Ruiyuan Nannuo and Mr.Ma’s Tea
Veteran puer blogger Hobbes recently reviewed this Ruiyuan Nannuo laoshu [old tree] tea, which was made by a puer presser named Ma Yongwang. As Hobbes mentioned, I think of Mr.Ma as a straight shooter. After sampling some of his tea productions from Hekai and Nannuo, I decided two things:
1) Mr.Ma had a good nose for curating good puer
2) His prices were in line with the tea quality
These two factors gave me the green light to make a new tea friend. After drinking his laoshu teas, I got a third positive signal when I asked if he made any cakes with higher quality material. He said, “Yes, but it is expensive and all gone.” This is a good sign for a few reasons. First, actual gushu [ancient arbor, very old tree] tea is not cheap. Second, if he sold out, that means the production was – as it should be – small. Third, there is not a lot of money in the Sorry, We are sold out! game. But before I get ahead of myself, the main factors were; his tea was good and priced well. So, we hung out and drank tea together, talking about the wonderful mysteries of puer and whatever else came up.
Fast forward to Hobbes review, I began thinking about the gushu tea that he made from Nannuo. I knew that Mr.Ma had sold out of it before we had even met late last summer, but I thought maybe I could rescue a sample. I called him up and found he was already in Yunnan, running around Mengsong. He said to track down his wife in Beijing and see what she had left. Lucky for me the mission was a success. I was given the wrapper of the last cake with about 30 grams of the enchanting cake below.
The Ruiyuan Nannuo Gushu starts off with grape sweetness in the gaiwan and immediately reveals its strength. It is lively and dries my mouth out with a pleasant sewei [astringency] that activates my salivary glands.
After the third cup I take a brief rest, and a low undulating sweetness comes up from the back of my throat through to the top of my tongue. Through to the back on my throat and the back of the roof of my mouth, a coating lingers. No wonder he doesn’t have any of this left.
There is warming bitterness that lingers like a blanket. Looming in my mouth and throat. In the fourth steep I start drifting off with a hazy feeling. There is plenty of Qi [voodoo energy or religious enlightenment or something] in this cake. Maybe even too much, as I felt a light headed and needed a sit before continuing.
As I began gliding around the room and digging further and further into the session, I decided to spin the wheel with a long oversteep, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 minutes. I find that a lot of teas made with lesser material break under this pressure and start throwing off all kinds of offensive flavors or unpleasant feelings. This tea handled it quite well. It had an even throatier kuwei [pleasant bitterness] and nothing that made me regret the long steep. Enough of this for today, I think I should have invited a friend to share this session with me.
Note to self: Tell Mr.Ma to write my name on some of his gushu cakes for next year.