Showing posts with label shah8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shah8. Show all posts

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).

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.