Friday, June 29, 2012

Tea Bag

I bought this sack of tea at the big market in Galanba outside of Jinghong in 2010.  

A jin of mystery tea
 I didn't have high hopes for it.  I was just desperate to buy some spring tea because we were in Xishuangbanna too early for the big spring harvest, which, that year, was seriously impacted by extreme drought conditions.  The tea was cheap though not as cheap as it should have been.  I don't know anything about it and, at the time, I thought it was just some kind of porch-dried green tea because that is what it smelled and tasted like (when I brewed it up back at the hotel).  The seller did say that the leaves were from old trees, for what that's worth.  

We saw a bit of drying tea here and there while on a 4 day walk along the Lancang.  I didn't know if it was sun-drying puerh maocha or what.

While we did run into a fair number of tea groves, we saw a lot more of this:

Rubber trees
Catchment bowl
The market at Galanba is an impressive and bustling affair.  The whole thing is covered by a roof that blocks out the sword-like rays of the tropical sun.

Anyway, back to the tea.  I carted the bag back with somehow minimal pulverization and tossed it on the shelf and forgot about it.  About a year ago, I opened it up and sniffed.  I was surprised to find that it smelled like sheng pu.  I don't remember the session I had with the tea then, but I opened the bag today to give it another try.

Still quite green

Though the dry leaves continue to be fragrant and reminiscent of young puerh, the tea soup tells a different story.  

The tea brews up a slightly cloudy yellow and is quite empty of flavor.  It's thin, too.  It does not resemble young puerh much at all, but instead tastes a bit like stale sencha.  There's some bitterness and a sweet finish.  

Looks like maocha
The wet leaves are fairly strong, but the stems are not super thick.  They are VERY green and there are a few hints of oxidation here and there.  They smell like wet sheng leaves.  

I don't know what it is.  Could be sheng pu that has been terribly stored (by me) or Da Ye leaves that were processed like lu cha.  Whatever it is, it's stale and is giving me a nice case of heartburn.  If anyone thinks they have an idea of what this mystery tea is, I'd be happy to know.  It's going back on the shelf.

I'm sure this dish sounds more compelling in the local (Lijiang) vernacular than it does in the English translation provided in the menu.  The English description conveys about how I feel after drinking the mystery tea. 

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