I went out for tea today in the afternoon with L, who came back from Shanghai. He went tasting at the Zhongcha office today again, and invited me to go along. When I got there, things were already in full swing… and there were LOTS of people. SH, the guy whose family member made the Yiwu cake I bought yesterday, was there. L was there. In the end, ZH also came (sorry I use these “names”, but I don’t know if any of them wish to be identified). There were others too… about 8 people in all. It was a big gathering.
They had already tasted two aged bricks of some sort, and which I only got a taste. It’s here when you could feel the immaturity of the Beijing market relative to Hong Kong… this is stuff that people in Hong Kong won’t even bring out to taste with friends, because really, it wasn’t that good. Yet here people treasure it, because it seems like some really good stuff. There’s really a dearth of aged tea here. In 5 years time, I’m sure that situation will change, but right now… it’s all new tea, and everybody is still trying things for the first time. SH is obviously more experienced, since he’s based in Guangzhou and has access to many more good teas. ZH and the other tea taster at Zhongcha also have tried a good bunch of stuff. Everybody else, however, are relative novices.
The first two teas that we brewed up after I got there were the two new fall 06 production Zhongcha cakes. One is a Bada Mountain cake, while the other is a Yiwu. The Bada is quite nice, very fragrant, reminds me a bit of some Nannuo teas I’ve had… almost oolong like in its fragrance, and fairly alluring. The Yiwu, on the other hand, is a bit …. off. Bitter, a bit thin, not that interesting, and IMHO, not really Yiwu at all. It smells like a Yiwu, but when brewed, it doesn’t taste right in many respects. I’m not sure why. I guess the most obvious explanation is that it’s not pure Yiwu, but mixed with other stuff. It just doesn’t taste like the many other Yiwus I’ve had so far.
Then we went on to a Xiaguan Iron Cake from the 90s. Wet, wet, wet stored. The whole thing has a coating of whiteness on it. Not very good. Tastes heavily of wet storage.
At this point, SH pulled out a tea from his bag. He poured the contents of the bag into the gaiwan, and a cloud of dust appeared. It looks like fannings, stuff you pulled out of a teabag. It looks quite unremarkable. He said this is bamboo tea — the tea that is stuffed in bamboos. He said that apparently what they do is put mud over the opening, and then store the whole thing under soil for a year, before pulling it up again. This will make sure the bamboo won’t crack and I imagine also ages the tea. This thing is about 40 years old.
It’s very nice. Old tea taste, more like an aged liu an or an aged thousand taels tea. Smooth, sweet, got good qi, some huigan…. very nice, very tasty, and he said when they got it, they only paid 200 RMB each…
We then had some cooked puerh. It’s really not very exciting and not even woth mentioning. Reminds me again why I generally don’t drink cooked puerh.
L wants to get together again. We might drink something on Wednesday. I also need to pick up some tea for Rosa, as well as going to where I got my electronic scale to see if they will replace mine — the thing isn’t working anymore, and I’ve used it a total of maybe 5 times!