Spring rain, dappled sunlight on leaves, and fresh tea: these things come together in my cup, a gift from the hundred hands of the earth.
Last month I received an exciting gift! Nicholas from Misty Peaks tea sent me a small package of their 2016 spring harvest. Misty Peaks is a unique and fascinating tea company. Where most vendors on the Internet sell various lots chosen from among hundreds of farms, Misty Peaks source their tea entirely from one family in Yunnan Province (the birthplace of tea in Southwestern China) and thus are able to guarantee a quality and artisanship that is remarkable. I feel very privileged to be able to drink and write about this tea so soon after its harvest.
The dry leaves I received are beautiful: large, long, and wiry. The package didn’t give a name for this tea apart from the harvest time, but I’d call this a spring Mao Cha (“raw tea”; see my other post on the topic for more information).
I used approximately 5g of leaf in my Jianshui Sheng puer pot (140ml) to infuse this tea. Once warmed, the aroma is like warm strawberry jam, like you might put over shortcake in summer. I nearly ate my pot.
The liquor has the color of straw and gold. My first infusion, at about 30 seconds (with no rinse), has a flavor that is surprisingly light, but sweet and creamy with no bitterness at all. There’s a hint of peat in the aroma that makes me think of autumn leaves. The taste is very refreshing.
That first infusion was light enough that I revised my initial assumption of a young sheng puer that might make a bitter brew. So for the second and third, I bumped it up to about 45 seconds to see what it would do. The result was still light and sweet, with only a hint of astringency on the tongue. The fourth I pushed a bit with an infusion of about 1:20, and still it was mellow and satisfying, with only an increased astringent character and less sweetness to show for the “long” infusion. I enjoyed it so much I wished I had tried a longer infusion right off the bat!
After first misjudging the capacity of this tea, I felt that a second tasting was required. To that end I waited several weeks and brewed it again, this time with a freer hand and less care for the time!
Again with no rinse, this first infusion was about 1:20 and I was rewarded for my patience!
Now the color is a deep amber and the aroma is fragrant like spring flowers. Today is wet with glimpses of sun on the tree buds and perhaps as a result I feel like I taste the sweetness of spring rain. The first three infusions are soft and comforting. I love how the huge leaves just melt under the hot water as each infusion begins.
Continuing with this relaxed brewing, I made several more infusions at around two minutes and each one is like eating a sweet flower petal: gentle and a little bit musky. I made a total of four infusions with little change in this tea’s magic.
It’s a wonderful experience to have such a forgiving and smooth tea from so recent a harvest. I will be ordering a cake of this tea for my collection and paying closer attention to Misty Peak’s offerings in the future. But for now I’ll be paying attention to my cup, the sigh of the wind, and the warm glow of fading sunlight on the grass. May your Spring be as comforting.