Mangzhi is one of the famous, if lesser-accredited, mountains of Mengla county in the south-eastern corner of Xishuangbanna.
Just when I thought that I had tried all of the various Yichanghao cakes (whose solid, enjoyable virtues continually delight me), China Chadao provided me with a sample of a cake hitherto unknown to me. Thanks again to the proprietor, Jerry, for his generosity.
This sample has long, beautiful leaves, as pictured above, which emphasise the decency of Yichanghao blends. Given that this is, essentially, a mainstream label, the maocha is very reliable.
Shown above, the soup is light orange, as befits its six years. Like many Yichanghao cakes, it is well-made: the base is of sticky-sweet molasses, dark and solid, while notes of soft woods drift into the nose after the swallow. It is, perhaps, a touch light in the body, but it is otherwise aging very nicely.
Maybe it is the mood, perhaps it is the tea - a deeply calming sensation comes over me after a few infusions - something heavy and almost narcotic in nature.
While I am engaged in the pleasures of this tea, my attention is broken by a most welcome interruption, as Xiaohu toddles up to my chair to show me his favourite yellow balloon, a treasure from another infant's party the day before. "Bloon! Bloon!"
Brewed hard, the Yichanghao responds with the same soft woodiness of its opening infusions, which suggests that it is somewhat limited in its potency. It is almost impossible to overbrew this tea, despite my best efforts.
Nonetheless, it is a dark and enjoyable tea, and does nothing to shake my confidence in the earthly delights of Changtai's best brand. Thanks again to China Chadao for the opportunity to try it.