I am aware that I write this every year, but I seem to notice the seasons more, these days.
Entirely indifference to the time of year used to be the norm; I would wear a t-shirt and scarf 90% of the year, maybe shedding the latter during the hottest months. Perhaps it's due to my three decades of decrepitude, but the warming of the earth seems to have a remarkable effect on me. I notice flowers. The world smells pleasant.
Tread lightly for you tread upon my dreams
I crack open the window to welcome in the heavy floral scents of spring-time. I'm sure it's a sign that I drink too much tea, but I find that the lilac flowers smell like wulong, and the wet earth smells like shupu. Cut grass reminds me of biluochun.
The subject of this article is a spring-time gift provided by the generosity of Red Lantern tea (an eBay tea shop), run by Jongky, who seems, as far as I can tell, to be an accomplished professional photographer.
Some boxes are born great, and other boxes have greatness thrust upon them
Being "gift tea", it comes in a pretty box (pictured above). This one is unusually pretty!
The cake itself is a co-production with the Mingxianshi Company of Hong Kong, and unrelated to the (highly delicious) 2003 Changtai Yibang with which Davelcorp treated some of us back in the summer of 2007.
Chunky, well-textured paper reclining on the ubiquitous orange silk
Gift tea is, by definition, made to be enjoyed by a wide audience. Hence, it is almost invariably processed with that in mind. The fruits of gift tea are to be enjoyed, not stored away. Perhaps that's in spirit with its status as a gift, giving one time to appreciate the generosity of the giver.
To that end, the red colour that you can see in the photograph below is not surprising. Similarly, the aroma of the leaves is sweet and quiet. Some teas are meant to be wrestled with, man-versus-bing. This tea and its ilk are meant to be enjoyed more gently, I think.
Loose and hand-pressed, with a clear orange hue
Given the orange colour of the leaves, I anticipate that it is going to be almost impossible to overbrew, and so I am not cautious with the quantity of leaves. In fact, up to a point, drink-it-now tea can really benefit from piling on the leaves.
Smooth, chunky, and orange from the beginning
Like most processed orange teas, this has very little scent in the aroma cup. It has traded its brutality for a warm, sweet flavour. The kuwei is greatly reduced in comparison with my distant memory of the 2003 Yibang from Davelcorp.
Again, like most orange teas, its best has been enjoyed by the time the tenth infusion comes around. Sweet, slightly malty, very smooth. Happily, it fades away gracefully, rather than cracking into something more rough. It's a good end for a very pleasant session.
Malty red leaves tell their own tale
Thanks again to Jongky for the generous present, though I'm not sure what I've done to deserve such benefit! I wish you all a similarly enjoyable tea session today.