2016 Essence of Tea Club Manlin

// Published December 11, 2021 by mgualt

This was one of the better/more normal teas received in the 2016 Essence of Tea Puerh Club, and I stored half of this cake for 5 years in heated storage at 32C, sealed in a ziplock mylar bag. The other half, I stored similarly but at room temperature, 23C. I wanted to check in on this tea to see how it was aging.

Dry leafSweet, resinous, on the darker brown sidesweet-sour, hay, lighter brown and silvery, tippy
wetfruit salad, white grapes, peaches, faint antique furniturevinegary fruit jam, farmyard, aggressive edge
roasty green,
1savoury initial sip, sweet aftertaste. Almost no ECA. thick, not bad at allsavoury initial sip, young sheng arrival, sweet aftertaste similar to the heated tea. ECA has some tibetan incense, faint. has a certain brassy note, spring tips, maybe a bit of darjeeling. rough. green aftertaste
2thick, savoury, medium high astringency, with juicy aftertastefruity and greenish, aggressive but not overly
3medium thickness, not roasty or green. more astringency, not young sheng profile, but beginning of mid-aged. roasty green arrival, bitterness in development, astringency. young sheng profile
4woody, more sweet, still aggressive, more astringent, more interesting.green, rough, mildly bitter
5more astringency but not as bitter or greenscrapey. presents as taidi
6more sweetness, astringency but not scrapey. much broader coating, interesting flavourmore pointed astringency and bitterness and greenness
longricher, thicker, more bitter, less fruity, more leather/wood. mild astringency, white grape, high smooth sheng

This strikes me as a shengtai Manzhuan tea; the energy is similar to other Manzhuan but the profile is a bit different, more aggressively green and high pitched than gushu Manzhuan that I have tried from a few small producers. From the first steep, I feel an increased focus and vision clarity, and this intensifies with the steeps until it is quite stoning, in the sense of encouraging staring off into space for a long time. After three cups it gets very heady too, maybe too alerting for comfort at this age. It is pretty strong. The material looks good, definitely more small leaf and tips, which may account for the difference in profile, other spring gushu Manzhuan I have had use some larger leaves. The serrations on the leaves do look similar to other Manzhuan I’ve had.

The compression is very light, too light I would say. The processing is pretty good, I think it strikes a good balance between red and green. The unheated tea is very disappointingly unaged — the room-temp storage, even though at proper humidity, seems to be doing nothing or at least very very little in terms of aging. The heated tea doesn’t show any obvious flaws, it is much less green and aggressively bitter-green, it has a more normal colour for this age, and it gives a bit more astringency and more pleasant astringency, in the sense that it is rounder and more mouth-coating in comparison to the unheated tea which “attacks” more. Also interesting is that the heated tea has started to get some furniture/wood/leather notes.

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