Friday, September 19, 2014

Double (tea) Cup

I've been on two binges recently - Sheng Pu'erh and Footwork/Juke music. Maybe it's the contrast of a tea waiting to be brewed for years and a genre of music that is the backbone of the underground Chicago dance scene. Maybe it's the fact that I got tons (almost a kilo) of sheng last week and footworker Cakedog (Ahnnu) released a new (insane) album recently. Imagine me sipping slowly a carefully aged tea that's been sleeping for 30 years, woken up from its slumber to serve me and my tea habits. Imagine me contemplating the origin of this wonderful tea, analyzing every deep, earthy, herbal, and sweet note that has been gifted to this tea by Time itself. Now imagine me doing all of that while chanting along to footwork music (i.e. "FUCK OUTTA HERE", "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK", etc.). You might say that I'm living the good life, which is actually defined as a harmonious balance of Tea Life and TEKLIFE.  

 I'm back on my OOLONG GRIND though, as I tried an aged oolong (Dancong?) from Camellia Sinensis today. Feng Huang Wu Dong (say that quickly 10 times!) from 1980. Wudong is supposedly the "best" (please don't hurt me!) mountain for growing Dancong oolongs.

Dry leaf looks like... pu'erh. Dry leaf smells like... pu'erh. Wet leaf looks like....pu'erh. Wet leaf smells like, you guessed it, chocolate-covered caramels with a coating of crumbled Oreo cookies. Just kidding, the wet leaf smells like pu'erh. The liquor looks like aged/shou pu'erh (deep brown/black), and smells like a pu'erh. Pu'erh, pu'erh, pu'erh. The taste is also like a pu'erh, but with a nice sweetness and spiciness. It's honestly hard to describe it, other than pu'erh. Nice thick body and sweet aftertaste. For me, this calls for some serious research. I turn on some DJ Rashad tunes and hit the Google.

While searching "aged dancong" I got autocorrected to "aged dancing", which rewarded me with this masterpiece. Thanks, Google. Further searching had me find out that aged Dancong can be very similar to pu'erh, as according to MarshalN [1], Imen of TeaHabitat [1] [2] (hopefully I'll be able to review her teas on here), Life in Teacup [1], along with several others. Everyone seems to agree with me - this oolong tastes like a pu'erh. Overall I'm interested by this tea. I'm too intrigued to even assign this a rating, like the 1983 Gukeng. It was honestly pretty good though, but it's hard to rate such a learning experience. But I gotta do it, so I give it a Good-. If you're researching aged oolongs this seems like the most economical way to pick up a Dancong(-style) tea with 30+ years of age, as Tea Habitat sells similar aged teas for about $50/oz and this is closer to $18, however I cannot compare as I have never had Tea Habitat's teas. Fate chose this one to ease me back into aged oolongs from a Sheng bender.

I then reached into my sample box and pulled out Camellia Sinensis' 1989 Hualien. I recall TeaDB liking this one a lot, so I decided to give it a shot. The dry leaves are slightly curled and greyish, pretty normal. They don't have an aroma, which threw me off. Just a slight smokiness, but it's not noticeable unless you REALLY look for it. When I opened the bag there was no aroma either, other than something lemon-limey (like some sort of air freshener scent), so there might be something wrong with the specific sample. The wet leaves were small, pretty, red and... odorless. The liquor was a nice reddish-brown, and was odorless. There was VERY little flavor to be found in this one, just some mineral and bitter (???) notes. My heart was broken, I was really expecting more. However, all signs point to this being a one-off issue, a bad sample (maybe bad bag?). I'll have to e-mail them about this issue. For now the tea is Not Good, as the portion that I have has no redeeming qualities.

Next week preview: Two aged oolongs sourced from friends in Taiwan. One is the fabled 1983 Gukeng. The other....the other is another mystery. I should be Leavin' about now, see you next week.

Rest in peace DJ Rashad, the man responsible for bringing Footwork outside of Chicago. Your death marked a huge loss for the entire electronic music community, but your influence will live on forever.


  1. What a fun post, first paragraph a jaw dropping mind bender! Do you think Cakedog is Twodog's brother? They could form a trio. Your photos here look really yummy. Mineral flavor sounds good to me, must be something lacking in my diet at the moment.

    1. Thanks Cwyn! I could totally see Twodog being the kingpin of Beijing's underground dance battle scene, powered by the tunes provided by his brother Cakedog.

      The mineral flavor was really the only thing there (other than bitterness), and there was barely any of it. It was very flat in all aspects, which leads me to believe that there's something wrong with the sample I got.