Clay and Leaves

Mrs. Teaist was away for the weekend, catching up with an old friend, when she glanced in a window, and happened to see a gaiwan.

The window in question belonged to Forida’s, a shop specialising in all things Chinese, and mere seconds later she was inside, and messaging me.

I could, of course, have bought half their inventory by proxy, but not wanting to treat my beloved as a pack animal, as well being keen to make sure that we ate and paid bills for the remainder of the month, I limited my purchases to a clay gong-fu pot and some tea.

The Pot

150 ml gongfu clay tea pot

This wee beauty has a capacity of 150 ml, and has already been assigned the role of sheng pot. It has a nice, fast, clean pour, and as an added bonus is a bit of a whistler when the volume of water in it is just right!

The Tea

Xian Zhi - dry leaf

The tea Mrs. Teaist procured for the stash was a Xian Zhi, a green tea from Wu Yuan, a county in Shangrao prefecture, which itself lies in North-eastern Jiangxi province.

According to Teapedia the plucking style is 1 bud and 1 leaf, and those leaves and buds are only harvested before the Qingming Festival, making this an early spring tea. Teapedia goes on to explain that this is a very rare tea, something that perhaps explains why the shop told Mrs. Teaist that they only managed to obtain some thanks to a personal connection to the producer.

The dry leaf had an almost hong cha like aroma, malty, but lighter somehow, and herby too, like mint but not as intense, or perhaps even thyme, or oregano.

For my first session with this tea I used my 150 ml capacity glass gong-fu pot with 6 grams of leaf. Water was at 80°C.

I tend to skip a rinse with green teas, and so after warming up the teaware got straight down to business with a 10 second infusion. I upped the time for subsequent steepings by 5 seconds a round until 40 seconds, making a respectable 7 infusions.

Xian Zhi - in pot

The tea liquor was a very pale yellow colour, yet had a very full and wonderfully oily body. The taste was quite different, too – the main feeling I got was Longjing like, but with the malty, darker aspects of a hong cha thrown in, but without either the former’s grassiness or any of the latter’s astringency, and with that minty thing in the mix.

By the third steeping the colour had deepened a tad and the body had beefed up even more. It was at this point that I noticed a lingering aroma left on the inside of the cup that reminded me of casting sugar.

At the back end of the session a slight touch of astringency finally reared it’s grassy head, but nothing untoward.

Xian Zhi - used leaf

So, a nice new pot and an equally pleasant new-to-me green tea – an excellent reward for a weekend of cat sitting, and no mistake. Mrs. Teaist even managed to surprise me with an unannounced mystery gift – two sets of bamboo coasters. Excellent to the power of superb! Hurrah!

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