Thursday, November 17, 2005

Anodyne on Imperial Gold Yunnan

I have a small pot of tea before me, brewed from the dangerously dwindling small canister of Imperial Tea Court's Imperial Gold Yunnan. The aroma from the cup this morning has so many layers. It's rather like dropping a mocha brown colored silk scarf (with subtle patterns threaded through in gold) on the bed and watching it fold in upon itself, then picking it up again and watching the folds smooth out and reveal the full design. Malt, floral, spice, hint of maple, earth, cedar. Some of those aromatic notes reveal themselves in the cup itself today, some more in the aftertaste, and some are more aromatic than taste. The dry leaf aroma today struck me as being very akin to Swiss milk chocolate. It is a perfectly luxurious tea for this snowy morning in November in which the room is permeated by the aroma of sweet potato biscuits baking. They are perfect when eaten warm from the oven, slathered with butter and a drizzle of oak honey. The honey has a smooth molasses note but not the pungent bark-like 'tang' of chestnut honey. The combination of honey, sweet potato biscuit, and this Imperial Gold Yunnan is a rather voluptuous combination of aroma, taste, texture.

from 3/05: I am reminded of why Imperial Tea Court's Imperial Yunnan Gold so often climbs to the top of the Yunnan heap. Two of us are sharing a pot this morning and, even amidst distractions, this tea manages to get your attention. Not by talking too loudly or being flamboyant. This is the soft-spoken person you still manage to hear clear across the room because what they are talking about carries such weight or because what they are speaking seems so close to poetry.

This tea is refined. It is very much what I think of as a 'package deal' type tea, in that it is beautiful in the dry leaf (such tiny leaf buds) all the way through--appearance, taste, aroma, body. This morning it is showing those beautiful soft mocha-like aromatics. Hints of milk chocolate (which is why it snuggled up so well to that Swiss Milk Chocolate we tried with it a few nights ago). Then a shapeshifting hint of spice and floral. And then finally the spicy note decides to mingle with the sweet honeyed aromatics. This tea's aroma has layers to explore. The cup is malty with some light sweetness.

We had a nip (or two) of French lavender honey spread on an English muffin, and that honey's flavor seemed quite a close cousin to the honey-spice-floral aromatics in the tea at one point. As the tea cools, that kinship is even more pronounced. The honey notes in the tea move from being associated with the honey to the floral, and bingo--lavender honey!

The tea isn't inexpensive, but unlike many pricey Yunnan teas, you can *smell* and *taste* why this one actually might warrant a higher price.

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