Pre Ming Ying De Gold 2006
Jing Tea Shop
I've opted to change this review a bit since Lew pointed out in the comments section that I was actually tasting a tea from Guangdong and not Yunnan as I had supposed. The comments section clarifies this, but in the interest of not misleading someone reading these reviews and not checking out the comments, I wanted to be sure that the correction was made up front.
...an exceedingly fresh and young Yunnan-like experience since, as Lew pointed out in the comments section, this tea was not a Yunnan as I'd first supposed but a tea from Guangdong. My comparison point remains a Yunnan tea even so, as that is about the closest comparison I find in memory. Not as floral-honey in emphasis as a Golden Bud A Yunnan that I once had via http://www.pu-erhtea.com/. This latter tea experience was back in the autumn of 2004, so I don't know what this tea is currently doing of course. This Pre Ming Ying De Gold has a deeper and maltier profile with those lighter honey-floral notes still in evidence but not taking center stage as in Golden Bud A Yunnan of past experience. Malt and floral linger nicely in the finish which has that fresh youthful Yunnan-like profile. Aroma deepens and sweetens as it cools slightly. I like the way everything balances out in this cup. Drinks smooth and with a nice clarity, just the right pungent edge that doesn't cross over into anything harsh or muddy or metallic or green or overly earthy. The malty depths against the fresh floral notes are nice. The deeper notes of the Ying De Gold are pleasing and aren't always present in some of the more youthful Yunnan teas I've had.
As noted in the comments section, memory finally kicked in, and I realize I've had a couple other experiences with China "black teas" from Guangdong. What I found interesting (and what is expanded upon in the comments section) is that the Ying De Hong from Teaspring did not remind me of a Yunnan tea in a way this Ying De Gold one has.
"Special Grade" Dian Hong Gold
Jing Tea Shop
Very floral sweet aroma in this one and less malty (compared to the previous tea) as it first presents itself decanted into a cup. Less malty in the cup as well. Not as smooth as Pre Ming Ying De Gold with more pungency as I brewed them both this first time 'round. The deeper malty notes of Pre Ming Ying De Gold made it a smoother and rounder cup. But the emphasis on the floral-honey in this one is more pronounced. In taste, the cup (without the malt rounding it out and giving it depth) is even more youthful in profile. A very distinct floral note in cup with slight green--the difference between smelling a flower that has fully blossomed and one that is still a bit contained yet in the bud. Leaves the palate with more of that red wine dry sensation than Pre Ming Ying De Gold. Lovely aroma, but I would prefer the overall balance of the Pre Ming Ying De Gold if it came to a choice between them. The floral note in this tea really lingers in the aftertaste. It perfumes the whole palate. With further experiment, I find that a shorter steep does help smooth out the pungency, though it still seems in higher proportion to the Pre Ming Ying De Gold. The floral emphasis is still definitely there with a hint of that "green bud" characteristic. Again, this floral note is what lingers into the finish and aftertaste. I do find myself missing the deeper malty notes of the Pre Ming Ying De Gold. The distinct honey notes I found in the Golden Bud A are not in this tea to the same degree. There is some flavor under the floral which I might call a very, very light cocoa, but it's more subdued, at least with the water and brewing technique I've used here today. What is distinctive about this particular tea is that longer lingering floral note in the aftertaste. I'd personally like more honeyed notes meandering into the finish and aftertaste as well as they once did in the Golden Bud A. If a tea is going to have this youthful floral profile, there's a certain balance of honeyed sweet that I want going up against the green bud/floral note.
The aroma of the Pre Ming Ying De Gold registers "lower" on the aroma scale and deeper. The Special Grade Dian Hong Gold has an aroma that registers "higher" on the aroma scale. Cello versus violin? Viola versus violin? something akin to that.
Both teas were shared by a friend not directly sourced by me via the vendor. Though I've had someone tell me I "must" experience the Pre Ming Ying De Gold, so know it has another fan out there. :-)
From 10/04 I unearthed these notes about the Golden Bud A:
Just tasted their Yunnan Golden Bud A, which proves to be quite a different Yunnan experience than I've had to date. It has a very pronounced floral-fruity range to it with honeyed notes and very light earth. The floral lingers quite distinctly into the aftertaste. This is not the heavy mocha-rich and spicy type Yunnan experience, but it does have a beauty all its own. While I have previously encountered some light floral notes in Yunnan, I haven't encountered it at this level nor with this fruity characteristic. This really leaves a lingering aftertaste. Yunnan tea can be very deeply rich and satisfying. I think this is the first time I've encountered it where it had this "perky" quality--a bright, fresh fruity-floral taste and scent that was not masked by earth. There is even something almost Darjeelingesque about this tea, which is not something I've ever felt about a Yunnan tea before. Very much enjoying tasting this one. --end of old notes--
Back to the here and now: In the current Special Grade Dian Hong Gold, I don't experience the fruity range I referred to above. But both had that lingering aftertaste. What I seem to remember about Golden Bud A is a more distinct honeyed note in the taste against the floral.
The more youthful profile in a Yunnan isn't my first love, but I have a growing appreciation for it when it comes together with a certain balance.