Sunday, January 30, 2011

Essence of Tea 2010 Nan Nuo

You're probably thinking I've been soaking myself in that 2007 Douji I wrote about in the last post.  Sadly, that's not the case.  Instead of sipping tasty teas I've been laid out with steaming mugs of Theraflu.  *bleh*  But I roused myself this morning for another lovely tea session.  Today's tea of choice is a sample sent to me by The Essence of Tea -- a bit of their 2010 Nan Nuo.

mmm.. I guess this is what they mean by "tea porn."  What's not to like about those furry, meaty, ropey leaves?  Really a couple of lovely chunks in my sample packet.  Upon opening the envelope I was greeted with plenty of green aroma but expected as much given the recent pressing.  The cake was nicely compressed, coming apart easily with just a little encouragement from my fingers.  The leaves still had some pliability to them which I'm assuming is due to the newness of the cake.

I continued with my water experiments for this session, brewing up two separate gaiwans.  On the right below is plain tap water and on the left is a brand of bottled water called Crystal Geyser, said to be "alpine spring water, bottled at the source."  Unlike the Fiji water there's no information about mineral content other than a vague reference that it contains trace minerals, but similar to the last experiment the bottled water pulled more color (plus taste and mouth feel) from the leaves --

The initial taste showed bitter at first but soft on the tongue.  A pleasing lightly slippery quality to it.  The bitter note was more rounded with the Crystal Geyser water, with some butter in the nose and taste.  The mouth feel is again slippery and full.  The tap water tea is much thinner by comparison, with a more one-dimensional taste. As I poured the second infusion with the Crystal Geyser water (10 seconds for the first, 12 seconds for the second) the air filled with a floral aroma.  The fragrance from the wet leaves confirmed it.  The soup and leaves with the tap water on the other hand showed only hay and grasses.

Clearly the tap water does little to enhance my teas so I won't go on and on about how it doesn't measure up.  We'll just stick with the tasting notes from the bottled water.  This 2010 EoT Nan Nuo kept me interested with some bite and roughness on the top of my tongue and mouth, but kept things nicely balanced.  Never overwhelming.  The floral quality in the aroma returns again on my breath, in the nose and throat.  The tea has a penetrating quality to it, warming my upper chest.  I even felt quite perspire-y as the session lengthened but I can't really say if it was the tea or my flu-addled condition.

By the fifth infusion the aromas in both gaiwans were starting to settle.  The tap water experiment finally started to reveal some floral notes while the bottled water one seemed to maybe give off hints of what the future might hold with a bit more age.  I had fun pulling out a sampling of the spent leaves.  A few tips, a few stems, with plenty of leaves of varying size and maturity, including some thicker meatier ones with strong spines --


  1. What a beautiful mix of leaves and buds! Looks like quite the beeng!
    I have tried several Nannuo cakes, and I was hoping I could get my hands on some of Nada's, but alas, my budget wouldn't allow.
    I am glad I get to experience it via blogs though!
    Great descriptions, and I love your allusion to "tea porn"! haha

  2. Pleasant reading...

    I have three samples of 2010 EoT puers and all of them have similar qualities you describe here. What surprised me is the freshness of those teas...I mean I have few 2010 cakes, some of them also with character of Nada's but now it already move, settle...When I opened bag with ManSai it was like spring for me...

    Sir William: That is great thing about EoT - you can buy only samples:)

    And about "tea porn" Maybe look of those leaves yes but not the brew, it is not so simple hit I think.

  3. Just checking EoT and I do not see there NanNuo...where did you get that? Thanks


  4. The Nannuo isn't really up-to-snuff due to mishap in the factory, so Nada is only selling it informally with the hope that the tea recovers to his satisfaction in the future.


  5. Exellent choice of water. Ive been using Crystal Geyser for years and have never found a better water. The mineral content is very low, which is exactly what I want for my tea brewing. Great blog!

  6. Nada sold me his nannuo when I visited his shop in the summer. It's not an amazing tea but for someone who hadn't got to know the mountain yet it provided me with a decent enough example. I still break it out when I crave something (in the words of Hobbes) namby pamby.. ;-)


  7. Bret -- Welcome, and thank you. Glad to hear that others are liking the Crystal Geyser water, as well. It's certainly easy to come by and not at all pricey.

    Anonymous -- yes, namby pamby :) But I do love a delicate floral tea. I wonder how much of it is simply gender preference? I'll have to come up with a suitable tongue-in-cheek phrase for the kind of flesh-rending pipe-tobacco teas that Hobbes seems to prefer ;)

  8. I believe Phyll used to use a generic brand of water that came from the exact same source as Crystal Geyser. Can't remember where it's from though --- you can try searching on his blog to see if there's any indication.

  9. Hello,

    Just found this blog and have been exploring the posts. I bought two cakes of the 2010 Nannou hoping it would be as good as his 2009, though sadly it is only a shadow of what it was. Not a bad tea per say, but it seems to lack the character that would make it stand out.

  10. Adam -- I've heard this about EoT's 2009 and 2010 Nannous, and I wish-wish-wish I had a bit of the 2009 to taste :) Sounds like it was very good! Enjoy :)