I am having one of those great moments of furniture confusion. See, I am a teaware hoarder, pretty openly and obviously, I love that I hoard these beautiful treasures…what I don’t love is how they are all stuffed inside drawers instead of beautifully displayed. I need a curio cabinet! The bit of conflict is, do I want to troll all the thrift stores in hopes of finding a perfect (and affordable) curio cabinet, or do I want to get a bookshelf and make a door for it myself. Making a door would mean using screen or wood lattice instead of glass (and glass worries be a bit because one of my cats is immensely dumb sometimes) It comes down to cost and size of course, but blast it all I want to be able to open a door and look at my displayed teaware!
Speaking of teaware, I got to break out one of my favorite teapots for today’s tea, Teanami’s Palace Pu Erh (Ripe 2005) lately all my shou drinking has been in my ruyao pieces, to darken the crackles, meaning I neglected my shou yixing I got for my birthday last year. Also known as Gong Ting, this is the highest grade of Shou Puerh, full of lots of buds, this is the loose version (I also have a sample of the 2007 Palace Mo Hei I will be writing about soon) and from the moment I opened the tin I was happy. No strong duiwei! Granted I figured the chances of this being present in a 2005 gong ting shou to be fairly minute, but man, I loathe that smell/taste, it gave me a migraine and killed my enjoyment of shou for years, so anytime I take that first sniff and it smells safe I am immediately happy. (Granted had it smelled funky I would have just aired it out, like I do when I get a funky pu, but I digress.) So the aroma, it is sweet and earthy, like wet wood and wet leather with caramelized brown sugar, molasses, and a a tiny bit of mineral at the finish. It is very rich smelling and delightfully sweet, just the way I like my shou! I found myself lingering with my nose in the pot sniffing the leaves for a while, long after my kettle had roared to life.
After my initial rinse and flash steep, the aroma of the now soggy leaves is sweet and thick, strong notes of wet wood, wet leather, brown sugar, and cocoa blend together for an aroma that feels heavy and inky, like I am sinking into a forest floor that is also made out of candy. The liquid from this first steep is nicely sweet, notes of cocoa and molasses mix with loam, wet wood, and wet leather.
In my Puerh fashion, instead of covering each steep (we would be here a while if that was the case) I am going to cover beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was great, from the first steep onward I noticed a nice thick mouthfeel that coated the mouth, I felt a great soothing warmth in my body which was enjoyed. The taste starts out sweet like molasses…and I am not even kidding here…tapioca pudding. This was a new note for me in shou, but I am legit ok with it. Towards the end of this ‘section’ notes of slightly bittersweet dark chocolate creep in and linger well into the aftertaste.
The middle brings the richness, with notes of dark chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, and wet wood. It is heavy and dense in mouthfeel and just overall feel, I found myself being very relaxed and wanting to nap. The aftertaste lingered long after the cup was empty, with notes of bittersweet chocolate and a touch of wet wood.
Towards the end of the middle steeps, a touch of wet leather showed up and stuck around til the session was finished, which, if you were curious, was twelve steeps. Technically I could say that it was ten, because the last two were really light, but I wanted to milk this tea for every drop of flavor it had, it was tasty! It has all the things I really like in my shous, notes of earthiness and sweetness, intense richness, and the feeling of being bundled up in a warm robe on a cold day. Also that tapioca note at the beginning was odd, but super delicious! I feel that when my sample runs out there is a fairly high chance I will get more.