Over the past few months it felt as though I’d been giving priority to the daily drinker side of my stash, so when I found the tea buying coffers pleasantly full I decided to have a mini splurge of sorts.
For quite a while now I’ve enjoyed watching the informative YouTube videos made by William Osmont of Farmer Leaf and always fancied getting hold of some of his tea. The fact that I don’t ever recall reading a negative review of any of his products was also a major incentive.
What had put me off previously was the surcharge that the customs people here in Sweden started charging a while back, which would add delay as well as additional expense to anything purchased from outside of the EU.
Then, as luck would have it, I discovered that Farmer Leaf have an EU-based website, located in William’s native France. They don’t stock all of the teas in the China based shop, but the teas they did have on offer were still more than enough to tempt me. Time to splash some cash.
Even with the European site’s smaller product range I still felt like a kid with the keys to the candy store, but eventually settled on a 357 gram beeng of Spring 2019 Jingmai Miyun, and a smaller 200 gram beeng of Summer 2018 Jingmai Moonlight.
When the parcel arrived 10 days later I was excited to find a free sample inside – a generous 20 grams’ worth of the subject of this post, Farmer Leaf’s Autumn 2018 Jingmai Gushu.
This is what William has to say about the “hand-processed” tea…
“…We started the production in mid-September and made tea under good weather conditions up until mid-October. We had to stop making tea after this date because of constant rains.
We sourced leaves from the ancient tea gardens that surround Jingmai village (Mang Guo, Weng Bo and some Da Ping Zhang gardens). Due to the good weather, the harvest was made at the beginning of the growth cycle, when the flushes are still tender. Therefore, we could source 1 bud/2 leaves and avoided having too much yellow flakes in the tea, this is why this cake has more buds than what is common in Autumn.
As usual, this Autumn tea has a good fragrance typical of the season. A medium-light body and good sweetness. It is more astringent than the Spring harvest and has a light bitterness…”
The dry leaf had a typical sheng aroma plus a mixture of flowers and freshly mown hay. The customary post rinse sniff of the pot was like unexpectedly finding a rose garden tucked away in a secret clearing in a rain forest.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||7 grams|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml unglazed clay teapot|
|No. & duration:||A flash rinse, then infusions of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 90, 120, 180, 240, 300, 360, 420, 480, and 600 seconds duration for a total of 20 infusions|
The first infusion had a fairly standard sheng base on top of which I found something buttery and deliciously sweet and floral, with close to zero bitterness. The back-end of each sip left behind a Butterscotch like aftertaste.
The second steeping saw the soup become a true lip-sticker, one that left a Plaster of Paris aroma clinging to the inside of the empty cup.
Just one round later the Qi rolled in, a dreamy, giggly, wobbly legs affair.
By the 6th infusion I was starting to feel a bit like Jeremy Clarkson when he’s been given the latest supercar to play with for the afternoon, thrashing round a racetrack, excitedly screaming to camera about it just getting better and better, except here I was chuckling away, trying to explain to my baffled cat that each new refill of my teacup brought more and more of the good stuff™ without any sign of slowing down.
Somewhere around the 10th or the 11th steeping mark all pretence regarding note-taking discipline evaporated. I was totally and utterly in the steep-sip-repeat moment, no longer even vaguely interested in looking for never mind documenting flavour nuances. The expression “rolling with the flow” popped into my head, birthing a hearty guffaw and titter aftershocks that lasted to the end of the session and beyond.
Even after 20 good rounds over close to four hours I still felt as though the leaves had a little more to give.
When I first received this sample I was thinking that I could be a bit extravagant with it, and so had this session with it, as well as a second, follow-on session where I focused solely on taking the pictures used in this post.
It was only afterwards that I realised that Autumn 2018 Jingmai Gushu is listed as sold out on the French website and not listed at all on the Chinese one, so when I finish this sample off that’s it, even if I wanted to order some more. I have about 8 grams left, and I’ll be setting it aside for a special occasion, maybe a late afternoon session to show summer the door and welcome the Autumn. That’d be a fitting way to bid adieu to a Fall tea, non..?
This session was a perfect reminder as to why I got into sheng in the first place. I hadn’t been as excited about getting my hands on a tea seller’s goods since my very first White2Tea order arrived. I had high expectations, and not only were they met but comfortably exceeded.
Looking forward, this session has really got me chomping at the bit to get busy with the Farmer Leaf Spring 2019 Jingmai Miyun and Summer 2018 Jingmai Moonlight.
Watch this space, etc…