Friday, July 27, 2012

2006 Wild Elephant Valley with 2003 Hoffman Snow Mountain Yinhao

I'll admit I shamelessly bought this cake for the lovely wrapper and nefei.  But who doesn't want to drink tea so richly nourished by wild elephant dung of  Wild Elephant Valley 野象谷 (Ye Xiang Gu) in southern Xishuangbanna. Ye Xiang Gu is the very last refuge in China where wild elephants do roam freely.   In 2008, an irate pachyderm flung an American tourist breaking a great many ribs; such run-ins are not uncommon there. 

An elephant emits ~200 pounds of black gold a day and with the Ye Xiang Gu herd being estimated to be over 30,  my math indicates the valley should be exceedingly fertile.   The herd in the photo I took not in China but in a nature preserve in South Africa.  My astonished eyes set on a hundred elephants roaming wild and I can vouch first hand for the impressive dung production that would make any organic gardener weep.

Who knows to what proximity the source tea trees for this beeng are to such elephant action?  Would there be any indication in the flavor even if the tea trees were knee deep in it?  I'm pretty sure I have encountered such direct flavors in a shu. Normally I dismiss them under the umbrella of barnyard flavors but now a closer retrospection convinces me I should revise and branch out the manure tastes more- cow patty vs. wild elephant dung.

This beeng is chock full of yinhao- pleasing furry white tips that gives any pu-erh an instant good-to-drink now sweetness.  This plantation tea was an extremely fragrant and grassy tea back in 2007 when I got it from for a "rather likable sum" of $16.90.  For that, I won't hold them too closely to their overreaching promise:
 "this special cake makes an aromatic treat today, or may be put away to produce what is sure to be a rare and valuable treasure in the future."
I personally have many such rare and valuable treasures lining my tea closet.  The producer- Qingyun Tea Factory is probably no longer.  Seven years have passed so let us see if the beauty of the wrapper extends further and what's become of this pretty thing.  

I brought it out for evening relaxation for my husband yesterday. The non-yinhao leaves dominate in the first few brews with a leathery bitterness even though the tea feels overall 
quite smooth with the trademark yinhao taste.  If I were a manga character with deep passionate feelings and if this tea were a bit more flavorful, I would be instantly transported to a fantastical tea reverie.  I would be riding a wild tusked elephant- that was drawn more like a wooly mammoth -   wandering deep in the Xishuangbanna forests.  But instead I just nod my head a few times and wonder what source of humor I can exploit for this blog entry. 
Only in the fourth brew does the bitterness ease up and a sugary sweetness emerges.  Still an enjoyable brew for about $0.20 worth of tea despite it being somewhat forgettable. 

I still want some better yinhao tonight for comparison so I crack open one of the silver buds that Emmett (of Cha & Kungfu blog) has generously sent me.  I try to split my 2003 Hoffman Silverbud Da Xue Shan sample carefully into two portions.  I don't want to blow my wad tonight as I want to save some for a morning brew. (My husband firmly informs me that the "wad" in blowing one's wad does not stem from a "wad of cash" reference.  I have been using this term freely all my life always imagining a crumpled wad of five dollar bills only to be so handily corrected tonight. Why didn't my husband say something to me decades ago!  Should I expunge such a phrase from my vocabulary...) 

I am surprised how well preserved this 11 year old loose white tea has remained - almost like Sophia Loren back in the nineties.  I always assumed white tips tend to fade albeit gracefully after a while and tips were generally considered poor aging material.  But I am surprised by teageek post on an 80's yinhao where he manages 15 interesting brews. But he drunk a yinhao tuo which does not imply pure bud. I've seen many a yinhao tuo with just a smattering of buds on top. Yinhao is also a brand name. This needs further investigation.

Hoffman’s specimen has a surprising long-lasting creamy almost oolong mouthfeel.  I am totally riding a milky white pegasus amongst the clouds to Big Snow Mountain. (Giggle, giggle. Those of you who have read Drops of God,  you know there is a manga post coming! )


  1. That one is one of my favorites to throw in the glass tumbler, and take it along for the day. Something different is good once in a while.
    It will get strong though so I only use a small portion as to not blow my "wad of cash". LOL.

    Hope you enjoy.

    I also really like some of the wrapper art and am tempted at getting some cakes because of a nice wrapper. I try to hold myself back though.
    That elephant drawing is a nice one.

    1. What are the wrappers that are tempting you Emmett? Do tell! I think I was smitten by the Gotheborg wrappers but did not make my move. But I would definitely love just a full print of all the Pu Cha Chu Chuan Chi and Ku Fa Chih Cha wrappers that I saw advertised in the Art of Tea no. 2. (I'll post the add photo soon.) h

    2. I put up a few of my favorites on my blog, I have seen more nice ones but can,t remember where.

    3. Emmett,

      I've included the link for the readers:


  2. Who else incorporates wad blowing and elephant turds into a post on sheng pu? Hster, I like your style. For what it's worth, I think you should continue to use the phrase proudly.

    1. Just for you Israel, I should do a post on "Blowing One's Tea Wad". But I might have to put a NC-17 rating. h