Thursday April 6, 2006

Since I recently bought a deluge of tieguanyin tea, ranging from poor to good, I am in desperate need to kill some off to make way for others. One of them is the Upton tieguanyin that I got a while back. So I decided to drink all my qingxiang tieguanyin in the next few days at least once — to compare them and guage their respective quality.

So I used the final two packs of tea that is left from that shipment in today’s brew, using my qingxiang tieguanyin pot. Drinking it again now, it tastes almost completely different. Well… that’s not really true. It tastes the same as when I tried it for the first time, but back then, I was starved of qingxiang tieguanyin and hadn’t had any for months. I was just happy to drink any kind of tieguanyin at all. This time, however, I’ve had much more recent experience, and tasting this tea again, it’s quite different.

The tea is still the same. It is low on fragrance, but it retains the bite and astringency of the tea. The body of the tea is not very thick, but the tea itself, when drunk, does cause a little sweat, which means that the tea leaves are not poor. Somehow, the fragrance just isn’t there. Having tried a few tieguanyin on this trip, I no longer think this tea very good. There is, however, an explanation.

This tea must be a 2005 spring picked tieguanyin. For some reason, 2005’s spring pick was poor in quality, and I remember now trying it once in Hong Kong this past Christmas at the Best Tea House. I was asking them if they have any tieguanyin for me to buy, and wanted to try a spring pick, but the sales girl said the spring pick was poor. We tried it, and indeed it was — weak, low fragrance, not very impressive at all. The tea leaves of this Upton tea consists of mostly small leaves — buds, not big leafy leaves. It does look very much like a spring tea, which I think will explain the taste.

One down. Two more to go. One’s from the Xuefeng store, and the other from my most recent purchase.

Amendment: someone commented, and I feel I should correct something. I do not mean to say that all spring 2005 teas were terrible. There are obviously better and worse examples of it, but by and large, from what I understand, it was not the best season. This particular rendition of it is not particularly great, and I don’t think it is only because of the timing, but it most likely played a factor in determining the taste.


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