The 70s

As I turned another year just the other day, I had decided a couple of weeks earlier that I would celebrate the day with a tea of similar… um, shall we say, vintage. I suppose this may sound silly, but it seemed a good idea.

Following some lengthy consideration I decided upon a sheng pu, the 1970 Jiang Chen from Bana. I wanted to try something unfamiliar, and chose a tea that had piqued my curiosity back some time.

As you can see from the photo, the 20g arrived beautifully presented.

Upon opening the bag, the aroma of dry sugared rose buds muddled with earthy roots and faint talc filled the nose. The dry leaf chosen was a decent, and perfectly sized, sheered off chunk composed of flattened twisted leaves and odd scattered stems.

Once wet, the fragrance intensified to a mass of tangled roots winding in rich black earth. It all but buried the rose fragrance that had been previously noted.

The first proper steeping filled the mouth with soft notes of ginseng roots and damp earth. The rose while present in taste from the second steep, was more pronounced in the sinus cavity. The roots continued to flourish across successive steeps, becoming sweeter and increasingly tangling around the tongue.

The throat feeling was full and warm, with a sporadic slight catching halfway.

This Jiang Chen possessed a rather penetrating qi. Within three steeps my body became profoundly warm, most notably at the abdomen which had become engulfed with heat. My palms became slicked with sweat. My body became calm. By the latter quarter of the session, I even noticed a heaviness set on my brow.

It proved a fantastic session with a tea that has since found me wanting for another exchange.

Camellia Sinensis: Liu Bao 1970 Guangxi 6608

1970 Guangxi Liu Bao 6608

Liu Bao is a post fermented tea originating from Liubao village in Cangwu County, Wuzhou prefecture in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is often compared to shu pu, which inherent processes in its production actually predate.

While this point of reference is not completely off the mark based on my experiences with these types of teas; I prefer to keep them separate, as they are ultimately two different teas. This particular Liu Bao, a 1970s 6608 from Camellia Sinensis, is assuredly one of the most pleasant productions that I have experienced.

The stems and flattened leaves of the sample displayed varying shades of cocoa brown and exhibited the texture of crêpe paper. It was similar to the crisp dryness of the bamboo wrapped Ya Xi Tibetan tea that I purchased from Life in Teacup. I derive a great pleasure in the sounds these teas make as they are prized from their wrappings, or tumbled into porcelain; it seems rather singular.

While little aroma was present in both the sample bag and cha he, the dry leaf cast a clean wood note with a hint of spice into the rising steam as the cluster tumbled into the warmed gaiwan.

A heavy scent of musty loam developed with the first steeping measure of water, as the liquor immediately assumed a beautiful, clear shade of mahogany.

The broth possessed a pleasing medium body that delivered a full mouth feel, exhibiting its 30 plus years of age in taste with a pleasing mustiness shadowing the dominant wood and old leather. A mineral like quality was present from the beginning, and persisted to end.

A note of eucalyptus induced a gently cooling sensation which emanated from the soft palate into the forehead starting with the third steep. The old leather note continued to linger into the sinus cavity until the fifth. As this diminished, I began to detect a light touch of aniseed in the throat. I was most pleased when that old tea calming sweetness began to present itself by the sixth.

The hui gan strengthened throughout the length of the session, really taking hold around this pivotal sixth steep. It proceeded to gradually fill the mouth until it had penetrated the soft palate. I steeped this enduring leaf well into multiple minute intervals, and continued to coax pleasing broths until the liquor lightened significantly and had become mere shades of sweet in taste.

The qi of this tea was subtle, but ultimately calming.

On a day such as today, when spring seems to have retreated into a second round of late fall, this tea was the perfect companion.

someone else also wondering where spring went...

Notes taken on March 31st, 2012

steeping listening: Phill Niblock: Touch Works, For Hurdy Gurdy And Voice