2014 Autumn teas: Biyun Hao Mahei and Yunnan Sourcing Daqing gushu
The main event is a multiple tasting over 4 days of an autumn Mahei from Biyun Hao. To provide a backdrop for the tasting I also included a well-regarded autumn Yunnan Sourcing tea from 2014, the Daqing gushu.
The BYH cake has a rich pungent sweet fresh tobacco scent. The damp leaf is similar, rich savoury and sweet resins. Wet leaf has very sweet dark fruit aroma, with licorice and damp tree bark. Similar richness to the wet leaf of excellent yancha but of a sheng puerh character.
- Excellent huigan, with striking sweetness on upper palate after swallowing. Opens up the airways, slow breathing, and beginning feeling of warmth. Fresh tobacco, sweet, juicy salivation. Empty cup aroma is already good and quite pungent.
- Rich tobacco in the cup, some sweet incense aroma, super sweet and persistent huigan. Mouthwatering. Empty cup aroma is dark and resinous. Clear warmth in the throat, chest, ribs. Gentle uplift beginning, very gentle.
- Excellent huigan continues, with additional menthol cooling effect on mouth in the later aftertaste. Pronounced warming of chest and extending outwards especially to arms.
- Remarkable warmth and strength of aftertaste continues. Menthol. Sweet, and dark fruits, cooked fruits and dried fruits, perhaps figs or raisins.
- Moreish. Juicy sweet tobacco. Slight greenness shows now but still very soft and pleasant. Frisson clear along shoulders, back ribs. Very enjoyable warming sensation.
- Excellent oily fringe of taste, with concentrated flavour. Very thick liquor.
- Relaxing heating effect with frisson, experience is mild but it accumulates slowly and gives a very comfortable growing uplift.
- Gets thicker with longer steeps, with more viscosity and better mouthcoat. longer steeps can have bitterness but of the very nice kind which gives a complex bittersweet and oily taste.
Despite its youth, this tea is very enjoyable to drink now. On the other hand, the processing looks very good and there are no oolong or green notes. It also has very good longevity and can produce interesting bitterness even in the late steeps if pushed. My favourite aspects of this tea are the wonderful mid-dark resinous pungent aroma, which actually persists for days on the empty cup, and the qi, which is clear warming with a gentle accumulating relaxation with frisson.
It’s not a very close comparison, but I thought it would be helpful to contrast this tea with another 2014 autumn production, this one by Yunnan Sourcing. While the above tea is from Mahei in Yiwu, this one is from Daqing, in Jinggu, Simao. In addition to the year it spent in a sealed sample bag, it has seen much drier storage than the Biyun Hao, as you can see from the dry leaf:
Lots of tea flakes, broken leaves in this pressing. The damp leaf has a high fruitiness, with a pickled aroma and lots of pungency. The wash is very light yellow-green. Low aroma but very clean. Slight fruitiness. The wet leaf has green oolong notes and a deep sweetness, and it has a (plain) popcorn aroma.
- Sweet arrival. Green. Oolongish but in a positive way. Bright and fresh. Pungent resin is a big feature right off the bat. Quite intense face powder perfume aroma. Alerting.
- Cloudy yellow-green liquor. Very dry storage. Huigan is noticeable and nice. Intense sweetness strikes and dissipates relatively quickly, overtaken by slight eggy greenness. Very nice huigan effect, but a touch too green.
- Alerting. Strong frisson. Good sweetness, good resin. Resin and sweet huigan are features. Some astringency shows up now, and the green gut-punch is beginning.
- Still has sweetness and some nice oily texture in the flavour. Good huigan. Big bitterness now. Big astringency. Rough. But the good sweet resins are still present.
- Clear frisson, not much warming. Quite bitter and green now. Much less sweetness now, not as interesting. More vegetal. Rough.
- Slightly long steep gets extremely bitter, showing some incense content and extreme astringency.
This tea has a great deal of pungent resinous content, and a clear effect on the mind and body, with much frisson and alertness. The huigan and aroma are clear positives in the early steeps but the greenness and bitterness start to dominate in the mid steeps, making for a bit of a struggle past steep 5. The wet leaf shows some very large leaves which have been chopped, and a good deal of leaf fragments. It also shows more uneven processing which may account for some of the oolong notes.
Here are some spent leaf comparisons. BYH on the left and YS on the right: