Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wild Leaf, Sheng 1993

It would seem that Bill and I drank the same puerh this week, only he drank it much better than I did. I really think you should go read his review instead. He talks about dry storage and mold, notes of beets and camphor. I don't even know what camphor is, and until recently, I thought wet storage had something to do with water. So do yourself a favor, and follow the link. Come back later if you don't have anything better to do.

The details of this tea are it was picked from the ancient tea trees of Yunnan, China. The exact origins are unknown, but it was acquired around 2000 and stored in Guangzhou until 2006, when it was purchased by Red Blossom Tea Co.

For more information on puerh storage, Marshal has written some excellent posts, here and here.

This tea was a pleasant change of pace, something different than the "smoked melon" of every other sheng that I've tried. Because of that, at first this tea confused me; it was so much like a shupu in aroma, appearance and taste. Then it was explained to me, patiently, that it was an aged sheng, and that was the point. To which I said, "oh," and then, "ohhhhhh."

The dry leaves are similar in appearance to the shu that I am used to, only larger. I can see some stems.

I flashed rinse, then 15 s, 3o s, 90 s, and 4 min--I like my pu strong if it wont turn on me.

The initial aroma is very earthy. I don't know why I said initial; the aroma was consistently earthy, and a bit of something almost vegital; however, this could be another time when I smell something I can't place, but it reminds me of something else, and so on.

The first infusion the taste is thin, a little crisp, reminding me, of all things, of the gyokuro karigane. I swallowed some too fast, choked on it and coughed, and noticed a clear note of spice, cinnamon, perhaps. Molly says she can taste a bit of caramel. Over all it is delightfully smooth, and I start to brew it longer.

Then a bit of morbid curiosity takes hold. I dump the spent leaves, toss what's left of the pu into the pot (I guess about 10-12 grams), flash rinse, and steep. For 3 minutes.

Coffee anyone?

The resulting brew was strong and rather enjoyable. Very similar to a good coffee. I can taste a bit of chocolate, but more like chocolate after it has been added to coffee. There's also a mildly acidic bite on the end, that I likewise associate with coffee.

In conclusion...

I like this tea. It was remarkably gentle, playful and easy. Fun, in a word. There isn't an abundance of complexity, so my instincts tell me that this is probably an average sheng, but I think it is perfect for any one like myself experimenting with puerh. It was enjoyable and educational.


Hobbes said...

I do so love the warmth of the photos here; they match the text very well indeed.

I rather liked the '93 Red Blossom, too - very lovable.

Thanks for the good notes, as always.



小 約翰 said...

I like the look of your “coffee brew” looks like one of my shupu brews. (sans the chocolate)…john

MarshalN said...

Looks like any other blend of young and old loose pu, ready for consumption and wet stored. Given the fact that it's obviously blended (thanks to your picture of all the wet leaves -- those are always the most informative) there's no way this is exactly the tea that was harvested in 1993 and now sold to you in 2007. Maybe some of it is, but I have some pretty serious reservations about that too. There look to be some pretty young leaves there. These things are good for everyday drinking though.

John, you must've had stuff like this? Loose aged pu that are wet stored?

MarshalN said...

Hmmm, thinking some more...

There's also a good possibility that this tea is a blend of sheng and shu. The contrast is a little too great, and without more pictures it's hard to tell for sure.

That's regularly done, by the way, just not usually stuff that people sell online.

小 約翰 said...

Lots of loose aged stuff around Dongguan. I’ve drifted away from it in favor of pressed cakes. The loose stuff seems to have less depth of flavor and supports fewer infusions. Also, with higher prices, the market is wide open to unscrupulous vendors. john

Space Samurai said...

Interesting. Thank you all for your comments.

I'm kind of envious, and I feel a bit as if the tea leaves were another language that others can read but is complete giberish to me.

MarshalN said...

I agree John, but the price of pressed cakes (old ones anyway) are so extremely high :(, I actually prefer reasonably stored loose tea for regular consumption. Maybe splurge on a little bit of aged stuff for once in a while drinking... that's about it.

Unless you have a good source for older cakes you're not telling us about!?!? :)