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2017 HK Natural Storage Changtai Green Simao Gushu Cake (100g)

2017 HK Natural Storage Changtai Green Simao Gushu Cake (100g)

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October 24th, 2020

I purchased twelve of these cakes in November 2018, and have aged them in my warehouse ever since. One tong of this tea was aged in the original bamboo tong wrapper, but the other five cakes were stored in the paper-covered thick plastic bags I send cakes out in (I also offer the bags here on the site).

The cakes stored in plastic still smell intense, with some up front smokiness from processing, so I decided to try the topmost cake from the tong to see if this tea was ready to drink, since smoke can escape from a loosely bamboo-wrapped tong more easily. The dry cake smelled lightly sweet and pleasant in the warehouse. I put the cake into a bag for the journey home. A few hours later, I noticed I was getting some pine and smokey aromas when I opened the bag up. 

And now for the warning: there is still quite a bit of residual smoke in these cakes, even though much of it has aged out. This cake seems to have been produced much like the original from 2001 was, and processing the material in wood-fired woks means there's still a fair bit of smoke here, even with the stone compression and the rapid changes tea in my warehouse go through!

Changtai says the material used for these cakes came from virgin forest in Simao. Changtai has long worked with wild and gushu material, so I was quite excited to try this tea, even if it smelled brutal young (and still smells intense now)!

The cake flexed and broke up into maocha without any dust generated. I love stone compressed cakes for this reason. Traditionally pressed cakes also age more rapidly in my warehouse, so the fact this material is still quite smokey is surprising. I think the smoke will entirely dissipate over time, but for those who don't mind (or even enjoy) a little smoke, this is already a very pleasurable tea to drink for the other qualities these cakes have to offer.

In the cup, the first thing I noticed was that the liquor was entirely devoid of astringency and bitterness, and that I got sweetness and huigan of a type I only find in gushu material. The sweetness is light and present without ever being too overpowering, and the smoothness is something particular to material of this caliber. The huigan is balanced and longlasting in a manner that can't be replicated in plantation material. The cha qi from this tea is powerfully calming and relaxing. The pine (almost camphorous) aromatics from this tea are not something I often get from sheng pu erh, so I quite enjoy that aspect of the flavor profile. There is definitely more complexity under the smoke: I get sweeter wildflower than I'd get from a classic Xiaguan tuo, but the remaining smoke in this cake means the overall experience from this tea reminds me of Xiaguan's JiaJi or Teji tuos. The sweeter underlying floral aromatics remind me of good Jingmai material, which is some of my favorite tea!

In the second and later infusions, I am able to elicit astringency and bitterness, but it is much milder than in plantation material. 

The leaves in this tea are large and truly beautiful. This is definitely high grade material, processed the old way, but pressed with modern hygiene and quality standards. These cakes have been stored with the greatest of care over the last two years, and I can't wait to see how my sample cake opens up in plastic over the next several months. I expect this to be incredible tea a few years from now, but this already appears to be a top notch remake of a cake that pu erh aficionados now covet.

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