Ah, to kick back with a relaxing cup of tea. I've been way too busy lately with planning and executing my CD release. Now the event is over and it's a perfect opportunity to pause reflect over a few cups of tea. Today I'm drinking 1996 Menghai 8582.
This is an interesting tea in my collection; I own a few cakes but it's not really to the point where I really enjoy every session. Compared with some of its mid/late 90's contemporaries it's not the most mature tea--the mouthfeel is fairly rough and the longevity isn't particularly impressive. Occasionally, though, it'll show flashes of the light, silky sweetness that I've tasted in much older versions of the same recipe. It's certainly aging, but it needs to mellow out quite a bit. This is the kind of mid-aged pu-erh that I'll check in on every several months and by the end of the session I usually decide that I should wait longer before trying it again. Still, it's been months since I last drank it and I haven't really drank much aged pu-erh lately.
Whilst in Portland picking up my finished CDs I also managed to make a couple of purchases. The first is the nicest acoustic guitar I've yet owned--a Larrivée D-03R--and the second is the antique Japanese porcelain cup pictured right, which I found at Shogun's Gallery on NW 23rd. I've been disrespectfully sullying the cup with Chinese tea for the better part of the last week! I've been on the lookout for a decent blue and white old porcelain cup for a while and this one fits the bill--its pale blue swooping bird is pretty cool and I enjoy the irregularity of the foot, which means that the cup is permanently cocked at a slight angle. Shogun's Gallery was fun--they have quite a selection of tetsubin in the $200-$350 range. Although I was informed that most of their customers buy them as decorations, there were a few with visible mineral patinas that I would be excited to take a chance and brew some water in. I was quietly appalled to see an old tetsubin on the proprietors' desk repurposed as a pen-and-scissor holder. Gasp! Hopefully there was a good reason. I rarely get to go to nice teaware stores, so my "don't buy something" threshold is quite low. Luckily I got off pretty easy with the teacup. The new guitar means I won't exactly be splurging on any tongs of pu-erh or old pots any time soon, but a guitar that begs to be played is worth several times its weight in gold.
Seattle's summer came and went over the course of about 3 weeks. It's now drizzling interminably....it's warm enough to open the windows, though, so at least my pu-erh cakes are going to enjoy the weather.