Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 2009 Haiwan Pasha Mountain Organic pu-erh

When I had first read about Haiwan, it seemed to me that it was mostly bad news.  My education has taught me that no matter how much someone praises or criticizes a certain tea, the best experience lies in tasting it yourself.

Thar be the Leaves...

This leaf was aromatic - much more than I had anticipated, given how I had preconceived notions about this tea (a big no-no on my part).  The sweetness reminded me of gummi candies, the kind with the slightly tart tasting ingredients to help balance out the sweetness.  The aroma of  sweet peas and purple coneflowers hinted that this might be very, very strong.  From my experience(and my water and brewing techniques) super-sweet smelling teas can be rather bitter.  I do not know the reason behind that, but I'm sure I'll find out one day!

8 second rinse,
5, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 12 

Despite the risk of bitterness, I added about 7 grams of leaf.  That is slightly more than I would usually add, but I figured I could always remove leaves if it became overwhelming.  Sure as sunrise, the first infusion was bitter, but not too bitter.  In fact, it added some interesting dimensions to the flavor:  Mid-level white wine, tropical fruits, cereal grains, and various spices.  One of the more interesting aspects was the mouthfeel, which was already quite thick.  I wasn't expecting that, but I wasn't complaining either.  The aftertaste continued on for a while with more fruity flavors - pineapple, slightly under-ripe mango.  Interesting!

The second infusion was the other more interesting cup, with an even thicker mouthfeel and grain and sweetness flirting with a Xiaguan darkness and tobacco.  As the liquor cooled, hints of smoke came through, which seems to explain the lack of bitterness in this one.  Dryness and fruit follows in the aftertaste.  

Cups three through five showed a slight increase in acidity, with basically the same flavors of smoke fading into creamy leather notes with sparks of grain and fruit zapping my tongue.  The drying, fruity aftertaste continued on.
Cup Five- the Turning Point

By cup six and seven, I reminded myself that all good things must come to their end.  The flavours faded gradually, while the acidity increased alongside the bitterness.  By the 7th cup, it was basically hot, bitter water with a rough feel.  

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this stuff.  I didn't get an insane amount of bitterness, and the roughness arrived when the tea was at it's end, which is just fine.  Due to it's complexity, I think that this tea would be a decent candidate for aging.  If you have the money (I don't) then give it a try and see what it does in your individual storage conditions.  Thanks for reading!

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