05 July, 2008

A Friendlicious Cornucopia

I sat in my office with some students, watching them rapidly scribbling various graphs and equations on my whiteboard. Anarchy (or at least exuberance) prevailed. Eventually, they stopped. They sipped the tea I offered them. Peace descended. The peacemaker: a lovely tieguanyin, courtesy of Chabei's JMcM. (Great stuff, thanks again.)




Though absent from writing here, being beneath a burden of work (though a pleasant burden, it must be said), a post in thanks to the various tea-chums who have so kindly provided for me recently is due. I've been meaning to share for some weeks a lovely letter received from AL:




...all covered in tea-poetry, which he has written about previously in the Victorian splendour of Chadao.




Contained within, some sweet "tea moons", with which readers of Chadao will be familiar. More to be revealed of those during future posts...



Cue the music...




Above, one of two parcels that arrived from Kunming on the same day - a fine day for tea. The highlight (well, more of a dazzling, exploding supernova than a highlight): some famed tea created by Nada himself...




This is his Nannuo cake, which I was delighted to find out he has named "Cha Chan Yi Wei" [Tea, Zen - Same Taste]. What a sterling name for a tea. The wrapper, shown below, is a thick, rustic, wabi-sabi affair that I truly admire.




So, let's unwrap it. I've only had time for gongfucha at the week-ends, lately, and each of the two sessions I've allowed myself have been with this tea. The cake (pictured below) is pretty indeed: a good level of compression, such that the whole leaves can easily be removed without breakage. The neifei reads "Nada Chayuan" [yuan as in yuanfen, fate/karma/destiny].




This is a fruity, punchy tea, which reminds me of two teas that I very much enjoy: it has the quality and character of the 2007 Xizihao "Pu Zhen" (which cost me a brutal $100), combined with the grape-like fruitiness of the 2005 Dehong "Purple Tips" brick.




It's fresh, delicious, and very thick. I would buy this in large amounts were it for sale. That it is unattainable and truly limited makes it even the more enjoyable; that it is created by a good friend makes it a singular event.




Hats off to Nada. See you soon!



Addendum

Nada has very generously offered (see Comments) to provide samples of this tea to those who would like to try it. Do please contact him via A Felicific Life.



Addendum
12 April, 2009

This tea is striking in its sweetness, and is a very accomplished little number after one year. It has become very smooth, with no sharp angles. The sweetness runs throughout, and is floral and light.



Addendum
September, 2011

It's time to drink down this oldest of Nada's cakes to see how it fares.


2008 EoT Nannuo


My secondary goal in drinking this cake is to diminish a latent hangover, promising to arise and cause pain, courtesy of drinks and dinner with an old colleague as I left my previous college for new pastures.  Pu'ercha is great for combating hangovers.


2008 EoT Nannuo


The leaves have a low scent, these days, as if the cake has "bedded down" over the three years of its life on our shelves.  However, the leaves still retain a healthy sweetness, and there are plentiful signs of life in the aroma.


2008 EoT Nannuo


In 2008, this tea brewed a solid yellow, as do most of Nada's cakes.  Today, the soup is a darker yellow-orange, in concert with my expectations - and hopes.


2008 EoT Nannuo


Aging has most definitely occurred: it has shifted gear, and moved away from being a floral, young cake, instead adopting the character of sweet, older leaves. 

There is a long sweetness that dwells atop the feeling in the mouth, and it sits well in the throat.  Under the tongue, a long and aching bitterness resides.  The base of the tea is darkening, and becoming richer.


2008 EoT Nannuo


All signs point to an improvement.  I am heartened to see that progress is being made in the right direction, which gives me a great deal of hope for the more recent tong of cakes that occupy our shelves.

23 comments:

Tuo Cha Tea said...

Dear Hobbes,

I see you store your tea on simple shelves. Aren't the tea damaged by sunlight?

T.

Hobbes said...

Hi TA,

It's a good spot for tea, being usually out of the sun. I had to pull the curtains out of the way for the photograph - it's the spare bedroom-cum-teastore. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Stacey said...

Lovely photos, especially the goslings. Your tea stash is amazing.

Hobbes said...

Thanks, Stacey - the proof of the pudding is in the tasting... :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

nada said...

Dear Hobbes,

Glad you enjoyed the bing.

Since I have a few of these for future drinking I'd be happy to break one up and send some samples to those who may wish to try it. If you'd like some, just send me an email & I'll get some in the post to you when I get back to the UK. (limit 10-15ish people)

nada.

Hobbes said...

Dear Nada,

Very generous of you, as always; I look forward to reading some more notes on this tasty tea.

I neglected to mention Lei's reaction. I took her a cup as she was preparing lunchtime sushi in a kitchen that smelled of chicken feet (yummy). "Very delicate, and a great aftertaste - one of the smoothest shengpu I've had."


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

nada said...

sorry, forgot to include my email

blazingnada@gmail.com

Bill said...

What a glorious adventure you will be on!

nada said...

In order to make sure each person who's emailed me gets a fair chunk of the bing, I'm afraid we've reached our limit for samples at the moment.

I hope you enjoy.

nada.

chen said...

Thank for norps bring our bring our cake to UK and share with people who love the tea.
Enjoy it you guys.

Hobbes said...

I like "Norps"! I'm going to have to use that...

chen said...

yes, I like it too, I got this nick name for him. hehe...
I just go back form nan nuo mountain, The summer tea there not really strong chaqi, But the leaves look really health. On this trip, I heard about that At the beginning of March, The majority Ha ni&Ai ni( They are Minority people in China, but in Nannuo montiain they are majority people) will have a tea festival. Then, they start the first peaking of the year.

perpleXd said...

Wow,

I received a small care package in the mail today, all the way from Oxford. A wonderful sampling of some teas I can't wait to try, and a poem complete with a hand-stained tea moon:

Today
oUr
stOne
Cups
Hold
teA

Thank you sincerely Hobbes, for the kind gift.

Wes Crosswhite said...

I also got a care package. :) Thanks, Hobbes.

Pour
cUp
brEathe
sluRp
History

Zisha Pot said...

Hi

Your tea is amazing. I from google know your blog. do any one love zisha pot here??

Tea said...

Great images.

Flowering tea said...

Great images.

Jamus said...

I see those two Dehong 08's perched high atop your stack in that first photo. By chance, have you tried them? I haven't had the heart to crack one open yet. ^__^

Hobbes said...

Dear Jamues,

They're good - very fruity, as you undoubtedly expect. I read an artice (was it on the Pu'er LiveJournal site?) from some drinkers who had found that their older Dehong bricks were losing flavour, though I haven't noticed this in my own bricks from past years. You should probably try one yourself!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Jamus said...

Yeah, you're probably correct. I should just break one of them open. I'll probably do that this evening, as much as it pains me. I mean, that's the reason I bought two bricks afterall, isn't it? Plus, it would keep my mind off of the 2005 which still has that wonderful flavour you and I both know and love. It hasn't faded one bit.

Am I alone in the feeling every time I break into a bing or a brick where it feels like I'm about to shatter some expensive artifact that cannot be replaced? It usually doesn't stop me, but the first time I break any kind of pu-erh apart, the moment is always sprinked with a dash of hesitation. Tell me I'm just crazy. ^__^

Hobbes said...

Dear Jamus,

I have the same feeling, but I'm not sure if it's healthy! I suspect our tea is beginning to possess us... :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

hster said...

Dear Hobbes,

I am awed and frightened by that much tea. The tea room must smell fragrant beyond belief. If you had to just grab an armful from your collection because of an alien invasion, which cakes would you take?

I am debating whether or not I should prune my rather piddly collection and evict all the weak taidi cha. The tongue scraping beengs I'll keep in hopes of reform and redemption in old age. Do you ever subtract mistakes out of your collection?

I've limited myself to 6 feet of shelf space(still an ample life time supply of pu-erh for me, my husband, and willing friends) and if I don't start pruning, these humdrum cakes are preventing me from getting more interesting specimens.

If you had to push the undo button on any of your purchases, how much of your tea would still be left? (If the above question is too personal, I'm sorry but I'm curious!)

hster

Hobbes said...

Dear Hster,

Small is beautiful! A small collection is an admirable thing, because it focuses the mind and attention on getting it right. I've plenty of cakes that seem simple and rough, with hindsight. I keep them around as reminders. :)

To answer your question, I was quite lucky, in that when I was starting out with pu'ercha, and making the most mistakes when buying, I was a student and therefore didn't have a great amount of money to spend. (This accounts for the cheaper, rougher cakes that I acquired back then, as well as my innocence / ignorance.) As the years have passed, I'm managing fewer mistakes... but they definitely still occur!

Ultimately, I'm happy with the majority of my cakes. Thankfully, the real howlers are few and far between. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes