I had something relatively benign today, after yesterday’s long tea session. It’s one of those samples from Beijing that are still kicking around. This is a tea from a guy who sells through Sanzui, and from whom I have bought a few things. He always sends free samples along after you buy stuff as part of the shipment, and this is one of those samples that I got. They come in very big chunks (50g or more in a few cases) so he practically gives you a free cake when he sends you 3-4 samples.
I remember I was pretty impressed by this tea — it had strength. When I tried to break it up this time, I noticed that the tea is well massaged when they were rolling it in the cloth, readying it for compression. Rolling it around a little is essential, because otherwise the leaves are not intertwined and the cake will fall apart easily. My sample is one solid piece, and when I tried to pry it apart, the leaves stuck together pretty well. Not all cakes are like this — sometimes the leaves are basically layered and can be peeled easily. Not this cake. After some breaking:
It yields a golden yellow liquor:
Ever so slightly smoky, but otherwise, a bit floral/fruity in its aroma, and has good strength overall in its qi and depth. I still like this tea. I didn’t buy it though — I bought the spring version instead. Some people say Bangwei tea is no good, but I’ve found at least this particular one to be pretty decent, and it’s much cheaper than more famous mountains, which is also a plus.
The leaves are large, stems long, but all very soft and not much of reddishness (a little bit here and there).
Leaves don’t all unfold, which I actually think is not a bad thing. I have heard of problems of tea makers trying too hard to make sure the leaves are whole and unfold, and end up doing too little rolling during the making. Since the rolling is essential to break down membranes and also induce fermentation, etc, when it doesn’t happen enough the tea really suffers in the future — slower aging, or problematic aging. More rolling also makes it more bitter/astringent. I wonder if maybe that’s partly why they say things like the Yellow Label were nasty to drink when they were young.
The cup you see in the picture, by the way, is one of the things Aaron gave me yesterday
I don’t know if it has a name. The most interesting thing about this cup is that it will right itself if tipped. Obviously it will tip over if you’re determined enough to push it, but it does have the tendency to right itself, even with water inside, so even if you tip it over, you will only spill about half a cup — it will not pour everything out like most other cups of more conventional design will. I like bigger cups, and this cup is on the large side. I’m going to use it for a while and see what happens 🙂