06 April, 2007

2006 "Sun-Dried" Baimudan, 2006 "Traditional" Baimudan

Drinking in the moonlight brings to mind an old poem.

A pot of wine among the flowers.
I drink alone, no friend with me.
I raise my cup to invite the moon.
He and my shadow and I make three.

Let's pledge - beyond human ties - to be friends,
And meet where the Silver River ends.

Li Bai
Tr. Vikram Seth

This evening, two white teas from Yunnan Sourcing, with thanks to CB. These eluded my clumsy searching on the web-site, and I wonder if they are a fleeting glimpse, now gone from the listings.

Baimudan, meaning white peony, invokes thoughts of elegance, delicacy, vulnerability. It is well-suited to moonlit drinking.

Gaiwans; Caledonian Springs @ 85C; 2 scoops; 1 rinse.

Leaves: a twiggy mixture of dark and silver leaves, twisted. Many are untwisted, in their natural (though dried) state.

Sun-dried baimudan:
12s, 20s, 35s, 50s, 75s: robust infusion durations.

Mineral beidixiang, sticky molasses at the end, in the lengxiang. "This gives me the image of a baimudan itself, with its clean elegance and delicacy." A light pollen flavour, similar to chrysanthemum-flower tea (juhuacha).

A lightly roasted finish, reminding me of a latter-session longjing after leaving it brewing for several minutes: not overbrewed, just oxidised and a little old.

Pale yellow, as expected, though the aftertaste is remarkable, terminating in a pure fragrance - as if making a bid for freedom through the scent-senses.

Used leaves reveal a choppy, somewhat messy, collection, with tips added. Not a fine grade.

Overall: comforting and elegant for the first few infusions, then being propped up by some ruffians that take the flavour into a worn and oxidised state, presumably due to the poor grade of the base.

A pleasant journey through the moonlight, but later losing its way in the shadows.

Traditional baimudan:
10s, 15s, 20s, 40s, 90s:

Very pale and crisp, with almost no beidixiang, finishing in a little sugar. Lightly grassy, with a touch of gentle pollen. Almost chrysanthemum, as before.

Almost a longjing nuttiness as we proceed, particularly engaging when combined with this tea's thorough creaminess of flavour.

After five infusions, this tea was still holding up its end of the conversation, which is very welcome in one so delicate.

The used leaves are classical tips, just as one would hope from a fine grade. A smooth green colour is retained after extensive brewing, and the hand-picked, whole leaves appear particularly pleasing in repose after the event.

Overall: particularly enjoyable, this is a porcelain beauty among its peers. It pays not to be cautious in leaf quantity or infusion time. Creamy, wide, and gentle, but not aloof.

The moon does not know how to drink;
My shadow mimes my capering;
But I'll make merry with them both -
And soon enough it will be Spring.


Brent said...

Nice review, and beautiful pictures! Just out of curiosity, where did you get your cups and leaf-presentation bowl? I've been looking for a set similar to this for a little while now. Anyway, keep up the good work-- you have a great blog!

Hobbes said...

Hi, Brent,

Thanks for the kind words, I'm very glad that you like it so far.

The presentation bowl (chahe/"tea lotus") was from Imperial Tea Court. Just $12, too. Incidentally, a kind friend who lives nearby picked up this for me, hence it's name in his honour, "The Lesseps".

Cha he at ITC

The wenxiangbei (aroma cups) were a common variety from Chengdu, less than $1 for 6. The pinmingbei (tasting cups) were from a friend here in Oxford, curiously enough.

However, while finding the link for the cha he at ITC, I noticed they sell something similar - it's a very popular set, being "yixing" on the outside, with a white interior to best view the colour of the tea. ITC's set:

Cups at ITC

Best wishes, and toodlepip,


Brent said...

Thanks a bunch! I'll go check those out.