It's not often that I drink a tea and then sprint upstairs to the computer to buy some.
Batten down the hatches and ready yourself, gentle Reader, for a force-nine gale of uncomfortably humid hyperbole...
I've been a quiet fan of Pu-erh.sk since Peter, the owner, was kind enough to send me samples of a range of cakes that had sold out ages ago, such was their popularity. His productions have become popular, and rightly so. I missed the party, entirely, because his web-site was a howling wasteland of nothingness where once there were cakes for sale. In my article on his 2011 Bada cake, I wrote "I hope that he makes more cakes in 2012; I'll be hovering around the web-site like a moth attracted to a bright light."
The lights are on again!
I liken Peter and his cakes to the dealer of dodgy substances that is confident in the addictive quality of his wares. "The first hit is always free." My first hit came in the unassuming little brown packet pictured above.
Go on. Try ussssssss.
The leaves of all Peter's cakes are quite fragmented, as shown above. Of all of his 2012 productions, the Bada leaves are the smallest, and the tippiest. The scent is very fresh, very sweet, and, predictably, as grassy as Badashan leaves usually turn out to be.
"What an unexpectedly charming aroma this Badashan cake has!" I wrote to myself. It is amazing in its complexity, passing from sweet grass, to gentle candy, to rich butter. It is a most engaging progression.
Likewise, the first infusion is really rather special, packing in all of the sensations for which you would hope (thick soup, huigan, endurance, vibrancy) along with a slug of complex compounds that mix grass, flowers, butter, and all of the other transients that age, and infusions, will soon wear away.
The cooling sensation of the soup even penetrates under the lips and around the gums, eventually numbing my tongue. This sounds dreadful, perhaps.
I brew this cake into the ground, pushing it to infusion after infusion, and am rewarded by a consistency of dense sweetness that is quite remarkable. We must be wary of first infusions, with their transient charms. The sixth-through-tenth infusions in a young tea are really what separate the men from the boys, and indicate the potential for aging, I believe. Certainly, the cakes that are turning out to age the best for me are those that could be pushed (and remained solid for) large numbers of infusions. Conversely, if a tea falls apart after repeated brews, then it may not well last under the action of the years. I wouldn't like to make proclaimations on aging, but merely report my experience. Naturally, there are exceptions, but the correlation is statistically significant - if my small sample size could be considered so.
I was left exceedingly happy with this little cake. It is easily the best of the 2012 cakes that I have tried to date (including several that I haven't yet written about), and can heartily recommend it to you for at least a sample. I notice from Peter's web-site that you can buy 10g or 50g subsections, which is a very sociable alternative.
Before we leave it at that, I should add that it appears I have rather come to like Badashan cakes. I believe that there is something of Stockholm syndrome occurring here: for many months, a number of years back, all of my tea was in storage while our house was renovated. I was only able to drink a Menghai "classic" cake, in my office, which happened to be from Badashan. I abhored it at the time, as one would after drinking something mainstream exclusively for many months. However, I notice that I have come to love that which held me captive against my will for so long. Therefore, if Bada cakes are not your thing, then you're probably not going to like this. It is a great cake in its own right, but, if you like Bada cakes, then you're in for a real treat.
I hope the postman hurries. I might make this tong the "birth tea" for our expected baby, depending on the cake's progress.