Monday, February 27, 2012

Waking up to a Yunnan morning!


       On this morning, I felt as if I needed a kick to bring me out a morning stupor but not pay later for it! So I took a look at my cabinet and wondered; "what it would be this time"? I  can certainly have a gourd of "yerba", but feel its usual in the mornings. Its much like forcing the body to wake up, and I end up in zombie like state walking aimlessly to which I crash late in the day. My collection of green teas can be a tempting treat! Its balanced in caffeine, pretty healthy in nutrients, and has lighter rich taste yet drinking greens in the morning may not be enough to keep me going but have me relaxed enough back to sleep! The standard black tea may fit the bill, moderate in caffeine, bold flavors and a variety of possibilities and the ever unforgetable "Darj" but I wasn't in the mood for  either one. I glanced over to my white tea, I looked at it and it looked back...I thought; "could be a nice cup in the wee hours"? I was going to reach over to it, but I stopped and pause in thought it might be a bit weak, not enough break a morning stupor and raise spirits, but most importantly I have two ounces worth in gold! Its not worth in money gulping it down to break my morning lethargy and sure as hell I would be paying for later.

    Decisions, Decisions....choices abound but only would suffice for this unusual morning of mine ! I knew its
my Yunnan that I neglected to consider. My particular Yunnan  gold tips has a moderately bold, sharp yet easy going smoothness on a morning palate and quite balanced in caffeine. I eagerly got some water to boil up in 3 minutes as the water was already hot, and stuck my thermometer till it reached 212 degrees which is at boiling but not a full boil. A lesson learned to which using really hot water will kill off most the flavors of this tea leaving it tannic and bitter.
                        [ Nearing two hundred degrees plus at this stage. Burning hands and a near
                          melting plastic is all worth the trouble than "eye balling" the right temperature!]                                          

      At the 212 degree mark, I took  it out of the heat and poured it tn my 'Perfectea" maker from Teavana. Its reliable and can hold up much to heat and regular abuse, and certainly convienient than a tea ball and mug! I bought at 15 something dollars which is understandably priced, though now its somewhere in the 20 dollar range. It keeps the leaves out, some dust and fannings, and not ruin the flavors of any tea brewed in this maker...I would gladly fork over 20 dollars if it can make a good brew !
     The tea however is usually far better than the brewer of course! It gives off a tanned color while in the process of brewing, and the smell of hay  with faintly woody notes to add. It just like brewing Pu-Erh...since its actually the very same leaves that goes into making Pu-Erh! I suspect much, its earthy, but the smell somewhat points out to be a mixture of an earthy,woody and something else that I can't really discern. All I know its so gonna be damn good after six minutes of brewing, and just by the very anticipation I was actually awaiting for the whole day! Six miuntes has passed and time came to open the lid and smell the glory of Yunnan! The extra steam on the face was all worth it!

       Its just one of those moments where simple awe and admiration that can just brighten any ones morning! Just look at the liquor! Beautiful and grand, and golden as the the leaves from which it brewed from, now whenever has anyone actually gotten a color of tea to match the leaves brewed from? Not a whole lot except for some teas like White Teas, and especially this Yunnan Gold Tips to which in my book rivals "Darj" and happy to savor this far more ! The taste is especially grand as its color, a peppery note is very noticeable at the first draw on the tip of the palate, with a smell of hay that simultaneously follows in. A very important feature of Yunnan Teas that is common throughout in teas like Pu-Erh , and since the leaves came from some trees that have been around for "god knows how long", the tree itself has been said its roots encompasses every plant growing around it! Taking it with flavors that are so varied that it complexes the flavors much like Pu-Erh. Like honest words, the tea is exactly like that! I can't quite discern exact flavors specifically, but the main body is hay-ish slightly leathery that can be easily ignored, an earthy flavor that is not bold like Pu-Erh but toned to a level not deep as Pu-Erh. I enjoy particularly the cocoa like texture which is bittersweet and adds a bit tartness at the end of a palate.
         The end result of many centuries of timeless elegance and craftsmanship all for a bush and its leaves....makes anyone think how can anyone actually not think about the grandness of it all! The tea in the end gave as much a mother could for a child!  An excellent brew with all the complexity of Pu-Erh and as much the youth from 500 year old trees! Talk about youth, these leaves are actually the buds and young shoots of Yunnan tea trees, and are actually graded much like Pu-Erh . The leaves were previously withered and curled but when brewed after as shown here, it straightens out to a needle. The integrity of the leaves to keep its form while still resilient to a human touch without it as so much falling a part!A true tests to quality, and have to say even if its not graded, this tea from a Teavana shows their knowledge in the the best teas with quality in mind! The brewed leaves however has a tannic smell to it that translate to a second brew with the same leaves  albeit mute in all flavors. Overall, a tea with as much traditions and history, taste and quality its hard to imagine it sold for 10.50 per 2 ounces! Getting it over to 2.5 ounces that usually happens when shopping in a Teavana is well worth the extra costs not to rue it!

          Versatility: 68; the tea can however conflict with certain strong flavors that can give the desired tea a personality disorder that will beckon you to give up on figuring what it tastes like or throw it away. The tea can be forced into "cuppa" style or sugary-milk tea  and actually take in Chai spices but again earthy bold flavors don't really get along with medicinal spices being a jumbled mess that ends up in the drain rather in the stomach. The ability of this tea to be iced is worthwhile, but...its really designed to be served hot and when served cold it loses allot of its character which needs a sweetener to fill the huge holes.

          Taste: 88; unforgettable and deeply nurturing! For any Pu-Erh lovers or lovers of deeply rich teas on earthy quality, and some aspects of traditional black tea, Yunnan Gold Tips are definitely on the wish list! Peppery on the first note, a bit sharp , bold and moderately bodied with aspects of hay, soil , a pinch of leather, with cocoa on the last note being bittersweet. A taste that would even convert a strict traditionalist in Black Teas would find themselves having a cup and craving for Pu-Erh!

          Palate: Plain out moderate but bold and smooth on the edges with some kick thanks to its peppery quality. Simple but elegant and lovingly rich in Pu-Erh qualities that will be an experience to figure out a flavor profile of different types much like what Pu-Erh tends to have though Yunnan Golds don't steep well on the third time over. Smooth and bold with a moderate personality on the first brew, knocked out but still alive with cocoa and some earthy flavors of hay and soil,and  tannic qualities are present. Third and final brew is just plainly ghost like without much of an echo apart from tannins.

          Drinker Friendliness: 8; A really friendly drink that is perfect to introduce people into the world of Pu-Erh or an alternative to the usual English blends or black teas for a "cuppa". The earthy qualities are not at all off putting to most people who I shared the tea with, but there are those who's sensitive to deep, and rich flavors that may find the earthy qualities sickening (akin Chai  phobia).  The only problems with the tea is the amount to experiment with it but tastes and quality, and a sense of traditionalism being a tea for porcelain cups  will gain acclaim to any connoisseurs!
                                                                 Final Word
           I say its an excellent tea worthy of awards and recognition the world over, and being a product of Yunnan, which is the birthplace of Pu-Erh and tea itself gives it all the more respect that it deserves! Few drawbacks, few frills and bells, but elegant, rich, earthy, nurturing and layered tastes are what symbolizes the bests teas on record if not the world over! A tea which itself based on purity, hardly enjoyed with other elements but best enjoyed for its own unique quality that other teas can't seem to replicate without additives, and a tea that is hardly enjoyed cold is a tea bred for the purists in mind and those who love its character. A must have tea such the likes of this!

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