Friday, October 28, 2005

Anodyne on Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist Green/Silk Road Teas

Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist Green
Silk Road Teas
purchased Oct 2005

I haven't had Silk Road Tea's Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist green in a long time, and I am happy to reacquaint myself with this one. It's been so long that I'd almost lost my memory of this tea. Certainly, as I brewed it today, it strikes me as one of those 'nourishing' type green tea aromas--a rich savory/vegetal aroma with distinct sweetness that carries, with varying degrees of intensity, into the cup itself. It was always a green I viewed as easy (or, non-fiddly) to brew. The sweetness was always what I thought of as nectar-like.

...and today, with a second brewing, I am finding this more fully again. Less tea per water ratio (maybe) but definitely lower temperatures. My first trial run was nice, but it featured the more savory/vegetal aspects of the tea. The first few whiffs reminded me of the savory notes I find in Taiping Hou Kui that often mesh with the 'orchid' floral to varying degrees. Today, the savory notes of the Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist are coming more softly into the cup, and there is again that ethereal nectar sweetness that lingers into the aftertaste.

My first encounter with this tea may have been as far back as 1998 according to old notes:

Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist/"Meilan Chun"
Green Tea/Silk Road Teas

Like the white tea I posted about earlier (Drum Mountain White Cloud), this green from Silk Road Teas also comes from Drum Mountain in northern Fujian. The clouds and mist ("yun-wu") are supposedly a perfect environment for tea growing. The brochure notes that this tea is made from a "very slow growing, high quality varietal." It goes on to say that not too many farmers want to mess with it, due to low yield. The leaf is quite large, some up to 1 and 1/4 inches long. It is a darker green than the Drum Mountain White Cloud white tea, which has a more variegated green and appears to be fluffier with more downy white hairs.

Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist green has an intensely sweet aroma when you open the pouch, one of the most purely sweetly fragranced greens I've smelled lately. It the cup, it is just exquisite. So many greens are merely green or vegetal. The aroma of this green is more like the interior of a flower, and this carries over beautifully to the taste as well. If you recall chewing on a red clover or honeysuckle flower, that flower nectar sweetness is what lingers in the long aftertaste of this tea and in the aroma of the empty cup. The sweetness is what you imagine a hummingbird's breakfast to be...or a cocktail made from Titania's "honey-bags" stolen from the "humble-bees"...the aroma like Ariel's cowslip bedchamber.

These old notes below were from a pricier *Competition Grade* Drum Mt Clouds and Mist of years past via SRT, so the experience is not completely comparable, and yet certain aspects remain in the tea I have before me this chilly October day in 2005:

Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist Green, Competition Grade
April 2001

Again, the opening of the packet is a rush of fresh and full sweetness with underlying depth. You can just smell how rich the tea taste and aroma is going to be in the cup, just from the dry leaf. It fills in the spectrum from exotic tropical flower to nectar-like to spice, every bit of the naturally sweet aroma drifting voluptuously into the cup. As with the Competition Grade Dragonwell, you smell green, but not as a separate characteristic, it is so well enmeshed in those layers of aroma, one layer of which almost seems like baking bread, sweet roll, or even, perhaps, a scent of cake. I go back to nectar when I taste this tea. The way I think of nectar, it is a less intrusive sweetness than floral and pulls your attention to it more softly, the way a whisper in the ear catches your attention more quickly than a normal speaking voice. But like the right words whispered, the sweetness lingers. Of this one I had also written: The full mellow richness of this tea slowly unfolds, the way a warm band of sunshine falls on the back of your neck, gradually pulling you "up and out" of concentration, drawing your attention to the beauty of the day around you.

And Holly here and now with the current noncompetition grade Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist Green--that aforementioned visual still holds for me. This tea is 'whispery.' And I think it's still one of my favorite greens. Going back through old notes, it is nice to see that this tea is holding true to how I first encountered it.

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