Saturday, December 21, 2013
Taiping Houkui • 太平猴魁
2009 Taiping Houkui • 2009 太平猴魁
A few weeks ago, I posted about comparing Taiping Houkui at Kkik Da Geo and thought I'd do a follow up.
The comparison was between an authentic 2009 and an imitation from earlier this year. Though the imitation was still nice, it's hard to choose against authentic, and I brought 50g of it home.
Though I fully accept that this blog may put me in the upper echelons of tea snobbery, I'm normally a rather humble guy... To prove it (is trying to prove humility still humble? oops!), I'm not above using a $4 mason jar instead of a fancy $25 French press for steeping! (-_^). It is an Italian mason jar, so I guess it's still a snob-level mason jar... Anyway, I punched a few holes in the lid to pour from and gave it a try.
It wasn't totally ideal, it was tricking to pour (I hadn't considered the heat of the glass) and a little too big, but after a couple of adjustments, it did the trick. Some green teas can stand a little hotter water, this is not one of them. Also, the width of the jar was much wider than the the proper glass vessel, making the amount of leaves to use harder to judge.
I also tried using a "new zhuni" Draon Egg potthat I keep for white and green teas. I thought it's height would be enough but it was still too short to hold the extremely long Taiping Houkui leaves. But after just a few seconds in water, they softened enough to slip into the pot, like pasta in boiling water. The results of the zhuni pot were excellent, the only drawback being that you miss the "phoenix dance" as the leaves swirl around the pot.
Overall, I found this tea to be unforgiving. If the water was even slightly too hot, the taste was unpleasant and other times I wasn't able to get much flavour from it at all. Once I become better acquainted with its mood, I should find more consistency. Though it's challenging bothDragon Well and Bi Lo Chun for top green tea, I think that I still prefer Dragon Well.
What drew me the most to Taiping Houkui are its unique, long leaves. The cultivar used for Taiping Houkui, Shi Da Cha, is exclusively used for this tea, it isn't found in any other tea growing region, and is the reason for its sharp, blade-like shape. Buds with five leaves are initially plucked, then during the processing the bottom two leaves are removed. Most green teas are roasted and rolled but these leaves ate flattened with mesh and baked, leaving their original appearance somewhat intact.