Saturday morning 4/29/2006. Sophia, our nine-month young little princess, woke us up at 7:30am. Another hour of shut eyes would have been nice, but little Sophia wanted to play and be paid attention to. Such a sweet little girl.
So I decided to break a young green pu-erh tea beeng (cake) that I got from 广州 (Guangzhou) a month ago. It's still too young, perhaps, to drink this, but I was curious and wanted to remind myself of how the tea tasted a month ago when the 17-year old seller brewed a few cups for me.
2003 Chunming Tea Factory, Spring Sharp Raw Pu-Erh
Purchased at: China Plaza, Zhong Shan San Rd. (中山三路), Guangzhou, China
Price: RMB 130 ~ USD $16 per 357gr cake
Dry appearance: mostly made up of silvery. light green. and dark green spring sharps. The silver sharps are hairy. Beautiful! Break off quite easily, indicating that the cake was not pressed tightly by the "factory", which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Brewing parameters: 99-100 Celsius filtered water. 2 rinses, 5 secs each time. Then 10s, 10s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 1min.
1st - 2nd: Light to medium amber-brown. Smoky and woody, with a hint of citrus-y nose. Slightly astringent/tannic on the palate, typical of a too-young pu-erh. Full bodied. Very vibrant with a strong cha chi (concentration/power/taste), thus hinting that it is a cake for long term keeping.
3rd - 6th: The life of the tea emerged in the form of added dimensionality. medium amber-brown. Smoke and wood take the back seat, while fruit, floral, forest floor, and a citrus-like aroma say ‘Hello, we're here!’ We (my wife and I) decided that the fruity nose and taste was that of apricot. Tannin is present, yet it is not pucker-y. Very nice potential!
7th-8th: Flavors started to dissipate a little by the 7th brew. A mellower and more balanced liquor that, in my opinion, more pleasant that the first five brews.
====/5 (Very good, with good potential to evolve nicely).
Will probably keep for a few more years. Only a periodical tasting will be able to tell for sure. The fact that the tea cake is made almost entirely of spring shoots/sharp will, perhaps, not be a good candidate for long term keeping. I was told by a seller in Guangzhou that spring shoots, although generally regarded as a higher grade tea leaves, tend to be great when younger than older. Perhaps because they do not have a more mature chemical components that a fully developed leaves have?