The_econ... wrote:...bitter that goes straight to the back of the throat (this is probably from storage)... a little more bitter on the sides of my tongue... Decent qi.
This bitterness, rather than being from the storage is the remnants of a strong bitter flavour that this tea would have had when it was young. As you may know, the Bulang area is famed for its strong, bitter teas. As the tea ages, this bitterness is rounding out into a thick flavour and good huigan.
With another 5-10 years, this bitterness should completely round out.
It's interesting that you note the bitterness at the back of the throat - this is one of the characteristics of old trees. The bitterness from young plantation trees tends to be more noticeable at the front of the mouth and tip of the tongue. My feeling is that the leaves of this cakes are mixed plantation/old tree.
The strong earthy flavours come from the storage. Some may find this a little overpowering at first. Others come to appreciate and seek out these flavours. It depends a lot on your benchmarks too - a Hong Kong person's dry storage often will taste excessively wet to someone used to Kunming tea, while even a 20 year old Kunming tea won't taste aged at all to someone used to Hong Kong stored tea. I've brought tea back and forth between these 2 climates and it's often very difficult for many of the locals to appreciate each other's teas.
My aim with selecting this tea for the OTTI, despite knowing it wasn't likely to be the easiest tea for many to appreciate, was to offer something a little different from the productions from the big factories. I haven't received the samples, but the 8582 from this era is an excellent tea and a good example of a tried and tested recipe. Thanks to Brandon for his generosity in providing it. It should be a useful education and a couple of very enjoyable tea sessions for those who appreciate it.