Thursday, May 20, 2010

The 2006 A-Gu-Zhai Wild Arbor of Bulang

After realizing my interest in shengpu was growing ever greater, I decided to grab a sample of this, along with many others.  What caught my eye here was the plain white wrapper with the handwritten characters, along with the larger leaves and the fact that it wasn't from a major label.



                                  Sketchy photography is brought to you by yours truly.



This tea comes from the town of A-Gu-Zhai in the Bulang mountains.  The description on Yunnan sourcing doesn't say if these leaves are really from wild arbor trees, but a sentence claims that "Wild arbor trees between 200-400 years old are numerous."  For the sake of honesty and all things good, I'm not even going to assume anything about that sentence.  I don't want to lead anyone astray, since I don't even know if these are plantation leaves or what.  Either way, the dry leaf looks great right from the bag - big, well defined, and aromatic.




5,3,4,5,7,10,20



Given the light compression, I gave these leaves a five-second rinse.  The following first infusion came out complex and rich, with notes of dark leather, grain, spice, and a pleasant "creamy" sweetness.  The mouthfeel was thick - much more so than I expected for the first infusion.  The huigan was the icing on the cake, so to speak.  It was rich, carrying the previous flavors from the cup to my throat, where they lasted for entire minutes.

Each cup changed drastically, keeping only one or two characteristics through each subsequent brew.  The only theme that lasted all the way through was the rich mushroom flavor that sat on the front of my palate before fading away to sweetness.  The leathery notes stuck around for the first three cups, accompanied by an intense thickness in the liquor and a huigan enhancing ku.

The fourth infusion was the bridge between the first and last three cups.  It was literally a mix of what was left over in the early infusions and a sign of what was to come.  A roughness appeared with a light floral aspect, but the mouthfeel was still thick - just thick enough.

Cups five through seven dug deep into the leaf, revealing some very interesting flavors.  The mouthfeel was starting to thin somewhat, but I wasn't too concerned about that.  The common theme here was herbal - something similar to cinnamon basil, maybe even the juice from young italian parsley leaves.  By the seventh cup, the flavors had faded into a menghai like mushrooms and sweetness, leaving the pleasant herbal notes behind.

As far as Qi is concerned, this tea had it.  I was feeling it by the second cup, leaving me with a sleepy, warm feeling almost all over.  I fell asleep rather promptly, which is rare for me.

If you're feeling like trying something that is a step or two above the Menghai offerings, give this a try.






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