Monday, July 16, 2012

Yunnan Noir: A bliss with every sip!

    Yunnan. The birth place of tea, the oldest and most prestigious crops grown over the span of generations, with a storied flavor as time itself . If at all the tea trees of Yunnan can talk, they would say their life's passion for a beverage is their calling as would many of its farmers would claim so! Yunnan Noir by farmer Zha Luo, proudly supplied by Adagio teas under their "Roots Campaign" is no different and rivals any
tea growers but the most masterful of tea artisans.  
        Just look at this beauty right here! Curled meticulously  during the drying process of tea leaves just when these leaves are about to lose much of its previous size and mass, the end result looks like tiny balls with as much leaves packed in this condensed form (see later pictures). The tea itself is surprisingly fresh, with aromas wafting from the bag, I can get a sense I stumbled into a spice market selling cloves, peppers, allspice, cinnamon, etc, with cocoa and honey being the distinct notes out of the spiciness. There is also an earthy aspect to the tea that is considered to be the trademark of Pu-Erh or Yunnan teas in general, but its not the deep earthy Pu-Erh aroma but a light layered flavored that has a slight metallic, and clay like aroma reminiscent of a pottery works. 

      The  brew was just as good as the aroma! It has a lovely deep amber color from an initial light amber color, a similar aroma liken to its raw leaf form with an earthy profile with a slight irony notes, a smell of honey, and boiled bananas or cassava. The flavor is very the same with much of earthiness in the first brew and lingers off in the second and multiples brews, the immense earthiness sometimes has a brisk sensation on the palate but normally its smooth that has sweetness with starchiness that finishes with a chocolaty flavor.  

           The end result of thousands of years of craftsmanship, devotion, and care for some simple beverage!
Beautiful is it not?! There is no room for clippings, by-products, and fragrances but downy, tippy young leaves that are curled and dried to perfection! Much of the tea has much of these young leaves per teaspoon and not one bit are broken or torn (apart from my reckless handling of the wet leaves). The mark of quality that testifies for this tea is the amazing resilience of these leaves, and the amount of brews it can give out before becoming mute, tannin, and astringent! A decent buy from Adagio, great prices with an eye for quality and acknowledgment to those hard at work to bring this all to home. 

           Versatility: 6.5; this tea can be blended well with other like teas that are earthy, a bit starchy, sweet, and layered or that complements these characters without conflicting the taste (i.e. soft spices or savory additions). It can drunk either hot or cold but one would find having a cold version mute and much closer to drinking mud water than tea itself, those in the know in culinary experiences have in common knowledge that heat is comfort and brings in flavors, cold refreshes but blankets flavors. The tea itself is welcoming and lovely flavored enough that tea novices will enjoy familiar and deeper flavors of tea .

            Tastes: 95: Overall, a tea to be remembered and cherished with as much depth and character of any story told ages pasts! Earthy flavors and accompanying spicy and sweet flavors with starchy tones have imparts a tea fit for all occasions, meals and time that best complements food very well. Even the most finicky of foodies who scoff at the notion of earthy delights will be converted into liking them, just with an amount of balance this tea has qualities that brings people to explore more tastes...maybe into Pu-Erh if one were to take those steps.

            Palate: It goes smooth on the palate with initial tangy but sweet, non astringent, and non tannin sensation that transitions into a savory and earthy flavor that soothes and nurtures the palate. Accompanying spice and some starchy elements comes into play towards at the back end of the palate resulting into another transition of smooth,velvety cocoa flavor.

            Drinker Friendliness: 7.5: a very appealing to most people in or outside the loose leaf craze, and enough to be enjoyed plain and maybe blended or given additives (though it would be unneeded) to further "enhance" its natural tastes. Its just as good as drinking cocoa with as much power as coffee, its not surprisingly that it can get popular but for one who detest earthy flavors, or thrown off by strange and unfamiliar (not really) tastes in their tea...its very much like downing Lapsang or Pu-Erh to those finicky people. All in all an excellent drink to share with everyone!
                                                               FINAL WORD
             Much thanks to Adagio but much more to Mrs.Luo who continues to produce the very best of her teas, who cares enough to curl and tend these leaves for the best products in an increasing industrialized world that belittles artisans like Mrs.Luo.  Getting up early everyday, tending, sorting, grading, processing, etc is no easy feat for a few hundreds like Mrs. Luo, the hard earned labors turns into something special not for a mere exchange of currency but a symbol of the pinnacle of the mastery of her work, a symbol of culture, and her toils into one simple beverage! I hope all the best for her and those like her continuing this trade in a world were humans and effort is no longer required, and for those who love tea or wanting a new experience this tea is it! Enjoy this drink for anyone out there willing to love this tea as much as those who loved producing it!


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