Regulars among you, Gentle Readers, may recall tale of an epic battle of blood and fire, in which Captain Ahab of white2tea landed a mighty bargain: the 2012 Ruiyuan. I found it to be beefy indeed, and subsequently parted with some local currency to acquire a cake.
In conversation, it turns out that the producer, one Ma Yongwang, has made an even beefier cake. Presumably, we are in for a substantial serving of beef here.
Ma is straightforward about the contents of his cakes, so the story goes, and noted that this "gushu" cake is acutal gushu. It is correspondingly unavailable.
Perhaps using his own wily negotiating expertise, Captain Ahab managed to get 50g out of Ma, kindly sending me a large portion of it. An unexpected pleasure, surely!
The wrapper (pictured below) is one of the "laoshucha" versions, shielding the upgraded version's leaves within (pictured above).
Examine ye the leaves below, and revel in their furry majesty. Pretty much everything is included in this blend, from the tips down to the huangpian [yellow flakes]. At least that suggests that it's hand-made.
The rinse is yellow-brown. This is an interesting shade which dominates in many of the gushu cakes I have tried. I wouldn't like to try and describe it further, because I'm quite sure that you would conclude your humble author is one slice short of a loaf. Just keep an eye on the colour of your gushu, is all I'll say.
The first infusion is clean - almost brutally so. It looks like yellow crystal. The scent is long, warm, and very buttery - straight out of the... wok? It has the scent of immediate production, that is to say.
I usuaully dial back my enthusiasm when it comes to Nannuoshan: good teas, fragrant and zesty, for sure, but perhaps they are a little too light and fluffy to go the distant through the years? Not so. As the lesser Ruiyuan demonstrated last time, this area can provide real content.
This tea is like drinking an old bush. It really is a definite and obviously ancient lifeform that is being soaked in hot water in my pot. It is potent, vibrant, and intensely cooling... and yet it is perfectly rounded and rather "mature" in some sense. Right at its centre lies a beautiful and quite dazzling sweetness - a core of solidity.
It is not aggressively bitter, and I end up adding more leaves to the pot, for which I am rewarded with a stronger base.
The tea builds slowly, adding kuwei in each infusion, slowly unrolling as if it is in no hurry, and refuses to yield immediately.
And there's the rub. It is dazzling, and pure, and charming, but it is also extraordinarily constant and unchanging. Hence the name of this article: this tea occupies a manifold with a small number of dimensions. Those dimensions are delicious, but they are few. Perhaps here we have the danger of "single tree" cakes: they sometimes do not stretch the imagination, for all of their purity. I am left recalling the rounded benefits of the "inferior" version: while these leaves are clearly better, the more humble version actually seemed more enjoyable to me.
I am exceedingly grateful to PM for procuring this rarity, and for the opportunity to taste such obviously "gushu" gushu. It also reminded me how wide the gamut of pu'ercha can be, and how advantageous is that random wandering which takes in some of its wide scope.