; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Sheng Olympiad ;

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sheng Olympiad

2016 WMD Mansa "Ancient Leaf"from Bitterleaf Teas
Tenmoku cup by teaware.house
I love watching international competitions for the very reason that moments of brilliance belong to anyone, from any country. But the US television network holding the monopoly on the Olympics seems to think we’re only interested in events where Americans win, and only the winning moment. We don’t get to see an entire event from start to finish most of the time. We also don’t get to see brilliant individual performances because the cameras are on mediocre USA contenders rather than on the winners worth seeing. And my favorite events are often completely left out of coverage. Actually I love all the Olympic events and this is especially true with the winter Olympics, but at least with summer sports I can avoid the complete meltdown I have when our television network cuts out Curling, a sport I really was destined to earn an Olympic medal, except I never got the chance to try my hand at the sport.

Olympics in Rio! What can top the thrill of excellence, the misery of US advertisements interrupting every single event, and the sheer impossibility of watching any event online? All of these describe perfectly my attempt to watch the women’s Fencing Individual Epee yesterday, which of course isn’t on television. Online, the so-called “stream” loses entire thirds of duels to ads, and cuts whole half hours into nothing but a dead air “coverage will return shortly” screen. After which the duel is long over.

Oh and where is Table Tennis, or Dressage, Air Rifle and Archery? A whole five minutes of coverage on television, and forget trying to watch online when the same three television commercials interrupt most of a competition. Do I really need to see a repeat of American basketball players stuffing fifteen baskets in a row? I know that most nations hate the USA in sports or most anything else, but I wonder if the world knows how much tedium and mediocrity most of us are forced to endure by our monetized and monopolized media coverage. The one full length table tennis match I got to watch had one commentator of two without a working microphone, leaving the remaining commentator asking questions in dead air, and nobody bothered to fix it.

Finally I can’t handle hearing any more Katy Perry knock-off jingles, and I give up trying to watch any of my favorite events online in favor of a sheng Olympics of my own. Our friend LiquidProust started the Sheng Olympics on Steepster this winter, a massive group buy and tea reviewing exercise that we are all looking forward to watching again this coming January 2017.

I start out my own summer Sheng Olympics at home with Bitterleaf’s 2016 WMD Mansa. This is a loose leaf sheng maocha offered for $88/100g online, and I got a sample of it with the Bittertits Yiwu cake I bought earlier this year. I have no idea what WMD stands for. 

Gaiwan in "dirty porcelain" by Belgian potter Inge Nielsen, Etsy
Bitterleaf Teas describes this as “ancient” (of course) and Qing Dynasty-old trees. Yeah…well the leaf itself is beautiful with…very long stems. This tea might play basketball in the regular Olympics, or maybe beach volleyball. I decided to drink this sample up while watching the opening ceremony in Rio, and punish myself by using up the entire sample. Go heavy or go home.

Second steep, one rinse only.
My gaiwan delivers full punishment with a heavy bitter brew, but the scent and flavor of orchids is a nice surprise. This tea apparently grows in a forest somewhere in the Yiwu region. Decent thickness, long kuwei and full flavor mouth feel. I don’t detect much of a deeper profile  in this, but I might not have paid sufficient attention to the lower register because I found myself staring at the Mylar sheets in the  Olympic opening ceremonies and suddenly I could not move. I am tea stoned out of my gourd after the 300 ml or so I gulped rather quickly. My tongue is numbed, my entire face is numb, and my body is a thing floating at the end of the bed completely disconnected from my head. I’m sweating more than the male gymnasts. High bar? Hey, I can do that, no problem. Balance beam is just me showing off. And I’m totally a diver, which means pool and volleyball too. No one can touch me on a bicycle off road or on.

Yes, this WMD Mansa stoner tea is in the “Mortgage? What mortgage?” category, because at $440/tong you’ll need a home equity loan to afford this one, although 500g for a tong rings up at about the cost of white2tea’s 357g Last Thoughts. Bitterleaf Teas hopes this tea is a good cake to age out into “gold,” but I doubt anyone springing for 100g of this will keep it long enough to find out. After all, a 100g cake is only fourteen sessions or so.

I need to transfer the tea to a larger gaiwan after expanding.
But these leaves and stems are huge, I have an entire tea tree in my gaiwan. Fifteen steeps and nowhere near ready to quit, this tea is a mega-steeper marathon. Not easy to finish all this, two cups and I’m in the zone. I hear that Bitterleaf Teas has only a few of these cakes to go around, so act fast if you want to grab the “gold.” What is the price for your personal delusions of fabulous? 


  1. Sounds good, but a hefty price for a new tea. I liked the fall bingdao also. And the monkey yiwu was good, classic yiwu profile for a good price. Thanks for introducing this vendor with your other review. Also has a few nice teawear pieces and prices a quite good.

    1. For some reason, I missed getting BitterLeaf's "new teaware" email for today. Found out after everyone on my Teachat bought it all up. Not my day today.

  2. with the big radioactive sign on the wrapper i guess WMD means weapon of mass destruction

  3. The tea is now ''declassified''.

    1. And possibly sold out. I've heard more on the way though, this one is apparently shaded trees, a sunny more bitter tree is the next batch.