My first 2012 spring sheng session paired with a little Matsuo Ohno

courtesy of Tea Urchin

My first sheng pu’er of the spring 2012 season, this a Tea Urchin production sourced from Jing Mai.

From the Tea Urchin site, “This Jing Mai cake is made from tall, ancient tea trees growing on top of the mountain at 1,700m. The leaves are a slightly smaller varietal, and were picked & hand processed by Dai tribes people in early April, after a week of constant sunshine. This period of excellent weather means this batch of tea is exceptionally good. These cakes were stone pressed in Yiwu.”

The sample shows full small leaf, buds, stems, and some broken leaf. The nose of the dry leaf is heavily fragrant with green, muddled with meadow hay and a trace of orchid. Once wetted, the leaf gives up some of its floral note, placing its faded trace along the lid of the gaiwan throughout the session.

The vigor of the tea is noticeable as it flutters along the edge of the tongue. It enters and fills the mouth beautifully, arching into the soft palate, ebbing and flowing into the sinus creating a flooding sensation.

The notably thick liquor increasingly coats the mouth and the lips.

The broth moves slowly down the full length of the throat, warming.

Eager to assert its youthfulness, it presents a pronounced and engaging ku se (bitterness) lasting well across 6 steeps. A drying sensation (this astringent nature is a signature of teas from this area from what I have read and experienced) develops, increasing throughout the length of the session, continually drawing me back to the gaiwan.

The hui gan is pensive in its nature. It moves with subtlety from the throat, along the length of the teeth before finally soaking the tongue. It progressively develops a seemingly textural quality.

Its energy becomes noticeable by the fourth steep, building through to the last. It arrives in waves of heat, spreading to the crown of the head, arms and legs. My body begins to radiate the excess by the end of the session. I actually thought of the scene from Melancholia where Kirsten has her hands raised to the sky.

I have become noticeably tea drunk.

Any edge in my mood has smoothed out.

Shortly after the final cup with the tea’s essence still lingering in my mouth; I note that the tongue, mouth and sinuses have now cooled. Yet, my shoulders remain prickly with warmth.

What an exceptional first cake to begin the spring season’s offerings.

steeping listening: Matsuo Ohno – I Saw the Outer Limits

courtesy of Tea Urchin