Friday, December 30, 2005

Second opinion on Elabora King Bing

Geraldo has reviewed this one already. Having tasted this tea, I'm chiming in not because I think he's wrong about it but because I think our Pu'er sensibilities differ.

To me, this tea is a fine example of what I love in a young sheng Pu'er. Not the amazing complexity of an aged tea, nor the way a great old Pu'er will drink you under the table no matter how many steeps you give it (though this one did fine for seven.) But there's something gorgeous about some young ones, and for me, this one has it.

I brewed the Elabora - where did this name come from? - using normal wrongfu: water off-boil, 1g leaf/fluid ounce, quick rinse and then steeps of 20, 10, 20, 30, 60, 120, and 300 seconds.

From the first, my favorite thing about young shengs came out: a soft, sweet, musty aroma that always reminds me of cat fur. It was there, strongly, in the brewed leaf aroma, and it was there in the cup aroma, getting stronger and sweeter as the cup cooled and climaxing in the empty cup. The taste of the first steep was soft and musty, with the slightest hint of fruit, and it got richer and sweeter as the cup cooled.

In the second steep, the musty highway to my brain's pleasure center narrowed, but the tea gained some complexity. While still soft and musty, the aroma took on a bit of ash, though the empty cup spoke the way it did in the first steep. The taste, still soft, gained a bit of smoky bitterness.

The third steep brought just a hair more ash to the aroma. The flavor was no longer as soft and rich as before, though it maintained a good balance of sweet and bitter.

By the fourth steep, the must was starting to recede from the aroma, which took on some vegetality and a tiny bit of fruit. The taste, continuing to lose richness, added a bit of vague vegetality.

The remaining steeps were pretty much similar to the fourth, with a minor amount of astringency creeping in.

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