This is my second experience with a Mr. Gao x Tea Urchin produced sheng pu, this an autumn 2011 cake from Yi Bang. Yi Bang is a hilltop village lying within the township of Xiangming in Mengla County. I would be interested to know if anyone can verify a claim that I read suggesting that it was the birthplace of the tong (seven cakes wrapped in bamboo).
I don’t think it would be hasty at all for me to suggest that with only two co-produced teas, Mr. Gao has made me an ardent admirer. As I discovered during my experience with the cacao and baking arts, you develop a sense for the artistry of the truly dedicated. The sensitivity and dedication to the leaf is certainly notable in each aspect of these teas produced by him and the venerable Tea Urchin.
In contrast to the delicate, reflective nature of their Mang Zhi cake, this Yi Bang acted as a pungent and assertive counterpoint. Possessing of a poised and desirable bitterness that persisted throughout the session, its kuwei gently stimulating. I noted a tingling at the tongue tip before it began to arch up from the middle of the tongue creating a domed sensation into the soft and hard palates and then seeming to spray like fireworks into the sinus cavity.
The broth, which greatly appeared set by gelatin, possessed a lingering sweet tartness in its taste. I found myself repeatedly associating it with fresh white currant, or at times white grape skins, muddled with vanilla. Citrus notes fluttered along the tongue in later steepings, as did floral shades of rose and lilac. A sugary sweetness persisted from the sixth steep on, rising from the trenches at the back of the mouth and pushing forward.
The qi of this Yi Bang seemed relatively mild during the session until appearing full-bore in the latter half much to my surprise. I experienced a flushing of the cheeks along with a tingling perspiration in the lower abdomen, shoulders, upper arms and thighs. My palms went damp and my feet tingled. I felt light-headed and euphoric.
I have had such a fantastic run with the cakes sampled, some later purchased, from Tea Urchin, and the two with Mr. Gao. I greatly look forward to the cakes that they produce in 2012 separately and with some hope, jointly.
p.s. Should you not have already realized, my furry companion Newt was not present for this session. She was far more preoccupied with warming her fur on the radiator cover in my office.
steeping listening: Van Der Graaf Generator: The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other