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2018 HK Natural Storage Zhongcha Ruyi Ripe Pu Erh (100g)

2018 HK Natural Storage Zhongcha Ruyi Ripe Pu Erh (100g)

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August 27th, 2020

I purchased three of these cakes in September 2018 and this tea has aged wonderfully in my natural storage environment here in Hong Kong! When I purchased this tea, it was priced very well and I did not expect it to perform the way it has today. I am now very much regretting not purchasing more of this tea back in 2018, and I am considering purchasing more of both the 2018 and 2020 versions of this cake since I'm so impressed!

The material used for this cake is plantation material from the Xishuangbanna area. According to the neifei (paper ticket inside the cake wrapper), the material was moderately fermented and then aged for years before pressing with stone molds (as is traditional). While that isn't a lot of detail, the proof is in the cup, of course.

The dry cake smells active (alive). I brewed this tea strong for testing: 11.9g/200ml with steeps of around thirty seconds to start. After the Zhongcha Jingmai shou I tried last night, which is as different from this shou as two shous could possibly be, this tea was a real surprise. I did not expect to be greeted with such a sweet and pleasant drinking experience.

The rinsed leaf smelled like a Zhongcha 7581 that had been well aged. The liquor was clean and clear (and dark)! In the cup, this tea is sweetly aromatic and the liquor was of moderate thickness (like a thinner syrup). While there is classic sweet jujube here, the aged profile of this tea is very different from 7581. I got notes of almond, milk chocolate and vanilla in the aftertaste, and the jujube isn't as promiment here as it is in some recipes. The variety of shou out there is incredible, and this is truly unlike anything else I've had to date. The liquor itself is sweet with excellent, longlasting huigan, especially in the first few infusions, and I also noticed some light chocolate bitterness in the second infusion that I didn't get in the first infusion due to the very surprising (and intense) sweetness. In the third infusion, I was left with an aftertaste that reminded me of chocolate brownies.

This is a truly excellent shou and I'm in awe of how good this tea is today. I definitely need to consider purchasing more of this tea, and perhaps the 2020 version (which looks very different). I can't wait to see how this tea develops now that it's been placed in plastic, which almost always causes a significant increase in aroma for me.

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