2004 sheng pu-erh tea from Da Xue Shan (Lincang), HERDS is a slow-aged maocha with a flavour profile all but extinct nowadays.
Da Xue Shan is known to produce perhaps the finest Mengku teas in terms of flavour profile. Finest here can be quite controversial, so maybe it’s safer to say they represent the more delicate side of a terroir that otherwise produces very bold teas. Young Da Xue Shan production often presents a strong tannic structure with flowery aromatics and sweet lingering honey notes. This seemingly polar complementarity makes their experience quite unique and pleasurable. And although they age beautifully in traditional or wet storage, they unfortunately tend to lose this signature dichotomy over time. That’s where dry storage comes in. To find old Da Xue Shan pu-erh tea in the style we like, we had to go David Lee Hoffman and the Phoenix Collection who imported such teas way back when ageing tea in America (or Canada) was not even a thing yet. This lot travelled the ocean before it even saw a day of eastern humid storage. It was entirely matured in dry storage (between 60 and 80% relative humidity) for the last 17 years.
For aromatic notes, here’s what we’ve got: the tea looks in some aspects very young (haystack, sawdust, clover honey) and in some others more mature (old bookcase and medicinal herbs). Its taste is somewhat dry at first but quite deep and very complex. Astringency sticks the aromas in your mouth and although tannins are noticeably present, they feel extraordinarily smooth. The high-grade material brings a good mouth-feel with a clear structure that reveals its origin in a refreshingly light aftertaste. There’s also something slightly animal to it… something very compelling to follow. Like the trail of great herds in tranquil migration.
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