Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Solids, Zen, and a trip to Pasha Mountain

I've always enjoyed posting pictures of what each session looks like when set up. I'm an extremely visual person so it is mostly for me to grab onto events of the day, moods, or whatever else may have been present at the time I made each post should I ever need to look back in time. It just hit me that I post them a lot, and for anyone curious, that's why. As dangerous as it can be to revisit past events, sometimes it can help us to become something more in the future. This next part is here mostly for me, as a reminder:

"To realize freedom, the mind has to learn to look at life, which is a vast movement without the bondage of time, for freedom lies beyond the field of consciousness. Watch, but don't stop and interpret, "I am free" - then you're living with the memory of something that has gone. To understand and live now, everything of yesterday must die."

I decided to attempt solids today, and thus far it's been successful. My sense of taste is returning to normal again as well. I wanted to sit down with some tea this morning and figured and old favourite would be just the ticket. Roughly seven months ago, I posted a drive-by on the 2006 Haiwan Pasha Mountain sheng-pu, referring to it as the Snickers Bar of pu-erh. I said this because it was consistent throughout. There weren't any surprises to be had; just a straight shooter with a good flavour profile. Thought it would be the perfect control group for a more extensive set of tasting notes in lieu of my waning illness.

First off, the area where Pasha Mountain is located is in Menghai county, grown at 1,700 meters up. It has beautiful tips and a sweet fragrant aroma to it. To my (recovering) nose, it doesn't really carry any kind of the earthy aroma I usually associate with sheng-pu. I'm crediting 3+ years of decent storage partly for that. I'm also a big fan of most of the Haiwan cakes I've encountered; with the watchful hand of Zhou Bing Liang overseeing the whole process, it's no wonder.

After the initial rinse, I started smelling the earthy, leafy aroma we're all too familiar with. Clean is another word I would use to describe it. Everything about this cake smells and tastes very clean, although I have found a couple of small hairs in it...nothing us pu heads can't handle. First infusion went for 15 seconds, and I was left with a very light yellow soup that felt like it was cleaning my mouth as I took my first sips. Taste reminds me of earthy mushrooms dusted with the aroma of freshly cut grass. No bitterness, no tang. Clean, consistent, just as I remembered it. By the second infusion (20 seconds), I notice a slightly darker colour of liquor. This time around, the taste was still very similar, but with a more drying feeling. It also had a tarty aftertouch and left a noticable tinge on my lower lip. In the gaiwan, I'm staring at leaves that are green with some integrity (any Ken Nordine fans out there?). A green to be seen with! That's the green for you!

Third infusion came around (25 seconds) and an even darker hue sat within my cup. Still, the flavour remained consistent. Again, the tangy aftertaste grew in strength. I don't remember such a strong finish when I had this last summer...actually, I don't remember ANY kind of astringency or tangy finish at all. Either this tea has taken on some interesting characterists, or my tastebuds are still a bit wonky. Fourth (35 seconds), fifth (50 seconds), and sixth (1 min 15 seconds) all continue to polish out a thick, tasty soup, and that bite at the end continues to dominate my taste buds again and again.

I'm starting to think that my sense of taste isn't deceiving me at all. I really think this tea just decided to learn a new trick. If anyone else is hanging onto some of this, it may not be a bad time to go break off a little and see if you get similar results. As for myself, I'm just happy to still have a cake of this.


Salsero said...

That sounded familiar, so I dug around in the pumidor and found an inviolate bing of this. Brewed some up and I agree that it is consistent, never changing ... for me it was a rose smell and the taste of rose water ... astringent rose water. Not so sure that is a good thing.

Jamus said...


It didn't taste that sweet to me. Had more of the earthy vegetable flavour. Rose water, however; That's a love/hate taste there. I recently went our for dessert with a friend of mine at a place that had ice cream with a rose water taste to it. I enjoyed it although it was bizarre to eat flowery ice cream. She told me she took her family there one time and the rest of her family didn't like it one bit. The varying degrees of enjoyment between one person and the next is remarkable. I'll have to taste it again once I'm 100% healthy and see what it brings me.

Pat Canella said...

"snickers bar of pu erh" hahaha that's awesome! I must try this tea, what was the vendor? Sorry I must have missed it in the article :(

Jamus said...


It was the Haiwan 2006 Pasha Mountain. This is the tea that I am talking about here.

I am not sure if anyone else sells it, but I buy a lot of my stuff through Scott anyhow so there you have it. There is a larger bing of it as well which I'm told is the same recipe. I would love to hear your thoughts on it sometime should you have a chance to try it.

Best wishes,