; Cwyn's Death By Tea: $1000 Wedding ;

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

$1000 Wedding

Disclaimer: I do not, repeat do not, go through life looking to reference Gram Parsons songs. Not on purpose anyway. In fact, I look to avoid any songs with potential to infiltrate my head aside from deliberately self-flagellatory tunes like the Kyrie from Bruckner's Mass in E minor No. 2 (all four parts plus horn "the saints who sung out loud"). But here I am, twice in one year, dredging (not channeling) Gram Parsons as I did in The New Soft Shou. This time, the $1000 Wedding comes up, and not too untimely since Rolling Stone magazine named it #40 top country songs of all time in July 2014. Not untimely either because my retired bipolar country western singer roommate continues to live out this lyrical material, "he took some friends out drinking and it's lucky they survived" in -20C weather sleeping at the Kwik Trip truck stop where he is now in a prelude to becoming famous. And also timely because White2Tea starts selling a $1000 1998 CNNP 7542 Qingbing (Liming). Did you just swallow all this? Actually the teacake is $1100, to be completely correct. And I've had the opportunity to sample this twice and been told not to write about it. Well, this ain't cheap shit.

1998 CNNP 7542 Qingbing Liming by white2tea
People have debated the meaning of the $1000 Wedding song written by Gram in 1974, but the most oft-told story is that Gram proposed to marry his girlfriend Barbara, or Gretchen or some such, and she went and picked out a $1000 wedding dress which is more like $10,000 by today's standards. Gram backed out of the wedding and she never picked up the dress. Or maybe she did pick up the dress and like an albatross it sat around the house and Gram looked at it and wrote the song. I have a dishtowel with a picture of Gram's face on it. The 1998 CNNP Qingbing is sold by the Gram unless you want to spring for the entire wedding dress.

Actual dishtowel.
Yes this is all crazier than usual. "(S)he felt so bad when (s)he saw the traces of old lies still on their faces," we see many cakes online and attempts by vendors to convince us that every single one of them is excellent, so how will we ever know? How will we know unless a tea drunk says something? I didn't buy an entire cake myself. But somebody has to write about this shit and I'm almost dead anyway so might as well be me. I'm hoping that people do Get Gram for no better reason than to add to the conversation. If you're putting in an order with White2Tea, consider adding on an extra $15 or so to get 5 Grams of this Qingbing so you can at least try it. So I don't have be talking to myself with nothing else to do. I think $15 is a low enough price for the conversation.

Actual tea.
Supposedly this teacake is big right now in buying circles in China, mainly because it is CNNP and 7542 and dry stored. Dry stored as in Hong Kong definition, a very slight humidity which I consider "well integrated" in that the musty blends with whatever smokiness and woody or leather fragrance in the tea. I can smell it because I'm the Daughter of the Woman Who Vacuumed Sealed clothing against mildew. But I wonder about the cultural capital this tea represents, if the cultural value plays a big part in the price factor going on in China over this tea.

10 gram sample shown here, a promising brown.
I measured out 5 grams from the 10 g sample in my 60 ml Yixing. You can see the first steep here (3 rinses) is very clear. Most of the 7542 recipes I've tried are still fairly punchy even at 20 years old, but this one doesn't have that kick in the teeth green bitterness but maybe this isn't all Menghai material. I'm choosing to use Yixing because I brewed the first sample of this tea in a gaiwan and so now I want to use a pot that I would normally use with a tea of some age and value. Besides, I have at least 3 pots of tea leaves sitting around the house most of the time, a downside to buying good tea is how long it takes to steep it out. We're talking days. A 30+ steeper sheng is gonna sit and I hate to do that to such expensive leaves.

First steep following 3 rinses.
What I notice about this tea is the spicy start, the pepper and almost cinnamon along with the wood and leather. Must be my medication, all teas seem to taste minerally to me lately. Second steep is a bit thicker and red in the cup. I wonder how this 1998 has got so far along with the aging without being soaked to death in humidity. Not sure how they got a 7542 aged this quickly really. I've had early 1990s 7542 that tasted years younger than this, that had years to go and still green left in it. The cup is getting thicker after the first couple of steeps, always a good sign. Huigan is pretty much a non starter after the brownie I just ate. Yes, I just ate a 65 cent pan brownie along with $1000 tea but Dear Son is at fault for walking by me and sticking the plate under my nose. I increase steep time after the 4th steep when I took this photo.

Second steeping.
Sorry to disappoint the readers looking for an Objective review. Are you of the belief that if you taste one of those "fantastic" older puerhs of excellent storage that you'll never go back to anything else? Can anyone really come up with such an Objective opinion with any certainty? If so, I hope you trot off and go read what that person has to say. In my Relativist universe of tea, a few facts are in play.

1. I am a Tea Drunk.

This means that I can take the alcoholic equivalent of gin with a splash of Listerine and say Hey, it's all Good and You Too, baby.

2. I don't believe that outside of China I can get any of the fantastic teas that will make me never go back to anything else.

This is because I don't live in China, or Malaysia, and yes I lied about dating the Taiwanese Businessman. Sorry, I apologize to the readers who emailed me thinking I was serious and looking to hook me up on a date with a Taiwanese Businessman. I'm still deleting spam on a daily basis from people posting on my blog about Green Supplements.

3. I'm an Old Lady who farts and takes fish pills.

Listen. You wouldn't want to be in an elevator with me. Is this the sort of person you rely on for tea advice?
Third steep plus leaves.
Somebody had to write about this tea, my writing is flawed but all I have to give. This tea tastes pretty good. I think it is worth it, for the sake of trying something we normally don't get, to add 5 Grams of it to your White2Tea order and spend the $15 to at least be able to talk about the cultural capital behind the tea, is it the same as buying a commemorative 1998 Packers Coca Cola bottle? Let's find out.

Finally, I think tea vendors need to add a Bridal Registry to their websites. The Coffee People have them, why not us? People spring for $1000 cappuccino machines as wedding gifts every single day. Give some happy Tea Drunk the $1000 Wedding of his 357 Gram Dreams. She wants Petr Nowak more than you know, and instead she gets Corningware, dear jesus, five steeps and I think I'm tea drunk now, god I love tea. "Supposed to be a funeral, it's been a bad, bad day."

Requiescat in Pace.


  1. I had a sample of this one, too. I may have been doing it wrong, as I didn't get that much durability out of it, but I found it to be not that durable, or that terribly remarkable; the qi was there, but nothing to write home about, and I didn't notice much with the mouthfeel or huigan. That said, in retrospect, the wood taste was much sharper than that present in most of the dry-stored teas I've had, so it did have that going for it. It's possible I'm not that big a fan of dry-stored tea, as well.

    That being said, I ended up being pretty distracted while drinking this, due to unanticipated circumstances, so the "doing it wrong" disclaimer above may very well apply.

    1. I think most of us are people who will sample aged teas before buying a whole cake. As I wrote, I suspect the cultural capital this tea has because of the recipe, date and factory (Liming early production) is a large part of the value. It is like having a first edition Tom Sawyer in your antique book collection. People buy it to have it. That said, we can buy it by the gram which is a good opportunity to try a benchmark tea to say you done it.

  2. I agree with your assessment. It's a very solid tea and an important reference point for dry-stored sheng.

    I would guess the session length probably depends on how it was brewed exactly. Cwyn may've had an extended session because of her relatively high leaf to water. I think I ended up somewhere around 20-25 steeps.