27 July, 2015

The Circle is Complete

Peacocks.  Sure, they look pretty - until they open their mouths.  GRAAAARKKK!  They sound like the eternal damned.

There is a very pretty pub in this city, by the river.  Everything nice, everything routine.  Bridge, running water, old buildings.  Also, it has a bunch of peacocks strutting around.  GRRAAAKKEEK!  It's not a peaceful place.

Old-school Gs among you might recall some similarly pretty-but-obnoxious cakes in the "peacock" range from Dayi, in 2008.  We had the Peacock of Badashan, and the Peacock of Menghai, and even the Peacock of Mengsong.  While perusing the darker zones of our tea-toom, I discovered a cake that I've not written about before: the 2008 PEACOCK OF BULANG.  Just when you thought it couldn't get any more bitter, we find a Bulangshan cake.

This cake has spent its entire life in storage at our place - we bought our house at almost exactly the same time as we bought these cakes.  Therefore, I am tense!  It has only known British storage.  Will it be any good?

It has a dense scent of sweet darkness, which is, at least, mildly suggestive of improvement.  The scent in the wenxiangbei is "breadlike" and sweet, which is, again, not bad news.

It is strong (strong!) plantation tea, as expected.  The soup, pictured below, demonstrates that - lo and behold - it does appear to have aged somewhat.  The chunky yellow Dayi youth has gone, at least. 

It is clean, bitter, and has a soft and settled flavour.  Also, it is bitter.  I am primarily thrilled by the fact that it doesn't suck, and secondly quite surprised that it tastes reasonably humid.  British storage is a funny thing: it is (very) wet, which you can taste in the air when you come home from abroad; this avoid the "dry" storage aspect.  However, it isn't very warm here, and so cakes do not rocket off into the aging that you'd expect from humid Asian regions close to the equator.  The result is interesting - it is a little like aging a super-tight tuocha in Asia, in the sense that its aging is slow (deliberately so, in the case of a supertight tea).

For $10, I am surprised that it is so drinkable.  I wonder if I have the mystery fifth variety of Peacock around here somewhere...



sunday monday
tuesday - shops, restaurants
museums closed


mother and child
emerge from the cathedral
their pushchair stolen


I cannot tell
French peaches from nectarines
- that's an apple


you taught him to beg
I wonder when you will
teach him to read

18 July, 2015

Purple Haze

Gentle Reader, I hope that you are easing pleasantly into the summer, in whichever way you ease best.  The end of the academic year  here feels like the climax to a bad movie: more, and more, and more pressure / examinations / socials... and then pop!  Sudden silence.  

All that remains is the high-pressured whine of the accumulated guilt of that huge pile of papers that needs to be written, and those grant proposals that need to be sent off for review.  As a consequence, it sometimes feels that this job is as much about talking about what you want to do in future (via grant proposals), as much as doing actual research.  Sadly, "I want to drink tons of tea" doesn't seem to cut the mustard, as far as talking about what I want to do in future.

The sun is shining (just about), and so let's make some hay.  I seem to have been added to Jalam's "tea club" mailing list: this is the second xiaobing that has made its way to me in as many months. I am not complaining!

The 2014 Nannuoshan "Ziye" [purple leaf] is packed with summertime sweetness, atop a base of true and surprising bitterness.  BOLD is the man that sends real tea to his tea-club, rather than nondescript crowd-pleasers!  I approve wholeheartedly. 

The "purple" flavour of ripe fruits is always welcome, and very well-suited to the character of Nannuoshan, which is likewise fruity. So good, in fact, is this tea that I have a second session with the same cake in the afternoon, using a new set of leaves in the pot.  This tea is ab-so-lutely perfect for low-intensity summertime quaffing.  Perhaps I'm just in a good mood, from the season.

There is vibrancy abound in this little number, and that satisfying sweetness is made interesting by the unsociably bitter base.  I can imagine tea-club members being terrified by this bitterness, and that makes me love it twice over.

The remainder lasts me several days in my lab, and I drink it as a priority, due to its haute deliciousness. It seems to last forever, and it stays unbroken in its sweetness as the infusions come and go.  Purple tea is so very good for the summer, and this cake is a friendly example of the genre.

Trinity Term, I - III


is when everyone
sneezes at last


little fireworks
reflected in the eyes of
little boys


saying goodbye
to the old professor
at his funeral

13 July, 2015



many sandals
many backpacks many beards


is it fair
to blame Nicholas Cage
for all those deaths?


this is where you stand
to tell all those scientists
about your science


after the dinner
the balloon roadrunner runs
home with the young boy