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2018 HK Natural Storage Changtai Wild Menghai (260g cake)

2018 HK Natural Storage Changtai Wild Menghai (260g cake)

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August 31st, 2020

The last three pictures are of my personal cake and from my tasting session on August 28th, 2020.

This cake was the sheng of the year for me in 2018! This is a 2018 Changtai production made with outstanding wild material from the Menghai region. Changtai stepped their game up for 2018, and the cake features a QR-code sticker and even a full pesticide report inside the wrapper. No pesticides were detected, which further supports Changtai's claim that this material is wild and uncultivated. One sip of this tea told me everything I need to know: it has a lot of characteristics you'd only find in gushu tea.

The cake now smells like wildflower: the fruitiness on the nose from the dry cake has now dissipated. This cake gave off some smoke for a while (after initially smelling very fruity) but now is past the smoke stage, and the only smoke I got was on the gaiwan lid after the rinse. Wild material often has much more depth and intensity to the aroma and flavor than plantation material, and this is no exception. The aroma from these cakes was so enticing, I couldn't stop sniffing them when they arrived, and the aroma from them filled the room! While the aroma isn't quite as intense now after two years in my warehouse, this tea still has plenty of interesting complexity. The liquor has good kuwei (sweetness after bitterness) and is smooth and pleasant. 

This tea is a cha qi heavy hitter. The tea has mellowed out nicely and is now an even smoother drinking experience than it initially was.

I tested this tea again a few days ago to see how it was aging. Rinsing the leaf brought out peach with wildflower: combined, the aroma smelled like exotic peaches. The liquor presented me with peaches, barley and dark wildflower, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also got notes of candy fruit and sweet orange in the cup. I was also surprised to detect quite a bit of umami in the cup now, which I don't recall from previous sessions.

Later infusions brought out some orange dreamsicle and cantaloupe, which was quite pleasant to me. By the end of the session, the cha qi from this tea had me sweating!

If you haven't had wild pu erh tea before, this would be a very interesting experience. The tea has excellent huigan and astonishingly calming energy, which are hallmarks of gushu or wild material to me, along with the peach and wildflower aromas. The terroir is definitely Menghai, but with a complexity and depth you simply cannot find in plantation material. This is truly lovely tea I feel will continue age well, and is very pleasant to drink now as well.

Please note: I only have six cakes of this tea left at this time (August 2020). This tea is no longer available from Changtai, and most is now in the hands of private individuals in PRC since this limited production run was sold directly by Changtai to consumers.

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