Thanks Obritten for this sample!
2009 XZH Jingmai
7.3g, simple syrup water, 212 f, 100mL gaiwan
dry leaf: light smoke, hay, tinge of medicinal
1x 10s rinse
wet leaf: light smoke, heavy on dried fruits
5s: thickened texture. light upfront w/ vegetal hint, and a crisp sweetness on aftertaste.
8s: stronger. touch of bitter, sweet aftertaste. A darker hint in background.
10s: smoky and hit of bitter. Aftertaste is slightly floral & creamy in away. Slight medicinal touch & nutty in a sort of way as well.
10s: still sort of sharp + crisp sugary aftertaste.
13s: sharp initially, with undertones of a honeyed sweetness. Lasting dried fruit in aftertaste.
16s: lighter in sharpness, with a fruity, pineapple-like note in aftertaste that lingers. A sort of medicinal hint in immediate taste.
20s. light smoky medicinal w/ slight bitter note. Aftertaste has a slight herbal component to it, ringed by edges of sweetness.
25s: lightened medicinal. slight crisp on aftertaste.
30s: similar, lightened. A slight woody note present upfront.
35s: like water but add light wood & some florals. Maybe a hint of mushroom.
45s: A sweeter medicinal.
1 min.: light w/ some fruit + an edge.
2 min.: only a light woody note remaining.
thermos overnight: light bitter & woody. Decent aftertaste, though much lightened.
a bit relaxing. Was tired when brewing, and the tea didn’t really add to the energy, though the caffeine is certainly present since I woke up several times throughout the night. Whatever cha qi is, chemical composition of water seems to affect it to a fair extent. Why is it that people have noted that it’s not always noticeable unless you pay attention? Is it that it’s not present in most teas, that it’s not getting extracted, or that it’s there and we’re confusing the effects for something else? All of the above? How does subtlety, depth, and perception of effect contribute? In my 9-5 this summer, we’re all heavily invested in the reproducibility of experiments (and sometimes I have nightmares about triplicate and standard error measurements). That carries over to my hobbies sometimes, so I can be overly meticulous in noting specific parameters instead of “going with the flow”, as it were. Neither approach has inherent flaws, but I wish there was better characterizing of it all, despite some inherent subjectivity involved.
Because I’ve never had a consistently good sleep schedule (a work in progress until who knows when), I can’t ever seem to totally separate calming effect of tea from just taking time to brew in detail and being tired enough from just slowing down or just really enjoying a tea (particular oolongs I’ve had in the past come to mind). In my memory though, the 1990s Liu Bao from Three Bears, 2004 YQH Jinhao Chawang, and this tea are the only ones I’ve tried that seem to have an effect that’s not wholly attributable to caffeine. This tea has had the lightest effect of the three, but present nonetheless. I’ve been reflecting as the other day I was reading a note for the 1990s LB wherein another reviewer noticed feeling really calm, and I realized that’s something I noted as well in my original review. At the time, I thought it was merely just the taste and my own quirks in preferences for silly novelties like having teas older than I am, and that was the first time I had considered that I might’ve experienced cha qi without knowing. The YQH Jinhao Chawang is inherently quite an interesting tea, in that my sample seemed to have preserved much of the florals despite the age, but looking back, I don’t think my reaction was just to the taste alone.
Since only a minority of reviews note ratios and infusion times (it’s tedious and clogs up the review, I get it), it’s hard to know if my experiences are just due to not leafing heavily enough (which seems unlikely? I’m not brave enough to do 1:10 quite yet, and the caffeine you’d get from that is borderline overboard, at least to continue sustainably without developing /too/ much tolerance), or if I’m just dense (which could certainly be the case, but I also reserve a healthy level of skepticism for the reviewers who experience “face-melting cha qi” in just about every single review they leave). I don’t have any answers, but hope that as the Western puer scene continues to expand, that we’ll start finding them!