Thursday, October 27, 2005

tie kuan yin 'monkey picked' from

tea: tie kuan yin 'monkey picked' no. 10
item #O-TKY-10
harvest: 2005
date brewed for these notes: 051019
proportions: 8 g leaf to 4 oz water
vessel: jenaer zylindro

in my brewing i did not use a yixing pot because i wanted to observe the agony of the leaves, the changes in physical aspect of the leaf, and the development of the color of the brewed liquor. but in terms of time and leaf/water proportions, i attempted to approach what one might do in traditional gongfu cha. indeed in such case one might have used still more leaf to less water.

the zylindro offers a very precise measuring tool -- in addition to the visual access it affords, it allows almost instantaneous separation of leaves from liquor. in fact the argument that might be made against it is that its results are *too* precise to be replicated in more ordinary day-to-day brewing [unless, of course, one uses one’s zylindro every day]. so my reader should bear in mind that unless your yixing pot has a very fast pour rate, you are not likely to reproduce these results exactly. [in fact the only other brewing vessel that pours this fast is likely to be a gaiwan.]

one interesting aspect of this experience was the aroma of these infused leaves. one rinses tea-leaves -- briefly, briefly, and in not very much water -- in order to introduce them to the notion that they are about to get a hot bath. right after the rinse, the aroma of these leaves was beginning to emerge, but not nearly as fully or with as much complexity as after INF1. [this is by no means unique to this tea, but an instructive reminder that the whole tea-making and tea-drinking process is just that: a process.]

dry leaf: greyish-green, loosely-fisted leaves, little aroma

very brief rinse followed by 1 min rest

INF1: 30 sec, 190F. color: golden with a faint but unmistakable reddish tinge to it. aroma: not especially floral, but a clean and fresh oolong-y smell. taste: not sweet, not astringent; but fruity rather than vegetal. the aftertaste is both delicate and pervasive; a difficult balance to achieve. infused leaves: somewhat expanded after INF1; a bit ragged; one can now see that some stem is included.

INF2: 20 sec, 190F. color: similar to INF1, perhaps less reddish. aroma: the kind of ‘cool’ smell that brings a feeling of clarity to the head. again, clean and fresh. taste: a bit more astringency here, noticeable but still subtle. the aftertaste continues to curl over the soft palate long after the sip.

INF3: 30 sec, 190F. [the infused leaves have continued to unfurl -- at this point they go fully halfway up the column of the zylindro infuser. their aroma is less sweet now, more assertive.] color: more like that of INF1. aroma: round and pleasing, not as assertive as that of the infused leaves at this point. taste: less fruity than before; a bit vegetal at the beginning, but mellowing almost instantly. it’s above all the aftertaste of INF3 that one drinks for. it makes simply breathing in through mouth a pleasure.

INF4: 35 sec, 190F. color: more straight golden. still quite a rich color; at INF4 this tea shows no sign of attenuation. aroma and taste are about like those of INF3. again the aftertaste here is distinguished.

INF5: 40 sec, 190F. color: only now does the liquor begin to pale a bit. aroma is at this point slightly fainter. the taste [and aftertaste] are however still present, front and center, and very much in line with what INF3-4 had offered. my surmise is that this tea would provide another two infusions at least.

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