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Somewhere between the grade of the selection, the season in which it was picked, the degree of dry-storage, and the Lancang Factory signature, you’re going to get slapped around. Somewhere at the extremes of cost efficiency and consumer abuse, you’ll find the ’08 Year of the Rat. I’ve broken a light sweat and my gut feels oppressed. It’s sorta like the feeling you get before you heave. It is extremely bitter and astringent by the second infusion. There is no sign of wild-weed taste. The perfume in the liquor and aftertaste is oppressive. It lasts for a considerable spell building to a crescendo after 3m. The sweetness and the thickness are there but the expression is aggressive like teas that are only one or two years old. There’s no attempt at any type of humidifying it while it aged. Two years in LA have not seemed to have altered it in this regard.
The bitter “ba qi” productions are often gut bombs. This is no exception. I brewed it in the green clay pot because I wanted to see if it would mellow any, but it doesn’t. It is by far the most bitter and astringent in the collection. It might be the first in the Lancang lunar series. I don’t know because I’ve only been able to track down three of their lunar tuo productions, ’10 Tiger and ’09 Ox being the other two. Among the three, the Rat is their smallest, cheapest, and wrapped in brown paper, whereas in subsequent years they were wrapped in white cotton paper.
For whatever reason, the 250g Tiger tuo has aged most. I mention this because even though there are some qualitative differences between the two that might have to do with recipe or variations from one year to the next, the Tiger has started to express some noteworthy scented- wood notes. I want to say sandalwood, but to be honest I think that would be pretentious because of a very limited scented-wood repertoire. I can tell you, it’s not cedar, and it’s only in its very incipient stages of expressing.
I’m not sure if this character would come out in the production under wet storage. It would be very interesting to compare because it seems to me that some aspect of this type of wood expression comes from being dry.
I tasted many puerhs of this sort in Kunming, even ones that cost relatively handsome prices but made me feel either on the verge of passing out or throwing up. Even in later infusions, the Rat busts the gut, which doesn’t burp out completely like others.
This brings up the question of “bad tea.” It seems that one trait of a bad tea is that it bottoms out, which this doesn’t. Another trait is that the taste is flat and possesses little complexity, not applicable here. Bad tea for me definitely has that weed taste, which might be something to do with abandoned material. No sign of it here. I keep drinking these types in the hope I’ll learn something. So far the Rat is too much for me.