2002 Wistaria Youle Tuo*
Wistaria teas, produced by the extremely talented and experienced tea scholar Zhou Yu, are not always the easiest to appreciate on a first encounter. I remember thinking, for instance, that the famous 2003 Zipin Yiwu was too smoky when I tried it several years ago, or that the 2003 Qingteng Mensong had a touch of fishiness to it, or that the 2007 Lanyin was too bland. Over the past few years, I have returned to my Wistaria cakes more and more, increasing my enjoyment and appreciation over time. There are idiosyncracies in the tea and the storage, but once you get past these superficial notes, what lies beyond is really quite remarkable, and it really shows over the long term — all three of the cakes I mentioned above are now among my absolute favourite teas, period. The main reason I favour Mr. Zhou’s productions is that they are fundamentally strong in taste and energy, they show the original material very well, and the processing is quite proper, in some cases old-fashioned in the best sense. Besides these, I trust that the blending and the long-term planning for these cakes are excellent, possibly second-to-none.
I have been anticipating this tasting for quite a while. It is a Youle tuo which I have only sampled before and very much liked. Finally I have an entire tuo to play with. The leaf quality seems good on the front of the tuo, but the back reveals quite a bit of compressed powder/fines, which is not ideal.
The dry leaf is quite odorless, it seems like clean and quite dry storage. The dampened leaf has some woodiness and some sweetness.
The liquor is clear, and has some baking spice aspects. Sweet, soft, and clean aftertaste.
Very reproducible, the steeps are quite similar, and quite nicely sweet and soft, with a touch of leather, more baking spices.
Reminds me a lot of some Mengku productions which have a good sweetness. It lacks punch, not much astringency or bitterness to speak of. Has a kind of sweet tea overall theme.
I would not rate this as particularly thick or aromatic, but the taste is essentially good and sweet. Just not terribly interesting.
It’s absolutely clear from the tasting that this is a fake. It tastes nothing like a Wistaria tea (and nothing like the sample I had of this tea from a reputable source), has absolutely none of the characteristic smoke in processing, and lacks any of the deeper elements like good aftertaste, interesting energy effects, resinous aromas and so on. Weighing the cake also indicates that it is 200g, which goes against the catalog listing for this production, which is 100g. The paper is actually good quality puerh wrapping paper, but according to the catalogue it should have slight corrugation pattern, which this doesn’t. Also while the printing on the wrapper is correct, the inking is much too full. Finally I contacted Wistaria to confirm that this is indeed a total fake of the 2002 Ziyin Youle Tuo. Such are the risks of Taobao — someone went to a lot of trouble to fake a Wistaria tuo and sell it for 20 bucks, and made it twice as heavy than it should be:
At only 0.09$/g would I recommend this tea anyway? It was not bad actually! But I wouldn’t seek it out, no.