of white tea.
In steeps 1-3, very much like a tisane, light and fruity, no resemblance to puerh. I felt a warming beginning in the abdomen and some slight salivating aftertastes, lightly umami like a dilute tomato soup.
In steeps 3-4 I noticed a similarity to the secret forest maocha taste, which indicates perhaps this is taliensis or another species/varietal. Much more warming in the abdomen and lower back. Elevated heartbeat and seems to be a digestion aid.
In steeps 5-6 (stopped at 6) it became very similar to the Tian Ba “Sweet”, with some grapeskins resemblance. I was actually getting more flavour than the sweet at this point but very similar.
Tian Ba “Sweet”
The wet leaf smells identical. The wash does indeed seem sweeter, and I find more salivation than the “Bitter”.
Steeps 1-2: quite strong warming, deeper fruit/grape taste than the Bitter. In the second steep the liquor aroma was definitely young sheng, but the taste is totally unlike it. Lots of aftertaste, spicy/numbing but dissipates after a few moments to a vegetal green residual taste.
Steeps 3-4: A clear puerh taste and smell emerges. Tropical fruit aftertastes. Also get fresh green peppercorns. Very warming in abdomen. By steep 5 it becomes medicinal and progressively lighter.
The Tian Ba tuo duo is an interesting experience to be sure. I would place these in the puerh periphery, interesting for understanding the context of traditional puerh and for seeing how some elements of the puerh package of flavour, aroma, mouthfeel etc. may exist in isolation or outside the usual format.
But it must be said: these are tisane-like, very light, not long-brewing, thin, medicinal, and of unknown varietal/species. There is also no evidence or basis for me to believe that these will age into anything interesting. For now, since I have room in my storage for 600g of bizarro tea, I will proceed with the experiment. But once my collection of normal cakes grows a bit more, these are gonna get the boot. (Unless I take up TCM that is….)