This tong came from Xiaomei's shop, and was a selection made by Little Brother. I expressed a desire to find some more pre-2006 cakes before I left, and this was his first choice.
Never heard of this producer before? Me neither. This shouldn't be surprising, given that it is one of the many small family-owned labels from Kunming. Xiaomei wandered into their backstreet shop while visiting the Yunnanese capital and liked what she found.
All is forgiven when the cake is naked
Medium-sized leaves and some huangpian [yellow flakes] are mixed with an actual twig. Not just a stem, but an actual twig. The compression is very pleasant, and I have a good feeling both from the colour of the leaves and from the particularly outgoing aroma. This is a tea with something to say. No boring "getting-to-know-you" chit-chat here, just straight down to business.
The colour is a wonderfully unadulterated yellow, as shown below. While I watch, the colour gradually deepens in the air. This is an active tea, and an honest tea. I appreciate honesty.
Straight and by the numbers
By the time Lei and I came to taste this cake, we were already heavily loaded, carrying lots of tea, and with bellies filled from previous sessions. However, despite that overload, this tea punctured our hazy states-of-mind and made itself obvious.
Punchy, clean, sweet - this is a "big" tea. It has a big presence in the mouth, it cools the tongue noticeably, and it tingles throughout. It has some hints of age, but both Kunming and Beijing are dry places, and so it isn't too advanced. That's fine by me - my goal is good content, something for the long haul.
They don't come more honest than that
I later had to carry this tea through customs at Moscow (long story), which was quite amusing. The Brunhilde that stopped me took great delight in examining the wrappers.
At RMB150 (approx. $20) per cake, I couldn't fault it. Plenty of "trousers", unapologetically strong, without recourse to making it easier to drink, this is My Kind of Tea.
Xiaomei certainly knows her stuff, it must be said.
(Those expecting samples from me - I'll try to remember to include some for your consideration.)