Part of my stash lives in a chest of drawers in our kitchen.
This is kind of the “Tradesman’s Entrance” of my setup, the unglamorous but vital place where those all-important “daily drinkers” live, the teas that bookend my everyday consumption, and more often than not fill in the bits in the middle, too.
If you were to rummage around in that drawer you would find an old Kusmi Tea tin, one that originally held 125 grams of a concoction called “Green Bouquet“. These days, however, it contains something quite different, a tea drinkers dirty little secret of sorts.
When dealing with sheng Pu-erh that has been compressed into brick, cake, or bowl shapes, there will inevitably be small bits of broken leaf and other particulate to deal with, the material left over on the tea sorting tray once the pretty stuff has been transferred to the pot or gaiwan where the magic is about to take place.
It’s this detritus that finds a new home in the aforementioned old Kusmi tin, where it also gains a new name – Beast Blend 444.
Regular readers of this blog might be able to figure out the “444” bit. If you guessed four teaspoons, four hundred millilitres capacity brewing vessel (an Ikea Upphetta of legend), and four minutes steeping time then give yourself a pat on the back.
Those are the infusion parameters I use when I drop this tea blend into a filter bag and simply add boiling water.
The “Beast” moniker is also simple to explain – this Frankentea usually packs a kick a bad-tempered, bionic mule with a hangover would be proud of.
When a relatively large percentage of its makeup came from Canton Tea’s 2012 De Hong Ye Sheng it was particularly lethal, the absinthe of the tea world. That, however, is one of the charms of this blend, you never quite know what you’re going to get. It might have you chuckling quietly to yourself as you empty the dishwasher, or then again it might have you swinging from the light fittings, gibbering manically, unable even to come up with a semi-coherent plan of action for feeding the cat.
Make no mistake, this monstrosity only exists because I hate waste and the thought of even the dust off a beeng ending up in the bin is anathema to me.
This is also kind of a tea of last resort – if I really want to drink sheng and I’m prepared to sacrifice, well, almost everything on the high altars of speed and convenience, then this is the tin I’m reaching for.
Given that its newest incarnation is going to largely be a mix of Huang Pian and a new Nan Nuo brick it might just, maybe, be a shade more mellow this time around.
Hopefully not too mellow, though. Hmmm. Perhaps I’d better get some more of that powerful purple stuff in. Just in case, like…
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