The great cake shootout!


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The great cake shootout!

Postby tenuki » Jun 10th, '13, 15:48

I've been adopting an interesting strategy lately when evaluating if I should buy a cake or not from samples. I choose a much cheaper but similar cake from my collection and do a brew off between them. I'm finding it reduces the number of cakes I buy dramatically and gives me a deeper appreciation and knowledge of what I already have in my stash.

I thought it might be interesting to start a thread where people could post various types of shootouts between two cakes. Some ideas:

$$$ vs $
mountain vs mountain
vendor vs vendor
storage vs storage

I find this sort of analysis is way more grounded in reality than evaluating something on it's own.

Proposal - information required on each cake:

Vendor
Harvest Year
Harvest Location
Harvest Misc ( any other info available )
Storage
??
Pictures of cake, dry leaf, wet leaf, brew
notes on taste
Winner - you must declare a shootout winner unless the cakes both suck ( mutual death ). :)

Image

I'll try to post a few of my own in the next couple of weeks - enjoy!
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby shah82 » Jun 10th, '13, 17:07

You all can look at various shootouts on The Half Dipper, A Tea Addict's Journal, and a few on ChaDao and puerh livejournal archives.

First of all, I don't really think this kind of review really help unless it's by someone who's really experienced, and likes what single mountain or blends or wet/dry have to offer. There are a lot of "this cheap tea does so much better than this expensive tea!" shootouts, thinking of the livejournal Dayi 7542 and 8582 vs Sanhetang 7542 and 8582 as a pretty good case study. For example, the Sanhetang 7542 probably should be compared the same year 7742 and the '03 HK Henry 7542, and not the normal 7542 post 2005.

Next, people often don't really weigh virtues properly. So many times, if a tea has a taste that they like, or the body, it tends to outweigh all of the deficits. Which can be dramatic when people like one style of puerh more than another.

Onto specific suggestions...
$$$ vs $ Money usually only indicates what tea is being speculated on, or how a tea is marketed. In using this standard, you need to be brand conscious. Of course a Dayi or Douji will lose to cheaper tea often. They are expensive for what they are. Then there are the issues with the credible brands in that they have a style that you may like or not like.

Mountain vs mountain First off, the days when you can easily find top tea from Nannuo, LBZ, GFZ, etc are long gone. One has to be really careful to pit mountain teas of the same quality against one another. The top DaXueShan, LaoBanzhang, Jingmai, and Guafengzhai are basically not beatable by teas of comparable quality from another region. People can like other regions more, but most people are impressed by good examples of the previously mentioned tea. Compare virtues of mountains to virtue of mountains. If you like big, booming huigans, and evaluating a Kuzhushan, then compare it with LBZ. Compare how mountain-woody the aroma is? Try a Pasha versus a BanpoLaoZhai. Long aftertastes? Compare your suspects with the great lincangs. So forth and on.

Vendors have reputations, and these are easily found. Hence, many comments about Houde and paper bag storage of samples. Nothing going here.

Storage vs storage is a lot of fun, but virtually all of such reviews happen during group sessions hosted by someone, like Listening To Leaves blogging of such a session at Floating Leaves Tea House. They're kinda hard to do by yourself unless you're pretty rich or/and connected.
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby tenuki » Jun 10th, '13, 17:45

shah82 wrote:First of all, I don't really think this kind of review really help unless it's by someone who's really experienced


Excellent, does that mean you will be contributing something to this thread eventually?
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby shah82 » Jun 10th, '13, 18:19

Oh, I'm burned out on drinking more than one sheng session a day. The last time I did a general review and make comparisons, my conclusions were...

1) I really shouldn't have been buying anything but XZH 2005-2009 until all the good stuff ran out. It's easy to buy anywhere from a decade's worth to a lifetime's worth of puerh. Slow and steady and buying only the good stuff is best (well, that had been true until everything costs zillions today).

2) It really really matters to buy Dayi blended (and tea in general) tea from 2003 and before.

3) Yiwu is very tricky to gauge how good it truly is until it's more than about seven years old.

4) There are a number of ways a sheng could give a cooling feel. There is only but few ways that it's a proper gushu cooling feel.

5) Many of the well known teas of the late '90s are not truly *that* good.

6) In general, do not expect tea to be perfect or overwhelming. Past a certain point, it's not about the prettiest person, but the person you can remember (fondly, I hope). The corollary is that one or two shots at a tea is not a relationship with a tea. You're just walking up to a famous person, shaking hands, and getting an autographed picture of the two of you. Deep and meaningful tea sessions are definitely based on a fundamental security of access. If you own the tea in real amounts, you can let the tea come to as it does. Don't think you can milk that cow without a ring on it!

I had been thinking about it for awhile. Many of JakubT's blog posts have this kind of shootout characteristics, and I have the sense that Jakub has worked into the groove where he's basically seeking out the perfect storage (of late 90's and younger tea) rather than the best leaves, because what he really wants is 25+ yo tea, but this is unaffordable, so...
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby Evan Draper » Jun 10th, '13, 20:19

shah82 wrote:The last time I did a general review and make comparisons, my conclusions were...

Very cool. XZH = xiànzài hē? ;)
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby gasninja » Jun 11th, '13, 08:55

shah82 wrote: The top DaXueShan, LaoBanzhang, Jingmai, and Guafengzhai are basically not beatable by teas of comparable quality from another region. People can like other regions more, but most people are impressed by good example of the previously mentioned teas.

I think jingmai should be replaced with another area Bing Dao or Wan Gong. I think that jingmai is a bad example as there is to much ho hum tea comming out of jingmai. Plus it is small leaf and does not age quite right. But I might just be hating as I am not the biggest jingmai fan.
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby fdrx » Jun 11th, '13, 09:35

I think jingmai should be replaced with another area Bing Dao or Wan Gong. I think that jingmai is a bad example as there is to much ho hum tea comming out of jingmai. Plus it is small leaf and does not age quite right. But I might just be hating as I am not the biggest jingmai fan.

it's hard to beat the refinement of a wangong! but good lancangs have great qi too, and nice aftertaste and throat feelings
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Re: The great cake shootout!

Postby shah82 » Jun 11th, '13, 12:14

The issue is that there's too much ho-hum Jingmai out there, and that's what people have experience with. A good session with a great Jingmai is rather impressive, though. I think a few aged Jingmai teas are reasonably nice affairs. Also, it's a love it or hate it sort of tea, given the distinctive profile.

As for Bingdao, I've never had anything I could be reasonably sure was Bingdao, given the shameless faking. The nicer Bingdaos I've had are pretty good, but there isn't much separation between those and some other good areas like Yangta. The interesting thing historically is that Bingdao was reasonably well known for a while, but didn't become super-popular until about 2008. Like Mansong, it's probably a bit more of a status drink.

I've never had a Wangonzhai, and likely never will have a good example of that area.
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