2016 W2T Bosch, with 4 years of heated storage
This is another post in the series starting with the one-year test and the two-year test. I stored some of the W2T 2016 Bosch, a raw puerh, in two different conditions: at 23C or at 32C in a sealed Mylar bag. After about four years, this is the result. This tasting was, to me, the most surprising yet.
The dry leaf for the heated tea (H), on the left, is noticeably darker and its aroma is more of a honey pungency whereas the unheated tea (C) is more high pitched and green-floral.
The wet leaf is strikingly different now, with H significantly browned in comparison to C. The smell of the wet leaf is completely different: H has a rich, sweet, wet hay, slight barnyard aroma, whereas C has the typical new-make young sheng green spinach blast and tomato vine pungency.
- Both H and C are thick, but H has a significantly thicker feel in terms of liquor. C has a young, bittersweet arrival, slightly oily, and refreshing. H is rounder/warmer/sweeter, with a more subtle taste. The empty cup aroma for H is richer in resin than C, but both have good aroma.
- H has quite a bit of sweetness now, warm mouthfeel, tingly, rich resin aroma. C has that young sheng top note, a kind of bitter zing of green plants. This young sheng top note is now totally absent in H. H has a new aroma and taste which is very familiar – I have tasted it in dry Taiwan stored young puerh around 5 years old. It is hard to describe the taste/aroma — part of it is a char aroma, and part of it is a hint of peach and apricot. More about this in the conclusion.
- Now I notice a difference in astringency. C has a quite high astringency compared to H. Energy, frisson, medium strength.
- Both are quite bitter now, and I feel that H is actually getting more bitter than C now, the reverse of earlier.
- H has very clear musky tibetan incense on the empty cup. C has it as well, but more subtle and higher pitched.
- Some acrid tastes on C, strongly bitter and astringent on test steep. H is extremely thick, also astringent but there seems to be more sweetness or body to offset the bitterness.
In the previous tastings after one or two years of heated storage, differences were obvious but restrained. Today the differences are quite stark.
Evaluating C is rather easy, it is quite close to how I remember it being in 2017. The aroma and taste are pretty clearly young (very young, perhaps only two years old) sheng. It starts out bittersweet and thick, and gets more bitter and astringent, keeping its green edge taste for the first four or five steeps. After this, it becomes more like an astringent greener bitter young sheng.
H on the other hand, has really transformed. It has none of the new-make young sheng greenness, has a significant and obvious thicker texture, darker colour at a clear orange vs yellow. H is sweeter than C at the start, and appears to be more bitter than C in the end steeps, and has overall less astringency than C. But this is not to say that H is way “better” than C, only that it is significantly farther in its aging trajectory. In fact, it tasted to me like dry Taiwan stored sheng from around 2015-2017. These teas, such as the Wistaria Zhenren Yufeng, or the 2015-2017 Yiwu gushu cakes from BYH and BHYJ, get into an “awkward” or “quiet” phase when they lose their young green/floral/high characteristics and transition into a different, darker profile. When this starts happening, one can sometimes detect a distinctive taste which has a bit of char and a bit of ripe fruit.
If I had to drink one of these storage versions, I would much prefer drinking the heated storage tea. It is thicker, and has more intense sweetness and bitterness, with the beginnings of a nice resinous sweet aroma. But H is really not ready either, it’s a young sheng that might be entering the awkward phase, we will see if it turns another corner in a few years…