28 July, 2010

2002 6FTM "Bainian Qiaomu Zhangxiang"

For years, I never paid 6FTM any notice, after being scared away from them during 2006, by which point their productions (or at least those I encountered) were dross akin to modern-day CNNP. So, it was a real delight to receive the 2003 "Fengqing Lushi" from Keng, that I described previously - it showed me that 6FTM were great, once upon a time.

In a similar vein, this even earlier cake is testament to the fact that 6FTM know (or, perhaps, knew) how to make good tea.

It's also a good case-study for why the old chestnut about buying pre-2006 pu'er before it becomes too expensive can be sensible.

2002 6FTM Zhangxiang
Even the old-fashioned wrapper tugs at the heart-strings

The cake's name means "100-year tall-tree camphor-scent", and this really is scented strongly of camphor.  It refers, of course, to the camphor trees that are planted between pu'er trees to prevent pests.  Organic pesticide, if you will.

2002 6FTM Zhangxiang
Big, brittle leaves - akin to, but not actually being, huangpian

Looking at the photograph above, you'll notice large, broad leaves, and you'll probably be imagining that they are brittle - which they are.  You may be able to tell that the cake has become somewhat dark orange in colour.  By the time a cake is 8 years of age, it's difficult to tell if that orange colour comes from maturity of artifice, given that they tend towards this colour after a while.

2002 6FTM Zhangxiang

It brews up a heavy orange-red, as pictured below, and has a thick, tarry aroma mixed in with that obvious camphor (zhangxiang) component.  My dear wife passes by, commenting "This one has a wonderful scent - quite old."

The body of the tea is satisfyingly thick and woody, with plenty more camphor in the finish.

2002 6FTM Zhangxiang

Plenty of sharp bitterness remains, which is excellent - it gives the impression that maturing process has something to work on, and that it wasn't neutered during production.  I also enjoyed its potency and longevity, which are similarly orthodox features of what some describe as being good for aging.  On top of it all, I noticed the cooling sensations and long huigan of a good tea.

This cake is a real treat, and I pestered Keng into buying a few on my behalf - thanks again!


Sverrir said...

Sounds very interesting. Where do you buy a cake like this?

Hobbes said...

Dear Sverrir,

I think Taobao would be your best option for this one. You can search for liu da cha shan using the characters 六大茶山.

I've not seen it for sale at Western vendors.