Some big ones and some fun ones, today.
Gentlemen, start your engines: a 1998 Zhongcha (i.e., CNNP) which is "Xianggangcang" - Hong Kong stored. With thanks to white2tea.
I don't drink a lot of "Hong Kong tea", but I do like it. This example, pictured below, has some some paranormal humidity, however. That colour is approximately accurate.
The dry leaves are indeed grey on the outside; their size is small, and they are highly fragmented. The blend appears to include stems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the soup turns out to be a heavy red, as pictured below.
If this is shengpu, then its storage must have been extreme, given that this redness has been achieved so rapidly. It has the powdered texture of shupu, but the cooling aftertaste and strength of body suggests shengpu. I imagine that pure shupu subjected to these storage conditions would be much emptier than this full-bodied mystery. I rather like it: shupu, but with backbone, some cooling sensations, and even a little kuwei [good bitterness].
Later infusions become very simple very quickly, and the kuwei soon vanishes (by the third infusion); perhaps it is shupu after all. I understand that this cake is the subject of a detective game with his friends in Beijing, and its provenance remains undecided.
I got excited about this cake when it came to the writing stage. I have previously tried the 2004 version, and the 2005 version has been hyped significantly by Clouds. I liked the latter and, independently, appear to have recently bought a cake from Taobaowang (thanks to Apache) without realizing that it was the same thing. Silly me.
This cake, however, is the 2006 Shuangjiang Mengku "Daxueshan", and therefore completes the series of three consecutive years. Is it as good as the 2005?
Shuangjiang Mengku is a lo-fi company, but one that you ignore at your peril: their tough, strong little cakes tend to age rather well. I have a bunch of their various recipes from the mid-2000s, and am impressed each time I try them. They're not amazingly complex, but they are mighty good.
The eponymous "big snow mountain" is in Lincang, one of my favourite locations. While everything looks pretty outside, these leaves are appealing: they are quite large, fairly dark, and have a thoroughly convincing aroma of sweet tobacco.
Tobacco is something that Shuangjiang Mengku does very well, and is a personal favourite (in pu'ercha).
I appreciate its yellow soup, and its heavy scent of tobacco and fruits. Lincang teas always appeal to me. As I write, a hundred dapples of willow-light dance over the page.
This is a pleasant tea, and I have half a mind to pursue it. The body is smooth and heavy; the aftertaste is enduring and sweet, leaving the scent of tobacco in the nose. It blends delightfully with the honeysuckle in our garden. Who could not be soothed by the rustle of willow branches in the gentle, fragrant breeze?
A granary base exerts itself from the third infusion. After two litres, the Daxueshan continues to be smooth, sweet, and solid in its texture. I should definitely look at the price of this cake.
Hmm, it is some $46 at Yunnan Sourcing. Perhaps I will re-examine the 2005 version, which sells for much less via Taobaowang. I'll revisit this page at a later stage...