I tried another of “12 gentlemen”‘s cake today — an arbor big tree cake from Spring 06.
The piece looks small, but is actually quite large. It’s the center of the cake.
I realize that shooting into the gaiwan doesn’t really tell you how much tea I put in…. and you lose all perspective. It was about 1/4 full, but I think I put too much in today — I knew it from the start, but went ahead anyway. The compression was very tight, so I ended up having too strong a brew…
I did the 30/60/30 — and then repeated 30s.
This is first infusion
The tea…. well, it has a nice body. Round, full, smooth. It goes down well. The first infusion the tea was still brewing up, so not terribly bitter, a bit sweet — hints of the Yiwu stuff in this. Some Yiwu is probably mixed in here, among other things. Then the infusions got more bitter, huigan is evident, although bitterness is strong. It tastes… like any old puerh that is properly made. I think on the whole it’s probably made in the proper way, waiting for age to do its thing. It will probably age into something nice. How nice, I’m not sure.
However, I’m not sure if it’s all arbor big tree. It’s a bit more mellow than some of the obvious plantation stuff, but it’s not that far from some cakes I’ve tasted from Menghai or other places that are obviously not arbor big tree. Since we all know that the definition of arbor big tree is pretty flexible…. maybe these are transition type stuff that recently made it out of the “small tree” category. Or, these are planted, managed, well farmed big tree, since they didn’t say anything about wild or let-loose.
Will I buy it? Depending on the price. I might eventually get one or two, as a sort of insurance policy. A lot of the stuff I have are single mountain stuff. I fear that they might turn a bit uni-dimensional when aged.
The brewed leaves are quite broken, but unlike somebody, I don’t blame the manufacturer since I think it is broken mostly because of the way the cake was broken up. If I peeled layers off instead of getting a piece that is already broken like that, the leaves would’ve been more whole.
On another front — the wet storage project is proceeding. Today I used the humidifier to spray water all over the cake (it’s still going on). The front of the cake feels damp. The wrapper, which I put under the cake, is wet. Interesting note — the neifei got two tea stains on it. So if you have a cake less than 10 years old with tea stain on the neifei….. it’s probably from water (I’ve been told older teas will have OIL stains from the tea, but I’m not sure if that’s actually true). It might be too wet for another round tomorrow…. we’ll see how it dries overnight.