2003 Dayi 7532
This cake was in the hands of Canadian Border Services for almost two weeks, and arrived with a hefty 150% duty slapped on it. This is odd, as Canada has no import duties or taxes on tea. Looking at the classification, I see the reason: it has been classified as bulk tobacco… Not to worry, my refund is in the mail.
I can understand the mistake of the border agent: the dry leaf has an abundant pungency not unlike fresh sweet (un-smoked) tobacco. Actually it is significantly sweeter and more perfumed than tobacco, but the similarity is there.
I’ll keep the tasting notes short to emphasize the main parts of the profile.
First there is a strong sweetness to this, a sugarcane fruity sweetness which I associate to banzhang or more generally Bulang teas. Besides this main sweetness there is also a very intense sweet and long-lasting aftertaste.
There are ample tannins in this, not unpleasant since it is coupled with such nice flavours and sweetness, but definitely there, similar to some examples of Pasha, Lao Man E or even some of the BYH Manlin teas that have a fine tannin profile.
Several times with this tea I noticed that there is a roastiness, probably coming from the processing, which gives a distinct Yancha-like aroma on the empty cup.
There is also a dark background camphor-tar flavour which becomes clearer in the later, longer steeps.
Finally the tea gives intense heating, heightened and relaxed awareness. I didn’t get frisson with this, it was more a melting feeling and heating feeling, very nice.
I am told that this tea is an excellent example of a traditionally processed and well-stored sheng which will stand the test of time. I find this very encouraging because it is not so far removed from some of the other teas I have reviewed in terms of rough characteristics. For example, while this tea is significantly nicer than e.g. the 502-8582 or the 501-7542 I’ve tried, these teas don’t seem to be processed in a completely different way than this 7532. Even the 901-7542 or the 601-8582 I would say are not hugely removed from this style. Certainly the boutique teas are farther from this style, especially YQH teas, for example, but I can say that at least some of the BYH teas (e.g. the 2011-12 Mahei, some of the Manlin, and some newer productions from 14-15) definitely have a comparable profile, with sweetness and tannins together with some roasty/smoky aspects. Certainly some Wistaria teas would also have a kinship with this in a very rough sense.
I’m also told that the 7532 recipe usually consists of Yiwu tea, and has a lot of spring buds. I don’t know if this is true of the 2003 batch (chime in below if you know about this) but I had pegged this tea as a Bulang style tea, with the kind of Banzhangy sweetness and the fine tannins which I sometimes get from such teas. There was no punchy bitterness, it is true, so this may be a point against the Bulang guess.
Another thing I should say about this tea is that it’s very very moreish, I just really want to drink more of it. I have a similar reaction to e.g. the Xiaguan Love Forever cake, or to the YQH Lingya, or to the Red Changtai I recently reviewed. There is something about the full concentrated flavour, with sweet and tannic aspects, which really appeals to me.