It is kind of surreal that I’m writing the last post of the 365 teas challenge. It still has not sunk completely that I am finishing this challenge. I have a wonderful tea to end it.
A beautiful possibly the most exquisite pu-erh I have ever tasted which I was offered by Madam Qin. When I asked her, what was the rarest tea she has in her shop, she brought these little tuo cha pieces of teas out. Unfortunately, we do not know much about this tea except for it is sheng pu-erh from 2000 and it comes from an area where the tea leaves are harvested once every four years. This makes this tea very special and valuable. If you are wondering, what it means. It means that the tea plant has been feeding on the soil for four years instead of days, weeks or months.
Each of the golden pieces (3 g) costs 2000 RMB which is a little over 300 USD. Easy to say, difficult to comprehend. I was humbled when Madam Qin offered this tea to me and another guest. Last time she offered this tea was a few years ago when her friend decided to join a monastery as a monk. It was a goodbye gift from Madam Qin. A few years after that we were having a special moment and did not need have an excuse apart from Madam Qin’s kindness.
Madam Qin started to steep this tea gongfu style in a white gaiwan (she chose that as she thought we can differentiate the taste better). When the water added to the mini tuo cha, some bubbles started to emerge, and some smokiness started to appear on the surface of the tea. Madam Qin told me that this is a phenomenon called ‘Small gold nest’ and it shows the quality of the tea.
When I sipped this tea, I suddenly grasped why sheng pu-erh needs to be aged. It was a qi lifting moment. Almost sweet, perfumed, woody, I kept sipping this tea probably for 8 steepings or more. Then, the taste disappeared from the tea liquor. I was utterly disappointed. It was a tea to be tea drunk for and I thought I could keep drinking it for much longer. I then thought probably the tea was made out of fine tiny buds, visually this also made sense to me. This added to the rareness and quality of this tea.
It was one of the best if not the best tea I have reviewed in this challenge. Actually, one of the best teas I have ever tasted.
Now, looking back in this challenge I can feel how much I have learned. How much my perceptions and understanding changed over time. I had many disappointing experiences, but I came to a stage whereby I can pick better and enjoy my choices more. All this knowledge is locked in this blog. I am really hoping it reaches tea enthusiasts around the world. Please give me a shout if you find this challenge useful. I’d love to hear from you and feel that my tea journey has been useful for you too.
I’ll keep reflecting on this challenge. I’ll also find other avenues whereby I can promote gongfu cha, slow tea movement and exquisite tea from all around the world with a specific emphasis on Chinese and Turkish teas.
Finally, I would like to thank all my guest bloggers without them I would not have managed.
Type: Dark (Pu-erh)
Harvest time: 2000
Leaf colour: Tones of brown with visible golden tips
Liquor colour: Dark amber/brown
Tea Aroma: Oak, delicate flowers
Tea taste: Full-bodied, slightly sweet, warming and fruity
1. Place 3-4 g of this tea in a porcelain gaiwan or teapot and add about 100 ml water at around 95°C.
2. Rinse after 10 sec.
3. Steep for 15 seconds for the second time and increase the consecutive steeping time by 5. You can re-steep this tea about six or seven times.