A new venture is afoot from Silentchaos of Teachat fame. His new store is Origin Tea, where he will be sourcing Oolongs and Puers. Always glad to have more people sourcing good teas – wish him luck!
This first tea is from Wistaria Teahouse, a Taiwan institution. The Qingteng [青藤, green vine – i guess?] tea is made of Mengsong material according to the label, and was a part of this flight of teas. I will be jotting down some quick notes like this post as I work my way through the flight.
My first impression of this tea was how light and acerbic it was. Brewing ten grams yielded a very smooth and light tea, without much flavor but plenty of feel.
There is a waxy curtain in front of some fruit in the early steeps. There is a faint pomelo flavor that lingers around and some sour fruit in the background of the tea throughout the session.
The tea coats the mouth thoroughly and has fortitude. With a tea like this, flavor and aroma take a backseat to the general feel of a tea. Overall the body was thick, with a very comforting feel throughout the body. The liquor and leaves are very pleasing to look at. I would guess this will not be my favorite tea of the group, but it has tough competition.
After leaving the land of copious amount of biscuits and gravy, I realized I had left out a set of pics from a 2009 Dayi Hongyun session in the U.S. of A. Different people translate the name Chinese Hongyun into English in different ways. The hong [红] means red, pretty straightforward. The yun [韵] on the other hand is a bit trickier. Dictionaries list it as
literally Tea Rhyme: what might be called the personality of a tea abstracted from what the sensory organs take in
People toss this word around kind of like Qi [茶气], to the point where individual people have vastly different definitions of what exactly they are trying to communicate. I am not a linguist, so pick whichever translation you prefer and let’s be on our merry way.
The Dayi Hongyun is an inexpensive little disc, parceled out in 100g portions and boxed up as pictured above. Pretty convenient for taking on a short trip, if you are lacking ripe puer. The compression is tight and the leaves are all tiny, gongting [small, high grade of leaf] size, but not that high of a grade – just my opinion.
There are several iterations of this cake, the first being a 2008 pressing. The horn of tea jutting out of the clay pot above is from 2009. I recently had some of the 2012, which seemed to be a little stronger because of the recent pressing, but that could fade with time. It is a stable blend, smooth and easy.
As far as Dayi shu is concerned, this is a safe bet of a tea. Not the most exciting or dynamic tea out there, but also far better than a lot of the non-Menghai big factory productions. It is creamy and leaves a smooth warmth in the throat that is very pleasant. If you wanted to introduce a new tea drinker to ripe puer with low risk of scaring them off, this would be a fine place to begin. Taobao prices vary, depending on year and vendor. 500g worth is about $20+ in the mainland.
Speaking of things that are warm, creamy, and pleasant – I will sign off with some pictures of biscuits and gravy I enjoyed on my trip to the states.
This is the last of my nostalgic holiday time posts. I am currently back in China, but before I left I participated in some much needed gaming. This post will recount that experience, in the traditional literary style of a Magic: The Gathering tournament report. I heard it is a bad strategy to write blog posts that alienate and confuse 99.8% of your audience, but we will be back next post with regularly scheduled programming.
I didn’t have much time to prepare for the Type Tea tournament. I’ve been out of the game* for awhile, but was ready to make a triumphant return to the DCI. I grabbed some old decks that had been sitting in my closet and mixed them together. My deck was not potent. A shabby compilation of common garbage thrown together last minute. I grabbed a 2012 Dayi Chatou brick for a shu, a crappy Bulang from 2007, and a Xiaguan 2012 Yiwu tuo. My veteran experience would have to compensate for my decks overall crapulence and lack of play testing.
Round 1: Xiaguan/Bulang vs. 15 Year Old Scotch
I sit down for round one and some balding guy sits across from me. I figure he probably has some experience, because he is one of the older guys at the tournament. I start shuffling, he wins the roll and decides to play. I mulligan to 6, but decide to keep because I draw a demon Bulang combo.
His first turn he drops a swamp, mox diamond, pitching another swamp, and casts a Glenlivet 15 year old scotch onto the table. I immediately call for a judge. I was under the impression this was a type tea tournament, where does he get the idea he can maindeck a 15 year old scotch? The Judge, a portly gentleman, waddled over and leaned on the table, which could barely support his weight.
“What seems to be the problem?” he wheezed.
“Scotch is banned in Type Tea.”
“This is a vintage tournament. Scotch is perfectly legal.”
This is going to be a rough match.
I drop an tea kettle and start heating some water, but I can’t match his early scotch. 0-1
Game 2, he gets another early jump, dropping a Jura on turn 3. I get a couple of steeps in with my Bulang, but the scotch has a much better finish. 0-2. That was a quick round and my sideboard didn’t have much to deal with the scotch. I decide to get some D&D in before round two.
Round 2: Xiaguan/Bulang vs. Apple Pie
My opponent this round was also unaware of the Vintage format and brought a newly brewed Apple Pie deck. He looks like a bit of a scrub, I figure I can take this round and still Top 8 if I win out.
Win the roll, decide to play. Keep an opening round Xiaguan Yiwu Tuo draw. He drops an early Battleflight Eagle, which is going to be tough to deal with. He insisted it was a valuable card, which seemed like nonsense. It’s a 4W 2/2 flier and its common. They have never even printed an eagle rare. In any case, I didn’t have many main deck fliers, so I am peeling for a prayer. The eagle keeps swinging in for two shots and I scoop. 0-1
Game two. I sideboard in some brats to deal with the Apple Pie/Eagle Rare non-bo. I get mana screwed against an early Apple Pie. This is a homemade combo if I have ever seen one. If there is one thing I hate losing to, it is scrubby decks with 5 drop 2/2 fliers and homemade combos.
The 1/1 Apple Pie swings in for one shot after another, I underestimate its impact on the match. After a few turns, I still can’t peel an answer and the Apple Pie damage is starting to add up.
I drop a gaiwan to block, but I am already at 8 life. The gaiwan makes short work of the apple pie, but he shatters my gaiwan and I only have two in hand. At this point I need to topdeck an answer.
Next turn he drops a 1/1 Smirnoff and a 1/1 PBR. I am not too worried, I’ve got answers. I peel an island, go. He casts overrun and swings with both. I cast dizzy spell, -3/-0 on the PBR, I refuse to take that damage. It buys me another turn.
I peel another blank. He casts Shred Memory and swings for 2. (Side Note: why was he maindecking this? 3 colors with maindeck overrun and splash for shred memory, why am i losing?) I reluctantly take damage from Smirnoff & PBR, putting me at 1. I scoop and decide to get some cake and water to take the sting off the loss.
I figure there is no way I make the top 8 starting 0-2, so I drop.
– The Apple Pie / Eagle Rare was a spicy combo. The damage adds up a lot faster than you think. Still don’t know about 3 color overrun.
For the longest time I thought the wrapper above read “Taste a legend”. Finally, I realized it said “Taetea Legend”, Taetea being the English name for Dayi. Legend is a word that shouldn’t be tossed around lightly, unless your tea is Michael Jordan good. If you are more of a Toni Kukoc player, that’s fine. Kukoc was a great player, but he’s not really a legend. Kukoc is a decent comparison for a basketball player skill versus Longyin tea goodness. Not good, not bad. A bit overhyped because he is on a good team. Croatian. 6ft 11 inches tall. Ok, not that last two. Whatever, enough half-baked basketball/tea analogies.
The Longyin [Dragon mark] cake is named as such because of the Chinese zodiac “year of the dragon”, which will quickly be passing us by into the year of the snake. Not to fear, Dayi does not waste time waiting for such trivial things such as the actual passing of the lunar year. The American equivalent must be Christmas trees in stores before Thanksgiving.
The pictures above show a mixed tippy cake with varying material and a bit of chop. Very menghai-y in fragrance.
So, when I purchased this cake I think it was 2X0 RMB, (can’t remember), it is currently 390 RMB, or thereabouts. The price rising in tandem with the Jin Dayi. This is a legendary price increase for a tea this young. Perhaps part of the rise in price is due to the good mojo of the Dragon year? I found the cake to be much less interesting than the Jin Dayi. My first sessions with the Longyin were particularly astringent, which is to be expected from a young tea. It was brash, coming out of the gate like a bull. Lots of kuwei [ bitterness ] and astringency, but with a lack of body to back them up. This is a common complaint I have about Dayi raw puer, the lack of body.
The current price of 390 RMB (caution: one more bad basketball analogy) is a Gilbert Arenas contract. You are paying well over $50 million for a player who is going to sit on the bench and cause trouble by bringing guns (allegedly) into the locker room. For the same price, you could hire Chris Paul, Lebron James, or Kevin Durant. So, why are you hiring Gilbert Arenas? You probably shouldn’t. Nor would I recommend buying the Dragonmark. This is just my humble opinion, however. I have seen much praise floating around the HK tea forums for this tea.
I will be interested to see how this cake ages and whether any of its brash characteristics fill out into more pleasant sensations. For now, it is going on the bench. Luckily teas, unlike basketball players, get better with age.