Just the other day I was sat at our kitchen table, gazing out to sea, when I got a sudden craving for a sheng session.
After watching the boats and gulls bobbing and soaring for a while, I decided to drag a few grams of 2001 Gu Pu-er Ying Hao out of my stash.
I went into our bedroom and found the sheng box, safely tucked away in the cool and dark of the in-built wardrobe.
I opened up the box, and began to root around for the unmistakable shape of the tiny tuo, when I noticed a much smaller box sat in the corner of the larger one, with the words “Merry Christmas” printed on the lid in a suitably festive font.
Eh? I didn’t remember acquiring a box like that, let alone squirrelling away part of my stash in it.
Nervously, I opened up the lid. Weird and terrible things can happen at the back of wardrobes, after all…
Rather than discovering a portal to a fantasy world populated by anthropomorphic animals, I instead found some tea I’d ordered way back in May 2017, White2Tea’s 2016 Sister Brother. So that’s where I’d put it…
I first heard about this tea when I read the by now legendary article in “Saveur“ about Pu-erh in general, and White2Tea’s Paul Murray in particular. Once I’d read that some of the teas mentioned in the article were available at White2Tea I’d gone straight over there to check it out.
The description of the tea made a sale highly likely…
“…The Sister Brother set is a comparison sample set that illustrates the difference in processing styles that can exist between two different people, in this case a sister and brother.
The material in the bricks is identical Nannuo mountain material, but each brick was commissioned to be processed by only one person. The sister brick is material processed with a shorter kill green phase at a lower temperature, where as the brother brick is processed with a higher flame and fried for a longer time.
These are their natural processing styles as people, I simply told them to process the tea as they normally would and to keep their respective materials separate for pressing.
This set is best used in a side by side comparison to see how the person processing a tea can influence the end results of identical material. It should shed light on how much variation can truly occur, not only within a “single origin” tea, but even within a family using identical material from a single tea garden.
Each set is 200 grams of raw Puer tea, comprised of two 100g bricks. Though this is an educational set, the tea is pretty damn nice – learning should be fun…”
Factor in the free shipping, and I couldn’t resist. Click, swish, sold.
A couple of weeks later the tea was sat on our kitchen table. The 2 100g bricks were individually wrapped in paper, and then packaged in an artfully folded bamboo outer sleeve.
I vaguely remember that later that afternoon I’d carefully opened up the package, and unwrapped Brother. The dried leaf had smelled so damned good that I couldn’t help myself. I got busy with the pick and freed off enough leaf for a session. All I can recall from that impromptu session was that Brother had a qi belt hard enough to firmly place it into the “stoner pu” category, and that it was utterly delicious. I then carefully re-wrapped everything, promising myself to get back to it as soon as possible…
Once I rediscovered them, I unwrapped Sister, and just as I’d done for the other batch of leaves so long ago had a quick and dirty session with 6 or so grams. A couple of hours later I was pleasantly pu-zonked, and whilst in this blissed out state I made a solemn vow that after two and a bit years of languishing in development hell a post about these marvellous leaves would finally grace the pages of this blog.
In part 2, which I can reliably state you won’t have to wait over 24 months for, I’ll post some steeping and tasting notes, and what have you.
Watch this space, etc…