321 Tasting Notes
The RoTea sheng was nice, but completely failed to stir my chi in any way.
So I returned to the Wild Arbor. Nothing like it was last week. A very mild mannered tea, today. I must have used far too much leaf last time — or there was something in the air, in the water… something.
This is also failing to stir my chi. Maybe I’m just all blocked up, today.
After my experience with the Wild Arbor last week, it occurred to me that my concerns with this tea maybe were over blown. So, I unpacked it from the storage arrangement I’d created and decided to steep it again.
I’m into the second steeping now and I’m chuckling to myself that just a few weeks ago I thought this tea needed more age. This second steeping is downright soft for sheng — maybe I made some kind of error the last time I made it.
This is actually really good and has encouraged me to re-approach the Wild Arbor with less leaf and more respect.
The gloom continues. On the one hand, we need this hydration so desperately I dare not complain. On the other hand, aside from it being 70 degrees in February, this weather is reminding me of New England a bit too much.
I’m having company over later for tea, so I’m saving the complex leaves for later.
One thing I love about wuyi oolongs, and of course da hong pao is a premiere example of the breed, is that there is nothing unexpected or challenging about them without that collapsing into something mediocre.
Sometimes roast, age and the caramelization that comes with both is all you need to sustain you for a time. No flowers, no fruit, no wet stones, no sun bathed cabin wood, no moth balls, no deep stirrings in the dantien or yi.
Just a warm cup of soothing, excellent tea.
I think I must have scrimped on leaf by mistake this morning. This isn’t blowing my doors off like it did the first time.
Still an absolutely stellar tea, don’t get me wrong. But apparently it requires a truly generous pinch for short steeps to go well.
I’ve been hesitant to come back to the Yabao.
I admit that it intimidates me, and I have this sense that I’m somehow unworthy, not yet ready, for this tea.
But already things are going better than they did the first time I went through a series of steeps with it.
I used more buds, and while the results are still incredibly subtle, I don’t feel like I’m bursting blood vessels trying to taste something, here.
In the end, though, as interesting and unique as the flavor profile here is, I think I’d rather spend my money and effort on a good silver needles or bai mudan.
Alas, samples go fast.
And this one is gone.
Today this tea is completely kicking my head in.
After a good 18 steeps on the wang shu over the past day and a half, and today’s on again off again rainy day pattern, I wanted to take things to another level. I have wuji qigongquan tonight and I want to take that to the next level as well.
So one turns to sheng.
Wild Arbor is right. This tea is a haggis fueled Scotsman like my college roommate of 20 years past. Huge, rough, uncouth, but tenacious, warm and giving.
I cannot claim that I am enjoying the flavor profile right now. I feel like I am drinking cups of mothball soup with an insulation garnish.
But the energy is stretching straight to my toes, and fingers, and my yi has grown full and heavy. And right now, that is a delicious feeling.
Gongfu Madness returns!
Four steepings into a common pot. All 5 seconds.
The result borders on overwhelming in complexity.
This is why I love shu.
I have a confession to make.
My heretical tea behaviors may have gone too far this time, and… and I like it.
The other afternoon I was making a “help you get through your afternoon” latte for Liz (with coffee, which, for some reason, she still drinks ;) and I steamed way too much soy milk. I didn’t want a coffee drink myself, but I didn’t want to waste the soy milk. I thought about an earl gray or a chai latte, but Liz has been going through a lot of those leaves lately and I didn’t want to use them up on her.
What to do?
Evil thought: You have yunnan rare grade and it is fruity and sweet and strong.
So I did it. I made a soy latte using this tea. I know! What a horrible thing to do.
It was FAN. TAS. TIC.
And I’m not even that big of a fan of lattes.
Received a sample of this with my recent order. I’m glad I saved it until this week.
The past three weeks have been completely overwhelming. The dog going missing, work getting wrapped around the axle, complications for Liz with school and my first disc golf tournament this past weekend on a course I’m really not strong enough to throw at par.
So this week is a bit of a calm after several storms. And this is the right tea for that calm.
One thing I love about drinking really fine tea, is that it helps you realize all the things you couldn’t put your finger on about other teas you’ve had. We sampled a lot of green teas from TeaVivre recently, and also the ones Liz brought back from Japan, and I was always looking for some magic balance of strong, green flavors, pan roast flavors and soft sweetness that none of them was really up to providing. It can be a very frustrating chase, especially when you aren’t 100% sure what it would taste like if it were what you wanted.
This tea has it all. Barely. I’m into my fourth or fifth steep and the liqueur is still very light and very delicate. But it isn’t weak. There is that soft sweetness, but it is backed up with genuine greenness and the touch of the pan.
As much fun as it is to keep trying lots of teas, I do find myself often thinking “now that I found this, that fills this role, and I don’t need anything else, I’ll just keep this stocked.”
But we all know I won’t do that. :-)