Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jiang Cheng 1990 analysis

As promised long time ago, I did yesterday a more detailed tasting of my wild, raw 1990 Jiang Cheng pu-er. This brick is already sold out, but there are still some bricks of the 1989 harvest available (which should be even better).

Teaware: a thin, white gaibei of 120 ml,
Water: Yes Mineral water from Yi-Lan, Taiwan
Quantity: 2-3 grams

A. View
Dry leaves: Quite dark, a little red, big and strong leaves. They are quite easy to flake.
Color of the brew: Brown with orange/red tones.
Clarity of the brew: Clear and shiny. Normal residue level (since I don't use a metal filter that would alter the taste).
Open leaves: Very interesting. We can find different colors: light, medium and dark brown. Some of the darker leaves seem to be burned (like cooked pu-er) which led some people who tasted little samples of this tea to believe that this is a mix raw-cooked puerh. However, as you can see on the first picture, the darker leaf can also be opened. A cooked leaf would break if you tried to do this. And on the second picture, have a look at the leaf on the upper right side: it's part brown, part black and open. This shows that the darker color of some leaves is not due to cooking, but to happened naturally as some leaves age faster than others.

B. Smell
Dry leaves: Light and fresh
Wet leaves: Forest with wet leaves and mushrooms. Old wood furniture.

C. Taste: light and fresh
Sweetness: Good.
Lingering sweetness: Long
Bitter/acid: No. Very light astringency on the middle of the tongue (will fade with further aging).
Feeling in the throat: Mellow.
Lingering dry feeling: Light.

Brew 1: 1 minute. very smooth, a little wet autumn forest smell, refreshing
Brew 2: 1 minute. Darker color, stronger. The camphor smells are coming out. Lingers longer. Very mellow.
Brew 3: 40 seconds. Shorter, less body. Gives a polished feel to my teeth and makes me salivate. I start to sweat and feel warm.
Brew 4: 1 minute 15. Smooth and fresh. Lighter brew.
Brew 5: 2 minutes 30. Oversteeped a little. The light freshness is muted, but little other defects that I notice. I feel even warmer now.
Brew 6: 3 hours later: 5 minutes. The light aromas are starting to fade, but the brew is still incredibly mellow and dark. Nice lingering.
Brew 7: 15 minutes. The brew is now lighter in color and I will stop here. But this weaker brew still beats water or low quality pu-er by a far margin. I'd hate to waste it by not drinking it just because it's not as good as the previous brews.

Remarks: It's quite fun to play with this pu-er. I over and understeeped some of the brews on purpose. It's very forgiving as it never resulted in disaster, but in more or less body. It's a lighter taste pu-er that is more likely to please people less familiar with this kind of tea. A real hard core puerh fan (in France) reported that he enjoys it best when made with 5 grams for 10 cl. He then also gets more brews out of it. Well, that's a question of taste and experience for everybody to try by himself.


Anonymous said...

It's kind of you to talk about the different colors of the leaves for this raw puerh from 1990. I was once wondering about the darken leaves, and I must say that I have once suspected a mixture like you say it is not ! A cooked puerh leaf wont unfold so easily and would generally look like an old piece of cotton fabric, with almost no fresh vegetal cells in between the nervures.

And if a good puerh would need one more argument, I should say that brewing this tea is quite cool as you can play with it in time and still get interesting brews. Not checking time would certainly happen after brew number 4 or 5...

Anonymous said...

"....A real hard core puerh fan (in France) reported that he enjoys it best when made with 5 grams for 10 cl...."

Sacré Stéphane !!

Philippe said...

This is my absolute favorite kind of tea. At first I didn't really like it but I have come to enjoy it more than any other. The complexity and depth of the flavors are unrivaled.

- Joseph Milligan