Menghai Tea FactoryEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
My first or second (I can’t really remember the first, I was too drunk) shou I’ve tasted, so take this with a grain of salt:
Aroma is like shoving your face into a pile of old sweaters at a vintage shop. A stale piece of bittersweet baking chocolate found at the bottom of your grandmother’s leather purse. Someone made pancakes yesterday and left them in the glove box of your ‘64 mustang overnight. There’s a faint hint of earthy floral spice like nutmeg or saffron.
Flavor is mellow, dull, a little sweet, with a vague hint of astringency in later/longer steeps on the finish. Mouthfeel is thick and leaves a sort of chalky sensation, not unlike raw chocolate.
Probably not my go-to style of tea, but I can appreciate it.
Flavors: Cacao, Clay, Earth, Leather, Mushrooms, Musty, Nutmeg, Saffron, Smooth, Thick
I bought this tea (together with a 2010 7572) I think in 2018 from someone who had bought it on a trip to China. The price was good for me, around 35$ for the two cakes.
I don’t really know what to think about it. It has some nice fruity aspects and some smoke and bitterness. Also it seems to be acquiring some warming basement-like aromas, which I like. Not sure if those were already there when I bought it. But this tea isn’t really sweet and also the texture is pretty thin. The brew has a typical orange color of semi-aged pu-erh.
2006 8582 <601> batch. Taiwan aged. Very nice with some dried fruit in the rinse along with some floral. Got some bite on the back end. probably due to the bigger leaf or some BuLang mixed in there. Sweeter as the cup cools a bit. I seem to prefer these and 7532’s over the 7542’s. Maybe these aren’t as hyped and stay more affordable longer.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Fruity, Sweet
I was lucky enough to get an 8g sample from Bana tea. Wow whoever added the hazelnut notes is right on the nose. This is so smooth and delicious with real nocciola/hazelnut flavor (think a really high quality nutella).
Flavors: Hazelnut, Nutty, Smooth
To my surprise, rinses had a quite a bit of wo dui funk but it was gone soon in the session. It continuously released a small amount of sediment so a pitcher for decanting is advised, though I consider this a minor issue.
Zero bitterness or astringency. It’s probably one of the smooothest shous I’ve had. It’s dark, very regular through steeps even if there are interesting shifts in notes. Complexity is good but placed within a narrow band of the spectrum. Progressing through the steeps it opens up going from wet forest, wood profile to more on flowers and cherries.
The smoothness is deceiving. It seems and tastes mild and subtle but hours after the session and I still have aromas lingering around. Qi… if there’s any I’d say is calming, I don’t feel caffeine anywhere.
So far, liking it a lot. Pretty much at the gravity center of what a classic menghai shou is with all it’s earth, forest and wood. Will save this one for cosy rainy days.
Flavors: Cherry, Earth, Rainforest, Wet Wood
This review is for a cake ordered and opened in mid January 2019. Firstly with it fresh opened and secondly after a two month resting period. I have a second cake that is going to age at least an additional 2 years but it will be a while before I can taste that of course.
Fresh out of the packaging the cake had a nice earthy scent to it and a dark brown coloration to the cake.
After rinsing the tea in my gaiwan the Earthy scent was stronger but not to the point of being overpowering. The first several brews had a nice earthy taste with a Fishy back note that while there, was not intolerable. After about brew 5 the Fishy flavor faded and gave way to Oak and Mushroom notes with the barley as a back note. Steeps after steep 12 saw the mushroom notes intensify and the Oak notes to shift to more of a bark note. I stopped at steep 15 with this batch.
After a two month resting period I tried it again and did see a shift in the flavor profile. The Fishy back note faded much quicker and was absent after around the 3rd steeping. This gave way to a more complex blend of the Oak, Earth, and Mushroom flavors. The Barley notes did make an appearance but mostly in steeps past around the 5th. These flavors actually stayed consistent until the late teens. As an experiment I pushed the leaf all the way up to 30 steeps. Steeps 22-30 only saw a medium earth tone with not much else of note, though it never got bitter and was just generally easy drinking at that point.
I have come to the conclusion that while this cake is fine as is in my very unprofessional opinion I would left it sit for at least 2-3 months after receiving it for maximum enjoyment.
Both times that I tried this cake it was very “high energy” and left me wide awake, even a bit jittery so keep that in mind when you are considering when to have a session with this tea.
Flavors: Bark, Earth, Fishy, Mushrooms, Oak, Roasted Barley
This tea is pretty one note. The tea starts out pretty strong, the drops off quickly after the fifth steep. The taste is creamy wood, with some very small fruit undertones. The smell is very standard for a puerh. The tea feels pretty energizing and calming, though. This is something you could drink for breakfast, but not for much else. Would not recommend, as there are much better options for the price point, although it is a pretty decent daily drinker.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Wood
One of my favorites.
This tea is good to have around. The soup is relatively thick, taste is mellow, creamy, and pretty consistent throughout the sessions. My preferred brewing method in general, and specifically for this tea: gongfu style, relatively little water, in order to sip small amounts each time.
The base notes are pretty consistent throughout the sessions: cream, caramel, brown sugar, some cocoa, tobacco notes.
It’s hard to drive this too hard: from the moment the tea opens, I generally keep steeps at 30 seconds, maybe closer to 1 min. by the end. You can oversteep it and it will still be drinkable. It will just bring the nori-like notes at the forefront. Some dried fruit notes: plums, cherry. Not much astringency, though it develops with the last sessions. You can easily get 6 good sessions with this tea without being a gongfu expert. You might get a little more out of it if you keep the gaiwan very warm, or if you let it simmer in a pan (yes, I’ve tried it).
This tea is not as creamy as other references, such as Hong Yun or 7572. It’s a little drier too: less red fruit-like, more bark or even hints of leather/tobacco.
Definitely a good ripe pu er tea. Since this is from 2009, I would say it’s a “drink now”, but it comes in a pretty compact brick, so you can probably store this for a few more years. This is something I will definitely order on a regular basis.
Flavors: Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Cacao, Caramel, Cream, Dried Fruit, Pleasantly Sour, Plums
This tea is from the first batch of 2016 (hence 1601). I bought this from moylor.com, just to see how they operate, and I must say I’m impressed: speedy delivery, nice packaging, no nonsense. I was more of a raw pu er fan till now, but I am becoming addicted to ripe pu er too. My references are Hong Yun and 7562, both from Menghai. This tea comes fairly close to either of these references: creamy, with hints of red berries, no astringency to speak of, no bitterness even when you drive it a little too hard. And this is from 2016!
It is a little less sweet and red berries-like than Hong Yun. It’s a little rounder, sweeter and creamier than 7562. A very nice tea for the price (I got this for 27 euros, it’s cheaper now). Some hints of camphor can be found, but I’m not sure whether they come from the tea itself or if they are due to how moylor store their tea. I’ve noticed incense on other tea cakes from the same vendor, but it might not be their fault, since they probably acquired a lot of tea from many different operators. No wet pile taste at all. Hints of sticky rice or purple rice.
The good thing is that you can still find 7572 cakes at affordable prices, though Hong Yun is hard to come by, and 7562 seems generally more expensive.
My brewing method of reference is gongfu style, with a smallish gaiwan, 6g to 60 ml. I like to sip this tea, not gulp down a whole mug of it. This tea is pretty easy going: you can get away with sloppy timing of the steeps and just concentrate on enjoying the whole thing.
I would highly recommend this tea. I’m not sure storage will really improve this tea, therefore I would classify this as a “drink now”, though it could probably be stored for some time, in a proper environment. But why go through all the trouble?
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Chocolate, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Molasses
My first 7542 experience. Didn’t take notes but a great session, lasted many steeps deep with many different elements unfolding in each steep. Nice clean Taiwan storage (c/o Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.) that has really developed the tea but doesn’t have any of the off/musty elements that can turn me off from tea that’s been stored in really humid conditions.
I ordered a 25g sample from Yunnan Craft. They sell an entire cake for $53* (edit) as of 6/30/2018. Their description of their particular cakes follows: “Very well stored tea cake. Scent of the walnuts crushed on the old wooden table comes out from gaiwan within first brew. No any unpleasant taste or throat feeling of dry storage. The dark ruby red tea liquor is thick and sweet with very slight citrus sensation on sides of your tongue which gives nice boost of existing nutty flavor. Tea can be steeped many times. This tea comes from an authorized Da Yi supplier!”
Overall, the sweetness is noticeable – fig, molasses, chocolate toffee. It is a taste I only associate with Menghai ripes. This particular cake has a very developed and multifaceted sweetness. However, I did find the aftertaste to be remarkably light and fleeting. It is a good tea, and an excellent candidate to get to know the Menghai ripe flavor profile.
Dry leaf – molasses, stewed plums, cherry wood, chocolate toffee. Noticeable syrupy sweetness on nose
Smell – hazelnut, prune, dried fig, fig newton, molasses and chocolate toffee, coffee grounds. Fruitiness is noticeable
Taste – fig newton, hazelnut and Brazil nut, chocolate toffee. Creamy in mouth, finishes dry with light woody nuttiness. Aftertaste is light and fleeting
Ok, so I will caveat this review with this brick probably didn’t have the best storage conditions, likely too dry. I have tried to rehydrate it some, and has has improved the flavor, but not enough to really like still. It is mostly a wet wood and wet autumn leaf flavor, with some straggling hints of sweetness. Can’t drink through too many infusions before I want to dump it.
The 2010 V93 are hitting a good sweet spot for taste. Nice rich cocoa flavor with some sweetness and pleasant flavors. This is a different tuo from a different source and different batch, so I wanted to compare the two. This one needs a little more time brewing to hit the same flavor notes but it still lasts nicely.
Though I am a Dayi Ripe lover, I hadn’t tried a V93 until today! I just ordered a tong of the 2010 version from King Tea Mall since it has been reviewed so well. Then I was going through my stash this weekend, and lo and behold, I found a 2008 tuo! It was probably acquired from Mandala or Yunnan Sourcing several years ago. So I was excited to try it. However, I was disappointed. I might just have a bad tuo, but it tastes very astringent and lacks good flavor, and maybe has a bad aftertaste as well. Has anyone had this happen, where a very well-reviewed tea tastes off? I assume this happens sometimes, particularly in large batch factory teas. I know it has happened to me in the past (even though I have good storage, I use a closet pumidor). I am still looking forward to trying the 2010 tuo, hopefully it will better represent this recipe.
An old tea
Feeling: (Background introduction will be in the most below)
1) Earthy ★
2) Ripened flavor (near medium fermented ripe tea) ★★★★★
3) Mellow. Soup like. ★★★★★
4) Fruity near tart fruit (slight acid mixed with fruity, pleasant feeling personally ) ★★★★
5) Lingering sweetness from aftertaste. ★★★
6) Near none smoky from taste but a bit obvious on brewed leaves. (I like some smoky flavor but it is not necessary to judge one tea) ★★★.
7) No bitterness and no astringency at all. ★★★★★
8) Smoothness like sleek silk. ★★★★
9) Brownish brewed tea leaves with softness.
Background of tea session.
1) I joined it from the halfway around 10th steep.
2) Tea has ever been lightly processed according to HongKong storage method(做仓). Depending on introduction from host.
3) The oldest and most expensive tea has ever been taste by me till now. Without comparison of other 88 Qing cake.
I love this tea, but it is so far beyond my affordable.
Absolutely love the rich aroma of this Pu Er.
1st infusion: 212˚F, 20s
Now that I’ve brewed it properly, it tastes sweet like malted barley, coffee, and caramel on top of the peaty earthiness. My favourite of the “Menghai Classic” sampler pack.
Tastes fine with milk, slightly salty/savoury but quite similar flavour to the milk tea you buy at bubble tea shops.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Malt, Peat, Wet Earth
1st infusion at 211˚F:
Very strong peaty, mossy, lush dank forest aroma, but also a smoky burnt undertone. I really like the way this tea smells. Flavour is mellow, usual blunt rounded Pu Er with a tiny sharp edge.
2nd infusion, 212˚F:
Stronger flavour now. Really pleasant. Goes okay with milk.
Flavors: Peat Moss, Smoke
First infusion brewed at 208˚F for 12s
Dark rust-red colour. Aroma is nice and earthy, what you’d expect from a Pu Er. But flavour kinda bland, mellow. Goes okay with banana bread but nothing remarkable. Goes very nicely with milk.
Second infusion 212˚F for 18s
Liquid is BLACK in the 公道杯 and dark brown in the cup like coffee. Still very mellow flavour, nothing bold but very smooth and drinkable. Goes really well with food. Again, really nice with milk. Nothing special on its own but really addictive when pairing with food. Given the affordable price point, I can see this being a solid everyday Pu Er but this is the first of many samples I have to try.
Rating: 75 on its own, 80 when taken with food
Overall Rating: 77
tl;dr: excellent tea that’s already aging well. sweet scents give way to delicious “dirt, but in a good way”, with subtle undercurrants of sweet, creaminess throughout. Don’t oversteep this one, the fun is in the subtle-teas!
Dry leaf smell: lots of fun. I swear I spent 10min trying to place the smell with my partner and got nowhere. but very pleasant.
5g, 75ml porcelain gaiwan.
98C, 5s rinse: clear orange color. delightful creamy, sweet, milky smell. I’m excited!
98C, 15s: Nice amber color. More ripe smells and sweetness is gone. Quite a bit of stemmy material floating at top. No exciting flavors, but will probably take many steepings to open up since I didn’t really break up the clumps. Some mild creaminess. Light but full mouthfeel.
98C, flash: Chasing the sweeter aromas, found them again. Good ripe flavors of lush earth nicely compliment an increasing creaminess in a smooth, light but full mouthfeel. Really enjoying this. I hypothesize that this one shouldn’t be oversteeped less it lose all the subtleties. Not as full in mouth as last steeping though, so I’ll probably increase time a little.
98C, 5s: Rich red brown color. Mildest of fishy tastes.
98C, flash: cooling, camphor-y smells starting to dominate. leaves have totally opened up, and liquid is turning black basically on contact with the leaf. mild fishiness remains, but dominated now by good lush earth taste.
98C, 3s: Plummy smells begin. Very strong cha qi hits me like a truck in the head. Mellow/happy qi for me.
98C, flash: camphor smell slowly being overpowered by dry dirt smell. maybe I hallucinated plum. color becoming more light brown. Flavor nice an even, everything I like in a ripe all in one. Mild dry dirt, fishiness is long gone. Reminds me of later steepings of their 9012 cake after it aged 20 or so years. I see this tea aging very well.
98C, 10s: settled into dry dirt smell. dry dirt taste with the occasional hint of sweetness to keep things interesting.
98C, 3min: dead man’s steep. mmm. delicious. really brings out the sweetness and creaminess hiding under the nice dirt tastes. bottom of the steep has a little fishiness returning.
98C, inf: ultra dead man’s steep. it’s not dead yet. fishiness is gone again. I’m not sure whether it correlates with longer steeps or not now xD
Man, what a great experience, especially at the price point, 4.5/5. Extra 0.5 for price.
Flavors: Creamy, Dirt, Sweet