Three teas to relax with over the weekend

April 22, 2021
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Kevin à Darjeeling

Each Friday, as I finish my week, I pack up 3 teas to enjoy over the weekend.  It has become a tradition. This weekend I selected a varied trio of fancy Grand Crus. As the 2021 Spring teas have only just begun to trickle in to the catalogue my first tea celebrates that explosive freshness, arriving directly from our artisan friends in the tea fields.  Secondly an wulong from the autumnal roastings of last year’s Wuyi collection.  Finally I added a classic aged and deeply fermented tea from the Pu er cellar.  

Meng Ding Gan Lu by Mr.Zhang Qian
Spring is a special time for most Chinese green teas.  Among the most famous of these is a selection of prestigious leaves that must be tried at least once in a lifetime, personally I would recommend once a year.   Around this time of year these teas arrive in the peak freshness and there really is no better time to taste them if you hope to understand why they are considered so important.  Here at Camellia Sinensis we deliberately buy these teas in relatively limited quantities so that they are only available while they are at their very best.  
One of the first to arrive is often the celebrated Meng Ding Gan Lu which I savoured in my gaiwan on Sunday.   This delicate mass of finely-twisted, fluffy buds is from the Province of Sichuan.  Plucked and panned just a few weeks ago I can still smell the panning process in the dry leaves. The infused leaves fill the air with sweet and gourmet fragrances, lightly nutty with a marine background.  The liquor is dense and the complexity impressive in the mouth blending notes of steamed fiddleheads and various fruits.  The texture holds the experience together and runs into a lingering floral finish.  

Da Hong Pao by Mr Wu
Another of China’s top ten legends is Da Hong Pau probably the most famous of the ‘rock teas’, those dark roasted wulongs from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian.  Plucked in May 2020 and roasted a few months later the full, delicately twisted leaves infuse to give a dark, rich liquor.  Then the show begins.  With the mouth prepared by the pleasant texture and mouth feel the tea gradually reveals a tasting sequence of multi-layered ‘moments’ beginning with pecans and cocoa, moving to the zest fruit notes of gooseberry and wrapping up with a long sweet/tart aftertaste that remains for several minutes.  A splendid combination of experienced cultivation and masterful tea-making. 

Da Hong Pao

Pu er Menghai Orange Label 2003
Shou Pu er is too often overlooked by collectors and enthusiasts.  Developed in the 1970’s this style really creates some World class tasting experiences.  This tea from the Menghai factory in Xishuangbanna in the Yunnan is a great example and a personal favourite.  An initial rinse releases comforting aromas of leather, wet stone and damp wood.  The deep brown liquor has a sweet mineral impression that conjures up a sensation of spring water.  As the taste unfolds notes of incense candied fruit shine through the rustic, forest flavours.  Exceptional balance and surprisingly light and refreshing for such a deep, rich tea.    

A trio worth exploring and guaranteed to please.  Enjoy!


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