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We had a couple of cold but beautiful days here in Belgium so I needed something refreshing. A while ago, Tiago from Tea Encounter sent me some samples and he specifically told me to try the 2019 ZSL Autumn Yibang Ma Li Shu because it’s a remarkable tea. I had it before and it was indeed something special. That’s why I really wanted to drink it again.
2019 ZSL Autumn Yibang Ma Li Shu
As the name suggests, it is a 2019 sheng puerh with autumn material from the Yibang area. Yibang is one of the six famous tea mountains and is located in Mengla county in Xishuangbanna.
The material is from gushu (古树) tea trees, which means that these are ancient tea trees. It comes from Ma Li Shu village and this village is located at an altitude of around 1750m above sea level. Ma Li Shu (or Malishu) is one of the villages in the Yibang area.
- 6g for a 130ml Wuhuini Qing dynasty teapot
- Water 99°C
The colour of the leaves is dark olive green with brown tints and some beige buds. Relatively small and medium-sized leaves and the chunk has a fairly tight compression. The aroma is fresh and it ‘tickles’ my nose a bit, which is interesting! I’m also getting something sweet with traces of wild and dark honey. Once they are wet, it’s floral with a summery sweetness. Super refreshing!
Infusion 1 (10 sec): beautiful light beige colour and the liquor is clear. It’s a subtle infusion, but I’m already getting some of the refreshing sweetness I got when smelling the leaves. It has a peppery texture that makes my throat tingle; it’s a pleasant and unusual sensation. The aftertaste is sweet and subtle and I’m picking up some hints of honey and some sugar pops up as well.
Infusion 2 (15): this one is definitely more intense, but still gentle and silky. It’s more intense without being too rough. Really sweet and there is a slightly tannic edge. It feels a bit like wild and dark forest honey. The sweetness persists and goes on well into the aftertaste. This is so good and it really tastes like summer.
Infusion 3 (20 sec): the texture looks thick. It’s more bittersweet now because there is a slight bitterness coming through. It pops up at the start and disappears as fast as it came. The rest of the infusion is sweet and refreshing. Towards the end, it’s becoming a bit astringent. The aftertaste is still sweet and long-lasting.
Infusion 4 (20 sec): back to really sweet and refreshing without any of the bitter notes from the previous infusion. It’s sweet like honey and goes on well into the aftertaste. Such a unique experience! I’m happy I picked this one to drink today because if I close my eyes, it’s as if I’m back in my garden on a sunny day.
Infusion 5 (25 sec): more of the same refreshing sweetness. It’s even getting a bit floral towards the end. The finish and aftertaste are sweet, floral and long-lasting.
Infusion 6 (30 sec): similar to the previous infusion: sweet and a tiny bit floral. I’m getting refreshing honey that is a bit astringent towards the finish, but it’s still really enjoyable.
This is a remarkable tea and I understand why Tiago told me to try it. It started out subtle, but you could feel that a fantastic session was waiting to be discovered.
It was sweet with a bitter edge in some infusions, so it reminded me of wild and dark forest honey. Not the very sweet kind you can buy in every major supermarket. It just kept on going and the aftertaste was remarkable. I even got some floral notes towards the end of the session.
If you want to try this one yourself, you can buy it here. Unfortunately, it’s sold out at the moment (January 2021). It should be back in a couple of months.