Menghai Tea Factory
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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a very nice young Shu that is the best of what I have had recently. It is dark and mellow and soothing and without any funky odors or flavors. It is very good for every day drinking. The price is right. I am on the second cup and it is giving me that warm, glowing feeling. Or maybe it’s Hope my dog who is asleep on my lap as I type? Anyway, it’s a warm and luscious tea that is good for beginners.
I am brewing up one of my very young Shu this evening. The first cup after a 30 second steep was very light. I did use a generous amount of leaf so I figured I should go easy. Plus that seems to be the rule with most Pu’er. Although my 2nd cup is also light I have to admit it is quite invigorating. I must admit I have not consumed my usual amount of tea today so quite honestly anything could pick me up. At the end of my cooled 2nd cup I noticed a faint fishy smell-taste. I have heard of this before. This is a first for me. The 3rd steep will be longer so I can judge this better. It is much better. Stronger. Much more flavorful. Not fishy. It’s a pretty purple-red liquor. Cup 3 is a winner. Cups 1 and 2 had me worried. I am now getting a slight numbing. I bought the whole cake. I am not disappointed at all. As I have stated with the other young Shu, they will only get better….
This is starting to taste more like a grassy-green tea with earthy and woodsy notes. Not sweet wood like the 1st or 2nd infusion…more masculine and musky! It evens out towards the end and the aftertaste isn’t as hardcore as the beginning of the sip. I like that it morphs noticeably tho…neat tea!
Dry aroma was slightly sweet AND sour and a little woodsy.
Once infused it’s a warm bark type smell.
Color is very light yellow-brown.
Flavor is very sweet for a pu-erh. Very young. Crisp!
I like this! I’m going to do an infusion test with this one today before sending the rest to LiberTEAs
In many ways it is a shame that Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus ripe puerh has been hyped up so much online. It is a very good ripe puerh but not the best that I have encountered although to its credit it is better than most. I think the best thing about this puerh is its overall balance and lack of rough edges and an enjoyable but complex taste that can be hard to nail down into words although I’d say more of soft wood and not dirt. It has a medium level fermentation which has more body than many of the lighter ones but stops short of the strong malty taste that some of the heavier fermentation brings. Also as others have mentioned before this tea has really good staying power for a ripe puerh but as always the number of infusions you can get from the leaves depends upon how strong you like your tea but you will get more than normal for this one.
This is one smooth tea even being a new shu. The first infusion is a creamy almost vanilla flavor that completely fills the mouth coating it with a viscous cream sensation. Infusion number two brings out some cherry tobacco notes. I would also argue that a coffee drinker might enjoy this tea due to it’s viscous heady nature. The color is beautiful reddish brown almost the same color as my yixing pot. However the party lasts a short time as this tea gives it all and is finished by the 4th infusion.
I was getting some cheap glass teapots from Yunnan Sourcing, and I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pu’er cakes as well, especially with the expensive shipping of them. I don’t now a lot about young pu’ers, and I chose to get three vintages of 8582. I have sampled a couple of older 8582’s, and I liked them, and these young cakes where cheap. So I bought this one made 2008, another from 2009 and a third being made 2010. A vintage comparison! Although Steepster doesn’t (yet?) support comparative notes, I’m gonna give some thoughts on the comparison on this single note.
FIrst, they all were clearly the same tea. The taste was about the same, difference was more on how the taste behaved.
‘10 first attacked me with a taste I believe most describe in English as astringent bitterness, but the initial nastiness made room for a liquiricelike sweetness quite common with young cakes. Although first shocking, the initial taste moved aroung quite smoothly, it’s roughness was quite round if one can say like that. Aftertaste was pleasant. I’d say potential, but I won’t probably be drinking this for a couple of years.
‘09 was most interesting one. First I thought this was slighlty more tamed version of ’10, but at some points it gave some weird tastes. It didn’t behave consistently. At some brews this was definantly the weakest one, but sometimes it really shined. I really don’t know why.
‘08 was my overall favourite. It’s taste was most harmonious, balanced. There was quite a bit of roughness, but this tea wasn’t as bipolar as the ‘10 and ’09. If these three cakes really form a valid timeline of aging, I’d say this is my vasual pu’er in a couple of years.
Now the interesting thing is, are the differences in taste due their ages, or are they resulting from different harvests? Their age differences are relatively large, the ‘08 being three times as old as the one from ’10. On the other hand, they are only a year from each other. That will probably clear out in a couple of years, as their relative age difference lessens. I’m excited in onberving the aging of these three.
Comparing teas side-by-side is always fun. Today, pushing the ’09 Gong Tuo hard with an initial one minute steep, for an espresso-like brew, I was amused to see the weak last steeps of the 80s shu (http://steepster.com/teas/jas-etea/16232-80s-loose-menghai-79092-ripe) seem incredibly sweet when held up against, the more bitter, terse, and earthy ’09. Enlightening was that when brewing shu so aggressively, the faults of the tea come right to the surface, as it showed little sweetness or depth, instead giving a chalky coarseness and a watered-down earthen flavor, making the 80s tea seem so much more interesting. However, comparing young and aged shu in such a manner is probably not fair.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=511
Farewell, fair Nannuo. Okay, THIS was the best in the series. No, really. In the second of two brew sessions, I finally got the flow down with this tea. It takes some intuition, otherwise it gets crushingly dry and cottony. Otherwise, light, perfumy, and with delicate fruits. I think it’s a solid, punchy tea, but responds to a lighter hand of brewing. The steeped leaves certainly showed the largest leaves of the set, as well as the least cooked and most consistent processing.
Almost done with the Peacock series. One left, after this one. I do believe this is probably the best in the series. Still, I consider it only above average. It opens with a strong orchid and fresh mushroom aroma that subsides into the cup. The first steeps are delightfully sweet and thick, but the middle steeps can be easily over-brewed to produce an astringency that strips any and all saliva off the tongue, making your mouth feel like sand. It lightens up in the later steeps, but empties out quickly. There is some “orangeness” to this tea that makes it a little tame, but otherwise, I think it’s an above-average Menghai sheng.
Not too much to be overly impressed by in this Dayi ripe puerh brick. A typical ripe puerh with a slightly malty taste to it. Well suited as a cheaper everyday casual drinking ripe puerh, that falls into the good upper middle range but falls short of the exceptional upper end ripe puerh.
Continuing to work through the last of these Peacock series samples and I must say I think I’m fatiguing of Menghai’s compression and of plantation tea. In many ways, there’s nothing wrong with this tea, but there’s also little exceptional about it. I do appreciate being able to single out a region, but the production kind of renders down and sanitizes whatever character might show. There’s moderate fruitiness, classic sheng glow, and lots of astringency from the abundant dust. Finishes in honey.
I’m not enjoying this one quite as much as the last time I logged it. There is more bitterness noticeable despite doing very brief infusions, probably because I packed the gaiwan too much. It does settle into a very mellow tea again after the first half dozen infusions, but those first have to be carefully managed. I think this is one to set aside for a good while…
A couple added notes from my final session today. The mid-steeps carry the slightest hint of sourness. There’s a long, long returning sweetness, that comes almost minutes after swallowing, which is nice, but not enough to save this tea. Finally, yesterday the tea gave me a strong clay-like dry grip, so today I used my stainless steel electric kettle, only to still get that sensation, so it’s either my water, the tea, or my water and the tea.
Funny how my palate has grown since I’ve started tasting tea. What to me at the time was enjoyable, now seems denuded, poorly processed, and rough. Today, this tea really lacks sweetness for me, instead having a strong, dry earthen grip on the tongue. The pine smoke is there and strong, dominating the entirety of the flavor profile. A large mix of brown leaves yields a hollower, darker tea.
Well, this certainly is not as terrible as I thought it was when I first had it. In fact, this is a perfectly fine, if plain and simple, Menghai production. It’s got some nice fruit and straw tones to it, but it’s missing the sweetness, texture, and depth I want from good sheng. The qi is light and fleeting. With such tight compression and fine chop, it takes a more delicate hand to not produce a tough, bitter brew. Longer steeps up front to get the compression loose, and then shorter steeps to keep it clean. Has a minty finish and reasonable balance, but comes across dry to me. Menghai sure can create consistent teas, with an even leaf blend, and a need for age.
In the middle of a rare gongfu session with this lovely tea this evening—I usually do it by the thermos full, to share with a group of colleagues during an afternoon clinic. Gongfu brings out the variations in flavor well, and this is one shu that stands up to this. I’m into about the 8th or so infusion, and there are notes of honey, apricot, caramel, delicious.
To me, the flavors depart from the realm of agriculture and nature. The flavors no longer taste like tea to me, they taste like the basement in which the tea was stored. Full of talc, basement, salt peter, attic, wet cardboard, old paper, medicine, and grandmothers, I feel as though these flavors lead me on one of my father’s genealogy expeditions or a trip into an historic copper mine shaft than through a sub-tropical forest or a farm of any kind. I do appreciate the woody, ginseng-like herbal qualities, but always end up vacillating between an appreciation of those flavors and a distaste for the damp, musty ones heralding a basement storage. I think I was a little too far gone to really focus on the flavors when I had the 1985 Menghai 8582 with Tim at The Mandarin’s Tea Room, but have a pouch of 1980s Menghai 79092 Loose Ripe which perplexes me in the same way for its super-heavy talc, grandmother, medicine and basement flavors.
Everyone has their own palate, suited to certain flavors and textures. Obviously, with aged sheng puerh being very popular, there are quite a few people for whom the flavor profile of this type of stored tea matches their palate. However, I think I am more attracted to the young, fresh, and fruit-like earth tones of teas such as young sheng puerh, certain oolongs, whites and dark green japanese teas. All that said, I’m still excited to try the other two examples in this tasting to see what variations in storage condition can elicit from the tea.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=387
Batch 903. This tea confounds me. It must be intended for aging, except that I know there are a few crazy folk who do enjoy it young and bristly. I’m not put off by the loud barking bitterness and intensity, but instead find the flavor of the tea less than desirable. It has a lightly rotten raisin kind of scent, a bit pungent and raw. I can see it being called straw and mushroom, but it doesn’t really carry the elegance or quality that those terms elicit for me. Will certainly be game for trying this tea in 10-20 years. Finally, the qi is a bit fast and unsettling, like an unstable vibration.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=310
Another wonderful afternoon with this tea. It is not as caramel-rich as the 2008 Yi Wu bamboo puerh from Norbu, but it has rounded notes of caramel and gentle earthiness, and is always a hit when I take it round to share. Today I got my office manager—a dedicated coffee drinker—to take a whiff and a cup, and she liked it a lot. It’s a tea to make friends with and influence people!
Sample provided by Jas eTea. First pours bring strong currents of talc, minerals, and white powders. I know some people get excited about this element, but I don’t particularly enjoy. A few steeps in, this tea lights up with dates, south asian spices, and woodiness, with some distant citrus. The textures starts shallow for me, but deepens and softens with a gentle wheat-like flavor. The wet leaves hold a cellar or forest floor character that doesn’t show up in the aroma or flavor. I give this tea good marks for being low in strong fermentation character and above average in complexity.