2006 Naked Tea Horse
This was a small batch by the same producer as our 2006 Tea Horse Tribute puerh tea cake. It was never wrapped and the only information on the cake is from the neifei, which states that the material is from Xishuangbanna and pressed in March 2006 from "thousand year old trees". The last part is written with a bit of poetic license of course.
This is an ugly tea. I almost passed over it when I first saw the cake, thinking that it such an unsightly tea wouldn't be very good. As it turns out, I was quite wrong - this is truly excellent.
First - the flaws, since every tea has them. This was stored in Kunming, and in my opinion was too dry. The tea hasn't changed as much as one would hope over this time. The leaves have darkened and it's definitely lost the greenness of youth, but it hasn't developed so much of the aged flavours we would like. It's also been processed a little rustically - the rolling is uneven, some leaves rolled tightly, some loosely (hence the ugly appearance). Since they were unwrapped, some of the cakes may have a few leaves missing from the edges. They tend to average between 350-365g.
With the ugly and the bad out of the way, now for the good. I'm confident from tasting this that it's pure ancient tree tea from a single region. Although the producer doesn't say where his teas are from, it has the character of some of the best of Menghai area tea. The tea is strong, concentrated, thick & rich. In the mouth the tea is vibrant and energetic as can be found in some of the best old tree teas. The aftertaste lingers easily for an hour. The qi is strong and present. We would find it difficult to make a tea of this quality these days and, even if we could, I'm sure the price would be much more expensive than this. This is really a treasure from the past.