Today I brewed some pu’er tea that I have been aging in my home for around a year. The tea is called Qi Sheng Gu. According to the vendor, Qi Sheng Gu is a fictional name for the town where this tea was produced. The only information given about this town is that it is located somewhere on the border of the Lincang and Simao prefectures of the Yunnan Province in China. This name was supposedly created to shelter the town from excessive numbers of people coming to buy tea. If you choose to believe this vendor, a fictional name may benefit such a town. This could be true because some other areas that produce good pu’er have sees drastic rises in prices, higher numbers of counterfeit teas, and a higher pressure to increase output to unsustainable levels due to excessive demand.
This Tea’s Journey
Upon production in 2007, this tea was aged as rough tea (毛茶 or mao cha in Mandarin) until 2013. In 2013, the vendor of this tea then commissioned the mao cha to be pressed into cakes for resale. After trying a sample of this tea in 2016, I decided to purchase this tea to age and enjoy. Finally this tea found itself in my pot after about a year of aging in sunny Wells, Maine. I do not have a fancy setup for aging tea, but simply store it in a cardboard box in our living room. The bamboo leaves and cardboard box that surround this tea help protect the tea from excessive light, moisture, or dryness.
While brewing this tea I used approximately 5 grams of tea leaves in a 140 ml clay teapot. The clay teapot is not glazed, and has been used only for sheng pu’er tea. Because it is not glazed, the oils of the tea will build up in the teapot over time, hypothetically contributing to tea brewed in the future. Another reason that I use a clay teapot is that it helps retain heat from the boiling water. I’ve noticed that this boost in heat retention seems to add something to the flavor and texture of the brewed tea.
The flavor of this tea had a very slight smokey quality in the initial steepings. However, after opening up the flavor of this tea changed to be a complex blend of woody aged flavors that also included slightly sweet plum notes. Even though the tea has enjoyable and complex flavors and aromas, I found the most enjoyable part of this tea to be the sensations that it gave me throughout the session. These sensations included a very smooth and clean texture that left a lingering feeling in the mouth, as well as down through the throat. The tea also left me feeling relaxed, yet energized. I think it can be difficult to describe the sensations and experiences of drinking a complex tea like this, so if I had to pick one word to describe this tea it would be – comfortable.
One thing I felt inspired to mention in this post after drinking this tea is the meditative mind while drinking tea. Earlier in the post you may have noticed the beautiful calligraphy on the wrapper of this tea. It is actually a poem that I think reflects on some aspects of the meditative component that can be experienced while drinking tea. In Mandarin this poem is written:
恒 温 静 泌
动 轻 柔 运
心 无 别 向
一 气 呵 成
that stirs soft and gentle motions.
The heart (or mind) is not focused outwards,
Everything is finished in one breath.
Right now that is all I have to say about the topics of this post, so I will conclude with a wish. If you find that the place and time are right, I hope you will have a chance to enjoy a good cup of tea!