11 April, 2008

2003 Keyixing "Yiwu Zhengshan"

I maintain a list of teas that I have seen recommended, and this is one that's been on the list for quite some time - I have it attributed to Bearsblog's JF, but cannot find the actual recommendation - do please correct me if I have this wrong. Always impressed by JF's passionate writing style and consummate expertise, I looked forward to trying this tea.

Chunky and dark, the leaves (below) are very appealing - as is the loose-yet-functional compression, which I like for aging. Tight compression never strikes me as a great way to pack tea for maturing, so this tea scores well in that regard.

The aroma of the dry leaves is a gentle sweetness, which could be Yiwu.

The first infusion is a quiet bean-like flavour, with a mouth-watering finish. Some effervescence appears on the tongue, and it has a good texture.

After the first infusion, comes confusion.

I just can't get this tea to produce much after the first infusion - I am convinced that it must be some fault in my brewing, because I have tried with several sessions, and several different configurations: different pots (one larger, one smaller), different amounts of leaves (sometimes more, sometimes less), different infusion times (sometimes short, sometimes long). In each session, the tea has collapsed into a strong note of bitterness, with very little character underneath.

By the fourth infusion, it tastes like a tea that has been sitting out in the air for too long - even though the session has lasted under half an hour (short, for me).

Currently an inexpensive $36 at Puerh Shop, in my current state of bewilderment with this tea, I can't recommend it.

I'm convinced this has to be my fault, because I have read two notes from others (forgive me for not linking them as I can't recall their whereabouts) that said something along the lines of "I love the 2003 Keyixing and would happily drink it every day from now on." If you've managed to get something out of this tea, I really would appreciate a pointer. Right now, I can't see anything apart from an exhausted, bitter brew. It's a puzzler!

In the height of my puzzling, my wife passes through and tries a sip without knowing what it is: "Very simple, like diluted kuding [a hyper-bitter tisane]."

Your input, as always, would be much appreciated.

(There's always the possibility that I've got a mislabelled sample, or the leaves have been affected in some way, but I've not come across a mode of failure whereby the tea just tastes empty before.)

27 April, 2008

A third sitting with this tea confirms the observations above: I just cannot get character out of this tea. It requires lots of leaves and significant overbrewing in order to extract even a semblance of solid pu'er.

Given the great support that this tea enjoys in the community, I must conclude that there is something seriously awry with the sample that I bought. A real puzzler.


Scotto said...

You forgot an "h" in your puerhshop link - it takes you to a rather attractive young lady who, alas, has no tea for you.... ;-)

-Scotto, drinking 2001 Mengku YYX thick-papered tea as he types this.

Hobbes said...

Howdy, sir,

A good catch with the link, which I've duly fixed - ta!

Glad you're enjoying that Mengku. I had Endymion on earlier today. ;)



Wes Crosswhite said...

Mistah Hobbes,

I am definitely a pusher of this beeng. It's one of the few young shengs I find drinkable. Yet your results baffle me! Your notes on the first infusion seem right... but what the hell has happened after that? I always do flash-infusions for the first few steeps, but you know what you're doing, and large-leaf Yiwu is generally quite forgiving.

Have you tried different waters? Where I am, in Oregon, we get some fabulous soft-water. Is the sample from Puerhshop? If it's from puerhshop, and you've tried softer water, then I can't see what's wrong. My brewing it out of a glazed gaiwan is the only other difference.

Keep us informed, and I'll consult the ancestors.


Hobbes said...

Dear Wes,

I really appreciate the suggestions - changing water is a good idea. So far, I've been using my good bottled water on it (quite soft), thinking that it performs well on other shengpu. It's definitely a variable worth tweaking. Unfortunately, the only alternative are harder waters, so I'll see how they do.

The sample is from Puerhshop, yes indeed.

Actually, the glazed gaiwan might do the trick. That's something else I hadn't considered.

Thanks again! Let me know how it works out with those ancestors. :)



Anonymous said...

Dear Hobbes,
In fact, all the kinds of tea from the old plants, I like Yiwu best.I don't know what happened,but the tea from the small tea factories (different from Dayi)is always like this .It cannot keep a stable taste.So I adivise the autumn tea in 2005 and the spring tea in 2006.I have got that tea and it is really wonderful.

shichangpu said...

hobbes, i'm not so sure it's your sample that's lacking. i've been unimpressed with this tea as well. davelcorp and i tasted it together, and neither of us thought much of it. i subsequently tasted it solo, and my previous impression was confirmed. so much so, in fact, that i tossed the remainder of the sample.

so, perhaps both our samples were corrupted, or perhaps you, davelcorp, and i share a similarly quirky palate; in either case, you're not alone...


Hobbes said...

Dear Yuffee,

Thank you for the recommendation. I must say that I have enjoyed some teas from smaller factories; given the sheer number of producers now, I think we have the law of averages on our side when it comes to finding good apples in the crop. :)

Dear Mike,

You, sir, are a boon to my sanity. Thanks for adding your opinion.

I've noticed before that we (and Dave) have very similar tastes. I'm almost always in agreement with your recommendations, and have bought several teas "blind" from your notes, much to my later satisfaction.



shichangpu said...

indeed, we (and davelcorp) may well have similar tastes. which only adds weight to the necessity for you and your wife to come visit the bay area. :)

Hobbes said...

Dear Mike,

Absolutely, we'd both really love to see California - I'll be sure to let you know when we do so. Drinking tea with you and Dave is a must-do. :)