- Jeff Fuchs
A Tea Comes Around
The joy of a bit of time-hit leaf beauty. Age hasn’t always been something I’ve ever been convinced matters in any tea. Age of bushes, of trees, or even of the producer maybe, but age of the cake or how many (apparent) decades a Puerh has been ‘aging’ hasn’t mattered. The sometimes incessant rambling on about certain harvests from eons past or the apparent worth of a particular label has sounded somewhat like a method of adding value to an offering that needs value added.
Uncertain storage, vacillating humidity levels, uncertain origin, ambiguous raw materials all seem at times to need the addition of ‘age' to make it worth some of the utterly nutty price points. Exceptions are the wonderful counterbalance to all. Add to this the whole realm of subjective perception, palate preferences, and water quality, and one gets a whole realm of possibles.
A forgotten clay urn of stock of Summer 2010 tea from old Ban Po village on Nannuo Village was recently re-investigated after years of adjectives like “ferocious after taste”, “too much” and “reckless” being used when I did tastings.
Dry stored with plenty of air allowed to circulate, it never seemed to ‘ease’ off. A loose leaf purchased and made by an old friend’s family it was a 2kg buy of tea that I saw plucked, withered, fried, and dried in front of me. It was a brutal in any tea session since and in hindsight it wasn’t a carefully or well produced batch, but it was superb raw materials. Well, the “reckless” one has come of age gently in a sympathetic pot and all of those images and smells are suddenly back and clear with the taking of this tea.
A little session recently with those leaves having come around and softened slightly set off memories of the maker, the roar of cicadas in the forests, his home, and his tea frying pans. They all came closer in the mind as the tea suddenly appealed. The leaves have eased off and the edges have become deep mineral wells that hit the palate like a tonic and their journey continues.