21 November, 2009

2009 Guafengzhai Xiaobing

My good teachum GV has recently been in Hong Kong, where he has been (among his actual academic duties) drinking tea with another teachum of mine, and resident of the once-British trading port, KC. KC has some great tea.  KC has some really very great tea, in fact, and this is one of them: a small-scale production, made in the factory that presses Yichanghao cakes.

This is one of a few Guafengzhai [Gwa-fung-djai] cakes that I've had this year.  As you can see above in comparison with a standard Dayi (which are quite small), it's not a huge cake.  Below, a similar comparison with the denuded Guafengzhai.

This little fellow is firm and fruity.  The leaves, pictured below, are glossy and covered in down.

The perfectly yellow soup that you can see in the photograph below slowly turns orange in the air, as its highly active contents oxidise.  It has tons (and tons) of sweet, sugary scents in the aroma cup, and the flavour is big and bold: lots of sweet grass, butter, and a chunky huigan.  The yunxiang [after-aroma] is a highly complementary sweet tobacco.  It swells to dominate the mouth, and has an enduring sweetness that blows all of the cobwebs away at 4 a.m.

This is seriously enjoyable pu'er.

Plenty of kuwei [pleasant bitterness] remains in this cake, which is to its credit - and the credit of its producers.  Never fear a bit of kuwei, I say.  I'd rather have it bitter today and awesome tomorrow, than mildly enjoyable today and flat tomorrow.

I like a tea that is brave and honest enough to knock your socks off with its kuwei and yellow colour.  This tea contains both of those expressions of character, along with a marvellous complexity that will have me looking out for further examples from Guafengzhai.  (Remember, too, that the "alpha" cake in our recent tasting event was from the same village, which was my favourite of all five.)

Many thanks to KC for introducing Lei and me to these lovely little cakes.


Anonymous said...

Hi Hobbes

I gather that you are enjoying 'Cosi Fan Tutte'! The title of the opera piece does not seem to apply to this cake ;)

Any luck with the Bada cake?


Anonymous said...

I could tell while I was reading that this would turn out to be a favorite cake. When grassy sweet turned into buttery, I knew I too would like it.

Hobbes said...

Dear Giorgio,

One of my favourite opera from possibly my favourite composer of opera, no less. :)

Forgive the delay in sending the bada cake - my last week has been unbearable, with about 5 minutes spare. I've bumped lots of unimportant things (like work and teaching) into next week, but unfortunately still had no time to do the important things (like send you some Bada!).

I liked the Bada, but the "Impressions" was a bit flat. I look forward to hearing your opinion; I think that we should have tongs of the former!



Unknown said...

Hi Hobbes... I have a similarly sized Gua Feng Zhai cake a friend gave me. Does your's have a nei fei? If so, what's written on it?

Hobbes said...

Dear Scott,

There is no neifei on my cake - I wonder if they're the same? KC mentioned that my cake was pressed in the Yichanghao factory, as a private production.