Thursday, October 27, 2011

2010 Yunnan Sourcing "Yi Wu Zheng Shan"

Today I am not feeling my usual self so I am at home, watching a nice Thai movie, eating Chinese food, drinking puerh. A few minutes ago I was choosing a sample for todays' testing and I was not quite sure what would be the best try. In the end I have gone for YS Yiwu Zheng Shan, a 25g sample I ordered from Zeleny Muz e-shop a few days ago together with the 2010 YS Yiwu Purple 250g cake which is, btw, absolutely fantastic, one of the best affordable yiwu cakes I have tasted so far and I am going to write about this session soon too. As for now, I would like to share some notes with you about his little brother (or sister if you prefer) Yiwu Zheng Shan from the same year.

Leaves from YiWuShan (Yiwu Mountain) have been very popular recently. Despite having tried a few very good samples lately I must say I would not consider myself 100% Yiwu lover, I nevertheless enjoy descovering small nuances in their flavour as they are usually all very predictable and rewarding. The "typical" or rather "consumer-expected" Yiwu aroma is somewhat sweet, light, fruity or honey-like and not very changeable. It is a paradox though that I seem to (unintentionally) buy and receive many different Yiwu samples nowadays which is, btw, the best way to discover delicate differences among each of them.

What does Zheng Shan mean, btw? According to babelcarp Zheng Shan (正山) means (especially in the context of Pu'er) Truly From The Mountain, as opposed to from lowlands, or maybe only from the east side of the mountain where the crop gets direct sunlight only in the morning. On the Yunnan Sourcing website you can read that this stone-pressed little cake is composed entirely of Yi Wu area old plantation tea bushes. The area is just outside of Ma Hei village not far from Yi Wu town. It's entirely first flush of spring production and has that characteristic Yi Wu aroma and taste. 

After reading this I was considering buying the whole cake but in the end I decided to try just a sample. I must say it was an intuitive choice. I do not like saying I feel disappointed about any particular kind of tea and it is for many reasons.

Firstly, I do not want to treat tea as something to fulfill my expectations. I prefer seeing tea as a gift from Mother Nature, something to be enjoyed, something that is enriched with energy (cha qi, if you want) and special characteristics which do not always have to be compatible with my daily needs. Secondly, I understand that tastes can differ from a day to day, depending on our physical condition, the food we just had or a mood we are in. It is simply too subjective to be taken too seriously. It might as well be my todays' frame of mind or the tea I drank in the morning that could have easily affected my privileged pre-tastes. This would probably be that case.

If I'd tasted this particular tea a few months ago, I would've probably said: what a lovely green tea! It smells wonderful, like a fresh meadow full of blossoming trees, the colour of the tea broth is sparkling yellow with a fresh green undertone. It just smells, looks and even tastes like very good and fresh green tea.

Well, these are the qualities I am not usually looking for when buying a sheng sample. Why do I buy samples from 2010 then? Good question. Having tried many samples from previous year I've found out the year is not always the most important factor when considering the potential taste. Even some very young sheng cakes can really surprise you. I would definitely say it about the above mentioned 2010 Yiwu Purple cake from YS. Yiwu Zheng Shan is, however, not the case. 

The smell of dry leaves is fruity, but not very intense, and rather citric than sweet. The smell of wet leaves is not sweet either, it even offers a trace of smoky tone but very very tiny. The taste is best described as fresh green tea, not bitter though, just slightly astringent. I must admit I did not even find the typical yiwu flavour or aroma in the infusions, despite trying hard. 

What I like about this tea is the huigan which comes back powerful, refreshing the mouth and tongue with a sweet mouth-watering effect and stays long to give this tea higher credit just in time. It might be simply one of those cakes which is good to be put aside in your tiny tea storeroom (if you happen to have one). Then you can wait a year or two and meanwhile enjoy some other well-ripen treasures. For now I would recommend not buying the whole cake unless you have a place to put it, but trying a sample is always worth the risk, especially if you are curious about the variety of tastes puerh can offer.

Good tea, good life.



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Drink your tea
slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves.
Slowly, evenly,
without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend.
It pools where humans disdain to dwell,
Close to the Tao.

Live in a good place.
Keep your mind deep.
Treat others well.
Stand by your word.
Keep good order.
Do the right thing.
Work when it's time.

Only do not contend,
And you will not go wrong.

Tao Te Ching, 8 / transl. Addis & Lombardo