Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wymm Tea: Kunlu Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2010 Spring, A Tea Review

I found a treasure today! In the parking lot at the shopping center by my house, there are dividers that are filled in with gravel, specifically large river rock style gravel. Large broken chunks of cryptocrystalline quartz stained with iron oxides. I glance at the piles of rock each time I pass, but have yet to find anything really spectacular, until a glimmer of sparkle caught my eye today. Looking down I see a dark grey and blue rock with many pockets of crystalline quartz drusy, like little geodes, where most likely water was present when the rock was forming, leaving these beautiful pockets of crystal. Usually in rock piles the most I find is a slightly botryoidal agate or an especially shiny piece of chert, so this epic shiny is the best treasure I have found in a non-specific rock hunting location.

Today is a good day to talk about some Pu, specifically Wymm Tea's Kunlu Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2010 Spring! As you can see from the name, this is a Sheng hailing from the Kunlu Mountain, a mountain which sits at the end of the Wuliang range. Over 200 years ago Kunlu Mountain was the imperial tea garden for the (obviously, what with it being imperial) Qing Emperor, quite illustrious history. As fun as history and all that is, what really makes a tea is its sensory qualities, history is just an added topping, if you will. The leaves are dark, with a delicate patch of fuzzy pekoe (Trichomes!) decorating a few of the leaves, they are big, but not too big to fit into my tiny shui ping. The aroma is gentle, but complex, offering many layers of notes. Starting off with wet hay and freshly broken sweet hay, then moving on to old wood and cedar with a burst of camphor. The finish is old leather, like a much loved book, with a little bit of that musty old book smell.

When the leaves get their odd spa treatment (imagine going to a spa, being rinsed with hot water then being soaked for a few seconds, it would be odd, but for a Pu-erh, it is same old, same old) they really become aromatic. There are notes of leafy greens (like spinach mostly, a touch of chard as well) a tiny bit of hops, and a bit of wet hay and wet wood kinda like a barn. The finish has the aroma of old book and a touch of distant fruity sweetness. The liquid is pretty mild, a blend of delicate apricot sweetness and camphor, with a tiny bit of hay and cedar at the finish.

The first steep starts with a smooth mouthfeel, bordering on silky with its smoothness. The taste is delicate, starting out with minerals and wet slate, it then moves on to gentle smokiness and a definite cedar wood finish. It leaves a cooling feeling in the back of the throat and into the stomach, the mark of a good sheng (at least in my book.)

Second steeping time! The aroma this time is quite sweet, with dried apricots and honey, cedar and wet hay, and a finish of smoke and distant wildflowers. The taste starts out sour and a touch bitter, like hops, and then almost immediately switches over to sweet. The sweetness is represented by delicate apricots and honey and a surprising note of orange blossom. The finish is cedar wood and cooling camphor that lingers for a while.

Third steeping, hello aroma of apricots and honey, that is pretty much all I pick up on the third steep, not too complex, but very sweet on the nose. The taste has the same switching almost immediately from bitter hops to sweet apricots. The taste then fades to orange blossoms and wet hay, with a cedar cooling finish.

I went for a few more steeps, like I do, and the flavor starts to fade pretty quickly, going from fruity to just woody and cooling, by the sixth steep. While the taste lasted I enjoyed it, but it was a short lived tea.

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