12 September, 2014

Three Points in American Football

I like "American Football", as it's called in my country.  My friends, family and colleagues, upon learning this, tend to scrunch up their faces as if I'd just told them that I enjoy watching paint dry.  The usual comments are to do with "coddled players who need nancy-boy armour" (by which they are comparing players of American football to those of rugby, another sport that I adore), and "You must like watching advertisement breaks, then."

I understand those comments.  What they are missing, however, is the sheer complexity of American football.  It's like chess.  The offence is arranged perfectly, from a coordinator in a rooftop box, to overcome the defence; likewise the defence is attempting to optimise its way around the offence.  Typically to sack the QB.  Any sport where one team is hell-bent on "sacking" anything has to be worth watching.

The reason that I mention this is that the scoring of three points in American football is typically accompanied by the commentator (we'll call him John Madden for now) yelling "IT'S GOOD", as the ball (which has been kicked from afar) sails through the uprights (i.e., the goalposts, which do at least look like those in rugby).

When I drank the teas described in this article, over a period of a few days, the words of John Madden kept coming to mind: IT'S GOOD.

First up, the 2014 "Jingmai Dazhai" [big village] from Chawangpu.

Now, don't get me wrong here.  In no way at all, in what follows, am I saying that people who like Jingmai tea are people with no taste.  I mean absolutely nothing to imply that people who like Jingmai tea are somehow lesser organisms, one step removed from the protozoic algae that drink "caramel-hazelberry-nipplespank oolong" from Whittards of Chelsea.

What I am saying is that Jingmai is "accessible", and usually enjoyed by a wide range of people.

I do not mean to hint in the slightest that such people are newbs, nor would I ever state that they wouldn't know good tea if it slapped them upside the head.

What I am saying is that Jingmai is the kind of pu'ercha you can give to your elderly relatives, and that they will nod and say "That's nice, dear."  If that's your definition of good tea, then so be it, young Jedi.

This is maocha, and it comes from Honza of Chawangpu.  Or, "The Honz", as he's known to fans of dreadful 1960s American sitcoms.

I imagine The Honz turning up to Jingmai on his, let's say, Harley Davidson, sliding one leather-clad leg from his motorcycle, and leaning casually up against the front porch of a tea farmer, before saying "Ayyyy".

This practice clearly bears fruit, because, against all the odds, this Jingmai tea is really nice.

The fresh, buttery scent suggests recent processing, and that means The Honz and his Harley must have been in Yunnan recently.  The resulting brew is clean, penetrating, and darned sweet.  In keeping with the region, it has the "lanxiang" [orchid scent] that your grandmother really enjoys; however, this time, Granny was right: it's good.

Or, in the immortal words of John Madden: IT'S GOOD.

Thick and sweet, it lasts well, and packs some kuwei [good bitterness].   I am left with a surprisingly positive impression that I would never have expected.  Surprises are like that, I suppose - if you expect them, they're not really surprises.

At $16 / 50g (or $115 per 357g equivalent, fact fans), it isn't cheap.  Given that maocha isn't anyone's best bet for aging, you'd need to be drinking this for maocha-related, unaged-shengpu kicks - and for that, I refer you to my opening comment about Jingmai.

Putting the newbjuice to one side, we break open some serious tea.

This is the awesomely-entitled "Chawangpu Hehe", where the latter, thanks to whoever standardised Chinese pronunciation way back when, is actually spoken more like "her-her".  However, in keeping with the presumed pun, I insist upon reading this as "hee hee".

Chawangpu Hee-Hee.

Already, we are in the right frame of mind for some good tea.  Let's see what Honza has in store for us.  In the words of that modernday classic, that heart-rending tale of sorrow, loss, and redemption (Blade, starring Wesley Snipes),

"He makes the weapons - I use them."  

I think there's a lesson for us all in those wise words; thank you, Wesley.

You are way ahead of me, Gentle Reader, for I can see your foam-flecked lips, covered in spittle like the effusive saliva of the rabid dog that you are.  Fear not, Old Friend, for tea such as this makes rabid dogs of us all.  I am just the same when I look at the photograph above.  It's like Pavlov's dogs over here.

Wiping away the drool, I warm up the kettle and get some hot water on those charming little beauties.

Yellow.  Sugary.  Caramelised.  Yiwu-sweet.  Menghai darkness.  Soapy smoothness.

A small number of those terms would be sufficient for me to enjoy this tea; to have all of them at once is almost showing off.  This is not a grand tea, but, let us ask John Madden what he thinks of this tea.

He's thinking... he's stroking his multiple chins... he responds:  IT'S GOOD.

And so it is.  The best is yet to come, however, for this punchy little vampirekiller is just $17 / 200g, which reminds me that The Honz is one of the few people left on the face of this dark and dismal planet who insists on making excellent tea at a great price.  A tong of these little Van Helsings is just $100.  If you're looking to bolster your shelves, this is good bolsterin'.


Unknown said...

Hi, thank you for another of your writing treats. They're always a pleasure. Happy Days plagued the airways in the 70s, not the 60s. That would be hard for me to forget because I was a teenager but if you, as a Brit, had known that I would worry about you. Hey, check this out. As a long-time American expat I've completely kicked the Am. football and baseball habit (but still follow basketball because, well, that's what Portland Trail Blazer fans do) but here's a great classic Carlin routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmXacL0Uny0

Hobbes said...

Dear Steve,

That's a brilliant link - thank you very much. There's always something by Carlin that I haven't seen, and which I'm glad to discover...



Unknown said...

Glad you liked that, Hobbes : - )

Steph said...

I was curious how you were going to go from "American Football" to tea! Well played, haha.

Hobbes said...

I bet John Madden loves his time at the tea-table, tetsubin boiling... :)