I went to Maliandao today to buy some tea, and of course, during the course of the afternoon, I had a dizzying array of tea (when do I not when I’m there?). I won’t bore you with all the details of all the teas we had. Needless to say, it included a lot of puerhs… mostly Yiwu today.
But that’s not the interesting stuff.
I had a lesson in Zhengshan Xiaozhong (Lapsang Souchong) today. A valuable lesson that I will always remember. So, I figured this is a good thing to post about.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves
This is the fourth infusion of the teas above, but left and right are flipped around. So, the leaves on the right above brewed the tea on the left, and vice versa
This brewed the cup on the left
This brewed the cup on the right
I think it is not terribly obvious, but you can sort of see how in the brewed up… the right hand cup is slightly darker. The first two infusions were largely identical… it’s extremely difficult to figure out which one is better, even when drunk back to back and right by each other. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how they can be 40% different in price. The second infusion… you can sort of tell the one with smaller leaves (buds) is a little more complex… but it’s a very faint difference.
Then from the third infusion onward the difference became clearer… the flavour for the buds was sustained, whereas the one with the leaves started feeling a little watery. Then, as infusions went on, the longer lasting nature of the buds Zhengshan Xiaozhong became more and more apparent. The tea is nice, sweet, complex, mellow, easy to drink, and everything I really care for in a tea. I could drink this all day. The cheaper one is more watery, a little thinner, less complex, but still very good, at the end of the day.
I really think that every Lapsang lover need to try this stuff out. Of all the teas I’ve encountered in China this year so far, I have by far found the Lapsang to be probably the most palatable tea for Westerners who are used to drinking only teabags or black teas in general. The smoke is not overpowering, and is gone by the third infusion. Instead it is a very pleasant sweetness that coats your mouth. I really like this stuff.
Just for reference, Laohe (the owner of the store) called the best stuff “Special Grade” and the other “First Grade”. I also looked at the “Second Grade” stuff, which is basically broken leaves. He said it’s not worth trying after we’ve had these two, and I believe him.
Then for the rest of the afternoon I drank a whole bunch of young and not as young puerhs. The most interesting Yiwu of them all is one I also have a few cakes of, a 2005. I might’ve actually neglected to post pictures of it… I’ll do so another day 🙂
Meanwhile, I need to rest up, as I’m going back there tomorrow to grab some teaware. I need a set of tools in Hong Kong so I don’t have to bring stuff back and forth and risk breaking half of it everytime. I didn’t get to do teaware shopping today.