It has been a little while since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been mostly drinking tea in casual “grandpa style” sessions at work and occasionally having good gong fu sessions at home or with friends. I’ve seen some tea bloggers talk about “settling down” with tea and I suppose this could describe where I’ve been recently. I’ve become familiar with what teas I enjoy and have those teas stored at home. I’ve been less interested in sampling new teas and would rather drink what I have first.
I’ve also noticed that I haven’t been drinking a lot of raw Pu’er recently. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because aging is a slow process and I think it can be good to let things develop on their own for a while. It also means that when I re-visit a tea I’ve lost familiarity with it. This makes it easier to see the tea with fresh eyes and notice things that I may have missed if I were drinking the tea on a regular basis. Today’s blog post is about a tea that I was inspired to re-visit – one that I haven’t had in a while.
I was inspired to re-visit Pu’er tea due to a book that I recently read called The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. It is a novel about a girl who grows up in a tea producing village on Nannuo Mountain. There are themes outside of Pu’er, but it does have a good amount of detail regarding the production of tea, as well as historical events such as the implication of the Quality Safety (QS) rules and how those affected tea producers in Yunnan. If you want a book that exclusively focuses on Pu’er, I really enjoyed Pu’er Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Zhang Jinghong. This book has more historical detail from the perspective of an anthropologist as well as multiple interviews, anecdotes, etc.
Opening up my jar of Pu’er, I decided to drink a tea that I have not had since I wrote about it in October of last year – Essence of Tea’s 2009 Da Xue Shan Wild. I load up my teapot roughly 1/3 of the way full, using 8 grams for my 150 ml pot. I brew the tea with boiling water and keep the infusions quick: 10-15 seconds at first, then gradually moving up to 1 – 2 minutes towards the end of the session.
I see why this tea is called wild because it reminds me of one of my favorite black teas: Yunnan Sourcing’s Light Roast Wild Tree Purple Varietal Black Tea of Dehong. I’m reminded of this tea because the Da Xue Shan has that same good balance of sweet, sour, with a little bit of bitter, as well as having a certain quality that I can only approximate with the word tangy. Once the tea really opens up in the middle of the session, you can tell the difference that comes from its being processed as Pu’er. The Da Xue Shan’s flavor is slightly more intense and long-lasting, has a slightly higher degree of bitterness, as well as a more complex texture/mouthfeel.
I can’t tell if this tea is better than when I had it 9 months ago, but the good news is that it’s certainly not worse. This makes me glad to know that my storage isn’t causing any major or easily noticeable defects in the tea, at least for the time being.