Sunday, June 3, 2007

Retasting "Glad I" Pu'er From MarshalN

I guess to enjoy or to dislike a tea is easy; To know a tea is harder; To understand a tea takes time; And to be indifferent is the easiest.

I learned a simple yet useful lesson: tasting multiple teas side-by-side, if done hastily, may not reveal the character of each fully. If the goodness of one tea is only revealed a few moments after swallowing the liquor, then the forthcoming sensation will get lost or muddled if another tea is tasted too soon. It is a common sense that I need to remind myself with whenever there are multiple teas (or wines) being tasted in one sitting.

I re-tasted Glad I sample from MarshalN, which turns out to be a 2003(?) Quanji Bulang Mountain Pu'er. In my previous post, I slammed this tea as being "not good, not bad". So I sat down this time with no pen, paper or camera until after I was done drinking 12 or so infusions of it. It was a one-on-one date.

This time around, I couldn't find any obvious flaw with the tea. Yes, it was bitter like a vegetable concoction from an over brewed green tea, and the bitterness lingers for a while. But then, as others noticed and I didn't before, the bitterness "melted" to become a subtle sweet sensation on the fore-throat and the very back of the throat. It was a nice feeling. Yes, the astringency was present, yet it was present in a similar way that other well regarded young pu'ers are also astringent (ex. the 2004 Yan Ching Hao Yiwu Chawang, which I re-tasted a few hours later, also with no pen, paper or camera). The yun and the body of this Bulang pu'er was good. The chaqi was quite apparent, with energy circling my body slowly but surely after 3 infusions or so (calming, with no sudden attack).

Everything seemed to be in good balance without any flaw or merit that deserved a wow at present, yet there was a certain presence and understated sophistication about this tea that was noticeable only when I observed carefully and patiently. Perhaps such a pu'er tea is one that will stand the test of time. I am inclined to concur with several others who opined that this tea has a good aging potential. Everything seems to be just there without over-exertion.

A lesson learned. With tea and wine, to drink slow is a virtue. And a re-taste is warranted on those that get overly bad or good impression for less obvious reasons the first time around. After all, a debatable crap today may be a debatable gem later, and vice versa. My revised score, as if it matters: 3.5 stars (g - vg), with good potential for long-term aging.

Related notes:
MarshalN's note on sample 1
Other participants' notes on sample 1

Photo: Wet leaves. Camera set at "neutral color", which somehow gives an unnatural grey hue to the picture (to my eyes). For reference and comparison with the pictures in the previous post, which were taken with "vivid color" setting.


MarshalN said...

Thanks for the new notes. I hope you didn't feel any pressure :(. That's definitely not what I meant to do -- just that I guess I felt it really was a good tea, one in which I couldn't find any obvious faults.

BTW, that picture.. is indeed a little grey. Do you use florescent lighting?

~ Phyll said...

M, not at all. In fact it was one of the most relaxing and reflective tea sessions. The first time around was the opposite because I tasted both teas somewhat impatiently. Yours and others' notes compelled me to re-taste, and I found that I misunderstood it before.

This tea has some merits, though not very apparent to me at first.

Regarding the pic, I used the exact same light source, which was diffused tungsten light bulbs, as I did with the previous pictures.