With thanks to Peter of Pu-erh.sk, today's session considers an autumnal version of the cake that I think was probably the best of all of Peter's cakes, last year: the 2013 Nakashan (from springtime). That cake was, typically, sold out before I even tried the sample, but it was a fleeting, robust beauty while the session lasted.
Nakashan is in the Mengsongshan region, an area in which good cakes are being made and, consequently, in which prices of tea are rising. I don't actually have a problem with prices rising; I felt a little guilty to be buying excellent tea at rock-bottom prices in Maliandao back in the day. There was something uncomfortably "colonial" about turning up in a foreign country and paying "developing nation" prices for something that was very high quality. While my wallet doesn't appreciate the rise in prices, my conscience is happier, which I consider to be a net win.
I use the entire 15g of the sample, recalling my difficulties with autumnal cakes, in which coaxing character out of them can be rather difficult. This tea performs much better than you might otherwise expect for an autumnal tea - it is thick, heavy, and orange (thanks, perhaps, to the surfeit of leaves) and yet has a constrained power. I am rewarded with a dark, sweet base along with plenty of kuwei [good bitterness]. Were I to try drinking 15g of springtime tea, the result would be much more punishing, but here it is almost necessary, for my tastes.
This tastes rather like a natural version of the rich blackness that some other producers (notably Xiaguan) attempt to recreate using novel processing methods. It is a "big", constant tea, that remains heavy and sweet throughout its many infusions - again, because it tolerates using a large quantity of leaves. It seems to last forever, but is perhaps not as arresting as the springtime version that I remember so well. At 70 euro / 350g, I would say that it is a bit on the costly side for what we receive, but that is a personal judgement. Overall, it is a solid autumnal tea that can deliver a decent session.