Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wymm Tea: Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian Sheng Ancient Tea Tree Pu-erh 2014, A Tea Review

Bouncing back and forth between painting, researching tea, redoing my tea area, and general reorganizing the bedroom. I have that restless feeling of wanting to do a lot, but my typical butterfly like habit of fluttering from thing to thing keeps me from staying focused. Sadly this bouncing around means I have not actually accomplished anything, well except stew, but it is still cooking so it does not count! At least the storms that have been promised have arrived, if I am lucky they will not fall apart and we will get a nice show this evening. Hooray for storms!

Wymm Tea recently stocked their shop with some new teas, and they were awesome and sent me samples of said new teas, yes, yours truly has four new Sheng Puerhs to spend time with, I seem to be developing an addiction to the stuff! After much debate I decided to dig into the Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian Sheng Ancient Tea Tree Pu-erh 2014 first, because I find myself enamored by the story of Huangpian Shengs, see, this tea is made from the not quite so pretty large, yellow (Huangpian means Yellow Leaf), scraggly leaves left over once the super fancy Puerhs are made. These are the leaves that the creators of the Puerh usually keep for themselves, because the tea that is exported needs to be pretty to fetch the best price, as a chef friend once told me, 'we eat with our eyes' the same is true with tea, but sometimes overlooking the standards of beauty will give us some treasures. The particular Huangpian comes from the same trees that the very sought after Bingdao Laozhai Puerh cakes that you sometimes see going for quite a bit of money. Way out of this blogger's financial means! The aroma of the rather rough and green leaves is very sharp, like wet hay and, well, fermented tea leaves, it has that distinct fermentation smell that you get off of things that have started to become great friends with the microbes that are now hanging out with them. Mix in faint notes of honey, green beans, spinach, and a soft note of wet barn. Like the wood in a barn after a rain, you can smell the hay and the barn at the same time, luckily this is only the barn that stores hay and not animals or that would be a whole different smell.

Unlike the last Huangpian I had from Wymm Tea, this tea is fluffy instead of super compressed, so I did not need to poke at it in a vain attempt at breaking it up. The aroma is more potent this time, though less sharp, sweet notes of wet and freshly broken hay and honey along side lima beans and spinach. The liquid is fairly mild, mixing honey and hay with a hint of lima beans.

The first steep is pleasantly sweet and mild, blending notes of wet hay and honey at the first with sour cherries and a gentle note of smoke, spinach, and the distinct mustiness of old leaves at the finish. Not like falling in leaf loam, more the smell of it than taste. The aftertaste is lima beans, which is fun, because those things are delicious. The mouthfeel is smooth, not very thick, just smooth and a bit silky.

The aroma of the second steep is honey and hay with a touch of spinach, it is still incredibly mild, one of those I accidentally dipped my nose in the tea moments trying to get the aroma. The taste is definitely not as sweet as it was in the previous steep, it starts out with sharp wet hay and sour cherries and then quickly moves into green notes. The main notes of green-ness are lima beans, spinach, and a bit of grass and smoke. The finish is a surprising note of cranberry, that lingers into the aftertaste.

Next steep! The aroma is still faint, but the notes I am picking up are spinach and a touch of hay. This time the sweetness is gone, I am left with all savory spinach and lima beans. It is fairly smooth, though not overwhelmingly complex, but I don't mind. I continued steeping this for a bit, once it hit the savory vegetal notes it did not really evolve much, which is fine, sometimes having a tea that is solid while being tasty is good for drinking tea while being able to focus on other things...like art or reading, without insulting the tea by ignoring it.

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