Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hunan Wild Handmade Fu Brick Tea • 手製 福磚茶 湖南 野生

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Handmade Fu Brick, Wild Hunan Tea • 手製  福磚茶 湖南 野生

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A type of tea that caught my curiosity on Kkik Da Geo's website, which I hadn't seen before, was a 2009 Fu brick tea from Hunan province, covered in tiny clustered specks of yellow mould, known as "Golden Flower". The full brick was beyond what I could afford, but Kkik Da Geo had broken up a few bricks into 100g samples which were perfect.

After exhausting the previous pot of Qian Liang cha, she began brewing some of their "Bukjeon Cha", as the brick of Fu tea is called in Korean (호남성 야상 수제 북전차), for us to compare. In all fairness, there are very few teas that could compare to the 60 year old Qian Liang cha, but this 3 year old brick tea is not bad at a fraction of the price.

Though it lacked the rich, nutty tone that I like so much in the Qian Liang cha, I found its soft and curiously sweet taste interesting. 

I've been totally intrigued but the Golden Flower clinging to the dry leaves. Breaking a chunk up, I found even more of it layered amongst the leaves. In dark teas, the appearance of this mould is an indication of its quality, the more the better, but for this particular tea, the mould was cultivated, then added during the processing.

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Heating up the antique Ba Le pot she'd let me walk out of the store with in my previous visit, I broke off a slightly larger amount of tea than I tried before to see how far I could push this tea.

The rinsed leaves had a strong fishy scent that I attribute to the mould, though I found it lingered more like the scent of dry kelp.

The extra amount of tea made the brew much murkier and more reddish brown than the bright yellow cups I had been brewing. Even so, it only had a slight bitterness, and its characteristic sweet taste prevailed. What I appreciated most from the strong brew was the woody aftertaste that emerged in the back of the mouth as the tea slid down, like the smell of a dank old tree stump on a warm autumn day.

After a few strong, woody brews, the tea lightened once more to its familiar sweetness before developing a more dry, astringent taste, then came to a rather abrupt end. An overnight steeping gave a final light burst of cold flavour and I decided there was little more to expect from the faded leaves.

Minerals swirling in a strong first brew.

bits of Golden Flower cling to the pot after sitting in the tea boat

the third cup was pleasant and clear

...three sips

a few clusters of Golen Flower remaining on the soggy leaves

a nice, bright, golden brew

final appreciation, most of the darkness has faded to a muddy green hue

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