The hand-made cakes at Essence of Tea seem to be remarkably popular, and have, I believe, sold out entirely. This is a deserved testament to the time and effort that Mr. and Mrs. Essence put into making them each year; along with Yunnan Sourcing and a few shops in Maliandao (Taochaju, Fengmingyuan), there are few other hand-made cakes that I buy regularly.
This sample is interesting, for it comes from a bing that has only been sold locally at the EoT shop in the UK, rather than via the web-shop.
Mr. Essence puts thie web-absence down to the fact that he felt it didn't quite "make the grade", which is an admirable sentiment. That said, I have lower standards and am delighted to indulge in a cake from an area I've not encountered before.
That said, I have no idea where "Manhai" might be, and, it seems, neither does Babelcarp (my usual last resort and extended memory).
Anonymity aside, the leaves are, as you will have come to expect, very pleasant. As pictured above, they are whole, and medium-sized.
The soup is a yellow-amber, which is the first indication that something is ever-so-slightly different in this cake with respect to the dazzling yellow of the other EoT cakes. However, it has the expected aroma of long, sweet butteriness that accompanies almost all of the bingcha from this vendor.
Its character is of clean grassiness, and it has a bright, fresh body. That body is, perhaps, a shade thinner than one would like, but is enjoyable nonetheless. The finish of gentle butter, following its scent, dwells in the throat after the swallow. I assume that this effect is imparted by the wok; the butteriness never becomes so strong that it could be described as "roasted", but it is more prominent than usual.
This is a good summer tea, being light, fresh, and clean. It is not complex, but remains sweet and fresh throughout its infusions, and handles extended brewing quite decently. Perhaps Mr. Essence might be convinced to make this cake available, because I have tasted many hand-made cakes below its standard. Then again, I have never been accused of being fussy when it comes to pu'ercha...