I was trying white tea in Shenzhen tea expo, and next door a Chinese man was trying sheng pu-erh. He invited me over to taste this tea with him, and I joined him soon after I made my mind about the white tea.
His English was excellent, and as I do not get this type of opportunity, I asked him questions about the tea. He kindly answered what he knew, and what he did not, he checked with the trader/farmer. I love these expos where you can meet the farmers/masters.
I was lucky to try a sheng pu-erh from this year with the most delicate floral fragrance and mellow flavour. The tea comes from a single tree (yes) from Lincang, and the altitude of the tree is around 2000 meters. I was curious to know about the yield from an ancient tree, and it produces around 8 kg tea which makes about 24 tea cakes. Actually, it is not a lot. One cake (357 g) cost about 200 USD. Not within my budget and my tea companion was in tea business, and his plan was to buy and sit on this tea for at least 10 years. He almost suggested that if you do not wait for enough, you will waste the tea. Actually, I thought the tea already had a mellow flavour and pleasant to drink. But he looked at me as if I cannot see how valuable this unique pu-erh would become in 10 years and may fetch prices I do not know 10 times more?
Single bush oolong tea is a concept originating from Guangdong, but I did not come across single tree pu-erh before. I love the idea. It is of a single source as much as a tea can be.
I kept asking questions, and something he revealed to me without asking is that this tea made him sweat, and according to him, it was a good sign. He then asked the master to steep the tea for a minute to check the flavour, and he was satisfied with the result as astringency was still absent. I was not sweating, but I felt an excellent qi after drinking this tea and felt lucky having tasted it.
This is the third ya bao of this challenge. The first one was written by our guest blogger, and it was very informative. The second one was this, I loved it. This one looks different from both ya baos, and certainly taste dissimilar to the second ya bao. To be honest, I did not expect so much variety in the world of ya bao, but today I even found out that some of them can be processed like black teas.
To be honest, I am not 100% sure whether this ya bao was oxidised at all, but the colour of the buds and also the taste suggested that it might have been. When I bought this tea, the seller had a tiny batch available and told me that it was from ancient trees (gushu) of 500 years old. I would like to believe that. But then I tasted it, and its aroma disappointed me. The flavours were actually OK and refreshing, but the leathery and smoky fragrance really put me off and made me think: i) perhaps this tea was oxidised; ii) maybe it was also smoked.
So, I learned today that not all ya bao tastes the same. And also that this is not my favourite one.
Type: Pu-erh (Dark)
Origin: Lincang, Yunnan Harvest time: Spring 2020
Leaf colour: Tones of green and brown with some visible fuzz Liquor colour: Vibrant yellow
Tea Aroma: Floral (especially on the empty cup)
Tea Taste: Mellow, fresh and slightly earthy
Steeping: Place about 8 g of this tea in a gaiwan or teapot and add hot water around 100°C. After rinsing the leaves, you can steep for 10 seconds and add 10 second to each consecutive steeping. You can re-steep this tea multiple times.
Shelf life: Can be aged