|Could be this year's.|
|Can't quite make out the year.|
Turns out those ladies might see just fine, and at the same time I wasn't too far off about the tea. As soon as the hot water hit the tea, the straight up smell of campfire hits my nose. When we taste smoke in a sheng puerh, very often it is referred to as a tobacco flavor or scent. Or we see a lot of char in the strainer. In this case, I don't see much if any char, rather the whole cake has been infused with wood smoke. So I guess those old ladies can see just fine, but they are doing a kill green just over a very smoky wood fire. Some of this dissipates within a few steeps, but I can definitely smell it within what is otherwise a good quality champagne grape start to the tea and then the descent into straight up bitterness.
I kept my brew temps at a 208F, just off the boil. Going lower on the temps might have mellowed the bitter flavor in later steeps, but honestly this is a tea for aging and it's too much for me to drink this young. One reviewer at We Rate Teas reported a stomach ache from this, well that's what you get drinking a bitter young tea like this. No, this is one for the crocks.
Might be interesting to see how the campfire smoke integrates or dissipates. I am reminded of the wood furnace my dad bought, stoking it in the middle of the night with more wood. At home I never really noticed much of the wood smoke, but outside the house my clothes certainly smelled like it. Although I enjoyed the fireplaces and wood furnace, in my early adulthood whenever I got a cold, I'd end up with bronchitis every time. This tendency disappeared eventually, but I read someplace that problems like this are common when you grow up with wood fires in the house. And that big furnace was in the room right next to where I slept. The scent on this tea takes me back to that basement bedroom of mine near the wood furnace.
Personally I appreciate the classification of "craft" tea, and I like some of the craft Heicha teas that Chawangshop also sells which are much easier to drink. I've seen plenty of sheng out there that really should be classified as "craft" due to the rough processing, but all too often the tea is sold for premium prices. I don't think sellers should shy away from offering a tea like this in their shop. The low price and unique experience justify picking up a cake. If you're into tea aging experiments, this cake is worth tossing into your cart to learn whatever you can, while you can.