The 2011 "Nanpozhai" was from the next village over to Bingdao [ice island], and tasted cooling, but noticeably cereal-like, and quite different to the usual Bingdao flavour. This cake promises to be the orthodox creature itself, coming from Bingdao Village in Mengku County of Lincang prefecture, and is named after the famous "mushu", or "mother-trees", of that area.
This packet is already stuffed with the scents of fruity, grape-like sweetness. There really is a great deal to be determined in the aroma, I think. It often presages the contents of the tea quite well. In this case, they smell great: potent, long-lasting, very encouraging.
I must have had this session in the small hours of the morning, perhaps woken by a crying son in the middle of the night and unable to return to sleep (as is quite common these days). The artificial light of our house does not put the leaves in their best aspect, but you get the general idea.
These leaves are medium-sized fragments, as pictured below.
The refreshing sweetness of the dry leaves carries through into the aroma of the soup itself, which rapidly assaults the back of the nose, and condenses, leaving a sort of scent-based equivalent to a huigan [returning sweet flavour after the swallow].
It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, cooling in the extreme. The breath becomes chilled. Alongside this is a fresh, grassy character.
There is also a decidedly bitter streak to these leaves, which do not mess around. The bitterness is such that it reminds me of my dear grandmother's hairspray - a sharp, bitter sensation that grips the mouth.
The quality is high. Scott is making some very good cakes these days, and this is definitely one of them. It has the potency and broad content of real laoshu leaves, but is perhaps not going to be at its best for some years. I suspect that it will be quite something in five or so years, when it has had a chance to settle down somewhat.
I didn't buy this cake, simply because space is limited on my shelves, and I can no longer just buy everything that takes my fancy. This cake was "borderline" for me, being clearly good quality, but perhaps lacking the broad, chunky characteristics that I tend to enjoy the most. These are just my peculiarities, however, and it may well be that this cake appeals to those of us who enjoy a pure, "porcelain" experience from our pu'ercha. I would at least try a sample, just to give yourself an idea of what a good Bingdao cake should taste like.