Saturday, May 21, 2011

1980s Wang Zi Loose Leaf Sheng

This tea was briefly discussed in the comment section of the post on a 1997 7542 from Essence of Tea here on MattCha's Blog. So is it "old and simple" or "flat, without personality", or something of the contrary? Surely this tea, as any, deserves a bit better than these blanket statements, so lets have a look...

As the kettle kicks steam into the air one takes time to appreciate the dry leaf. They are straggly, very stemy, leaves that emit prune odours with a woody backdrop. They carry a faint dusty smell of old leaves.

The first infusion is prepared. Dirty-earthy, malty, muted prune-chocolate tastes are upfront with a sweetness that disappears. The earthy tastes are left to dry the throat. The mouthfeel is a bit sharp and gripping with a certain roughness in the throat and mouth. The aftertaste carries notes of hazelnut and wood, slowing vanishing into dryness until just faint whisperings are left on the breath. From the first pot the chaqi starts warming the face.

The second starts with much the same flavours but drops off fast leaving dry earthy wood in the mouth. The mouthfeel is a touch sharp and dry. When too many leaves are added you can even find it scratching slightly at the back of the throat. The face and head are filled with warmth and flush under such influence. The qi is sensed on the sides of the face and head- especially in the temples.

The third infusion barely sweet wood notes that have just very fleeting coco notes not nearly as present as in the preceding infusions. The taste evolves into a slightly sour fresher wood taste before turning dry. The more leaf is used, the drier the finish with less leaves resulting in quite a comfortable dryness. The mouthfeel is thin, dry, and travels deep into the throat. The chaqi warms the whole body but is especially apparent in the head.

One prepared a session a while ago which developed an even harsh or overwhelming qi sensation in the head where a fuzzy sensation on the forehead and tightness behind the eyes developed. Sometimes the mouthfeel was on the verge of being too rough. These negative qualities lead one to simply remove some of the leaves from the pot which resovled such problems. These leaves were reintroduced later in the session. One thing is for certain- these leaves pack a punch as far as chaqi goes.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth infusions are all pretty much the same with a light, sweet, wood start sometimes even with flashes of coco. These tastes evolve into a sour woody taste before turning quickly into dry wood. The aftertaste is short and dry faint wood which is still somewhat sharp but much less harsh. The qi sensation is of strong warmth even pushing one into a sweat as the whole body ignites in warmth. The sixth infusion starts to show signs of a lovely spiciness in the initial flavour as well as in the aftertaste but is on the whole very uncomplicated in the mouth.
These spicy wood initial flavours seem to crest in the seventh infusion. These tastes transition into a plain wood aftertaste here.

In the eighth and ninth infusions the mild sweet wood flavour presents upfront with now just a ghostly spice that disappears before you can catch it. The taste turns to a slightly sour raw wood before quickly fading to dry. There is very little change in this simple comforting tea. As the infusions go on things just weaken and so the leaves submit to an overnight infusion even before the tenth steeping.

The next morning very light flavours emerge such as an earthy-spicy-cherry taste that evolves into dry wood and makes the mouth feel sticky and dry.


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