Che Ma Xuan – BingDao Spring 2010

photo provided by Tea Urchin

This tea is a Che Ma Xuan 2010 spring production sheng pu. According to Tea Urchin, who provided me with the sample, Che Ma Xuan is a small private label producer with a physical storefront in Shanghai. The leaf is from BingDao, which translates as Ice Island, a small village within the Lincang prefecture of Yunnan, not far from Lincang city. It is considered one of the areas of earliest cultivation of tea trees.

The aroma of this BingDao dry leaf in the cha he was penetrating to the point of taking the breath away, heavy with forest trees and earth. The faintest trace of pepper peered out from within the evergreens. A further teasing floral note developed among the firs, once placed in the warmed gaiwan.

The flash rinse, which while pale, was remarkably pleasing and sweet to the nose.

The broth yielded from the first proper steep appeared thick in the cup. The fragrance emanating from the cup was heavily floral, expanding upon its previously shy presence in the dry leaf, and rinse.

The mouth feel of the liquor was pleasing, tasting of white pepper, white fir incense, and sweet moss. An elusive kuwei accompanied, turning immediately sweet just as the palate would register its presence. A cooling sensation developed at the front of the mouth, expanding into and stimulating the forehead and chest.

Where were the strong floral notes, I thought to myself, that had previously coursed into the nostrils? They seemed to have diminished in the transition. I shouldn’t have been so hasty to wonder. They saved themselves for later in the session arriving with a note of almond in tow, and heavy with palm sugar sweetness. This became the dominant theme by the later steeps, altering in expression only with intensity through to the last cup.

A slight drying of the mouth and at top of the throat was detected in the fourth and fifth cups. This did not persist however, and by the 6th the mouth began actively salivating. The 7th steep even engaged the wellspring from beneath the tongue.

As I edged over an hour in the company of this tea, its qi had fully engulfed me after noticeably starting to move in waves by the middle point of the session. My hands had started to tremble by the last steeps, and I found myself wanting to lie down. I wasn’t fatigued, as I had thought for a moment, just seriously tea drunk.

I took a spot on the floor next to Newt who had already noted my state. She always seems oddly aware of, and appears at, these moments in my tea sessions. We decided that this was a good tea, a very good tea indeed.

photo provided by Tea Urchin