Thursday, May 25, 2006

Geraldo on 1960s Guang Yun Gong from Hou De Fine Tea

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

Date Brewed: 3/26/06
Type: Aged Sheng
Vintage: 1960s
Manufacturer: Unspecified
Grade & Region: Unspecified
Leaf Appearance: Dry Leaf: Black and Grey-Brown, good compression, some stems. Wet Leaf: Red-black leaves, remaining quite flat.
Leaf Weight & Vessel: 4.3g in beloved 4oz black and green jade gaiwan
Brewing Temperature: Boiling
Infusion Times: 15s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s, 45s, 1m, 1m30s, 2m30s

Liquor Appearance: In the first infusions, the color of a mild cup of coffee, and very clear. By the sixth infusion, subsides to the color of tawny port or cream sherry. In the 10th infusion, the color of American pilsner.

Aroma: The aroma hints at maple in the first infusions, along with wood and earth. In later infusions, the wood notes predominate.

Flavor: Even in the first infusion there are powerful hints of greatness. There are wood (birch and cedar), caramelized sugar, very mild fruit (orange?), and mint. There is the wonderful cooling effect. By the sixth infusion, the wood flavor becomes a little more pronounced. The sweetness remains through the middle infusions, and serves as a wonderful counterpoint to the very pleasant and mild tart notes. By the tenth infusion, leafy loam flavors step back, and wood notes are much clearer.

Infusions: This is a generous pu’er. I let the tea rest for 60 minutes between the eighth and ninth infusions. The tea is very simple to brew—no trickiness or extra thinking involved.

Overall: This is a wonderful and distinguished aged pu’er. There is nothing in it that I can fault and very much in it that I love. The aromas and flavors match, and the evolution is gradual and serene. I am delighted to own a few crumbs of this, and it assumes pride of place in my collection of aged fragments. By now I should have won the lottery—what went wrong? Until I do win big, I am content to own bits of aged pu’er such as this one to try now and again. Exploring aged pu’er is as much an exploration of the mind as it is an exploration of the leaf. For me this is not casual: When I confront a tea such as this 60s GYG, I try to consider each sip. I would not want this tea every day because I would not want a tea of this caliber to become mundane.

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