zaterdag 10 november 2012

Hojo's Anxi Rou Gui

First of all my apologies for this long delayed post. Last week I was on a trip to Berlin to meet up with some friends and after my trip I had to go straight to my college dorm again. After an 11 hour nap (really needed it) I woke up with a typical grey,cloudy autumn morning. Still a bit sleep drunk I slowly walked towards my tea closet and started searching what I was going to drink today. My eye fell on a sample I received from Hojo, a Anxi Rou Gui. Sounded very tasty and it looked quite roasted, exactly what I needed. My mom made me some nice table cloths so I did my best to make a nice cha xi - she brought 2 different plants for me as well.

When I was in Berlin, we went to visit a big flea market and while we were strolling around I saw this stand filled with handmade pottery. Well, my friends lost me there! I spend quite a while observing every pot and in the end I couldn't resist buying one. Don't you think it's pretty? It's a great addition to my cha xi, it is able to give it a total new dimension. For people who are interested, his website is:

Now back to the tea! I barely had any experience with Chinese oolong so I was quite clueless how to prepare this one. About 2 weeks ago I tried an Anxi TGY and I made the mistake of not using enough leafs. I'm used to Taiwanese oolong which has an high expansion rate unlike these Chinese oolongs who seem to be more single leafs - not saying this is for every Chinese oolong, just my experience so far. Again I made the same mistake today by not using enough leafs which resulted in a tasty but short tea session and a remaining of the sample barely enough to brew 2 steeps. This time I will learn from my stupidity!

The dry smell of this tea reminded me of sushi, mainly of the nori. I like nori but to smell it in a tea was quite strange for me because I had some experience with roasted teas that actually tasted like seaweed, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea. So I kept my fingers crossed while I gently slided the tea into my gaiwan. The seaweed smell disappeared completely and more spicy/woody tones appeared, lucky me! After the first brew I noticed how deeply roasted these leafs were.....should have used my new teapot! The colour of the 1st brew was transparant and beautiful like autumn. I like to describe autumn as the 'beautiful death of Spring'. As a human being death is something we do not appreciate at all but in nature death can have something soothing, almost comforting as it brings life to other things.

The first sips weren't special nor interesting. It lacked some body, had some roasted flavors which was about it. Luckely the story doesn't stop here. When this tea cooled down a little bit a new layer of tastes came out of nowhere. This time the brew had lots of caramel, sweet wood and maybe even some cinnamon - as the name suggests. Sometimes a flowery note dared to reveal itself but quickly ran away from all the brutal spicy notes. After 2 brews in my gaiwan I decided to transfer the leafs into my new Chao Zhou teapot. The tea lost a bit of its pungency and became much rounder. In the gaiwan the roast tended to be a bit aggresive towards the upper part of the mouth while now it was a lot smoother. Besides making the tea smoother it also give it a bit more elegance by providing more flowery notes.

It was quite the bummer when the tea session ended after barely 4 steeps. I think this tea had much to offer but because of my ignorance its potential was ruined. It was a nice cup of tea and while I'm fond of slightly roasted teas, the deeply roasted one are not capable of convincing me. Perhaps with some extra years they will get more complex? For now I will just stick to my Taiwanese oolongs. Ofcourse, when the chance presents itself I will not refuse a cup of Chinese oolong!

EDIT: I just did an extra very long steep till the water was cold. This resulted in a sweet, creamy and mocca like brew. Next time I must make sure to use enough leafs!
EDIT2: Because I was so disappointed in myself because I ruined this tea I did another brew but with much longer steeps. This time there are more woody/ctirus notes and cooled down it's just delightful, almost like a good cigar: sweet,woody,creamy and some cacao.

I hope you readers don't mind an extra picture!

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