Today I would like to continue a discussion of my tea tasting experience at The Chinese Tea Shop. I return with more to tell about my tea tasting with Daniel Lui. A few of the teas that I tasted this time were:
Wild Arbor Tree 1998 Sheng cha – the flavor was strong robust taste again with a hint of smokiness to it, and Ke Yu Xing Sheng cha 1990 has a sweet after taste, with a rich strong character. The leaves were arbor in color, with camphor under tones. Bing-Dao 2013 Puerh is very expensive – one of the most famous and sought after teas in China. It was very light in color, smooth, even relaxing. As the infusions increased, it became more bitter with each steeping. By the 3rd infusion, I found it to be quite bitter, yet not dry on the tongue; a little smokey. A scent of honey, and I could feel the energy of the tea passing through my body. You will notice the year of the tea was 2013 – this year; I was quite surprised that it was a very expensive tea and that it was even on the market as I was under the impression that all pu’erh teas had to age and become more expensive over time. Daniel made a point to inform me that quality is not always determined by age. As well, the price of the tea is determined more by quality and market trend (demand) than age.
Daniel finds that he can obtain tea at a better price from smaller farmers than from the larger ones. He did not explain why. I would assume the smaller, micro farmer who has a limited quantity of tea to sell from a particular tree would be more expensive, but this is not necessarily the case. One reason could be that because Daniel has a close relationship with most of these farmers, he can negotiate a better price than, say, if I met the farmer and had no relationship established over time, the price for me would be higher.
Even though I find the drinking of tea a communal experience and like to share a cup of tea with someone else, I could not help but feel that while sitting tasting tea with a group that my own tasting experience was being influenced – if not tainted – by the exchange that was taking place with the people in the group. For example, if I could not quite describe, or put my finger on the flavor, and someone made a suggestion based on their interpretation, it was then that my own description of the flavor I was experiencing influenced and/or changed by their suggestion.
Could it be that if one was tasting tea on their own- without any outside influence brought to the experience – would the tea, or how one came to describe its flavor and complexity be different than when one is in a group while a dialogue is taking place about the characteristics of the tea?
I would encourage the readers of this blog – and any experienced tea tasters – to share with me their insights into my observation. Has anyone else had a similar perspective or experience?
‘Til next time.
I think that is an accurate observation Terry. We can be influenced by the power of suggestion. I was surprised to hear that such a young Pu’erh was very expensive. I too thought the price increased with age. Obviously not always the case.
I do believe that having a personal relationship with a farmer would have an influence over the price of the tea. Knowing that you would be buying from him again would also influence the purchase price I would imagine. Large scale farms however, unless one was a major buyer, probably wouldn’t be as influenced by individual purchasers.
Terry, I’ve often read some of the tea description adjectives used in writing about tea or heard spoken tasting teas with others and been unable to fathom where they came up with that flavor note, or why they used that word. “Muscatel” is a favorite. I understand the reference but sometimes it seems to be used as a lazy descriptor just because it is so widely accepted.
A favorite way to do a tasting with others is to do it as a blind tasting. Not tell them anything about the tea first, let the flavor and aroma guide their reactions without any preconceived ideas. The responses seem more authentic, and sometimes quite surprising.
Hi Terry, thanks for your sharing. I think your information is quite useful for we tea fans. But it’s only about the physical stores. How about online shops? Do you have any experience?