2002 Kunming Tiebing
I recently got a cake of the Kunming Tiebing red mark, also known as the 8668. This is a long-running series, I got a version of the 2002 with natural dry Taiwan storage. My notes are not far off from this review from Hobbes.
The dry leaf is a touch brittle and quite highly compressed. This is of course an iron-compressed cake, with no rear depression and regular bumps where the steam exhaust holes are located. It has a clean smoky aroma.
- Orange, slightly cloudy. Begins quite bitter, with a fine astringency, ringing smokiness, very strong. Sweet aftertaste and the astringency dissipates right away
- More charcoal. Seems quite young in its boldness, although the taste is nowhere near young sheng. Clean and very sweet. Straightforward, bold, sweet, gasoline. Burly.
- Reminds me of the Yiwu Zhengshan brick but significantly stiffer, more bitter, like a blend of yiwu and bulang. Punchy, very concentrated. Massive heat and energy.
- Test steep. Initially bitter, but not astringent. Sweetness emerges in the rear throat. Excitement. Lots of caffeine. Very nice liquor, medium thick, bittersweet. Not astringent. Not very strong empty cup aroma.
- Still smoky, not at all like Dayi smoke or Xiaguan. Different still from the Yiwu brick.
- Heat coating mouth, liquid cloudy, face heat but dissipates quickly.
- More mineral, some tartness, starting to die down in interest
- Cinnamon, bark, cork, some tomato sauce.
The material has a good proportion of large leathery leaves, very well twisted and compacted in an old-fashioned way. The strong energy doesn’t make me feel unwell, it is quite well balanced, with woody, bitter, and sweet phases. The transition from bitter to sweet is strong and fast. I was a bit worried by the first steep, thinking it would go into astringent or bitter-aftertaste territory, but it absolutely did not, and became quite pure, woody, concentrated. I can see why people would describe this as having strong zhangxiang and cooling effect. I prefer this to the Yiwu brick or the 04 Changtai Jinzhushan, but I would prefer a good Brown Changtai or Xiaguan Love Forever over this.