04 October, 2013

Buying Cakes, Twice

...in the sense that Didi, who seems to run the show these days at Fangmingyuan in Maliandao, sold me a fun cake that I already own, without me realising it.  It is certainly true that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Thankfully, this was an innocent happening on both our parts, and turned out to be rather beneficial.

I lugged this sack around Beijing for an afternoon, with some other purchases from various places on Maliandao, and therefore feel intimately connected to it.

My eldest son, Xiaohu, seemed to like the look of it...

This cake, pictured below, is made by the "Zhuyuan Chachang", of bamboo-garden tea-factory - presumably the reason for the image in the centre of the cake.  Written down the centre of the wrapper are the characters for "Yizhuyuan Chafang", where "yi" is that as it appears in "yiwu", and where "chafang" is a traditional manner of describing a "tea place".

Over the top, we have the usual "Yunnan Yiwu Zhengshan Qizi Bingcha".  I prefer claims of "zhengshan" [proper-mountain] rather than the exceedingly-tired "gushu", "chawang" and other such hyperbole.  A cake that costs 180 RMB ($29) is definitely not going to be "gushu", and it's nice not to told otherwise.  You have to wonder about credibility when a brand claims such things...

The reason that I bought this cake, apart from not being able to remember buying it before, is that I was thoroughly impressed by its humble charms, for just 180 RMB - recalling that the same chap, Didi, sold it to me for 190 RMB two years ago.

Those charms begin with its naked appearance, which is large-leaf Yiwu if ever I saw it:

Just writing this text causes me actually to smell the cake in my nose again, which is a very strange but most welcome sense-memory.  It is not hard to imagine, perhaps, the dark Yiwu scents that this cake exudes in abundance.  Didi originally recommended it to me as being rather similar to that other humble classic, the 2005 Yisheng that I seem to mention now and again.  The reason for its mention is its sweetness and its charm, which this Zhuyuan shares to some degree.

The orange soup, which is pictured below, has the tangy and sweet Yiwushan orthodoxy that is very welcome after my return from Beijing.  The soup is, as I have it in my journal, "liquid leather": sharp, sweet, and rich.  It is also much (much) better here at home, than in Fangmingyuan.

By the third infusion, the leaves have fully opened, and the soup has thickened to a satisfying consistency.  It lasts well, with continuous brews being required after the twelfth infusion, whereby I infuse the next batch while drinking the current brew.

I suppose that I have rather a lot of this tea, now, but that's no bad thing: it is aging very nicely, and has the remaining strength to continue.  You might be able to find it on Taobao for a low price - the Fangmingyuan web-site doesn't seem to stock it.

The Fangmingyuan web-site does, however, sell the 2005 Yisheng for an unpalatable 1280 RMB (180 RMB in 2008 and 2010), or the 2005 Tianlu that I enjoyed so much; the latter is selling for 480 RMB, which is probably too much (I paid 150 RMB in 2010).  The web-site doesn't offer great prices: their 2008 Bama Nannuo sells for a stonking 780 RMB (130 RMB in 2010), and the 2008 Nannuo sells for 568 RMB (150 RMB in 2010).  They do not have a huge stock, and I seem to have acquired everything of interest, but it is still nice to visit such pleasant teafolk.


NorberT said...

this post looks familiar to me, wasn't it already published?

Hobbes said...

Dear Norbert,

One of the following might have happened to explain your déjà vu!

1. You are thinking of my original article concerning the same tea, because I have bought it twice(!);

2. I have used one of the images before in a haiga; or

3. I have accidentally published it before, rather than queuing it for publication, in which case you may have read the first 200 characters before (if you read via an aggregator).

I wonder which it is!

With best wishes,


NorberT said...

Dear Hobbes

I also wonder, at the end it can be really just a deja vu :)


Hobbes said...

Woo, Maiden. :)