The life of uncivilised man is "nasty, brutish, and short" according to (Thomas) Hobbes. This famous quote from Leviathan sprang to mind as I entered into man-versus-leaf combat with this Dehong-area bing.
Of unknown factory, this is an intriguingly brutal cake supplied by the generous auspices of Tea Logic's VL.
"Scottish Mountain" @ 100C in 12cl shengpu pot; ~7-8g leaf; 1 rinse
Very high compression and highly chopped, dark leaves make this cake look very old-fashioned. I give up my usual technique of trying to separate the leaves, and just drop a few chunks into the pot with a loud "thunk". It's like brewing dice.
3s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 10s:
The first few infusions are predictably quite quiet, given that we are merely passing water over the outside of a few chunks of very densely-compacted tea. What flavours are apparent are surprisingly pleasant: rich, deep mushroom, and a similarly surprising smoothness that coats the mouth.
So as the leaves separate from their chunks, whence commeth the almighty agony.
VL noted when he provided the tea that "the Dehong is quite strong, so be careful". As the first infusions passed, I thought, "Ha! Vlad is getting soft in his old age!"
After the fifth infusion, through watering eyes, I could almost hear his quiet laughter in the distance.
The brutality in this tea is not at all in its ku: it isn't like a (new) Banzhang, where the power is in the bitterness. Here, the agony is from sheer, unadulterated caffeine. Five infusions of this monster and I felt as if I had been downing doppio espresso all morning. It's the first time that I have ever had to stop drinking just because of caffeine, considering myself fairly well-accustomed to it by now. This is the tea equivalent of a faal curry.
Apparently, VL's father drinks this for fun. Consequently, I now harbour a quiet respect for this unseen (presumably rock-hard) patriarch.
Tiny little chopped, dark fragments. Inscrutable.
This tea didn't just pummel me into submission - after the pummeling, it tied me to the back of its chariot and dragged me several circuits around the walls of Troy.
I'm drinking it in my office, as I write this, and my head is reeling in Dehong-induced agony. Never have I been so able to believe the claim to "yesheng" [wild]. Overwhelming.