Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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21 July 2005

Wild Pu er from Yi Wu, 2001

My new tea for the day is a very special puerh that Stéphane of TeaMasters’ blog sent me: 2001 Yi Wu Zheng Shan Ye Sheng Cha. His description of this tea (scroll down to Saturday, June 25, 2005) having hints of orchids and sweet corn appealed to me, the granddaughter of a Minnesota corn farmer. Stéphane purchased this for me from a wonderful puerh shop in Taiwan, and then he packed it in a box with samples of some of his favorite oolongs and other puerhs tucked around the edges, adding a fabulous CD of classical Chinese music and a really fun letter. He created a wonderful tea experience for me, one that I’ll be revisiting every time I sip one of these teas. Many thanks, Stéphane, for such treasure.

(click either image to see a larger, more detailed photo)

Here are my own tasting notes:

I carefully peeled away whole leaves from the cake. This was easier than expected; it wasn’t hard to separate the individual leaves. They are larger than those in the tou cha I’d tried previously, and not much crumbling or dust happened with this cake. I brewed this in my yixing pot, poured, then sipped.

What is that flavor? It’s musty and floral and a memory is kicking at me but isn’t getting through.

Intriguingly, this tea tastes like it is "aging" rather than aged. There’s a sense that the tea is in progress -- it's got that musty old character, but the strong aged flavor isn't there yet. However, it's young enough that there's still a sweetness and a floral taste.

Why can’t I pin down that musty floral sensation?

There is a lingering aftertaste, a smooth mustiness coating my tongue. I’m still contemplating the floral note, but there’s also an underlying woodiness that makes me think of late summer when the heat starts drying out the grass and flowers.

Marigolds! That’s it – marigolds! This tea reminds me of marigolds – great big streaming garlands of marigolds that make me think of Bollywood films (another thing I'm crazy for).

It does seem almost ironic, though, to be drinking a Chinese tea and start thinking about India. :) I went out to my deck and took some photos:

Still Life with Tea and Marigolds

(click image to see a larger, more detailed photo)

Restarted the process and brewed another batch, this time with only a few leaves, to see if I could coax out the sweet corn flavor that Stéphane described. With just a few leaves, the color of the liquid is very light, but the flavor is still quite powerful. This time, though, no marigolds -- instead, I taste the sweet corn now. Wow, really a different tea taste for me.

I will make some more of this tonight for my husband to get his reaction, and then I’ll probably tuck it away for a few years. Maybe once a year we’ll taste it to see how it’s aging, but this was a purchase for the future. Check back here in, oh, I dunno. . . 2008 for an update!


Blogger Stephane said...

Hi Cindy,
I am glad you liked the tea and discovered about its 'aging' flavor, mixing both floral and older flavors. You have even discovered the precise flower it smells like! Whaoh!
And what nice pictures you made in the afternoon sun! Tea sets and tea make very nice models.
With 3 tastings in one day, I hope you could sleep well, not like poor Sophie!

11:36 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I really enjoyed your description! And, the photos are lovely. Thank you for sharing.

7:41 AM  

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