27 January, 2013

2012 Essence of Tea "Qishenggu", "Baotang", and "Bulang"

"Write about the 2012 EoT cakes!" they said.

"You know you want to!" they said.

"Give us our preciousssss!" they said.

Two of the above three are verbatim quotes from my inbox.  I am, if nothing else, a slave to your affections, my dear Reader.

2012 EoT Cakes

First, we should set the scene, and provide a little context.  I love me my Essence-of-Tea cakes.  Heaven knows I have enough tongs of the stuff on my shelves.  The outfit owned by the man known only as "Nada" has been a constant and reliable source of really rather delicious pu'ercha since 2008, and often at a very competitive price.

This year's cakes are probably the "easiest on the eyes", as our colonial cousins over the Atlantic would probably say.  I am quite the sucker when it comes to pretty watercolours, and, if you wrap your tea in pretty watercolours, then I am almost already sold on the tea.


2012 EoT Qishenggu

I kicked off my Essencefest with the mysteriously-named "Qishenggu", which is a fictional name to protect the innocent.

EoT always picks pretty leaves for its cakes, and these "Qishenggu" leaves fit the bill.  I appreciate the mixture of long- and short-leaved maocha, and the sweet, green scent is doubly appealing.

2012 EoT Qishenggu

My son deigns to leave me a little of the first infusion, which is kind of him.  "More!  Pweeez!" he adds, while giving me Bambi-eyes.

As you might see above, the colour is brutally yellow, almost heading towards being properly green.  I can hear the sounds of a thousand Asian people's stomachs crying out in agony at the rawness of this tea.  With my frighteningly over-heated northern-European constitution, its absolutely perfect in temperament.  

This was a very solid tea. I started off loving it in far-out ways: it has a citric element that adds character, not tartness; the aftertaste is the ever-so-slightly suspicious sweetness of crystallised brown sugar.  It thinned just a touch as the infusions passed; it has plentifully enjoyable floral notes at the outset, but these, as always with light florals, do not endure, and are usually the first characteristic to be lost to the aging process.  

2012 EoT Baotang

Stepping up the pricing, the Baotang is £48 which, it must be said, is getting rather expensive for an unaged cake.  Perhaps I am permanently stuck in a 2006 pricing groove. 

Baotang is in the Mengsong area of Menghai, and it is written that this tea was made with leaves from 300-400 year-old trees, which were hand-processed by a chap who stayed in the village for two months. 

2012 EoT Baotang

Xiaohu has departed for a day in town with his adoring grandmother, and so I look forward to enjoying a rare moment at the tea-table.

The first impression of this tea is very positive: it has a strong, enduring aroma that lasts for well over a minute.  For better or worse, I find myself caring about the aroma of the tea, because (I convince myself that) it conveys useful information about the compounds in the soup.  Teas with a rapidly-fading aroma seem to be among the first of my cakes to nose-dive in strength with aging, while my most pleasantly-aging cakes seem to be full, in body and in aroma, as young leaves.  I don't get this information from the tasting cup - the scent progression is only available in its full, to my senses, when using an aroma cup (wenxiangbei).  

(Much ink has been spilled concerning the merits, for and against, the aroma cup, from which I will spare you.)

2012 EoT Baotang

This cake delivers a thickly-textured soup, with some higher notes of Menghai-area "mushroom", as I often interpret it.  The kuwei [good bitterness] reminds me of older teas, and it pushes into all corners of the mouth.

2012 EoT Bulang

Finally, the one I had been waiting for: the Bulang.  EoT has made some face-destroying, eye-melting, bowel-scouringly beautiful Bulangs in the past.  I write this with some affection and admiration.  The 2011 was totally Taxmaster.  The 2010 was rather hardcore.  The 2009 was a demon screaming into an old lady's face at point-blank range.  They have aged a treat.  The earlier cakes were stupendous value; things got a bit uncomfortable in price with the 2010, and then moreso with the 2011.

This 2012 cake is £71. Perhaps it will feature even more demons and Taxmasters for our money!  Perhaps.

The monsters mostly come at night.  Mostly.

2012 EoT Bulang

Nada writes that he wanted to try something different with this year's cakes.  Who can blame a man for wanting to mix things up a little?  He has combined maocha from two villages (Manmu and somewhere fairly near) in an attempt to balance the punchy kuwei [good bitterness] of one region with some nominally complementary characteristics from the other region.  This could work, methinks.

The aroma is long and engaging, which is a good start.  I enjoyed its low, sticky sweetness, noting an obvious departure from previous years' Bulang productions.  Initial wisps of smokiness soon dissipate - no problem, 'tis a young cake.

It is calm, smooth, and sweet with a great deal of "chaqi" that is immediately energising.  It has a heavy base that tastes very much like biscuit to my addled senses.  The kuwei is a marked change from previous years. 

My tastes are undoubtedly fickle, but this cake is, to my mind, in a different genre to the aggressive, thrilling heights of its cousins from previous years.  Then again, I have strange tastes in pu'ercha, and never really "get" elegant teas, which I know that Mr. and Mrs. Essence enjoy a great deal.  It must be something to do with that fact that I am something of a thug.

2012 EoT Bulang

These cakes are well-made, and well-selected, as ever.  They also represent a change for Essence of Tea.  Every year, the learnings of Mr. and Mrs. Essence allow them to produce something just a little bit better than the year before.

August, 2013

This 2012 Bulangshan is the "without pesticide" sample from Essence of Tea's £15 sampler pack.

The leaves and soup are clean, pure, and beautiful.  The two-component mixture is rather obvious: it has a biscuit base that feels a little roasted, and a distinctly separable sharp-sour tone of good old-fashioned Bulang.

My opinion of this tea is, likewise, formed of two separable components: the one positive, the one less positive.  I prefer the style of Bulangshan cakes of previous years from Essence of Tea, and am uncertain how the roast "biscuit" profile will age.  Time will tell.  "Biscuits and grapefruit", I wrote in my journal, in summary.

25 January, 2013

2012 Douji "Yudou", "Dadou"

I took the opportunity of an act of kindness from China Chadao to learn a little more about Douji's hitherto-mysterious range of blends.

2012 Douji Yudou, Dadou

I used the 2010 and 2011 catalogues to obtain my data (with prices from China Chadao), given that they are the most complete; the 2012s still seem to be making their way into the market.  Note that in all of the below, "Dou" is pronounced "DOH!", rather like Homer Simpson, and with just as much gusto.   In the third tone.

In order of increasing (2011) price per gram:
1. Xiangdou [fragrant-Dou] brick, $20 / 250g
2. Hongdadou, Hongshangdou [red great-Dou, red upper-Dou] cake, $30 / 357g
3. Landadou, Lanshangdou [blue great-Dou, blue upper-Dou] cake, $35 / 357g
4. Yundou [harmony/charm-Dou] brick, $33 / 250g
5. Yudou [jade-Dou] cake, $49 / 357g
6. Jindou [gold-Dou] cake, 357g

Note that #3 is a stronger version of #2.  The blends really do seem to be "eclectic":
Xiangdou: Bulang, Damenglu*, Menghai
Dadou: Manzhuan, Mengsong, Youle
Shengdou: Mengku, Menghai, Simao
Yundou: Hekai, Mengku, Mengsong, Youle
Yudou: as above
Jindou: Banzhang, Jingmai, Yiwu
*Pinyin errors creep into the translations; "Damenglu" does not exist, but could perhaps refer to Manlushan in the Menghai / Mengsong region.

2012 Douji Dadou

With such broad ranges of source material, often specified only vaguely ("Menghai" is a county, "Simao" is an entire prefecture), the above are only a very sketchy guide.  The proof of the pudding is in the tasting - which is why we are where we are, after all.

The blends all have very similar appearances before the water boils: they are small- and medium-sized leaves, appearing in largish fragments.  Typically, they have a decent and clean scent of freshly blended maocha.

2012 Douji Dadou

The "house style" of Douji is darkness, heaviness, and tobacco aplenty - although in a pleasant and clean manner, compared with the tar-and-pitch of modern Xiaguan (which someone once aptly described as being like "black cigars").  The Douji house style is detectable in their single-mountain cakes, but is absolutely obvious in their blends.

This Dadou is strong.  I am not sure if it is "red" or "blue", but I suspect the latter due to its beefy kuwei [decent throaty bitterness].  It is also very sweet - after a few infusions, it warms up into a honey-like tone which is welcome, in combination with the scents of tobacco and the solid bitterness.

It has a base of green leafy plantation characteristics, but this is a (relatively) inexpensive cake.  Not at all bad.  I fondly recall my first encounter with this blend in 2008 (yikes, half a decade ago?) which was, I believe, the first year for this blend: back then, it was creamy, soapy, and definitely milky.  The blend has changed since then - for better or worse I cannot say, but it is noticeably different.

2012 Douji Yudou

The Yudou, pictured above, is nominally the better cake - it certainly costs more.  The leaves, pictured above, look very similar to those of the Dadou.

2012 Douji Yudou

In the cup, it is similar to, but very much better than, the Dadou: it has the same clean base of heavy tobacco, but it is tangy, long, vibrant and very "alive".  After a few infusions, the breath is noticeably cooled; the nose is filled with heavy mushroom-like scents; the whole feeling is big, bold, and good.  It does have a lot in common with "trad Menghai" cakes, and I wonder if the Hekaishan component of the blend does in fact have a noticeable contribution to the final character.

It endures very well, holding up to several hours of brewing.  After twelve or so, a base of green plantation comes through, but the tobacco and tangy kuwei continue to tell me "everything's OK".

2012 Douji Yudou, Dadou

In style, the *Dou blends have converged towards that made famous by Dayi, and have something reminiscent of modern Xiaguan (on one of their better days).  I like them very much: I always have a soft spot in my heart for very solid blends, which are invariably based on plantation leaves, but which can be made really very enjoyable, if the blender knows what they're doing.  The evolution of Douji blends over the past five years has resulted in some very sharp, tasty cakes that (certainly for the cakes at the upper end, such as the Yudou) could have the legs to age into something decent.

The price has edged ever upwards, as is the recurring problem with modern Douji, but these are very solid.  At $50, buying the Yudou isn't a quick decision, but if, like me, you get on well with hardcore "trad" plantation blends, in the Dayi vein, then some of these begin to look rather appealing for low-maintenance, high-enjoyment brewing.

23 January, 2013

Stalking Her Prey


stalking her prey
sinews tense, gaze fixed
the photographer

20 January, 2013

2011 Douji Banzhang, 2012 Douji Maheizhai

The tea world is a great little place, as well you know.  There are all manner of characters within it, and I am grateful for the friends I've made in places where I would otherwise have no hope to do so.  Take, for example, the case of Jerry M., who is (I think) a professional photographer, and who set up the China Chadao enterprise, which started as an eBay shop and has just recently metamorphosed into a very attractive web-site of its own.  

China Chadao has been selling decent cakes at eBay-friendly prices, the majority of which that I have tried have been Douji.  Perhaps due to the pressures of time, my notes tell me that I haven't tried any Douji cakes after 2010 - a recent parcel from Jerry seems like a good opportunity to see what's new with one of my trusted brands.

2011 Douji Banzhang

Douji cakes started out really (really) very good; I seem to remember being introduced to their earlier work by the owner of Fangmingyuan, in Maliandao, at the recommendation of the Duke of N, back when we were calling them "Yisheng".  Since then, Douji-branded cakes have become bipolar: there is a blended range of lower-priced cakes (Dadou, Shangdou, Xiangdou, etc.) and a "single mountain" range of higher-priced cakes.  

The blends have always been stable and fun - and instantly recognisable.  The single mountain cakes are usually very decent examples of their region, but perhaps tend to be a bit on the expensive side, from all outlets (Taobao, eBay, etc.).

2011 Douji Banzhang

Heading straight for the Banzhang, I was impressed by the very pleasant leaves, pictured above.  They are mostly whole, and well-kept, with the inclusion of some tips (although not too many).  The dry leaves exude a delicious scent of fruity sweetness that bodes well for a good series of brews.

2011 Douji Banzhang

Like most Douji sessions, I enjoyed this cake: it was stable, solid, decently Banzhang, and had tip-of-the-tongue-numbing activity that suggested the inclusion of at least some good leaves.  It is perhaps unfair to compare it to the very best Banzhang cakes that I have come across, against which it cannot compare; then again, this cake is priced quite seriously: it is $170 / 357g, and therefore invites comparison.

Perhaps most appealing was that dark, tobacco richness that many Douji cakes seem to have acquired.  It is light in the body, but does deliver a charming combination of clean, heavy sweetness alongside that very welcome tobacco base.  If this were half the price, I would be really quite tempted.

2012 Douji Maheizhai

The Banzhang was, however, the "warm up act", setting the stage for the Maheizhai (spelled "Mahezhai" at the web-site).  This is a "special edition" 200g xiaobing, which sells for a significant $80.  Actually, this "special edition" is a little cheaper than the Banzhang from earlier, per unit weight...  It would cost $143 for 357g, compared with the $170 of the Banzhang.   I suspect that the latter has undergone simple "LBZ" inflation; cakes claiming to be from this region, including those from the Douji label, are often much more expensive than cakes from other regions, as well we know.

2012 Douji Maheizhai

The leaves are clearly much better quality than the Banzhang cake, being entirely whole, unbroken throughout, and rather long.  Pictured below, it is difficult to get them into the pot, whereby a little warm water eases their progress by softening them up.

2012 Douji Maheizhai

This is a cake that is a good comparitor for the Banzhang: the Maheizhai (ma-hay-djeye) leaves generate a much increased cooling sensation that floats on the breath, and completely decongests my nose.  It is sweet, clean, and very "Yiwu".  It is also a cake that takes a number of infusions to get into its swing, which can be a good sign that, perhaps, the cake has a good amount of content that it is slow in relinquishing.  Certainly, it endured a good number of infusions and remained clean and sweet throughout.

2012 Douji Maheizhai
Thanks for the cabbage, Xiaohu

By this stage, it will not be surprising to learn that the Maheizhai cake has a solid base of tobacco, as with most Douji products.  In Yiwu, tobacoo can be charming - and maybe almost necessary, to my (possibly rather odd) tastes.

2012 Douji Maheizhai

We have, then, two very clean, sweet, and tobacco-laden cakes that I found to be enjoyable both.  As ever, Douji demonstrates that they make reliable, thoroughly safe cakes.  As ever, I begin to wonder if they are not beginning to price themselves a bit on the high side.  As far as the tea goes, it is light but very enjoyable.

Thanks again to Jerry for the opportunity to try some of Douji's latest, and very enjoyable, creations.

18 January, 2013

2012 Douteriah, 2012 Gushu Hongcha

I wrote previously about my closet affection for Darjeeling, and it something that I typically take in restaurants and cafes if it is available, and if lapsang souchong is not.  I never, ever accept "pu-erh" when available; I've had enough rank shupu to last a lifetime, without trying any more...

This Dooteriah version of The 'Jeeling is priced between the Makaibari and Sourenee types that I tried before, all from Pu-erh.sk.

2012 Douteriah 2nd

Friends (admittedly, ones that don't care about tea to any degree) often tell me that Darjeelings all taste alike, which I consider to be heresy worthy of an immediate strike to the panoplies.  This Douteriah is significantly different from both of the other Darjeelings, primarily because it is unfathomably sweet.

It really is very sweet.

2012 Douteriah 2nd

While the broken grade looks very "Whittards-of-Chelsea" (which is not a term of endearment), the quality far exceeds anything that you'll be able to find in such grotty outlets.  The character is immediately refreshing, clean, and very well-made.  The sweetness piles into the mouth from the very first infusion, and simply refuses to leave until the session is finished, some eight or so infusions later.

2012 Douteriah 2nd

If you enjoy second-flush Darjeeling, then something like this is a textbook example of the lightness and accessibility for which the genre is typically appreciated.  As a diehard Dianhong fan, I prefer something a bit more aggressive, though, which leads me nicely on to...

2012 Gushu Hongcha

...a hongcha seemingly made out of gushu leaves.  Yes, this is a crazy fate for such lovely leaves, akin to "gushu shupu", if perhaps not quite so eyewateringly cruel to the leaves.  However, if you are going to turn your gushu into hongcha, then you want to be doing it this way.

2012 Gushu Hongcha

The beauty of the leaves, pictured above, has been preserved, in stark contrast to the fragmentation of the Darjeelings that I have been recently enjoying.  Every now and again, the bright orange fur of a tip can be seen; the entire room smells of bright, clean hongcha maltiness on opening the sample bag.  This was a very good session, even before the water boiled.

2012 Gushu Hongcha
My Xishi pot for hongcha is rather, how can I put this?, "nipply"...

As far as hongcha goes, this is really very good.  It even has something approximating huigan, and leaves the breath in the nose feeling positively iced, such was the cooling sensation.  It is sharp, heavy, very beefy, and entirely enjoyable.  You can't fault a bit of beef in your hongcha.

If there is but one criticism, it is that, being hongcha, it tends to give up after around six-eight infusions.  This is churlish, given that the leaves have been fully oxidised, but is worth noting; even good leaves, as these undoubtedly are, cannot hold up to a long onslaught if they have been entirely reddened.

2012 Douteriah 2nd

A final flourish is shown above, with the long leaves of the gushu hongcha and the chopped sweetness of the Douteriah on the left and right, respectively.

I need to drink more hongcha.  I am therefore exceedingly grateful to Peter for giving me the opportunity to step outside my usual routine, and enjoy a genre of tea that constantly thrills me; while less exalted than the complexity of pu'ercha, a good hongcha is a very different and almost incomparable experience.  Great stuff, when done right, as in the case of this set from Pu-erh.sk.

16 January, 2013

Distant Screams

Coffee Time

distant screams
German schoolchildren
murdering Bach

14 January, 2013

2012 Canton Tea - Boxed Set, Part the Second

Looking back over recent posts, you would be forgiven for thinking that I only manage to find time sufficient to drink those teas that are sent to me by others.  In part, there is a truth to that conclusion, because the number of sessions that I can grab per week has dwindled significantly (for all the right reasons).

In that manner, I present to you some scant notes on the remaining three xiaobing from Canton Tea's boxed set of five taster cakes, produced by the Mighty Scott of Yunnan Sourcing.

2011 Canton Tea YS Jinggu

In the funny old world of pu'ercha, there are few constants, and few true heroes.  Without sounding (I hope) too much like a swooning fan, I would be dishonest if I did not express my appreciate for Scott Wilson, who has done so much for the world of pu'ercha in the west.  Most of this springs from a love of his subject, and he has combined the selling of low-cost, but very tasty, cakes with a more recent trend (during the past four or five years) towards making his own.  The latter are, similarly, priced very fairly, which keeps me coming back to his web-site almost eight years from when I first went there.  He has outlasted many competitors, and continues to find innovative, high-quality products that continue to impress me.  Moreso every year, in fact, as his skill at selecting maocha steadily increases.  One feels "in safe hands" when trying his cakes.  In fact, I would probably go so far as to say that he has a "house style", and that I am in danger of being able to recognise it.

2011 Canton Tea YS Jinggu

To varying extends, that "house style" is apparent in these cakes sold by Canton Tea, which represent a very interesting sampling of the pu'ercha gamut.  If one were to pick five genres for inclusion in a tasting set, it may end up containing tea from regions a lot like those for which Canton Tea has plumped.

This first cake is from Jinggu, which is an autonomous county-level area in Simao prefecture.  It is particularly hard to get Jinggu teas right, I believe - they tend to become rather "drink it now" than anything more complex.  However, Scott is one of the few people that gets it right, from this district.  Pictured above, the tippy fat leaves typical of cakes from this region are obvious in the cake (and run all the way through it).  Similarly, below, we can see that the maocha is decidedly unlike that one would find in the more orthodox regions.

2011 Canton Tea YS Jinggu

True to form, Scott manages to make this cake come across as being very interesting; while it has the smooth and sweet characteristics of tippy tea (almost "baicha"), it has a straightforward soup (pictured below), and carries a most satisfying kuwei [good bitterness].  It is easy to write off teas from Jinggu (if you are me), especially autumnal teas, and yet this example remains sufficiently complex to keep me drinking it even as my adventurers struggle with the opening areas of Baldur's Gate...

2011 Canton Tea YS Jinggu
The new wild mage character in the "extended edition" is tremendous fun.  While fighting a tough enemy (some sort of wight), my wild mage attempted to cast a low-level attack spell and accidentally opened a dimensional portal, through which a huge demon came (complete with horns, flames, and strange name), and which promptly started to eat my party.

The autumnal Bulangshan cake, shown below, was actually that which I tried first.  When the box arrived at my laboratory, I couldn't help but try one of the cakes, and it probably says something about my tastes that I immediately went for the Bulangshan.

2011 Canton Tea YS Bulang
My dear wife's notes - we take Greek mythology very seriously in our family (although I think this is from The Oddysey)

In contast to the Jinggu cake, the Bulangshan leaves are much more rough-and-ready: they are fragmented and small, and yet have the warm, sweet scent of autumnal tea.

2011 Canton Tea YS Bulang

The cloudy orange soup soon clears into a clean liquid (after an infusion or two), and exhibits the heavy sweetness that one would anticipate of autumn leaves.  Unsurprisingly, this cake is strong: its kuwei pushes on and on, leading to some significant cooling sensations and shengjin [mouth-watering] that works very well.

Beneath the purity of its strength lies the sweet-grass-and-leather that I associate with that region's flavour; cooling, bitter, and yet charming, this is a feisty little cake.

My journal has "very strong, very straightforward, and really rather good".

2011 Canton Tea YS Bulang

This last cake was one that I gave to THE JAKUB when he recently visited: I grabbed the first cake that I could find on the way out of the house, which happened to be the last that I had tried.  Unfortunately, it is also the weakest of the bunch - apologies, JT!

2011 Canton Tea - Yiwu Autumn

Autumnal Yiwushan cakes are a dangerous breed: they often go awry, to my tastes.  Even the good ones (I recall some older Douji cakes) tend to me a little muted with respect to springtime cakes from the same year.  I am afraid that this cake is not up to that standard.

2011 Canton Tea - Yiwu Autumn

It is precisely as one might expect: sweet, orange, fruity, but not exceptionally interesting in any particular way.  It is cooling and clean, courtesy of its good production, and has a certain throatiness, but in a world saturated by Yiwu cakes, there are many better examples with which to spend ones time and money.  It is from Luoshuidong, an area of Yiwu that is not synonymous with great pu'ercha in my limited experience.

Overall, the boxed set of five cakes is a very decent selection, and I have accidentally ended on a low note, whereas the previous four cakes were all enjoyable in their own way, and all sufficiently different in style to justify inclusion in a taster set.  I am most grateful to Canton Tea for the generous gift, and am sure that their audience will enjoy such an introduction to the complex world of Yunnan tea that we love to explore.

11 January, 2013

2012 Makaibari, Sourenee

There is a significant part of my "tea life" that never makes it onto these pages, merely because it is such an integral part of the background radiation that exists behind the pulsars and quasars of pu'ercha.  A recent package from Peter of Pu-erh.sk (thanks again) gives me the opportunity to write about that background activity: Darjeeling.

2012 Makaibari

Darjeeling is often referred to, in those Western books on tea that exist (all of which are entirely horrific and need to be pulped by their publishers) as being the "champagne of teas".  This is a disservice to both champagne and tea, but suggests that the writer is aiming to say that Darjeeling is, in some sense, refined.  A quest for "refined" tastes is doomed to failure, and is more than a little pretentious.  Darjeeling is so much better than that. 

2012 Makaibari

Peter's Darjeelings are three, and this Makaibari is the first and best.  It is also the only first-flush Darjeeling in his trio, whereas the others are second-flush.  The distinction in Darjeeling is perhaps not as enormous as with pu'ercha; the difference between spring and autumn crops in pu'ercha can be marked: springtime leaves are vivid and powerful, autumnal leaves are usually more easy-going, fruity, and less potent.  With Darjeeling, some of this is true: first-flush leaves are usually more vivid and, I think, more complex; second-flush teas are often a little lighter.

2012 Makaibari

The Makaibari is seriously delicious Darjeeling which I enjoyed hugely.  At 6.90 Euro / 50g, it is nicely priced.  Some of this reasonable pricing should be attributed to the grade: I recall from the web-page that all three teas are listed as "SFTGFOP", which is the very highest grade of Darjeeling (or "seriously far too good for ordinary people").  While the leaf quality is there, you'll see from the photographs of all three of these teas (two of which I tried today) are really very broken; they should therefore be some derivative of FBOP (flowery broken orange pekoe), for which the prices are considerably depressed with respect to those for actual FOP (flowery orange pekoe).  You lose quite a bit when the leaves are almost entirely halved or quartered, including endurance.

That comes through in the brewing of this tea, where it runs out of steam after a half-dozen or so infusions; however, the quality of the leaf is clear, and makes for a rather thrilling set of brews while the leaves can hold up to it.  This Makaibari is a very complex example of Darjeeling, and contains the whole spectrum of chocolate, malt, honey, and sugar-sweetness, drenched in a heavy overcoat of wildflowers.  It is not too fanciful to write so, I maintain, because the entire body feels like heather and lavender.  It is quite a magnificent little tea.

2012 Sourenee SFTG 2nd Flush

At the other end of the scale is Sourenee, a second-flush version.  As with the Makaibari, the leaves are broken:

2012 Sourenee SFTG 2nd Flush

It is also a much more mainstream Darjeeling, that does not scale the heights of the Makaibari, and made for an excellent comparitor.  This is very typical "everyday" Darjeeling, with a good range of maple and muscatel, although presented in a much lighter soup courtesy of its second flush.

2012 Sourenee SFTG 2nd Flush

After seven or so infusions, it continued to doll out enjoyable jugs of pinewood sweetness, with some subtle flavours of good honey.  I would take the Makaibari any day of the week, however, and am beginning to look longingly at the product web-page, which is a sure sign that I will be getting some soon, for consumption in meetings, where its quite high caffeination will keep me awake (as is typically my problem in meetings).

Thanks again to Peter for the introduction to these very enjoyable Darjeelings.

09 January, 2013


Snow Shoots

from the quiet lake
rugby posts