Pu-erh Reviews

2005 Nan-nuo 100 year old tree cake

Genre: Compressed Sheng/Green/Uncooked/Raw
Factory: Six Famous Tea Mountains
Vendor: Yunnan Sourcing
Reviewed by tea junkie on 11/12/2006

Background    This cake will be a tough one for me to judge with anything approaching impartiality. I have drank two cakes of this stuff, and currently have two for ageing, so I am very familiar with this tea. I have a deep love for this infusion, it is very strong yet its astringency and depth come across as very soothing to me. I probably should not write too much before the tasting, but I thought it important that I make clear that I carry alot of baggage into this endeavor. The cake is from older growth sections of the Nan-nuo mountain, which means little to me except that the trees are hardy survivors. What I have read and seen in books/mags is that the leaves can grow quite large, and the young bud sets can be very difficult to harvest.

Dry Leaf Appearence:    The cake as a whole is moderately compressed, with a good variety of medium to small leaves along with a generous quantity of tips. Breaking apart shows that the bottom layers seem to be the largest leaves while the top layer holds most of the tips. The center of the cake seems to be simply a transition between the top and bottom layers. I would call it well-balanced in its appearance after it had been teased apart, which was quite easy and resulted in very little dust.

Water to Leaf Ratio:     10 gr of Leaf in 100 ml of water

Brewing Method:    Gongfu with a seasoned yixing pot and a porcelain pitcher. Drank from porcelain thimble-bowls. Washed tea for ten seconds, then dove into the serious tasting.

Wet Leaf Appearence:    Wet leaf showed a large amount of bud sets, with very few single leaves. Only a few sets were intact, but all contained at least the lowest leaf whole. Here and there were very tiny leaves and bud sets that were quite pale compared to the rest of the leaves. A very pretty plate of leaves, but they do not stand well against some other Nan-nuo offerings I have seen in the past. Teahub's 2002 (I think, drank it already like a fool) Nan-nuo cake was a thing of beauty, and unfortunately was too delish to store, with lots of big juicy leaves and almost whole bud sets.

1st Steep    20 seconds (all steeps with 195 degree spring water from local sources (western washington)). Pale tan colored infusion with a light fragrance of leather and honey. The flavor was a bit light, tending to duplicate the aroma only with a bit more warmth. I probably should have used this as a rinse also.

2nd Steep    20 seconds yielded a light amber infusion with a pronounced bacon aroma amidst the leather and honey. The taste was what I have come to adore, a deep and powerful mouthfeel and a heavy dose of leather, bacon and little notes of honey and sassafras.

3rd Steep    20 seconds yielded again a pale amber liquor, and also again the mouthfeel and depth carry you along with the simple flavor profile of bacon and leather with hints of spearmint at the front and honey in the eternal finish. Very little bitterness throughout the sips, which is a bit surprising with such a heavy dose of poyphenols.

4th Steep    30 second brought out a deeper amber liquor along with a thick mouthfeel that coats the entire mouth, though again with precious little bitterness. The leather and bacon remain dominant, though again there are delicate notes -most notably the honey and a bit of the old friend anise in the finish.

Subsequent Steeps    Went out to ten infusions, with the last at about two minutes still revealing pale amber and a good flavor profile that was not so heavily masked with the leather and bacon. A bit more mint and honey with delicate quarter-notes of anise and dried rose buds. I would have gone on longer, but my wife and I had been up for almost twenty-four hours and the caffeine from the first few infusions had already faded. This is a hearty brew that can, with careful steeping, last for a good long time supplying a very satisfying and smooth series of cups. The pooled liquor was also a very bold and luscious mug.

Conclusion    I tried to remain impartial about this tea, and I can say that it is a very simplistic cup, though it carries alot of depth and staying power. There is nothing fancy in the liquor, just tons of polyphenols that manage not to be very bitter. I would imagine that age will be kind to this tea, but I have yet to accrue enough experience to make any informed comments on its ageing potential. I will say to the folx at 6ftm, thank you for this tea as it has been a source of deep drinking satisfaction for me, it is my favorite comfort brew and I will miss it deeply when I finally run out.

Sorry, no Photos

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