Monday, August 06, 2012

Tea Thoughts in Transit

(I'm still in L.A. and have only time to post something tapped out on the plane days before. I apologize in advance if my Koringlish is starting to show.)

Yesterday morning, I briefly glanced at the spent leaves of the Dehong High Plateau and I was unexpectedly transported to Act 1 of Rigoletto.  The day before when drinking this tea, I was taken aback by a discrepancy which I noted as a "Neanderthal with a high pretty voice".  But the leaves told me it was a duet all along with youngish greener leaves providing the high notes among the dark gnarled leaves of cooked shu.

Rigoletto is a hunchback court jester in a Verdi opera - a bitter dark character with one source of light in his life - a sweet but bodacious daughter Gilda whom he tries to hide away especially from a womanizing Duke. The scene where Rigoletto returns home singing about his woes(hates his job) but is overtaken by the sweet voice of his daughter so matches the progression of the Dehong brews that I can only shake my head.  Pu-erh has spread it's tendrils deep and wide through the various crevices of my memory banks.

(Warning to all Father's out there with daughters- trying to control your daughter's love life almost always comes to a bad bad end. Verdi who is so fond of dying heroines has the lovely Gilda sing her last aria dying of stab wounds in a body bag.  I'm sorry if you think I've spoiled the plot but really, Verdi plots are so predictable that once you see Rigoletto contract a killer for the Duke, you feel for Gilda. )

This brick is instructive for how far one can stretch a blend.   I have one other shu which explicitly blends differently fermented leaves together('07 World in a Pot Ripe Pu-erh Tea Cake) and it's more of a muddied mess.  But this Dehong is done to such dramatic effect that even I am surprised that this humble pu-erh is match enough for Italian opera which pits the most ridiculous plot against some of the most sublime music a human voices can make.

This tea was highly interesting but not sublime and I look forward to a second exposure.  Dehong is at the wild western edge of China but do the leaves have an extra frontier flavor? The less fermented younger leaves must age faster than regular sheng being so inundated with the live cultures from the shu and it's this younger shu which provides the intrigue in the tea.  I should strip a boring sheng and store it bare next to a shu to see if something good can happen.

A tea like this de Hong - I'm not interested in drinking it regularly.  Too much drama is bad for one's emotional constitution especially for a semi-rational Korean like me who can easily revert to my Romulan roots on a dime. (Sorry, sorry, how did that Trekkie reference sneak in. I am NOT a trekkie and I swear here and now never to do a scifi mash up.)

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