Let us open the batting with "solid".
Ah, the delights of the pre-dawn sesh. It is called "burning the candle at both ends": aiming to have something resembling a social life in the evening, after the dear children have been coaxed to bed, and then rising early to have some tea, being paradoxically unable to sleep, even though immensely tired.
Thusly, tired, and yet unable to sleep, I make matters yet worse by taking on a hefty slug of caffeine. It is a cycle that I have, at the time of writing, managed to break simply by going to bed immediately after my children, for a night or two. Sleep heals all wounds, and I have latterly discovered my love of it. I have become rather good at sleeping, in fact, and have made something of a hobby of it.
The "solid" cake is the 2007 Chenyuanhao "Guafeng Laozhai". I cannot recall from whence cometh this one, but it might be Dubs, or the now-vanished Origin. Or someone else.
The leaves, pictured top, are unusually dark, even at 4.30 a.m., and they have a mightily-enticing scent of tobacco. I am a vicarious tobacco consumer, initially from my father's distant pipesmoke, as he puffed beyond the jurisdiction of my mother, at the end of the garden, and more recently via pu'ercha.
This cake, like much of Daddy's pipeleaf, is solid, sweet, and rather clean. Unlike the contents of the patriarchal pipe, this tea also has a note of fishiness to it. That is not a matter of immediate concern, given that almost everything out of Japan (and the tea! ho ho) smells of fish. It is a full and heavy little tea; its "GFZ" character is typical, and, therefore, welcome. I liked it, but not enough to pursue.
The "stanking" tea is the 2001 Changtai "Red", from Dubs.
My diary has, and I quote directly, "This tea stinks, like Nurgle." For those few of you not familiar with the collected works of Games Workshop (i.e., for anyone who has not previously been a teenage British male), Nurgle is the Plaguebringer, a deity of pestilence and decay. He looks like a smiling, fat Buddha, except he is green and decomposing. The 2001 Changtai cake is exactly like this.
This is $150 from Dubs, and the cake is grey (grey!) with humidity. I like my tea so wet that it's likely to decompose before it gets brewed, and so this appeals to me greatly. I like teas that have been colonised by as-yet undiscovered bacteria, which may or may not confer super-powers on the imbiber.
"Heavy minerals" notes my diary, which is par for the course. Its tangy, humid warmth pushes its way through the dried-out soul. However, as you might expect, the excessive pestilence of this cake has given with one hand, only to take away with the other. It does not endure, and the fairly low (for its age) price reflects its various qualities and limitations.
And then there was the Unicron.
I really like this cake. It is the 2000 CNNP 7532 "Tiepai", from the aforelinked Dubs. You know this is a cake that needs to be owned the minute that you break it open.
Does the above image convey a sense of thickness? I think it looks rather like a serious claret. You probably cannot detect, from the photograph, its sweet and floral scent, even though it has the dark red-brown character of good age.
Unlike many other cakes of this (comparatively reasonable) price-range, which is $140, its scents and residual aftertaste are well-developed, and suggestive both of good leaves and good storage. I must confess that I brewed the entire 25g of the sample to gain this degree of thickness, but that's fair game. The result is Unicron, plain and simple, crunching his way through planet after planet.
"This tiepai cake is pure blackness." Note that "tiepai", meaning "pasted brand", refers to the probability that this cake is some sort of unorthodox pretender, dressed in an authentic 7532 wrapper. That said, one has to keep an open mind. If the wrapper contains Unicron, then it's all good.
Charles! you look young!
back from India I see
how is Lucy?
my name is not Charles
I've not been to India
and who is Lucy?