10 April, 2008

2004 Yangqinghao "Special Reserve"

This is the favourite of Tuocha Tea's TA, and so I've been looking forward to trying it. The original cake is a mighty 500g.





Such true darkness in the leaves (below), they have a slight aroma of old books. Being a bookish type, this is a good thing. The soup is just turning orange, with an aroma of rich molasses.





I can see why this is so popular - there is a thick tobacco flavour from the moment the soup enters the mouth right through to the yunxiang. Atop it all, a sweetness that turns into a solid huigan. A silky texture fills out a very satisfying evening experience.





It's exactly the right age for my personal tastes: developing the rich, low character of maturity, yet retaining the energy and brightness of youth. If only we could all hope for so much.

It's a very soothing tea, and waves of comfortable tiredness come over me, but the tea makes me slower and calm. This haiku fits the mood,

cool spring breeze brings
distant traffic heading home -
the last birdsong





This tea should be pushed, as it is not too potent. Later infusions become sweet cedarwood; the tobacco rumbles on steadily, never dominating, nor fading.

Many thanks to TA for a great tea.

5 comments:

vl. said...

Looks a bit dark...

Nice picture, serious background blur at f/4.8 or is there some Photoshop involved?

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Dear Vlad,

Dark indeed - maybe a bit light in flavour for me, but tasty.

The blur was just a natural lens, with no touch-up (just some cropping in Microsoft Picture Preview). I tend to get that degree of blurring at f/4.8 with that lens (it's the telephoto 50-200mm that I mentioned in Another Tea Blog). Bear in mind the distance between the object (leaves) and the background is quite significant here.

I took some other shots at the same time, using similar settings, which I'll put up over the next few days - I'd welcome your comments on them. Keep an eye on the boke level!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Hobbes said...

P.s. On the subject of Photoshop blur, which I will admit to only having a few tries at, I find it difficult to achieve a realistic effect - it's not easy to get a near-spherical blurring of lightspots (proper boke) using standard tools like the Gaussian blur. Have you come across good examples of artificial boke that look convincing? Certainly the only times I've tried it, they look noticeably artificial.

vl. said...

I think I've tried this tea. I remember that I enjoyed the sample, but that it was either overly sweet or overly light? Can't remember.

Never played around with the GIMP (or Photoshop) sufficiently long to know in general. Though I assume it's possible to achieve convincing blur if the background and the object are close together, I tried it on this image but only lightly to emphasize the sharpness of the narcissus. By any chance do you know what variety that one is, I've never seen these ones before?

Look forward to seeing your photographs. I am playing around with film at the moment, with mixed results (mostly due to gross under/over exposure on the Zenit rather than my processing/printing).

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Dear Vlad,

The convincing blur I'm after is the correct blurring of lightsources: an N-sided polygon over reflected specular highlights, where N is an odd number corresponding to the number of blades on your aperture. The higher N, the prettier the (boke) blurring becomes, approaching a circle. I think the D40(X) that Space Samurai and I use has N = 7 blades, which looks ok. (Which camera do you use, btw? I didn't check it out thoroughly when you whipped it out during your visit!)

The tricky bit with GIMP/Photoshop blurring is that it's usually just a Gaussian distribution that's plopped over each region - it looks a bit flat compared to real blur.

I guess the solution is just do real blurring and not resort to Photoshop. :)

Good luck with the film! That's a world I really can't get back into - I can't cope with the constraint of limited film resources! Developing your own pictures would be completely satisfying, though. Maybe you can convert one of your rooms into a darkroom? :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes