I think it’s fair to say that your tea stash can be broken down into several classes, into which you subconsciously slot every tea you own.
There’s the “Peak Experience” teas, the ones that you reserve for those special sessions that come along every once in a while, the teas that deep down you know can only be drunk, to quote The Stranger from Easy Rider, “When you get to the right place, with the right people.”
One of the most important of these classes is the “Daily Drinker“. These are the teas that define the rhythm of your week, the ones you automatically turn to when in need of sustenance and refreshment during the working day. These are the teas happy to be steeped Grandpa Style, solid, dependable workhorses that don’t have diva-esque demands regarding tea to water ratios, or fine temperature control, but just get on with the job in hand.
This is one such tea.
This is a 100g mini beeng pressed from Autumn 2012 material that originates from the well known Yi Wu mountain area of Xishuangbanna prefecture in Yunnan.
Canton describe this beeng as “accessibly-priced“, and with it currently on sale for £5.60 ( US$6.97, €6.59 ) it’s hard to disagree.
The beeng itself is not too tightly compressed, and it was relatively easy to open it up with my pu-erh pick and free off the required amount of leaf without damaging it.
I’ve had the best results with this tea when steeping it in the small (150 ml) clay pot I use exclusively for sheng pu-erh, with water straight off a rolling boil. I slightly over-leaf at 7 grams, and after a quick rinse begin sessions with a 5 second infusion, bumping the duration of subsequent steepings by 5 seconds for each new round.
After the 11th infusion I tend to up the steeping times to something like 1½, 2, 2½, 3, and 4 minutes, with 16 or so steepings being the norm.
These leaves also work well when steeped Western style in my Ikea Upphetta French press. Here I use 3 grams to the press’s 400 ml capacity, and get 3 good steepings at 2, 2½, and 3 minutes.
The wet leaves smell of muted sheng tones – wood, leather, with something that feels like bracken.
There’s a good body here, full and creamy.
The overall taste here is what most tend to think of when the name Yiwu is mentioned – this is not an in your face sheng, but mild and sweet, perfect for long sessions. This would also make a good sheng for those new to this class of tea, who might find themselves intimidated by a more powerful, big hitting sheng.
A nice wee beeng this, then, and one that’s carved out a place for itself at my tea table as one of my regular, everyday shengs, alongside White2Tea’s Daily Drinker and the Haiwan 958.
If you’re looking at experimenting with sheng Pu-erh, or want a good, solid, cost-effective sheng to supplement your stash, you won’t go far wrong here. Good stuff.
I’ve never infused a sheng western style so glad to see some parameters. Will try this next time I steep a sheng.
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I think a good rule of thumb would be to start light-ish with the amount of leaf, quick (90 seconds), and slightly cooler (95 degs. C) than usual until you get a feel for how they’ll turn out, especially with a young-ish sheng.
Also, if you have a sheng that has a bit of bite when you gong-fu it, I’d play it really cool when trying to steep it Western style. I have a Haiwan mini-brick, for example that’s got a bit of a kick to it even though it’s coming up to 7 years old. I wouldn’t dare try steeping that Western style… 🙂