Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
Finally, I may have used enough leaf to find this tea enjoyable. Packing my small gaiwan near to the top with these big twisted wires, I was able to get some really fun flavors out of this tea. The initial steep was a fruit and blossom bomb, with tons of white peach, papaya, and nectarine, all backed with subtle hints of cocoa powder, sandalwood, and white pepper. Underlying all of this was a subtle, silky texture and flavor of fresh, perfectly-cooked scallop meat, reminiscent of the really enjoyable pink shrimp flesh I found in a younger Hou De dan cong. Ramping up the amount of leaf and following Tea Habitat’s brewing guidelines (http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-brew-dan-cong.html) really produced a nice session this morning.
Prepared 10g in a seasoned 200ml duan ni squat shi piao style Yixing teapot. Rinsed twice to open up and remove small amount of broken down tea dust (rinses immediately poured off – about 10 second contact time). I progressed each infusion by about 5 seconds, starting at 15 seconds and finishing at 2 minutes and 45 seconds on the 28th infusion. Heated enough water for three infusions each with a downshift of 10 degrees C at most. Climbed from 80 degrees to just before a boil for the 13th infusion onward.
Leaves are clearly broken down and fairly oily – pretty luster. Coppery deep brown color with hints of silver and far-muted green tinted brown. A couple golden stripes here and there. While there are a lot of intact leaves, there is also heavier presence of twig and what looks like much older leaves mixed in than most of the new puerhs I get. In a warmed pot, the dry fragrance is a dry but cool oak woodland leaf litter mustiness with a faint mineral and black pepper spicy tinge. Hint of ripe red grape skins in there and crisp sweetness. Wet aroma musty and heady with just a hint of an aged port aroma… maybe a bit of clove and brandy. Liquor color is a gorgeous clear deep red with gold tint to the margins. Liquor aroma transmits mostly sweet mineral aromas with that crisp, toasty dried oak leaf and bark aroma as a base. Reminds me of the smell of canoeing down a clean stretch of creek on a cooler summer day with the smell of river rocks, willows, driftwood, sand and just a bit of algae mixing in a warming, relaxing medley.
All infusions shared a base of sweet toasted malt, slight tanginess of mineral clay and tannic dried leaves, incredible smooth and thick mouthfeel, and sweet woodsy lingering yet clean-feeling aftertaste with an evaporative orchid-floral effect. First six infusions were markedly different in prime attribute expression. 1st – mineral clay; 2nd – smooth cabernet sauvignon (ripe red fruit); 3rd – old vine zinfendel (peppery and plum); 4th – sweet toasted grains and dry eucalyptus wood; 5th – home baked wheat bread just out of the oven drizzled with honey (camphor afteraroma); 6th – hummus on toasted grain cracker with a touch of ripe plum and pear and very thin slice of 1-2 year old creamy cheddar cheese. Fruits gave way to a bit of moist leaf litter and bark aromas in later infusions, but the floral and sweet, toasty afteraroma and taste kept going. While the telltale water chestnut crispness started advancing through the 18th-28th infusions, I gave up long before the tea did. Dunno how many infusions I could’ve gotten out of this guy… The next morning I re-rinsed and brewed two pots with the old leaves 4-5 minutes with near-boiling water and it still tasted sweet, clean and mouthwatering but most of the unique flavor characteristics were gone.
Used this as the representative of an aged sheng puerh for my Ten Famous Teas of China tasting, and I feel bad for the folks who had to leave before we started brewing this beauty.
This is a very interesting tea. It is tightly rolled, unusual vs the other wuyi oolongs I’ve had, and looks fairly green in the rolled state, and unrolls to a deep green leaf. But the tea liquor reminds me more of a Dan Cong style of oolong—astringent, complex, toasted, sweet, spicy. And it has the ability to last through a dozen infusions easily, getting lighter at the end, but even the light infusions are still fruity/sweet/spicy.
I started this brewing with 3 grams of leaf in a 100mL red clay pot, water about 185 degrees, and infused at first for 30 seconds, and extended as long as 2 seconds by the end of the session.
This is probably the 4th time I’ve brewed some of this wonderfully delicate tea, but I goofed in a way that probably limited the potential of the infusions significantly: I used a too low leaf to water ratio, and I was let the water cool too long before the infusions—too much attention to the camera setup as I was working on photographing what I was doing. In spite of that, the tea was good!
Leaves are twisted, large, green to black, with a light sweet scent.
2.2 grams of leaf into my 6 oz glass pot, because the leaves are so pretty as they unfurl.
1st infusion 175°F/79°C 30", sweet, hay, floral, but too light, should have been longer.
2nd infusion water closer to 160°F/71°C (let it cool too long, misjudged), let it go nearly 2 minutes, again a very light, sweet, floral infusion.
3rd infusion 175°F/79°C several minutes, similar—light, sweet, floral.
4th and 5th infusions were with water just off the boil, several minutes’ steep, and were still lovely.
I’d try water closer to 195 and 30" steep with 3-4 grams of leaf for the same pot next time around; or 2 grams in my 2 oz gaiwans, same temp/time recs as above.
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Based on the reviews of others, I’m fairly sure that my brewing of this tea was inadequate. I didn’t get nearly as richly colored a soup, nor was there really much depth to what I brewed. That being said, I was a bit bummed out. I found the tea a bit shallow. It’s aroma was excellent, however. It showed the bright spicy cedar-wood character that I found in 2007 leaf, but also had a nicely aged caramelized plum towards the end that made it rewardingly balance, at least in scent. I’ll have to work on brewing this tea better, to get better texture and more flavor depth. I’m sure it’s there.
I received the 2007 version of this tea in my recent DanCong sampler. Again, only my second DanCong, so my experiences may be a bit naive. The aroma on this tea is amazing. Rich, deep super spicy cedar wood and roast. Bark, smoke, and pith. In the aroma cup, it just pours out sage, burnt field grasses, and sauna. Wonderful. The soup is much more caramel, grayish brown. The flavor and texture is a bit harder for me to handle. I thought it was touch coarse and bitter right up front, then it smoothes out, gives some of the cedar, a bit of caramel roast, and then a harsh, biting ash character. Light sweetness balances it a little, but the flavor of this tea seemed a bit uneven, which is unfortunate, because the aroma is killer.
Received as a three-DanCong sampler, this tea was actually my first DanCong, so my impressions may not be entirely valid. Regardless, I enjoyed this tea, although the overall flavor seemed a little light. I used around 3grams in my 3oz gaiwan. Started with 20s, 30s, and 40s steeps, then just went by intuition. The aroma was very snappy and complex. A lot of woody spiciness, fresh mums and peonies. The depth of the flavor and aroma held a very creamy super-fresh pink shrimp meat character. A bit of old bay, and creole seasoning popped up in the back of the throat. It gave out around the fourth or fifth steep. Nicely sweet.
This is a great example of what the Da-Yieh cultivar can express as a green tea. There’s lots of honey, raw nuts, and orchid florals. Not as pungent as similar oolongs, but still very expressive and juicy. I wonder if this tea is basket-fired, because it has a distinct, but fleeting, charcoal character in the back of the throat. While this is a delicious tea, in the end, it may be a bit pricey for the overall experience.
This has been one of my favorite winter harvest oolongs since i tried it in 2007.
Too bad I didn’t stock up on it before it sold out. Very easy to brew and lasts many infusions. The 2007 seemed a bit more balanced.
The smell is mildly floral and has a full bodied taste. A smooth buttery mouth feel. I tend to prefer winter harvest for Taiwanese tea and this one doesn’t disappoint..