Stone milk wuyi yancha, aka rock oolong, from @white2tea.
I have to admit I’ve always been a little curious about “Stone Milk” Oolong.
It’s such a curious name for a tea.
The smell of the wet leaves is just fantastic, caramel smells with a mild sweet perfume.
Early impressions of the flavor tell me this has more tannic grip than either of the previous Wuyi Yancha. It has a thick feel in the mouth, as the tannins cause you to produce saliva. There is an almost lactic acid like late taste which combines with a subtle roasty-ness. Great long lasting aftertastes which primarily remind me of red berries with a touch of mint.
Nice buzz, but not too overwhelming.
Overall, an outstanding tea, and probably a good one to introduce English style black tea drinkers to Wuyi Oolong.
The name “baisuixiang” translates to “100 Year Fragrance”, which, while perhaps a slight exaggeration, is certainly an apt description for this incredibly fragrant Oolong tea.
I really need to attend some tasting seminars for Oolong tea, as my palate vocabulary is sorely lacking when it comes to describing some of these incredible teas. There are fragrance and taste memories that they evoke for me, (childhood candies, visiting markets in foreign countries…) which I can’t quite place.
This is definitely the most perfume-ish (or probably more accurately incense-ish) Oolong I have tried so far, yet the perfume/incense scents are not overwhelming and backed with a pleasant tannic backbone and slight bitterness. Very mild roast flavor. Long, long aftertaste, at different times reminding me of perfume and fruits.
Very different from the previous Iron Arhat Wuyi, perhaps less accessible, but no less compelling.
Using this tea for the maiden voyage of my @mudandleaves Zhuni Gaopan.
My coworker has found himself taken with the Ripe Pu-Erh Tea I have served him, so he took it upon himself to visit a local tea retailer and bring in a contribution to our growing workplace stash. Still maintaining he, “doesn’t know much about tea”!
I’m not quite sure how anyone could ask for a tea named “Maiden’s Ecstasy” with a straight face!
Anyway, lascivious name aside, this is a fine Pu-Erh tea, hay and forest floor flavors dominate the early steeps giving way to leather and wood in the later steeps. Aftertastes are menthol/camphor. It doesn’t have great length or complexity, but it is fairly reasonably priced and I don’t detect any real flaws. A very good every day ripe Pu-Erh, in other words.
I was looking to try some different sorts of tea and I liked white2tea’s philosophy:
“we conduct business with a simple philosophy: if we would not drink it, we will not sell it.
“our approach to sales is minimalist.
“no flowery descriptions of flavors. no fairytale stories about monks and tea masters. no bullshit.
“we provide the tea. the experience is up to you.”
So, I joined their tea club to get an idea about the teas they sell.
The first shipment I got was January, and it was a selection of seven Wuyi yancha, or “Rock Oolong”. Wuyi yancha are among the most highly prized, and highly priced, of Oolong teas. They are grown in the Wuyi mountains of Norther Fujian, China. As with wine, the struggle of the tea bush to survive on these rocky slopes and tough conditions concentrates the flavor in the few leaves they do produce.
On the white2tea website these sell for between $10 and $25 dollars for 25g.
Each sample is around 8g, which is a bit heavy for a single dose, or very light for more than one.
Iron Arhat, known in Chinese as tiěluóhàn, or literally, “Iron Warrior Monk”, is one of the the “Four Great Oolongs”.
I used the full sample for one batch, around 8g, brewed with water just off the boil, in a 140ml porcelain Gaiwan.
The flavors are wonderfully integrated, with none dominating. Some sweetness and minerality, with a touch of creaminess and roast flavors. Amazing length and complexity, with an aftertaste that just doesn’t quit. Great re-steepability, as well, surviving and thriving well past nearly 4 cups of water, with only a bit of grip and tannin showing up in the later, longer steeps. An amazing tea to savor as its tastes evolve over the course of the steeps.
Solitude by King Midas Sound; Bandcamp Link: Solitude
King Midas Sound is currently Roger Robinson, Words & Voice, and Kevin Richard Martin, Sound.
Stripped down to its essentials, King Midas Sound is now just spoken word poetry over floating, echo drenched sounds.
Robinson’s voice is low, his words are sparse, and his poetry bleak.
Martin’s echo drenched sound palate is as bleak and sparse as Robinson’s voice. Often he will build a semi-industrial drone for several moments before the voice starts. Seldom does anything build to a melody and only a couple songs manage a beat for a few minutes.
‘Bluebird’ is maybe favorite. Starting with low squealchy feedback drones which are then met by a supremely overdriven slow bass line, plodding downward, ever downward.
“The Bluebird in my heart is tired of trying to get out, he sleeps all day now, his feathers are shedding. The Bluebird in my heart doesn’t eat much, he’s lost his appetite, he’s losing weight, he can’t drink like he used to and can’t fly like he wants to, and my cigarette smoke makes him cough and makes his eyes red. Sometimes he hold his head in his wings and mumble, ‘what’s the point, what is the point?'”
Everything about Solitude is about capturing the decaying half life of an obsessive relationship. “You Disappear” starts the album by describing how the couple live together, but not together, and ends the album with “X” describing an imaginary get together where all of a woman’s ex-partners through the years get together to talk about her, gripe, and in the end, “divvying up the bill and the tips, I hug them all, and to each I whisper softly, ‘I still don’ miss her,’ and they all whisper back, ‘me too’.”
This is another tea from the Simau, (or Puerh,) prefecture of Yunnan Province. In this case, it is a Ripe, or Shou, Pu-erh tea. One unusual thing about this tea, is that it is grown from “Te Ji” grade leaf, which is the second smallest grade used to produce Puerh tea. It was harvested in April of 2017.
“The tea was harvested from organically cultivated tea pure assamica varietal tea bushes growing at an altitude 1300-1350 meters (4300-4450 feet) on summit of Ma Wei Mountain (just west of Pu’Er City). The tea is picked and processed into sun-dried mao cha, and then wet piled (wu dui) for 45 days, transforming it into ripe pu-erh tea (熟普洱). “
The wet pile taste is mild for such a young tea, and fades in the middle steeps, making it a good tea for newer drinkers of ripe pu-erh. It pours nearly coffee dark and exhibits pleasant chocolate-like flavors and mild bitterness early. Later, it shows some nice camphor and floral character in the aftertaste.
One warning/feature, is the tea has a very potent buzz. I was sharing this with my coworker and quite glad I didn’t drink the whole batch or I would have been buzzing three ways ’til Sunday.
Starting from the end, the tea is from “Jinngu” County in the Simao Prefecture of Yunnan Provice of China. The Simao Prefecture is also sometimes called “Pu’Er” and it is the heart of Puerh tea production in China.
This is a “White Tea”, meaning the buds and leaves are picked, briefly faded, then quickly dried.
It is made in the “Moonlight” style, which is a style of white tea made in Yunnan which is allowed to oxidize slightly more than is normal during the fading, expressing more of the fruit character of the tea.
In the more mountainous regions of Puerh, there are trees whose buds and leaves are higher in anthocyanins, it is believed in reaction to the elevation. These trees are called “Purple”. These tea trees are often used to make PuErh and Black Teas, but the anthocyanins contribute to making them rather on the bitter sides of those styles. (FYI, there are three distinct types of purple tea varietals in teas on the Yunnan Sourcing site, so it can be a bit confusing.)
Finally, it is “Wild Tree”, which means that the trees from which these buds and leaves are harvested grow outside of the commercial Puerh plantations. It is my understanding that this particular tea is only picked once a year and in a fairly small amount. It often sells out quickly on the Yunnan Sourcing site.
When you open the bag and smell the dry leaves, the aroma is amazing. Dried stonefruit and leather. Completely different from the mild floral or earthy perfume you might be used to from most white teas.
The wet tea is true to the dry aroma, as is the flavor of the steeped beverage. Dried stonefruit and earthy, leathery flavors. If you push it, and brew it hot, you will start to express a bit of the bitterness which can be present in other styles. It has a haunting length of flavor and the leaves, brewed carefully, last for many steeps.
If you like White tea, but are looking for a truly special tea with a little more zest and variety, this is a great one to try. Keep an eye out for it on the Yunnan Sourcing Instagram, Website, or Newsletter.
Bloody Sirens by Musarc & Neil Luck; Boomkat Store Link: Bloody Sirens
Number 49 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I had to skip this one yesterday, as I hadn’t figured out a way to listen to it in the car. It’s only available from the Boomkat Store and not on any Streaming Platforms. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that only one album, (well EP,) ended up being a slight problem. There were a few that were only available after purchase on Bandcamp, but this is the only one taking the true high road of no streaming at all.
Also, woo! The last album of the Wire Magazine Top 50 Albums of 2018!
Bloody Sirens is a work of Neil Luck, a British composer, or as he puts it.
“I am interested in live performance, fallible bodies, the pathetic, theatre, the esoteric and the unesoteric. My music is concerned with sound, of course, but resonates with other live and fine arts practices. “
Bloody Sirens was also a work of the UK based “choral collective”, Musarc.
Bloody Sirens sounds like it was as much a performance for vocal ensemble, as it was a composition.
3 shorter songs and one longer song.
The texts of the pieces are often composed of the sonic and or textual debris of the 21st Century.
The pieces are whimsical, curious, serious, and funny. Often they are declamatorily about themselves, with the vocalists informing on the actions in the pieces as they are happening.
The main piece, “Bloody Sirens,” appears to be based on a very loose understanding of American Baseball along with a coincidental relationship/pun relating to “perfect pitch”.
That is about as close as I can get to describing what goes on here.
If that sounds at all interesting, I recommend checking it out yourself.