Thursday, May 25, 2006

Geraldo on 30-Year-Old Yun Lai (Clouds Gathering) from Sunsing

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

Note: This sample was purchased from Sunsing (in Hong Kong) via their North American representative, Tea2Gather in Toronto. Tea2Gather places the order, and the samples travel from Hong Kong directly here to my home.

Date Brewed: 4/2/06
Type: Aged Uncooked (Sheng) Pu’er
Vintage: Early 1970s
Type: Beeng Cha
Manufacturer: Meng Hai
Leaf Appearance: Dry Leaf: Sample comes flaked in pressed large leaves that are grey-black and dark brown. Wet leaves: Red-black after the tenth infusion. Leaf Weight & Vessel: 4.2g in 4oz Heart Sutra Yixing pot.
Brewing Temperature: Low boil
Rinse & Rest: 1 full minute rinse, 1 minute rest
Infusion Times: First six infusions: Flash/”Wrong-fu” (five seconds or less). Then 12s, 18s, 25s, 45s, 1m20s, 3m. This is my third experience with this tea. From earlier tastings and discussion, Mike Petro and I arrived at these parameters for this particular aged pu’er.

Liquor Appearance: Tawny red-brown in the first infusions. Good clarity and a lighter color ring around the cup’s rim. The liquor loses color very gradually. In the sixth infusion, it’s only slightly paler. In the tenth infusion, the color is still fairly dark.

Aroma: Very mild in the first infusions, light mushroom and loam. Inviting. Aspen, birch, and cedar bouquet. The strong and attractive aroma unfurls from the pot and the sharing pitcher. In the fourth and fifth infusions, the aroma strengthens, and it is still strong and alluring in the tenth infusion.

Flavor: First infusions--Thick consistency in the mouth. Flavor is mild and woody, matching the aroma. Aged, uncooked pu’er flavor is strong and lively. This is neither a sweet nor a sour aged pu’er; it presents a nice balance. The liquor is a delight on the back and sides of the tongue. In the fourth and fifth infusions, there is a pleasant, mild astringency on the soft palate. In the sixth infusion, the initial flavor-burst from the first hot sip is sweet and camphoric. A very pleasant cooling effect is apparent in the aftertaste.

Infusions: The infusions present an evolution of flavor and aroma. As the initial stronger flavors subside, the aftertaste and aroma increase. I stopped after 12 infusions, but the tea could have produced more.

Overall: This is a wonderful and highly distinguished aged pu’er. It is lively and balanced, but I have just one concern: The aftertaste is not as wonderful, pronounced, and mysterious as that in some other aged pu’ers I’ve tried. 30 Yr Yun Lai is, nevertheless, an excellent aged pu’er. Of the different aged Meng Hai #7542 cakes I’ve had the opportunity to taste, this is perhaps among the best.

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