Thursday, 4 February 2010

2009 American Hao 904 (Pu Erh Shop)

Now if I haven't already done so, I'm going to really give away how much of a novice I am to pu erh and tea in general. Fresh off drinking the 906 yesterday I am going to re-dip my toes into the solemn waters of the 904. I quite like the American Hao brand as each pressing is unique and brings a different experience to the drinker. I'd much rather enjoy my time with small custom bings than to large production runs any day, who wouldn't?

You see, the 904 was one of the first pu erhs I tried as a sample since I rediscovered tea early last year. I really liked it then but I was hesitant to splash out the $40 or so dollars on a cake, I was quite shocked at the price at the time. The infernal wind of tea pricing has weathered my sensibilities and I am now quite happy to fork out the dosh for my hit.

I unwrap the paper on the bing for the first time and my nose is met with the sweet smell of a tasty honey. In goes a nice chunk of dry leaf, one rinse and we are off!

The wet leaves of fresh pu erh tend to be too legume for my nose but I can't resist to stick my snoz amongst them and behold there is a distinct lack of beans on offer, interesting. Yesterdays 906 was a brash young oik of a tea with a taste and huigan aftertaste to match but the 904 is far more sedate. It beckons you to take notice of its qualities instead of flaunting them in your face.

The flavours are darker and covered with a barbecue ash with a subtle, creeping huigan that builds up steadily as the infusions pass by but never reach a crescendo. There are no fireworks here, just a constant undercurrent of textures to keep one amused if you have the patience to savour them or frustrated if you don't have the environment to take seek them. This is a tea for one of my more quiet mornings I think.

I feel a little jittery but I suspect it has more to do with someone at Morrisons filling the decaf coffee pot with the wrong beans earlier as opposed to the caffeine present in my eleven o'clock tea. A quick peek into the yixing reveals the slightly broken nature of the smallish leaf with patches of oxidisation, quite the opposite of the 906 which had one of the biggest pu erh leaves I had ever seen!

Before you know it things are winding down and lunch time is coming along. Was the tea as good as I remembered? Hard to say, it's the sort of tea I could drink often and I am in the mood for contemplation. Perhaps I should stop typing and focus a little more... ;-)

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