03 May, 2008

1999 Maocha

Mayday, the beginning of summer. Virgins dancing around Maypoles, bearded sandal-wearers engaged in Morris dancing, and a 17th-century tradition more peculiar to my city: gathering below the tower of Magdalen College at dawn while the choristers sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus. Then jumping off the bridge into the river.

These days, the police attempt to stop drunken Ball-goers from taking the plunge, but they haven't managed to ban the choir - yet.

So, a dawn tea-session with a 1999 maocha from Puerh Shop. This tea is priced the same as the tier-two maocha, which makes us wonder: why so cheap?

The answer is suggested by the dry leaves, above, which are almost entirely "yellow leaves", usually mostly removed from maocha. The rusty orange colour is indicative of some age. A very quiet leafy aroma does not bode well for its potency. I am reminded of MYSTERIELLA's 1990s Tibetan Heicha: weak, dusty, inexpensive.

The colour of the soup is almost red, as shown above - it looks very appealing indeed. Buttery dustiness is to be found in the aroma cup, though short-lived and soft.

It is unsurprising that this theme continues in the flavour, which is weak and requires lots of leaves and some serious overbrewing. The result, like the 1990s heicha mentioned above, is sweet and pleasant.

My dear wife really enjoys this, as she is always partial to shupu and "warm" teas (in the Chinese sense). "Can we get some of this for my office tea? It's incredibly sweet."

The sweetness is emphasised as infusions pass.

wasp at the window
trying to escape into
distant churchbells


Bill said...

It would make a great office drinker since it is so inexpensive. Speaking of which, have you noticed that the price of some factories are starting to decline?


Hobbes said...

Ahoy, Bill,

Yes indeed, particularly also because it's really insensitive to overbrewing. I find that office tea needs to be able to withstand the inevitable lack of attention, and consequent overbrewing, that occurs when one's mind is elsewhere. :)

I haven't noticed the prices myself; I suspect that these would not be carried over into the global/Western pu'er markets in the same way that fuel prices remain high long after the cost of crude has decreased.

The lag in noticing the effect is significant, just because of the number of middle-men that our tea passes through. The further away from the source of the commodity we get, the longer the price fluctuations will take to reach us.

It's an "amusing" quirk of commerce in that prices are quick to respond to source-increases, but oh-so-slow to respond to source-decreases. For example, all of the local, small Chinese and Indian markets in my city have doubled the cost of their rice within days, citing "source increases".