For some time now I have been rather busy and using a lot of my time revisiting teas I’ve had before, and not so long ago that I would consider them to have changed sufficiently to warrant a new note. Today, however, I decided to try my first puerh from this vendor, a prospect I met with some excitement and a tiny frisson of dread.
Regular readers of my tasting notes (both of you) may recall that I have, on occasion, had some unkind verbiage to describe the ichorous nature of wetter stores cakes I have tried. However, Jay has described many of his traditionally stored cakes as being on the milder side of the sort. Is this just because Hong Kong has inured him to the inherent dampness he is surrounded by, or would I, a Midwesterner who is mostly familiar with Kunming storage and points even drier on the spectrum, agree? Only one way to find out!
I sessioned this in a gaiwan, as I was unwilling to risk introducing funk into my clay pot reserved for aged tea. This could shed a harsher light on the tea, but it was a sacrifice I need to make, as truly nice teapots aren’t all that easy to come by around here.
I went with the double rinse protocol as suggested on the site. The rinse liquor came out a deep amber, then on the second go almost ruby. The clarity was definitely impressive for its age and storage, but there was definitely a noticeable whiff of storage about the gaiwan lid and rinse vessel. Still, the brew looked so inviting I was hardly deterred from promptly proceeding to a first brew.
There was, in the initial stages, an ever-so-gentle reminder of the origin of this tea. The flavor held just a soupcon of humidity, but was immediately overwhelmed by the smooth, pleasantly viscous sensations provided, and a lasting, enjoyable finish. There was more “tea” left to it than some unfortunate examples I’ve had previously, but barring excessively hard brewing, the bitterness was all but gone.
I don’t know how many brews I made of this tea, although doing math with gaiwan size and water consumed would imply it was solidly in the teens. It was incredibly easy to drink, while not being boring at all. There was not a lot of variability throughout the session, other than a very gradual tapering of some characteristics as the steep numbers piled up.
In short, I find this tea to be exactly as advertised, and a wonderful example of a selection which has been curated by someone who seems to really understand both the Western facing audience and the holes in the market which could be filled. I consider this to be good value for the money based on my admittedly limited knowledge of the market, and I am tremendously excited to see what else is on offer.
That being said, however, this isn’t precisely the tea that is just for me. I suspect the 8653, touted as “light traditional storage”, might be more prone to grab that title as while I will have no problem happily quaffing the remainder of this tea and enjoying it thoroughly, I suspect I want just a hair more initial character to remain. This is really nitpicking, though, as the texture and flavor of this tea opened my eyes to new possibilities for aged sheng.
The only thing this session has left me regretful about is that I didn’t buy more of his oolongs to try as well!