The 2005 Golden Needle White Lotus is maybe the most famous and most appraised shu pu-erh made by Menghai factory in last few years. It won the 2005 China Tea Industry Exposition Gold Award. So is this tea really that good?
I read somewhere that this tea is of "medium compression". If that's true, what is heavy compression? I was able to cut off enough tea from the sample, but also I made a pretty deep cut with my pu-erh knife into the surface of my table and I'm lucky that I still have all ten fingers. Certainly a hydraulic press was used to make this beeng!
The leaves are small, consistent, with some yellow buds. The dry sample emits very strong aroma - partially it reminded me of bacon, with a certain earthiness (reminded me the smell a dry cellar with some wood deposited in there).
The brew is beautiful - clear, dark, in direct sunlight it changes color into ruby.
The taste - well, probably now is the perfect time to tell you, that I'm not a big fan of shu pu-erh. I drink shu in work, when there is no time to brew something better, but I do not seek it. Why? Maybe because I know, how shu is produced, and also here in Slovakia only pu-erh available was very, very bad shu, so I somehow disliked that kind of tea.
Back to taste - the taste is smooth. Nice. Mellow. If you like the mustiness or fishy tastes in shu pu-erh, you will not find them here. Instead, the taste is sweet, woody, and earthy. In some reviews I read about floral notes - well, I do not found any of them. Just a very good shu, that last 8-12 infusions.
Wet leaves were dark and broken - probably as the result of my humble attempt to break the sample into pieces.
I tried a sample I got from Hou De (sold out). I also have two minibeengs (200g) I accidentally purchased just before the pu-erh bubble, but I decided not to open them, because of their quality. Let them sit at home and age.
The tea itself is probably sold out anywhere for a pretty long time, you could try its two years younger cousin from Yunnan Sourcing - but at your own risk, since I do not know, how tastes the fresh one. Or you can try the more expensive aged loose variant.