The 2010 Mansai from Essence of Tea reminded me of my love for fat, beefy pu'ercha. Since then, a tong of it has been squatting on my shelves, its flabby waistline pushing aside its more slender contemporaries. It is a fine tea.
This year, Mr. and Mrs. Essence returned to Mansai, which is in the area near Bulangshan that is currently disputed between the Zhonglish and Myanmar governments.
Pictured above, the leaves are typically attractive, despite Nada's description of there being increased breakage due to the long journey between remote Mansai and the factory in which the bing were pressed.
Unsurprisingly, it brews a straight, yellow soup. Like last year's cake, there is quite a lot to hold the attention: it has sweet butter, summer fruits, and all manner of darkened tobacco in the aftertaste. Smooth, clean, and very proper, its long journey has not noticeably affected its quality.
Moreso than the other cakes of this year, the Mansai has a broad base of "tea" flavour.
Its kuwei is strong, but not punishing, which, along with its sheer density of character, gives me hope for its long-term prospects.
In my diary, I wrote "Excellent, but not as fun as the Mannuo."
Inevitably, I weigh the tea against its price. Last year, my records state that this was £25 (currently £30 for the 2010), while the 2011 is selling at £38. An eye-watering, wallet-achingly large increase of 52% over the previous year prevents me from buying more than a test cake, but it is delicious and heartily recommended. I think, overall, last year's price could be described as a substantial bargain, and this year's price more accurately reflects its place in the overall scheme of Western pricing.