Today, just some notes: the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea.
It's a standard Zhongcha [China tea] wrapper, and comes from Houde, where it is labelled "Chung Cha". Guang has further labelled it with the characters "chuan gan cong qing bing" [pure dry storehouse green-cake].
~15cl Caledonian Springs @ 100C in 35cl shengpu pot; ~5g of leaf; 1 rinse
Loose compression, what bliss after the Xiaguan-induced agonies of yestereven. The leaves are generally rich in colour, with the majority showing a fine leathery hue. The aroma is classical middle-age shengpu: earthy, leathery tones, with a touch of bitterness left over from its greener days. Quite tippy. The "dry storage" claim looks substantiated in the rich colour and non-damp aroma of the leaves.
15s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s:
Orange-red soup indicative of middle-age, with very little of the tippiness making it into the soup; I was expecting a fair amount of fine hair to be suspended therein. The lid-scent (have I coined "gaixiang" yet?) is heavy toffee, with some youthful shengpu strength. The leaves are surprisingly muted. What will this say about the endurance of the tea?
Very little in the wenxiangbei, as if I had suddenly lost my capacity for smell. Very pleasing soup, rushing to a pleasant sour/bitter at the arch of the tongue, and dwelling their with great patience. The huigan is long and pleasant, though the whole feeling of the tea is rather "tart". A broad base of flavours, following the aroma, lives below that interesting rush for the middle-ground of the tongue.
Very long and very sweet, with an almost alkaline finish - which Xiaomao once likened to Chinese steamed buns.
Later infusions see the aroma turn to long, sweet treacle. The flavour of later infusions is reminiscent of varnished pine.
Rather a mess, as can be seen above. Considerably chopped, from a grade of apparently smaller leaves - interesting, given its "8" grade rating. Age is turning most of them a stable, sludge colour.
I enjoy this very much; it's a pity that it is no longer available as I'd like to get a whole bing. It's a little ragged in the throat, particularly nearer the end, but is developing some of the richness of character that one would wish from an old tea. Plenty of youthfulness remains, and that sour/bitter charge for the centre of the tongue is fascinating. Very sweet indeed. Is this tea really unavailable?
Four years later, I return to this sample from Houde. Much has changed in four years.
In the intervening years, I have started to suppose that I enjoy aged 8582, but that it doesn't thrill me. In comparison with some beefier recipes, the 8582 can be sweet, appealing, but somewhat lacking in complexity, and a little underpowered.
Today's tea session confirmed that supposition.
This is a very pleasant tea. It is crisp, smooth, and sweet. However, it is distinctly impotent. I used a very large quantity of leaves, in order to use up the remainder of my sample. The first two infusions were quite potent, in a charming pine-like manner, but they rapidly tailed away into a gentle, monotonic sweetness.
While very enjoyable, it isn't a tea that I can see myself paying large quantities of money to obtain. 8582 simply doesn't have the basic stamina required to become a big, complex cake in its age. This is a conclusion that several samples of the same recipe from Essence of Tea, Skip4tea, and gifts from friends have led me to reach.
Fine, fun, but not a grand tea - I bid my sample farewell, but am not resolved to chase more of it.