In 2016, Bitterleaf Teas released their first spring production and part of that production was 2016 Secret Garden — a tea sourced from right outside of Yiwu and made from an actual secret garden, and is a 2.5 hour hike into the forest to reach these 100 y/o tea trees. However, due to a price increase in material, Bitterleaf Teas sourced a Manzuhan region tea tree material for their 2017 version of Secret Garden. However, due to popular demand, they went back to the original secret garden for their 2018 version of this tea. Since I drank the entire 200g beeng of the original Secret Garden in just a few months, I knew I had to buy the new version of this tea. So how does it hold up to its original version? Is it really worth the near-double price increase? Lets find out!
Dimensions - 4.6g for a 70ml vessel
Beeng Price - $135.00 USD for a 200g beeng
Water Temperature - 190ºf
Number of Steeps - 12
Steeps 1 - 6
2018 Secret Garden first opened up to a light medicinal forefront with a faint sweetness in the back of the mouth. After another few steeps, the tasting notes of milk and cream made itself known as its soup was clean and clear. By the fourth infusion, this tea kept opening up as it held a light green-grass base that mixed with the medicinal forefront, which left a light lingering stevia-like humid sweetness in the throat.
Steeps 7 - 12
2018 Secret Garden was in full swing, as its medicinal creamy body was hitting heavier than before. It’s green-grass tasting notes turned into tasting notes of hot hay, and left a very faint fruity aftertaste on the sides of the tongue. Although this tea was getting thicker, by the ninth infusion, it felt like it wanted to keep pushing a thicker mouthfeel forward, but still tasted relatively wet (from recent pressing) and couldn’t go forward. Despite that, it left a everlasting steamy sweet impression of sugar in the throat, and seemed to last for a lengthy period of time. However, by the twelfth infusion, this tea was starting to lose stamina and was time to put away.
2018 Secret Garden is a new sheng puer released by Bitterleaf Teas, and is a come-back from their 2016 production of the same name. Right off the bat, when brewing this tea, I was reminded of the 2016 version due to its tasting notes. One thing I liked about this tea is how clean and clear the soup was. Another thing that I liked about this tea was its ever lasting throat sweetness which seemed to linger longer and longer as the infusions went on. However, despite that this tea has a lot of positive attributes, it came up a little thin and still showed evidence of being wet from recent picking and pressing.
Overall, 2018 Secret Garden is still very fresh and could heavily benefit from resting for another few months before being consumed. You see, when it comes to teas that are on the more delicate side, they seem to be more affected by pressings and need to cool off for a while. However, despite it still being wet tasting, I still broke out in a hot sweat from this teas energy — which is something that I don't remember from the 2016 version. So while this tea is nearly double in price, is it worth the money? Well, since the 2016 version of this tea was one of the very first beengs that I ever bought (when I first started drinking tea), it brought up many memories of being a young tea drinker. So I must ask, can you really place a price on nostalgia? To me, it’s priceless….