I arrived in Beijing on September 1st 2006. I came here to do research, but I also happened to have come here to study tea on the side. Now, almost 10 months later, I’m about to leave here. This certainly marks an end to one stage of my graduate student career, but also definitely marks the end of one stage of my tea education.
I went to Maliandao today, although the trip was cut short by heavy rain — I didn’t go as early as I had hoped. I went to Xiaomei’s store, to pick up some Benshan that I wanted her to get for me. 500g of benshan costs 40 RMB… so that’s about 5 USD. Selling benshan as tieguanyin can obviously make you big bucks.
While there, I tried a tea that was very odd. It’s a maocha of some sort, a year old, supposedly. Yet, there’s something in that maocha that tastes old. If it weren’t for the obvious and harsh bitterness of the tea, I might even believe that it is an older tea, dry stored. The guy who brought it there said it’s a maocha deliberately made to taste old, and if pressed into cake, it is indeed not too easy to tell and can masquerade as something aged in a dry environment. The leaves are, actually, mostly yellow leaves, of the large and rough kind, and the taste is that of a rougher, harsher, more bitter variety. But it was very odd… probably one of the oddest young puerh I’ve ever tried.
We also had a 3 year old Yiwu that was smooth and mellow, although lacking in any sort of real punch. I think this will develop into a high fragrance kind of Yiwu. Decent potential, and not too expensive. Alas, I’m not in the market for more tea at this point.
I then walked around the market a bit, noting how there are still so many stores I’ve never really been to, or looked at. Yet, I don’t have time anymore, not on this trip anyway. Maybe next time, when I return to Beijing (whenever that is) I will get to go to them, but they may very well not be around by then. As I’m writing this, I just packed up all my puerh cakes, readying them for shipping to Hong Kong tomorrow. I should probably take a picture of how I packaged them, but that’s for tomorrow.
I must say I feel a little sad leaving Maliandao. I’ll be back, of course, and I have learned a lot just wandering the different markets there. I think I have progressed from somebody who only knew a few things about younger puerh to somebody who can at least make some sense of a young tea I’ve never tried before. I am still woefully unknowledgable when it comes to some other kinds of tea. I am hoping that when I go to Taiwan in August, it will remedy my deficiency in Taiwan oolong just as Maliandao has helped me understand young puerh.