Wednesday, February 28, 2018
When we drink aged puerh we are imbibing not only the teabut all the memories associated with it. Puerh tea is an aged tea. Our experience with it has a definite start point, when we first acquired and tried the tea, and a definite end point, when we have completely finished the cake, brink, tuo, or tong. In between our sense of taste and smell, our tactile senses of our mouth, and the feeling of qi in our body and mind are tethered to every experience with that particular puerh.
They say our sense of taste and smell is closely intertwined with our long term memory. These connections are wired together along with what we were doing at moment in space and time.
Every time we drink pureh we are building a story, adding to these experiences, storing them. Along with the experiences of puerh, we are attaching our life’s experiences.
When we dig out an old puerh cake, the puerh allows us to sensually access the memories, sensations, and life experiences (not just tea experiences) stored along with it.
In this way, when we are drinking aged puerh we are, in fact, drinking our memories of times long ago. At the same time we are depositing new life memories in that moment in time as well.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
One of the reasons puerh is such an incredible tea, is because it is actually alive. It has a beginning and an end. In between puerh matures, grows, changes, and evolves as it ages. It is a product of its origins, its nature, but influenced by its lifespan and how it is nurtured into maturity. Although identical to its many twins from the same batch, no two aged puerh will actually be the same.
In many ways puerh is like us and we are like puerh.
Puerh tea is so incredible, so are we that drink it. This is especially so for those in awe of its wonder.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
This comparison came to me after sampling 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Brand He Tao Di because the He Tao Di had, in some way, a somewhat similar taste and very similar feel and qi as 2017 white2tea Pussy.
White2tea’s philosophy is that a tea should stand on its own merit without leaning on its namesake, location, or backstory. Yunnan Sourcing has brought us a tea from an area that likely no one is familiar with, He Tao Di. Everyone is pretty much experiencing He Tao Di for the first time, expectations are non-existent with no previous experience to dwell on except Scott’s description the Yunnan Sourcing website. In the 2017 Yunnan Sourcing blind tasting, lots of other bloggers drew a comparison to Yiwu/ Manzhang area with the He Tao Di. Alternatively, whie2tea’s Pussy mentions nothing about where the raw material was gathered but it is widely thought tobe YiWu among puerh drinkers.
For me this comparison is a value comparison to see if white2tea’s Pussy ($0.45/gram pictured left or forward) was really more than 2.5 times better than Yunnan Sourcing’s He Tao Di ($0.19/gram pictured right or back). If He Tao Di could close this gap a little in value or offered something more interesting than Pussy, I can see myself ordering a cake or two.
It can be argued that just because something is twice as expensive something else, it might not be twice as good. The price of puerh is a complicated issue- What determines the price of puerh? It’s hard to answer and probably a topic for another post. Also price/ value are not a ratio and at some point potentially the price might skyrocket in the high margins of quality and languish in the lower quality. So there isn’t a clear mathematical equation to work out value to price.
I did this side by side comparison at work with some nice Korean ceramic single cup makers the remaining Beta sample (later found to be 2017 He Tao Di) in the Yunnan Sourcing blind tasting event and a similar sized chunk from one of my 2017 white2tea Pussy cakes.
The Pussy’s leaves were larger and darker and more stemy where He Tao Di’s leaves were more varied with some hairy buds and a variety of colors (Scott explains this variability in this video here ). When the boiling water hit the dry leaves Pussy was much more fragrant while the He Tao Di was still very fragrant but slightly less intense.
The first few infusions saw Pussy with more fragrant tastes and high notes with less low notes and depth in a lighter mouthfeel. He Tao Di was still very fragrant with some deeper notes to add depth in a noticeably thicker mouthfeel. In these first few infusions I feel that the Pussy is bit better overall but He Tao Di is showing more depth and range.
Then I steep a few more infusions and the leaves start to open up. At this point Pussy really starts to pull away from He Tao Di. Pussy has a very very intense perfume fruit cotton candy sweetness but more monotone in flavor, the mouthfeel is fuller than He Tao Di. Pussy’s taste is much more vibrant and much longer, deeper, and evolved throughout the taste profile. He Tao Di is still quite sweet but less so with less pure taste but deeper woodier tastes. The Yunnan Sourcing offering is more balanced but less clear, pure, and alive. He Tao Di’s mouthfeel is not as full but has more dynamic movement and change in the mouth.
Overall the He Tao Di mouthfeel is still complete but not as full, thick or stimulating as the Pussy’s mouthfeel. In these infusions, I feel that Pussy is probably 2.5 times better than He Tao Di if strength, intensity, vibrancy, mouth and throatfeel, and aroma are the metrics by which we evaluate. However, He Tao Di does have some points which make it interesting. The deeper woodier notes gives it a bit more polarity in a resoundingly high note profile. This results in a less monotone taste and a mouthfeel which also changes in the mouth a bit where the Pussy is more of just a thick all-encompassing wave.
I feel that both of these teas could go quite a while but stop at about 5 or 6 infusions because the qi sensation is very intense. It is also late afternoon and I want to be able to sleep before mid-night tonight hahaha. This is the real problem about doing side by side comparisons you really cannot compare the cha qi. This is one of a few reasons why this is one of the first side by side comparisons on this blog. I am a Qi guy. I can tell you this- when doing the blind tasting, the qi sensation of He Tao Di reminded me a lot of Pussy. In my memory He Tao Di was similar in sensation, but slightly less alerting than Pussy, but gave a good head qi feeling.
The next morning at work, I get back to this back to back comparison…
The next day the He Tao Di showed more variance in taste, profile, and mouth- and throat feel but Pussy still had much more thickness, depth of monotone taste and sustenance to it.
After a few more steeps the He Tao Di’s mouthfeel becomes stronger and woodier with still some subtley of sweeter notes in there as well. The Pussy becomes more watery here with a more expansive sweet aftertaste and cool menthol finish. At this point, the Pussy is maybe only 1.5-1.75 times better than the He Tao Di. I steep these teas for a few more infusions. Then start to put them into longer steeps.
The longer the steep, the better He Tao Di preforms, it actually tastes much better than Pussy now. He Tao Di has more dynamic, more intense sweetness now. It performs a bit better than Pussy here. As the steeps even go into 30 mins in continues to out preform Pussy.
When I started this comparison, I imagined that the Pussy was better but only slightly better than the He Tao Di (maybe Pussy was 1.75 better than He Tao Di but not the 2.5 times better as the price per gram suggests). So this was really an exercise in seeing if I will purchase He Tao Di. However, after this comparison I find myself more compelled to purchase more of the Pussy than any of the He Tao Di!
The He Tao Di is still a great tea for the price, let me emphasize this. It is interesting and even surprising to me that when comparing these two teas that the price/ value actually seems about right. This rarely happens with puerh but, I think it’s true in this situation with these two teas.
Truth be told, next time I order from Yunnan Sourcing I may still have a cake of He Tao Di in my cart but I am really trying to resist the purchase of younger puerh and put my dollars toward some nice semi-aged stuff. It is even plausible, that I might throw a few more Pussy cakes in a white2tea order if a sale is good enough to lure me in but really I am more curious about Paul’s white2tea blends which I have not sampled extensively. So, it is most likely that I will purchase neither…. Or more of both….
Thank you for Paul and Scott for pressing these two beauties.
I guess, I'll let you know if I end up ordering any.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
The sharing or knowledge.
I believe I am currently waning again…
Ten years… this is a big thing. The very first blog post I wrote was on Febuary 17, 2008. Tea blogs that I read when I first started are almost all inactive or have considerably slowed down or have started selling tea. I don’t buy the fact that some old tea bloggers say there is nothing interesting to blog about anymore . There is so much to say. After all, puerh tea is the Black Hole of Tea. I feel I have so much more to say. This is evident from pages and pages of blog rough drafts or unfinished posts I have kicking around on my word processor which cover a broad kaleidoscope of puerh topics written over the past year.
Wait, I don’t know if you could even consider it a 10 year anniversary- I had a 2 year absence… maybe it’s technically only an 8 year anniversary… oh well… I’ll take it. Hahaha
Lately, I’ve been in “Zen mode” with my tea drinking again. It was a big year and I’m currently sitting on a bunch of good drinkers and enjoying them on a deeper level…
I just let my body feel the treasure of tea.
This is “busy season” for me and things are about to get busier with work, an ever expanding family, and life. I welcome this change. My puerh drinking will undoubtedly change with it. This is life, being, puerh- it will change with age. Right now, I'm just enjoying the process with puerh tea in the cup just as I am enjoying writing out this post now.
Most importantly thank you reader for all your love. Without you, what would I have learned? Thank you for sitting across from me thousands of kilometers away at my tea table. MattCha’s blog has always been, and will always be, “yours and the teas”.