yup! generally bitter, but that varies with the season. polyphenols, antioxidants are never sweet, if you have access to a purification facility or extraction facility, you can purify some to find it vile and bitter. managing the concentration of it through processing, i.e. photo-oxidation by sunning, thermal breakdown by baking, blending in of autumn leaves, picking leaves that are super early into spring, will give you a product drinkable at this moment.
its hard to talk about right or wrong processing method because there are are changes in the consumer market, tea goes with current market demands (not future), everyone is out to make $$. what the market currently wants, the farmers and merchants make!
thanks to many friends abroad that had sent me a myriad of teas from various merchants and sources in their respective countries, based on the lignification, venation, leaf texture, it started being apparent that many of these teas are blended with well processed autumn teas that gives the comfortable mouth feel, low bitterness, sweetish texture, which is more drinkable and more well appreciated by many, at the expense of the bold bitter, umami of the spring teas etc.
there's absolutely nothing wrong with drinking autumn tea, although I'm more concerned about oxalate and fluoride content which theoretically can be less good for health, but we'll have to see in the long run. for sure I will not be drinking tibetan black compressed tea without milk, the oxalate content is something you have to be careful to prevent kidney stones from developing. its a topic not commonly talked about since the propaganda in the mainland keeps going on about the magic of gushu, 天公造物，health benefits of tea etc.
is lignification all bad? I dont think so. considering the analysis of how tea bricks (often made of twiggy and rough fibrous leaves that are well lignified) had aged, together with the necessity of "anaerobic" and confined environments for lignin break down to give the "aged woody" taste, it may not be a bad thing for aging. there are so many "rags" to "royalty" type of teas these days, cakes bricks that were in the dollar range in the early days, bitter, vile, horrid, and now many are treasured after they had aged.
William wrote:Thank you for the shared informations, Kyarazen!
So, if I understood, in your opinion, Gushu material processed with traditional methods, regardless of the quality, it should be formerly bitter and unpalatable?
Another question comes to mind.
Can we really talk of right and wrong processing method? I mean, if it is now carried a processing method that transform something formerly bitter into something sugary/raisiny/fruity etc. etc., can we really talk of right and wrong, since no one can say how this tea will age over the next 30/50 years?
Surely you have adopted, in my opinion, the correct classification (traditional methods/modern methods), without falling into the the classical ideology that if something is not done in the traditional way then it is definitely wrong.