Cloudy Tea & the Trappings of Conventional Opinion
After countless experiences being proven dead wrong when speaking in puer absolutes, I should know better by now. Today’s tea, a 2001 ManSong raw puer pushes back on a couple of puerisms that many people toss around:
- Aged teas tend to lose their youthful fragrances over time in non-dry storage
- Cloudy soup is an indicator of “bad” tea
Both of these pieces of knowledge are generally true. An aged tea will often leave it’s floral scents of youth after a decade, or sometimes much faster, depending on the storage. And cloudy soup can be an indicator of a variety of woeful situations, like tea picked after rain or even poor processing, both things which tend to impact the quality of the tea.
Nine times out of ten, these things are right. And then you have the tenth tea.
This tea is roughly a decade old, but smells more fragrant than most young teas.
The first rinse left an intoxicating aroma in the gongbei [shared cup], but as you can see from the image above, it is very low on the clarity scale. Once in awhile you get some fall teas picked after heavy rain which are less cloudy than this. I have no idea where this opacity comes from, but most puer snobs would scoff at the color of the liquor.
I am a snob and I scoffed as well. Then, I took a sip, followed by a bite of humble pie. The first steep had remnants of astringency, but was smooth and thick in the back of the throat. A mix of fruity caramel flavors and a fast huigan [sweet aftertaste] that followed a light bitter body. Don’t judge books by their covers and all that.
Speaking of prejudice, I was a little bit down on ManSong tea and several other teas from that area before this Spring. Probably because I had a few bad encounters and wrote it off. After visiting several areas around Xiangming and ManZhuan I changed my opinion. Just another re-learning of the lesson to keep an open mind and two open eyes when looking for good tea.