The first full-sized tea cake I ever purchased was the Zhijian 2016 “Serious Formula” young raw cake in August 2017 from a local tea shop in Sydney’s Chinatown area called Topotea run by Shane Shu. I was after a cake of young raw and Shane took me through a tasting session that included this young raw pu’er cake. I very much enjoyed the tasting, so purchased a cake for $75 AUD (21c/g).
Only now have I tried the tea for the first time since buying it, which means it’s time for a review!
Fairly thick mouthfeel, low bitterness, medium astringency. It has that typical ‘young raw taste’, although definitely at the sweeter end of what I’ve tried before in my (limited) experience. It’s quite forgiving, even when brewed for extended periods at high temperatures (I was brewing in clay). The ‘chaqi’ was very mild.
I think this is a great introductory tea for those interested in trying young raw pu’er and for those who don’t appreciate strong bitterness. For those who drink young raw as an ‘energy drink’ or want a sucker-punch to the mouth, this isn’t the one for you.
Later, as I learnt more about pu’er in general, I tried to find out more about this cake I now owned. It only had Chinese characters on the wrapper and , so it has taken me some work to (partially) translate. Of course, it’s essentially impossible to verify the information, so it should all be taken with a grain of salt.
The leaves were picked in early spring (2016, I assume) from high mountain big trees in Xishuangbanna, pressed in late 2016. I’ve seen some Chinese online vendors selling the same cake claiming the material is from Bulang Mountain (~1,400m), although it’s evidently a blend so other leaves may have come from elsewhere in the prefecture.
Shane suggested that this cake has good ageing potential, but I don’t have any kind of storage setup yet and am planning on just drinking through it.
Below is my attempt to translate everything on the label on the back of the cake wrapper.
Product name: Zhijian “Serious Formula” pu’er (raw) pressed tea
(I’ve also seen “认真配方” translated as “Conscientious Prescription”. Names are always hard to translate.)
Origin: Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
Ingredients: Yunnan big leaf cultivar sun-dried mao cha
Net weight: 357g
Product performance standard: GB/T22111-2008
生产许可证编号：QS5328 1401 0130
Production license number: QS5328 1401 0130
Storage conditions: In a clean, dry, ventilated, dark, odour-free storage place
Shelf life: In compliance with storage conditions, suitable for long-term preservation
Manufacturer: Nanqiao Tea Factory, Nanqiao Tea Company LLC, Menghai county
Producer: Zhijian Tea Company LLC, Xiamen
Production address: Menghai County Industrial Park, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
Production date: 17-Dec-2016
(I assume this is when the pressing occurred.)