While the ’97 Menghai 8582 was heavy on the flavors imposed by the place of storage to the point that I felt they departed from the realm of natural tea flavors, this tea really holds onto the essence of earth and decay. With more natural humus-like, decaying leaf matter and old pine needle flavors, I found this more attuned to my palate. The nuanced and gentle mushroom, moss, and tree bark characters of young sheng puerh have aged gracefully and have descended the flavor profile of this tea from the tree tops into the sub-leaf-litter level, highlighting the natural warm embrace of a forest floor. Some of the basement notes are there in the form of talc, medicine, and ointment, but they’re not overbearing to the point of disgust.
What I struggled with in this tea, in the first three or four steeps, was its texture. Leaving me with a sensation that greasy, damp lotion had been smeared across my tongue, I found the palate initially murky, slightly sour, and hard to get past. I did not drink much of the first three steeps. Fortunately, this clamminess departed and revealed a thick, sweetness that made it intensely pleasurable to drink from the fifth steep on.
If this tea is supposedly somewhere been wet and dry storage, than I guess I’m more of a dry storage fan. This flavor profile was much more to my liking, and I’ve learned that the first few steeps of a tea such as this are not as meaningful as the middle steeps. This was a bit of lore I found early on in my readings on puerh and something that I did not experience with young sheng puerh, but is something that makes sense in light of an aged tea such as this.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=392