Note coming soon- I need a little bit of time to share my thoughts on this one.
(simple summary: incredible)
So – this tea is really cool. Every time I think about someone trying this for the first time, I’m so pleased and proud for them! I think, “Oh- you lucky person! You’re about to have a real treat. Lucky….”
This is a shu pu’er, and by now, it’s almost 13 years old. I’m always impressed by this, not because it’s just old, but because it is clearly so fine. From my understanding and experience of old shu’s, things this old and older generally just taste really musty and (well) “old”- any further complexity is usually just straight dirt or heavy sweetness. They’re boring, and why not? Shu pu’er was (and still is) a relatively new thing, still being perfected as something more than swindler-trying-to-sell-you-fake-old-sheng.
But enough of those- onto this one!
Whenever I’ve gone to one of their tastings that includes this tea, Verdant always has us try this tea last. Thank goodness! It would be so unfair to the other pu’ers to start a tasting with this tea. It is the culmination of an afternoon’s education, and the glimmering hopeful promise of all that could await you in your future tea-life.
How can I describe the taste of this tea? Sure- I could tell you all of the things my tongue is telling me: sweet, sparkling / musty like a grandest library, full of books and the feeling of shared knowledge / incredibly crystalline and light-weight, almost like a vapor / the guilty pleasure of the smell of book-binding glue in new books, or the back of a stamp, or fresh-minted money / clean vegetal sweetness, like celery or grass after the rain / lunar.
All of those things are true, but (as Nate has said, and as others will surely corroborate) the real strenght of this tea comes with the connections and memories it pulls out of you and the company you drink it with. Do not drink this tea if you do not want to reminisce. Do not drink this tea if you do not want to find yourself opening up with honesty and truth to those you’re drinking with. Drink this tea with good true friends, or with people you really want to know better. Drink this tea if you’re willing to still yourself and listen to what it could help you uncover, if you want to meet again a younger version of yourself, and if you’re ready to revisit the places of your youth.
This is a quiet tea. This is a tea drinker’s tea. This is a tea for memories, and a tea for honesty, and a tea for connections. If you like tea, then this is a tea you just have to try.
It’s pretty inconceivable, but this tea could continue to age and grow! I cannot imagine where this one might go in another ten or twelve years, and I do not know if I’ve got the self control to make it that far on one canister.
Also, the tin mentions that there was an even higher grade of this tea produced, but it was reserved solely for state dignitaries. Incredible. What must that taste like now??
For now- I will hide the tea in the back of my closet, at the bottom of my box of pu’ers. I will save this for special occasions, or for very beautiful, rainy days. I will keep going to Verdant’s tastings, and I will be sure to stick around for the end.