The love and care this grower puts into every leaf she picks and hand finishes shows through brightly in each sip. From the deep camphor wood notes, to the assertive 茶气 (chaqi/tea energy) and the extraordinarily clean finish. How clean? Check out laboratory analysis below. Note a trace of anything you don't want in a tea. 5 years of temperature and humidity controlled aging have, however, pushed the camphor wood flavor and fragrance onto center stage and beautifully oxidized out the excess bitterness.
Shan is one of our all time favorite growers. She is from China's Aini ethnic group and makes some of the finest tea we have tasted. A mutual friend that owns an Aini ethnic group restaurant introduced us to her many years ago. She is fanatical about following her family's time honored methods. She upholds the strictest environmental controls we have ever witnessed. She won't allow motorized vehicles within 1 kilometer of her trees. That means she and her family members walk the tea all the way down the mountain to their hand finishing location. We suggested a small scooter to ease the burden, but she wouldn't even hear of it. Fertilizer is also banned. The only thing she will allow is hand turning the grass growing near the trees back into the soil. We helped them do this one autumn and found the soil quite hard and dry. Hard work indeed as they repeatedly commented our efforts were slow and clumsy.
The 2016 spring harvest is a fantastic deal for this 357g cake, as prices have gone up for each subsequent year's harvest and will likely continue that way.
Storage: Store unused portions away from sunlight and odors in a moderately humid area between 70-80F/21-27C.
Brewing water: Earth2O brand mineral water produces the finest results. See water recommendation list for additional options. Soft water, distilled water and hard water will ruin this tea. Tap water varies wildly and is best avoided as well.
Brewing method: 6g tea leaves (~2 heaping Tablespoons), 100ml (a bit less than 1/2 cup) water each time for 5 seconds in a Chinese gaiwan or a small pot. After the first 10 infusions, increase each infusion time by 5 seconds. To produce lighter tea, either decrease amount of tea, increase amount of water or decrease brewing time. To produce stronger tea, either increase amount of tea, decrease amount of water or increase brewing time. You can easily adjust to suit your individual taste.
Notes: Small quick infusions showcase the changing flavors of each cup. Longer brewing times in larger quantities of water (western brewing style) end up more homogeneous, but still very good results.