I began my day with Tai Ping Hou Kui from Seven Cups. The picking standard was slightly different this year, and the tea is even more delicious than I recall.
2012’s Taiping Houkui marks a change in style from years past. This year, two shoots of young leaves are pressed together into one hearty strip. This is a style of making Hou Kui that has appeared in just the last few years. The previous method yielded a pressed shard, 8.5 cm long, with one slightly opened bud and two or three leaves that were flattened and dried into a strip less than 1 cm wide. The new method yields a wider leaf (about 1.5cm) and presses together two sprigs of one bud and three leaves into a denser, wider strip. With this more robust strip, the tea is more durable, less prone to breakage, preserving whole leaves and thus preserving the lightness of their flavor as broken leaves will typically brew a stronger cup of tea.
The tea brews well at a higher temperature and longer times than I've used in the past, with better results than more gentle brewing. The only difficulty is that I want to use a smaller pot/gaiwan to brew the tea in a more concentrated fashion, but I'll need a tall thin pot to accommodate these leaves.