So, it’s late September, and despite a brave rearguard action by the summer to hold back autumn’s advance, the days are getting shorter by 2 minutes at either end, and sliding temperatures have us rooting around cupboards and wardrobes for hats, gloves, scarves, and a variety of outer garments we’d forgotten about.
Just as the local geese suddenly get the urge to spread their wings and point their beaks due South, I’ve had the seasonal impulse to bolster my stash with earthy, dark, warming leaves.
This longing has rolled around earlier than usual this year, well before the trees have started transforming the sidewalks into skating rinks covered with a dangerous, slippy carpet of decomposing mush.
I had an almost irrational urge to reinforce the shou side of my stash, and before I could talk myself out of it I’d gone over to Danish teahouse Simply Tea and ordered 4 lots of lovely leaves.
A couple of days later I had the package in my paws, and on opening it up I was delighted to see that they had sent me six (6!) free 2 gram samples to brew up and mull over.
One of them was a tea I looked at recently – White Dragon Whiskers Tribute.
One was a very nice Anji Bai Cha, another an equally enjoyable Jasmine Pearls.
The three remaining samples are the subject of this post – 2014 You Le sheng, 2012 Ma Ga shou, and 2018 Mo Gan Huang Ya, a yellow tea.
These samples all weighed in at 2 grams or thereabouts. All three were steeped Western style in a 200 ml teapot – the sheng and the shou with 2 infusions at 2 and 4 minutes respectively, and the yellow tea at 1½ and 3 minutes.
The sheng and the shou were steeped in unglazed clay pots, whereas the yellow tea was steeped in a glass pot. The water used in all cases was unfiltered tap water. Both the raw and the ripe pu-erhs were steeped in boiling water, but the yellow tea used water at 80°C.
2014 You Le Sheng
Simply Tea’s notes describe these leaves as Gu Shu (old tree) material, which in this case means from 200-300 year old trees growing at an altitude of 2750 metres on You Le mountain, which is in Jinghong county of Xishuangbanna prefecture, Yunnan province.
The leaves were plucked in March, and the standard is described as 1 bud and 1-2 leaves.
There was a classic dark but clean sheng profile here, all dried mushrooms and freshly planed hardwood, with no hint of smoke and very little bitterness.
There was also a very nice sweetness to the soup that was quite reminiscent of fudge, which also packed a satisfying, sticky lips kind of a mouthfeel, as well as a nice, translucent colour.
Despite the limitations of this mini session, I felt the beginnings of a sweaty, dreamy Qi hit creeping up on me.
I can definitely see a full beeng of these leaves being ordered at some point in the near future.
2012 Ma Ga Shou
Simply Tea describe these leaves as coming from Jing Gu area, 40 year old tea bushes, growing at an altitude of 946 meters. The pluck was 1 bud and 1 small, just opened leaf, which was harvested in March/April.
This was a nice, clean, fresh soup, with a dominant wood/paper note, although I did pick up a peppery zing to it, too.
I was impressed with the depth of colour and the nice, oily body that came from such a small sample.
Once again, I think I’m going to have to order a full cargo of these leaves sooner rather than later.
2018 Mo Gan Huang Ya
The notes say that these leaves are of the Mo Gan Shan Qun Ti Zhong varietal, and grew on Mount Mogan at an altitude of 719 metres. The leaves were harvested in early April. The pluck standard is described as 1 bud/1 bud plus a newly opened leaf.
The way the raw material is processed is very interesting. Seven Cups also sell the same tea, and they have a very detailed explanation of the steps involved on their website.
Now, this was nice. The liquor was nutty, with a sweet vegetal garden pea note, and was almost completely devoid of bitterness. There was a surprisingly thick body here, and a faintly floral aroma.
As any regular readers of this blog might know, I’m not usually overly fond of green and yellow teas, but this wee sample has got me seriously tempted.
Well, those samples kept me busy for a couple of days, and they’ve given me some interesting pointers for future orders. Good stuff all round.
Now to get down to business with those four new shous from the order itself.
Watch this space, etc…