Far be it from us to observe the letter of the law to the violation of its spirit.
Photo by @dressedupdreams
Loving this shot by @dressedupdreams! Among my favourite kettles, this pure silver one boasts the prettiest finish, with a purplish-pink hue that’s most visible under natural light.
A part of my work is involved in finding evidence to support certain assertions surrounding the question of tea quality and ageing, which is why stumbling on pu’er like this is an immensely exciting affair. This is a 2004 release from the Jingmai appellation, made under the supervision of 何仕華 He Shihua. There’s some information about him on the interwebs, so feel free to look it up if you like.
For a pu’er of the mid-2000s, this is truly very decent stuff, insofar as one could tell from material selection, processing, and pressing. But the most remarkable feature about this batch is its storage — it’s among the cleanest of all older pu’er that I’ve ever come across. In my opinion, the ageing on this is virtually immaculate, allowing it to develop a rich amber liquor that evokes dried apricot, almond, walnut, and baked apple with a dry dusty finish that hints at cedar/sandalwood.
The claim on the label that the tea trees from which this was made are “over one thousand years old” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is nevertheless a terrific example of a pu’er that up until now has seen 14 years of pristine ageing.
In her book “Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic” author Zhang Jinghong details her travels in Yiwu, where she meets a certain Mr Zheng, who’s first mentioned in page 55 and who also appears in her supplementary videos. Later in page 140, Zhang notes that Mr Zheng “had little interest in aged Puer tea, preferring the raw tea that he produced and tasted every day in Yiwu, which he found full of fresh aroma. He did not care that his clients were counting upon the transformation from the fresh to the aged.” Intrigued and curious as to how Mr Zheng’s tea would develop anyway, I pulled out a piece of his 2008 pu’er and brewed it over a few sessions. (It would be fun to try the 2007, which was when Zhang went to Yiwu and interviewed Mr Zheng, but the situation that year was pretty messed up, so perhaps 2008 might be a fairer representation?) Although there’s much to be desired in terms of material selection, a decade of ageing has somewhat worn down the rougher edges. At its core, it displays maderised traits hinting at dried jujube and wet forest over a bed of bitter almond rounding out on a dusty finish. Not a terrific Yiwu pu’er by any means, but it makes for a fun and easy drink especially while rewatching Zhang’s homemade video of Mr Zheng!
「孟臣」款, across a couple of centuries.
I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I brew green tea at home (which also means this Yixing pot is often left sitting out in the cold, literally 😔). This Longjing was a thoughtful gift from a friend in the local wine/food circuit — it’s really nice to know that many of the wine peeps are also thirsty for tea. Thanks NL, this is tealicious!
Masanobu Ando, silver glaze.
Revisited a Wu Yuan Jian rougui this afternoon only to find, to my surprise, that it now stands head and shoulders above a Hui Yuan Keng rougui from the same season. A Ma Tou Yan rougui turned out to be enjoyable too, until it pretty much gave up its ghost by the fifth steep (we were admittedly pushing it).
Chanced upon this kettle whose overall shape, craftsmanship, and finish I took to after a couple of hours. Trying to capture its elusive purple sheen with a phone camera is proving to be an impossible feat. Happily, it looks better now that I’ve started to break it in and gear it up for a sesh this Saturday. Yay!
Just hangin’ out.
Of the numerous varieties/cultivars we’ve had so far, capri and black thorn were two that stood out for me.
Catching up on this year’s durian run before it draws to a close in approximately 20 days.
Mid-Qing, c. 1800 – 1850.
Following the doctor’s prescription, I’m taking my Sauternes in the form of pills.
Also, it’s probably spelled rasin because i don’t wanna share this with anyone.
From an estate surrounded by primary forests — and which enjoys geographical advantages as well as a microclimate that allow for organic tea growing and management — comes this batch of outstanding material that would be put through a slow, long period of leaf maceration with frequent tumbling. It should yield the desired level of oxidation that would form the backbone of the tea.
On the shoulders of giants.
Numerous extant accounts have been particularly helpful in our attempt to reconstruct traditional gongfucha. Take for instance Lian Heng’s “山水之間見性靈，平生愛好是茶經；眾中陸羽今何在，把臂同來辨渭涇；若深小盞孟臣壺，更有哥盤仔細鋪；破得工夫來瀹茗，一杯風味勝醍醐。” The teaware of Lian Heng’s time departed somewhat from the more traditional “大彬之罐，大壯之爐，琯溪之箑，長竹之筐” we find in《龍溪縣誌》but were nevertheless venerated articles that are still (relatively) common today. Some items have for whatever reason virtually fallen into disuse, but it could be nice to bring them back to the tea table — if anything, the experience would afford us an hour or two where we can indulge in a little historical narrative, and perhaps relook at the pace of our lives.