This cake is more than a little special; after I tasted it, we found out that my dear wife was "with child". So, I have decided to delay publication until some point in the future, as I'm sure you'll understand. It's a wonderful time (at the time of writing: February, 2012).
This cake, therefore, has something of significance in our lives - I remember its taste and character even now, because it was with me when we had the great news.
Mengpashashan is an area in Menghai County, in Xishuangbanna, that was settled some 300 years ago, where "Pasha" seemingly means "tall, straight forest" in the local Aini dialect. The thought of an unsettled area dominated by tea-trees, as was the case with Mengpashashan before its settlement, reminds me of my favourite part in Aaron Fisher's book, "The Way of Tea". Mr. Fisher is at his best when he describes, with great honesty and a gentle touch, the forests of primeval Yunnan.
This cake costs a very reasonable $29, and is a large 400g affair. The large, beautiful leaves are pregnant with their own contents, as pictured above.
The 2010 version of this cake was, I thought, quite nice, in a grassy way, but it quickly collapsed into a "brown" feeling of lesser leaves. I didn't give much further thought to it, but wrote it off as one of a bunch of four similarly unimpressive samples tried around the same time.
This 2011 cake is a departure, and is very decent. I might even go so far as to suggest that it is objectively very decent, and not merely enjoyable because of the wonderful news that arrived while drinking it.
Pictured above, the stable, yellow brew turns into a gentle orange after prolonged contact with the air. Its body is filled with the complex sweetness of a good honey, and it has the sharp, precise kuwei [good throaty bitterness] that I appreciate, without any sewei [rough astringency]. This is a significant improvement on last year's tea, and continues its robust, fairly solid texture into a goodly number of infusions.
Sweet, consistent, ever-present, and robust - this tea keeps pace with our happy conversation, and lends its honey-like sweetness to the proceedings. I should buy at least a cake to remind me of the happiness of the moment.
For now, I put this article into storage, but look forward to the opportunity of sharing it with you, gentle Reader. By the time you read this, we will hopefully have been blessed with another little teadrinker.