This is the third and final post about the teas that made up my first order with Farmer Leaf.
Farmer Leaf describe the raw material as coming from the “…high altitude natural tea gardens of Jingmai Mountain…“, and that it was “…harvested in July and August 2018…“, and then “…shade-dried for three days in our factory…“, before being pressed into 200 gram beengs.
You can read more about the tea and its processing by clicking here…
The dry leaf smelled of Scandinavian pine forest on a summer morning.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||6 grams|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml glass teapot|
|No. & duration:||infusions of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 120, and finally 180 seconds for a total of 9 infusions|
The first steeping was clearly an “opening up” one, although even at this early stage the leaves were showing a lot of potential, especially in the body. The woody aspects of a good sheng were prominent, and the overall effect was rather like a heavy, beefed up Silver Needle. The wet leaf’s aroma had gained flowery and fruity notes.
The second round saw the leaf fully open, and a corresponding shift in the soup, which became thicker and darker. The woody note was now pushing a memory button labelled “mahogany“. A touch of Hong Cha came creeping round the back, and I picked up tantalizing hints of red berries in the aftertaste.
There was a slow, gradual increase in the intensity of the broth until the mid-point of the session, by which time the wet leaf had really started to resemble sheng material. The black tea like note sat at the back had started to take on a crisp, Assam like quality.
That kind of represented the high-water mark of the session. The liquor gradually faded out, until I reluctantly called time on proceedings.
This was a deliciously complex tea, and only reinforced my growing Farmer Leaf fanboyism.
I don’t see the relatively short 9 infusions long session as a disappointment, far from it, more as a challenge.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that this is material from a Summer harvest. The leaves simply didn’t have a chance to soak up as much of the good stuff as Spring material would have done before being plucked.
Secondly, Farmer Leaf hint that the tea is robust enough to handle higher temperatures, which gives me hope that bumping up the water temperature, perhaps in the latter part of a session or even from the very beginning, would tease a good few extra rounds out of these leaves. If I’m going for hotter water I might as well switch to a clay or ceramic pot for better heat retention while I’m at it.
Tetrising an extra gram or so of leaf into the pot probably wouldn’t hurt, either.
This tea is pulling me in two different directions. On one hand, I want to drink it up now, yesterday, but I’m also intrigued to see how well it ages. Another beeng of Moonlight White I own is coming along very nicely, and that one lacks the pedigree of this one in terms of raw material, so who knows just how good this beeng could potentially be five years from now.
Only one thing for it, mes braves – I’m going to have to order another cake to set aside, probably as part of another order.
Watch this space, etc…