Saturday, May 17, 2008

2007 Xiaguan Holy Flame Tuocha

Tonight I decided I was going to have a little fun with one of the Tuos (a very inexpensive tuo, might I add) that I recently purchased. I was in the market for different things; not because of rave reviews, or recommendations, but because I heard this was a very smokey pu-erh. My friend said "This blows the 05 Dehong Golden Melon out of the water!" That was enough for me to buy two of these.

Upon removing the tuo from it's handsome box, I was overwhelmed with the aroma of smoke. My notes literally say "Very smokey! Rinse REEKED of smoke." It's a thick tea, full of body. From the first couple of sips, I already felt this one coursing it's way through my body. I started drinking this well over an hour ago and I've still got a tinge in my stomach. The qi hit very early with this one. I also wrote down "lumberjack tea" in my notes. Nothing clever to add to that.

After the first infusion, I took a moment to take in the leaves and they smell like the bastard child of firewood, a little bit of camphor, and oregano. I was smelling it over and over and over until it reminded me of the last time I cooked with oregano (or parsley...same family). Honestly, the camphor was so mild that I almost want to group that minty scent in with the oregano because it also has it's own minty touch.

By the second infusion, there was a strong smoke smell still and the minty flavour seems to not be present. I am in awe as my lips, the tip of my tongue, and the hard upper pallet of my mouth are all tingling! Wow, I didn't expect to find that sensation from a six-month old pu. I was just going to comment that the camphor was replaced by a very mild bitterness...not bad at all, but I think it's more from overbrewing the second round a few too many seconds.

At this moment, the leaves smell faintly of cigarettes; non menthol...Parliament lights, to be more specific. I'm glad this doesn't carry over in to the flavour. This third infusion is going down smooth. Definitely the right balance now. If I take a very deep breath, I can ever so slightly smell that oregano again. I'd love to know exactly what is causing that scent.

The feeling I have right now is amazing. My head feels very clear, my body limber. I've got a tingling throughout. Also, I've got the last song of the Spirited Away soundtrack on repeat because Grace (my ten month old, teething daughter) loves to listen to it. Ithink it's called 'Always With Me.' She was humming along to it earlier this afternoon. Candy to my soul right now, I tell you.

The fourth and fifth infusions are still just as strong, even considering the fact that I removed some leaf (I'm a horrible judge with tight compression...sue me) and am using shorter infusion times...3 to 5 seconds tops. It definitely has some edge to it, but opens slowly. I am absolutely okay with this.

This one makes me want to take the night off and sip this until it's nothing more than golden water. I am amazed by how potent this stuff is. It's bursting with flavour, it changes each brewing, and it's got a ridiculously strong qi about it, the minty touch followed by the slightest bitter close. It's interesting, especially for such a young tea. Plus, for the price, you can't go wrong. It isn't for everyone, but if a pu-erh wants to sneak up and make my mouth tingle by the second infusion and still hit hard at the tenth infusion, and be only six months old....who am I to get in the way?

I had a lot of fun with this one. Maybe only us grizzly fellows can appreciate this. I'm going to serve a cup to one of my clean-shaven, well-dressed friends and get back to you with the findings. Till then, try to keep the leaves out of your beard. ^__^

Lumberjack tea indeed!

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