2004 Fu Yuan Chang (Fook Yuan Chang)

// Published March 23, 2017 by mgualt

22 March 2017, 5.5g/100ml gaiwan [5.3]

Thank you to Mike Pong for this generous sample.

Odourless when dry, but when damp gives a high vinegary and strong note. The wash is slightly smoky with ozone. Wet, it is clean. No geosmin or funk. A very strong aroma of sweet cherries and dried cranberries, as well as raisins.

  1. Very thick texture and immediate penetrating strength. Slightly smoky. Good coating of rear mouth with a savoury and sweet honey flavour.  Begins with sweet and savoury combination and becomes much sweeter in the aftertaste.
  2. More smoky now, and with a bigger flavour. Savoury and with a significant resin aroma, together with a high floral rose or violet note.  Activating the back of neck and upper shoulders, slight calming sensation beginning.
  3. Wet leaf is properly smoky now, with a classic ringing high bitter smoky note. The initial aroma and taste is smoky but the smoke subsides and there is a blooming pungent aroma with a juicy aftertaste. Waves of relaxing feeling are intensifying.
  4. Dominant smoke but again it is superseded by an emergent sweet pungent aroma that lingers long afterwards.  More of the cherries and/or cranberries coming through in the aftertaste. Tart dried fruits.
  5. The smoke is changing, perhaps getting weaker or more refined, more distinctly cedar wood, reminds me of heating cedar. Also roasted nuts coming through in the smokiness. Very nice grippiness at the sides of the mouth.
  6. Longer steep gives a quite strong bitter taste and a feeling of overpowering strength, definitely must keep steeps short at this point.
  7. Big energy content again, with bitterness forward.  Still dark orange.
  8. After a couple more of these quite strong bitter steeps, a completely new experience begins, with much reduced smoke and a more delicate sweet and still pungent dominant experience, with a gentle uplifting frisson. This continues for at least 5 or 6 more steeps, and long steeps come out very well indeed.

Extremely dynamic session with very clear flavour notes of cranberries and cherries, and aroma notes of cedar, roast nuts, and some familiar incense aspects too.  This tea steeped out for upwards of 16 steeps and I think I could have brewed it better. The unexpected power that shows up in steeps 6-9 made these quite strongly bitter, but interestingly the smoke aspect died away after this and the whole experience changed to a gentler taste. Remarkably, the pungency of the aroma persisted throughout the whole session over many hours, and the active energetic effects also maintained a gentle presence even past 15 steeps.

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