Thursday, August 12, 2021

Garden Tea Party, agedness of '04 Yiwu Purple Changtai

For the first time in a long while, I invited a tea guest to my back yard, a dear friend I had not seen face to face for more than a year. Being way past mandated isolations, vaccinations should have ushered in a more joyous return to gatherings. However I find it harder to loosen my grip on my hermit ways.  

I brought out a '04 Changtai Hao Yiwu Purple remembering it to be a pretty tea worthy to serve.   Whether it's purple leaf that doesn't age well or bad aging in the arid confines of my Berkeley home even with a decade in Guangdong, I'd wager it's a combination of both.  August is Fogust in the bay area but somehow the dry zone inside my tea closet doesn't relent holding tight to 45% humidity. I didn't have the foresight to condition the leaves beforehand in a ceramic jar.  But the occasion being friendship and company, any tea might have done.

After party for 1
Even though the teapot was crammed full of leaves, the taste was indistinctly mild with a huigan so imperceptible to declare this brew was definitely not to pleasure our senses.   Yet the brew exerted enough potency to knock down my coffee loving husband.   

It didn't seem right to take pictures during our tea session so the above photo is  after the party, I soldier on past the 8th brew trying to recapture some of my earlier fonder memories of this cake from 6 years past but my mind is too preoccupied by my first tea party of the decade and news of friends.

I brew up this Yiwu again this afternoon having left a chunk in a ceramic jar for a few days.  Due to the caution of the times, I had refrained myself at the party from sniffing deeply the leaves and the teapot lid which is one of the great pleasures of a good Yiwu. So brewing solo now, my nose happily sniffed away at the brown sugar scent.  The signature Yiwu huigan is definitely there, light and pretty but... but accompanied by a mouth drying astringency which wasn't so prominent before.  

I half-heartedly vow never to waste money on aging purple cakes again and to serve purple teas young and lively.   For the curious, I sent away an entire hundo for a 200g mini beeng 7 years ago for the vain hope that purples age well enough to justify the steep cost.  The personal answer for me in Berkeley is sadly nay nay. I wish I had spent that sum for a terabyte of SSD instead.  Sigh.  How have I gotten so sensible to prefer NAND disk over leaf disk but one really can never have enough solid state storage even if one's m.2 slots are full up.  

But an hour past my first sip, a pretty lingering sweetness gets stronger in my tongue and left throat making me smile, but not enough to reverse my last sentiment. The best Yiwus can tingle obscure parts of the mouth. I've had dormant tastebuds in the undersides of my tongue sparkle. I should have listened to Jakub and gotten that 2010 Hai Lang Hao Chawang Yiwu. 

Did the conditioning of the tea chunk in a ceramic canister improve this tea or is this Yiwu too delicate to be appreciated as a back seat tea where there is too much other stimulation? I'll put this Changtai Yiwu down as being a finicky shy tea needing full attention to enjoy.  More than half the Changtai beengs and bricks I have tend to be a rugged lot asserting their shengness in mouth punching ways although no where near as brawny as the mouth kicking Menghai newborns.  

It's been almost a year since I've brewed a Yiwu.  Truth be told, I've fallen back to drinking coffee midway through as the pandemic which demanded something more robust and less complicated.  But now as I'm sipping this Yiwu, I feel entirely ready for a change back to checking out aging of my other beengs.