10 May, 2008

1997 Xizihao "Yiwu"

The first Xizihao bing from Sanhetang, I remember looking at this with longing when it was for sale, a few years back. Thanks to the generosity of TA, my dear wife and I sit down to enjoy a session with this most significant sample.

Heavy rain outside means no taijiquan [tai ch'i] today. All around, the sound of rain hitting leaves. Our tea-table window is high up in the treetops - the sound of nearby birds combines with the constant rain and warm air to give a feeling of being in the tropics. It is a romantic, dare I say poetic, place and time to drink good tea.

The leaves, as you can see below, are aging well. Their constant oranges and browns show the maturity of the tea - though, curiously, there is very little aroma about them.

Fresh out of the first infusion, even when the leaves have not yet opened, the soup is a fine orange. As you can see below, it actually seems to have passed the orange stage, and is beginning its descent into redness. The gongdaobei (not shown here) is almost ruby-coloured.

Still, the rain pounds the leaves of the treetops outside.

The flavour is magnificent, truly. It has a body of sweet, potent cedarwood, followed by a huigan of long, aching sweetness. It dwells so very long in the throat after the swallow.

"The aftertaste is so sweet, deep in my throat, even minutes after", says my dear wife. I can still feel it too, long and woody.

We open the windows fully to listen to the rain.

The bitterness is just right in this tea: enough to complement the honey-sweet cedarwood, yet not enough to overwhelm. With notes of dark spiciness in the back of the nose, I could happily drink this all day.

I love this tea all the more for its transient pleasure, all-too-quickly passed. Sincere thanks to TA for the sample.

(Wenzhu, lit. "precious bamboo")

spring showers -
warm winds shake distant treetops
and my wenzhu

(Addendum provided for 2005 Mengku Chengguan "Qingchengfeng".)

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