Thursday, May 25, 2006

Geraldo on 1960s Gao Li Gong Shan from TeaSpring

[from an email to corax. posted by permission.]

Date Brewed: 4/9/06
Purveyor’s Description: “A raw Pu-erh with around 40 years of aging, Gao Li Gong Shan 60s tea can be best described as an antique treasure. It was produced using tea leaves grown in Gao Li Gong Shan, located near the border of Yunnan and Vietnam. This Pu-erh tea won the Gold Medal Honor in Shanghai 2005 Tea King Competition. What made it more impressive was that Mr. Zhang Tian Fu, China's renowned tea expert, was one of the judges in it.”
Type: Aged Uncooked (Sheng) Pu’er
Vintage: Early 60s
Type: Original form undisclosed; arrives loose
Brand/Manufacturer: Gao Li Gong Shan, Yunnan Province. Leaf Appearance: Dry Leaf: The leaves are long and thin with some stems. They have the red-grey appearance of some liu ans. The dry leaves look as though they have never been compressed. Wet leaves: Red-black after the tenth infusion. Leaf Weight & Vessel: 4.2g in 4oz (118ml) jade gaiwan
Brewing Temperature: Low boil
Rinse & Rest: very short rinse, 30s rest
Infusion Times: 15s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 32s, 38s, 48s, 1m

Liquor Appearance: In the first infusion, the liquor is fairly clear and it has the typical aged pu’er appearance: deep amber-red. The second infusion is very clear and the deep red color of weak coffee. In the sixth infusion, the liquor has the appearance of bourbon—it is lightening somewhat.

Aroma: The first infusion smells mild, with touches of wet earth, wood, and fruitwood smoke. The second infusion has a notable aroma of mint. In the sixth infusion I can detect, besides wood, some cooked qualities in the pu’er. These cooked hints disappear from the aroma as it cools.

Flavor: This is a sweet aged pu’er. I’ve tried it twice before, and on this occasion, the initial tastes are not surprising: It has for me, more than anything else, the flavor of cherry juice with a little apple cider and sugar added. Even in the first infusion there is a long, sweet aftertaste, tart, but with no hint of bitterness in the first part of the sip. In the second infusion, I taste a strong birch wood flavor with the cherry juice. The sweetness and feel of it in the mouth bespeak a certain shu quality—I’m thinking it may have been partially cooked, rather like GrandTea’s 70s Grand Yellow Label. In the sixth infusion, the sweetness and wood continue, and the aftertaste is quite strong. In the eighth infusion, the tea tastes much drier, far less sweet, and it is a welcome change.

Infusions: This pu’er does not undergo any incredible transformations until the eighth infusion. It is a strong tea, and the liquor remains powerful for many infusions.

Overall: For those aged pu’er enthusiasts looking for the appearance, aroma, and flavor of an aged 7542 or similar beeng cha, this loose, aged pu’er would be a bad choice. I believe it may have been partially cooked, and I’m deciding (in grudging agreement with a friend) it was even stored for awhile under high humidity, but I do not detect from it the nasty, wet-laundry aroma and musty sharpness typical wet-storaged pu’er. In my experience, wet storaged pu’ers do not display the woody aroma and fine flavors that this pu’er offers. If it is wet-storaged, then I will have to revise my ideas and say that not all wet storaged pu’ers are bad. Personally, I am in love with this pu’er, and I think it is unique. There is no mildew, mushroom, or leather in the tastes presented. The aroma, though mild, is very complex. While I am convinced that I taste cherry juice in the tea, a second friend insists he tastes marzipan. The first friend, unhappy with the novelty of the tea, insists that it’s bitter, but I searched for bitterness in this session, and I found none in the initial flavor-bursts, but I will concede that the aftertaste might have what some could call a certain bitterness. I rate this tea very highly, and I am glad to own some of it.

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