Yesterday I had tea from 1:30pm to 6:15pm with D, a local tea friend whom I’ve met last time we went to Royal East. We had a whole bunch of stuff…. including
1) Chen Guang He Tang’s Yiwu Yecha from Hou De
2) Lapsang Souchong I got from Beijing
3) 1990s Yiwu loose puerh from Hou De
4) Loose puerh, unkonwn age, from Hong Kong
5) Yiwu cake sample I have from Beijing
I’ll skip over 1, since I still need to taste the Yiwu Chawang to compare it against, and to post my results then. I might do that late tonight.
The lapsang I just find pleasant, and I didn’t use a lot of leaves (it’s very dangerous drinking tea with two people — very easy to overdose). It lasted…. 6 infusions? Something like that. It’s something that can, I think, be enjoyed anytime.
The 1990s Yiwu loose puerh is an interesting piece. D wanted me to try it because he thought it’s nothing like what he’s tried before. When I opened the bag and sniffed, I think I could smell what I know as wet storage smell… that musty, pungent smell that accompanies wet stored tea. The leaves look rather uniform. We used a gaiwan to brew it… and…. after the wash, I smelled it, and there was something odd about the tea. I couldn’t explain what exactly it was, and I don’t think D could either, although he said this is exactly what he thought was odd about it. We tasted it… and the tea is thin, with a little bit of bitterness in the undertones, and not really tasting like any puerh I’ve had before. The thing that it reminds me of is actually a Yunnan hongcha (red tea), or something similar.
The tea looks really good. It looks like a well aged puerh in colour, but when brewed it has none of that taste. Comparing it with, say, the Xizhihao Yiwu 1997, for example, this one is obviously lacking. I think the thing that I am missing is the sweetness that comes from puerh… it doesn’t turn sweet like a puerh should, but instead stays the way it is. We didn’t drink too many infusions of this… about 5 or so, before giving up and moving on.
I pulled out a bag of loose puerh I got in Hong Kong (I bought quite a few different kinds today). I haven’t tried this for quite a few weeks now, and it’s been sitting in the bag since I bought it. When I opened it, there was a strong, pungent medicinal smell coming from the tea. It’s definitely stored poorly as well, I think, and the age isn’t that old. I used my pot to make it, and interestingly enough… there was, underneath everything, a similar taste to the Yiwu loose tea, but with something overlaying that bitterness base. I don’t think the taste was entirely pleasant, and D didn’t think so either. It tasted a bit different from when I tried it in the store, and I thought perhaps it has to do with the fact that what I tried in the store was the surface of a big bucket of tea, whereas this is something that was scooped up. It was also sitting in the bag for a month now… which might make the unpleasant tastes more apparent. I think I need to air this tea out before drinking it.
Since we didn’t go too many infusions on this one, I left it in the pot and brewed it again today. Funny enough…. the unpleasant taste is not apparent anymore, and the tea is infinitely more drinkable. I’m not sure why. The guy who sold it to me told me that I should leave the tea out, all spread out on a flat surface, and let it sit during the days when humidity is high in Hong Kong. Then, take it back in after its gone through a few days of dryness. He thinks this will make the tea much better. I can’t do that, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Lastly, we ended with a sample of a Yiwu tea I got from Beijing. D said he hasn’t really tried a young puerh (under 3 years or so, I suppose) that he actually enjoys, and I thought this could be one that is enjoyable. This tea is… a little odd, in that it doesn’t really have much of the bitterness so characteristic of young puerh, yet not bland either like a lot of bad, un-bitter puerhs tend to be. I don’t really quite know what to make of it, but I bought a few liking the huigan and the overall complexity of the tea.
By the end of the session, we were both rather buzzed with caffeine. It was definitely an enjoyable afternoon, and it is not easy to find tea company around here to both talk about and to drink a lot of tea. I’m hoping that before I go back to China, that we will find time again to get to gether and drink some more tea.