It all started when Mrs. Teaist was planning a trip to the Danish city of Aarhus.
As well as scouting out good places to stay and interesting things to do, she did a bit of research into what was going on there tea wise.
What she found was the name of a tea shop, Simply Tea, that naturally enough had a web shop.
“Our speciality is Oolong and Puerh tea…“, they declared on the website’s “about” page.
“Sounds good to me”, I thought.
I was even more impressed when I read a bit further and found out that they work closely with the well known and highly regarded Seven Cups Teahouse in Tucson, Arizona, owned by Austin and Zhuping Hodge. This was particularly interesting for me – after buying my first gaiwan I learned how to safely handle it without melting my fingertips by watching one of Zhuping’s instructional videos on YouTube.
Anyroad, our proposed trip to Aarhus never came about for a variety of reasons, but by way of compensation I’d found another source of interesting leaves.
After a bit of browsing I put together my first order, which consisted of two lots of sheng pu-erh – a 200 gram beeng as well as a 100 gram tuo. I’ll be taking a closer look at them in upcoming posts.
We dialled the order in late on a Tuesday night, and the packet was delivered to Mrs. Teaist’s workplace in Copenhagen on Thursday morning.
Later that evening I opened the packet, and was pleasantly surprised to find three free samples tucked in between the tea I’d ordered and some promotional literature about the tea shop.
All three samples were sheng pu-erhs – Hei Tiao Zi (2.1 grams), Da Shan Tian (2.2 grams), and Yue Guang Bai (1.8 grams).
I used a 100 ml gaiwan for each sample, and three quarters filled it, so each infusion ran out at about 75 ml. I used filtered tap water at 100°C. All three samples were given a flash rinse before the first infusion.
2016 Hei Tiao Zi
|Hei Tiao Zi|
|Cultivar:||Hei Tiao Zi Gushu|
|Origin:||Bai Ying Shan, Ling Cang area, Yunnan|
|Pluck:||a bud with one to two leaves|
Post rinse this sample had what I like to call a “classic” sheng aroma.
I managed 10 rounds, ranging from 5 to 90 seconds. Despite the early infusions having a somewhat muted taste and aroma there was a luscious, oily mouthfeel right from the off. As the session wore on there was a more pronounced sheng like feel to the soup, layered with hints of tobacco, and broccoli stalks.
2015 Da Shan Tian
|Da Shan Tian|
|Cultivar:||Xiao Bai Ya Gushu|
|Origin:||Bai Ying Shan, Ling Cang area, Yunnan|
|Pluck:||1st class, buds only|
This sample appeared to be quite broken up, so I was a little concerned about this being a hard and fast session, but I nevertheless managed to coax 9 rounds out of the leaves, ranging from 2 to 90 seconds duration.
This wee sample had a nice depth of colour and a fantastic sticky lips oily bordering on creamy body – right throughout the session the last drop out of the gong dao bei hung on like a limpet to the bottom of a battleship.
This soup had a classic sheng profile but with a nice sweet vegetal, floral aftertaste. Mid-session the Qi body effects rolled in – much upper body sweating especially around the neck and back.
I got the distinct impression that a full sized cargo of these leaves would be capable of delivering a much longer session than the 9 round one I had with this sample.
2016 Yue Guang Bai Moonlight White
|Yue Guang Bai|
|Cultivar:||100-300 year old Jing Gu Da Bai Cha trees|
|Origin:||Xiao Jing Gu, Yunnan|
|Pluck:||A down-covered bud and a leaf|
This sample yielded a slightly longer 12 round session, with infusions in the range of 5 seconds to 3 minutes.
Right out of the gate this sample gave a soup with a lovely colour to it. Early rounds had a sweet hay feeling to them more like a Silver Needle than anything else, until that “dark bread crust” thing I find to be typical of a lot of Moonlight Whites showed up a few infusions into the session. The Qi made its presence known as profuse sweating from between the shoulder blades.
This was another sample that despite its small size managed to pack a serious punch in the mouthfeel department, another sticky lips job.
Towards the back end of the session that sweet hay note morphed into a spicy maltiness.
In my experience the lower weight limit for a sample that gives you the best opportunity of evaluating it seems to be somewhere near the 3 gram mark, and these three samples are slightly less than that. I was somewhat concerned that I still had the water / leaf ratio slightly out with all three during these sessions.
There are still numerous race conditions to take into account of course – how long has it been since the sample was taken from the parent cake and put into its baggie, how long was it stored like that and under what conditions, how long was it in transit and what conditions did it encounter en route to your tea table, and so on.
Having said that, even allowing for all these factors these three samples have got me asking all the right kind of questions.
I think they’ve shown good potential as far as my personal tastes and preferences are concerned, and I can certainly see myself buying full sized beengs of each of them in the future.