Last Sunday, Teaparker had promised to let us taste an old Taiwanese tea from the Japan colonial rule era (pre 1945). It would have come at the right time as Monday Taiwan celebrated its National Day (October 10). I think he must have forgotten about it (like the other students, by the way) and didn't have the tea with him. however, he did prepare a special treat for us: this special Yi-Bang Mountain Pu-er. It comes from the same region as the best pu-er I had tasted so far.
This special tea comes with a story. It is supposed to come from the same tree or place from that was reserved for the chinese emperors. I didn't follow the story in much detail (didn't even catch the year!), because I was busy preparing the brewing and because it's not the story that matters but the tea. Just one not so small detail: the market value of this tea is 210,000 NTD (USD 6,400) per bing!!! Let's do some math and see at what level of 'conspicuous consumption' we were:
Let's assume the bing weighs 500 grams. That means that the 2.5 grams approximately we drank cost 32 USD. This is equivalent to a very good, but not exceptional, bottle of wine. We were 5 to taste and lavish praise upon it. So this pleasure cost 7 USD per person (a ticket in a movie theater). So, this may well be the cheapest form of luxury, after all!
I had the honor, but also the responsibility, to make the tea. I did my best to remain calm. A nervous flow of water would adversely affect this fine tea. I was also concerned that the water was not hot enough. For pu er, the water flow that enters the pot in the first brew must be of medium strength and hit the leaves directly. Teaparker recommeded I don't use a pitcher, but that I should pour directly from the silver teapot into the cups. This allows the tea to be warmer.
As I drank my first sip, I first thought that I had 'fumbled' my brew. It slipped down my throat like water. I was about to apologize to the group, but then felt the mellow, delicate but strong yun come out and fill my mouth and throat with their perfection. Not any hint of astringency or any bad taste. Pu-er perfection. Teaparker even complimented me on the brewing. The next 2 brews were also great (sorry I didn't take more precise tasting notes, but this was a moment to enjoy, not one to study). Then Teaparker brewed the tea himself and it got even better!