Huh, it has been quite some time since this tea arrived, maybe a year or so. There was this thing called OTTI9 which was about aged shengs from the 90s and I was lucky enough to participate. In this period I had tried only raw puerh form the last 10 years, so I was quite curious what can a nearly 20year old tea offer. The samples were provided by Nada (EoT,1997 Bulang) and Brandon who shared a wet stored example of the 8582 Menghai receipt and a dry stored sheng brick. The event was organized by the moderator of teachat, Chip.
The package arrived and after the first sniffs I was sure that this will be something special. And it was.
As it was mentioned I had no experience with aged sheng at that time so I was handling these samples quite preciously. As Jakub mentioned in one of his recent posts it is better to get to the good stuffs slowly, step by step. Since I share the same attitude I kept this sample until I will be over at least a couple of aged teas.
It is Sunday evening, and I am searching for something good in the sample box. And look, the dry stored shengpu from the 90s.
The whole sample, 5 grams, goes into my zisha pot which has around 100ml. This is a low tea/water ratio for an aged sheng, but since this pot does nice thing with them, I go for it.
The dry leaves from the hot pot give a sweet aged smell, with some tobacco and smoke; there is also some spice at the end. After the rinse the tea wakes up from its long sleep releasing a strong sweet fragrance, the smoky-like character remains but doesn’t disturb, on the contrary. As it cools the fragrance become creamier.
|cause the last drops are the best|
The first couple of infusions were light but the taste got stronger steep after steep. At the 4th infusion the liquor became orange-red, thick and sweet with mainly aged character, though there were hints of fruits from the youth. I could pick up (ripe) plum notes which mixed very nicely with the tobacco base. This tea reminded me at some points the 2002 Hai lang hao Wild arbour sheng, which is of course younger, but nevertheless. There is some bitterness when the tea reaches its peak and a bit of astringency at the later infusions.
The overall impression is specific. I used to read that good shengs develop their own character during the ageing and I think, this could be a nice example.
And the qi? Calming and suits nicely for a Sunday evening. The combination of the meditative tea brewing procedure and cha qi of aged shengs often helps me to look at the things from a different perspective, from more “above”.
Despite the low tea/water ratio and light initial infusions the durability of this tea was decent. I had 6 steeps at the evening, another 3 at the morning and a couple of overnight infusions.
I am grateful to Brandon as well as to the others who put this OTTI together. Sacrifice such valuable shengs just to introduce them to us, newcomers, has to mean a real passion for teas. Thanks again.
|tea 'n' skype|