Biao Ge, “There are no tea experts.” Shantou, Guangdong Province, April 26, 2016 – new letter from Ms. Felix Giron. Read what did she do in Shantou and why there are no tea experts.
Biao Ge, “There are no tea experts.” Shantou, Guangdong Province, April 26, 2016
Wandering Art Tea adventures with the humans of tea continue.
Our plans for yesterday were fabulously hijacked by the chance to drink tea at the tea paradise of a Shantou gourmet and tea connoisseur who styles himself Biao Ge (Older Brother Biao). Biao Ge is a self-created businessman triumphed over lack of both educational opportunities and institutional support to create a number of successful businesses. Now just barely middle-aged Biao Ge has been able to turn over the daily running of those businesses to his employees and concentrate on his great loves: Chaoshan cuisine (the local regional style) and tea. Amongst his many other roles, Biao Ge is the Vice Chair of the Shantou chapter of the Chaoshan Cuisine Research Association. Now, after many years of drinking tea, climbing tea mountains, picking tea, processing tea, sharing tea and arguing with other tea lovers and so-called “experts” (more on that later), Biao Ge has finally decided to start producing his own tea brand.
Having just returned from Suzhou and its green tea, I next ask to try Biluochun, a green tea from the Jiangsu and Zhejiang area known for its spiral shapes and incredibly light flavor. The Biluochun that Biao Ge pulls from his tea-only refrigerator where it is stored at negative 10 C to keep its freshness is incredibly fine. The leaves are tiny grey green swirls and, perhaps because of its storage temperature, there is very little dry perfume. The liquor is an incredibly transparent, barely there greyish yellow and the taste is delicate, grassy, almost like fresh buds. Biao Ge uses 70C water for the first cup to help with the delicate unfolding of the leaves, their taste and perfume.
Riffing off of his mention of Sichuan as the home of tea cultivation, Biao Ge affirms that tea is both good to drink and good to think because everything about tea – including the Chinese character used to designate it which places a grass over a roof-like structure (cha 茶) – emphasizes that humans can have adventures within and impact upon the environment but cannot escape it.
The liquor is a very light orange-yellow and the flavor is smooth, light, lively. There is a flowery, dry and airy taste with a hint of wood, nut or bamboo. Unlike many other sheng puer that I have tasted there is no astringency which Biao Ge says has to do with both the quality of the tea and the age of the tree.
Biao Ge uses 5.5 grams of tea for this varietal. The dry leaf is dark, fine, slightly twisted and has a prevalence of yellow tips. The dry perfume is lovely and clear but not overpowering. As with many teas, especially danchongs, the wet perfume is often said to be better than its taste. The liquor is a much lighter yellow orange than is usual for Phoenix Mountain danchongs. The taste is soft, smooth and light with none of the brashness I usually associate with this type of tea and a long, just sweet enough tail. We continue to drink pour after pour and the taste remains consistent. Biao Ge says he will get about 20 pours out of it and plans to drink it tomorrow morning as well.