Every language has its own great advantages. I love English- the adjectives to summon forth are some of the best I have encountered (especially for visual concepts). However, our language is a bit more limited when it comes to taste, texture and smell. This is where Chinese comes in.
I took a rainy Qingdao day (In Seattle they call it a “marine layer”, in Qingdao, they say it is misty) and sat with Wang Yanxin drinking tea. Every pu’er she pulled from her mysterious back room stacks tasted like seeing a new color for the first time. I was learning about “sticky rice” aroma, “fruit” aroma, etc in the context of pu’er all were so bracing. After drinking teas at that level, you just want to fast because it seems wrong to bulldoze the ethereal aftertastes lingering on the palate. (Usually I would give in though and stop for charcoal roasted fish and shrimp on a stick while walking home.)
When Wang Yanxin brewed up this Yiwu, I can say in earnest that tasting it felt like being reunited with an important part of myself that had gone missing. She described the flavor as “zhang.” Apparently, zhang is a flavor used to describe the cooling sensation and herbaceous complexity that a wild picked pu’er picks up when growing in a forest with cedar or fir trees. It is a certain sensation in the back of the throat and tongue that is almost electric in its tingling cooling qualities. This taste felt like being reunited with my home town, my childhood heroes, my best friends.
I love zhang. I seek it out in everything now. Fine gin, birch beer, juniper berries, some kinds of tulsi. Zhang feels like pure energy melting on the tongue. This brick of yiwu was the first tea to give me that. It is what inspired me to understand that tea is more than flavor, texture, or aroma- it is energy, memory recall, connection to the land, and a synergy of all these put together.
Why do I leave a tasting note on this tea after so long? Because I am so excited to share the fact that Wang Yanxin agreed to get me a later 2004 pressing from the same workshop, and the 12 cakes I could import have arrived. Last time we were able to secure a few bricks of Yiwu, they sold out in 1 week and a half, so I am very excited to offer these up again. I hope you enjoy this tea as much as I do: http://verdanttea.com/teas/stone-pressed-yiwu-wild-arbor-sheng/