Thursday, January 14, 2016

Crimson Lotus Tea: 2008 Bulang Imperial Grade Shou Puerh, A Tea Review

I wanted to write about how I was surprised with a beautiful new teapot, gifted from the aether, or how Ben got me a book from one of my favorite authors (Randall Munroe, if you are curious) or how my sunlamp seems to be working and I am feeling better...but, all of these pieces of awesome news are dulled but sad news. The other day music and acting icon that helped shape my childhood David Bowie passed, and then today I woke up to Alan Rickman, whose acting I have been watching since I was tiny (I was raised on Die Hard!) having passed, these losses to the arts are sudden and tragic. They were not just icons of nerdity ( as Jareth and Snape) they were icons! They have left this life, but left us a lifetime of entertainment that has cemented their immortality.

I have had several teas from Crimson Lotus Tea, own a small army of tea frogs from them, and have had many excellent conversations with them, but I have not written about any of their teas and that is kinda terrible of me. So I am rectifying that today with 2008 Bulang Imperial Grade Shou Puerh! From my experience (limited as it is compared to the real Pu-heads) Shou from Bulang is usually quite sweet and rich, so let us delve into the tea notebook and see! The aroma of the leaves is indeed quite rich! Notes of loam and wet leather mix with burnt sugar, wet bark, cedar loam, and a distant touch of dates. It blends sweetness with earthiness in a rich dance that is pleasing to the nose.

Into my shou pot the leaves go for their rinse and short steep. The aroma of the wet leaves is super strong and intense, I lifted the lid off my pot and poof, face full of forest floor, with wet loam, a bit of peat, some wet pine loam, and a finish of leather. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of pine loam, mushroom soil, burnt sugar, molasses, and a finish of dates.

For the first few steeps, the real focus of this tea was its mellow loam and earthy notes. It has a subtle sweetness and a touch of mushroom soil, but as my notebook says, it is loamtastic. Blending pine loam and more deciduous leaves with gentle notes of distant molasses. It has a thickness which is nice but not overpowering.

Several steeps later and the aroma and taste really become intense, very strong earthy notes of loam and mushroom soil, wet wood, leather, and a deep heavy sweetness in the aroma. Sniffing this tea reminds me of sinking into a nice nap in a sun warmed forest. The taste is loamy and rich, but there is also a creamy sweetness like molasses candy and dates. It is thick and heavy, definitively a very rich shou!

Towards the end the aroma is still potent and loamy, notes of pine soil and molasses blend with oak wood and a touch of leather. This tea outlived me, I stopped at steep ten but I know it could have kept going for more steeps, please don't think less of my stamina. The finishing steeps bring in more sweetness, molasses and brown sugar with dates and a resinous pine sap finish. It oddly reminds me a little bit of horehound candy on the finish with more of an earthy leaf loam and mushroom soil note. This was a wonderful shou, one I could see myself buying a brick of to slurp on cold nights.

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