Wisteria Tea House – Round 2

On returning to Wisteria Tea House (Pat and I are there quite often, working our way through the menu – oh, the pains we must bare), just a normal tea drinking day, we were greeted with overwhelming kindness and a fiery new interest by the infamous Chow Yu;

He had read the Institutes Mission Packet and was now interested in ways he could help.

Little did we know, at Wisteria, serious conversations are held over even more serious tea. Hong Yin in this case.

This was the ‘paperless’ Hong Yin from the menu, and, though lacking a wrapper, it didn’t disappoint. I will avoid the is-it/isn’t-it debate, and leave it at the (unsatisfying) response that it is a mistake to clump all “Hong Yin” together as cakes were made over the course of ~8 years and there were 4 different versions produced. This being the only Hong Yin I have tried, I can’t compare, but I have had many teas of similar and older age, and this one blew them out of the water (save for 1, the pride and joy of the Institute).

The most surprising thing was its initial underwelming-ness in the first brew (no rinse). I had some doubts to start (as anyone drinking Master Era cakes should), and that only amplified it, before this tea reached back and yanked my mind out of my skull by the brain stem before I could finish my 2nd brew’s cup. How am I suppose to talk about the Institute when I’m Okapi hunting from the back of a magic tea jassid lofting on hong yin fumes?

Besides the ChaQi, of which there is no besides, the most griping flavor of this tea was the effervescence I associate with older plants or aged leaves, and a lasting lengxiang that not only felt cool, but felt titillatingly pure. The soup was dark, and one could describe it as burnt brown sugar, the kind you want to eat.

To be sure, this was not the best tasting tea – but it was among the best feeling tea, in Kou Gan and ChaQi.

I’m out of time and need to park my jassid.

– Jason

Taiwan 2012 – Drinking Spring 2012 GuShu Single Tree Lao Ban Zhang

Dear All,

Pat and I have made it to Taiwan alive and in one Piece!

In our first couple of days here, we have gotten my motorcycle, visited 4 tea houses, pumped out a demanding 26 reviews each, translated 3 pages of super poetic literary Chinese in traditional characters (what do you know about Tang Dynasty tea?),  made ChaXi on a mountain with Stephane, and have drank tea from the early 1950’s.

That Pu’er was given to us by the great and generous owner of Wisteria Tea House, Chow Yu. It was a Antique era Pu’er brewed in a Santao tea pot (I believe it to be the type of clay used for chaozhou GFC, but this is the first time I have knowingly come across that name).

Yet all of that pales in comparison to the Spring 2012 GuShu (over 700 years old) Single Tree (!) Lao Ban Zhang (he oversaw the picking…).

Seriously, look at this face:

That comes closer than words ever will to describing it.

It was punishingly young and potent, but no astringency, very active mouth feel including the tell-tail LengXiang effervescence of GuShu, a Immediate and lasting Huigan  with a floral sweetness. An amazing young Sheng.

It is only recently, after ~5 years of study (since 2007) and 2 years of research with the Institute, that I have really begun to understand the psychophysics of the sought after teas; aged tea, GuShu, high mountain, yancha, all versus faked or flavored tea, etc. Somewhere along the way it clicked. Obviously I still make mistakes; I mistook a High Mountain Summer tea for a lowland spring tea recently, and it is easy to be guessing on nuanced terroir in Taiwan and much of Yunnan; but when it comes to the major “expense points” I can, for the most part, trust my taste-buds.

I have all of those who have provided samples and guidance to thank for this, and particularly, the role of the Institute in collecting and preserving so many of these tea samples, and making them available for my research. It is amazing to see my vision come alive, see how it has helped me, and know that it is helping others the same way.

Now on too victory and glory in Taiwan.