119 Tasting Notes
I steeped this for a good 5 minutes, thereby ensuring that the the earthy, forest-floor flavor would be emphasized at the expense of any subtler flavors. That’s fine by me—what drew me to ripe pu-erhs in the first place is the muddiness. I’m more likely to do short, multiple steeps for green pu-erhs. This 2007 tea is very easy to drink: smooth and sparkly.
The sun comes out intermittently and teases us with spring, but when it leaves it feels like March. I’m not sure whether to have a fresh or floral spring tea to remind me that warmer days are coming or a darker black tea to warm my core. I spun the wheel and ended up with the last of this very nice Assam—not too heavy, pleasantly fruity, easy to drink straight any time of the day.
Word has it that the first=flush season is not a good one, so I’m glad I have some of this stellar tea left. It has held up well—a heady mixture of honeysuckle, peach and freshly-mown grass, with that singular muscatel essence that makes tasting first-flush darjeelings the non-pareil experience in the tea world.
I forgot I had purchased this and was reminded when I read Angrboda’s review. I brewed this western style for about 4 minutes. The infused leaf smelled fantastic—strangely, it reminded me of a hot day in the Florida Keys when the Bouganvilla is blooming. The initial flavor was chocolate and peanut but what lingered was a pronounced grape soda taste that reminded me of drinking RC and White Rock sodas as a child. The experience was similar to that of Master Han’s Wild Yunnan.
Overall, this is a mild black tea, with the typical Chinese black elements tempered by oolong fruitiness.
I’m always surprised when I read a person’s comment that teas of this type don’t appeal to him or her; I have to restrain myself from ordering every Yunnan golden fleece/bud/tip from every tea purveyor on the web. The first time I had one, I was hooked like the first time I heard Bob Dylan on my parents’ stereo 40 some odd years ago. I even promote this tea to non-tea drinkers (like my wife) who don’t respond to the Assams and Ceylons that make up most blends. How can you not love the creamy, honey-sweet caramel flavors of these Yunnans?
This one from Upton is a little more lemony and peppery than some, but still retains the characteristics that make you feel like you’re drinking from the very wellspring of tea itself.
Obviously, we’re dealing with a much different Yunnan black tea than the plethora of “golden” blacks with their rich caramel, and cocoa flavors—so much so that this tea seems more like a blueberry oolong: fruity, unassertive, with a kind of effervescence I find in herbal teas. I like it, but I place it alongside those teas (whites, yabaos) whose subtlety (not unlike a difficult poem) requires dedicated attention to unlock its flavors. If you drink a cup while working or reading you might very well forget you’ve had anything at all.
I had been searching for a good aged Oolong and I’m glad I found this excellent tea. Like a great roasted fruit compote, this tea has a great depth of peach and plum flavors. The roasting burnishes the sweetness with a nice bit of autmunal smoke, perfect for this crisp fall day. By the way, Stacy is a pleasure to do business with and added some great samples to my order, including a rarefied Keemun that wasn’t even on the web site yet. I’m giving the other teas I ordered from her a few tries before reviewing them, but they are all quality teas.
Okay, so I hate the appropriation of the word “artisan” by marketers to suggest that a product was made by hand in some remote workshop by a wizened old master who is the final link to some disappearing skill. It’s a sandwich for God’s sake! I am, however, a sucker for the word “ancient” when used to describe pu-erh tea.
It reminds me of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner: mellowed with age, but with an inner intensity. You see this old man at a wedding; he seems inconsequential. You’re prepared to be dismissive until he starts to tell his tale and you realize what he has to say is wise, mythic, elemental.
Okay, so maybe this raw/green pu-erh is not mythic, but it does have a mellow, sweet, round feel that suggests the ancient leaf. But be prepared, the energy packed in these leaves is like the intensity of the Mariner’s gaze. It had me up half the night singing Springsteen songs in preparation for a concert tomorrow night in Boston.