Xiaobing [sheow-bing], or little cakes, are a brilliant way to get to know pu'ercha. They are inexpensive and low risk, in that you don't end up with tons of wasted space and lots of unwanted tea if you discover that the cake is not to your fancy. I've had some great fun with various series of (good) xiaobing, and they have a special place in my affections.
Scott of Yunnan Sourcing doesn't usually produce xiaobing. This little fellow, priced at a touch under $5 for 120g of leaves, would be equivalent to $14.28 per 357g bing-equivalent, which is a low price. The photographs above and below give you an idea of the miniature scale.
Some of Scott's productions seem to be made from maocha that he has acquired some time after picking, as is the case with this cake: its leaves were picked in 2007. Mangfeishan [mahng-fay] is in Yongde County of Lincang prefecture, and the leaves stayed in Yongde until 2010, when Scott bought them and had them made into this range of "white label" cakes.
As if a mouse had taken a bite...
Shown above, the dark, medium-sized leaves are easily separated from the cake. I associate Yongde cakes, for some reason, with being heavy and fruity, and this cake fits my preconception. Pictured below, the thick, orange soup has a strong, basic character suggestive of raw leaves.
The tea is as husky and potent as it looks
Husky, sweet, and very strong, I push this cake for a session of over 15 brews, and it does a goob job. After its four years of age, it still retains a hefty kuwei [bitterness in the throat] which is commendable. I read afterwards that Scott describes Mangfei area being known for the "brutality" of its leaves. It compares very well to the upper end of mainstream pu'ercha.
"This is a very broad tea", notes Lei in passing; "it has a low-frequency power spectrum." Engineers have a particular method of evaluating tea...
The welcome brutality of this cake helped me over the remains of a cold. I postponed a pair of tutorials with my students, and was amused by the polarity of the results. On learning that I was cancelling due to illness, a girl in the first-year wrote back with a kind "get well soon" message; this contrasted with the amusing response from a chap in the second-year, who, after learning of the cancellation of a (fairly tricky) session on statistics replied with "Awesome!"