21 December 2011

2007 Dayi "Secret Fragrance" Shu, Courtesy of Shah8

Everybody has secrets. Secrets are priceless to oneself, and when those entrusted with our secrets choose to sell them, the transaction comes at a high cost.

But when you make several wan (万, meaning 10,000) of cakes out of your secret and sell them, is it really still a secret?

2007? Dayi "Secret Fragrance" Shu Pu'er - dry leaf close up

暗香 (àn xiāng) means "subtle scent" or "hidden (as in obscured) fragrance". I don't know if "secret" is a good translation (care to opine, Marshaln?). "Dark fragrance" or "underhanded fragrance" are also possibilities, if unlikely ones.

Also, there was a Chinese movie by the same name in 2009. Perhaps drinking this tea while writing inspired the author to use this name?

Whatever the translation, the name clearly suggests that we take a good whiff of this tea and explore the scent, an act that can yield some unpleasant results when the object of our olfactory sense is shu pu'er, which can often smell like that pesky neighbor's clogged and funky drainage ditch.

The scent of this shu pu'er's wet leaves was pleasant, certainly. Mulchy and wet without smelling dirty, that "forest floor after the rain" euphemism that changes "smells like dirt" into a fond recollection of sierran enjoyment. It also carried a "secret/hidden/subtle/dark/underhanded fragrance" of cake.

2007? Dayi "Secret Fragrance" Shu Pu'er - brew

The taste also carried this clean and balanced trait, woody, mulchy, and peppery. Velvety textured in the mouth, it made me salivate--a very "active" quality for a fermented tea to have. The only downsides were a thinness of texture and aftertaste, although the mineral, rocky aftertaste gave the tea an appreciably clean finish.

The fragrance, expectedly, changed little over infusions. The cake quality became a fruitiness as the tea thinned and tasted sweeter in later infusions.

2007? Dayi "Secret Fragrance" Shu Pu'er - brewed leaf

Some of the fragrant qualities of the tea arise from the more lightly fermented large leaves, visible in the photo above.

I found it a very enjoyable tea, and thank you to Shah8 for sharing this sample with me. If you're interested, Dragon Tea House on ebay sells the cake for US$48 (free shipping), or you can find it on Taobao for less than a third of that price before shipping and proxy fees.


Anonymous said...

The only tea I managed to buy a tong of, from Scott. My original bing came from DTH. Interesting comment about the number of bings. There's been a pretty marked decline in venders selling both the shu and sheng on Taobao and average price is increasing. Paid about $21 ea for my eight cakes bought.

The tea is pretty variable for a shu. It *can* get thicker, and it can pack a very yancha-like lasting aftertaste. I think you got what is the usual experience, though...


Bearsbearsbears said...

@Shah8 funny you mention the yancha-ness. My last steep was very long (after writing this post), and it had a roasted and fruity undertone, like the "hidden" fragrance wasn't light fermentation, but some oolong thrown in the bing.

MarshalN said...

The name is a funny one, I think secret is not quite right. Dark, hidden, or subdued is probably better.

Yang-chu Higgins said...

When I searched my '93 version of the Modern Idiom Dictionary (现代成语巨典) i turned up all these phrases using 暗

an an cheng (称) kuai 快.
an an chi jing
an an jiao se

all of them seem to express a sense of repression, a lack of outward display.