Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Bruiser

Two teas from Bulang today.  Two toughs.  One young and the other a precocious teenager.  Both admirable and husky and just what I needed.  I overdid it.

I'm always awed by the distinctive bitterness of Bulang teas:  thick and centered in the back of the throat.  It somehow manages to punch without being harsh.  A bone crusher rather than a lacerator.  

I think Essence of Tea won in the Bulang department this year.  I never tried last year's offering, but the 2009 and 2010 cakes have been shelved in the hope that time will take their edges off.  In fact, these teas might be the only ones that survive the dry climate here.  We'll see.  The 2012 Bulang is excellent, still quite a brute, but drinkable now if one is careful about leaf/water proportions.  I went overboard with leaf today and could only finish 5 or 6 pots.  The bitterness lasts in the throat and mingles with a lingering sweetness.  This tea has stamina.

For comparison, I broke out the last of a sample of the Heng Li Chang Bulang bing and alternated cups.  I've never sipped an older and younger tea back to back like this and it was quite the contrast:  the crisp and fragrant hammering of the younger tea and the sweet, thick, rounded depths of the 1997 cake.  The quality of bitterness is very much the same in both while being diminished in potency in the older cake. 

I wouldn't drink tea like this often because I think the specific qualities of both teas got submerged in the combination.  But what the hell.  It impressed upon me just how wonderful it is to drink great, meaty, carefully aged sheng pu.  Truly a delight.  I wish I could drop the $180.00 for a full bing of the Heng Li Chang.  I'm sure that's reasonable for a tea of this caliber, I just don't have the spare change.  After today's session I went on the EoT site and tried to order 100 and then 60 and then 40 g more of the tea to no avail.  Maybe one can only order up to 20g in lieu of a full cake.  Maybe they're out of samples.  All I know is that, for good or ill, this tea has become a benchmark for me and I'm going to miss it.

Heng Li Chang Bulang
Essence of Tea 2012 Bulang

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