I was originally not going to go today, but then I remembered I promised a vendor there to bring her some of the old loose puerh from the Best Tea House to try, so … I went. This is the same person who sold me the Quan Ji puerh a few weeks ago. I enjoyed talking to her, and I think it’s probably rare for her to get a customer who likes the stuff she sells. A lot of times people just come in, browse, and then leave. Since none of her teas are name brand, it’s difficult business, I think (and as far as I can tell, her livelihood does not depend on it).
After drinking that supposedly 30 years old loose puerh, I tried two of her teas. One is a cake of Lincang puerh, using old maocha (2-3 years old) but pressed this year. It’s not bad, tasting like Lincang tea — a bit like the Mengku stuff, with its odd aroma that is rather unique. It’s bitter, but Lincang tea tends to be that way.
The second one is a Jingmai tea. Her store, interestingly enough, has LOTS of Jingmai teas of various kinds. She said it’s because she likes the taste and aroma of Jingmai teas, so she keeps a lot of them around, and will in fact go to Jingmai next spring to press some cakes. She has at least four or five different big tee Jingmai cakes, a few Jingmai bricks, Jingmai tuo… you name it.
The cake I tried was actually pretty good. Very nice aroma, mellow, not bitter, got some nice cooling sensation in the throat. Not bad, and I might consider it, but… the Quan Ji is better, I think. I’m still debating if I should get a second tong of them…
By then, I was feeling the tea. It’s been a long parade of young puerhs the past few days, so I think my tolerance has been lowered. Also, the Jingmai tea was brewed with an incredible tea-water ratio (i.e. very high), so …. it was strong.
I excused myself from their store, not having bought anything. I’m sure I’ll go back there again. The owner is nice (unlike the manager).
I then thought I should stop by the Wuyi rock tea store before heading home (as it was already 6pm). It’s nice, and I thought I should buy some other kinds…
I went there, and they were, just as I was walking by, ready to go out for dinner. I ended up eating with them at a local shop that specializes lamb shoulders, stewed. It’s quite good, and did a good job of restoring my stomach, although one of the guys eating with them kept pressing beer on me, which I really wasn’t in the mood of (especially just bland Tsingtao)….. but I obliged.
After dinner we went back to the teashop, and had three different teas. We also had a nice long chat about different kinds of Wuyi, how to differentiate them (basically, you can’t tell by looks unless you’re in the tea making business, and even then, it’s not easy), and some of the processes that they do to make the tea. I find my education in Wuyi tea pretty lacking. Although I can, on a whole, appreciate what is a good and what is a bad Wuyi tea, I cannot, for example, tell apart some of the more similar varietals by taste. The spectrum of possible tastes that a Wuyi tea possesses is quite wide, and I’m afraid I’ve only scratched the surface of it. Sadly, I can tell puerh apart better than I can Wuyi teas. That’s a shame.
So I need to fix that.
An interesting side note… while the first two months I was here I was always asked the “where are you from?” question, nowadays, I get more the “do you sell tea?” question. I’m not sure why it is that people started asking me this all of a sudden, but there have been at least a dozen different people who asked the same thing — if I sell tea one way or another, and when I tell them no, I only drink for myself, it’s usually met with some skepticism. I suppose someone who asks a lot of questions is going to prompt that comment….
Lastly, I got an electronic scale. No more caffeine overdose when I do a double-tasting 🙂