Went to the Best Tea House again. I have really very little to do in Hong Kong. Most of my friends are working or not living in the city, so during the day, especially, I am basically on my own, which leaves a lot of time to drink tea. It doesn’t help, of course, that they have such a liberal pouring policy.
People seemed to have liked the pictures last time, so I took more today.
When I got there, there was already one guy sitting at the table, while Tiffany was entertaining some other customer. Two more came in during the sitting, and it will eventually be the 5 of us drinking.
The first tea today was a magnificent 16+ years old gongfu tea, supplied by the guy who was already sitting at the table when I got there.
We were going to use the small pot on the right, but that was too small for so many people, so instead we used the big pot instead. Not ideal for gongfu tea, but good enough. The tea itself was a very high fired oolong, but over time, of course, it has mellowed out (without refirings). The tea was kept sealed for about 15 years, and the owner of it recently opened it and started drinking. I don’t know how to describe the taste, except that it’s very complex and very mellow. It has none of the high fired taste that resemble charcoal. Instead, it’s a very pleasant, subdued taste, but nevertheless quite strong and very fragrant. Excellent mouthfeel, and exquisite aftertaste. I think this is by far the best aged oolong I’ve had in recent memory.
Since we started off with this tea, Tiffany showed us another thing that the store has kept for a while. They no longer sell it, but it was an interesting comparison (also because the guy who owns the gongfu tea has some of this too). Picture speaks louder than words:
Looks like a melon puerh from afar, but if you look closer
Which turns into
Yup. It’s oolong. To be specific, it’s qingxiang Taiwanese oolong that’s been fired a bit. The whole ball is basically compressed oolong. It’s been sitting around for about 10 years, I was told, and was made on the occasion of some important tea personage visiting Hong Kong. Either way, we tasted this.
Compared with the gongfu tea, this sucked. The typical thinness of Taiwanese tea really showed, as well as a slight hint of sourness. The sourness went away after two brews, and it developed a better flavour, but after 4, it was already giving way. The aftertaste was most interesting — you can definitely taste the qingxiang Taiwan oolong in the aftertaste, but not in the immediate taste of the tea. On a whole, everybody agreed it was ok, but not great.
Then we took a bit of a break, and I decided to snap a picture of this:
Which is basically two stacks of puerh samples. They are all cakes that have been pried open or broken apart for taste tests. Some they still sell, others are out of stock. Most are just languishing there, not having been touched for a while. I was digging through a few of them and some looked rather good.
There’s also this:
The 500g tuo that Toki has been telling me to buy, from Fengqing factory.
Then, we drank a puerh. Tiffany pulled out a piece from a cake, and told us that this is the Zhongcha Brand Simplified Font. If I am not mistaken, this refers usually to the Iron cake from the 70s (correct me if I’m wrong here). The tea is certainly very nice. Complex, flavourful, full bodied, etc etc, all that you’d expect from a good, aged cake, including the price — $1000 USD
Then she told me about this cake they’re selling, and I looked at it, and I liked it. No time today for more tasting though, so that’s what’s on the list for the next visit — gotta go try it out, and if it’s good, I’m going to buy a whole tong. More pictures next time 🙂
Oh, and she posed once more after I told her that you guys all like pretty sales girls with access to a huge stash of tea