Zhi Zheng.Song Bing Dao 2011

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I was quite fortunate to have received a sample of a 2011 spring Zhi Zheng.Song Bing Dao some time back with an order of 2012 JingMai and Kong Shan Xin Yu cakes. The latter of which, I would like to once again state, is an assured highlight of their spring pressings, and worth a sample at the very least.

I have enjoyed a couple of sessions, courtesy of this sample, over the past few weeks. The last of this leaf found its way to the cha pan yesterday, and finally yielded what i felt was a long overdue post.

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The pasture heavy dry xiang qi exhibited a faded trace of tobacco. Once humid, the pasture aromatics intensified, and the tobacco developed muskiness.

Initial liquors offered a complex herbaceous profile rounded out with hints of dried floral and aromatic woods. Complementary notes developed by the third steep which existed somewhere between the sharpness of cracked peppercorn and the soft sweetness of long pepper. Each subsequent steep exhibited gradual increases in depth and increasingly reminded of the aroma of Sorig Tibetan incense.

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The ku shifted in its placement throughout the session. First present between the underside of the tongue and the base of the mouth cavity, it progressed to the sides of the tongue and finally resolved itself at the top of the throat. It also engaged the hard palate and opened the sinus cavity.

The mid to back of the tongue became lightly numb.

The hui gan appeared first from the top of the throat and low soft palate, sinking deeper until it rose from the clavicle into the trenches of the mouth cavity. A fir-like cooling appeared and edged the tongue. The sweet and complex aftertaste lingered at considerable length following the last cup.

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The energy unleashed from these leaves first nagged at the forehead and warmed the scalp, leaving it dampened. It weighted at the back of the neck before sinking into the chest and abdomen where it warmed excessively throughout the 15 plus steeps, most notably at the solar plexus.

The tea was fully penetrating.

It was sad to finish the last of this Bing Dao. Each session increased my awareness of its’ inherent characteristics. The more I came to understand it, the more I became attached. And I still feel as if there are many elements I have yet to experience.

Many thanks again to Mark, for the generous sample.

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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