Like a lot of dedicated Pu-erh drinkers, the offerings of the Haiwan Tea Factory are not unknown to me.
In the past both their Sheng and Shou 100 gram fangchas, as well as their classic 958 100 gram sheng tuocha, have seen a fair bit of action hereabouts as daily drinkers, and a fine job they have done too. You really can’t get to grips with these teas and come away with any other opinion that the factory turns out solid, dependable kit, in my humble opinion.
So, when I was putting together an order over at UK based The Tea Guru recently, and espied this tempting beeng, there was not a moment’s hesitation between clocking and clicking.
This beeng was put together from Menghai area material.
|Weight of dry leaf:||7.5 grams|
|Infusion style:||Gong-fu / Asian|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml unglazed clay teapot|
|No. & duration:||a flash rinse, then a 1st. infusion @ 10 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 30, then @ 40, 60, and finally 90 seconds for a total of 8 infusions|
It took a couple of attempts, but after a bit of experimentation I finally settled for brewing up these leaves in one of the small unglazed gong-fu pots I reserve for shou Pu-erh. Post rinse the leaves gave off that old familiar aroma of hot baking parchment. Olli (Mr. Guru himself) notes that this beeng had “…no signs of fresh Ripe ‘fishy’ aroma at all…“, something the rinse confirmed.
The compression here was fairly tight, so I opted for an initial 10 second infusion to get the leaves opening up. Even allowing for that, there was still a feeling with that first steeping that the leaf-clumps were going to take a bit of work to get them truly opened up and the leaves dishing out the good stuff. The colour was the clue – it was a hong-cha red rather than the usual shou deep bronze bordering on black. To help undo the compression I left the lid on the pot closed bar a small aperture so as to steam the leaves but still vent excess heat, so as to not scald them.
Just before the second steeping I got to work with my trusty bamboo spatula, gently prodding at the leaf-clumps, encouraging them to fall apart.
The second infusion was a lot better. The colour of the soup deepened significantly, and the body thickened up considerably. Once again I let the leaves steam under a partly closed lid while I sipped on this round, and gave the leaves another good prodding before starting the third.
This was where the tea really got going. The colour was spot on, with the body now slick and creamy, leaving nice oily trails all over my teaware. The soup was now giving off hints of vanilla with a slight tickle of pepperiness lurking somewhere at the back.
It was also at this time that a real huigan showed up. After swallowing a deliciously sweet aftertaste popped up and seemed to cling to the roof of the mouth.
By round six there was the first hint of a bit of fade, so I increased the steeping times a tad to compensate, but after eight infusions I felt that I’d had the best these leaves had to offer.
Olli says that he believes that this beeng “…is a very good Ripe for little money…“, something that it’s hard to argue with. There’s nothing earth-shattering going on here, just a very nice, reliable Daily Drinker.
Can’t say fairer than that. Good stuff.