334 Tasting Notes
As is the way in Houston, two weeks of daily rain have given way to crushing humidity and Summer heat. This afternoon I’ll need to go water the garden for the first time since my birthday, and if I can get the back yard mowed today, I’ll officially have the lawn “under control” and out ahead of rain growth for the first time since June.
Liz has been gone for six weeks and I still don’t quite have my life into any kind of new rhythm or routines, yet. Uncertainty about work and the chaos around the house have made it nearly impossible to settle down.
I need pu-erh to soothe the soul.
This leaf still amazes me. Neither the gnarled little nubs of a shou, nor the flat, hard sheng one picks off a brick, this tea looks like a high mountain oolong.
Nor orchids here, though. As Charles says: just SHENG.
I brewed up the last of this tea yesterday evening and throughout today.
I’ve been very distractible with work, and the gaiwan has been resulting in a lot of annoyed moments when I reach to find an empty cup. So, I brewed up full pots using quite a lot of leaf. Still more or less instant steep times, as though doing gongfu steeping.
The first three steeps produced a thick, frothing head when strained from the pyrex into the tea pot.
I’m on about my 8th steep at this point which means I’ve made something on the order of two gallons of this tea in the past 24 hours.
I am taking the last of it with me to qigong session in a few minutes.
I certainly hope that da hong of this quality proves to be far less elusive than we currently believe it to be.
(I don’t know why I can’t get the image to attach)
Well, it appears I am the first to get to talk about this 2012 pre-chingming da hong pao!
This tea is a real eye opener to the significant differences that time of harvest can make with a tea. After my rinse, when the aroma of the wet leaf reached my nose, I had to run back and double-check the canister. I thought I had the wrong tea! “It smells like tiguanyin” I thought.
An amazing balance is present here between a floral, green oolong, and an amber, roasted one. It really is almost like a blend of da hong pao and tiguanyin. The result really is a “best of both worlds” flavor profile.
We’ve been keeping a box of this in the cabinet for a long time now, and I never reviewed it as a hot tea (that I recall), but what I have been doing lately is steeping it cold, and the results are much better than the hot results.
I put 8 bags into a 3 quart vessel with tepid water, and stash it in the fridge over night.
The result is bright and green and that vegetal quality which is so great in expensive green tea and so lousy in cheap green tea is very muted here.
As I drink through the bottle, I keep adding back water (the tea bags are still in there) and I just keep drinking it down until the results seem to be getting thin, at which point I stop adding water. I probably get a gallon or two of green tea out of these 8 bags.
As refreshing as lemonade or sweet tea, but without the sugar, in Houston’s crushing Summer heat and humidity.
Sometimes I make this tea, and I stare into the cup, and I think “I wish I could quit you”.
There are days you just don’t understand why you like lapsang. Today is that day.
I love drinking this tea with lots of different steeping techniques because you get a different flavor profile every time. Today is a medium short steep in a big pot, and it couldn’t be more different from recent gongfu steepings. This pot is all sharp edges and bristling questions, like an arson investigator picking his way through the lingering smoke. There are days this is what you want. If today is not that day, I have found that small, very short steeps produce a much rounder, softer cup.
I haven’t had this tea in a long time, having long ago “upgraded” from this to Upton’s slightly pricier “Wang” offering.
But I’ve learned a lot about pu-erh since then, and I wanted to circle back around and see how this struck me differently, now.
First and formost, gongfu steeping brings out a much broader and brighter access to the “dusty, damp cave” flavor profile of this tea. I’m going to enjoy these leaves.
Birthday ==> shipment of teas!
How can you go wrong with “ancient forest”?
This is an unusual leaf. I’ve never seen sheng leaf that looks like this.
Excellently, this lack of the every day translates into the cup, as well. A thick, brothy cup is easily achieved and the flavor profile is bold and bright without being too wooly or sharp.
I picked this up on a whim as I was placing an order and I’m glad I did.
It has been raining for a week solid and forecasted for a week more (when did I get transported to Seattle) and this is a great “cozy” cup.
My ailment was improving nicely until I was forced to go mow the lawn in 100 degree heat.
So, I am going back to this old stand by to ensure a deeper sleep tonight.
I try to avoid using it too often so that it remains effective, and if I stick to that, it “really works”.
Liz hates the way Yogi teas taste, but I like the licorice esque sweetness.