sobota 2. června 2012

Taking tea outside; 2000 Song Zhong

After a very pleasant outside tea session with the remains of 80s bamboo wrapped tuocha (which, again, performed very well), I went outside again today, taking a sample of 2000 Song Zhong Dan Cong with me.

The place of choice today: 

I unpacked all the stuff, lit the charcoal and lied down at the ground... taking a rest for a while, at last. Yesterday (actually, I'm posting this few days later than when I wrote it), I have beaten a rather difficult exam from mathematical structures (no really difficult theorems, but several nontrivial and zillions of small lemmas and properties of various, mostly rather boring, structures), therefore I thought it would be nice to sit down outside with a good tea. Feeling bad, neglecting wulongs lately, I took this 2000 Song Zhong with me.

Thinking about the exam and oncoming AAMAS, the water on the stove got to a more active stage, waking me up.
kettle lid
sings along the wind
rising to the sky

What I really like about drinking tea outside is that I am never alone - all kinds of wonderful small critters provide a welcome company (and, on top of that, my girlfriend and mother accompanied me today too, being wonderful mid-sized critters):

 A grin like Marlon Brando in the Godfather, isn't it?

Are the things in the front eyes on cables? 

I bought today's tea from Longfeng in 2009 (at that time, the cost was about $70 per 50g). I believe that it is the same as the one provided by Canton tea co. here:
Funny thing is, that when the tea was sold in the Czech republic, it was presented as coming from "at least 400 years old trees", while the  Canton company, more modestly, states 150-200. Well, that is the ever-persisting curse of resellers and their multiplicative constants. Finely produced tea becomes great, extreme rarity; 200 years old trees become 400 years old and the price is often raised considerably too (however, in the case of this Song Zhong, the increment was not that large - but still, it leaves me wondering of the added value of resellers).

Rants aside, let's get back to the tea:

It smells remarkably nice. I rinse it with the water, reflecting pines above my head:

The wet leaves smell even better - oh my, what an aroma. I would say it is "heavenly fruity" - lychee is dominant, but there is a lot more. And a very strong, yet silky smooth orchid aroma, often found in Dan Cong. This starts good. Not many teas have a "afteraroma" - this tea does have it, thick and honey-sweet.

The taste is really great too - this is how I imagine good Dan Cong to taste. The liquor is sort of light, but the taste is very intense - orchid and lychee. It does not have the annoying bitterness of many lower grade Dan Congs - it is very smooth and very pleasant (there is a bit of bittterness, but nothing annoying). In the overall feeling and taste spectrum, it is rather similar to the 2008 Gold Medalist Mi Lan Dan Cong from Imen (by the way, if your read these lines, Imen, your tea stove has brought me a lot of happiness, thanks!). Nice honey is left in the aftertaste.

This is a really good Dan Cong Tea. However, it is still only a Dan Cong tea - the taste is very good, but I do not perceive much more going on. No tingling mouthfeel, no waves of energy running up my spine. Considering I used the water from tea stove, I find that unfortunate and unexpected. It is like with most Anxi and Taiwan wulongs - tastes good, but does not feel that interesting. From the wulong world, I find Wuyi tea to have the most intense mouthfeel and energy. I wonder why is that.

Therefore, although this tea tastes very good, I do not think I would want to pay this much solely for taste. Good experience nevertheless... For people less acutely responding to energy and feeling bestowed by tea, this tea could be an ideal one.

7 komentářů:

  1. Upon reading this one feels a bit like a child watching an adult. I have yet to spend anything near that much on an individual tea, and I have yet to have a tea older than 2006. That isn't to say I think higher price = better tea, but this just reminds me of how little I really know of tea. Beautiful pictures by the way.

  2. "For people less acutely responding to energy and feeling bestowed by tea, this tea could be an ideal one."

    Perhaps it is a bit rash to assume that this tea, and other taiwan/anxi/dancong teas are just not possessing of the energy you speak of. Some teas are easier for others to relate and intune to, but just because your body shows no response to them, don't assume it is the could also be the individual drinkers particular perceptiveness and the synchronicity that the tea has to them:)

  3. Trevor: Actually, I'm probably anything but adult... But I enjoy being a child :) I think that it is good to drink not only the cheap stuff as it is often (in case of puerh) blended with universal no good material and that if one buys samples, bits of $30-40 cakes are not that much of a problem.

    That said, I would rather not spend this much money on a single tea either :) The exception are the aged teas of Essence of tea. The issue with younger expensive tea is that it is often overpriced because of producer's name - there are few sort of expensive teas I found to be really good (HLH 2010 Chawang, 2004 Shi Kun Mu Yibang, 2001 YPH YWZS), but there were many more which were only expensive and not giving that much in return.

    Anonymous: It would be purely rash to state so were it based on my opinion only. As I have heard similar experience from other fellow drinkers (often drinkers of the criticized genres), I took the liberty of expressing it this way. Also, I used to drink a lot of Dan Cong, Anxi and Taiwanese wulongs in the past so I think that I should not be blind to their positive and negative aspects.

    It is quite true that certain subtle features need attuning to though.


  4. Because Wuyi is the most processed, most having to do with the techniques of the craftsman. The good ones are excellent, although the better Taiwanese ones are just as good, in my opinion, and have an ethereal quality no other tea I've tasted has--and plenty of interested energy in those aged ones..I have a 1985 Shan Lin Xi that is quite special.

  5. Regarding the "just a dan cong" statement I would have to agree with the anonymous commenter above. Your evidence seem anecdotal at best.

    The energy of an aged DC is quite different than both young DC and sheng pu erh (young and aged) and a "tingling mouth feel" I think is vary rare in aged DC, as well as in any aged oolong for that matter (that is, if we are talking about the same thing here).

    Proper young DC, on the other hand, can be an amazing experience, dissimilar in many ways to but just as overwhelming as great sheng pu erh. High end DC often don't have the aroma and flavour of its cheaper cousins but make up for it in other traits, such as mouth feel and "energy" for example. Seek them out, would you!

    Though perhaps its really a personal thing. I for one have trouble finding a gao shan to keep me interested, but since don't claim to understand that genre very well I would never dream of speaking against it.

    Innocent until proven guilty, yes?


  6. Nick Herman: I agree, aged wulongs are a different thing. However, some people told me that it is not only the age but also that the trees were not that overharvested back then... Don't know enough to say how true it is, but it sounds reasonable.

    Johan: First, I said that for people not that interested in energy/feeling, this tea is great - and I still think that - as it does taste remarkably nice. If someone feels more in it than I, it is a different matter and it will be even better then.

    To provide another evidence - I actually used to drink more Dan Congs (and Anxi and Taiwanese teas) than puerh some years ago. I have tasted a lot of Jingteashop offerings and some of Teahabitat - I don't know how better Dan Congs get than these teas. I would think that they are a rather high end. But I almost ceased to drink these teas and started concentrating on puerh as I felt that even though I had a lot of these teas, they did not bring me any deep, more spiritual experience as puerh. I do not say they can not work for someone else - they, of course, may. I agree with you that it may be quite a personal thing. But I do not present anything more than my opinions on this blog anyway...

    Aged Dan Cong is a different thing as you say, that is true. Even though there is not the mouthfeel I enjoy in aged sheng, there is a certain energy I can clearly feel, which is interesting, although different from puerh.

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