Manufacturer: Kunming Ruipinhao Tea Ind. Co.
Source: Pu-erh Shop
Price: $13.93/357 g, or about 4 cents a gram.
(I use seven grams per pot (150 cc), so about 28 cents per pot.)
My first impression is that the dry material of the cake has a promising appearance. The cake appears well preserved, not over compressed with blue/gray/green leaves decorating the surface. I managed to excavate some nice chunks without having to break too many leaves or hack at the cake.
(The dry leaves are laying on a finished bamboo tea breaking tray.)
My Gong Fu tea ceremony was conducted with my Yixing pot designated for sheng/raw/uncooked/green pu-erh.Gong Fu for me is one rinse to warm pot, one rinse to awaken leaves, five seconds, flash infusion, flash infusion, five seconds, then variable depending on first few infusions.
First Infusion was light, with a MILD after breathe taste. There was a very mild smokey taste, barely detectable. The only thing I could think about during this first infusion was
...walking through a Chinese jungle at dusk, shortly after a rain storm, following my nose to a warm cabin where a fire was going...The second infusion has a more noticeable after breathe of freshness. Mild astrignecy was followed by a sweetness. The viscoscity felt good. There was no ugly bitterness, nothing sharp or overwhelming. This was not quite rounded tea yet, but you could sense with age it would mature. There are fruity/floral/melon notes floating around in the background. The mild smoky taste has gone away completely.
Third infusion was a bit stronger in that it was slighty darker amber/yellow. It also left a stronger after breathe than the previous infusion. Taste/smell of after breathe simply lingers and is quite enjoyable. Still somewhat subtle though.
The fourth infusion was darker, but about as strong. I let each cup cool just a bit, which allowed the tea to taste different, usually better. The after breathe lasted around 10 minutes even though it wasn't all that strong. I've had stronger tea before. Even though the after breathe is more pronounced in stronger teas, the intensity is higher, not always better for a young sheng.
I actually got around eight infusions, steeping about 1, 3, 5 minutes for the 6,7,8th infusions.
The spent leaves are beautiful. They are mostly large, intact arbor-like leaves. Some are more yellow, some your average medium green, and some darker, more oxidized looking leaves. The leaves felt strong and thick while I handled them. They were not fragile by any means. Some were fold in half the long way, and so I opened them up for imaging.
In summary, I am very excited about enjoying this tea again. Considering the whole leaves, the light and fresh after breathe, the numerous infusions without losing flavor, and the integrity of the cake as a whole, you get pu-erh that is good and will undoubtedly get better over time. This is as tasty of a young sheng as I've had, and I'm curious how the slight nuances will change over the months/years to come...