Biyun Hao Manzhuan, Manlin and Gaoshanzhai
A comparison of three teas from Biyun Hao:
2007 曼蠻磚（曼莊) Manzhuan Manzhuang, a blend
2007 曼林 蛮砖 Manlin single origin, Manzhuan region
2008 高山寨Gaoshanzhai single origin, Yiwu area
Photos show MZ, ML, and GSZ in order and the 4th steep is pictured.
High compression, some faint smoke on the leaf. Wet leaf has strength aroma and some greenness.
- Begins very mild and thick. Somewhat white tea-like. Nice pungent aroma.
- Oily silky texture. Still no significant tannins. Sweetness is subtle. Back of head energy circulation. Eyes focusing. Frisson. Nice but very gentle so far.
- Gentle aroma. orange liquor. Bitter theme. Significant tannins. Wave of frisson. Very slow rising on back. Bitterness and astringency are present and balanced. Low sweetness but it does appear slightly afterwards. Medicinal, notoginseng. High contrast vision effect. Inspiration.
- Thick, concentrated, bitter. Salivation. Increased tannins. Juiciness and sweetness comes afterward. Inspiration wave now. Strong uplft. Mineral sweetness/metallic afterwards.
- More concentrated complex taste now. Bittersweet, thick. Some heating now but not much.
- Still concentrated, bitter-tart with active energy.
- Losing some strength
A complex tea which is difficult to summarize: thick, medicinal, notoginseng, not sweet, unripe fruits, giving quiet focused qi, moderate heating, with very significant tannins when pushed, and some moderate bitterness. Material is not particularly intact, some chop and quite high compression.
Also high compression, with more significant smoke.
- Smoky, wistaria style. Waves of energy in ribs
- not sweet, more dark, savoury. Bitterness. Thick. Very slight astringency.
- Darker, white smoke, strong astringency, oily. Very concentrated taste
- full mouth coat. More good smoke. Very strong flavour, bold. Super good taste. Big fragrance off liquor.
- Deeper taste, oily, remarkably briny and with conversion to sweetness.
- Oily rim of flavour and incense aspect. Strong tannins. Uplift. Heat in the ears and face. Sweating, full sweet flavour. Strength.
- Bitter, maybe vegetal, but biter. More incense florals. Actually this has an aged camphor flavour, tending towards camphor tar.
I had a lot of variability in the tastings for this tea. This seems to have more of a classic processing with a bit of smoke, giving some incense aromas. The aroma off the liquor is very nice and strong, and it gives a great deal of heat. Because of the heat, the good smoke aspect, and the incense aspects, as well as the good tannins, I rated this as a favourite among the three teas.
- Noticeably great aroma, best of the three. Very potent aroma on liquor
- Familiar taste, sweet and stiff. Acidic maybe or just astringent. Very nice taste. Sweet, bitter and complex. Excellent empty cup aroma.
- Sweet taste with fennel / aniseed. Astringency, some black tea similarity. Somewhat similar to the 2015 Lishan gongcha. Clear bitterness.
- Good tannins and tongue activity. ECA is yancha-like roastiness. quite strong uplifting energy. Alert!
- More dark aged notes, more bitterness. It’s clearly the most bitter of the three. More tannins.
- Thick, bitter, somewhat unripe fruit taste, slightly more vegetal.
This tea excels in its wonderful pungent sweet aroma and intense sweet taste/huigan and fennel/aniseed aspect. It has black tea notes as well as some yancha-like roasty empty cup aromas. The huigan is particularly sweet, like icing sugar. It also gives some good heating energy. I find it does peter out a bit too quickly and the black tea / yancha notes are worrying.
To give a cartoonish simplification, the Manzhuan is a tart medicinal downer, the Manlin seems more traditional with white smoke and blasting heat, and the Gaoshanzhai has wonderful aroma and a sharply sweet huigan.
I find it extremely difficult to rate these teas, even though they show significant differences. Something which lowers my grades for these teas (although I love all three and would gladly drink them often) is that they don’t have extreme longevity and they are on the subtle side (which I sometimes enjoy). My grades are as follows: