We've been undergoing antenatal classes, recently, in preparation for our new arrival. Childbirth and childcare are alien fields to me, so any information is soaked up like a dry sponge. Our antenatal nurse left a life-size, actual-weight infant doll in our house for us to practice changing nappies and so on. I found myself reading my weekly periodicals with Proto-George on my knee.
The proprietors of Essence of Tea have also been hard at work, this year, working on their own range of cakes. They range between decent to excellent, and I thought I'd open the batting with what I believe to be the best deal from this year's range - the "Mansai".
The story of the tea is amusing: Nada seemingly had to cross a rope bridge to get to the village where this tea was made, in the disputed territories between Myanmar and the PRC, at the foot of the Bulang range of mountains.
Adventurous procurement aside, the tea itself, like most hand-made cakes from vendors, is very pretty. The leaves, pictured above, are dark, fruity, and sweet. We have some stems, and some broken leaves (seemingly from the aforementioned journey that these leaves took to reach the outside world).
I originally tried this tea as a maocha, and it was immensely smokey. The bingcha version, happily, has seen that smokiness dissipate, making this one of two of Nada's teas from this year that I really love.
I'm not really one for nancified, feminine, delicate teas. I can't see them managing to stay the course of years, with their effete, louche, elegance. I'm on the hunt for beefy, chunky, fat, chubby, sweaty, calorific, overweight, aggressively obnoxious teas. It seems that my tastes differ from Nada's in this respect, because the majority of his products seem to be of the former variety. Hence, this cake was something of a pleasure.
This Mansai is active from the start, containing a big, buttery scent and flavour. The huge energy and cooling characteristics are testament to the excellent quality of it contents. I detected a hint of dry-roasting from the wok, which Nada conceded.
It is a gripping, buttery-sweet monster, with a pure, monolithic kuwei [bitterness], and a similar huigan. It is dry, like a good white wine, but also cereal-like, as with Lincang and other "outlier" teas.
This is one of three Nadacha cakes of which I bought a tong, this year. At £25, I think it's the best value of the batch, in terms of what you get for your money. The quality is not really up for debate.