Thursday, May 31, 2007

Anodyne on Long Jing Huang Pao and First Grade Blue Pencils

I wonder if anyone else has tried the Long Jing Huang Pao or “Emperor’s Robe Dragonwell” from TeaSpring? It is listed on their website under the category of China Black Teas. The processing of this tea has "been lost for nearly 300 years" and only recently "re-invented" as the website notes with the following description:"...the processing method is similar to making cooked Pu-erh. It goes through 100 days of post fermentation, but unlike Pu-erh, it is not done under a high humidity environment. Long Jing Huang Pao is probably China's first dried, post-fermentation tea. It can be stored for a lengthy period of time, and may even benefit with some aging."

As the TeaSpring site notes, "the taste is nothing like Long Jing (Green tea)” but “carries the character of Black tea together with the smooth mouthfeel of a good Pu-erh tea...complex...a light hint of fruity-sour."

Long Jing Huang Pao comes from Xi Hu, Zhejiang Province and is from the Dec 2005 harvest. The site mentions a "golden yellow infusion," though what I have in my cup here is rather amber-brown in color. The description they give of the leaves is "dark colored...with flat and narrow shape.”

I am very much taking that proverbial stab in the dark here as to what this tea is like. I just don't have enough points of comparison. I’d like to hear comments from those who live intimately with Pu-erh and can make that more solid connection based on the website description. It has a very pleasant subtle and shifting aroma—grain, light citrus twist and that soft woody note that I've often referred to as the Damp Tip Ends of Chewed Blue First Grade Pencils [*see note below]. It's a taste I have found in Houjicha and some other teas as well. The soft woody note lingers on the tongue along with that slight citrus note. I only had the 3 gram packet so haven't been able to go back to this one again and again to re-experience it. My impressions are just very quick initial ones. The empty cup hangs onto a sweet aroma—a kind of a dark Forest Honey or molasses note. It's going into a second steep here. And later: drinking the third infusion, which—by happenstance—I am drinking at room temperature, I am centering mostly on the fruity-citrus in this tea with that woodsy note in the background which I still want to translate Damp Tip Ends of Chewed Blue First Grade Pencils.

*Definition of Damp Tip Ends of Chewed Blue First Grade Pencils: I am drinking Houjicha today on this rainy afternoon, the air softened and thickened by the moisture and smelling richly of earth. The tea liquor is a light brown with slight rosy hue. The dry leaf of Kukicha Twig Tea especially, but also Houjicha, always immediately transports me back to my First Grade Classroom...chewing on the end of those large soft blue erasers on the end, so you ended up using those large rubbery erasers that left piles of little rubber shreds all over the paper, your lap, the floor...but the aroma of this tea immediately says "sweet soft wood aroma from chewing on end of blue pencil." It may not sound like it, but it is actually a positive taste for me. Or at least an evocative one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also tried the Long Jing Huang Pao and I really enjoyed it. I'm also not a pu-ehr expert, but it seemed to be in its own category--fitting neither as a black tea or a pu-ehr. This is one of the sweetest teas I have tasted, but I think that was really a strength of it rather than something that detracted. I'm not very good at describing teas, but I would highly recommend the Long Jing Huang Pao to anyone interested.