I am fortunate enough to be included in The Half-Dipper Tea Tasting Event, sponsored by Dragon Tea House. Three "mystery teas" labeled red, blue, and green arrive today by registered mail from Shanghai. The world feels a whole lot smaller as I sign to receive my package, and play my part in the ever-tightening system of international security. I notice a stamp on the envelope indicating a pass through customs, with "tea" in English alongside the Chinese 茶. The translation makes me think of how East/West cultural boundaries are articulating themselves in an era of globalization, especially in light of the concerns about contamination of Chinese imports. Tea never fails to fascinate me in its ability to provide a nexus of meaning and importance in my life.
Dry leaf appearance: Cake appears quite smashed, with a dark beige color and an earthy mushroom smell that is deep like a lion's purr.
I infused about 6 grams of this tea several times at very short (~8s) intervals with boiling hot water, and here's what I found:
The liquor pours out yellow, and browns to a light amber over the next 20 seconds. A jolt is felt from the moment it hits my tongue. The tea, or am I anxious? This bright note mellows into a warming quality, much like mushrooms. I search for words to describe the taste with pen and paper. A sweetness lingers after I swallow it down, and I am reminded to listen to the tea rather than the inquietude of my mind in a search to describe it.
A second infusion results a little too tangy, is 10 seconds too long?
A third 8 second infusion is nice and sweet, with bright notes occasionally jumping out as I listen to the tea talk. I become more aware of my body and posture. I notice that the tea does not leave my mouth dry, as tea often does, but that changes around the 5th infusion. Is this enduring moisture and sweetness what is known as huigan? A 6th infusion, 9 seconds long, is just shy of overbrewed, imparting an astringent tang while the sweet and woody notes still prevail.
Wet leaf appearance: The leaves are much less damaged than the heavily compressed cake made me suspect initially. They are whole and quite large, some almost 3 inches long. Despite their size, they are tender to the touch.
This "green" lion of a tea spoke to me with a demanding yet mellow purr. I am an infant in the pu-erh world, and while I definitely enjoyed it, I suspect this tea brims mediocrity. If I had to guess which of Dragon Tea House's 52 shengpus this is, I would wager their Mengku Rongshi Spring Tip bing or the DaDuGang Women Caravan Spring Arbor cake. Although my opinions here will surely all change as I revisit and spend more time with this tea, I give it a 3 out of 5 as a tea and a 7 out of 10 as an experience. :)