the one that's currently offered at Best Tea House in Canada (100g size and said to be from 1983), but Essence of Tea also has these for sale (the larger 250g size, noted as "1980's"). I've tried both of these teas side by side and they're very similar. I find the smaller 100g tuo is a bit more rich and intense than the 250g one, which I think might be due to the size/mass difference of the tuos. Or maybe the 250g tuo is as much as 6 or 7 years younger? I can't say for sure, but both are very enjoyable and favorites of mine. This tea is said to be a lightly fermented shu, and it's fantastic. It really shows the best of both worlds (shu/sheng). Suits my taste and preferences very well. I've never had a session with it that was anything less than wonderful.
Sheng-wise? No, this isn't a sheng but I'm guessing that the more lightly fermented leaves are what's responsible for the activity and complexity found in this tea. The tea soup is lusciously silky, coating the mouth in a soft and gentle way. The aromas and flavors are multi-layered and changing throughout the earlier infusions. Every time I drink this tea the word 'elegant' comes to mind. Best of all, it shows a great deal of activity throughout the body. It definitely has my kind of qi going on, melting all the edges of experience and settling me into a warm pool of "aahhhh..."
Speaking of warmth, this tea has a way of bringing a surprising degree of perspiration to the skin. Definitely warming in that way. But what's most interesting is that while I feel heat to my skin, there is a contrasting sense of coolness in the throat and core of the body. This morning as I was trying to find words to articulate this I kept coming up with "cool breeze through the central core of the body." That's kind of what it feels like.
I really love this tea and almost hate to blog about it because I'd like to hoard it all for myself :)
I also want to point out a new cup in the photo above. Another Petr Novak beauty, this is one of his porcelain celadon-glazed cups. Like the antique cups I mentioned in a recent post, the shape of these enhances the gold ring effect of certain teas (like this Xiao Fa), and also seems to encourage the pattern play of steam and mist (cloud feet) more so than cups of other shapes. I've really been enjoying getting to know these cups. A big thank you to Petr for blessing me with them :)