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Menghai Tea Factory

Recent Tasting Notes

89

Last night I felt like having a Pu-erh, so I chose this one. Thank You Amy Oh for such a nice one. :)) I don’t usually do this, but I did read Amy’s review before typing this.

I used half of the sample in my glass press for this tasting, and I was struck by how sweet the wet leaves smelled! Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a Shu in quite a while, but they seemed sweeter than the usual pu-erh, and also had a light mushroom aroma. Am I the only one who noticed a purplish hued liquid at the bottom of my tea press??

My first cup probably could have been steeped a little longer, but I still got a rather dark cup with that purplish tea color around the cup. It smelled of light mushrooms. The flavor was light mushroom-like, smooth and sweet.

In my next tasting the wet leaves smelled like burnt sugar or brown sugar and sweeter. The cup was darker as was that hue I noted in the first cup. Aromas were deeper mushroom sweetness, & nothing but smooth, full, and delicious. :)) [1 minute at 180F].

I must admit, it was after midnight when I started cupping this Shu. I don’t know if they have more caffeine, but it seemed like it, because I was really wide awake and had trouble sleeping through the night. Caffeine usually doesn’t keep me awake! :// I didn’t want to let the tea sit until morning, so I had one more cup.

My last cup was steeped the longest, & the leaves smelled deeply of mushrooms and the sweetness wasn’t noticeable. The cup was darkest (purplish ring), and…….what can I say? Mushrooms anyone??! This was also the prominent flavor, while remaining so smooth and sweet on my palate! [5 minutes at 212F].

In my limited Shu experience, this Menghai Pu-erh was the best overall. The sweetness in aroma and flavor was great! I love the smoothness in every cup. I agree with Amy that there was no funky aromas or tastes, and that made this tea special IMHO. I wasn’t finding the chocolate aspects though Amy.

Look for an add-on to this review as I steep the rest of the sample soon. Note to self: No more late night Pu-erh tastings, unless I want to stay up all night! Thanks again Amy for a great Shu experience. :))

Cupped & Reviewed: Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Those flavors sound so good! Go ahead, fall asleep and you’ll find the pu’erh burglar has nabbed it from under your nose!

TeaBrat

I’m glad you liked this one! I agree the Menghai factory has some great pu-erhs. I think they are one of the largest factories and they have a great reputation.

ScottTeaMan

Lots of the tea bushes are protected by the Chinese Gov’t, and I think that protects and maintains quality.

mrmopar just ordered one of these. thanks for the review.
ScottTeaMan

I try to be as honest as I can in my reviews, while trying tomake them interesting. Thanks Mrmopar. :))

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20

Some tea drinkers like young sheng; but for me, this Menghai was unsatisfying on several levels. Sampled at 200˚F, the liquor was somewhat bitter – the kind of thing that happens when a green tea is scorched. Sampled at 145˚F, the bitter notes vanished, but that taste like an understeeped green oolong; the liquor was a light green, and wan in flavor.

Part of the problem is that puerh consumed this early is going to be substandard, since it hasn’t even begun to age. And then there’s the controversy over young sheng; some tea drinkers like the experience, but drinking this is not dissimilar to brewing an inexpensive Tie-Guan-Yin at 212˚F; you’ll get the same harsh, overcooked flavor, and that’s going to be the case with most young sheng.

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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first time I tried this tea was in a TaeTea shop in Beijing. I sat down with the shop keeper and had maybe 8 brews or so. Very easy and warming on the body and adds a sense of contentment. This is my mid day tea. I steep for around 20 seconds to start- similarly to how the shop keeper prepared it. The tea is almost syrupy even at such a short steep. It coats the mouth and there is a mild numbing the way Sichuan peppercorn’s numb, but gentler.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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86

I let this steep for 5 minutes in the Yixing and I knew what to expect. A strong, dark very flavorful brew. No rinse. This went straight to my head. I could feel this tea immediately. I noticed a vast improvement since my last tasting. I have several young Shu such as this that I will sip from time to time to see how they are aging. This one is getting there. Another raising of the score….

JC

How do you store your Shu? I have a few that I want to store but I’ve been given mixed advice on proper Shu storage. Thanks in advance.

Charles Thomas Draper

I have a cabinet in my dining room where I store all of my tea. It’s dark. Cool and airy. No odors. Most are kept in the cardboard box that they were delivered in.

JC

Ok, great! that’s the kind of setting I was going for. Thanks! now I have to chen how to keep shengs.

Doug F

I tend to brew my ripe pu erhs for around five minutes in most cases. Ilike them strong and musty!

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93

It’s the after lunch pu-erh. :) If you like shus you should check these out someday. I love the flavor but the brick is a mess when you try to pry it apart. A small sacrifice, I say! See previous notes if interested.

KittyLovesTea

The bricks certainly do make a mess when you break them. I have to make sure I have some cling film wrap around to catch the crumbs :) Pu-erh is very lovely to drink, such a beautiful fragrant taste.

TeaBrat

Cling wrap! What a great idea, I need to try that with this brick…

ScottTeaMan

What do you use to break it apart?? an ice pick??

TeaBrat

I’ve been using a cheese knife, that works fairly well

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93

I’ve always wanted to own one of these 7562 bricks although I can’t quite tell you why. I’ve heard so many things about them and people owning ones that age very well over time. I’ve never had a brick that is so tightly packed before and, having no idea how to break it apart I immediately began attacking it with a kitchen knife, making a big mess. There must be a better way – a chisel?

My cup is elegant with no strange odors in my opinion. The tea is very smooth and dark with a creamy, malty and chocolate-y element. I am enjoying it. I’m a newbie to Menghai pu-erhs but am already a fan of this one. Definitely a good purchase for the price, I got mine from Puershop.com for $11.95 and that will make a lot of tea!

Doug F

I’ve had good luck with the puerhshop and Menghai teas as well.

TeaBrat

@Triumph – Menghai seems to have a good reputation. Have you ever had to chisel tea out of a brick?

Charles Thomas Draper

They sell special knives and picks….

TeaBrat

Apparently I need one!

Doug F

Luckily I have one of those special picks (I’ve broken a couple) because I’ve had a few ripe cakes that had become pretty impenetrable.

ashmanra

I know purepuer.com sells puer picks and knives. Want!

TeaBrat

maybe I’ll find one at the SF international tea festival I’m going to tomorrow…

ScottTeaMan

Hey, I remember reading about the festival. How was it?? Lucky dog! :))

TeaBrat

not that great in my opinion, but worth checking out

ScottTeaMan

hhMMM…WHY NOT SO GREAT?

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92

My morning-afternoon tea: It is quite eye-opening and trust me I need it on this dismal day. One thing that has been elusive to me is trying to describe the flavor of Sheng. So, I researched what others are saying: buttery, walnut, orange citrus sparkle, woodsy juniper, cedarwood, apricot, texture of lime and melon, sweet alfalfa, cedarwood sauna, cinnamon, white peppercorn, redwood, eucalyptus, hazelnuts, ginger, cardamon, licorice, clover honey, granny smith apples, tart hibiscus, pine needles, raisins, pipe tobacco, cloves, honeysuckle, hot cabin wood in the sun, biting, harmonious, moss and campfire.

What I am getting more than anything would be the wood flavors. The cedar sauna definitely. A dryness. Hot cabinwood in the sun. Definitely. Dry desert sunshine. Juniper. I can see it. I am definitely getting a dryness as opposed to a juiciness. Any input is always appreciated….
TeaBrat

I was looking at more pu-erhs yesterday. I really need to win the lottery!

Charles Thomas Draper

You and I both….

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32

Erm…I need to put “trying a young sheng at 8:30 at night” on my list of tea-related things I should never ever do again. This is the second sheng I have tried, and while it is better than my first experience (which was awful) it still isn’t great. Granted, I know that a big part of the problem is trying teas too young. So I will still be searching for a sensible sheng.

This was kind of smoky, a little bitter, and just kind of harsh. It is from batch 901, but as a puerh newbie I’m not sure how much variation there is between batches. It made me feel jittery (and not in a caffeinated way).

Note: The review ends here. What follows is a late backlogging/recount of my first sheng puerh experience because now I am all twitchy from drinking this tea and have nothing better to do.

So…I got a small sample of a 2011 sheng – I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, only that it was free. So I figured it couldn’t hurt anything to try… (famous last words). From the first sniff – the tea seemed, well, mean. I’m not one to attribute emotions to tea, but this tea was somewhere between cranky and mean. (warning sign #1)

And it was strong, too…oh, it was strong. Smoky, astringent, and just overall unpleasant, like having a conversation with a snotty coworker (warning sign #2). I think I kept up for 7 infusions, just for the “experience”.

And then it hit me…it was one of the worst things I have ever felt – kind of like a panic episode..but stranger. It felt like all of my molecules were vibrating to the point where twitchy was putting it mildly (result of not listening to warning signs 1 and 2). My head felt funny, I felt anxious, my stomach hurt, and so on… I’m not really sure how else to describe it.

I have heard people discuss the “qi” of tea, and kind of wondered how you would even detect that sort of thing – but I think I get it now. This tea had a nasty qi. And I learned my lesson (or so I thought) about trying sheng too young. Here’s hoping the one I’ve got in my order from Verdant Tea turns out better!

StaLLZee

I LOL’d @ the "Never drink young sheng at night part, SO TRUE!

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86

This is my morning-afternoon brew. I steeped this according to the directions which is 3-5 minutes. Normally my method of steeping all Pu-erhs is much shorter. I knew it would yield a very strong cup but I did it anyway. I could smell what I was in for as I poured it. Very strong earth with a touch of that fishy taste with a slight numbing that went away as the tea cooled. Cup #2, just as in my first review of this tea, has vastly improved. I think this is one of those Shus that needs the initial rinse. Other than that it is evolving into a very nice tea overall. A slight raising of the score….

TeaBrat

I almost always rinse mine initally, do you sometimes not?

Charles Thomas Draper

I never rinse. I may rethink that….

TeaBrat

The guy who works at the Aroma tea shop showed me how to make tea in a gaiwan, he rinses all of his teas. I have started doing it more recently.

Charles Thomas Draper

One of our friends here said it was a waste of good tea. After todays tea I’m wondering….

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92

This is not my first tea of the day. I have been starting off my mornings with a Yongming 2004 Sheng that was graciously sent with my last order from Verdant. The Yongming has finally weakened so it is time to fill the Yixing with this 2007 7532. The only word that I can conjure up would be invigorating. Along with the energy that this tea is warming me with that Sheng glow. I can only drink so much. This is how I can enjoy it for a few days in between my other tastings. PS, The Yongming is not on the Verdant site. It was sent “just for fun”. And fun I am having. Tea does rule. This Menghai is much better than the last time I had it. I guess it’s the usual combination of the teas subtle aging and my improving brewing skills. I upped the score….

K S

I am a big one to reuse my leaf a second day – what/how do you prepare your leaf for multiple days?

Charles Thomas Draper

Sometimes I let it sit overnight in a Gaiwan or the Yixing and let it stew. Some Oolongs get a beautiful golden color with awesome flavor. I will do this after the 3rd or 4th steep….

Charles Thomas Draper

A couple things I should mention: Sheng seems to me to last forever. Do not stew green teas. I also sometimes just leave the leaves in the pot and resume brewing the next day….

K S

I drain my pot and leave the leaf overnight. Most shengs take this very well. Do you go more than 2 days? I have never had leaf mold but always want to be cautious.

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92

I am brewing this in my Yixing with generous leaf. It is very energizing. The flavor is powerful and assertive. I received this today along with 4 other Sheng to sample and hopefully be able to get to know this type of Pu’erh. One thing that I must note is that there is an energy to these Sheng. A life force. Not a caffeine energy. The liquor is a dark amber orange. And for whatever reason still, I have a mental block when it come to trying to describe the flavor of Sheng. They truly are in a class by themselves….

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80

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.

TeaBrat

with shus I often think funky flavors and odors are due to the forced fermentation process. this I found to be interesting: http://steepster.com/discuss/1503-some-suggestions-for-new-puerh-drinkers-shu

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86

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….

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91

INFUSION 3

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!

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91

INFUSION 2

Smells more woodsy
Tastes less sweet and more woodsy

I pairing this with some Punjab Eggplant for lunch! It’s MARVY!

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91

INFUSION TEST

1st infusion…
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

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100

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.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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79

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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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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.

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69

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

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80

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.

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5719644481/in/photostream
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5720204454/in/photostream

teaddict

“Dry and cottony” is an interesting description. I’m imagining a sensation I would think of as astringent, perhaps, but can’t really come up with something more specific from that description. Can you expand on that a bit?

teaddict

And while I’m at it, do you have a strong sense of the different growth locales now after sampling this series of teas?

the_skua

To some degree, the different regions stand out. Each tea is obviously different, but I think I would be hard pressed to name most of the regions given a blind sample. I think Bulang and Menghai are characteristic, but Bada and Mengsong are somewhat indistinct. Nannuo also unique, but more subtle. Part of the problem with the Peacock series is that the plantation leaf and rather heavy processing bury some of the subtle signatures that help the regions stand apart, I think.

teaddict

Interesting. I’ve got enough puerh right now that I can’t really justify buying something like this series unless they really provide a really clear illustration of the differences. At present rates I’ve got quite a few years’ worth already.

the_skua

There’s better tea to be had, in my opinion.

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64

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.

Tea: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5710271892/
Leaves: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5709709129/

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93

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.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
StaLLZee

Definitely – it is not a “rock star”, but good for everyday!

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48

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.

Tea: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5687591452/
Leaves: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_skua/5687591120/

Nathaniel Gruber

Sounds like a fairly common Sheng. Thanks for the review.

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