The holidays for most Americans have finished, but for many Asian-Americans, they have yet to begin. Lunar New Year, aka Chinese New Year, aka Spring Festival (春节), aka Tet, aka Seollal (설날), begins on January 23 and lasts fifteen days.
The upcoming lunisolar year is a dragon year, specifically water dragon; Dayi's "Dragon Pole" shu, then, is the perfect way to add some water to a dragon and see what this new year might be about. Thanks to Shah8 for leaving a sample with me!
The photo above shows the gongting "tribute" grade leaf. These are very small, tippy buds whose small stature requires a skilled fermentation expert to create and whose potency requires my full attention to not overbrew.
The first few infusions are dark and syrupy thick--heavier fermentation shu. The flavors, though, combine earthiness with an almost roasted character, with flavors of carob and coffee.
Middle infusions, like the one below, have a very soft mouthfeel and more "chinese medicine" kind of notes.
Late infusions become woody and sweet, and it gave out rather quickly.
None of the infusions had much aftertaste to offer, but what flavors remained in the mouth were pleasant and light.
Supposedly Dayi's signature shu pu'er, it impressed me less than the An Xiang shu, but I can't say for sure it wasn't my own brewing inadequacy with leaf this small. Oh, if only I had a whole cake to practice with!
The 2009 version runs about US$21 on Taobao before proxy fees and shipping, $53.99 with shipping from Dragon Tea House (ebay seller based in China).