Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Anodyne on Silk Road Teas Yunnan Gold and In Pursuit of Tea's Royal Yunnan

I've had many different orders of Silk Road Teas Yunnan Gold High Grade in the past, loving some of them and, a times, being slightly less enamored of others. I was pleased enough with my recent order which arrived this week. The aroma is a mesh of clean earth, spice, maple sap, and a fresh note that might have a slight floral emphasis. The maple sap note I speak of is like walking the trail at the nature center in the spring--you catch an emerging aroma of fresh earth mixed with the woodsmoke they use to boil the maple sap into syrup. So this aroma contains all of those elements, wafted in from long distance on a breeze. In the cup, the tea is bright with a clean earth. To me, that is akin to the aroma of a field, fresh-tilled with sun shining down upon it. It is not muddy on the palate as some Yunnan can be. The sweetness in the cup is integrated, not cloying.

Another day: Here we go with the Silk Road Tea Yunnan Gold against my current standard favorite In Pursuit of Tea's Royal Yunnan. Both have a lovely Yunnan aroma. The IPOT one registers slightly deeper as to the maple sweet character. But the SRT one has a freshness against the sweet that is rather appealing. Ah, and after the SRT one cools just slightly, the sweetness suddenly pulls forward more and seems to almost have a floral note connected to it. Interesting how this follows into the cup. The IPOT has a deeper sweet woody note against the maple sap/earth. The SRT one puts the possible (?) hint of floral freshness against the maple sap/earth. Gives them a slightly different emphasis. Both remind me of that maple sap note as it connects to the spring...the nature trail...the emerging earth...the faint hint of spicy smoke wafting in against the sap turning more sweetly into syrup as it boils down.

The sweet woody note in the IPOT Royal Yunnan is not unlike the sweet wood note that's in the Oriental Beauty (Floating Leaves) oolong I just left brewing, by accident, for the whole morning. It was a second infusion that steeped for a few hours after I forgot that I'd started a second infusion in the Carp and Dragon cebei. It has remained mellow and developed an almost chocolate note that is quite closely connected to the sweet woody taste. As I first experience it, that's not the taste I get in the IPOT Yunnan. But after swallowing the tea, the impression this woody taste leaves in the mouth is somewhat reminiscent of what I find in the IPOT Yunnan, only with a slightly different emphasis. This woody note is just not there in the SRT Yunnan which might drink with just a bit more spice instead. Or perhaps it's that they really do leave slightly different aftertastes--the sweet woody notes of the IPOT against the spicier floral (?) of the SRT. I think the latter is hanging on a bit longer as to aftertaste.

I'll have to give these some more trial runs, but this current SRT Yunnan Gold High Grade is walking rather more closely in the footsteps of the IPOT Royal Yunnan, albeit with slightly different style of shoes. Brewing was not specific as to grams, as I wasn't in a specific mood--but the basic brewing was two full tsp (both brewed in a cebei) for 3 minutes this time around.

Incidentally, the floral note (if that is, in fact, what I am catching) in the SRT one is very different than the floral note I found in a Yunnan Gold from TeaSpring. That latter tea had a floral note that was a bit like those 'fleshy' kind of funky scented orchids. But there was a Golden Bud A Yunnan from www.pu-erhtea.com that had a very delicate fresh floral note. One of the freshest most floral scented Yunnan teas I've had I think. From older notes on that one:


Revisiting my purchased sample of http://www.pu-erhtea.com Golden Bud A Yunnan, which I found so unlike other Yunnan experiences, yet so lovely in its own style. Still strikes me in the way I first reported on it. It's the 'freshest' smelling Yunnan with really no hint of 'good earth' in the dry leaf aroma; instead, it has a more dominant honeyed floral note that finds its way into the cup itself. Very smooth to drink. Doesn't carry the heavy overtones of 'earth' or 'smoke' or 'malt' that some Yunnan teas have. It doesn't have the 'thick' mocha-like quality I enjoy in Yunnan, but this one still entices me with that 'fresh' and bright quality, the 'honey and floral' notes that are really featured in the balance of this tea. Other Yunnans I've tried hint at floral, but usually have some level of 'earth' or 'smoke' or 'malt' or something that weighs down the floral-honey a bit. This one is really the brightest Yunnan experience I think I've had to date and the most honey-nectar of all. Behind the honey-floral, there is the lightest sense of 'good earth' (not metallic) that comes through, but it is barely a whisper in this tea. This has an elegance to it that makes other Yunnans (though beloved) seem more rustic in comparison.

For those who might wonder, I brewed it today with two very rounded teaspoons of leaf (rounded to the point of leaf falling off) which came out to about 2.6 and 2.7 grams of leaf each, brewed in a two-cup Chatsford for four minutes. Haven't tried this one with shorter multiple steeps.

And so, the Yunnan Quest...ho!

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