Funny little post, this one.
I’ve bumped it up in my posting schedule, so that I can get my thoughts out into the teaosphere while they’re still fresh. As we all know only too well, the all too intangible impressions even the best tea can make upon us can have a spectacularly short half-life. Even before the ink is dry in your notebook, those lucid descriptions of fleeting, ephemeral taste sensations are already evaporating, like the mist over a lake on a midsummer morning once the sun begins to rise.
Just the other day I got a bad, hard pining for a pair of loose leaf sheng pu-erhs (mao chas if you want to be technical) that I haven’t had in nigh on a year and a half, a Bu Lang and a Ba Da, both from 2012, that I originally discovered more than 3 years ago over at House of Tea. I jumped online and ordered both of them, and when they arrived the next day a 4 gram sample of these leaves had been included in the packet.
Now this was interesting, because I’d been looking at this tea for some time, debating whether or not I should order a beeng. I was dithering because the price for a full sized cake would make a serious dent in my tea budget, and no smaller sample sizes were available. Here then was a chance to get to grips with these leaves, even if it was “only” a 4 gram sized cargo.
According to House of Tea’s notes the leaves are Autumn harvest, Yi Wu area material from, naturally enough, wild arbor trees, containing a relatively high amount of buds. They go on to say that despite being being traditionally stone pressed, the beeng is still quite tight.
I did a lookup on the beeng’s name on the one and only Babelcarp, and unless I’m very much mistaken “Hai Lang Hao“, meaning “Sea Wave Brand“, is a brand name of Ming Xiang Ya Yuan, which is a pu-erh producing company based in Kunming.
Due to time restrictions I opted for a quick and dirty Western style session, using brewing parameters only slightly different from House of Tea’s own suggestions.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||4 grams|
|Steeping vessel:||200 ml glazed ceramic teapot|
|No. & duration:||3 infusions of 2, 3, and 3 minutes duration.|
There was a vegetal sweetness here, paired nicely with a sort of sour note. There was a good depth of colour, too, but also the feeling that the body was a tiny bit on the light side for my taste, something I tend to feel about many Autumnal teas. The aroma left in the empty cup was that old familiar earthy, mineral like Plaster Of Paris thing.
The soup had some noteworthy physical effects. The tip of my tongue felt as though it was having some kind of acupuncture treatment, and I experienced what I can best describe as a semi-intense Qi encounter, a moderately hard shove, rather than a full on whack, as it were, that resulted in a profuse bout of head sweating, and me being nudged into a slightly dopey frame of mind.
This was most welcome – the day up to this point had been a procession of minor crises, with cat vomit, broken teapot lids, and finally a pair of self destructing reading glasses bringing my mood down to almost subterraneous levels. By the time this session was through, however, I had a grin back on the front of my previously stressed out head.
I also came down with a bad case of the sheng munchies at the tail end of the session, but as luck would have it Teaist Junior arrived with an outsized lunch that she was willing to share with me.
Right off the bat I’m going to have to say that this was one of those sample sessions that resulted in a kind of hung conclusion, a more questions than answers job.
I’m not entirely convinced that brewing up this sample Western style was a good idea, but then again I’m just as unsure that attempting a gong-fu session with those 4 grams would have yielded better, more decisive results. I’ve come away with that nagging suspicion that any reservations about these leaves are down to the race conditions involved when you try and tease out any solid opinions from a small amount of leaf.
I’d love to have a full beeng of this tea to play with as I’m confident that a good sized dollop of these leaves in a gaiwan would result in a very pleasant session, and no mistake. I’d also like to see how this tea progresses with a few more years under its belt, as there is the gut feeling that any niggles regarding this tea might be down to it being at that funny not young but not aged adolescent stage.
But the price of one…
As is so often the case curiosity will almost certainly eventually triumph over financial propriety, and I’ll end up pulling the trigger, and buy a beeng. It’s a question of when, mes braves, not if.
Watch this space, etc…