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.


  1. Interesting to see that you had struggles with this tea, too ... I have done two sessions so far. Bitterness I found also hard to control. Moreover, a fairly intense long lingering adstingency, giving me a mouthfeel that reminds me of unripe banana (i.e., real nasty ...). No matter what I did, I could not tame it - while the bitterness responded well to a reduction of leaf.
    My conclusion was that this tea is probably not fit to be enjoyed so young -? If for you it should turn out different, please post an update!


  2. PS - Having also bought other Nannuo samples, the continuation of your expedition will be of great interest to me! Looking forward to your next post ...


  3. Welcome back.
    Do try again with this tea - I had a good experience....from my notes: "interesting complex taste/aroma, Cha qi excellent, coats mouth well,may have to get some of this!"
    My only negative thoughts were that it may have faded a little to early, after 5/6 brews - but hard to quantify that....
    You will get your Tea-Mojo back again :-)

  4. Hey,

    Just stumbled upon your site, and wanted to say it's great! I am a practitioner of TCM in British Columbia and a lover of fine teas as well. I have a blog on TCM case studies you may be interested in. Check it out when you get a chance.

    Keep up the great work,


  5. @ Eran

    Just had a quick look at your blog, great stuff! 'TCM' is a term I'm getting rather uncomfortable with although that is what my degree was on, the time I have spent with Arnaud Versluys has made me somewhat of a SHL and JGYL snob! So the first impressions of your blog are extremely positive...

    With bans on fuzi, xixin and mahuang here in the UK it's quite tricky to practice herbal medicine a la SHL so my herbal studies seem to be more of a passion than my acupuncture. I started with Worsley's five element style which wasn't a style that agreed with me but I am definitely heading towards Japanese acupuncture post degree and thus back into a lot of five element thinking. Reading a lot of Shudo, Manaka and Kiiko Matsumoto so I am chomping at the bit to get stuck into Arnaud's abdominal diagnosis seminars this Summer.

    Pu Erh loving Shang Han Lun geeks.. now that is an exclusive club!

  6. Awesome, thanks for checking it out. I too consider myself a bit of a SHL/JGYL snob, and am pretty much consumed by it the majority of the time. I will be heading into Portland next weekend for Arnaud's SHL conference, and am rather excited to say the least. It's really unfortunate you guys have no access to all those herbs. Not sure what I would do without Fu Zi. Seriously!!!

    Pu Erh loving SHL geeks. Love it!!!

  7. Getting to that conference was a trip too far this year. I am already forking out for two trips to Chicago to catch up on two of Arnaud's SHL seminars I missed, give me to the end of november and I will of completed his whole SHL/JGYL course. As for the fuzi issue, technically we can buy fuzi for external use here in europe... nod nod wink wink

    Small world...