21 June, 2007

2005 Yinzhen Zhuancha

"Behold! Upon my bending spear!
A monster's head stands bleeding!"

After an epic struggle, Xiaomao defeated a Maliandao tea-merchant in one-on-one combat to win this tea's freedom, a yinzhen zhuancha [silver-needle brick-tea]. It is of unknown manufacture, and cost approximately as much as an entire tong of yesterday's ten-year-old Maguan Panguwang - is it worthy?

Caledonian Springs @ 95C in 12cl young shengpu pot; ~6-7g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Whole silver-tips, as one would expect, with one or two darker stems. A low mushroom aroma hangs about the brick - very enjoyable.

5s, 5s, 10s, 10s, 15s:
The soup is a light green-yellow, the colour of Chardonnay. A direct, sweet beidixiang ends in a long, sour lengxiang. It's pu'er, but lighter and sweeter than usual.

The flavour is fascinating - I don't drink much yinzhen pu'er. It is to shengpu what beicha is to lucha, in terms of aroma and flavour. There is a hint of the almost "barbecue" richness (with no smokiness) that I usually associate with biluochun.

Smooth texture abound, courtesy of its tippiness, with very little in the way of huigan. It is entirely devoid of all ku [good bitterness], despite my attempts to push it to see if any is available.

The range of flavours is wide, as befits good leaf, but not deep, as one might anticipate from tip-tea.

Wet leaf:
Almost entirely tip-with-single-bud, this cake is made from a particularly high grade. A tea-fruit rattles around in the chahe, indicating its season.

Simple, fine, but ultimately unmoving. It is recognisably pu'er, but taken as far into "drink it now" territory as is possible. It makes a fine refresher, but is not one to satisfy those deep-seated shengpu desires.

The base of flavours could bode well for aging, but the absolute lack of ku makes me wonder if this will simply fade through time, rather than becoming more mature. I'm not convinced that the young shengpu pot is the best choice for this tea. It could be that the few years this tea has seen are as good as this tea is going to get - let's see how it ages.

"Your counsel all is urged in vain
To Earth and Heav'n I will complain!"


MarshalN said...

I don't know if you've had a chance to read my entry on the silver tips puerh I tried before Xanga went offline.... but I think you should drink this rather sooner than later. There's no good reason to keep it around, because I don't think it will age well.

Hobbes said...

Yes indeed, your article put me in the mood to try this one, in fact!