This is another sample kindly provided by Hobbes, originally coming from Tea Urchin - the owner of eponymous and excellent blog. While there are many blogs about tasting tea, the number of blogs, giving information on where the tea does actually come from, is much lesser - therefore every blog like that is precious, especially when written so well!
This orchid almost died a year ago. But we brought it back to life and it rewarded us with her beauty. Ok, back to relevant stuff...
I took this Lao Man'E first, wondering what a sweet one (see the description) tastes like. I can not recall having any good Lao Man'E prior to this one. I always felt they were a rather poor approximation of Lao Banzhang, not having the most positive features, while adding some negative ones as a bonus.
The dry leaves are green (surprise), young and fresh. However, the aroma of wet leaves tells us that this will not be another tarty young tea. It points towards heavy sweetness with dark fruit and a slight undertone of animality/manure. So far so very good.
The taste itself starts lighter and young, but not too grassy, luckily. It has an interesting, sweet character, pleasant light earthiness appears. There is pleasant transforming bitterness - lashing the tongue with a cat o' nine tails, but pouring a healing potion right after.
Before the second brew, the dark fruitiness appears more in the aroma of wet leaves, how about the taste? It is there too. Light earthiness mingles with dark fruitiness - I have not met this combination so far and I like it very much. The rather heavy bitterness does not disturb me at this stage. There is an excellent blackberry aftertaste. The after-aftertaste keeps some of the bitterness - but as this tea is from Lao Man'E, it could be much worse. The third brew is slightly less fruity, the bitterness at the end heads towards pine needles, leaving a minty feeling. I do not think it is in full harmony with the earth/dark fruit yet. For quite some time, I do very short steepings, getting thick, tasty and still active liquor. The activity is quite good, by the way, being strong across all brews.
What I really can not imagine is the 2012 Spring Lao Man'E - supposedly having strong bitterness, contrary to this one (which I found very good, yet strongly bitter too). Righto, if I ever need to commit a suicide, I'll go for the 2012 Spring Lao Man'E.
In general, this tea is very strong and explosive - most young puerhs (probably except XZH) are, but this one is stronger than most.
Thanks to Hobbes & Tea Urchin for this excellent specimen, I enjoyed it very much!