Saturday, July 31, 2010

Purple Tip Pu'erh, Bana Tea Company

Purple Tip Pu'erh, purchased from Bana Tea Company
2008 vintage from early spring harvest
Raw pu'erh, Grade 1
Production area: Lincang, Yunnan Province

Another superb tea from Bana Tea Company, this Purple Tip pu'erh doesn't disappoint. The write-up from Bana's website reads:

"A rare botanical specimen, purple tips can be found only in 20 percent of the wild tea trees. The leaves of this Purple Tip cake were plucked from trees over 500 years old. Made with a bud and two leaves, this tea has a deep malty flavor with a strong lingering aftertaste that is comforting, yet invigorating. Although this is a young cake, it possesses the character and the “qi” of an older cake."

The dried leaves clearly show their high grade. Long full leaves, carefully twisted and folded from the compression of the cake. Upon wetting the aroma of the leaves is just as beautiful as their appearance. Truly one of the most beautifully fragrant pu'erhs I've ever had. I'm a bit at a loss for words to describe it except for the word "perfumed". As I prepared one infusion after another the aroma was ever-changing but always pleasant. Balanced with florals and fruits, malt and mint, every time I picked up the gaiwan to appreciate the fragrance it rewarded me with something new each time, but always predominant with a beautifully pleasing perfume.

The liquor smelled just as wonderful as the leaves and showed the color of golden flax. The initial mouth-feel was silky and full but not so full to be described as thick. There was a delicate dryness to the taste. Very nice. A long and lingering aftertaste that was warm and cooling spread down into the throat and chest. The flavors were delicate and subtle and hard to pin down to any one dominant flavor, but overall very satisfying. I wouldn't describe it as "fruity" or "floral" or "malty", but like the fragrance of the leaves the flavor proved to be complex and ever-changing and ultimately pleasing.

This tea also possesses an interesting qi that I would describe as gentle and quieting and yet invigorating at the same time. In fact, the invigorating aspect of the qi gave a sort of quickening to my heart center as though I were feeling anxious. But it was purely a physical sensation and did not affect the mental sensation of quietness and calm that I got from this tea. A strange paradox, but there it was.

After the leaves had been wetted many times I went sifting through to see what was there. I found plenty of full whole leaves and even many intact "one bud with two leaves". The taste of the wet leaves (I ate a few) still had a lot of that fresh green tea flavor. I lost count of how many infusions I made with this tea. It must have been nearly ten, but the flavor and fragrance were still going strong and never diminished, still showing much complexity and offering much pleasure. I'm so glad I purchased a cake of this pu'erh. A great addition to my collection.