24 April, 2010

2007 Pu'er Study Institute "Hongjie"

Old Blighty has seen record quantities of rainfall over the past six months. It's been very wet. It once rained for two weeks without pause. Our conservatory roof collapsed.

This week-end, the sun has forgiven us.

April 2010
Readers in Cornwall are invited not to comment on the mainland weather

What better way to celebrate a Saturday than to grab the cheeseboard and head into the garden? Nibbling unsociably mature cheddar under the falling apple-blossom. Watching the butterflies with my Chinese wife and our unborn Chinglish baby.  Being indulgently lazy.

2007 Hongjie
The weight of tea hauled around Maliandao really adds up quickly.  Take a packmule.

This is the kind of day that calls for something sweet and different.  Something interestingly complex.  Something like... Lincang.  Lovely, lovely Lincang.

2007 Hongjie
Black, chunky leaves

This cake takes me back to our Christmas vacation, where Lei and I spent some time drinking with a Yunnanese couple at their shop in Maliandao.  Our strategy in Beijing's tea district is to walk around until we find someone who (i) has lots of decent pu'er on display, and (ii) looks friendly, amusing, and sociable.  The Yunnanese couple fit the bill.

He was a recent graduate of tea studies in a Yunnan agricultural university, and (I think) she was his wife.  They lived up to their amiable appearance, and were thoroughly charming.  You can tell a lot by people's appearances.  If they spend their lives being miserly, conniving, and small, then, generally speaking, their face changes to fit that quality.  Similarly, if they spend their lives in good humour, with lightness, and a certain degree of peace, then that's also visible in the structure and operation of the face.  When it comes to people, the cover tells a great deal about the book.

(I'm not going to break out that Oscar Wilde quote today.)

We worked our way through a few selections, but the infusions seemed quite thin.  We mentioned it, as tactfully as we could manage, and ended up on this beefy Lincang tea.

2007 Hongjie
Hand compression makes for easy separation

Some twenty or so infusions later, I was adequately wooed to take a whole tong.  The producer is an oddity: the "Pu'er Study Institute of the Yunnan Natural Sciences Support Project".  This was a label that sold the output of the alma mater of our host.  Not to be confused with the more regularly-appearing "Yunnan Tea Study Institute" (the folk with the ringed Saturn-like planet for a logo).

2007 Hongjie
Lincang feels rather "out there".  Its geography fits it character.

You know me by now - I like most pu'er, from the grubbiest 6FTM to the most exalted rarity.  Lincang cakes have a special place in my heart, because they're very savoury.  They have a fat, cereal-like quality that goes very well with the natural sweetness of pu'er leaves.  Finish it off with some challenging kuwei [good bitterness] at the end, accompanied by a deeply calming whatever-it-is [chaqi / voodoo / The Force], and I'm a happy punter. 

At 180 RMB ($25), this is a moderately pricey tea for Maliandao, but it's very chubby and enjoyable.  I often find it hard to switch between "Western" and "Chinese" monetary scales when stuck in the sweet-smelling bowels of Maliandao, but this one felt like a bargain, and so it accompanied us home.

(Actually, it just arrived, after spending three months in a China Post parcel on a ship.)

It looks like the summer has come early, and fresh shengpu fits the mood perfectly.  If you're expecting samples from me, keep an eye open for this one in your package, as I rather like it.  Sure, it has a hint of plantation after 15 or so brews, but this didn't claim to be anything else.  At 180 RMB, it does the job nicely.

September, 2013

This was my post-viva cake, bought in Maliandao while riding on the "mission accomplished" high that followed.  Additionally, it turns out that this is the first cake that we bought with my wife pregnant, although we did not know it at the time.

The leaves have darkened from their original green to a husky red-brown.  The scent, brought on by the local humidity in our hometown, pleases me no end.  I enjoy its Lincang base of sweet grain, along with its cooling mouthful of flavours.  New water brings out the fresh sweetness and deeper kuwei [good bitterness] of this tea.  This is definitely moving in the right direction.


sasi said...


If you dont mind me asking , I'd be delighted to know know if this Licang can be procured online ?

Thank you very much.


Hobbes said...

Dear Sasi,

I have not seen it on-line, but I haven't looked very hard! The label is very small, being output from a small agricultural grant at the province level.

Send me an e-mail (hobbesoxon at gmail), and I'd be happy to pop a sample of my bing in the post, however.



sasi said...

Dear Hobbes,

Wow ! that is very kind of you.

thank you


Maitre_Tea said...

how was the general atmosphere at Ma Lian Dao? Have a lot of stores closed shop or is it still hustle-and-bustle over there? I only hope that with the bubble burst that our beloved tea will fall back into obscurity for the "real" connoisseurs.

Hobbes said...

Dear Maitre Tea,

Maliandao has changed, but it remains busy. The changes are more to do with the details of the layout.