Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teavivre: Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005, A Tea Review

Well it finally happened, I saw the inevitable coming for months now, but it seems the end has finally arrived. My iron has kicked the bucket. Of course it decided to die in the middle of fusing a massive project (luckily it was for myself and not for my shop or worse, a custom order) so my epic tea mat is fused unevenly. It is frustrating but salvageable (I think) when I am able to get a new iron (no idea when that will be, curse you lack of money!!) but I am mostly frustrated because I was feeling inspired to make some awesome perler creations and mini hama creations and now I can't. Darn. Ah well, at least I still have my origami stars and of course tea to occupy myself with.

Today's tea from Teavivre is Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005 and has the honor of being the oldest Puerh that I have tried. This lovely tea hails from the land of Yunnan, China, an area that is famous for its tea (especially Puerh), it is made from 30-40 year old large leaf arbor tea trees and was picked between May and June of 2005. The aroma of the dry and compressed leaves is sweet like pine wood, loam, and vegetation. It smells like a forest in late summer, mixing abundant growth and decay, humidity and wood. It is a wonderful smell for someone who spent many a day like that deep in a forest drinking up the various aromas that nature provides. I think the best teas are the one's whose taste or aroma transport you to a place in your memory. Poetic waxing aside, there is a finish of peanuts and cocoa that is extremely faint, almost the ghost of a smell.

Once I rinse and give the leaves a brief steeping the aroma becomes a blend of cooked spinach, rich oak loam, sweet old hay, and a touch of barnyard. This tea took a walking tour of the forest and walked into a farm, a fascinating transition. The liquid is sweet hay in both appearance and aroma, with a sprinkling of pine needles giving it a slightly sharp green and pine sap aroma as well.

Ok, I hope you all are ready because I got a whopping seven steepings out of this tea and I took notes on them all! The first steeping is nothing short of fascinating (I feel I will use this word a lot with this tea) the mouthfeel is thick, not oily, but thick. It feels like with each sip my mouth fills with saliva along with the tea, it is an odd sensation but not unpleasant. The initial taste is faint, like old straw, but by the time it reaches the midtaste it picks up notes of spinach and peanuts. The aftertaste is bold and lingers leaving the taste of faintly sweet peanuts and mild vegetal.

The second steeping has a powerfully vegetal aroma, mixing cooked spinach and beans, it took me a moment to place the specific bean but to me it smells like lima beans. There is also the loam and forest aroma from previously. The liquid, well in my notebook I wrote 'it smells like hay and liquid gold joy', I still think it is an accurate description. The taste is still a blend of peanuts, cooked spinach and lima beans, but there is a sourness, like a hint of tamarind, which certainly makes me salivate a lot. It fades to a subtle sweetness at the end.

Third time around the aroma of the leaves and liquid is much the same as the second, except there is a honey quality to the liquid that was not there previously. The taste is a blend of old hay and lima beans with a slightly metallic quality. The midtaste is vegetal like cooked spinach and the aftertaste is sweet and like fresh hay.

The fourth steeping's leaves are mildly vegetal and fresh hay, not as potent as the previous steeps but still full of aromas. The liquid is honey sweet and fresh hay, golden and pretty. This steep was pretty interesting, there is a bitterness that was not present before, vegetal qualities of lima beans and cooked spinach, it is quite the savory veggie broth. The mouthfeel has gone back to being thick, like the first steep, and the aftertaste is like loam.

The fifth steeping has a faint vegetal and mild, slightly sweet hay aroma to its wet leaves, the liquid has very little aroma, just a hint of sweetness and hay. The taste is initially sweeter, it fades to a sweet vegetal decay (it sounds gross, but think Black Trumpet mushrooms, so yummy) and hay. It now has a dry mouthfeel and sourness to it that lasts into the aftertaste.

The sixth steeping's leaves have only the aroma of faint vegetal left, the liquid is the same as last steep, faint and barely there. This is the first time the tea starts to loose its footing, it is starting to taste watery with hints of lima beans, spinach, and hay. The aftertaste is faintly sour.

The final steeping is truly the finished tea, there is very little aroma left at all, just the ghost of previous scents. The taste is faint honey sweet hay and a hint of sourness, that is all. This tea was fascinating, I am not really sure I liked it, but I did certainly enjoy the experience. I spent the entire day with this tea and I do not regret it, especially since it gave me a little golden piece of summer.

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