2011 Essence of Tea Mannuo
This blog is going to be a lot less photographic for awhile, unfortunately. I am grateful that myself and my family made it through Irene safely, without any bodily harm, unlike others who sadly lost lives and property. However, during the hurricane, I frothed myself into a rare bird chasing frenzy, tripped over a parking lot cable and tumbled onto the pavement, with my camera in my pocket. The next day, I discovered the screen was cracked to the point it could not display an image. Fortunately, the camera is insured, but I now enter a lengthy period of beaucratic entanglement involving repair estimates, insurance claims, and some sort eventual settlement. In the meantime, my HTC Inspire will be standing in. Some people think these new smartphones take nice pictures. I think they take color-nightmare, cheap glass, pixelated garbage. My apologies for what gruesome images do appear here in the mean time.
My motivation for reviewing Essence of Tea’s 2011 Mannuo should be obvious. Essence of Tea is offering cakes of their Mannuo as prizes for posting reviews of their teas. I had been sitting on this recent purchase, waiting for a special moment. I’m glad some external motivation came along, because this is good tea that I enjoy drinking now. Following my now-regular two session run, this morning I cranked up the leaf ratio to 7g in 80mL from the 5g I use when I try a new tea. What’s interesting about this is that from a potency perspective, there’s absolutely no reason to use more leaf with this tea. I spent yesterday afternoon in a jittery, over-caffeinated tizzy. Somehow, though, the flavors and textures significantly benefit from the extra leaf, amplifying the intense honey, apricot, and hazlenut flavors and deepening the balance between supple sweetness and gripping back-palate bite.
Generally, I’m not the biggest fan of bud-heavy, super-tippy tea, preferring the complexity, roundedness, and vigor of large-leaf pu’er. The Mannuo is incredible bud-heavy and I love it. For me, this tea combines the fleeting, ephemeral lightness of say the ’11 Nannuo with the intense, alkaline power of the ’11 Bulang in a harmony that makes it both eminently drinkable and completely intriguing. And unlike my experience with the other ’11 EoTs, the qi on the Mannuo is upfront, quick, and deep in a way that’s pleasing, enveloping and enjoyable. I believe this tea lives up to both the cost and the early-sell-out hype that it garnered. And, I’m not just trying to suck up in hopes of snagging another cake.
The Half-Dipper – 2011 Essence of Tea “Mannuo”