My yearly listening of a couple of Deathspell Omega albums back to back around Christmas time was today accompanied by an equally punishing tea – this white label Bu Lang. We don’t know the exact village where it’s from, but I found it to be unique and memorable. My initial impression was that this is probably the best sheng I’ve ever had, but it does get less interesting quite fast. However, it seems to last forever, I got 17 infusions, but a fair few were overdone and it still had steam when I (or rather my stomach) gave up.
Already the dry leaf scent is unlike any other tea I encountered, which is also probably I find it hard to describe. It is fresh, cooling, woody, and sweet, with a light fruitiness and notes of pine and forest floor. This unusual and elusive character is maybe even stronger in the wet leaf aroma, which is metallic, peaty and sort of ‘masculine’. Later on throughout the session I picked up also a wine-like aroma. In the empty cup, on the other hand, I could smell something close to an acacia scent.
Probably the most striking aspect of the first few infusions is the mouthfeel, so let me start by describing that. Already the rinse is oily, numbing, and throat-cooling. The subsequent steeps are then full-bodied, very thick, tongue-numbing, foamy, soft, and creamy.
The taste is bitter and vegetal with notes of honey, butter tart, flowers (such as sunflower), vanilla, and plum. The bitterness gives way to sweetness super fast and transforms into what is probably the strongest huigan I’ve ever experienced. The aftertaste is very sweet and crisp with umami notes as well as a kind of lemon-like flavour.
The cha qi is enveloping and strong. After three steeps I zoned out and I could ‘hear’ the music with my whole body – especially the feet.
However, after infusion 5 or so, the texture was no longer as intriguing and several infusion (that I brewed longer than I should have I guess) were very bitter tasting and somewhat acrid. There is no doubt that this tea can benefit a lot from further aging. I wasn’t as attentive to the tea in its late stages, but one note that stuck out to me in steep #13 is that of coffee, a slightly strange one to appear at this stage.
In any case, I would like to have a good Bu Lang sheng in my collection (which I don’t at the moment). If this tea remained as interesting as it was in the first three infusions, I would undoubtedly try to get it. As it stands, I will try to sample other teas from the region and decide later whether to get this one to age or not.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5M78jWUuJ4
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Coffee, Creamy, Flowers, Forest Floor, Honey, Lemon, Metallic, Peat, Pine, Plum, Red Wine, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood