04 October, 2008

Wuyi Yancha Bing

The shadow of impending Michaelmas term looms over everything, like the big flying saucers lurking over the White House in Independence Day. In true Gothic fashion, a storm batters the windows. These are dark days.

In celebration* following a recent interview for a teaching position, I return to a novel treat kindly provided by AL: a yancha bing.

*It seems that when a man reaches a certain age, he feels no jubilation at good news, merely relief.


Seven Tea Moons


AL, creator of the delightful Seven Tea Moons (one shown above) has kindly provided a good-sized sample of a perfectly circular bing. As pictured below, the sample comes from the edge of the cake, which appears to have uniform thickness and a crisp circular circumference - this bing could teach Xiaguan a thing or two about compression!

The leaves have a macabre Gieger-esque slickness about them, fitting the Gothic mood rather well. The sample looks like part of a hideous relic recovered from an alien world or a Lovecraftian fantasy.


Wuyi Yancha Bing


Happily, the brew doesn't taste extra-terrestrial. In fact, it's a rather rich raisin-like affair. Very clean and smooth, it is a welcome tonic to the End of Days which appears to be taking place outside the window.


Wuyi Yancha Bing


I don't encounter a great deal of yancha, though not by design. This was a welcome foray into a part of the teasphere that I don't habitually visit - thanks again, AL.

If the eldritch horrors from unimagineable aeons past drink teas like this, I could learn to Cthulhu fhtagn with the best of them.


University Parks

12 comments:

San Xi Tang said...

Hi Hobbes

am I understanding correctly that the one you mention is a oolong bing? If so, any further details about it?

GV

Hobbes said...

Dear GV,

Ready for term up there? :)

This is indeed a bing formed entirely from yancha leaves. It's yancha compressed into a cake, basically. I imagine this is just for novelty value, rather than anything to do with maturing. I know very little about the actual tea itself, but it's just an everyday quality. I don't think they use their finest yancha for making novelty bing. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

San Xi Tang said...

Hi Hobbes

we are already up and running this term... I bet that the wuyi tea used would not be of the highest quality! Nevertheless it would be interesting to see (and taste) whether there may be any improvements or changes because of the pressing...

GV

Hobbes said...

I imagine that being hyper-compressed might make it difficult to re-roast this tea, which some folk like to do with their wulong periodically, of course. I suspect that it's really just pressed in order to get that bas-relief image of the tea-horse, or the pagoda, or whichever look the producer wishes to display on their tea. :)

I usually give such teas a wide berth. Certainly, they're the ones that seem to fill the majority of the windows in the touristy tea-shops.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

P.s. We're moving soon (two weeks), having taken the plunge into the somewhat extortionate Oxford housing market. Maybe when we meet up for a tea-session, it'll be in our new place. :)

tieguanyin said...

Interesting post! The piece of bing looks a bit like this one from Teaspring .

I wonder what kind of tea drinker Chtulhu would be? Probably a wet stored puerh being (dude?) =D! And yes, he is running for President this year :)!

Hobbes said...

True fact: while writing this article, I was wondering if I could swing it around to talking about the US presidential election. Really, I was. I take my hat off to you for finding a way!

I have never come across that website before, but I must sincerely thank you for pointing it out! I assumed you meant McCain to start with... :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

P.s. Checking my e-mails, AL did in fact already point out that this was the Teaspring yancha bing, which I completely forgot. You have good eyes!

San Xi Tang said...

Take a good care and let me know by email your new address.

GV

Will said...

If folks are interested about these, there are a couple threads about it on rec.food.drink.tea, including one recently.

The Teaspring one looks like a Wuyi Star (http://www.wuyistar-tea.com) brand from the logo pressed into the cake; that one should be available from multiple sources, since Wuyi Star is a pretty big factory.

In that area, they also sometimes stuff pomelo with yan cha and age it.

My guess is that re-roasting isn't as necessary as with loose oolong, since there's less surface area exposed to air, especially with very tight compression.

tieguanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,

I own one of those Teaspring yancha bing's so the impressions on your sample were familiar :)!

Yes the campaign is ubiquitous on my side of the Atlantic. Yes Chtulhu, not John McCain. I had a third way candidate in mind ~ a la Ross Perot :)!!!

Apparently there are some high end oolong bing's out there as proposed here and here. Well stocked wallet required!

Have a good one,

Alex

Hobbes said...

Dear Will,

Thanks for the pointer! How do you successfully navigate the spam in that newsgroup? Perhaps you have a clever newsgroup reader... :)


Dear Alex,

Who would have thought that these yancha bing could be so pervasive. Curious that they should cost so much, but maybe that's just the novelty!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

P.s. Watching interviews with Sarah Palin has become something of a sport for many folks over here...

Will said...

I was just in Wuyishan, and some of those Yanchabing look really expensive. The price quoted in most shops was 80 Yuan for something that looked like it was about 150 grams. That is about 12USD, and it was too expensive for me. I asked when Wuyi started making tea cakes and one proprietor said they had 'always' been making them, just in the past they had been for farmers' personal use. It would be interesting to age one and see what happened. Many of the cakes in Wuyi are covered in plastic wrap. should they be sealed like Yancha, or should they be allowed to age like Pu'er?

Hobbes said...

80 RMB for a cake of yancha is surprising - do you typically get good prices in the PRC? (I don't!)

I wouldn't leave any tea in a plastic wrap if you're after maturation through contact with air - but people do seal their old roasted wulong. Yancha bing are totally off my radar. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes