Monday, June 05, 2006

2003 (Spring) wild raw Puerh from Yi Wu Mountain

This raw wild puerh is the one that won the small puerh contest I have organized on a Yahoo's Tea-Disc group. The other 2 contestants were Menghai Tea Factory's Green Big Tree of 1999 and 2001 (also from Yi Wu). (See next post for a screen copy of the results).

Here are my tasting notes for this truly excellent tea:

Tea: This qizi bing was made with some of the best wild leaves from the Yi Wu mountain during Spring 2003. It's a limited edition: only 10,000 cakes have been made. And this production only happened in 2003.
Teapot: Xishi Cha Ren Ya Xin, zhuni clay.
Quantity: 3-4 grams. Once open, the leaves fill less than half the teapot.
Spring water from Yangminshan, Taipei.

A. Sight
The dry leaves are clear and sharp. Their surface is shiny and clean.
The color of the dry leaves is quite varied. The tips are of a light yellow, some are green, brown or even black. The general impression is a dark color, which suggests these leaves have a lot of concentration of aromas.
The tea is perfectly transparent and clear. The yellow orange color (or is it liquid gold) will be more or less dark depending of the length of the brew. (Picture taken indoors, without flash.)
Some open leaves are whole and complete (doesn't happen often for a puerh cake). The red color shows that these leaves have been dried under the sun, using the traditional (and good) process.

B. Smell
The dry leaves have the typical fruity smell from Yi Wu (I smell prunes). With this cake, the smell is particularly clear and pure. The leaves also exhale a mysterious and charming perfume I have trouble to describe with words. It's bliss just to be able to smell it when I want on my shelf.

The smell under the cover is more typical of this smoky smell one often finds in young raw puerh. What's strange is that this smell seems to appear mostly under the cover and not in the tea cup itself! Recently, the tea reminded me of a very upscale Austrian mountain honey I bought at Far Eastern Department store.

The empty cup smells like dry and smoked Long Yan (this fruit looks very much like Lichee, but is smaller and has a brown skin).

C. Taste
Sweetness: Yes. From the beginning to the end.
persistence: Very long, but changing. In the beginning it's fruity and at the end it's the little astringency that transforms itself into sweet.

Acidity/astringency: Yes, a little bit since it's a young puerh, with some due to the strong, but balanced qi. Several cups will render my tongue 'asleep', as if it had received an anesthetic shot.
In the throat: dry and fresh. I can feel how the tea reaches my stomach and then it's my whole body that starts to sweat. The clouds on my mind clear away and I feel elated.
The cha qi is very nice: it stimulates the circulation of blood in my lips and I feel little tickles in my mouth. I also salivate.

Brews: I made 10. The first 3 were rather short (less than a minute). The next ones went from 2 to 5 minutes and the last one even lasted 30 minutes!

This puerh is so exceptional that I asked a Chinese calligrapher to make this hand written calligraphy as a second wrapper for each cake:

Yi Wu wild qizi bing
Cha Ze Le (Happiness is in tea)
The artist's stamp and mine below.
2003

2 comments:

Bill said...

My first order from Stephane included the 2002 Spring wild raw Yi Wu puerh in a 2003 wrapper. This is a lovely young tea, showing great promise for the future but offering much pleasure right now. The cake contains many long, whole leaves that separate easily without tools. The light amber liquor retains its color and sparkling clarity through at least 8 infusions. The nose shows some great resiny camphor notes and hints of fruit and spices. The resiny, spicy character is evident in the mouth, as well. There is no astingency and just a pleasant hint of bitterness to balance the inherent sweetness. The mouth feel is full and round, light and elegant at the same time, with a long, clean, spicy finish. I may have to pick up another cake for aging, because I'm not sure this one will see many more birthdays!

Sacha said...

Bonjour Stéphane,
Je reviens tout juste de voyage dans ton pays natal et m'installe de nouveau à Montréal afin de rejoindre l'équipe du Camellia Sinensis. Une de mes premières dégustation depuis mon arrivée: l'échantillon de ta YiWu 2003 acheté par le biais de mon collègue Sébastien... D'un coup, j'ai compris ce qu'est "un vrai puerh", pas les petites galettes de plantation... Gras, gouleyant, relief, arômes puissants et équilibrés, généreux. Wow! Bien... dès que mes finances me le permetteront, je me jure de m'en procurer une entière auprès de toi, histoire d'avoir au moins une galette "noble" parmi ma bande de galettes moindres! Longue vie à toi et à ton blog! Merci d'être là!