Sunday, August 26, 2012

First Hit - 1996 XG Butterfly Tuo

Finally we meet, the 1996 XG Butterfly Tuo from Life in a Teacup.  This tea has so bewitched Nick Herman that every time I see a comment by him,  I  half-expect an apparition of his beloved Butterfly.  He says, "it has sent deep, deep energy coursing into my veins which I still felt the next day. Incredible."

Who doesn't want to feel an extra-day extension of "incredible" energy.  You're definitely getting bonus  value there.  Ira brought this for us to try yesterday but I was too tea drunk on the 8582 so she generously left it for me.  When I open the pouch, I'm hit with a curious vegetal mineral nose more like seaweed or dried kale.  It no longer smells like sheng.

I brewed up all the loose leaves and fannings not in the photo as I wanted to save the rest for Ira.  The first brews were still trademark XiaGuan- drying, slightly smoky and astringent.  This sample of tea can proudly proclaim dry-aged storage despite ImmortaliTEA having received a extremely moldy version- the perils of buying aged puerh on-line.   My here example is as dry stored as they come and I was going to use a schoolboy's phrase involving nuns but the censor tells me such crude aphorisms won't do.  I first used my new three-walnut toy pot then moved to a yixing pot to see if it would improve things.   I realize I've gotten to the tenth brew but the magic is simply not happening for me so I postpone the later brews for the afternoon.

I've been thinking much about Ira's first real hit of pu-erh- a 60 year old aged sheng from a casual acquaintance.  She didn't know much about pu-erh then but she did not have to think much about whether or not the tea was good. The tea's greatness simply floored her.  How can one even ever hope to order something from the Internet to measure up to such a first introduction. Everything else must be quite ho-hum - it's a gift and a curse to be sure.  I'm pretty sure she will not be moved by this tea.
(The tea quilt in the photo was hand-made by Ira and adds an extra cozy touch to my tea session.)

Nick Herman has deemed this XG an "excellent tea".  Great for him that he could receive an extraordinary session from this tea but somehow I can't even manage a passably good session from this 300 year old arbor tea.   The tea barely holds my attention, my mind is on some Xiaguan auto-pilot conditioned from all the other XGs that dried my mouth in predictable patterns.  (Sorry sorry Nick. I just am not feeling this tea although it was the only tea I drank all day. Who's ever going to recommend tea to me again after this and Hengli Chang and the corked CGHT...)

I try to force my husband to taste some and I interrogate him Guantanamo style. The prisoner won't talk so I have resort to new gentler tactics.  When I first started drinking sheng, my first beeng was a smoky CNNP production and I loved it.  The beencha was so different from all the other polite greens-  senchas, bilochun, TGY, and their ilk I was drinking back then. Even whatever small amount of complexity the sheng had was enough to send my senses into appreciation.  Too bad I didn't save any of it because I'd love to know if it was any good after all.

When I return to the tea in the afternoon after a hike, I barely quaff two tiny cups and the astringency starts burning my insides. A seventeen year old tea still going this strong!  Tight Xiaguan's definitely benefit from some humid storage early in it's life because this tuo is too dry for me.  But I'm not going to give up on dry storage altogether based on this one data point just yet.  I luckily have a few more provided by Emmett of Cha and Kungfu blog.
 
Here is a behind the scenes look at where this blog is produced.  You can see my first photos of a tidy walnut tea pot set are altogether misleading as you can see a dozen tea paraphernalia cluttering the table.  My husband tore out the ceiling while I was in Dubai and India early this year and he put two skylights so I can enjoy tea and browse my maps in a sunnier setting.  

18 comments:

  1. Nice post as always...My feelings for this toucha lie somewhere between Nick Herman's "mindblowing" and yours "barely holds my attention". Despite of " too dry" fact there is something what makes is unique. And I dont think it just butterfly on the cover but rather combination of Xia character, old threes and age ...If I may http://potsandtea.blogspot.cz/2012/08/butterfly-from-1996.html

    Petr

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    1. Dear Petr,

      Your tea setup is so poetic and lovely, I would be hard pressed to not appreciate this tea in such surroundings. I think you mention having this tea for a year and perhaps that rehabbed this tea into better form. Did you store the butterfly in your ceramic jars?

      Hster

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    2. Thanks Hster, Yes, it was in one of my jars. But I would not claim that it make any weighty impact in one year- our place is rather dry too and very cold during winter. I probably just like dry Xia of the age...

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  2. That is very funny that the confused dude does not mention anything about tasting the tea. I wonder if he just took the word of another TEA VENDOR that it was a bad tea and never tried the tea. I own a tuocha of this tea and would say that it is dry stored to a fault.

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  3. I have to say that I purchased a whole Tuo of this tea last year, and it is absolutely, positively filled with mold. Yellow and white. inside and out. it was absolutely wet stored, and not all that well. I first ordered a sample, and that seemed far more astringent, far more dry. I meant to say something to the shop owner, but decided not to make a fuss. it ain't bad, but no way did it go through it's life with dry storage..NO WAY...

    Ben M

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    1. Dear Ben,

      It's clear that Gingko is having consistency issues since four others say this is over-dry and two have received moldy tuos. This attests to the problems of buying aged pu-erh on the internet. I am surprised you did not give Gingko feedback if not a hard time. This, even with last year's price, was not a cheap tea.

      I have a hypersensitivity to mold and the shicang flavor of wet stored tea can trigger my gag reflex so I'm fairly positive the sample I received was not wet stored.

      Hster

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    2. Ben, Would you be open to swamp 5-10g sample of it? I would be happy- I am very curious to see if we are talking about the same thing- Yes, there are white-yellow "dots" but I dont determined them as molds. And as Hster, I dont feel any moldiness in the taste or aroma...

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    3. Hi Peter, yes I would be happy to trade. But I am pretty sure the Tuo has mold. I brought a piece to work today, took it to a biologist and got to use a fancy microscope: we saw mold. I wonder if the white/yellow dots you talk about could be from the puerh knife???

      Ben

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    4. As those white-yellow dots are between leaves there are just two options (as I see it)- molds or "condensed" essencial oils...I will also ask my biologist friend to look at it. Please send me your shipping address to keramikakcajiATgmail.com and I will send you piece of it

      Petr

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  4. I'd be wary of drinking stuff with yellow mold. It's not good for you (the white stuff seems innocuous)

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  5. Hi what about the "golden mold" from Fu tea? are they drinkable?

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  6. Oh well, what can I say; I'm probably just not the puer connoisseur that you are--I'm really more of an oolong man. I did feel strong energy from it, though, that I have rarely felt from any tea, and that is always remarkable to me. Don't remember such astringency that has affected you, but I am waiting for a larger sample to more fully evaluate. Perhaps that are oolongs that would satisfy you that I would think are fairly ho-hum, we're all wired differently, through both experience and intrinsically. Try the '90 Menghai she has, that might be more too your liking.
    Hopefully we can share some tea some of these days; I just got a new job in Berkeley, so I am looking to move back there ASAP. Ironically enough, my job is a mere few blocks away now from Imperial Tea Court, though I think I'd balk at buying any of their tea these days..

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    1. Typos! I'm tired.

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    2. Dear Nick,

      I'm glad and jealous you enjoyed such a fantastic session with the Butterfly and wish you more of the same. Don't mind the cranky impressions of a shu drinker. We are all very different as you suggest. I'm no connoisseur- far from it- and am not even looking to become one. I just want to find teas I personally love.

      Hster

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  7. I find it very concerning that I'm now being referred to as the "confused dude" on various tea blogs all because I purchased a tea that had claims of being completely dry stored for its entire existence, but yet had a layer of white frost covering its entire surface area with even more yellow spots as well, and I challenged the claim because I don't know about you guys but I was of the opinion that completely dry stored teas should have absolutely no frost and if it did it should only be in a few spots max not a thin layer across the entire surface area (I also thought that if a claimed dry stored tea did have a layer of frost it was a sign that it had partial traditional storage). I find it very upsetting that people are assuming a lack of knowledge on my part when it was confirmed to have mold by 4 teachatters who looked at and smelled the tea in person and refused to even bring their nostrils close to it for fear of inhaling some of the white dust. It aims directly at my integrity and tea knowledge that people are calling me the "confused dude" and assuming I don't know what I'm talking about when it was confirmed by not just any 4 teachatters but 4 of the most knowledgable members. I hope people take this more seriously and those who have tasted a completely dry stored tea such as an 88' Qing Beeng or Xiaguan Iron Cake should attest to the fact that these dry stored teas have absolutely no frost or at least all of the versions I have we're like that.

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    1. Dear Nick,

      I sincerely apologize and will amend this post. The sample I got was so lip puckeringly dry, I did not conceive that Gingko could have such a wide variation of dead dry to untouchably moldy for a single tea. I hope you got your money back.

      Heji

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  8. I appreciate that and no I just used it as tuition and made the steepster review. Thanks for the apology I understand where you were coming from as its pretty rare for a single tea from the same vendor to have such a variance of storage conditions. Thanks again!

    ImmortaliTEA-

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  9. Well, well... the last time I read this blog post (linked from teachat discussion), there weren't further comments from Nickd305 or ImmortaliTEA yet. I wonder why he never contacted me...

    Sorry the following is something irrelevant to the tea discussed. Please feel free to delete it if it's seen as inappropriate -
    Maybe some of you are personal friends of Nickd305's (forgive me for not being able to releasing the real name of a client, no matter what, still a client), and if so, would you please urge him/her to contact me or reply to the numerous emails we sent to him? I'm sure he will know that I'm talking about our correspondence about resolving an issue pertaining to his green tea order of $214.60 from June 2012, many months after his butterfly tuo sample purchase and well before the steepster discussion, the teachat discussion and the discussion here. So it's quite irrelevant to the butterfly tuo issue. I couldn't care less about what he said about the butterfly tuo. But I would be more than glad if he could reply to my emails about the other order. So if you could, would you do me a favor and remind him to contact us, please?

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