sobota 18. srpna 2012

Back from England and 2012 YS Gao Shan Zhai

After a wonderful time in Lake District, I'm back. What was it like in England? Simply great, everything went so smooth that it actually surprised me. I saw Peel island (Wild Cat's island) and the Old man of Coniston (Kanchenjunga), which were some of the dreams of my youth.

What is England like? Exceptionally english! The stone houses, sheep, green gardens and pastures - everything is like from an english movie. And, contrary to popular belief, the people were exceptionally nice. It may actually help, that when, e.g., an american comes to UK, the people may be relatively less friendly - but when he comes from the Czech Republic, the relative difference is highly positive. I did not realize it earlier, but the amount of hatred that 40+ years old low-mid intelligence people reserve for foreigners is quite peculiar. And another suprise was the low amount of backpackers - we found just one group of walkers whom we'd call backpackers... and they were another Czechs. The habit of carrying 20kg backpack with everything one needs from campsite to campsite is probably not too favoured by english people. "Carpacking" is how I'd call what they did there.

I missed tea though. When I came home, I picked out one pretty fast - and it was the 2012 Gao Shan Zhai from Yunnan Sourcing.

Gao Shan Zhai is one of my less favourite Yiwu villages, true, but the tea actually smells pretty nice.

Dry leaves are nice, just as one expects in a YS production:

The dry leaves smell of usual Gao Shan Zhai butter & sugarines (and what I imagine to be wok aroma), but the wet leaves are more complex and promising. There is a lot of going on in the aroma. When the leaves are very hot, just after rinsing, they smell of cinnamon.

The liquor has low, heavy aroma of butter and a touch of fruit.

The tea starts dense and very smooth. Maybe some could call it too smooth actually, almost muted. I rather enjoy it myself as it is so full. A big surprise is the tea's bitterness which comes after a couple of seconds - an aspirin one. Luckily for me and for the tea, the bitterness does transform in time and provides one of the longest and most consistent aftertastes I ever found in young tea.

The second brew is also sugary, somewhat mushroomy, with a bit of Yiwu fruitiness, quite pleasant and easy to enjoy. It is very thick indeed. The taste itself is good and well-defined - which is not what all people can do when producing tea from more than one source. I do admire Scott's blending ventures which generally end up well. What I really missed in this tea was stronger cooling mouthfeel - I could not find virtually any. 

The tea continues to march on in a satisfactory way for many more brews, but does not really surprise.

To not cloud my mind while drinking, I do not read prices in advance. When I read that the tea costs $75 per 250g cake, I felt somewhat disappointed. I can not say I would enjoy this tea more than cheaper Tea Urchin's cheaper and bigger 2011 GSZ. Still, these young teas are ridiculously priced when one considers how good mid-age tea he may buy for their price. I do not criticize Scott, nor Tea Urchin, nor anyone else: a) The prices of raw material are high, there is not much one can do about it, b) they can still sell their stuff. Were it not for b), I'd say "why to make new tea then? Why not just source older tea?". But with b, there is, I guess, no reason for not continuing inflating the bubble and it could temporarily hurt a vendor not to do so.

I guess that appreciation of this tea depends largely on one's appreciation of this tea's aftertaste as it is quite exceptional. I tend to enjoy strong mouthfeel more, where this tea loses points to some of its competitors. However, due to the interestingly persistent aftertaste, at least a sample is worth trying I think.

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