Alistair of What-cha fame certainly gets his hands on some interesting teas, and this is one of them.
To legitimately label a tea as “Pu-erh” it must originate in Yunnan, but trees of course, as we have discussed before, do not obey the petty rules and regulations of man. That means that this is a sheng Pu-erh in all but name, which in turn means that, as Alistair notes, “the tea is available at a good price as the material used originates from outside of Yunnan.”
Sadly, though, Alistair goes on to inform us that “the price has been partly pushed up by less honest merchants looking for good quality materials to sell as Yiwu Pu-erh.”
This cake’s raw material comes from Ban Payasi village, which lies in Phongsaly Province of Laos, right on the border with Yiwu province in the PRC.
The leaves were harvested in Spring (early March) of 2014, and pressed later that same month by Chawangpu, who are, to quote What-cha, “the in house label of one of the most respected merchants based in Yunnan.”
The leaves were then processed just as a regular sheng Pu-erh would have been, and the finished 200g beeng was subsequently dry stored in Kunming before making its way to London in 2015.
|Weight of dry leaf:||8 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a 2 second rinse, then a 1st. infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 60 seconds, then @ 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, and 5 minutes for a total of 19 infusions|
The rinse had a smoky, floral aroma, all heavily perfumed hothouse flowers, with a papery kind of note that reminded me of newsprint somehow.
The early steeps showed a medium body that straddled the border between milky and creamy, with that flowery thing sat on top of the typical sheng woody, earthiness.
There was a wee astringent nip in there, too, the kind that tickles the roof of the mouth, but nothing more.
By the second steeping I’d started to sweat profusely in the whole upper body region, especially the back of my neck for some peculiar reason.
The Qi didn’t simply storm in, but was a slow builder, finally sneaking in via the back door somewhere around the fifth or sixth steeping, bringing a sleepy, day-dreamy state, which induced much cloud-gazing, and the kind of off-the-wall postulating that Phil Dick himself might have approved of.
Four infusions later fine motor control went West. I might have surrendered partial command of my extremities, but I did gain a severe case of the sheng-giggles, which nicely balanced the equation.
During the back-half of the session I got the feeling of bracken covered moorland on a hot summer’s day, and as the astringent note began to tail off it let a sugarsnap pea like sweetness through.
After a good couple of hours the leaves were showing signs of quitting on me, which was no big deal as I was starting to suffer from the sheng-munchies. The session was duly ended, and the fridge raided.
So, to sum up, a very interesting little beeng this, especially if your intention is to compare and contrast with teas made back over the border in Yiwu. Recommended. Good stuff.