Friday, July 07, 2006

Anodyne on Pre Ming Ying De Gold and Special Grade Dian Hong Gold

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. 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 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.


anodyne said...

Ah, interesting! thanks for letting me know, Lew. Had no info on this tea via the source website as, by the time I tried my sample from a friend, it seems to have already been sold out.

corax said...

this tea *was* yunnan-like. i am sure it's an assamica cultivar, like the classic yunnan teas. and -- to judge by the results -- the process whereby they produced this yingde gold was apparently identical to what is used to produce top-drawer dian hongs. so from the cup alone, one would probably very naturally assume that it was a yunnan tea.

anodyne said...

Searching back in my notes, I find that in 2004 I actually had a "Ying de" from Guangdong but had totally forgotten this experience. In this case, interestingly enough, the tea did *not* remind me of Yunnan as did the Pre Ming Ying De Gold. From old notes:

Purchased a sample of TeaSpring's Ying De Hong Spring 2004 Harvest, "one of the few Black teas to originate from the Guangdong province of China." It's interesting in that it's a Chinese black tea that doesn't taste characteristic of one. Doesn't have the cocoa/earthy/malty type notes really. It almost seems like it might appeal to Ceylon drinkers. Lightly spicy with a mild honey'd note both in aroma and fragrance. It's also called Guang Dong Black, which now triggers my memory, having had this some time back via Silk Road Teas. I found the SRT one mild earthy/floral with some light spice as it cools. Not unpleasant, but it wasn't a tea that moved me much. It had an edge of astringency. It's a tea that honestly reminds me more of a Ceylon tea than a China black tea. I'd noted that the Silk Road Guangdong Black tea's aroma "[gains] more character as it cools down and sweeter/deeper notes are being added." The Ying De Hong also has an aroma that pulls forward as it cools slightly...mildly floral-spice-sweet with edge of that honey in the taste against some astringency. Though I should note I brewed this in my own typical black tea fashion, not at the vendor's suggested multiple shorter steeps. Again, not unpleasant, but it just doesn't grab me much. Seems like it might appeal to those who dislike China black teas and maybe prefer Ceylon? 6/30/04

Thanks, lew and corax for sparking my memory about this non-Yunnan but Yunnan-like Pre Ming Ying de Gold and my other experience that I'd forgotten till now (which is why the notes are useful :-).

anodyne said...

And my memory is jogged that I also had another tea some months back that I’d have sworn was a Yunnan if the vendor hadn’t told me otherwise prior to my tasting—a Hunan Golden Monkey Picked China black tea as the vendor referred to it. It was a tea that he had in small amounts and don’t believe it ever made it to the website. There definitely seem to be some Yunnan-like teas out there that are hailing from other provinces. I do think that I'd have just assumed this one was a Yunnan tea if I hadn't been informed by the vendor otherwise before tasting.

From my notes:

It looks very much like a tippy golden Yunnan in the dry leaf at first glance, and that's really where the aroma/taste profile falls out for me. Much more Yunnan-like than anything else. Certainly it reminds me *much* more of a tippy Yunnan than Golden Monkey. This tea has some of that same aroma I describe as maple sap in conjunction with the woodsmoke being used to boil the sap into syrup. But I think of this as being wafted in on the air from a long distance away, not directly smoky. This aroma, along with that hint of earth, is rather strikingly reminiscent of some tippy Yunnan. But it doesn't carry the strong honeyed notes or floral into the finish like some of the 'softer' golden Yunnans I've been sampling. The hint of savory is what I've also encountered in certain other tippy Yunnan—which is, for my own mental reference, that quality that isn't quite smoky and isn't as aggressive as leathery, etc.

Brewing another cup with new leaf/another time: this time I catch an almost fruity note in the aroma against that sweetness, which is nice. This isn't a China black tea that I think of as 'earth-bound,' which I find a real plus. I like earth, but in proportion and balance. The taste is very clean, another nice plus, as some China black teas get a bit weighed down with a muddy earth note you can almost feel on the teeth.