Aha! The famous duck shit aroma. I had read about Ya Shi being not very nice, and actually bought this one by accident, just using the description on the website.
Im glad I did, for two reasons -
One: its very interesting, (read: totally lovely)
Two: Made me realise how nicely kinaesthetic tea is to me. I struggle to think of what the flavours & aromas are sometimes, I don’t have the breadth of knowledge of smell that some of the reviewers here have (Amanda Wilson im looking at you). But I do have a kinaesthetic way of thinking about sound, taste & aroma, by way of colours generally in day-to-day life. And this one I just couldn’t describe apart from it is just so goddamn purple. with black & white stripes.
Imagine a lovely oily Dan Cong, but wearing a stripey gown made out of purple & black velvet, with silky white trim. That is how the aroma smells. Maybe its because I dont know the flower (maybe? definitely). But because ive got no point of reference I just get a burst of colour information thats bloody marvellous. The oil is rich, full, delicious, with a silky fuzzy aroma, that when i exhale through my nose, reminds me of something else thats also delicious. AND then its the aroma of the steeped leaves that really floors me again. I am just inhaling it over and over again, then sipping on the oily liquor. Its really that nice. Inhale – beautiful sweet, rich, aroma of purple velvet, sip – gorgeous oily liquor of silky creamy something, exhale – delicious something or other. It really feels like an old tree Oolong that’s mastered it’s craft.
There emanates a creamy aroma present from the liquor in the second & third steeps, and a gorgeous mellow chaqi cloud thats enveloped my head with an almost caramel feeling. I absolutely love the huiguan you get from certain Dancong. Grapes, astringency, more grapes, then i sit down and realise how nice the feeling is. “purple haze, all in my brain” comes into my head. It even selects good music to play. haha.
Later steeps lost their vibrancy which was a shame (edit* this is not the case, it can steep like a mofo, all day in fact), but I kept going because I just wanted to rinse the chaqi to see where it would go, and in doing so I oversteeped and made it bitter. Only five seconds too much, but it was enough. Grapes huiguan became grapes with pips huiguan. (well, not that bad but you get the idea) and after that the sweetness was lost and I finished.
So yeah, I really like this one. You need to brew it correctly. I generally have Allan K’s 5,5,7,10,15,30 in my head as a starting point, and try to adjust, but alas I wanted too much than it was willing to give, turning the 15 into 20, using water too close to boiling and ruining it a bit…. Booooo…. Or, maybe quack?
Still, that first few steeps were totally gorgeous, and for me, who usually gets images of recognisable things like plants, places, foods & drinks from tea aroma, its like absorbing a piece of abstract modern art. A big swooshy purple thing that swooshes into your brain. SO good.