Monday, February 28, 2011

1997 Menghai 8582

This enticing stuff was part of OTTI, number 9, for 90's sheng.  I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to try this, and i'm really thankful for it. This sample was from Brandon of Teachat.  Thank you!

I did two quick rinses of this tea due to the wet storage, and it didn't actually reduce the wet taste or aroma, but it was effective in making me feel a little safer.

The Leaf

I used 3.5 grams of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan: 10s, 11s, 9s, 12s, 10s, 45s, 1 minute, 5 seconds.

The first cup started out as I've known most wet stored sheng to taste: damp.  It didn't taste bad at all, with a nice spicy sweetness and a cleaner, more focused flavor than i've come across in other semi-aged sheng.  One major difference here is that the qi was noticeable to me almost immediately.

Cups two and three were much stronger, for whatever reason (I'm no expert here, and I doubt any of us are, really). The flavors were a touch sweeter, the body was thicker, the mouthfeel now somewhat smooth with a tiny hint of roughness coming through. Dampness in these two cups were rather overwhelming at first, but calmed down after a minute sitting in the cup.  The aftertastes were mildly damp and spicy.

Cups four and five had changed drastically - which didn't surprise me.  Some wet stored pu-erh will drop off in flavor or change suddenly, at least that's what i've tasted over here in the Old South.  A little dampness accompanied by acidity, spiciness, as in coriander, and a decent woodyness.  The mouthfeel was smooth at first, but changed into a rough, harsh liquor, while the body was solidly in the middle.
Cup Four

Cups six and seven were strictly downhill.  The body of the liquor had thinned, the flavors muted.  While it didn't have the longevity or depth of a tea with less humidity in the storage, it still had very enjoyable flavors and an ok qi.

If you can find something like this, give it a shot.  Whether you love it or despise it, it's still a learning experience - and given that we will always be students of tea, I figure an extra few lessons would be a welcome thing for all of us.

2007 Yong De Ecological Old Tree Pu-erh

I rarely get to taste shu pu-erh.  I've had maybe six or seven in my tea drinking career, but never gave them much thought.  After following what others had set as good before me, I became tired of it and pretty much ignored it all together.  This shu pu-erh was different enough (and good enough) to warrant a blog post.

First of all, this stuff had depth - which is something i've yet to come across in shu pu.  Secondly, I doubt it's claims of being old tree.  The leaves were medium sized at best, and nobody would spend time and use up precious natural resources from an old tree to make a cooked pu-erh.  It would be like making grape juice from an ancient french wine and then dousing it with sugar and added colours to make it more palatable.

I used two quick rinses on this stuff, as the compression on my sample was rather tight.

I used 3.2 grams of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan: 10s, 15s, 15s, 30s, 45s, 1Min & 15s.

The first cup was brewed too hard, but still enjoyable, with notes of  wood, spice, and a light earthy flavor that seemed slightly muddy and unfocused.  Letting the liquor cool further provided a little bit more sweetness, but still not that much overall.  I moved on to the next cup.

Cup two was sweeter now, with a more balanced flavor profile including the flavors of date fruits and a silky smooth mouthfeel, which was radically different than what I was feeling in other shu pu, such as the 2009 Menghai Hongyun, which was fading rather quickly in comparison as the tasting went on.

The third and fourth cup were quite similar: dark woodyness and sweetness along with some dampness.  The body had thinned slightly but the silky smooth mouthfeel was still present.  At this point, I began to feel warm and calm, something that I'd only experienced in high-end pu-erh's and oolongs, and maybe a green tea or two.

Cups five and six were beginning to fade, with an aroma reminiscent of a young sheng that had been brewed for a while: think floral, sweet, and light.  There weren't any earthy or dark, woody aromas to speak of here.
The flavor was still shu-pu, however.  Plenty of light wood notes along with a medium body and super smooth mouthfeel.  The sweetness faded rather gently, but was still noticeable enough to keep it interesting.

Overall, this was pretty good for shu pu.  I'd recommend it if you like depth that goes beyond that of what is offered in the Menghai cakes. Also, this tea was offered as a sample from Mosshorn!  Thanks!

See you next time!

The Green Poet

Monday, February 21, 2011

O-cha's Oku Yutaka Sencha

After being terribly busy for about a month, the dust has settled and my blog can begin again.  I love starting back up with a fresh mind, fresh spirit, and so on.

Today’s tea is more sencha.  A fellow teachatter, Mosshorn, sent me a sample of this in mid january, along with a good number of other different teas.

This isn’t quite deep steamed, nor is it purely medium steamed; it’s both!  Yes, long leaves and small dusty bits are in good proportion with this one.  Let’s see what we get.

I used a little over 3 grams of leaf in my Banko Kyusu, brewing only one 3 ounce cup at a time.  8, flash, 5, 3, 17.

The first cup, brewed at a relatively cool 140 degrees, came out more like a light steamed tea, with a light, vegetal sweetness and plenty of that fruit flavor and a sensation that reminds me of what some might call Qi.  Plenty of sugar snap peas and a light melon flavor too.

Cup two was still leaning more towards the light steamed side of sencha, but now with a  thicker body and solid umami that leaned toward the deep-steamed teas.  Plentiful herbal notes and what I could only describe as “bold plantiness”.  If I ever go into politics, I’m confident I can win, especially with bland, pedestrian descriptions such as the one above.  Green Poet for Guv’nor!

By the third cup, the flavors had moved into more familiar territory:  Cucumbers, Melons and Melon Rinds, along with a nice, low sweetness.  Cooler cups had a fleeting essence of peppermint along with a slight bitterness creeping around in my throat.

Cups four and five were mild, sweet, and lettuce-flavored, along with the ghosts of previous infusions. 

Overall, the Oku Yutaka had some pleasant flavors but lacked the smoothness I expect from a decent sencha.  Other brews with this stuff using different parameters gave very similar results.  Definitely give it a sample before committing, as with all teas.

Thanks for reading guys and gals.  See ya here, same green tea time, same green tea place.