Monday, May 31, 2010

2008 Xiaguan Bao Yan Jin Cha

There's something about this tea that is very interesting to me.  Of all of the young sheng that I've tried, this one lacks that intense bitterness, astringency, and acidity that I often experience during my brewing sessions.
                                                                                  chop chop chop 

Viewing the dry leaf reveals a dark, leathery aroma with little to no "brightness".  Brightness for me describes the presence of sugary or floral aromas.  There is a tiny amount of mellowed smoke, not unlike the smell of a bonfire about 4 or 5 days after it has been extinguished.  

The leaves are also chopped.  When I was less experienced with pu-erh, I may have discredited this tea as being inferior due to it's chopped leaves.  Today,  I believe that a pu-erh can be good regardless of if the leaves were chopped or not.  

Five Grams, Cloud Method, 80/20 Chunk/Loose mix
5, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 22, 30, 30

The flavor theme of this tea was leathery, tobacco-like darkness.  The cloud method didn't work as well as I hoped it would, due to the intense compression of the four gram chunk that I had thrown into my gaiwan.  As a result, my first couple of brews were rather light coloured, rather than being a more robust yellow-orange.

The flavor in cups one through three were practically the same, with notes of dark leather and freshly cured tobacco.  The chunk had finally broken apart by the end of three, so cup four had an intensely thick mouthfeel with deep, rich leather and tobacco mixed in with a sugar plum-like sweetness and hints of mineral.  

Cups five through eight were simply a continuation of the flavors from the beginning, with the addition of a slight roughness on the tongue.  There was Qi, starting at cup seven - very calming and sleep inducing, which isn't good when you have to be somewhere for memorial day celebrations.
By cup eight, my pores were opening up.

Cup nine was the odd one out.  I had expected almost no flavor, given that cup eight was so weak.  By some miracle, however, the flavor was back.  Notes of mushroom and earth made themselves known - in fact, it was very similar to shupu. 

                                                                                       The Elusive Ninth Cup

Overall, this tea was very enjoyable, but I suspect that some special processing was carried out in order to achieve those dark, rich flavors.  I'm planning on ordering a few of these to see how they age.
Also, this is an excellent cold weather tea.  The qi is comforting and warming, and the rich flavors are quite pleasant.   

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