Pu-erh Reviews

2005 Nan-nuo purple tips cake

Genre: Compressed Sheng/Green/Uncooked/Raw
Factory: San Ho Tang
Vendor: Houde
Reviewed by tea junkie on 11/05/2006

Background    This is the Xi-Zhi version wrapper of a series of teas that were personally monitored by Mr. Son Ho Tang. High anthocyanin expression in the leaves make them purple in appearance. This is common in the plant world and is often caused by stress, though genetics can also be a deciding factor. Anthocyanins are polyphenols, though not in any way connected to cyanide, outside of the name.

Dry Leaf Appearence:    Beautiful and dark large leaves with lots of tips. The cake was well and evenly compressed so that I could only peel leaves from the edges or risk breaking them. Quite a bit of stems in the mix around the edges.

Water to Leaf Ratio:     10 gr of Leaf in 100 ml of water

Brewing Method:    Brewed up gong-fu with sheng cured yixing pot and served in porcelain pitcher and cups. Rinsed about 5 sec. before serving. All infusions were done with 195 degree spring water.

Wet Leaf Appearence:    Again, the leaf was mixed with quite a bit of stem material, and I could only detect a bit of purplishness (word?). Perhaps I had rinsed out the anthocyanins with the ten odd infusions. Nice serated edged leaves with only light signs of oxidation.

1st Steep    20 sec. A pale amber infusion with light but definite astringency. Delicate fall hay notes faded into a quick burst of hyacinth in the finish. Kind of odd note in the finish so I stepped outside to be certain that I was not getting some ambient weirdness infiltrating the flavor. Indeed I got the same flash of hyacinth that melded with the mouthfeel to make it seem that I had a quick spritz of light perfume into my mouth.

2nd Steep    20 sec. A deeper amber with a deeper infusion. Excellent balance between the polyphenol mouthfeel and the waves of sea breeze, alfalfa, and honey. And yet again the finish was reminiscent of hyacinth at the moment the astringency slipped into sweetness.

3rd Steep    20 sec. Color remained deep amber and the leaves have begun to awake with powerful sea breeze, honey, with backgrounds of hyacinth and frankincense. No longer is the floral notes located in the finish alone, but now it whispers in about five seconds after sipping. Wonderful polyphenols in this tea!

4th Steep    20 sec. Color still deep amber and the dominant notes are still the sea breeze, alfalfa, and honey in the openning, but those floral and perfume notes jump in quickly and play silly games across the tongue. A bit confusing if you pay too much attention to the flavors.

Subsequent Steeps    I lost count after nine infusions, my wife jumped in at number seven and thought it was great if you sipped the whole thing in one mouthful and swished it around, but seemed a bit weak if you tried bird sips. I certainly did at least twelve infusions, but I cannot say exactly. I found the floral and standard sheng characteristics danced about themselves with the later infusions. The hyacinth never went away, and even my wife agreed with the taste being hyacinth, though she had heard me talking to the tea about its flavor earlier. The pooled infusions were superbly balanced with all the now familiar flavors sliding one into the other without any jolts. I actually enjoyed it pooled more than served singly as I was never caught off guard when the tea changed tones.

Conclusion    Boy do I want to see an analysis of the polyphenol and aromatic oil content of these leaves. I have never experienced quite so jarring a shift in notes from one moment to the next, and certainly never as a uniform experience throughout multiple infusions. I don't want to drink this everyday, but I almost hate the thought of aging it, since the polyphenols will so radically change with time and they are so fascinating right now. Strange little tea that I must recommend strongly to those adventurous enough to brew in the heroic dosage range of 1/10 tea/water.

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