In this battle between two adversaries, the part of John Travolta will be played by the 2014 "Huazhu" from Pu-erh.sk.
I've enjoyed a number of teas from PETROS THE DESTROYER this year. In summary, each is well-made, each is a good and tasty example of each stopping-point on his travels around Yunnan. One cake was "budget", the rest were... pretty expensive, actually. Maocha prices etc.
Along with Nakashan, Huazhu is in the Mengsong region, and is talked about in favourable tones by PETROS THE DESTROYER. He also notes that "Huazhu Liangzi is 'Banna's highest mountain", which is an interesting fact that I now know and which I will probably forget imminently.
Keeping up appearances, this Huazhu tea looks The Business, as you might agree from contemplation of the photograph above. Once brewed, it has a long, flowery scent. In the cup, we have the grape-like sweetness of new tea, with a substantial finish - cooling and bitter.
Underneath it all, perhaps testifying to its Mengsong origins, is a broad, savoury character that supports all of that transient sweetness. Of course, as with all of those teas made by PETROS, it is well-made and I do not doubt that these leaves are of excellent nature.
Big, bitter, broad, and smooth: this is strong and decent tea. PETROS writes that it is "more or less accessible in terms of price". However, the price of this cake is a seemingly-uncorrelated 96 Euro / 250g, which at US$180 / 357g is not at all accessible. Objectively, after five infusions, I am left wondering who would pay $180 / 357g, but that's a personal decision.
If John Travolta is amusing but perhaps over-valued, then we now turn ourselves to the Nicholas Cage in our Face/Off: the 2013 New Amerykah from white2tea.
I enjoyed the 2014 "New Amerykah 2", in which PM stated that he was aiming for "fullness" rather than the "bitterness" of the 2013. This further reinforced in my mind that I had missed a trick when I failed to try the 2013 before it sold out.
Having pity on me, PM kindly packed up a sample.
The leaves are hand-compressed, and aromatic. First impressions are highly favourable. The first infusions is reassuringly bitter, while being fresh and yellow. It fills the mouth quite obviously, and I can imagine PM's reaction when he first encountered the maocha for this cake. It really does stand out. There is a cooling finish, and its body is smooth.
Every time the tea settles into its sweet routine, I add more leaves to bring it back to the fresh richness of the earlier infusions. I can see why this tea sold out, Gentle Reader, and hope that you managed to land yourself some.
This is a sharp and charismatic cake and, at least in this little face/off, unlike in the film, Nicholas Cage was the clear victor.