2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha

2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha - wrapped

This wee 100 gram beeng had so many interesting points in its favour it was impossible to resist.

First and foremost was the fact that Scott “Yunnan Sourcing” Wilson managed the production of the tea on What-cha‘s behalf. Having Scott onboard is almost guaranteed to grab most teaheads’ attention.

2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha - unwrapped

Then there was the fact that the raw material came from high altitude (1800-1900 metres) old arbor (100+ years) Taliensis (rather than the more usual Camellia Sinensis) trees.

Let me stop you right there – here’s my money…please, just take it!!!

Just to complete the picture, the exact origin of the material is Ye Zhu Tang village, which lies in Jing Gu county, Pu’er (Simao) Prefecture, Yunnan Province. The leaves were harvested in the spring of 2015, and pressed in the period between August and October that same year.

Steeping method
Weight of dry leaf: 7 grams
Infusion style: Gong-fu / Asian
Steeping vessel: 150 ml unglazed clay teapot
Water temperature: 100°C
No. & duration: a 2 second rinse, then a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 50 seconds, followed by an infusion @ 1 minute then @ +30 seconds until 5.5 minutes for a total of 20 infusions

It has to be said, with what What-cha accurately describe as its “very large leaves and hairy white buds” this sure is a pretty cake. It simply begs you to get busy with your pick and tease off some leaf, gaze at it adoringly for a good while, then put the kettle on and get steeping.

2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha - dry leaf

The rinse left almost no trace of tea dust or particulate in the strainer, and the wet leaves had a very hard to pin down, mild and subtle aroma.

This was also the case with the first steeping. I found that this was one of those teas that I needed to let cool down significantly before sipping in order to get a handle on it. It looked as though this might be a slow starter, but the signs were good. It felt like the body was going to be a nice, slick, buttery one when it got going, and although the Qi wasn’t there in force yet, it was already beginning to tickle the places a good sheng should. A faint plaster of Paris fragrance remained in the cup.

On the second steeping the Qi arrived with all the “..here’s Johnny!” subtlety of Jack Nicholson whacking an axe through a door. This was a real stumblefoot dreamy but still focused affair that let the mind go into hyperdrive powered wandering mode, and uncorked the word-genie’s bottle. “Did Kubrick drink sheng?“, I wondered, as I noted a peppery tingle on the back of my throat and inside my nose.

a cup of 2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha

By the fourth steeping the flavour of the tea was becoming more apparent, what I can best describe as “well balanced full spectrum sheng“. All the notelets you might expect to be there were all present and correct – fresh wood shavings, mushroom-umami, and clean new leather, but in supremely well mixed proportions, and with that cute spicy thing dancing around on top.

Come the fifth infusion it was obvious that these leaves had oodles in the tank, so I began to heat more water on the side for what was clearly going to be a long session, gleefully content to kiss goodbye to what remained of the morning.

Things progressed in an utterly groovy direction. As is so often the case during sessions like this, a musical reference spontaneously popped into my head, – during the 16th. infusion Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore” came out of nowhere. Best not to overthink these moments, just accept and smile.

It was only after another 4 rounds that the tea finally ran out of steam, and with lunch looming large on the horizon coupled with a sheng-induced case of the munchies I called a halt to the session at that point. Still, 20 steepings over a 2 hour period is a good return I reckon.

2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha - finished leaf

In conclusion, then, a cracking little beeng that’s well worth a place in your stash.

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One Response to 2015 What-Cha Lao Shu Bai Cha

  1. Pingback: What-Cha Autumn 2016 Jingmai Shengtai | Diary of a Northern Teaist

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