The flood waters have receded enough for the trains to run once again, and life seems back to normal for most of the city residents. Thanks to the kind e-mails from readers who asked after our well-being - we were very fortunate not to be affected by the floods, unlike so many others who have to cope with the damage.
Of course, the worst we suffered here (some houses without power, some damage to furnishings) is truly insignificant in comparison to the tragic impact of the flooding rivers in Mainland China last week, which the BBC reports as rendering 450,000 people entirely homeless, while 650 people are known to have died. When the British insurance agencies write at great length about the agony they experience over paying the monetary claims of their customers, one must put it into the context of the true suffering occurring in Sichuan, Shaanxi, Hubei, and Anhui provinces.
The photograph shown here of the fragile purple flower covered in raindrops [taken by WJ in the University Park - many thanks] seems particularly poignant.
Like the photographer of the purple flower, the Dianhong [Yunnan red] teas described below are also from Beijing, having been acquired by Lei on Maliandao.
"Youji Hongya" [organic red-tip] is 55 RMB / 100g [£3,$6], while "Hongyawang" [red-tip king] is 40 RMB / 100g. These two appear left and right in the accompanying photographs, and will referred to as YJ and HYW, respectively. The same brewing parameters were used for both teas.
Brita-filtered water @ 100C in 10cl hongcha pot; ~5g leaf; 1 rinse
The YJ is almost entirely made of small, yellow tips, the first pick of spring. The HYW is made of large, sultry tips (perhaps left to age on the bush, in comparison to the YJ), and is mixed with some darker leaves, representing its slightly lower grade.
12s, 12s, 15s, 20s:
Both brews appear identical, being the classic deep amber of Dianhong.
Though the claims of the YJ to be organic are laudable, I was a touch disappointed in it: though malty, tangy, and sweet, as one would hope from a Dianhong, it lacked much excitement. It has a decent texture, but is not the pure luxurious silken experience that we found with the 2006 "Gold Tips" or (to a lesser extent) the 2006 "Pure Buds", both from Yunnan Sourcing. There is little ku, and not much in the way of huigan.
The HYW, by comparison, was higher and clearer in its flavour, with a definite enervating sensation to be experienced on the surface of the tongue. It was a particularly lively tea, and exhibited the full-bodied appeal that I like to advise people to look for in a Dianhong.
YJ: Some stems, some broken leaves, some tips.
HYW: Big and beautiful, with no fragments at all.
Though the YJ was the more expensive tea, the HYW was by far the better. I like to try and learn something from every tea session, and this was an interesting lesson in the possibly inflated prices that "organic" teas can attract.
I use speech-marks around the "organic" as the entire notion of organic certification is, to my understanding, a mutable concept in the current production environment of Mainland Chinese teas. I have heard tell of several certified-organic producers who revert to more conventional (read: inorganic) treatment methods once the qualification has been achieved. Certainly, I have heard such stories in sufficient quantity as to invoke a healthy degree of caution when listening to the claims of tea producers.