Friday, March 23, 2012

Tea, Time and Porcelain: Wu Yi Shui Hsien Traditional 2010 After Fourteen Months

Today, out of an unexplainable inner need, I opened a jar of 2010 Traditional Wu Yi Shui Hsien, was purchased from one of my favorite Czech tea vendors LongFeng at the beginning of February 2011 and, since then, rested in a wax-sealed jar. Back then, when it was fresh, it already was a very solid , traditional Yancha – originating in inner Wu Yi, grown at elevation of about 800 meters above the sea level, completely hand-made and roasted over hard-wood charcoal.

In fresh state, its taste was already very pure and remarkable, though still somehow fiery and roasty – not in a bad way, though still impossible not to notice - a major nuance in this tea's typical character.

Yet, I was wondering – how would this taste evolve, if I let the leaves rest for a while? Until next winter, maybe?

In the end, I haven't opened this jar in winter. Strangely, the usual need to drink darker rock oolongs, which have accompanied me almost every fall and winter of my tea-life so far, almost haven't appeared this year.

What might seem even stranger – but still feels right – is that this need appeared today. On a sunny, warm day at the beginning of spring. All of sudden, I just felt it's the time to open this jar and pour these leaves into the teapot once again.

Just a quick note, since I don't really want this to be a traditional tea-tasting post: these leaves really did change. A year spent in porcelain without any access to air or light made the fiery roastiness almost disappear, moving its character more into the field of sweet, fruity deepness, dried plums and caramel-like creaminess.

This tea, with its warming, mineral character, feels somehow special and definitely unusual on a day which is equally warm itself.

It is not typical at all for me to drink such tea in spring; but today, it just feels right. For some reason, it feels like this is the tea I was longing for. And for me, that is what matters most.

Usual day, made unusual by an encounter with a personal little year-old tea experiment.

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