pondělí 27. února 2012

1997 Hen Li Chang Bulang

Cold days call for warm tea. Thus, when I returned from -15° forest, where I was struck by a panic attack, I felt in need of good tea. The other day, friends were supposed to come to taste some of more aged tea from Essence of tea, so I thought we'd start with this one.

I did not take any photos in both tastings I did, concentrating on the tea solely. This may seem as some kind of weird wannabe zen, but it is not, it just came naturally. Photos may be found at http://www.essenceoftea.co.uk/tea/puerh-tea/aged-puerh/1997-henglichang.html

First time brewing it with the other two teachums, I probably used too much leaves. First brews were strong, sweet, aged, but very bitter - the bitterness did not transform or go away. I'd dare to call the first brews unpleasant. After five or so brews, the bitterness gradually vanished and was replaced by a pleasant, rather aged taste. Having good stamina, the tea has produced another 10 brews, so we parted as friends.

More about the second tasting, which was better: I used less leaves and it payed an immediate dividend. The taste was pleasant right away. Although it smells, looks and tastes aged already, that good "sweet bulang granary" taste may be still caught. I'm very glad for that, I wanted to see where good Bulang may get and was a bit afraid this one would be so aged that the retracing of taste development would be impossible. My worries were unjustified and, ultimately, uprooted.

After drinking more and more aged tea, my appreciation of them shifts from taste (which is mostly rather similar) to general feeling they give and their mouthfeel. If one would drink aged tea for taste, he could be easily disappointed. A month ago, I did a side-by-side tasting of 92 Da Ye maocha from essence of tea and 2007 Lincang Te Ji shupu. The taste was sort of similar indeed. The mouthfeel was what clearly distinguished these two teas from each other.

I do think that tastes can be described by words, to an extent. I lack words to describe the whole spectrum of feelings a tea's energy does though. I can say that this Bulang is calming, yet vibrant on the tongue - but I can say that about most aged teas too.

Getting lost in words here, I'll finish this tasting note by saying this is a very nice and worthwhile tea for a price which does not murder one's wallet.

Further reading:
Wu Xing Cloud
the_skua steeps

pátek 3. února 2012

2007 Haiwan Purple Bud

Purple tea all on my tongue
The purple taste lingers  so long
Actin' funny, but I don't know why 
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Or somehow like that it went...

        Note that the number of petals is, as in most flowers, a Fibonacci number...

These are purple days in purple haze, me throwing purple gaze on purple cakes. The day before yesterday, I've had YS Purple tea, yesterday, it was the 2007 Haiwan Purple bud about which I'll be writing now. Today, it's YS Purple tea 2010.

Some people say that in human beauty competitions, the asian girls always are the most beautiful (well, people say many things, others say the same about brazilian girls, european, etc.). In the world of tea, I fell in love with purple cakes (at least visually, though, to a degree, in the way of taste too). 

I tend to rather like Haiwan - not that they would always do great (or even good) stuff, but there are some nice cakes from them to be encountered. When I first opened the sample bag with the 2007 Haiwan Purple bud a year ago, the first thought was "Wow, Biff Tannen would loathe this tea...". You may remember him saying "I hate manure" on several occasions. The tea smelled absolutely like sweet, cow manure. I have tasted it three times from then, always feeling that this is an interesting cake, although never feeling like loving the tea really.

The dry leaves: 

The aroma of wet leaves is very thick, sweet, smokey-manure-fruity. 
I feel like saying "Impressive, most impressive" in the way here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVjOH7WeEKk&feature=related

The liquor is already orange, certain aged characteristics appear in the taste and the aroma. This cake is aging nicely so far.

The taste is, as the aroma is, sweet, smokey, manure (not nearly as unpleasant as one might think) and fruit. This is rather unusual (at least in my experience) - to have smokiness and heavier fruitiness in a single tea, I thought they XORed each other. The smokines was not as pronounced last year. Even now, it is not too powerful (as if the airplane carrying the sample has briefly flown over Guoyan TF) - however, I'd prefer if it was not present at all. 

The taste is harmonic, thick - just as I like it. The aftertaste is good. The smokiness is unnecessary, but it may be that it is from a sample which did not get a very good aging conditions. I actually quite enjoy the manure taste (which merges nicely with the purple-iness and fruitiness) - it is a normal taste, after all - often found in wine too. 

I enjoy this cake as it is rather unique and although I never felt like being absolutely in love with it, I'll be buying several cakes. I have felt the compulsion to drink it several times, being limited by its low quantity. Such a specific character for $22? Why not. When I get whole cakes, I'll add more photos here, as well as the report on the smokiness.

One more exam to go...back to backpropagation networks and the likes of them :)