27 July, 2012

2007 Cloud "Blue Clouds" and "Blue Clouds Special"

My teachum Mauricio lives in Argentina. When not playing polo, consuming steak and Malbec, and militarily occupying the Falkland Isles, Mauricio likes to enjoy good tea, and has been generous enough to send me a huge pile of it recently.

The first of samples that I tried was from "Clouds", a Hong Kong-based solicitor (as far as I recall) and collector of pu'ercha. Some may remember him from various Hong Kong tea forums, where his robust put-downs are continually amusing.  "Oh no you ditn't!", I often chuckle, in my best faux-New York accent.



2007 Clouds Blue

The cake shown above is from Mr. Clouds second series of "own brand" cakes, pressed by the ever-cooperative Changtai Tea Company.  It sells for around $40, which is most reasonable.  In this world of spiralling "boutique" prices, it's a great pleasure to see someone as reputable as Clouds aiming for a sociable bottom line.  I think there's a good market for decently-priced, robust cakes.


2007 Cloud "Blue Clouds"


As Mauricio's sticker above denotes, the leaves come from all over the place.  I can make out Mengsong, Bulang, and Mangzhi, and possibly Naka and Manmai.  The Clouds web-site also lists "Mannong", but Cantonese doesn't map into Mandarin very readily, especially if you exhibit suction with both dialects.


2007 Cloud "Blue Clouds"



The cake is quite dark already, as may be seen above.  You can also discern that the blend is quite well compressed, and that it contains everything from tips to larger leaves, in fragments of all sizes. 


2007 Cloud "Blue Clouds"


It brews yellow-orange, with no aroma, and has an "old fashioned" character, consisting of dense sweetness and long throatiness.  I suspect that Cloud's tastes in pu'ercha run to the more traditional, given the extent of his own collection in that area, and it is rather a nice change for me.

This cake is also rather a hit with my son, Xiaohu.  "Daddy!  Tea!  Lap!"  He looks up at me, trying to climb up my legs, as if they were a ladder.  I lift him onto my lap, and we find his own little cup, which he uses with surprising excitement.  "More please!" he exclaims, after swiftly finishing his portion.  "Did you like it?" I ask, wondering how the sharpness will sit with a toddler's tastes.  "Yes!  Nice!" comes the reply.

Xiaohu hangs around for four infusions, which is quite a lot of tea for a little stomach.  Then, it's back to his books to look for pictures of dinosaurs.  "Pteranodon!", I hear.  It must be weird having Lei and me as parentile units.

The tea has a good background of sharp sweetness, of sufficient power to last well.  Strong, clean, with a reasonably thick body, it is a good blend.  The robust, heavy base and piercing sweetness remind me of long tea sessions in Beijing, where the teas are typically in this style with the drinkers that I've chugged alongside in the past.  It isn't obviously from one region, and fulfils the remit of a solid blend.  "Slightly aged taste", notes Clouds, which is just about right.


2007 Cloud "Special"


With a very similar wrapper, the "Special" version of this cake costs just $2 more than the unspecial version. I like the honest, straightforward description of "Special", rather than anything more nauseatingly poetic; solicitors are not taken with flights of poesy.


2007 Cloud "Special"


I don't think that I could tell the difference between the two raw cakes, if I didn't know their labels (pictured above).  Perhaps the leaves are marginally less broken in the "special" cake.


2007 Cloud "Special"


This has the same yellow-orange colour as the ordinary version, but has a lovely, honey-sweet scent in the aroma cup that was absent before.  The flavour is deeper and more complex, with much more to keep the attention.  It has a "beany" base; a long, savoury sweetness; a cooling finish; more activity in the mouth.  It has the long sweetness of the original, but much more flavour, and far more in the way of peripheral sensations - cooling aspects and a certain vibrancy, among them.


2007 Cloud "Special"


Robust, reliable tea at a robust, reliable price; what's not to like?  For such a weeny extra outlay, the "Special" really is worth the money.

Many thanks to Mauricio for the introduction to these solid little blends.

14 comments:

shah8 said...

According to a comment on the old livejournal, the Cloud's formula is a straight rip of the Taipei commemorative blend from '06 we are all familiar with.

--shah8

P.S. High quality blends are relatively rare outside of stupendously expensive brands by Fujin, Hopewell Chang, Chen Shen Hao, you get the idea. When you find a cheap'ngood...buy for that decade down the road...

MarshalN said...

I believe he was a prosecutor who is now a full time tea merchant, although now that I've said it I expect to see him pounce on this comment in due course correcting it with excruciating detail.

hster said...

Clouds has the oddest habit of referring to Clouds in the third person and I'm giggling already in anticipation.

"Cloud would like to comment on the above statement in this way. Cloud doesn't see the reason why..."

Actually I have his First Step to Puerh which is a decent guide for beginners.

My favorite Clouds diary entry is:

" Cloud did not need to go to bed too early. Cloud could write something down for the Cloud's Tea Diary.
...
Where? Where? Where? Along the digging, Cloud could not locate any tea older than 30 years. As Cloud remembered, there was a 1970's Guangdong Tea Cake there. Finally, I got it.
"

That last "I" is a slip up there.

hster

Hobbes said...

Where would the world be without our idiosyncrasies, foibles, and peccadilloes...

I have often contemplated publishing the occasional tea article in the style of my favourite tea-writers. However, I have not released them. Yet. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Anonymous said...

I think the price of both versions haven't changed much since release. Except the first version, both version is still available in the shop.

Early this year I was in the shop and indirectly the shop owner told me that these teas could cause uncomfort if drink too much. I think he had this experience when the teas were very new. In the HK tea forum, they gave a nickname to it "頭暈青" instead of "浮雲青" as both have similar pronunciation.

apache

Hobbes said...

Thanks, Apache! Come over for a session some time soon?

You Chinese chaps and your uncomfortable stomachs. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Anonymous said...

Hey!

And thanks for your nice review too!

I did enjoy the SP more than the BC too!

My handwriting is illegible in contrast to yours which is lovely!

I am not into Polo, leave that to the bigwigs, lol. But we could have a steak and a Malbec if you ever visit Argentina. And of course some Pu!!

Take care, Maxwell2079

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your invitation. I will send you an email to fix the date for a pu session.

apache

Hster Geguri said...

Dear Hobbes,

Please please do release the parodies.

Because I can't think of a style outside of Clouds which can be so readily recognized, I eagerly await your post.

If I see a "Peace." at the end, it could only be Matt.

Jakub also has a very unique charming way with the English language.

Hmm. Hmm. Double Hmm.
Hster

Jack M said...

Dear Hobbes,

Very much enjoyed reading about your young son's appreciation of tea. My 1 year old has similarly sampled a number of good Pu-erh, Yancha and Hongcha, and Tea was even one of his first proper words!

Best Wishes,

Jack :)

Hobbes said...

The thing about parody is that you really have to be certain that the subject of the pieces will not take offence. That works for parody of public figures, because parody is expected, and so there is seldom offence taken; with private writers, it is a more touchy subject. It simply wouldn't do to risk offending someone for the sake of a quick giggle. :)

I'll find a suitable format - maybe... ;)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Hobbes said...

Dear Jack,

I'm impressed to read of your young boy's experiences into tea-drinking. Of course, the tradition role of young boys in making tea has been to attend to the fire under the kettle, so perhaps you and I already have our assistants in training... :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Anonymous said...

Apache,
Have you tried Cloud Series #1?
EdoB

Anonymous said...

EdoB,

Sorry for the very late reply, as I just come back to this blog again so to speak. No, I haven't tried any Cloud cakes and all I have is second hand information.

Also, there isn't much information about Cloud's cakes on HK Tea Forum either, more likely you would find discussion on forum base in China.

apache