Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1950s SunYiShun Liu'an

First of all, I'd like to thank Varat Phong for sending me this generous gift. He's a fellow tea blogger based in Thailand, and I'd strongly recommend for anyone who has an interest in aged teas to check out his blog, as he is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable in the subject.

Instead of writing my own introduction to this review, I'll just provide a link to Varat's review of this tea, as he did a better job of introducing this tea than I could.

The dry leaves are black with a long, wiry shape. A piece of bamboo from the basket that the tea was aged in was included with my sample, as Liu'an is often brewed with a piece of bamboo in the teapot for added flavor and/or medicinal qualities. The dry leaves have a faint aroma of sweet licorice. After a quick rinse the aroma is much more intense, an unmistakable scent of a well-aged tea arises, along with a woodsy accent from the bamboo.

As expected for a high quality tea of this age, it's very, VERY good. The liquor is remarkably thick, almost syrupy in consistency. While not complex and strong like an old pu'erh, there's a more comforting mellow and sweet flavor, with hints of chinese herbs and bamboo. The cha qi is definitely worth mentioning as well, after a few cups of this tea my mind was completely empty and I felt completely calm.

As the number of steeps increase this tea shows no signs of dying out, in fact it actually gets better and better until about the 15th steep. I eventually called it quits around steep 30, as the leaves were giving me nothing but sweet water at this point, even with extended steeps. Teas like this must be enjoyed with care, as 60 years of environmental and socioeconomic changes in China made it much harder for top-quality teas such as this one to be produced, so an opportunity to taste something like this should be treated like a rare gift. However, there has recently been a huge increase in the production of teas made with high-quality base material, so it is entirely possible for some of these newer teas to age into something great such as this. Or perhaps they'll age into something better, or maybe into something much, much worse. There's no telling at this point.

not sure why this picture is upside down, one of the later steeps

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Checking in


Has it really been almost 6 months since I've posted to this blog? Sorry about the neglect everyone.

I'm not 100% sure if I'll be regularly posting to this blog again, but I still wanted to check in. Yes, I'm doing alright, there's just been a lot going on in the past few months.

Since my last post I have:

  • Met James from TeaDB, who has been a great friend and mentor to me, and is the only reason this blog ever took off (thank you so much!). I believe we tasted a 1960s oolong at T Shop in New York.
  • Placed a large Taobao order for both tea and teaware, finding both great deals and some of the nastiest tea I have ever come across. I'll write a post explaining my findings another time, all I can say now is if you're in the market for Yixing, old porcelain, or very cheap traditional pu'erh, prepare your wallets. ;)
  • Stopped drinking tea for a while.
  • Grown up a bit.
I'm going to try and get back in the habit of drinking tea regularly, as well as updating this blog more. I have some ridiculously good teas that I've been a fool to ignore for this long, so the next couple of weeks I should be pretty active on this blog, although I've already said that I'd return to this blog/the tea world several times (both to myself and others).

Right now I'm drinking the 1980's Miaoli oolong from Floating Leaves Tea that I reviewed just over a year ago, and I mostly agree with my old notes.  At the time of this post, Floating Leaves Tea is holding a sale, which will expire on the 18th. I'd recommend placing an order there if you're interested in aged oolongs (I recommend this 1980s Miaoli and their aged Pinglin), as well as any other Taiwanese teas. In my opinion they're the best online vendor for Taiwanese oolongs.

The dry aroma is a typical sweet aged oolong scent, which personally reminds me of powdered sugar and dried fruit with some earth. The aroma of the liquor is a very distinct smell of old honey. At first the taste is quite leathery and mineral, however the taste then evolves into a plummy/honey sweet taste. What I didn't notice last time is that the taste changes a third time, into an herbal taste with a sour cherry and menthol background. A surprisingly complex tea, considering the low quality of the base material (see my other blog post for pictures).

I personally like this tea, however it definitely depends on who's drinking it, as there is a noticable level of sourness in this tea. I don't mind sourness to a point, however there are definitely some people out there who don't like any sourness in their teas and I can understand that. Aged oolongs don't entirely mellow out like aged pu'erh does, so there can be some bitterness/sourness in them, either caused by the base material or the storage (high humidity leads to sourness). I'd like to call this a daily drinker, but let's be honest, how many of us are really drinking the same teas every day?

To anyone out there who's crawling the web/the earth for bargains, or to anyone who wants to ask me a question, or to anyone who wants to give me advice, please feel free to use the contact form in the sidebar, it goes right to my email and I'll respond ASAP.