středa 20. srpna 2014

2003 CNNP Big Zhong 7542

And here goes another tea from Teaclassico - a 7542 from the year of 2003, for a promising price of $129. There is perhaps no recipe more classical than 7542 and a rather many have found their way to my cup, generally to my pleasure. I even had a 2003 example, thanks to generosity of MarshalN - and, slightly surprisingly, it seems to be similar to the one currently in my teapot. Why surprisingly when it's the same tea from the same year? Well, because 7542 (showing that 42 is not the complete answer!).

Being not too wetly stored, there is still a clear degree of green-ness in the leaves.

And it is good! Not surprising, but still good - and very balanced. 7542 is a generally balanced recipe and the year of 2003 is, with this type of good storage, is right between youth and age, in my opinion.

It is very thick and sweet (with light honey taste), which always appeals to me, as does the (also present) tingling and cooling of palate. The taste is a good mixture of warm earthiness (not realy storage wetness though), woodiness, herbs and a sort of fruit. None of these dominates the others, leading to feeling of richness and complexity. It's well within the characteristics of 7542, which probably says more than an attempt at direct description.

Unlike in most other real 7542s I had, there is a chestnut tone in the aftertaste, suggesting there might have been some tobacco smoke taste earlier.

It's still perhaps a bit young to drink - it is thick and silky, but there is still bitterness that is painfully obvious when you use more leaves; similarly, there is an astringency that can be clearly felt. MarshalN's sample was more ready in these aspects

All in all, a very solid tea at a solid price; perhaps not surprising, nor very dynamic, but good, and I'll be happy to enrich my teabox with one of these I think...

neděle 17. srpna 2014

1990s CNNP Apple Green Tuocha

I recall that as a young boy, 6 or so, I've dreamt of unexpected discovery of a hoard - the general form was looking under the bed and finding a package of collectible cards in there (anybody remembers Middle-Earth game? Not the after-movie LoTR.). Surprisingly, such a thing once happened - a small deck of cards that fell out from a book I was taking out of library. My parents said they did not do it so I have forgotten them there myself or there are supernatural forces out there. Nevertheless, I had to wait about 20 years for the next miracle - how does it sound that your darling wife comes home to you with a paper bag filled with packages with labels starting with 1980s, 1998, 1990s, etc.? Sure sounds good to me! However, this time, there were no supernatural forces behind it, as the package has been most kindly provided by Hobbes (thinking of it, the presumption of non-supernaturalness might be invalid). The teas come from Teaclassico and we'll get to them  all soon. Let us start with the 1998 Apple green tuocha. Or, rather, spelled "toucha" at the website, which always sounds like "gotcha" to me. Based on online shops and discussions, I wonder whether toucha is US and tuocha being used by the rest of the world?

The white coating is quite clear and it does not seem to be present only at the surface of the tuo, but also inside, which, together with tight compression, suggests a rather wet storage (where dry HK storage is written at Teaclassico's website).

Rinsed leaves, however, do not smell all that damp - there is some classical aged mixture (with fishiness as a not-entirely-welcome bonus), but as they cool down, the aroma gets sweeter, more fruity and more woody.

The color of the liquor is dark brown rather than dark red one might be used to - I wonder what are the variables explaining the progress in hue with aging.

The tea does smell quite interestingly, reminding me of coconut milk with some sort of fruit.

In the initial steepings, there is an unwelcome fishiness in the liquor, but it's not too bad (certainly not making me pour the tea out) - and the tea is already sweet and reasonably smooth. As the taste goes away, cooling feeling takes its place. Fortunately, the taste of fish soon dissipates and gives way to much nicer spectrum of tastes - wood, herbs and garden fruit - all quite aged, but not really earthy. The fruitiness gets strongest in the aftertaste - it's a bit like what you get from 85+% chocolate.

The tea can be well felt in mouth - there is still bitterness left and it is overall active, cooling and sometimes numbing.

What is always important in tea is - do its parts work in harmony? I feel that they do  here. The tea is not really "normal" - on one hand, it is covered in white frosting, on the other hand, it has very little if any taste signs of much wetness in storage. The color is not exactly ordinary either. But I  like it - it tastes clean and right. I wonder if the discrepancy between looks and taste might be explained due to initially wet storage with a drying-out period afterwards. Sometimes, such an approach causes weird flatness and lack of body, but if it has been done here, it has been done right.

While the tea is not super-excelent, when I saw the price of $83 per tuocha, I thought it is not entirely horrible, certainly not a complete ripoff. Then I've noticed that it's a 250g tuo, not a 100g - at first, I thought "This cheap? I'm not buying that" - but after looking again, I reconsidered - I am.

neděle 3. srpna 2014

2013 Chawangpu Shuang Shu

I believe this is the last of Chawangpu's teas from 2013 I'm writing about. It has been a good year, with teas like Hua Zhi, Lao Yu (!) or He He that I consider very good. I kept postponing the "final tasting" for some time, but the time has come at last...

This is one of the more expensive teas at Chawangpu at $90 per 400g of tea (sold in 200g pieces).

It's probably quite a fancy tea, old tree material, pretty, whole leaves and all that.

The aroma of rinsed leaves is deep green, quite sweet, having a mixture of flowery aromas, such as lilies or magnolia. It has nothing of the "flowery meadow" (found, e.g., in Youle or Bada) - this is more like what you can smell at a flower exhibition.

After a year or so of existence, the liquor is greeny, turning into pale orange.

The first impression upon tasting the tea is the sweetness and then thickness. Other than that, the taste is buttery and sugary, with the above mentioned "garden" floralness (if I went more deeply botanical, I'd say I taste violets in there). However, even with tea stove water (that makes the taste more noble and clearer), I can't help feeling I'm missing something in the taste.

The old-tree-ness is not only apparent in the taste, but also in the pleasant cooling feeling it leaves in the mouth. There is no bitterness transformation due to no bitterness present... however, we're reminded that this is a puerh by the astringency, which is not indecent, but still noticeable. Eventually, it goes into a nice long-term aftertaste.

One locally famous chef has once said about a certain food that it is good, but it lacks the right jeb, which is a somewhat vulgar (he's a chef) Czech word for a "one instance of sex" - it is usually used as a verb (to-have-sex), but used like this, it basically is a punchy way of saying "the kick". I guess that the G.W.Bush's brother, Jeb, might find it difficult to lead a common life in the Czech Republic... Anyway, I remember this because this tea, in my opinion, also lacks the "X factor", despite being quite good otherwise.

I can drink this and be happy, but I won't be excited about it... which is not a major concern, of course, just noting... In this regard, it is similar to the previous year's Jingmai (leaves from there are also present in the Shuang Shu and the taste has not changed dramatically between 2012 and 2013) which ticked basically all the boxes of desirable properties, but failed to excite me too...