Trying not to turn this into a blog or muddy what I and some of you are ultimately here for – tea reviews – but I JUST CAN’T HELP IT. This Da Hong Pao is my side piece and it’s nagging at me. I’ve had Prince’s ‘U Got the Look’ in my head for days.
The Bay Area had a 4.4 magnitude earthquake in January. Nothing crazy but since then, chunks of grout in the shower began falling out. I can now feel every single bus and truck driving by. The pots on top of the refrigerator rattle if I don’t place them just right. Each passing multi-ton people-and-things-mover brings the long slow rumble that marked the beginning of that earthquake. Two earth-shattering jolts made this fearless woman grip the sheets in a rush of terror. That’s how you know you’re alive. This old building shakes like a skeleton… rattle them bones. Somewhere I hear a knowing laugh. The grim reaper leaves nothing behind. City neva stops. Nothing ever stops. Some things just leave a bigger impression after passing through.
Holy crap this is a complex and dynamic tea. It’s past 3am and I should probably go to bed. Long and detailed review after I rest this vessel.
Some time later…
I tried typing a detailed review but I guess I wasn’t feeling it. Here, again, I fail at providing a completely objective review.
I wrote notes of the dry, warmed and rinsed leaf, as well as leaf aroma, liquor aroma and taste for each steep but I think this tea just needs to be experienced and for you to lose yourself in it. It instantly commanded my attention and I was sunk into a session for over three hours if that gives you a generalized view of what to expect. This isn’t an everyday tea. It’s intimate.
The leaf, aroma and liquor play a deep, dark dance with a wonderful roast, various forms of chocolate, the most vibrant raspberry I’ve ever tasted, blackberry, plums and currants of all colors, minerals, various nuts both raw and roasted, sweetness ranging from honey to burnt sugar to caramel, florals like orchid, violet and lily of the valley, different grains notably roasted barley, a rye spiciness, some coffee and char, dandelion greens, lettuce, dried cilantro, sage and wood. These were all just the most apparent. There are many fleeting nuances.
The mouthfeel ranges from sweet to thick and velvety, highly mineral but never biting, lightly bitter to astringent and drying. The aroma, tastes and mouthfeel linger…long. They are dynamic and pronounced yet it seems like they are willing to make room for each successive steep.
The energy I experienced was dark yet vibrant, intense yet calm, intuitive, open, introspective. I’d like to have a session in the evening with a few good friends (or anybody, really). The ones you only get to see when events align, the physical distance closes and every time you reunite, you pick right back up. The silken thread between you never breaks. I felt strong, aware and assertive. I wanted to bare my soul. There was expansiveness and closeness, accommodation and acceptance, like there’s room for more under this big red velvet robe.
So, yeah. Whew. Powerful stuff. I’m excited to see what a few more years’ age will do.
The next day I simmered the spent leaves for 5 to 10 minutes. Ambrosia.