Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jing Gu Yang Ta raw pu'erh

Jing Gu Yang Ta pu'erh, purchased from Yunnan Sourcing
2010 first spring pick
Type: raw/green, grades unknown
Production notes: picked by the Yang Ta cooperative in Jing Gu county, Simao prefecture

This tea was a free sample included with another order I placed with Yunnan Sourcing. I love it when tea sellers send little free samples like this. Especially a place like Yunnan Sourcing who sell well over a thousand teas. It's impossible to pick which ones to try. What a delight to open this package and find a good-sized chunk from the edge of a compressed cake. I had no problem separating large whole leaves with just my fingers. The Denong Wild I like so much from Bana Tea Company is much harder compressed and has been giving me lots of practice with the pu'erh knife as I try to separate out the leaves without ending up with a pile of crumbs.

This particular tea (the Jing Gu Yang Ta pu'erh) is apparently from a strain of the tea plant called Camellia Taliensis (as opposed to the usual Camellia Sinensis), according to Yunnan Sourcing's write-up. So I was interested to find out how it might taste different from the teas I'm used to. The aroma of the wetted leaves first made me think of hay in a horse barn. None of that fruity-flowery scent you often get with Camellia Sinensis leaves. Throughout my tasting session I smelled the leaves often and it settled into a very pleasant sweet hay smell (the horse barn part of the scent only appeared in the first wetting).

The color of the liquor was a beautiful pale lemon yellow. I used very hot (near boiling) water and steeped only for 10 seconds or so. Longer steepings proved to be a little more bitter than I like. But the shorter steeping produced a smooth light brew whose taste I would describe as both grassy and almost sweet. The scent of the liquid was pleasant as well, giving off a light sweet bean and fresh hay smell. The aftertaste was long and lingering and very nice. I'm tempted to say there's a bit of qi with this tea, as well -- a very quieting type of qi. A little bit of a cooling sensation to the throat, too. Not a lot, but just subtle. And once the leaves were fully reconstituted they were impressively large and juicy in appearance. The word "meaty" comes to mind. Overall, an enjoyable and somewhat different pu'erh tea experience.

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