Yunnan Sourcing has quietly added quite a selection of semi-aged pu’erh stored in more humid conditions, not a bad feat for a vendor mainly known for Kunming dry-stored tea and the YS label. Getting the sample itch, I convinced my local tea friend Garrett (also featured in the MX report) to split a few samples and write up some notes. We picked a handful of teas that looked interesting and added a couple teas I already own that fit into the category.
- For value shoppers looking for the best deals, Yunnan Sourcing also has regular 10-12% off sales that rotate between categories. Waiting for those sales is a good way to save a little money.
2003 Bulang Brick
This is worth sampling for fans of the White Whale and Old Bear. This fits into the burly factory-style category. Still very smoky but of the pleasant, sweeter sort. Not too bitter. The high compression and smoke gives it a rugged, blue-collar feel but it’s aged enough to be drinkable. Decent and fast-acting huigan. Viscosity is medium. I can respect this sort of tea but have realized that it’s not really my style nor something that ends up as my daily brew very often.
Strong sweet Kansas barbeque initially and mild astringency. No somatic reaction. Thinner, not as ‘sticky’ viscosity-wise as most of the equally smoky Xiaguan sampled in last report. Light vegetal flavors come through in the later steeps.
2006 Pasha Mountain
I am a fan of the 2006 Haiwan Pasha that now sells for quite a bit and was curious to try this but ended up being a bit disappointed. Aroma changes very frequently from sugary to fruity to grassy/floral. The viscosity is thin throughout but the tea is quite bitter, sometimes in the pill-like category. There also isn’t much sweetness in the aftertaste. For those that like their tea very strong. I will add as a caveat, that a few tea friends have tried and enjoyed it..
Mild astringency and brash/generalized green flavors despite noted wetter storage. Light mushroom. Six steeps in and I am already feeling “meh”.
2008 HLH Star of Bulang
A cake I blind bought back in 2014.. Starts out juicy with darker fruits, leather. Then it really builds up in intensity and bitterness. It’s a bit slow to convert to sweetness but does so slowly throat and in the mouth. It’s an OK enough tea for those that like their tea strong and the price might make it appealing for those operating on a very tight budget. For me this is nothing to get too excited over though and a tea that needs to be heavily moderated with brewing. Unlike the 2003 Bulang brick there’s only a little smoke in it.
Light nuttiness, mild astringency, edging quickly off into some generic bitter and butteriness akin to younger raw puerh. Dark fruitiness similar to the Mengku Wild Arbor. Grassy/floral aroma throughout entire session. No somatic reaction or huigan.
2002 Yiwu Ancient Spirit
These Yiwus tend to hit the spot for me. I’ve always enjoyed this tea and still find this to be a solid and consistent brew. Starting to brew red. Sweet, back of the mouth sweetness. Later on gets more grains, floral, and slight plum. Sweetness lasts. Decent viscosity. It’s a bit further along compared with the Jinglong and Lucky Brand, although those two may be better value buys. Slight syrup mouthfeel to it. Some light smoke early.
Highly astringent/drying drinking experience with light mushrooms and honey-like sweet throughout first 6 steeps. Some light huigan noticed midway through session. Light pinewood/floral sweet aroma throughout entire session. Lucky Brand is more mellow almost soothing compared to the strength of the Ancient Sprit.
2005 Lucky Brand Yiwu
Generally tasty and smooth, a bit drier than the Jing Long. Dry apricots, grassy, sugary. Very clean and still fairly green. Brewed a second time in clay, the brew is a bit stronger and gets sour. In the soft wood Yiwu category. Huigan remains the same but there’s less dry fruit up front. Later on it moves into a floral, light fruity vibe.
Some mild astringency throughout entire session, in mid-steeps a light fruity sweetness and light huigan became noticeable. A grassy and camphorated aroma. No smoke and no somatic reaction.
2005 Jing Long Tribute
Like a darker, fruitier version of the Lucky Brand. Maybe a small tick up on the humidity scale. Also a small tick up on my own rating. A bit smoother, fairly sweet, a nice balanced profile. Very clean.
Light smoke and astringent in first few steeps tapering out into a smoother butter liquor. Mild huigan. Overall non-descript.
2005 CNNP Big Yellow Mark
Probably the standout of the tasting. Good strength but also tasty enough to enjoy now. Woody, malt a lot of florals, and a light sweetness. Oily, viscosity is moderate. There’s a light astringency throughout. The sweetness is lasting and it steeps out into a basic floral profile.There’s a smokiness throughout the session. Nice mouthfeel. Decent depth, a bit of astringency that is lightly drying. I have no idea where this is from but it’s a fun brew. I’d easily choose this over the other smoky tea in this tasting (Bulang Brick).
Light smoke flavor off initial steeps which works into a wood pinewood/mushroomy flavor during mid-steeps. Light smoke and floral aroma throughout entire session, and a mild huigan. Nice strength and longevity compared to most samples on this report.
2005 Mengku Wild Arbor Zhengshan Daye
I drank this a bit over a year ago and feel like this has either aired out significantly or is from a different batch/storage. This is much greener, higher and more floral and considerably greener than my memory. It also tastes a lot more what I’d imagine northern tea to taste like. Sweeter, malt, florals.
Darker fruits and floral flavors with a fair amount of green bitter. Heavy floral aroma. No funky storage flavors/aroma. A bit too green for my taste.
2002 Yiwu Huangpian (W2T)
Another easily available tea that fits in the same category and price range. No roughnesss or bitterness or astringency to it. Could probably be boiled like white tea. There are some similarities to both Heicha and white tea. Woody, lightly medicinal. It reminds me the most of these old bootleg DVDs I bought off ebay 10 years ago of an old samurai series. Probably a totally unhelpful comparison for anyone, but the aromas are peculiarly similar. Daily drinker for someone after a super mellow, easy to drink brew that isn’t low, oily and earthy like traditionally stoerd pu’erh.
Medicinal think ‘Ricola’, light peppery in the initial steeps edging out into a generic woody sweetness later on. No somatic, no smokiness. No crazy storage flavors. Soft.
Tea Table + Ratings
|Tea||Vendor||$||Quantity||Cost/g||J Rating||G Rating|
|2003 Bulang Brick||Yunnan Sourcing||$82.00||250||$0.33||C.||C-|
|2006 Pasha||Yunnan Sourcing||$55.00||357||$0.15||D.||D|
|2008 HLH Star of Bulang||Yunnan Sourcing||$46.00||357||$0.13||C.||C|
|2002 Yiwu Ancient Spirit||Yunnan Sourcing||$99.00||380||$0.26||B-.||C|
|2005 Lucky Brand Yiwu||Yunnan Sourcing||$60.00||357||$0.17||C+.||C|
|2005 Jinglong Tribute||Yunnan Sourcing||$86.00||357||$0.24||B-.||C|
|2005 CNNP Big Yellow Mark||Yunnan Sourcing||$66.00||357||$0.18||B-.||C+|
|2005 Mengku Zhengshan Daye||Yunnan Sourcing||$63.00||400||$0.16||C+.||C-|
|2002 Yiwu Huangpian||White2Tea||$49.00||200||$0.25||C+.||C|
Final Thoughts & The Case For These Teas
I’ve talked before about the depressing (to me) trend of young pu’erhs dominance in the western pu’erh enthusiasts mind. The tea is fresh, the wrappers are sexy, you don’t have to deal with the nebulous pu-storage, and there are seemingly straightforward statements on terroir. I get it.. But I think for many such as myself, there’s a preference for the minority category, more aged teas. For those interested in this category, this category of teas on YS is a fine place to start.
If you are new, on a budget, and interested in getting your feet wet YS should be on the top of the list.. None of these teas are the absolute best of the category, but most are solid for the price and are cheaper than the average young pu’erh offered by a vendor. I also would argue that they give a better glimpse at what aged pu’erh can be like compared with the Kunming-stored alternatives. I also vastly prefer these over Kunming-stored teas.. It’s also worth noting that even though these teas are put under “wetter storage” category on YS, I find Scott tends to choose teas that are on the clean end.
- 2005 CNNP Big Yellow Mark
- 2002 Tailian International Tea Expo (not consumed in this report and also Kunming stored but interesting)
- 2005 Jinglong or 2005 Lucky Brand or 2002 Yiwu Ancient Spirit (broad Yiwu category)
You could also make a case for something like Bana Tea Company which is a very different shop from YS and more curated. I think there’s merit in both, but I think I’d choose YS due to the vastness of options (ideally order from both). Other companies also offer a few options, but many are more expensive and aren’t as easy to sample from as YS.