Friday, January 4, 2008

2001 Chung-Hwa Yi Wu Raw Puerh

Cincinnati, OH
January 4, 2007
Tea: 2001 Chung-Hwa Yi Wu raw puerh
Manufacturer: Meng La Man-Lo Factory
Infusion parameters: 10g used in 150cc purple clay Yixing pot; 20s rinse, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 120s in 195-200°F water.
On the hi-fi: Nijiumu: "Live;" Vikki Jackman: "Of Beauty Reminiscing"

I acquired this tea at the beginning of 2006, and after drinking it once decided to shelve it for a while due to an astringency that seemed to me to be on its way out. I decided to revisit these leaves on a frosty January afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by the results of this brief storage period.

Dry leaves: There is a nice range of colors here, from dark browns to almost-yellows. The dry leaves exude tobacco, earth, camphor and almost mushroom-like aromas. There are thick and leathery big leaves, smallish twigs, and dry, wispy leaf tendrils.

1st infusion: With the tea still so tightly compressed, the flavors here were fairly faint. Even still, the tea brewed up to a nice dark-hued orange with exceptional clarity.

2nd infusion: Strong, pungent, dry citrus and wood notes became increasingly pronounced. I recall now that this tea's pungent qualities dominated my session with it the previous year. Nice, supple mouthfeel. Already I'm noticing a lovely complexity and some refreshing menthol notes that I'll wager will come to the fore in infusions 3-6.

3rd infusion (pictured below): An increased maltiness is present now, and the floral qualities magnified. This is a bold and supple tea which really fills the mouth with a vibrant palette of flavors. There is a nice, cooling aftertaste despite the slightly drying astringency that seems to linger the longest.

4th infusion: The camphor and musk qualities diminished in favor of a nice caramel sweetness. The drying astringency continued to hang around, but wasn't severe enough to be objectionable.

5th infusion: The flavors were much more subtle now, though the tea continued to brew up to a nice dark-brown. Cool menthol notes, caramel and earth dominated.

6-8 infusions. Dry fruit notes abounded, but really in aroma alone. The taste mellowed into a silky, earth sweetness not unlike an exceptional shou puerh.

All in all this is a tea that I'm quite glad to have purchased at a great price (I grabbed a few of these beengs before the price surge in the puerh market last year). Clearly, the maocha used here is top notch; I was very impressed with the quality of the leaves. It definitely still has a lot of room to mature though before it becomes a really exceptional sheng, and although the astringency is something which proves now to be a bit of a detractor, it is a characteristic that, along with the strong, vibrant complexity of this tea, will likely ensure that given proper conditions it will age into something truly special.


gd said...

man, 8 infusions you mustve been buzzed!!! haha!

gd said...

you guys have any recommendations for good tea places in NYC? going there in a couple weeks, wouldnt mind getting some nice tea....

Tony Cross said...

Nice post Alex! I'd love to try that tea sometime... and yeah, damn that is a lot of infusions to be still getting good tea.

Tony Cross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Cobb said...

Heard good stuff about The Tea Gallery, Greg.

bb said...

for tea in NYC try the Cha-an tea house

230 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003

is a little "classy" but yr right by Kim's/OM/DMG. they do a real nice oolong service. they have at least one puerh and a host of other fine teas.

delicious, okonomi just down the street, too.

bb said...

and I totally 'forgot' about Moby's tea place "teany" on rivington...

gd said...

ill pass on TeaNY.
went in there once and had some really lousy tea. the servers didnt know what they were doing.
they do have good vegan sweets though!

ill check out Cha-an.
ill probably be over by OM / DMG anyways so.....