Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Canton Tea Co's 2004 Ji Xing Yi Wu Raw Beeng Cha

I have actually reviewed this tea on two separate occasions, so I am going to post both reviews here for your comparison and perusal.

The first:

My preference when it comes to pu’erh is certainly for a nice cooked and aged pu, but all the same, this 2004 Ji Xing Yi Wu sheng pu’erh was a gift from a friend and came highly recommended. So I decided to first give it a shot in my gaiwan and take it through it’s fragrant paces.
After the first infusion, the wet leaves smell a bit smoky, like burning logs, and quite musty. The infused liquor is a lot lighter, still with mustiness. My first cup left my mouth with a distinctive dry feeling. The earthy, vegetal taste is quite full and leaves a lasting impression on the tongue. Quite frankly, this pu’erh has the biggest aftertaste of any pu’erh I have ever had.
For the second infusion, I let it steep for 30 seconds, which I found to be a bit too long for this tea, when using the recommended amount of 3-4 grams. 20 seconds will be certainly sufficient for the first few infusions. This second, strong infusion very much emphasizes the dry notes of this tea. As I finish this infusion, I very much enjoy how robust the flavor of this uncooked pu’erh is.
After five additional steepings, these leaves were beginning to lose much of their robustness. Canton Tea Co.‘s website does recommend at least six infusions for this tea. Overall, this tea was an excellently smooth example of a tasty raw pu’erh. My rating for this tea is 85/100.

The second:

The smell of this tea is delectable to those, such as myself, who love pu’erh. I boil the water, rinse the leaves, and breath in the aroma of the Chinese black tea. Even the dry leaves have a dark, incredibly earthy scent. It smells as strong as if the leaves were already wet. After being rinsed, the leaves release an aroma that is moist, damp, mossy, and still dark.
I must pause here to make a note. The package of tea contained some loose leaves, most likely broken from the cake, and a small chunk of a cake. I had used most of these loose leaves in my gaiwan, and, after having rinsed the leaves, I noticed a hair within the wet leaves. Knowing that it was not mine, certainly (it was a far different color than my own), I looked at the cake and loose leaves remaining in my sample package. In the cake itself, I saw embedded another hair, much like the first. I was truly surprised. I have never encountered this in anything from Canton Tea Company before. This is why it is important to inspect and rinse tea before drinking.
I performed a series of thirty-second steeps with this tea. In the first steep, the tea smelled soft and earthy, a bit loamy. The word “dark” continues to come to mind. The taste is one part smoky, one part earthy, one part awesome, and just a tad vegetal. The flavor is intense but not deep. After the second steep, the flavor is less bold and slightly more astringent. There seems to be more notes of earth and smoke. By the third steeping, the flavors are much the same, but they are smoother. It is quite tasty. Steepings four and five follow suit with very little change. The sixth steeping contains a flavor that is lessened and the strength of the tea is diminished. I put the leaves in hot water to sit for a while in order to draw out as much of their remaining strength as possible.
This tea was thoroughly enjoyable to drink, and it was certainly one of the best pu’erh I have ever tried, despite the discouraging hairs found in the leaves. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea a 93/100.

I leave it for you to try and determine what you make of this pu'erh! The time has definitely been kind to it. (And yes, a tea can be made of awesome.)

This pu'erh is no longer available from Canton Tea Co.
Photo credit to Canton Tea Co.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

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