Tea Joint has a sale on right now, so I figured it would be a good time to try out another one of their puerhs. Today I am drinking their 2014 Ba Da Shan! As with the last Tea Joint review I did, this tea isn’t actually pressed by Tea Joint, but they source their teas mostly from smaller producers and don’t give too much info. What we do know is that this tea comes from (obviously) the Ba Da mountains and the trees are about a hundred years old.
My sample was mostly broken up but the couple small chunks that I have are very tightly compressed. For the most part the leaves are on the smaller side, though there is a mix. The dry leaf smell is dry earth, hay and a light, brighter note that I can’t place my finger on. All earthiness vanishes after a rinse, and the wet leaves take on a spicey and fruity tone, with cinnamon coming through strong combined with peaches and apricots.
For this session I am using 3.8 grams of tea in my 55ml gaiwan, 95C water, and infusion times starting at five seconds and increasing by five each additional steeping.
Ba Da Shan starts out warming, sweet, bread-y, and woody with a savoury aftertaste. It’s all lows and mids with no top end at all, and is silky smooth on the tongue. Infusion two maintains the previous notes and is joined by a slightly metallic brightness and an astringency that is upfront but not overpowering. Alright… I take that back. Oh boy, does that astringency grow. It’s not bad as you are drinking, but slowly after you put the cup down it takes out all the moisture in your mouth. Time for some water. The third steeping gains a green apple taste with a bit of sourness and a light camp fire-esq smoke.
Ba Da Shan leans heavier into the smoked apple taste for infusion four, and some herby notes pop out ever so slightly. Tea Joint’s description says mint and eucalyptus – I would for sure agree with mint. It’s subtle, but definitely there. Woodiness moves back up to the front and I am getting strong campfire vibes again, although the actual smoke taste is faint. Bitterness and astringency take a huge leap up for the sixth infusion and I’m getting a bit of sheng gut. Under the bitterness is buttery almost burnt toast and (again) wood.
Bitterness subsides a bit but astringency is holding out strong. The late steeps here are sweet and buttery in taste, with the most up front notes being damp wood, mint, and toast. I got eleven good infusions out of the tea before it took a drastic drop off and ended quickly after that.
Tea Joint’s 2014 Ba Da Shan is a simple but great tasting sheng that has a little bit of a scrappy kick, though I think that could be easily smoothed out by adjusting brewing parameters. With the current sale combined with the plummeting Canadian dollar, this tea comes in at $0.17 USD/gram. In my opinion, that’s an exceptional value for what you’re getting and makes this tea hard to pass on.