Thursday, 7 April 2011
To explore a mountain
Back from my long and rarely arduous trip to Sri Lanka and the cricket world cup there was something at home I really missed, my tea. For a country that produces a rather large amount of tea, the actual tea at street level was quite disappointing. Even the tea shops were little different from the ones in the British High Street and were mainly packed with.. gasp.. flavoured teas. I found some solace in the lobby of the Columbo Continental and enjoyed at least some decent leaf tea there with a slice of cake or two but on the whole I was let down somewhat. Given the time and the right directions I'm sure I could of done better but there was a lot of cricket to cover and most of it many miles from the hills.
Back we are though and whilst away a couple of lumps of tea had arrived to welcome me home. After going through many different samples of Ban Zhang area teas from many different sources I have, for no good reason, decided to have a thorough look at Nannuo. Why Nannuo? beats me! From my first impressions it's a bit of a girly mountain, all sweetness with sugar and spice, no puppy dog's tails and snails. Armed with a selection of mao cha from Pu Erh Shop, little Douji bricks, EOT's hideaway 2010 cake and another sample of the same year from Yunnan Sourcing I plod forward. It's all very new tea and rather unwittingly I haven't strolled across anything much older from Nannuo. Perhaps this is just an oversight of mine or perhaps they just don't exist.
With YS's Nan Nuo Ya Kou in the pot I start the tricky process of brewing and writing. The sample looks good and is straight off the side of a cake so even though it is merely a sample it still retails some of the essence of being from something greater. Very nice compression that crumbles in the fingers, no need to be bludgeoned.
Three pots in I am a little bemused, the soup is quite thick to the mouth but there isn't much oomph. I seem to of brewed some very sweet oil. I inspect the foil bag containing the rest of the sample to pass time as I boil some more water and find the leaves to be very attractive, a nice mix of greens and darker olives with streaks of silver but lacking much aroma. I'm finding myself searching for a huigan desperately instead of being given one without escape.
Freshly boiled water at hand I decide to let the time pass as I bathe the leaves. Went too far, it's bitter and tastes like cologne. I try again and this time come up a little too short. In my frustration for brewing like a chump I ditch the rest of the soup and grab another tea, my journey up Nannuo will go no further today and I take rest at, what must be, base camp.
Some days I brew tea and it's excellent, the very next time the same tea falls flat. Considering this I should put this sample to one side and return to it another day.