334 Tasting Notes
I think the last time I did this, I put the tasting note under the pu-erh because I forgot you could just add teas to the system, including vendor name.
So here it is, “my” tea.
I put a tablespoon of each into a 16oz Beehive and then did four steepings (3 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec) and strained them off into a very, very big tea pot.
I’m already on my third cup.
I seriously considered calling this blend “Pipe Smoke and Pub Leather” but I didn’t want people to think it was a real blend by a real tea company, so I made the name obvious.
But that’s what this tastes like. You get the earthy bass notes of the shu, the sharp smoke of the lapsang, and the gently humming sweetness of the Yunnan golden to keep it from getting off the rails.
Reminds me a lot of Balkan pipe shag, actually (latakia, parique and cavandish).
I guess the good news, given I’m not a huge fan of this leaf, is that I’m already out of it!
Apparently I didn’t order very much.
I could see this tea working very well with dim sum, being light and soft but having a sufficient contrast to cut through all the pork fat and sugar.
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’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.
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.