Vanilla Obscura Duoyi Shu Pu'er Mini Bing (多依熟小餅, Duō Yī Shú Xiǎo Bǐng, "Duo Yi Ripe Small Bing") - Looking for new Pu'er is a process in which we tend to focus on old trees or particular vintages based on some distinctive occurance, such as whether that year had a drought. The benefit thus of going to the mountain, even to places where we have established relationships, is that we have the opportunity to try things based on smell and recommendation which means the chance to find something that we did not know we were looking for. Vanilla Obscura happens to be one of these unexpectedly delicious and unique teas. We stumbled across this tea while working through tasting more than a dozen Shu Pu'ers that were scattered throughout our farmer, Li Shulin’s, warehouse. This Xiǎo Duī Zi 小堆子 ("Small Piles" - a fermentation process) tea is neither old, nor is it from ancient trees, nor from a drought year...It is however sourced entirely from a single patch: the Douyi Village patch at the summit of Nannuo mountain, peaking at around 1950 meters or around 6,400 feet. The Duoyi patch is regarded as having the sweetest tea on Nannuo Mountain. When made into Shu Pu'er, we noticed a distinctive, swaying buoyancy reminiscent of vanilla extract on the finish. The terroir or dì wèi 地味 ("Flavor of the Earth") of Duoyi village and the idiosyncrasies of its processing give this tea a distinctive flavor profile and fragrance.
This mini bing includes 100g of pressed tea. The base color of the wrapper is brown, indicating that it is a Shu Pu'er. The ring and bat are white, indicating that this tea is made from standard leaves.
Tasting notes are subjective, thank goodness. I find this tea to have a yeasty, non-American, slightly sweetened bread that is currently rising flavor profile. It is savory, earthy, and has a light sweetness that unfurls as you breathe out your nose, after taking a slurping sip. The mouthfeel can be voluminous, and almost satin-like, as it coats your tongue and throat. I adore this tea. It takes me to a time of calm and peace, before life had slapped me around a bit. I personally prefer to steep it at around 93 degrees Celsius, for a few seconds. I keep an eye on the color of the liquor as I pour into the Gaiwan. There is a darkness that unfolds from the tea immediately, and I usually stop filling when liquid starts to turn tan, around the center of that dark delight. I find that it helps keep the character of the tea aligned with my preference.