Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Bai Cha Yuan

Ok so finally I get around to the fourth 2012 Zhi Zheng Tea sample.
They dont have it for sale yet and I dont know any info on it but...
 The dry chunk and loose leaf looks very good, long full leaf with a very feint vegetal sent.
It must be of a very light stone compression as the leaf has no sign of any breakage. 

 First infusions release a light buttery, nutty, apricot, and vegetal flavor. The aroma is of buttery veggies.
 Around the fourth brew I get a little astringency and bitterness also, but very light.
It is a very smooth buttery brew, with little bitterness and full of almond and fruit flavors.
I think of the four samples it is the lightest, as it begs for my full attention.
Now on the sixth or seventh infusion I get a very strong sweet cane, sugary flavor, wow.
I thought it would die down but it actually opened up in the later infusions,
 with the sweetness and vegetal notes coming to the forefront. 
The mouthfeel is light as it does give a nice feeling but not that lasting.
The chi is mellow, as I have to focus to feel it. 
It starts to fade out around the twelfth brew but keeps the vegetal flavor for a few more as I push it hard.

 Infused leaf is full with absolutely no breakage. Two very green leaves and a bud, and dark large leaf.
I have to say, this is maybe the best looking infused leaf, no broken pieces!!

Overall this is a very interesting tea, long lasting but very quiet as you have to pay close attention to really be rewarded.
Now of the four samples I have to say Nan Nuo is tops, hands down. But all are very good.
The prices are on the high scale but in line with other full hand made, well chosen teas.
Top quality.

 And yet another Bonsai.
This is an old boxwood removed from a five foot tall hedge about six or seven years ago.
I started cutting it down little by little thru the years and have finally got it to the size I want, next is wiring the branches and refining the foliage pads. The trunk and root formation is just outstanding, reminding me of old penjing style plantings. It will be ultimately planted on a stone slab.
What side do you like most?


Side 2


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2004 Xiaguan JiaJi Tuocha

I do have one more sample of the ZhiZheng teas to post, but I found this little untouched 100gram tuo hiding in my oolong cabinet and had to give it a try.

The first impression is good as it has the signature xiaguan heavy sent when I open the wrapper.
 It does give up its age though as it smells much smoother than some younger xiaguans I have.

Of course its always good to see the big G imprint on these as I think it is a sign of better quality.
It comes as all tuocha, extra heavy compression, but my pick breaks off a chunk with little effort. 
I do find a small piece of brown egg shell, someone must have been enjoying a good farm fresh egg.
 After a quick rinse the aroma is heavy with camphor, slight smoke, and some astringent citrus notes.
I have to say this is one of my favorite puerh aromas.
 The first infusions give up very strong citrus, leather, wood, camphor, and good astringency.
The mouthfeel is quite good, showing some spiciness and thickness. 
 After a few brews it turns to a sweet citrus leather concoction, still holding its thickness, I am really enjoying this tea. I guess I'm a sucker for xiaguan tuocha.
It's strength makes me go out into the drizzly windy weather for more training. 

The Tiger is a good form to tame the Crane of xiaguan.
As I practice my favorite Tiger form which comes from a Taoist five animal style.
The hard external and soft internal movements strengthen the entire being.
The chi is focused.

As I get back to the tea it seems to take another turn.
A smooth honey wheat note arrives, but still holds its camphor and sweet citrus.
 The spiciness and astringency is replaced with a very cooling almost minty sensation.
I am now tea drunk, so I will let it rest overnight and finish it off in the morning.

 On a side note, you may have seen this little cup accompanying my regular cup in the last few posts. I have been breaking in this Duanni cup for a few weeks now. It was a gift from Peter of with one of my orders. It really smooths out any rough edges in stronger sheng and is starting to give a good cup.

And here is another bonsai for you.
American Elm, collected by me from a large hedge about 6 or 7 years ago.
Cut to a stump and branches developed.
It has come along quickly,  and is now starting to get a good branch structure.
The apex needs to be shortened and branches thickened and ramified.
It will get a good wiring soon.
 Maybe another 3 years to get to the form I want.
Last leaves hold on.

Ready for its winter sleep.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Bulang Peak Spring Pick

The third sample from Zhi Zheng Tea Shop.

 First impression from the dry aroma upon opening the bag is of citrus fruit, with a bit of woodiness.
The chunk of tea is very good looking with more of a medium compression that comes apart easily.
 As I pour the first infusion a citrus spicy aroma arises and fills my senses. The liquor is quite a bit thicker than the other samples. The mouthfeel is thick and lubricating, filling the entire pallet with a bit of honey and spice.
There is just the faintest hint of tobacco and bitterness in the aftertaste.
 It really is a thick smooth liquor. The later infusions release a full honey broth with much sweetness.
It lasts well over fifteen or so infusions as I just lost count.
The chi in very energizing and sends me out for some extra form practice.
All in all a good tasting tea with a really good mouthfeel and thickness.
 I drank another bit of this one in the gaiwan to see if I got any differences.
It was very smooth and fruity, with the same thick liquor and strong chi.
Not really any changes but as I used much less leaf it was just without bitterness.
A very good tea.

Good looking medium to large size leaf.

More fall color on bonsai.
Trident Maple in full color

Large Siberian Elm dropping leaf

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2012 Kong Shan Xin Yu Early Spring

This is another sample sent by Zhi Zheng Tea Shop.

On opening the sample bag I am greeted by a very green straw and flower sent.
The nice big chunk is a bit tighter compressed than the last one, and looks to have smaller leaf. 
It does come apart easily with the pick though.
As I give it the first rinse the leaf releases a very surprising buttery aroma.

The first infusions are very smooth, with a honey butter savory flavor with just a bit of orchid flower in the aftertaste, but holding some good bitterness and astringency in the throat. 
Around the fifth infusion it takes a turn into a very floral taste, smooth and a bit bitter.
This is a very subtle tea with many slight changes thru the brews. I am really having a very relaxing session with this one. The chi builds a calm sense of well being.
Now after around the twelfth infusion it kinda looses its interesting flavors and just goes to a regular vegetal green flavor that stays for the rest of the brews. It kinda looses me after that. Overall a good tea with many interesting flavor profiles in the beginning but a bit lacking in the later half. The infused leaf is a bit more choppy and varied than the nan nuo, with a  mix of small thin leaf and bud to medium leaf.
Another bonsai changing its colors, a japanese hornbeam group in training for about 5 years.
Japanese hornbeam and accent

Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 Nan Nuo Shan 'Ji Di' Early Spring

So last week I received a package of 2012 cake samples from Zhi Zheng Tea Shop
I recommend reading the information they have on there site and blog, very informative.
I have been eagerly awaiting to try some of there cakes as they are fully handmade using ancient tree leaf.
As Mark from Zhi Zhen recommended letting the tea acclimate before trying them,
 I gave them just a week as I can't wait any longer for my fix.
The first of the four samples I am trying is the Nan Nuo Ji Di, it is the most fragrant of the samples sent.
 When I opened the bag I got a full shot of strong fruit and orchid,
 even giving me almost a head rush just by the sent alone.
The dry leaf is large, full and lightly compressed just like I like it.
The aroma of the infused leaf brings even more fruitiness with a green straw flowery sent, I just cant get my nose away from the pot. Reminds me of the sold out Bada but stronger.

 The infused liquor is smooth and fruity sweet, with a nice bitterness creeping in the background.
The mouthfeel is thick and smooth with a slight bite on the tongue. It gives me a feeling of calmness and focus of the energy after a hectic week. I am reminded of the stress relieving factor of enjoying a good cup of tea. Later infusions give more of the flowery orchid notes and a slight astringency with the longer brews. Eventually it changes to a sweet cane sugary brew and then back to the fruit notes. It lasts well over 15 infusions and still looks to give up more so tomorrow I will push it for a few more cups.
The infused leaf is pretty uniform being mostly small to medium size thick leaf, with a few buds.
The tea has fulfilled my expectations of a very good quality new sheng.
 In the next days we will see how the others hold up.
The weather has been changing drastically here as yesterday it was in the 80's and today a high of around 50 and tonight its supposed to drop to about 30 degrees.
 I had to pile on my hoodie and coat for heading out to work today.
I will try to get thru these four samples this weekend if I can, because I also want to move back to some wuyi rock teas I have had siting in my cabinet for over a year now to fight the cold weather coming in.
My bonsai are changing to there autumn colors fast especially the small shohin.
 I will be posting more pictures of them soon.
 Here is another one of my favorites with its roots clinging to a small rock.
In training about 10 years from a seedling.
Zelcova Serrata Elm Shohin
 My kung fu training has also been going very well, as the Master we are learning from has been sharing some very advanced technique with us.
The fa jing (explosive transfer of energy) is really starting to develop now with a few adjustments to our technique. Pushing me to train harder. I love it.