97

Wow, life! I finally had time for a gongfu session tonight.

This tea has really evolved into something special for me after unintentionally aging it (heh) for a few years. Spicy with sandalwood and camphor atop a thick, mellow, sweet and fruity base that’s almost like red apples and raspberries mixed with soymilk, white mushroom broth and cacao. Initial steep is still a tad drying in the throat, or as Togo mentioned, constrictive. That feeling fades out into a persistent warming, bitter, woody spice like Saigon cinnamon mixed with dark chocolate as a lighter layer in the aftertaste of red apples and lychee blooms ever bigger into osmanthus. At first the tea was very warming and caused me to sweat but that camphor cooling took over in the mouth about midway through the session.

What a damn delight! Interesting, engaging but not difficult or fussy — fun texture, forward top layer of spice and incense, subtle and complex with mid/base tones and notes, bright minerality, with every steep a slight change and nothing out of place. Still a soothing buzz, alert yet relaxed despite using a ton of leaf. Wonderful cooler weather, after-dark tea.

Speaking of leaf, I’m as in awe of these leaves as last time. They had been twice lightly roasted and before brewing look darker than other baijiguan I’ve tried; the spent leaf though is clearly baijiguan — very pale compared to other Wuyi oolong cultivars or varietals and possessing some beautiful oxidation.

After tonight’s performance, I’m not concerned about clearing one of the oldest teas from my stash. This one can obviously sit around longer if I can keep my hands off it!

[8g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 205F, 10s rinse (drank — yum!), uncounted steeps starting at 10s]

Song pairing: Biz Markie — Just a Friend
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aofoBrFNdg

Flavors: Apricot, Broth, Cacao, Camphor, Cinnamon, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Lychee, Milk, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nectar, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Raspberry, Red Apple, Soybean, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Thick, Wet Wood, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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