03 July, 2007

2005 Menghai Dayi "Jinzhen Bailian"

Wrapper:
"Jinzhen Bailian" [gold-needle water-lily]
"Hexiang [lotus-scent] pu'er cha"
"2005 2nd Chinese Tea Industry Exhibition"
"Jinjiang" [gold prize]

Neipiao:
Obvious golden tips; water-lily [bailian] scent.

A 250g xiaobing from DV [many thanks again, Dustin - it's delicious], originally $23 from Houde.

Caledonian Springs @ 100C in 12cl shipiao for shupu; ~5-6g leaf; 2 rinses

Dry leaves:
As the name suggests, plenty of short, golden tips. The scent is light and clean, and fairly floral.

12s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 90s:
"Strong bass note." Buttery beidixiang, followed by a long, low shupu lengxiang - boding well for its endurance?

"I can see why it is bailian from the floral feel." Sour opening, with a long and wooden body - fine patience. Rich in the nose, with a pleasant huigan. "The huigan is light in character, but not light in strength."

"Qingxiang gaoyuan." [green-scent high-and-distant, used to describe rarified, and elegantly pleasant characteristics].

It is a surprisingly active shupu, with plenty of pure strength, with a richness of flavour that is rewarding. Undergoing stress, unlike many shupu that become merely "industrial", this bing becomes strong and enjoyable.

Later infusions becomes sweeter and lighter, turning the corner around the fifth infusion - but remaining enjoyable, definitely not the usual falling apart of lesser teas.

Wet leaves:
Fairly short, but surprisingly possible to unfurl, given the brittle and hard nature of many shupu. This is suggestive of lower fermentation levels, as is the green hue in the wet leaves - this may also explain the floral character of the tea. I might expect lower fermentation levels to retain much of the ku of the green leaves, some of which remains in this shupu, moreso than many.

Overall:
"Really a very decent shupu." Plenty of boldness but without obvious flaws, this combines good strength and interesting character. It doesn't have the legs to get too much further than five or six infusions, but is a satisfying evening brew.

4 comments:

vl. said...

Hmm, interesting. I remember finding this particular tea initially very strong, unpleasantly so, only later to discover that it is perhaps better when steeped to yield a lighter brew.

Though I'm not so sure the hue of the leaf is suggestive of lower fermentation level, as such, I think it is just made with better material and fermented more carefully. I too noticed a green hue in a few of the leaves, if I remember.

-vl.

xdustinx said...

Glad you like it! I forgot to mention I received the three shuixians, as well as the other samples you sent me. Thanks for all the tea! I tried the 2004 shuixian and I liked it much more than you did. Although, I agree it's a bit simple.

On a separate note, I recently started drinking ale. Any recommendations on some English ales that I can hopefully find here? I've started with Newcastle and I think it's pretty good.

Hobbes said...

Vlad,

Leaf quantity, perhaps? I know I'm tempted to use shengpu quantities when brewing shupu - often a mistake I make to my detriment. Thanks for the comments.


Dustin,

What do you think of the oldest one? Not bad, I thought.

English ales... hah! I'm impressed. Newcastle Brown Ale is the one you've found? I didn't know that was available out there - it's a popular bottled ale here. I have some family up in Newcastle, who tell me that this beer is simply called "Dog" up there. No idea why. :)

In terms of recommendations, I'd say, while Newcastle Brown ("Newkie Brown" to us) is pleasant, it's generally considered not quite as good as straight-out-of-the-cask beers, so-called "Real Ales". These are the traditional English beers, and have been making a happy resurgence in the last decade (much to my happiness), mainly thanks to a very active group called the "Campaign for Real Ale" (CAMRA).

The best beers are served from the pump (not a bottle), which the landlord (bar-staff?) has to "pull" by hand. If it's just coming out of the pump automatically, it's generally just a fizzy "nitrokeg" beer, which are mass-produced and not awesome (Caffreys, some Guiness, etc.)

Coming from Oxford, I'd recommend Morland's "Old Speckled Hen", if you can find it, or Hook Norton's "Old Hooky".

These are never chilled, but served at the temperature of the cellar (or wherever the keg is kept) - this is where we get our reputation amongst Americans for "warm beer", though in fact it is typically 5-10 degrees Celsius - not too warm!

There's not very much chance of finding Real Ale even around Europe, and so I'm not sure what the chances are of finding it in the USA - it's generally just a local English thing. I very much hope you can, though!

Doddy, if you're reading, maybe you'd like to give us your expertise on the subject...


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Steven Dodd said...

Here I am. Ales in America... I'm not which would qualify as an ale, but I like drinking Boulevard unfiltered wheat, Shiner Bock, a lot of beers done by Bells. I don't have too many recommendations. I need to research more.