For some time, I pondered whether to try or not to try something from Wistaria teahouse, a place ran by well known mr. Zhou Yu. It interested me how he approached the tea tasting in Art of tea reviews and I thought I'd like to taste what he himself considers good (which Wistaria teas should be, unless he's a hidden sadist, torturing his customers with horrendous stuff). However, they do not commonly do samples and so I silently waited for the opportunity recently given by SilentChaos from Origin Tea (thanks!). More about the project is here.
I sometimes wonder why I still try so many samples. I probably met enough teas I like a lot (though not all of them are available anymore) and in all the new samples I try, there is only a few that I consider really good. Some are educational, at least. However, most of them, I close again and give to someone else to enjoy. Why do I still buy so many samples then? I guess that this Zi Pin cake from Wistaria is sort of an answer. Because sometimes, you meet a new tea, which widens your view on puerh and tea drinking and the experience is simply worth it. No samples = no such experience. I guess I'm simply interested in teas that push the boundaries of my knowledge further and make my enjoyment of tea deeper. Needless to say, the Zi Pin did just that.
While I still enjoy the taste of tea a lot, I'm appreciating its other components more and more. And it seems to me that this Zi Pin is strongest in areas outside taste. Which makes it a bit "personal", I guess. Two people who were near me when I tasted the tea and tasted it were not nearly as impressed as me. I guess that this is a general problem when it comes to finer mouthfeel and qi of tea, most people do not sense these and with qi, even if one feels qi in a tea, he may not feel it in the same teas as another person. While it is relatively unsafe to say "this tastes good, try it, you'll like it", I believe that it is crazy to say "this has great qi, try it, you'll like it".
So, I'll try to describe my experience with the Zi Pin now...
The dry leaves smell pleasant, aged-nutty-raisin sort of Yiwu. It smells very well stored.
The wet leaves smell dark, sweet, with some tones of overripe fruit and a bit of aged camphor (which gets more intense as the leaves cool down). However, the aroma is not as strong as in some other great teas I had.
The liquor has lovely color and clarity.
The taste... I had a hard time concentrating on it, because it's not the point of this tea to me. When I did concentrate on it, it was a bit distant, very thick and sweet, with wide base of raisins and sweet wood. The overripe fruit appeared too, in the second half of the main taste. The camphor complemented the later stage of taste, bringing good and pleasant cooling. So - the taste is, in general, a good and pleasant one, but I would not buy the tea at its current price just for the taste.
But the energy of the tea is what counts here. It resonated strongly and deeply in me. When I sipped it for the first time, I suddenly felt very heavy and slow, as if my blood turned to molten lead. I perceived the world around me in a slightly different light and in a different way. The feeling was not unlike HLH's Yiwu of 2010 (yes, that craziness for $195), but more mature and heavier. Getting back to the lead, the feeling sort of reminds me of the sound of Bonham's drums on Kashmir. Later I realized:
I'm a minute older
than a second ago.
And even later I realized it has a second meaning which was, by chance, also apt, though not too cheering.
Anyway, the best thing is, that the qi effect was reproducible on me. It worked so every time I tried the tea, even with ordinary tap water, no stove used.
So... I lenjoyed this tea tremendously and drinking it is definitely a special experience, but I'm afraid it won't work like this for everyone... What are your views on this one?