Summer seems like a long time ago. To say that the pace of life is hectic is perhaps rather an understatement, but one mustn't complain. I do, after all, get to enjoy good tea now and again, and have the pleasure of drinking it with my loved ones, and with teachums far and wide. As my dear wife gets closer and closer to the expected delivery date for our second son, the tea sessions are becoming rarer - but that's OK. It's for the best of all possible reasons!
In between the white noise of student inductions*, welcome dinners for Freshers, arranging tutorials, and (every now and again) doing a bit of research**, having a tea session is a fantastic relief. Many of you, Gentle Readers, have been very kind in providing me with some great samples; those whom I still owe samples have been equally kind, extending me their patience.
*I was asked by Freshers on two separate occasions which degree I was studying (which is flattering for an old man like me), and, during an induction for students of physical science (engineering, physics, materials) in my new college, was told to sit with the other students. I had to point out that I was a tutor.
**My supposed day job, allegedly taking 80% of my time.
8582 and I have a troubled past. I disregarded it for the longest time, convinced that it was lightweight, and liable to age into a sweet, gentle, quiet nothingness. I have since been given (a very surprising number of) samples of 8582 through the years, and have since changed my tune. Only a fool cannot change their mind, after all. I am happy to do so, after enjoying such evidence to the contrary of my original opinions, and this 2002 most generously provided by TA is one of them.
One of the distinguishing marks of "traditional" 8582 is the length of leaf that can be found in the blend, which is markedly larger than the other classic blends. It has this in its favour, and I am pleased to see that this 2002 is no exception. It also contains plenty of stems and other goodies.
Shown above, the soup is suggestive of a cake that has a few years, but which has not yet turned the corner into proper age. In fact, it took a while to get going: the inertia of the leaves had to be overcome, and they took their time in opening into a full flavour. I rather like this effect in a cake - it certainly beats having nothing to say.
The impressive sweetness of this cake took me by surprise. Pre-Dayi versions of 8582 certainly seem to be very reliable. I cannot really comment on the aging potential of Dayi 8582, other than the fact that those I have (dating back to around 2005-6) are doing OK. However, they taste like a different tea to "classical" CNNP 8582, as if something intangible has changed.
This particular sample is probably "dry storage", in that it is very clean, and as much yellow as it is orange, which is something of a surprise when we note that it is a decade old. Its body has become thick and sweet, and if it is dry storage, then it is dry storage Done Right. I enjoyed its heavy texture, and wrote that it was "quite a mouthful".
Better yet, it behaves like real tea, and resonates well in the throat, giving plentiful sweetness long after the swallow. I brew over two litres of this tea, and it remains heavy and decent throughout.
You must admit that the folk at Menghai certainly know / knew what they're doing. I would be happy to find a cake of this, although I would probably be unhappy at the price. Perhaps it is better if I cross my fingers and hope for the best with my pile of Dayi 8582.
If it turned out like this, it would be a wonderful thing. Thanks again to TA for the great session.