Late Spring 2009 TeaTrekker Tung Ting “Ice Jade”
A few weekends ago, I was fortunate enough to take a brief weekend excursion to Northampton, Massachusetts, home of TeaTrekker, the shop of renowned tea authors Mary Lou and Robert Heiss. Their tome, “The Story of Tea“, was my first source of authoritative knowledge on the diverse world of teas and was the spark that lit my flame of passion for seeking out quality tea.
The book speaks somewhat illustriously of their shop, so I considered a visit an absolute must. I managed to build myself up quite a bit, so I was a touch disappointed when I found a rather small, poorly attended, awkwardly staffed gourmet food store that, regardless, offered an above-average selection of teas and teawares. Seeking mostly pu’er and an odd oolong or two, I purchased one sheng cake (which will certainly be featured down the road) and this tea, as I’ve had few exemplary Tung Tings or high-elevation oolongs.
The tea had a strong, clean and fresh aroma both dry and rinsed. Floral, but not overly heavy on the lilac-character. It opened relatively slowly with repeated quick steeps and released a nice, if painstakingly subtle flavor and texture. At a year old, the bouquet of floral qualities had already faded a good bit, but the tea had matured, married, and become refined and ethereal. Extremely delicate, subtle and never overly strong in any particular flavor element. I’m not sure my mind had been quieted enough to fully appreciate this tea, so I look forward to revisiting it in a more conscious state.
Most remarkable were this tea’s clarity and texture. The soup spilled out of the gaiwan and into the gongdaobei as an electrically crystal clear liquid, vibrant and beaming, which made for a visually impressive session. In terms of texture, the tea had a strong cooling quality, with a crisp drying sensation and an overall lifting of the palate. Very enjoyable. Despite these qualities, the tea did little for me in terms of qi or energy. Finally, and it’s not obvious in any of the photos I posted, this tea was impressively stemmy, with lengths reaching about three inches on many leaves.