With the coming of Easter, so begins the local pastime of punting. It's a simpler version of Venetian gondolas, without the $500/hour price tag or the irritating singing. With the Easter visit of my parents, we took advantage of the unseasonably good weather, and drifted around on the river for a while.
Watching the banks slip past gently on either side without much of a goal is rather akin to the tea spirit. Quiet participation.
Today's tea is from Stephane's "Teamasters" venture, which I've found to be consistently excellent.
It's from a 1400m plantation around Alishan (or on the mountain itself?), which makes this a "gaoshan" [high mountain] if one follows the definition of it being higher than 1200m. As is my understanding, the jinxuan variety (also "27-son") is one of the cultivars bred in the 1980s (the other being Cuiyu / "29-son").
10cl qingxiang wulong pot; mineral water @ 90C; less than 2 scoops; 1 rinse.
heavy balls of tea, a healthy mid-green. The light roast was the first aroma out of the sealed sample packet, though this is rapidly replaced by the pleasing scent of pure wulong once sitting in the chahe.
12s, 15s, 25s, 40s, 60s:
Elegant and crisp soup, which is light yellow/green. A little fur suspended within hints at the presence of at least some young leaves.
The aroma is very fine indeed: opening with a beidixiang of tasty butter, almost milkiness, it cools to a lengxiang of rounded brown sugar, as if from a newly-opened packet of muscavado.
Classical wulong tending to the more leafy end of the spectrum are the initial flavours, with a delightful cooking-spice tang at the end, similar to powdered ginger. This spiciness lingers long in the nose; the aftertaste is very long, and pleasantly sour. There is something of smooth gingerbread, without the spicy heat.
"The precise aroma of guihua [osmanthus flower]."
The third infusion marks a turning point, and we have seen the best of this tea in the first two brews. The later infusions are a retreat into light, generic wulong flavours.
"The guihua has withered, but there is still the coarse taste of the bush."
Full branches, going back two or three stems, minus the tip system. These are up to 10cm-long branches! Leaves are the full range from second-grade 2cm all the way down to 6cm big leaves. They are all exceedingly soft, and lacking structural strength, reminding me of growing a plant without feeding it minerals. They crumble easily in the hand. Mostly whole, with some chopping around the edges.
A fine initial flavour and spicy character, which are sadly short-lived. The lesser grade of leaves (apparently missing the tips) becomes clear as early as the third infusion, by which time the potency is fading quickly. A pleasant daily tea. It has none of the delicious texture and rarified finery of Stephane's Dayuling teas, but offers a broader, spicier, down-to-earth appeal.
Having rooted around in my old photographs, I came across this diary entry from the previous encounter with this tea, in August 2006.