08 January 2012

2009 Dayi "Dragon Pole" Shu Pu'er, courtesy of Shah8

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!

2009? Dayi "Dragon Pole" Shu - dry leaf

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.

2009? Dayi "Dragon Pole" Shu - brew

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!

2009? Dayi "Dragon Pole" Shu - brewed leaf

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).


Anonymous said...

Sorry about that-- It's an '09.

This shu is variable in quality too, but much less so than the an xiang. If you'd like more, you're welcome to some, as I only have the one cake, and I'm not that committed to aging it. I suspect that you'd rather the '07 Star of Menghai. I'm really not cut out for gongting shu. Just way too delicate in taste. This is SHU, man!

I do like the Dragon Pole more than I do the Golden Needle White Lotus '07, tho' I'm trying to get more to confirm my impression.


Kate said...

Oh wow, look at all those golden tips! That's some lovely looking tea.

You know, I actually kind of like that "chinese medicine" herbal taste, odd as it sounds.

Going to try and make my own nian gao this New Year's, so, wish me luck!


Bearsbearsbears said...

@shah8: GNWL was good, not great, in 07. i don't think i've had the 07 star of menghai. don't think i've had that recipe since 05, actually!

@kate: I like the medicinal flavor as long as it's not too strong. What kind of nian gao? The rice noodle or the sweet cake? The latter I've not had; the former I usually buy from the Korean market and stirfry with Chinese celery, xue cai, and a little pork or chicken.

Kate said...

Sweet cake. Glutinous rice flour can be seriously tricky to work with, I made some nuo mi ci that were a complete disaster due to being 30 seconds too slow in kneading, or the outside temperature, or the phase of the moon, or whatever.

Bearsbearsbears said...

Kate, you'll have to let me know how it turns out! The only thing I've used glutinous rice flour for is hongshao bing.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a pretty darn good shu. I think it has a more pronounced qi than a lot of other shu-- feels just a little bit trippy around the temples and warm in the cheeks.