Chinese Tea Pics


A Brief Public Service Announcement

If you are ever hungry and drifting around the internet, i recommend avoiding descriptions like Susan Chang’s delightful prose about buttermilk. It not only stoked my burning desire for excellent dairy products, which are in short order in China, but it also awakened in me a longing to be a better writer. I often gloss over points that I am unable to describe in the puer world, going with tired old adjectives for bitterness or mouth feeling, rather than aspiring to sentences like:

┬áthe way it evokes cream without cream’s over-the-top heft; the way its tanginess goes up to the threshold of yogurt and stops just shy

Shit. Give me some of that! Nothing tickles a Midwestern boy quite like sultry talk of buttermilk. Susan, you had me at evokes cream.

How did this make it onto my tea blog? Well, buttermilk starts with B and so does Beta, so there is probably some connection if you look hard enough.

Beta Blind Tea Tasting

Dry leaves of Mister Beta
Dry leaves of Mister Beta

The fragrance off the leaves is excellent, both dry and after the rinse. On the first rinse I can smell the thickness of this tea wafting of the top of the soup.

The first steep is intriguing. Thick in the mouth, fast huigan [sweet aftertaste], and I am immediately refilling my tea kettle, which has gotten low on water. As I wait for the water to boil, the lingering character in my mouth is palpable.

Double walled glass
Beta soup

The leaves have a 80/20 split between fruit and smoke respectively. The second steep opens up a lot, again a fast huigan. There is still some smoke in the soup and a medium-light kuwei [good bitterness].

The further steeps seems similar, a mix of kuwei and a background savory smoke flavor. The tea is pleasant and more towards my taste than the theta. The base material also seems a bit sturdier.

Single puerh tea leaf
One tiny leaf

The Beta also responds really well to an oversteep, as I accidentally steeped it for several minutes after a distracting phone call. (Protip: Don’t answer the phone while steeping tea) Luckily, there was no ugliness, just a more intense bitterness and stronger huigan.

Oversteeps are a good test if you want to tap around and feel where a tea has chinks in the armor. In some cases, a tea will fall apart and become nearly undrinkable when steeped too long. The Beta holds up very well under scrutiny, and has more going on than the others I have tried, Theta, Kappa, and Sigma, for those of you keeping track at home. I still don’t know what this tea is because I have not gotten around to asking Mr.Hobbes or Mr.Scott.

Lastly, Jakub made a review on his puer tea blog T, where he has a different opinion than I did. Anyone who disagrees with me is totally wrong. Twodogteablog is pure puer truth. Never forget it.

Gaiwan spill
The worn out Beta leaves