Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 YouLe (Pu-erh.sk)


It took me five months to get back to my tea-blogging. You know the story already: daily life, busy work, BMX, travelling, apocalypse, etc. Well, I guess there actually is a reason that makes it all easy to explain: I simply did not come across a tea sample I would like to blog about, until now. Seriously, I ended up drinking more or less ordinary Chinese and Japanese green tea throughout most of the spring and summer time as the temperature tended to climb immensely high. I also had a chance to taste and order some interesting kinds of heicha which I expect to come soon and they therefore might appear on my tea notes in the future, but none of these made me feel like telling you about it immediately after tasting them. 

The samples that made me change my mind arrived last week. What a nice surprise when you get back from fieldwork, exhausted and in a need of some fine thirst quenching ritual. Pu-erh.sk offered some very interesting 2012 cakes this summer (from BaDa, YouLe, ManNuo, and MengSong) and I am lucky to have a chance to give all four of them a try. I picked YouLe sample first, as I was in need of a bit of a bittersweet symphony this morning, after waking up at 5 AM unintentionally, forced to listen to a bunch of drunk tourists singing football anthems just beneath my window.

As most of you know (but I will write it anyway .), YouLe, 游乐,  is short for YouLeShan, which is one of the mountains in Xishuangbanna, also known as Six Famous Tea Mountains, that are a canonical growing area for puerh tea, according to babelcarp.org.

The sample of the cake I was tasting is made of the fresh 2012 spring crop. Immediately after opening the little package with 7g of leaf I could smell fresh apricots. Not dry ones, the most typical smell of mildly aged puerh, but very fresh one, almost like a mashed apricot smell, it is fresh and intense. If I did not know what YouLe is famous for, I would probably expect the tea to be really sweet in taste.  

Despite being warned by other tea-bloggers that it might be perhaps a bit "too much" for a single dose, I decided to use the whole 7g sample in my 100 ml teapot as my senses were telling me to do it. I do not regret. The first very fast steeping turned out to bring brisk yellow flowery broth, playful in both smell and taste, a little astringent on the first touch of the tongue, tuning into fresh and typical YouLe aftertaste. I wish I had words to describe the fresh qualities of this region but there is just one I can come up with: YouLe.

Early morning, tablet photo...
The second and third broth deserves some longer but still rather short steeping, unless you really enjoy paralyzing your senses in the morning. I actually enjoy the bittersweet characteristics very much but still appreciate the complex taste, 20 to 30 seconds were fair enough for me. I could clearly detect the cooling and somewhat acidic effect on my tongue. As far as I remember, it is often explained as one of the typical gushu characteristics, especially when the cake is really fresh like this one. The aftertaste is intense and long-lasting, turning into sweet and somewhat jasmine flowery tone.

...no wonder it does not look as good as I describe it.
To put it simply, this tea will wake up your senses, any time of the day. It is brisk and sharp but still delicate in tones of taste and smell. It is rather fresh, with a strong cha qi which made my head spin a little bit but it is definitely worth a try. I might be, again, interested in how these cakes will develop in a few months time.  

Enjoy the rest of summer,

-ER-


~ 2 comments: ~

discipleofthetealeaf says:
at: August 27, 2012 at 4:06 AM said...

It is nice to see you back. You were missed. I'll have to order some samples, at very least, of the pu-erh.sk 2012 teas based on your review of their YouLe.

esteban rivas says:
at: August 28, 2012 at 5:42 PM said...

Eric, thanks, nice to read from you! I definitely recommend all of the 2012 pu-erh.sk samples, I enjoyed all of them immensely. The only one I have not written about yet, MengSong, was perhaps the biggest surprise for me, very pleasant tea experience.

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Drink your tea
slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves.
Slowly, evenly,
without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend.
It pools where humans disdain to dwell,
Close to the Tao.

Live in a good place.
Keep your mind deep.
Treat others well.
Stand by your word.
Keep good order.
Do the right thing.
Work when it's time.

Only do not contend,
And you will not go wrong.

Tao Te Ching, 8 / transl. Addis & Lombardo