This generous sample was sent over by Apache, and it spent a long time in my sample bin before making it to the gaiwan, and an even longer time in my draft posts before leaping on to the tea blog. Recently some people have been stirring the online marketing pot for a new production of purple Dayi, so what better time to review this old classic from 2003?
Lately a lot of Dayi chit chat has been flung around on various forums where i lurk, most of which is speculating on the prices of Dayi for 2013. Hkteaforums, home to the most Dayi loving folk on our fine planet, has some particularly egregious Dayi butt licking. How many of these people are adbots is a mystery, but it seems that anyone who is excited about paying over $30 for 2013 7542 (China taobao price) must be on the payroll. With at least a few nifty plantation teas with 5 years of age abound for that price, I am hard pressed to think of reasons to buy 7542, which is just a plantation blend after all.
The 2003 hunk i have is full of buds, and tightly packed. The small pouch poofed a sweet soft smell upon opening. After a rinse there was trace of smoke, which dissipated after the first steep.
Sweetness was lingering throughout the session and most youthful abrasiveness had been smoothed out, with only a little tooth remaining.
The purple dayi gave out around the 8th steep, which is to be expected from most plantation factory productions.
The Purple Dayi was a very enjoyable session and Apache footing the bill for the sample allowed me to distance myself from the cost of this very dear cake. My advice would be to shovel some coal in your time machine and travel back to a time when this cake was cheap, rather than buy it now. But, if you are going through that much trouble, you might consider warping back a few more years and buying old arbor Guafengzhai and Apple stock in the 90’s instead.
First, listen to this. We are going to need it as a reference point when elaborating on what Nannuo Puer tea (above) has to do with Justin Timberlake (below).
Pusher girl, a track off of JT’s latest release The 20/20 Experience, is a song that drips. Swells. Pulses. It’s sex. Masterfully produced, well crafted, poppy neo-soul sex. This is the mature pop icon, Justin Timberlake. He is a case study in evolution. Those of you with a memory of American pop culture will recall that before Mr.Timberlake arrived at his current album he went through multiple transformations.
Fast forward a few years, he starts fronting for the boy band N’sync. You might not have noticed the Disney Channel show, but unless you lived in a cave, you knew the Back Street Boys and N’sync. His band-mates and hairdo forced you to suppress homicidal rage, but again you had to admit, he had pipes. You weren’t lining up with the 8th grade girls wearing Stussy t-shirts to buy tickets to see their sold out arena shows. Again, you opted out and went to Warped Tour instead.
Jump ahead a few more years. You could really take or leave anything he has done in his career up until this point. He seems like any run of the mill teen heart throb. Then, suddenly, he’s not a kid anymore. He is no longer the Mouseketeer or the teeny bopper boy band lead. He is an adult. He starts putting out albums like Justified and Future Sex Love Sounds. He brings sexy back. Not only do you want to listen to those albums, you are anxiously awaiting his next release. You start seeing him in films and on late night television and he is a talented entertainer. What happened to the Mickey Mouse Club?
After several paragraphs about Justin Timberlake’s career, you might be thinking, “So what does this have to do with Nannuo Shan and puer tea? Twodog, I am a busy man, stop wasting my god damn time. I don’t even like Justin Timberlake. Your analogy sucks and am taking you off of my Google reader.” Keep your top on, I am getting to it.
Fair reader, I will let you in on two little secrets; First, I never cared for the Mickey Mouse Club. Second, I don’t look forward to drinking young Nannuo teas. However, I still do the latter in spite of not enjoying it.
I drink young Nannuo teas like a talent scout, betting on who is going to have a career. It is a tough game, you might end up with a few JTs or with a few… who was the “bad boy” from 98 degrees? The point is, I don’t drink a lot of young Nannuo teas in my daily rotation. However, if you open the doors on my personal collection, Nannuo shan is well represented. I am aging them in a few different places, with several different teas, ranging from more well known productions to blank white paper wrapped cakes from small productions. I have more than a few tongs [7 cake stacks] of tea with nothing more to identify them than a quickly scrawled Mr.Qin, Spring, 2007 Nannuo. I still haven’t opened those tongs, but I will when the talent is ready.
The tricky business with aging puer teas is that it is not an exact science. Teas will go through phases, starring in fast food commercials and waiting tables in between moments in the spotlight. Some will ascend to stardom, others will play regional theater. Poor storage can lead to a once promising tea ending up as a gutter dwelling heroin junkie.
So, where is a Timberlake-esk talent for Nannuo? The 2003 Wistaria Ziyin is in the ballpark. Price tag is around $175 per cake, which is Justified.(Sorry) Not an inexpensive pricetag, but Timberlake doesn’t play weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Not to mention that finding talent in a sea of aspiring entertainers is a tough game. I could find 100 cakes on taobao [Chinese ebay] that are at or above this price, but have been stored terribly and lack the depth of charms that the Ziyin possesses. It is leathery and oily, thick in the mouth and throat with traces of dark fruit. All of the Mickey Mouse is gone, which can partially be attributed to Taiwan storage.
What is a low budget producer to do?
You don’t have $1,000 to spend on a tong of ten year old Nannuo cakes? You are not alone. For the talent scout on a budget, you are going to have to find stars, not employ them. If a quality 10 year old tea is out of your price range, then a quality 20 or 30 year old tea not in the cards either. So, find some quality 1-3 year old tea. Use your best judgment, and buy a cake or a tong, and stash it in a well cared for pumidor. ( no heavy smells, no direct sunlight, moderate humidity ) In several years time, hopefully some of those guesses worked out. My personal pick and shameless self plug is this 2012 Ruiyuan Nannuo. Will it be a winner? I don’t know. Nobody does.
But in a good scenario, you get a smooth tea that sings and dances with enviable talent.
On the off chance you hate Justin Timberlake, (or are underwhelmed like these hipster hate-it-alls), you are welcome to leave alternative rise to glory analogies in the comments. I couldn’t come up with a brutal metal alternative. Maybe Deathklok.
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.
With the passing of the New Year (and my cold), my first post of 2013 will be from a session that happened several months ago, thanks to the generous Apache. A session with this cake is indeed towards the higher end of the generosity spectrum, as 2003 Jin Dayi [Gold] is over USD 300 per 357 gram cake, making it a rather dear session.
The dark, dry leaves
The dry leaves are a dark umber color and throw off a strong aged smell.
A quick rinse bumps up the aged smell. The first steep has a distant touch of astringency, which is quickly gone.
The early brews are deep in color. Whether this is do to heavy handed steeping by yours truly or due to camera magic, I am not sure. The second photo is more representative of the accurate soup color.
Pine sap wafted off of the gaiwan early in the session. The brew was tannic on the sides on the sides of the throat, with a quick huigan [sweet afterglow]. My mouth was quickly dried out after each sip, followed by a flood from my salivary glands. I noted that I did not feel the kuwei [pleasant bitterness] was very strong, until I gave a friend a sip. They had been absent from the first five brews and upon drinking the sixth steep, they exclaimed ,”Man, this is bitter!”
I had noticed a sharp increase in the huigan around the third steep, but the kuwei crept up slowly across the session. I was the proverbial frog in a pot, who failed to realize the water (kuwei) was was slowly climbing to a boil.
There was a gooey presence in the throat throughout, which is something I treasure. My last scribble for the session was that I had an oversteep that evening and noted:
I failed to notice how bitter this was in the morning session
A question that several people have discussed with me is whether this tea and the 2011 Jin Dayi will follow a similar trajectory. I can not really weigh in on this issue with any accuracy, since the first time I tried the 2003 Jindayi was after it had been aged a decade. What I can attest to is the strength and enjoyment I had in both sessions. The teas are different, but their similarities are in their body. The price of both is a little off putting, but the 2011 Jin Dayi is at least in the range of most drinkers.