Thursday, March 31, 2011

1970's Liu Bao

Well, this is different.
This is liu bao.  I’ve had it before, but nowhere near this old.  This small amount comes as a gift from Kenny.  Thank you!

The leaves are dark, smallish, and broken with a tiny aroma hinting at sweetness and camphor.  I try my best to note the differences between this one and a few other liu bao samples I have at hand, one of them being a newer one also from Kenny.  In comparison with other teas, I’m inexperienced with this type and fail to smell any difference in the dry leaf.
The Leaves

I used 4.4 grams of leaf in a 100 milliliter Gaiwan for this session.

The first infusion opened up strong - bitterness and a dark chocolate flavor along with a note similar to cooked pu-erh.  The mouthfeel is extremely smooth, while the body is average.  This is the first infusion, so I understand that the leaves haven’t really awakened yet.

The following two infusions showed what the tea was like when it really opened up.  The body in cup two was thicker, and the smoothness remained the same.  The sweet flavors had increased somewhat, showing themselves to be similar to caramel and toffee.  Mellow would probably be the best way to describe that.  Also, a pleasant forest-floor type dampness appeared, which was followed by the first hints of camphor.

To me, the third infusion was where the flavors, body, mouthfeel and qi of this tea peaked. The smoothness of the liquor was actually distracting from the other facets of the tea at first - think of a really fine chocolate pie from a nice restaurant.  Got it?  That’s the kind of smoothness I experienced.  The qi was dominant around my head and chest, with a warm, pulsing sort of feeling.  It was calming, but not sleep inducing like i’ve felt in various other teas.  Cup four was practically identical.
The First Cup

The fifth infusion was where the body began to thin.  A small, light sweetness and a more subtle earth/ damp forest floor flavor would fade in and out, various facets of the flavors making themselves known as I swirled the tea around in my mouth.  The mouthfeel was still smooth, and the qi just kept on coming.

The last two infusions were pretty interesting.  I figured that brewing it longer (about two minutes each) might make a decent, yet somewhat weak cup.  The first cup was actually rather flavorful, with a moderate, bright sweetness and a hint of red plum.  The following cup was very weak, with a simple brown ‘leafy flavor’ and a light soapy note.

Overall - if you can find this stuff, at least try it.  I mean to say, try it if it fits into your budget.  It’s quite fine, with a pleasant qi, smooth body, and a mellow palette of flavors.  There’s nothing quite like experience.

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