26 February 2008

2007 Spring Chang Ning Mao Cha

This was a gift from Imen of Tea Habitat when I attended her Chinese New Year fête.

Chang Ling mao cha - dry

The medium-sized leaves show no huang pian (yellow bits) and a few hearty bud and flag combinations. When dry, the stuff smells like really fresh sheng pu'er: fertile and buttery. When wet, though, it smells somewhere between fresh sheng pu'er and Yunnan green tea. MarshalN has said as much about most of the raw materials from 2007: they have so many traits of green tea, calling them pu'er seems inappropriate or inadequate.

Chang Ling mao cha - infusion 2

What this greenness in raw pu'er means I can't say. There are a few possible explanations. First, it could just be a fluke of the 2007 crop. We can perhaps confirm that soon with the 2008 spring crop. Second, it could be a shift in processing methods aimed at making young pu'er more tasty and drinkable now, although this may be the case with the pu'er whose aroma and flavors approach those of oolong. Third, it could be that more Yunnan green tea was processed like pu'er and released into the market as such. I have no opinion that steers me toward any of these speculative explanations. However, from my own experience tasting in China in 2007, many--but not all--of the green pu'er products from larger factories had this green tea quality. Many from Haiwan and Six Famous Tea Mountain factories I recall in particular, but a few from Menghai Factory, Nanjian/Zhai Zi Po, and others, too. The mao cha I tasted on Nannuo and Youle mountains did not share this quality, but some the Youle and Manzhuan mao cha I tasted in Jinghong did.

Chang Ling mao cha - spent

Back to the tea at hand: the taste is light. The color is light. Aftertaste is there; it lingers in the mouth. "Green tea bitterness," the marker of "green tea pu'er," is not present in this tea, confusing any snap judgment regarding if this tea is really green tea instead of pu'er. Take green tea, pour boiling water over it, and it becomes vegetal and bitter. This mao cha brewed at boiling tastes light and sweet, buttery and biscuity. Thin, but not vegetal and not bitter. The leaves, paper thin and delicate, still smell mostly like pu'er.

Chang Ling mao cha - flags

As with most other pu'er teas...we'll see how it ends up in 10-15 years.


Imen said...

Chang Ning 2007 Spring :)

Wes said...

Bears: Filter: Where did you get it?

Jason Fasi said...

Wes: Shanghai