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2014 Jay's HK Storage Changtai Gushu Menghai Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2014 Jay's HK Storage Changtai Gushu Menghai Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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November 5th, 2020

I purchased three of these cakes in October 2018: when they arrived, they smelled rather smokey for my tastes, so I decided to put them away for two years. I've been waiting patiently to try this tea and today was finally the day to try some!

The dry cake has a light but noticeably sweet aroma, which bode well for what was to come. These cakes come wrapped in individual packages that are closed up with string, like a manila envelope. This is quite the departure from what many of us are used to with mid-2000s Changtai, but the tea itself is very true to Changtai's wild tea heritage.

The compression is loose (traditionally stone pressed) and I was surprised by how easy it was to wiggle a chunk off the edge for testing. Once the water hit the leaf, smoke was the first thing I got a whiff of, with sweet gushu aromas underneath, but fortunately this smoke was far from dominant in the liquor itself. I expect this smoke to age out entirely (or almost entirely) in the next few years.

I was surprised to find a single hair and tea seed in the chunk I broke off for testing, since I thought a 2014 Changtai would be more like Changtai's more recent productions (which are extremely clean and entirely devoid of foreign matter). 

The liquor has lovely, sweet florals that border on fruity (I get a flavor note in the first infusion that is almost like concord grape), and the aged smoke flavors take a back seat to the flavor of the tea itself. I believe the looser compression allowed the smoke from traditional pan frying to escape more quickly than in the Green Changtai cakes I recently put up. There is a familiar, almost sarsaparilla-like note here that reminds me of Changtai's 65th Anniversary cake, which was unexpected (and very welcome).

While this tea is very smooth and neither astringency or bitterness came to mind in the first infusion, I pushed the tea harder in the second infusion and was able to elicit very light astringency and very tolerable bitterness. I eased up a little in the third and the liquor was again devoid of astringency and bitterness.

As with any of the teas I age myself, there are no humid storage notes here whatsoever. This seems to be a lot like an old school Changtai cake, but produced to modern standards, with modern packaging and aged more cleanly (by me) than much of the more humid-stored mid-2000s Changtai out there. As an aside, my Changtai offerings are all very clean tasting, and those of you who have compared my Changtais to other people's will know this.

This is a wonderful tea that now seems to be impossible to get. I am tempted to hold onto these for my own future consumption to see how they develop, since the material is excellent and I like the direction the tea seems to be headed in, but for now, I'll settle for a portion of this sample cake (I may change my mind later). For now, I will continue to age these cakes in the original packaging, as the material has the intensity to hold up to uncovered storage and I'm curious to see if the smoke entirely ages out.

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