Friday, March 15, 2013

2009 Medium Roast Wuyi cliff tea, "Da Hong Pao" • 武夷大红袍

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2009 Medium Roast Wu Yi cliff tea, "Da Hong Pao" • 武夷大红袍

After going close to a year without Da Hong Pao, I went all out and ordered a 300g package from The Chinese Tea Shop. I recognized the package from Kkik Da Geo, in Seoul, as one of the lower graded imitation Da Hong Pao, but I'd always been pleased with it in the past.

Here are my notes from a session with this tea ❦

For Da Hong Pao leaves, a standard Biao Zhun pot suits the twisted leaves best. For a solo tea session, I have a tiny 25 ml Yixing pot especially for Da Hong Pao. Some may be skeptical of the usefulness of such as small pot, but the smaller the pot, the lesser the margin for error. Besides, it fills my favorite cup perfectly! The stony character of the tea can handle boiling water, and though I'm an advocate of very short steeps, this is one tea that I'll make an acception for. For this session I did stick to a standard 15, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65... second schedule.

After heating the pot and gently nudging in as many leaves as the pot could hold, I close the lid and let the leaves warm for a moment while I heat the cup. I remove the lid to smell the leaves. They are rich, warm smelling with an herbal quality that lingers with sweetness in my throat.

Once the leaves are rinsed & the first steep is poured, the leaf smell is more awakened, with a lively, high-tone sense in the nostrils. The scent of the lid is similar to that of the warm leaves but deeper. It gives me a pleasant impression of what's to come. The tea itself smells rich and chocolaty. The medium roast is full but soft in the mouth. The taste is most evident in the throat as a strong, bitter-sweetness emerges.

The second cup has a more noticeable mouth feel than actual flavour. It's warm, velvety chocolate. Again, the taste emerges on the way down the throat. The scent of the tea oils oxidizing in the cup is amazingly sweat, with a rich, roasted note.

After the third cup, a strong, ashy aftertaste is beginning to develop.

The fourth cup has a slightly woody, chocolate smell. The bitterness is sharp, but pleasant, penetrating the back of my tongue and throat.

In the fifth cup, the chocolate has faded but a deep woodiness continues to build, especially in the throat. The after taste is very strong and enjoyable.

For the sixth infusion, the leaves have been polished down to their stony character. There is actually more of an initial flavour developing in the entire mouth, now, rather than just an aftertaste.

The seven cup has toned down on its bitterness, and I'm surprised to find a rich chocolate taste has returned.

The eighth & ninth cups still have a nice golden brown colour, and a faint sweetness in their scent but the taste is wearing thin, reduced to pure, roasted stone.

Finally, the tenth cup has exhausted the leaves and all there is left to admire is the leaves themselves.

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