Around two years ago, a Hong Kongian teachum, KC, introduced me to a lovely little Guafengzhai cake. I think that it was one of the first cakes from that area that I had encountered, at the time - it seems that many productions have since been marketed from that area, as its popularity has increased.
So, my excitement at trying out a new version of that lovely little classic was substantial. One of KC's colleagues had selected the leaves, and had them pressed at the ever-willing Changtai factory. [Edit: this year's were not pressed at Changtai!]
Like its elder cousin, this cake is made from charming, whole leaves. They have a prominent, enticing scent even when dry, which is a great sign. If I'm not salivating like one of Pavlov's pets at the dry leaves, something is usually wrong.
The time at which we drink tea is critical, as is the mind with which we approach it. On reading my diary for the day when I tried this cake, I see that it was a rather difficult time for one reason and another. It was one of those days in which everything was going "against the grain", everything seemed difficult and unpleasant, and nothing was easy.
Perhaps it was foolish of me to sit down at the teatable with such an atmosphere. However, being a fool, I tend to enjoy some peaceful time at the teatable in order to orient myself, get my thoughts together, and recover a little bit. In future, I will not do so with a good tea, and will stick to drinking the rough stuff at such times.
As it was, my clouded mind got in the way of this particular tea. It was yellow, pure, sweet, and fine in quality, but I simply could not enjoy it, peering at it through the stormclouds of my current mood. I found it fresh, energising, and everything that one would look for in a Guafengzhai, and yet I also found it empty, and sour underneath. These latter impressions tend to stack up when I'm in a foul mood, and are unrepresentative of the tea.
Alas, I had a quantity sufficient only for this one session, and yet I feel as if I have learned a valuable lesson.
Thanks to KC for providing a valuable taster of what is probably a very decent cake, if it's anything like the 2009 version.