It takes both types of Jones to make a cake that isn't presented in the "Chinese classical" style.
The parcel landed in England with a card containing the Orbus Novum, pictured above. As PM (a.k.a.
teadog2 twodog2) recorded in his card, shown below, He Likes Old Maps. Me too, in fact. All the cool people like old maps! I spent large portions of my childhood inventing my own maps of fictional nations. I am not normal.
In e-mail conversation, we wondered if, having learned of PM's intention to name his cake after jazz, just how far he would take it...
Let's dust down our Coltrane albums and see what happens. As you can see, this cake is (sharp intake of breath) not in the "Chinese classical" style. In fact, the only Chinese calligraphy on the wrapper, which is usually de rigueur for any pu'ercha cake, is in the tiny Taochaju logo.
I appreciate a bold thinker, unafraid to do things His Way. I am reminded of the Bearsbearsbears cake from ages past that had a cuddly teddy on the wrapper.
OK, I didn't dust off my Coltrane albums. That would be going slightly too far. I did, however, crank up the Opeth to "11", which surely counts for something.
PM writes that this cake is a blend of leaves from Mengsong, Nannuo, and Laoman'e, with harvests from 2008 to 2012, including both spring and autumn crops. I believe he also mentioned that it contained the kitchen sink.
Once denuded of its wrapper, this cake looks like any other decent blend: it contains healthy, shiny leaves of all shapes and sizes, and really does look like a "Heinz 57". Another suitable adjective would be "eclectic". Yet another would be "messy".
Before I am allowed to consume the cake, however, I am obliged to read the neipiao. Unusually, this one does not claim to cure all ills...
"Enjoy with care". Ne'er a truer word spoken, as we will find out.
The leaves have a fresh and sweet aroma.
First time around, I absolutely obliterated this tea, by using my usual ham-fisted, over-optimistic approach to selecting leaves, which caused the resulting tea to be massively overbrewed. Massively. It tasted just like Dayi, that's how bad it was.
It wasn't until the fourth infusion that the tea had backed off enough for me to swallow it. It was as if the tea was offended that I had brewed it so strongly, and that it was in a huff, waiting for me to be suitable penitent before it condescended to giving me a palatable brew.
It never really recovered, and continued to punch me in the throat, no matter how many leaves I took out for the pot. I looked rather shamed, beaten by a tea, as I took the leaves out: "OK, OK - I'm sorry. I'll take some more out. Is that enough for you?"
It wasn't enough.
If there's one thing I've learned over the years it's that, if you've offended someone tetchy, then they need some time to be grumpy.
I duly left this tea for two days, and came back to a second sitting with an entirely new set of leaves. We started over.
As predicted, all was forgiven. I started with (really very) few leaves, and then slowly slooowwwwly increased the quantity in the pot over the coming infusions. The result was penetrating, sweet, and extremely cooling on the breath. The claims of being "laoshu" [old tree] are probably fine, and it was made by Xiao Yunqing, who is something of a complete and uttter "dude", as they say.
By the fourth infusion, I had added sufficient leaves to pump the kuwei back up to Hobbes-threatening levels (which is just where I like it), by which time a tobacco undercoat came through, drenching the tongue in darkness and richness.
PM is, or should be, massively famous for his ability to hunt down bargains like the dogs they are. This first cake of his is, in that wise, very low priced (circa thirty USA bux at the bizarrely-named white2tea), for which one gets a great deal of pleasure... and it is significantly dominated by laoshu material.
Don't go trying this cake thinking that it's the second coming of the Messiah, but do go in, as PM and Xiao Yunqing probably did, thinking that this is a hodge-podge of leftovers which works really well. I can't say I'd buy it, perhaps because space is so short, but I did like it. Surely, that's what counts.