17 June, 2009

2004 Taihe Maocha

A fellow pu'erist, Dr. GV, and I have been making plans to meet up for what seems like an aeon - each time that we have a date set, we are thwarted by unforeseeable obstacles that crop up at the last minute. Our universities are only about 1.5 hours apart, which makes it all the more amusing that we must have sampled the majority of each other's tea collections by now without actually having met. We'll get there, GV!

Entire lifeforms have come and gone in the interim

Continuing this long-standing tradition, I settled down to enjoy a mysterious sample labelled "2004 Taihe" [TYE-HER], a bing of which GV bought in Taipei from a trustworthy chap who acquired it from Yunnan himself, and who described it as being laoshu [LAOW-SHOO - old tree]. So far, so good!

I've not come across Taihe before.

2004 Taihe Maocha

Interesting leaves, no? They are wirey, thin, and brittle. I can believe that they are from 2004, given the colour, which is well on its way into orange-brown territory.

This is a tea which speaks volumes just from the dry leaves: their aroma is slightly sour, slightly thin, straw-like, and reedy. This precise character comes out in both the wenxiangbei [aroma cup] and in the flavour. It is a touch sour in the throat, and the texture is thin and distant.

As suggested by the colour of the leaves, the soup comes out a slight orange (pictured below). It's quite surprising how much can be determined from just the dry leaves alone - and quite encouraging!

2004 Taihe Maocha

The flavour, as you would hope, is a woody, spicy affair - it is definitely on its way to maturity, and is showing encouraging signs of change.

Heaven knows why, but I was up at 4 a.m. when I drank this tea, and it lifted me up and calmed me down at the same time.

2004 Taihe Maocha

Some roughness around the edges suggests that this might not be 100% pure laoshu, and GV and I have been discussing the thin character - even when initially transferred from Taipei to Blighty, GV observed a decrease in potency, and it seems that this has continued. It is an interesting, and slightly concerning, effect that we all hope to avoid - the disappearance of character is none too desirable. The rapidity of its decrease is the real puzzler, though.

I used a very large quantity of leaves, and it still seemed thin, and required excessively long infusion times as early as the sixth infusion. The somewhat sour character prevented me from really enjoying this one, but it was a definite education. I'd like to get a better handle on its decrease in potency, so that we both can avoid such effects in future.

See you soon, GV!


Unknown said...

Hey Hobbes,

I have this same tea (from 2005) and I definitely agree that it's thin. It's a good tea, but definitely not worth the $30/50g asking price. If you want I can send pictures of Wistaria's description.

Hobbes said...

That's quite a price :)