Che Ma Xuan Pasha

My budding love affair with Che Ma Xuan sourced cakes stemmed from correspondences with Eugene (Tea Urchin) about the NaKa region.

I have since greatly enjoyed the various cakes sampled; a BingDao, two NaKa, a MengHai, a YouLe, and now a PaSha… each lovely, each unique.

courtesy of Eugene (Tea Urchin)

courtesy of Eugene (Tea Urchin)

courtesy of Eugene (Tea Urchin)

The dry leaf of this early spring 2011 sourcing from PaSha offered what I find in a sum of youthful puerh, an intense aroma of pasture –a muddle of humid dark grass with faint traces of fruit, and hints of flowers. This PaSha offered an additional expression in the form of a vaporous smudge of candy-like sweetness.

The first yielded broths were thick in body, buttery smooth. Each contributed to the increasingly distinctive mouth feel as they dramatically bowed from the tongue into the hard palate.

As the soft palate became engaged, my mind went into overdrive scrambling to identify notes as they appeared in flashes –cherry wood, sweet tobacco, flowers of undetermined variety, menthol, spice, corn (??)… all seemed right, yet potentially incorrect.

The tea truly opened up around the 6th and 7th steeps with a penetrating sweetness. It rounded out the existing notes, filled the mouth, and reached easily into the throat. It soothed. The lips became coated with tea oils.

A latent veil of coolness began to rise from the front of the mouth into the sinus.

The considerable nature of its sweetness soldiered on well into the final cups –I took the leaves to a healthy 15 steeps.

Its energy was ever-present, built gradually, and weighed heavily on the shoulders. It calmed. The body pulsated with warmth, which was notable as cool breezes rushed in from the patio door behind me.

I fought a bit with this PaSha; not in steeping, but in defining the nuances of its flavor. It confounded me with its profile. I look forward to a session or two more –on the back of three to date– to truly define all of its subtleties. This, I am afraid, will have to wait for a cake to arrive.

It seems a potentially good tea for aging, if considered for its now complexity and vibrant nature. It is also priced nicely at $50 for a 357g cake.

Should you be interested in this PaSha, or any of the previous Che Ma Xuan cakes, please contact Eugene for samples, and or cakes.

Advertisements

An afternoon with a beast from Naka and Cabaret Voltaire

I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what triggered my interest in Naka.

There might have been a mini-brick online somewhere that first put the name into my head, or perhaps it rang in my head as Naga –one of my favorite features of the Wats in Thailand when I visited years back. Whatever the exact reason, I made mention of the village to Eugene at Tea Urchin during an email discussion about teas, prompting him to make note of a tuocha Che Ma Xuan sourcing from the autumn of 2009. I ended up falling in love with the purchased sample, and a short while after happily invested in a 250g tuo.

After an exchange which included mention of their 2012 Spring sourcing, a sample arrived gifted with a recent order. It, however, sadly appeared just as I packed away my tea’s into boxes, where it has patiently waited for me since.

Today, as I sat out on the back patio on this lovely day, it seemed as good day as any to give it a first run. After a bit of rummaging about in a couple of boxes, the sample was found.

With just a dry nosing, the invigorating aroma from the leaves drew me in before they were even wet. This is also when what became the dominant flavor note in the first half-dozen steeps appeared. I couldn’t place it just then, and it took me a handful of sips to name it.

Toasted rice powder.

The liquor was clean, bright. It provided a mild ku along with an anchoring note of the toasted rice powder. This fragrance also lingered on the lid of the gaiwan, even as it began to fade in the mouth by later steeps. As the session progressed, the tea rounded out with increasing array of notes and subtleties.

It felt incredibly soft, buttery perhaps, in the mouth. And while it might be a clumsy way of describing the progressive sensation, ‘glossy’ best sums it up. It wasn’t the high buff shine experienced from the Legends Of Puer Bingdao cake I had recently (which I will post about shortly), but it was in a similar league. It cooled the tongue, and even the lips, at points.

What I wasn’t fully prepared me for was the energy lurking within this Naka. It was unapologetically powerful. Within the first three steeps it began pulsing energy into the brow where it increased in weight. It weakened the strength of my legs. My torso felt impossibly warm. I was absolutely consumed whole by its energy. I had to walk away from the beast for a break around the seventh, perhaps eighth, steep as I was fully intoxicated. I was reluctant, truly, but sometimes you have to know your limit.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the qi transforms with time. Will it fade? Will it strengthen? I can barely even imagine the latter –though I have a sample of an eighties Shui Xian from Essence Of Tea lurking in the wings which reportedly knocks the drinker for a loop within a steep. Might this also be the future for this Naka? I kind of hope so.

steeping listening: Cabaret Voltaire: International Language