Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2005 Yunnan Mini-TuoCha (Raw/Green) from Teaspring

Scent: Very light, basic tea scent
Brewed in: small Yixing teapot seasoned for raw puerh
Steeped: 4 infusions – 15sec, 30sec, 30 sec, 25sec.
Cup: small porcelain teacup

You’ll have to bear with me – I’m still learning the in’s and out’s of gongfu brewing, along with puerh, and I haven’t the proper tools just yet. I do have a gaiwan and small cups on order that should be arriving today, and I purchased this handsome stainless steel tea tray last week. So last night, I made due with what I had, and to avoid having to stand in the kitchen all evening, I kept boiling water hot with a tealight warmer, as pictured below. Obviously the water doesn’t stay at boiling, but it stays hot enough to require a cooling period after pouring the tea, so hot enough for now.

I have no idea if this tea will age well or not, and after reading an article about storing puerh at home in The Art of Tea Magazine (no relation to the AOT company), I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to age it properly anyways. So I focused on the first four infusions, though it undoubtedly could have gone more (not that I’m convinced any more would have been better). I apologize for the low quality of the pictures – my camera and lighting are not all that great. I only got a somewhat decent picture of the second infusion – the rest didn’t really turn out.
1st infusion @15 seconds: The brew was very pleasant, thick in the mouth, and very buttery in both taste and texture. There was a slight artichoke flavor being complimented by the butter, and I very much enjoyed the cup. It was very light in flavor, but rich at the same time. There was no astringency whatsoever, just smooth, creamy liquor.

2nd infusion @ 30 seconds: The tea was still quite thick, darker in color, and slightly stronger in flavor. It was sweet, not bitter, and with only a hint of astringency. The artichoke flavor was stronger, the cream texture somewhat lighter.

3rd infustion @ 30 seconds: This was a much darker brew, and that typical dark puerh scent really came through. The creamy, buttery artichoke flavor disappeared, leaving much astringency and a little bitterness. It was also thinner than the previous two steepings. Not as enjoyable.

4th infusion @ 25 seconds: There was a stronger vegetal taste, but no buttery creaminess to offset it. It was very astringent, and the bitterness was there as well as an odd, very harsh aftertaste that I really couldn’t identify, but I didn’t care for it. I’m sure the tea probably could have gone on after that, but I didn’t want to, with the last two infusions so disappointing.

My favorite infusions were the first and second, and I really loved the buttery, creamy artichoke flavor. I have no idea what this means in terms of aging, but for drinking now, I’d probably only drink two infusions and toss the rest due to the bitterness and astringency. The leaves are very small when unfurled, and bright green, though my picture doesn’t show that at all. Definately worth trying though, and I'll drink it here and there for those first two infusions, if nothing else.

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