Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2006 Autumn Yi Wu Cha Wang

purchased from Hou De Asian Art & Fine Teas
Harvest and production: 2006 Autumn
Type: Raw (sheng) pu'erh cake
Manufacturer: Chen Guang-He Tang
Origin: from "Gua Feng Zhai", a very high and remote region in Yi Wu

It's been awhile, I know. The holidays have been keeping me busy. On the tea front I've been mostly revisiting the ones in my stock, settling in with a few favorites (the Denong Wild and the Purple Tip, both from Bana). But I've been venturing out again lately and acquiring some new teas, including this wonderful Yi Wu Cha Wang pu'erh from 2006 which had a couple of glowing reviews on the Hou De website.

And the verdict? Definitely a winner. A good purchase indeed. A very complex and nuanced tea. The cake itself is lovely, stone-compressed with big juicy leaves. I used my new pu'erh pick (thank you Linda Louie of Bana Teas!) to pry off a few grams (I'm liking this pick much better than the bone knife I was using previously, which always seemed to pulverize the leaves just as much as pry some off whole). You can see the pick and the knife next to each other below -

The best part of a good pu'erh for me is always that first whiff of aroma. This one showed top notes of plum (lots of plum!) with subtle malt undertones, all mixed around with that classic fragrant pu'erh smell. The liquor itself was a pale straw color with hints of apricot coloring, smooth and slippery on the tongue with a pleasantly subtle thickness. The taste also revealed overtones of plum, with delicate flavors and a distinctly dry quality. Not unpleasantly dry, but just *there*. Nice.

Perhaps the best and most surprising aspect of this tea came to me not while I was actively drinking it but while I was sitting for a bit between infusions. I suddenly noticed a sweetness filling my mouth and throat! Had I just not noticed it before? Or was this part of the unfolding of this particular tea? Perhaps it was a bit of both, but it made for a delightful surprise -- a great example of what they call "hui gan". Later, after several infusions, the sweetness grew into the most exquisite sense of warmth filling my throat and chest, even down to the lower regions of my torso. Very nice. I had just as much fun sitting and 'not' drinking this tea, feeling it move through my body, as I did smelling and tasting it. Definitely a full-body tea experience, infusing me with a sense of calm and balance and all-is-well-in-the-world. Lovely lovely tea :)

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