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August 2022
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2007 Menghai Feet of Crab

So this journal was going to be primarily knitting and spinning with some random adventures thrown in (ha). But I have four real passions in my life. 4 things that have been consistent loves of mine for years (most for all my life). 1) family 2) books/stories 3) tea 4) knitting/spinning/fiber stuff

The tea has always been a background thing. I don’t like to drink coke (soda or pop or soda pop for people not from the south) or alcohol (personal reasons, not religious or health). Then I discovered that something in coffee doesn’t sit with me all that well. Maybe the acidity, maybe I add too much sugar, I have no idea, but it can string me out. So my constant beverage of choice: tea.

Now I obviously like to ramble, but I’m getting to my point. I have been trying loose leaf tea recently (last few years or so). At first I brewed it just like you’d brew bagged tea. I got a nice hit in flavor that you don’t get with lipton or celestial seasonings, but after a while it all kinda tasted similar. I’d heard about yixing pots, but I was still a big ol’ mug kind of gal and those yixing pots are expensive for something so tiny. Then I saw some tea blogs. And learned about gaiwans. That opened a whole new world. Suddenly teas that I’d tried that had tasted terrible before using the big ol’ mug method were amazingly good. Smaller amounts of water, shorter infusion times, more infusions made a huge difference.

I now have two lil’ tiny yixing teapots and a gaiwan. I hardly using my tetsubin and I’m trying to figure out what to do about the big ol’ mug at work. But this brings me to my point. I tried my first pu-erh cake tea today. In the little yixing pot I also got today (after I did the boiling, toothpaste cleaning and boiling again thing). The first pu-erh I tried? 2007 Menghai Feet of Crab. Seriously. Feet of Crab.

And so I decided to take notes. I’ve been trying out the gong-fu method of brewing for a few weeks now with the gaiwan, but mostly on some crappy teas. With two exceptions (the best Tie Guan Yin I’ve had to date and some Dragonwell that Bear has now claimed that is also one of the best teas I’ve had to date).

So my notes. Water at a full boil. Tea when wet with no water half fills a 140 mL little teapot. This might mean I didn’t use enough tea, but this stuff was incredibly potent, so I’m actually pretty happy with it. I’m sitting here now sipping my 8th infusion with a 9th cooling on the table. Infusion times: 20s, 30s, 20s, 5s, 5s, 15s, 25s, 1:05, 1:30 (these times are amount of time I left the teapot sitting. Pour time for the little pot to the last drop is about 25s).

I’d read that this tea was very fishy and not very pleasant. I didn’t find it fishy really, but it did take a bit of getting used to.

1st infusion: very very light taste. Bit of saltiness. Yellow sunshine. After this infusion the color stayed a constant clear yellow orange.

2nd infusion: just about knocked me on my ass. Whole body flushed after each swallow. Could detect lighter notes if I forced myself to hold tea in my mouth, but had a very hard time with this. Very strong bitterness/astringency (my mouth would tingle and prickle). Strong aftertaste. Strong throatiness.

3rd: same as second. decided much shorter infusion times are needed.

4th: still had strong astringency, aftertaste, bitterness, and throatiness of the previous two infusions, but thinner. could finally taste hints of sweetness and tea felt smoother. still felt a flush through my whole body but it was warming instead of heart racing.

5th: very very similar to 4th, but could start to taste the water

6th: noticeable drop in everything but the aftertaste and sweetness. stronger water taste.

7th: nearly indistinguishable from 6th

last two: tea dropped off. mostly sweet astringent water.

So I finished the tea while I was typing up these notes. A good 30 minutes later and my mouth still has a dry feel, and there’s a thickness at the back of my throat. There’s also a smooth and sharp aftertaste that’s pleasant and yet odd.

Those 2nd and 3rd infusions? Every sip caused me to go “Wooo” and pant while my body would flush. The tea was so bitter and astringent that I half wanted to throw it out, but at the same time it was so compelling that I kept taking a sip and “wooo”ing and panting and flushing.