Besides the millions of years before man first rustled the leaves of the ancient forest in Yunnan, the first few thousand years that tea was drunk are also pre-historical... In those ancient days beyond memory, tea was a healer- just as it is today.
Aaron Fisher's The Way Of The Tea
The generic packaging is opened and the smell of musty, malty, deep, black cherry and chocolate odour escapes. These smells trail off into bitter, tangy, depth. The warmed pot is stuffed with these fair sized, slightly red-brown tinted dark leaves.
Hot water is added to the pot for the first infusion- an yellow-browny-orange soup pours from the pot. The initial taste is very medicinal- musty dried fruit then turns sour and sweet before finishing dry. This tea has lots of flavour in its depth. The mouthfeel is dry and tight.
The second infusion is similar to the first but layers are peeled back. It starts medicinal, like liquorice or fennel and bitter herbs then blends into a subtle, tangy fruit taste. The arrival of these fruit flavours marks the arrival of slight sweetness. It finishes dry and full in the mouth with the medicinal characters staying on the breath and in the nose for quite sometime afterwards.
The qi of this tea is sunny and warm with qi pooling in the middle jiao, not attacking but harmonizing it. Ones head becomes stuffy, nose starts to run. It is as though one has an allergic reaction to this old tea. It could be that this tea has some sort of impurities in it that it may have absorbed in storage. But most likely this tea is clean and its strong qi is bring about a cleansing reaction. So one continues with this session, nose running, head becoming heavy.
The third infusion is a touch lighter and fresher than the two previous. It is still dominated by heavy medicinal flavours and a dry finish. The mouthfeel is mainly in the front of the mouth but also traverses deep in the throat. The feeling in the throat stays even minutes after the tea is consumed.
The fourth infusion is highlighted by light fresh fruit tones which transition into light chicory dryness. The mouthfeel is wonderful and alive. The qi of this tea is strong, ones physical duress seems to be lifting and with it a clear mind.
The next few infusions are filled with light fruit tones- a continuation of that complete mouthfeel and a dry finish.
Roasted notes seem to be the attraction of the seventh infusion. Pear flavours are pulled out of the ambiguous fruit taste.
The last handful of infusions gradually become flat, bitter, and dry. The fruity depth that this tea once had is all but gone leaving the taste of pear behind for ones taste buds to pick on. When this tea completely flattens the session is over and the wet leaves of this tea are admired.
Staring quietly at the long red tinged leaves with the sound of cool spring rains on the street outside, one feels as though a weight has been lifted.
Like a complex Puerh, a high quality yancha rewards the drinker who has the patience to wait, sometimes for years, for the right moment to drink it.
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