2020 blind tasting: Mattcha’s reveal
While I’m uncomfortable with his generous and over-the-top praise, I can finally stop biting my nails in anticipation: Matt has finally revealed the teas in his blind sample set! He hasn’t revealed the order, though, and so I will guess which teas are which in this post, with links to photos and excerpts from my reviews. Normally I find guessing teas quite difficult, but I think Matt selected teas with clear enough profiles that it made my job easier.
A) 1997 Henglichang Bulang
My review of this tea guesses that it seems earlier than 2000s and could be 90s, and that the serene bitterness could indicate that it is Lao Man’e or Bulang more generally. This strikes me as an excellent example of traditionally stored Bulang, and so I guess it is the 1997 Henglichang Bulang.
B) 2008 Yunnan Yunxian Huimin Wild
My review of this tea was a savage roast of the Yesheng phenomenon: “…a roasty green bitterness like spinach water mixed with some herbal tisane. It does have a nice perfume though, I must say…” I would bet good money that this guess is right. What I wouldn’t have guessed, however, is that this is a 2008 — such are the wonders of Canada Dry storage :).
C) 2006 Yangqing Hao Shenpin Chawang
This is one of the YQH teas that I never got a chance to taste — I’m very thankful to Matt for giving me a chance to finally sample this Shenpin Chawang, a quite expensive tea billed as a blend of some of the best of the best of Yiwu: Bohetang, Wangong, and Chawangshu. In my review of this tea, I guessed it was a 2006/7 Yiwu with YQH house taste, and so I basically have to make the guess I’ve made here.
D) 2008 Dayi Qiu Xiang
In my review, I guessed Tea D was a mid-2000s Dayi or Xiaguan production with an unusually subtle profile and a gentle floral taste and aroma. Very comfortable sheng with good storage — again I’m forced to guess this is the “Autumnal Aroma” cake from Dayi.
E) 2006 Teas We Like Rustic Zhongcha
It was extremely clever of Matt to include a tea that I helped to source — the 2006 Rustic Zhongcha, an old-school sheng puerh blend with Malaysian storage that I voted for inclusion into Teas We Like’s offerings. In my review of tea E, I guessed it was a younger version of the TWL Rustic Zhongcha — clearly this is not a younger version but the same tea! Obviously I have to guess as I’ve done here.
F) 2012 Legend of Puerh Shen Gu Youlan Bangdong shan, Tea Urchin
In my review, I guessed tea F was a five-year-old boutique gushu Yiwu production, one that I enjoyed quite a lot. It’s not the first time that I guess Yiwu for a high quality gushu from Lincang, but my final guess is the 2012 Bangdong Legend of Tea from Tea Urchin.
G) 2020 Essence of Tea Tianmenshan Gaogan
In my review, Tea G struck me as a strong young sheng, not necessarily gushu but not a particularly rough taidi. Super strong, plenty of bitterness, sweetness and perfume, I guessed it might be a mid- to upper-range young sheng from W2T. I’m kind of surprised that this is probably the 2020 EoT Tianmen shan gaogan, not because the profile is wrong (I think it fits as a good new-make Yiwu) but rather because the price of this tea is 1.20/g… it’s rather high for this material. In any case, thank you to Matt for his seemingly limitless generosity.
I hope I’m not too far off with my guesses, but I should emphasize that this is really not the point of this exercise – what’s more important is the experience of tasting without preconceived notions about value and origin — it really forces you to focus on the tea in the cup, which after all, is why we were brought together in the first place. Cheers, Matt! (To be continued… Matt included a very interesting extra which will need an entire discussion of its own…)