Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed”

Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed” Green Tea from Anhui via @yunnansourcing.

“Liu An Gua Pian (六安瓜片 also known as Lu’an Gua Pian or Melon Seed) is one of the “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶), and is grown in Da Bie Mountain Liu An area of Anhui province. (大别山六安市安徽省).  Liu An Gua Pian first became popular during the Qing Dynasty.”

Yunnan Sourcing

Liu An Gua Pian is an unusual tea in a number of ways.

The first way that it is unusual is that it is picked later than most first flush teas, so more mature leaves are used. The second way that it is unusual is that no bud or stem is included in the tea, only a single leaf is rolled.

This makes it incredibly labor intensive to produce, (Well, actually, all tea picked and processed by hand is incredibly labor intensive!)

First the stems and buds are removed from the picked tea leaves. Then leaves are allowed to wither briefly. Then they are quickly processed in an open wok-like oven to “kill green”. Then they are passed through the wok-like oven again and each individual leaf is formed into a cylinder with a brush-like device. Finally, the formed tea is repeatedly heated briefly over open flame neutral flavored charcoal to dry it.

Since it is larger leaves, the flavor is incredibly clean and light.

It’s funny, a lot of times green tea is compared to the sweet flavor of fresh asparagus, and most of the time I don’t really agree. However, on Saturday I made the first asparagus of the year with meyer lemon, olive oil, and tarragon. With Liu An Gua Pian, I totally get the asparagus thing, and even a little bit of tarragon and mint in the finish.

Definitely the perfect tea for a beautiful spring day.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #LiuAnGuaPian #LuanGuaPian

OBSX

OBSX from @white2tea.

“OBSX…Yancha [rock oolong] made from older bush material, this tea is often called laocong shuixian which literally translates as old bush narcissus; shuixian being the varietal of tea.”

White2tea

Shuixian or “Shui Hsien” is actually one of the more common varieties of Oolong. It is suitable to growing in regions of China other than Fujian, and that lower quality Oolong, from outside of Fujian, is what you may get if you order Oolong tea in a Chinese restaurant or order “Oolong” flavored Bubble Tea.

This “laocong shuixian” from white2tea, however, is quite interesting. It lacks a bit in scent, but what it lacks in scent, it makes up for in flavor of the tea. Uh, and in its potent buzz.

There is a light narcissus scent, but the flavors are on the dark side. Tobacco leaf, especially, and a bit of leather. I especially understood, with this tea, the mineral character that is often used to describe “Rock” Oolong. Those mineral briney flavors are very prominent, along with those other dark flavors. The downside to the light scent is that OBSX doesn’t have a lot of staying power or aftertaste. Once the flavor is gone from your mouth, there isn’t much that lingers in your palate or mind.

I think I would best describe this burly, dark OBSX Oolong as an Oolong for Pu-Erh drinkers, especially those that appreciate a potent kick from their tea.

#Cha #Tea #OolongTea #WuyiYancha #RockOolong #White2Tea

dahongpao

Dahongpao from @white2tea.

“Originally used to describe the tea from a small group of bushes in Fujian, the name Dahongpao in a modern context is more commonly used to describe blends of yancha [rock oolong] instead of denoting a varietal or processing distinction.”

white2tea

Originally, the term Da Hong Pao was used to describe a tea made from a few bushes in Fujian. Or to quote the wikipedia.

According to legend, the mother of a Ming dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by a certain tea, and that emperor sent great red robes to clothe the four bushes from which that batch of tea originated. Famously expensive,[1][2] Da Hong Pao can sell for up to US$1,025,000 per kilogram or US $35,436 per ounce (20z of Da Hong Pao tea from one of the mother plants was sold for ¥156,800 in 1998).

Da Hong Pao wikipedia article

So, this, obviously, isn’t that Da Hong Pao, in fact it is one of the more reasonable Wuyi Oolongs on the White2Tea site, and they describe it as being a good introduction to “quality” Stone Oolong.

I would agree. While some of the other Oolongs went long on fragrance or oxidation, their dahongpao charts a nice middle path. Good complexity, yet not daunting. Pleasant fragrance, but not overly perfumed. A little grip, but sweet enough to be balanced. I do like the finish, though. It’s not super strong while you are drinking it, but it came back to me at various times during the day, haunting me a bit (in a good way).

#Tea #Cha #White2Tea #OolongTea #WuyiYancha #WuyiOolong #StoneOolong

stone milk

stone milk wuyi yancha.

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.

#Tea #Cha #white2tea #wuyiyancha #OolongTea #RockOolong #DrinkTea

baisuixiang

Baisuixiang Wuyi Yancha, aka Rock Oolong, from @white2tea.

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.

#Cha #Tea #OolongTea #WuyiYanCha #RockOolong #white2tea #drinktea

Maiden’s Ecstasy

Maiden’s Ecstasy

Maiden’s Ecstasy Ripe Pu-Erh tea, “Late 1990s”, from Aroma Tea Shop in San Francisco.

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.

#Tea #Cha #ShouPuErh #PuErh #RipePuErh #AromaTeaShop

Iron Arhat

Iron Arhat

Iron Arhat from white2tea.

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.

The first Wuyi yancha tea I try is Iron Arhat.

Having read a bit about white2tea’s main man, Paul Murray, in this article from Saveur, “The Pu-Erh Brokers of Yunnan Province,” I suspect they err on the heavy side, so I do as well.

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.

#Cha #Tea #Wuyiyancha #yancha #Oolong #RockOolong #white2tea #white2teaclub

Solitude

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’.”

#Solitude #KingMidasSound #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

“Te Ji” Grade Looseleaf Puerh

“Te Ji” Grade PuErh

Certified Organic“Te Ji” Grade Looseleaf Puerh from Yunnan Sourcing.

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.

#Puerh #OrganicPuerh #YunnanSourcing #Tea #Cha #DrinkTea

Wild Tree Purple Moonlight

Wild Tree Purple Moonlight White Tea from Jinggu, Spring 2018 from Yunnan Sourcing.

There’s a lot to unpack in that very long name.

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 only other white tea I’ve tried which is remotely similar is the Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan, and even that isn’t really close.

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.

#Cha #Tea #Puerh #YunnanSourcing #WhiteTea #PurpleTea #YeShengCha