This’ll be the last of the teas from my most recent order, but this one is from a cake… I wanted to give it a little time to settle before jumping in, so here it is, notes from this morning’s tea session:
The rinse is so dark and pungent that I decide to go ahead and drink it. It barely tastes like a rinse at all, rather it is bitter and thick with musky floral notes. The he rinsed leaves smell like a hot wet jungle, earthy, mossy and floral all at once. The first proper steep is already a dark copper bordering on orange. I’m taken aback by how much power this tea shows right out the gate. The taste has a vaguely sweet green bean quality on a base of spring orchids. Also notable is the viscosity of the soup; it feels almost closer to molasses than tea…
The second infusion is sharper, raising the pitch of the bitterness, and clarifying the mess of flavors that was the first cup. There are some hints of butter and brown sugar, and a pleasant sweetness that undercuts the sharp bitter edge of this tea. The subsequent couple of infusions yield what is in my limited experience archetypal Simao terroir; sweet grains, honeysuckles, and citrus in the vein of orange rind. By the time I reach the middle steepings, the tea has mellowed somewhat into a balance between sweet, bitter and earthy qualities, with persistent viscosity and strength.
I push steeping six a little longer, and am rewarded with a clear and kuwei-laden tea soup. The green beans and sweet grains from earlier are still here, though accompanied by a somewhat coarser texture than any of the previous cups. This is no problem though; the tea is strong and complex. Compared to the Huang Shan from the same year (and county in Yunnan), I find this to be a more “masculine” tea, in its forward complexity, while the Huang Shan is much smoother and more subdued. Regardless, they share many of the same qualities present in most Simao teas (grab a cake of Wu Liang if you don’t know what I’m talking about).
Taking a moment to sit with the aftertastes, I can still feel the sugary texture of the tea, and taste something of a brown rice flavor lingering on my palate. Though the tea is a sort of rough ride, I find the qi (tea energy) to be deeply calming. It’s easy to enter into a more meditative state of mind right now, feeling both calmed and uplifted at the same time. The later steepings give us the opportunity to experience the pure substratum of the tea without all the various flavors clamoring for attention; a thick, smooth persistently sweet and bitter soup that is almost preferable in this very pure and filtered form.
This might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, but I find myself to be a little enamored with it. I don’t think that fans of aged tea or Yiwu purists will enjoy it as much, but that’s no problem. Not everything has to have something for everyone, so we have to both sample around and know ourselves, in tea and in the larger context of our lives.
Thus, I sung this song as I progressed from a tired and groggy state towards tea-drunk lucidity.