Today we taste Yong De 2006, a smoked sheng pu'er from Yongde county, in Lincang prefecture.
In Licang, a region well known to pu'er enthusiasts, there are three famous tea production areas: Mengku, Yongde and Fengqing. Today's tea comes from Yongde, and precisely from Da Xue Shan, meaning Big Snow Mountain. High mountain tea deserves expectation; Will Yong De 2006 meet ours?
The tea is wrapped in a thin white paper-cloth. Upon unwrapping, we appreciate the view of a neat tea-brick, with big glossy leaves and sporadic buds. We carefully break an edge and weigh six grams of leaves.
Now that the tea is ready we set the tea tray; from left to right: Dry lotus pistils (a recurring Chinese tea decoration); teapets: little buddha, cats and a three-legged frog; pitcher with drainer, cups, and Yixing teapot; drainer holder and tweezers.
Yong De 2006 is a smoked tea, uncommon for pu'er. It was produced by local tea farmers who used wood fire for the shaqing, "heating the green" one of the first step in pu'er production. The terms shaqing is actually improperly adopted from the green tea production, in which the leaves are heated to stop enzymatic oxidation. For pu'er, however, the heating is shorter and at lower temperature, stopping well before enzyme inactivation.
As usual, we rinse the teaware and the leaves with the first brew. Water at 100°C and just few seconds of infusion and the leaves start unfolding. I distribute the cups and leave the field to Anna for the following rounds.
We could enjoy the smoky fragrance already through the brick cloth. In the first cups the smokiness is very present, yet neither dominant nor masking the true essence of the tea. The taste is reminiscent of forest and wet wood. The following cups are smoother, less smoky but still wooden. Anna says it reminds her of moss after raining.
We brew a round after the other; the leaves never getting tired. We stop for lunch and keep on drinking afterwards. At the time of writing we are drinking the 15th round of tea, and it is not yet watery! On the contrary, it is still a little smoky and reminds me of whisky now. Astringency? No sign of it. The tea was never bitter from the first to the last cup, assuming this is the last one...
Below Anna enjoying the woody fragrance and on the right the wet leaves.
Written by Gabriele