19 June, 2007

2001 Liuan

Straying a little from the beaten track for today's notes, many thanks to CB for this sample of heicha from Jing Teashop. It looks as if this tea is no longer in stock, and so information is limited.

As a liuan, it is fermented in the "wodui" [moisten pile] manner used in the processing of shupu, using the same leaves as the famous lucha, Liuan Guapian [Liuan Melon-slice], originating from Liuan in Anhui Province. Generally, these teas are quite inexpensive, at around $20-$30 for 500g of a 5-7 year-old vintage.

I suspect that many heicha have not seen the price increases that other genres have, simply because of their relatively low popularity. Raised on fairly hefty Indian and African teas, I rather enjoy heicha - in the morning. Don't drink them at night!

Caledonian Springs @ 100C in 12cl heicha pot; ~5g leaf; 2 rinses

Dry leaves:
Dark and tippy, with a few less-fermented chocolate browns. A quiet, raisin-like aroma.

15s, 15s:
This is a strong tea - in the purely caffeinated sense. It sits in the forebrain like a strong coffee, hence the short number of infusions. We had enjoyed several tea sessions already, and so reached our finishing points long before the leaves did.

The aroma is "distinctive, original, individual" [quoted material courtesy of the return of Xiaomao, as before]. The soup looks very much like yancha, and this continues into the aroma where a similar roast can be detected. However, it differs in its dark, fruity beidixiang, with a long, malty finishing aroma.

It is tangy and "powdery" in the flavour, and is very clean and crisp in all regards: the soup has good clarity, the flavour is in and out like a surgeon. A megaton explosion occurs in my mind as the tea delivers its payload, causing me to blink and perspire.

I rather enjoy this tea, but Xiaomao was finished after the first infusion. It's definitely one to greet the day, not a good night-cap. It has the raisin-like flavour of some hongcha.

Wet leaves:
Chopped tips, which appear surprisingly green in the chahe. I was assuming that they would be dark like a shupu, but the green correlates with the availability of fruit-like notes in the flavour.

Overall:
Interesting and powerful. While not complex in any way, it is crisp and pleasant. It is a decent tea, and has been processed quite well, born out in its crisp presentation. The six years of its maturity have been kind to it, giving it a suitably smooth character.

5 comments:

speakfreely said...

Hmmmm...you got much better brewing results than I did (very pretty liquor BTW). You also used much less leaf. I'll try it again with less leaf, as I've only brewed it once, and in a bit of a hurry at that. I think the only commonality between our comments was the observation that this is the kind of tea that might keep one up all night.

vl. said...

Hmmm I'm not sure that it's just lack of popularity which keeps these teas relatively cheap, they're not exactly complicated things. Not that I've tried many.

I remember tasting some Liu An a few years ago and I seemed to like it, it was a touch herbal and even medicinal. The few I've tasted recently seem not to be able to stand up to that first impression... somehow they remind me of cheaper shou, but without the unpleasant characters.

From your pictures I get the impression that the liquor was quite thin, was it? Maybe I missed that description somewhere.

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Carla,

With too much leaf, I can only imagine that carnage that would ensue, given this tea's post-Banzhong excesses. :)


Vlad,

Perhaps this was an unrepresentative sample, having had the corners knocked off it by a fair bit of aging, but it was rather enjoyable.

Regarding the consistency of the soup, I'd go for "crisp" - it's not too loose, like a weak shupu, but not thick like a more capable tea.

It's an amusement, and an inexpensive one - if I can buy it in a quantity smaller than the 1 Kg that seem so popular for heicha, I might grab a little for novelty's sake. A change is as good as a rest, they say!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

speakfreely said...

I'd definitely be willing to part with more of this one. Consider it done. (eventually)

Hobbes said...

Carla,

Thank you! It's an interesting one. Have another crack at it with fewer leaves and see if your opinion doesn't change.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes