Say what you want about drug pushers, they know how to get the job done. I strongly suspect that NEIL of Teaclassico used to push narcotics / finance revolutions in his past, because he really knows how to get me to buy tea.
I feel unsafe around him.
If this isn't a Taobao image then I'm a monkey's uncle.
Let's open the batting with a "1990s" (aren't they all?) Phoenix tuocha. (It is from the Dalian Lanjian outfit.)
As you can surmise from the spooky blue glow in the above photograph, this sesh kicked off in the thin hours before dawn, when the children are dormant and the voices in my head are at their most muted.
It's a tuocha, yes indeed. You're looking at the tight little lumps of rock-hard leaves and concluding the same. The weird thing about this session was that it occurred the morning after a rather heavy night - the heaviest in my college calendar, in fact. They say that booze disrupts sleep, so maybe that's it. Either way, this tea has some serious healing to perform.
It is sharp and dark, with a "black" character to its flavour that might be due to its storage. In common with my approach to all older teas, I used tons of leaves, because it's almost impossible to overbrew old tea.
Bad move. Tuocha still retain much of their potency, thanks to that arrested development induced by the compression, and I was made to pay the price for my hubris. Tail between my legs, suitably humbled, I took some leaves out of the pot and got things back under control. The result is a pleasingly sharp (sharp!) woody sweetness, much as you might expect from an older tuocha.
The scent of this tea, curiously enough, is one of its better features: it makes me feel relaxed. It is the scent of Good Times. Does that make any sense at all?
It must be said that I didn't buy this tea; at $139, it's still just a tuocha, after all - even for all its lovely scent.
The same cannot be said of the next cake, which is, I have concluded, probably two parts cocaine to every three parts maocha.
This is the 1998 CNNP "Zhencang" Hongyin [red label], which, if you value your bank balance, you would be well advised NOT TO TRY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. I mean this. The addiction will take hold of you after just one session, and, as happened with me, you will be both terribly grateful and yet simultaneously terrified (and quite a bit poorer).
You can't see the cocaine in the above image, but rest assured: it is there. Waiting. Your neuroreceptors are buzzing at the prospect, I can tell. This tea knows that, and sits there, rubbing its hands and cackling to itself, like Donald Pleasence sitting in a turny, black SPECTRE chair.
Is the above image beginning to impart the reason for the fear? This cake is thick, and sweet, and decidedly deadly. It smells humid to say the least. Perhaps, if you do not like humid tea, then that will be your salvation, and will allow you to resist this cake. Perhaps.
The fragmented small leaves are only the slightest bit grey. This tea tastes not just wet, but soaking. It really is humid. Mineral in its core, sweet and carrying a long throatiness, it grips every part (every part) of the flesh with tingling sensations. The breath is like ice.
My diary has "the aftertaste is purest library". Hide your $279, because this is a mammoth of a tea.
the taste of the steak
before it arrives