Tuesday, 14 June 2011

An Incomplete Experience

With all the buzz about pu'erh on the blogosphere these days it's a real challenge not to be tempted to at least try these teas, and admittedly not one I've made much effort to resist. To that end, this is what I had for tea today. It's an aged wild sheng pu'erh from Cloudwalker Teas, and my experience with it today was, to say the least, incomplete; happily, this doesn't seem to preclude it's interestingness, however.

Today has been "just one of those days" for me, and even the weather seemed confused with the morning being chilly and overcast and the afternoon clear, bright, and hot. When I woke up this morning I felt today was the day I'd been waiting for: a cold spell to enjoy some hot tea. Having tasted this tea before, I know its warming chaqi will heat me up from the inside out, so I'd been waiting for weather like this morning's to make the most of the tea, leaving me a little disappointed when the aforementioned climactic conditions changed for the better. In spite of this I decided to have some of the tea, but mixed up as I was I got up and left for dinner during the third or fourth steep. When I came back a little over half an hour later and discovered my teapot full of hot water I thought any future infusions would be bland at best given the length of the accidental steep. I was wrong. The following infusion was still quite tasty and surprised me by being no more rough than any other brew, quite a feat considering this tea has only a little rough dryness at the back of the throat in the later infusions when brewed more attentively.

This mistake is, I think, a great illustration of the appeal of aged shengpu: remarkable endurance and a tendency for flavours to gradually evolve over the course of a session rather than going through a short cycle in the first few infusions then tapering off as do many other teas. Although this may not have been much more than a double-take at what could perhaps be described as a more engaging version of the Energizer Bunny of tea, it was nevertheless an enjoyable one, and confirmation for me that this is a genre that merits further exploration.

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