Monday, 28 October 2013

2011 Spring Nan Nuo Mountain "Ban Po Lao Zhai" Old Tree & Small Tree (JK Tea Shop)

Now that it has suddenly turned to winter (Saturday I was hiking in a t-shirt, Sunday I was scraping snow off the car), it's time to break out the darker, heavier teas! This is a double tasting of raw pu'er from JK Tea Shop - both of these teas come from the same farmer in Ban Po Lao Zhai village of Nannuo mountain in Menghai, Yunnan - the leaves were picked at the same time in the spring of 2011, were processed and aged the same by the same people, but the only difference is that one is from a 80 year old tea plant, and the other from a 400 year old plant!

Young Leaves - 80 years old

The young leaves are very long and full, with lots of fuzz and tips. The scent in the bag is like leather, woodsmoke, and green grapes.

The first steeping is a slightly hazy amber with an aroma of the seaside, hops, more leather, salt air, and dried apricots. The taste has a very smooth and buttery mouthfeel, with flavours of woodsmoke, Saaz hops, almost a tang of Keemun black tea, and a twitch of acidity in the aftertaste.

The second steeping the colour of an IPA with a tinge of green. The aroma is sweeter, with the apricots in the front and some woodsmoke underneath, with less seaside. The flavour is also much sweeter and lighter, apricots and nectarines, the barest suggestion of smoke, some raisins and honey in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is less buttery, with an almost minty aftertaste.

Old Leaves - 400 years old

The old leaves a darker and broader than the young, with a few less white and golden tips. The scent in the bag was less woodsmoke, and a more piquant green grape aroma, spicier with almost a touch of cinnamon.

The first steeping is a darker amber with an aroma of cool earth, leather, dried apricots and a hint of the seaside. The taste is less smooth and buttery, and unlike the young leaves, there's almost no smokiness. There are flavours of Keemun, a hint of apricots, red grapes, and a bit of salt breeze with a cooling aftertaste.

The second steeping is an even darker amber with a smooth, rounded aroma - more dried apricots, some floral notes, leather and just the slightest suggestion of woodsmoke. The mouthfeel is smooth but with a touch of astringency, with flavours of cinnamon, apricots, hops, sunny earth, just a touch of sea breeze, and leather, with more seaside in the aftertaste.

The Difference 

There is a noticeable difference between the two teas, the leaves from the older plant make a tea that's deeper and rounder, while the young leaves pop and sparkle instead, with sharper and more distinct flavours instead of the dark complexity of the old leaves. It's amazing how that one variable of the age of the plant affects the taste so much.

2011 Spring Nan Nuo Mountain "Ban Po Lao Zhai" Old Tree & Small Tree at JK Tea Shop

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