23 February, 2015

Greatest Hits

You might remember the 2005 "Daxueshan" from Shuangjiang Mengku.  I liked it, back when it was $30.  You just cannot (cannot!) argue with prices like that.  I recall that Apache and I didn't argue with prices like that, when we got our collective purchase on.

These days, Dubs is selling it for $70.  You might like to give it a try - that price is looking very nice, for the sheer density of trouser that is on offer here.

Now, in 2014, it is sweet and honey-like.  (I'm talking about the Dubs version here, by the way, not my own English-storage version.)  I love the storage characteristics of this cake, where it is both sharp and mouth-watering, in a fine manner.  It is pungent, long-lasting, and I love it.  I don't think it's possible to have too much of this cake - it'll always go down well.

"Greatest Hits" indeed, and not one to pass by.  What was straightforward power back in the day has mellowed into a depth and complexity that far exceeds the asking price.

I had to Google the name of this cake: the 2014 "Apple Scruffs", also from Dubs.

It turns out that this is the name of an album (of course), from George Harrison, which refers to the post-Beatles groupies who pretty much stalked the ex-members of the group.  I haven't heard the George Harrison album, but feel as if I have a good idea of its qualities, based on the other albums that have been turned into cakes by twodog of Dubs.

The picture below might give you some idea as to the time of year that I sunk this sample.

This is an autumnal cake.  I am aware that I usually employ that phrase in the same way that one might say "he's got a nice personality", but, in this case, it all seems to work.  The maocha comes from the Xigui area of Lincang.  I am loving the Lincang, longtime, as I seem to say fairly regularly.

This cake had everything going in its favour: at the time of drinking, I had just finished the week-long admissions exercise, in which almost all members of faculty have to set aside their work and interview prospective candidates for our undergraduate degrees.  It's a huge undertaking, and gets lots of (well-deserved) scrutiny from the press, to ensure that we're doing our jobs and not simply admitting our friends / donors / etc.  After that week, there is a few sweet days before Christmas lands.  Apple Scruffs arrived in that perfect hour, after hard work and before the holidays.

As with many good Lincang cakes, we have yellow-orange (autumnal coloured?) tea which is both fresh and very fruity.  It is very decent quality, although my diary notes that "this is very good, but I have several like it".  If you're looking for solid drink-it-now Lincang, Apple Scruff is $45/200g and looking decidedly reliable.

The Gentlest Sound

the gentlest sound
drenched by an April shower
of apple blossom

16 February, 2015

Keep Your Friends Close

One of my favourite things about teapeople, which probably involves you, Gentle Reader, is that they are, without exception, "dudes".  

I don't mean that in the American sense that teapeople have XY chromosomes and a collection of dangling, sensitive organs that nature has chosen to place on the outside of the torso; rather, I mean it in the American sense that teapeople are cool like the Fonz.  If your average teaperson were a character in Top Gun, they would be Iceman.  If they were a Bond film, they would be Casino Royale (2006, not 1967).  If they were a Transformer, they would be Soundwave.  If they were an East-Coast gangster rapper, they would probably be Raekwon the Chef, or perhaps Ghostface Killer.  There can be no doubt that if they were a character in the Star Wars universe, then they would obviously be Boba Fett.

I'm saying that teapeople is Good People.

This is an impression that returns to mind when my bulging letterbox spews forth generous teagifts from the four corners of the globe, although mostly from that corner that includes south-east Asia.

The first of two such gifts is from William of Bannacha, he of ninjitsu and bushido fame.  We may recall that he is romantically linked to certain individuals from Jingmaishan, which gives him ample opportunities to cruise the proverbial tea-curbs of Yunnan, looking for the proverbial hot (tea-related) action.

On receiving the above post-card from W of B, my youngest son (now two years old) pointed and said "Mama!"  I consoled my dear wife with the fact that Xiaolong had, at least, pointed at the youngest of the three ladies on the postcard, pictured above.  I have never seen my dear wife in colourful Yunnan gear, but it's a good look.  I can imagine that going down really well on the streets of our tiny little English city.

Along with the postcard, W of B had slipped me a length of "2014 Xiaohusai Yikeshu".  It took some serious Googling to unpack the name of this tea: "xiaohusai" is, it seems, in the Xibanshan region of Mengku.  (Booyeah! methinks, for I delight most heartily in Mengku teas.)  Further Googlation reveals that "yikeshu" means "single tree".  I consider myself edumacated after so much a'Googlin.

W of B notes that this is one of his "red" teas, but, even then, it is really good.  I kick back and try to avoid my MONOLITHIC OVERBEARING ALLCONSUMING prejudice concerning red pu'ercha, and instead get down to enjoying it.  It is fresh, crisp, and very clean - for some reason, I seem to enjoy its delicacy and sweetness.  "I am reminded of selections from Essence of Tea", my diary has, which is surely a compliment, given the precision targetting of your average EoT ordnance.  

I slam the entire sample into the pot, because, hey, red tea is pretty much impossible to overbrew.  The result is as big and as fat as your proverbial mother.  It's very good - and I begin to suspect that those trademarked Mengku lovebites are making their mark on my affections.

As if my magic, a laser-guided payload of EoT 2014 "Longlanxu" then arrives on target.

The eldest of my two sons, Xiaohu, seems to have developed a genuine capacity to enjoy (i) his father's pu'ercha, and (ii) his father's real ale by the tiny sip.  I am stunned, because I can explicitly recall despising both tea and beer until I was at least a teenager, and then some.  Happily stunned, it must be said, because I get to live the dream and kick back at the teatable with my big boy.  I laugh as I write this, because I clearly remember being very interested in his opinion of the teas that come past our teatable - he is my independent validation set.

Additional bonus points are scored when Peter Rabbit and his other friends also join us (pictured below).

Even more amusingly, Xiaolong seems to want to join us, these days.  I am training a team of hardcore drinkers, it must be said.  Do I get to buy them tea for their birthdays?  (Currently, it's Octonauts and Lego all the way.)

What did Xiaohu think of the 2014 Longlanxu?  I think he dug it.

It is husky and sweet, and EoT tells us that this cake comes from the Bangweishan zone of Lancang County in Simao.  If there's anything I like as much as Mengku / Lincang tea, it's Simao tea.  They are seriously A1 remarkable about their mixture out there.

Tangy, punchy, eternal on the breath - it has the noticeably tannic sandpaperiness of good grapes for a good white wine.  I am baffled how Xiaohu seems to enjoy his (tiny sips of) this tea, but he's sipping happily. 

The uncanny part is that he has a slightly distant gaze as if he's actually tasting it.  Amazing.

Many teas are made weak by time and fate, and by agrochemicals - but not this one.  At £48, this is very good, and I seem to remember that it was the clear winner (by a long shot) when I tried the 2014 EoTs in their maocha form.  I  like it, and more importantly, Xiaohu likes it.

Breakfast Finished

breakfast finished
it seems that my pockets are
filled with lego