Menghai Tea Factory

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Recent Tasting Notes

Courtesy of an exceptional friend, we’ve tasted this 10-yr old shou twice. Briefly, we agree with Rich, this is a much lighter shou compared to most other Menghai Dayi shou.

“Hou Pu” (thick pu-erh) appears to be a complete misnomer! If you’re looking for a full-bodied, thick, rich, breakfast shou, Dayi offers several other choices.

Hou Pu is dark, smooth, and pleasant without any astringency or bitterness. It also provides a noticeable relaxing qi. And since this is a decade-old shou, there isn’t any hint of fermentation flavor. This unique shou would be a good choice as an afternoon tea when one has time to notice and enjoy the subtleties of this very refined ripe pu-erh.

9.2g / 205° / 60s preheat/ 60s warm / 10s rinse / 20m rest/ 5s /10/20/30/40/60/120/240 every two steeps combined. This session produced six reasonable steeps instead of 8 as with most other Dayi shou. I would recommend more leaf. Perhaps this is why Hou Pu is only available in a 500g cake?

9 g

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The infamous Golden Needle White Lotus. I acquired a cake of this a while back through Yunnan Sourcing and after giving it a few months to sit in my pumidor I finally decided to give it a taste. The cake is very similar to the Yong De Blue Label I reviewed a while back in that it consisting of predominantly very small grade leaves the bing feels like it’s going to come apart at any moment, and thus the bottom of the wrapper was covered in a record amount of loose leaves.

I prepared a fairly standard amount of 11.3g in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot and after a brief 10s rinse and a 10 minute rest I got to brewing. I did a total of eight steeps, for 12s, 12s, 12s, 18s, 25s, 48s, 90s and 2 min. 30s according to my mental clock. The smell of the cake, the dry leaves in a hot teapot and the wet leaves after the rinse were all extremely classic examples of a typical shu pu’er. The rinse liquor, however, had something atypical about it. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was interesting.

The first infusion brewed a cloudy reddish brown, like muddy lake water. It was a strong steep, with a dominant earthy character and a grainy texture. Some might say it tasted like muddy lake water. There was no sweetness. The next infusion brewed darker as is to be expected. There was less earth now, a hint of chocolate in the background, and the tiniest amount of sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea. Overall the second steep had a rounder, more balanced taste. The tea was still very strong, but a nudge below the first one.

The third steep was even darker reddish brown, but not even remotely close to black as I’d expected from such small leaf grade. The strength ended up being weaker than the last two, however, because I flubbed trying to extend the steeping time by a couple seconds and the infusions ended up being about the same time. But it wasn’t weak by any means, just weaker in comparison. The tea had a very distinct flavor of coffee, one that has stood on a hot plate for a while and then cooled a bit before drinking, but without the bitterness. The taste of coffee was especially noticeable in the aftertaste.

The fourth brew produced a clearer, less dark liquor with most of the cloudiness now gone. I was getting a very typical shu pu’er flavor now, with maybe a hint more sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea still. For the first time, and I think for the only time, there was now maybe a bit of body. I was disappointed at first by the sudden super generic flavor, but in the end the infusion wasn’t bad actually. As I was sipping the next steep and noting the flavor dropping off a tad, I recalled that I learned from brewing the Yong De Blue Label that I need to extend the steeping times much more aggressively with these really small grade ripes. There was nothing noteworthy about the steep itself. It was similar in flavor to the last one, but managed to be far less enjoyable.

Despite practically doubling the steeping time for the next infusion and the strength being adequate, the flavors were starting to get thinner. The tea had a very mindless shu flavor to it, with once again a degree more sweetness without being what I’d actually call sweet. I may have also noticed a bit of minerality pushing through in this infusion. Despite the front flavors being disappointing, the aftertaste was pretty okay actually. I can’t be sure about this, but I may have also noticed some very, very mild cha qi in my chest/temples.

For the next infusion I nearly doubled the brewing time again and now most of the other flavors had dropped off very sharply with a lot of sweetness emerging in their stead. Despite being actually sweet for the first time, the tea still wasn’t terribly sweet for a shu pu’er. Besides the sweetness, there was still some discernible shu base in the background. Flavor-wise this infusion was pretty decent, not great, but not terrible either. Like with the previous steep, I thought I may have noticed some qi building in my chest/head. The tea also made me sweat a bit at this point.

The eighth steep was the last I did. It had an acceptable level of strength to it still, but the flavors that now leaned more towards the darker end of the spectrum weren’t very appealing to me. The brief prior sweetness had nearly completely dropped off, although you did get some of it in the aftertaste. One could probably have continued steeping the leaves still, but I suspected I might not enjoy where this tea was headed or that it might turn flat out nasty, so I decided to stop here.

Overall this was possibly the most underwhelming shu pu’er I’ve had so far, but granted I’m still very new to ripe. It’s not bad, and I wouldn’t mind having it once in a while, but the flavor profile didn’t really appeal to me and at least in its current state the tea feels like it’s lacking something. For me that something is sweetness. This is clearly a quality product, but at least right now it lacks something that makes it stand out and feel special. To me some of the flavors feel perhaps a bit underdeveloped, which is something that will hopefully improve with some more age, but I will admit I have zero knowledge let alone experience about how shu pu’er can be expected to develop over time. I’m hoping this one will develop some sweetness as right now that is my biggest gripe about this tea. Granted I did not fully steep out this tea and I did a poor job of brewing it, but still even for a gong ting style tea this one seemed to not have that great longevity. I could be mistaken about that though.

I sensed more potential for improvement in this one than in some others, but at least in its current state I find this tea difficult to recommend based on my initial impressions. I will have to revisit this one at a later date, but I doubt brewing it better will make enough difference to change my thoughts on it. A couple more years of age will hopefully have a positive impact on this tea. Some small changes might make a difference.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Earth, Mineral

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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There were three entries for this same tea and the only other one with a review lists the manufacturer as “Menghai Tea Factory (from Dragon Tea House)”, while I’ve got mine through Teasenz. My OCD decided it was neatest to add my review to the more generic entry, even though it means the reviews get scattered. My OCD is arbitrary like that.

The other reviewer (stockman) admitted to being a newbie but disliked the tea for being too strong. I’ll happily admit to being a newbie as well, but I did expect this tea to be too young (or ‘middle aged’) for direct consumption. I just thought it would be nice to get better acquainted with the Menghai flavour profile (whatever that is) as well as with the whole of the aging process.

There is a local (eBay re)seller that sells a 2 years older and 2 euros cheaper version of this tuo, as well as other pu’s, but without any guarantee of authenticity, so tasting this tea might also help me to judge his wares.

I won’t go into young, awkward stage and mature at this point, other than complaining that the inventor of the term ‘awkward stage’ didn’t choose the term ‘pubertea’ instead. Now there’s a term that fits the bill for awkward!

I lack the required experience with young Pu to judge whether it is actually less awkward at a younger age, but this pubertea has certainly not lost its youthful spirit, as it has a raw, green, laxative (ahem) bitter that is constant throughout brews.

Nose-wise it already seems older and more intriguing. In the beginning there is a lighter, more cleanish (slightly minty?) smell of tobacco shop (compared to yesterdays Xiaguan tuo), which over multiple steeps slowly unveils the orchid quality of the leaves. Which means that halfway through the steeps you’re smelling some sort of orchid graveyard, which is as odd as it sounds.

Remaining on the tongue there is a presence of the tobacco-ish bitter.

My present understanding / belief is that the deep orchid quality, as opposed to more delicate fragrances, have staying power. What I’m unsure of is whether a present-day bowel-activating bitter will add any more socially acceptable qi-qualities when softened out.

So how will this tea age? Unsure. uit I’ll be there to find out. For present consumption I could better take some unsubtle cheap green tea instead and get the same effect.

I will neither rate nor (dis)recommend this tea because I think it is too early to judge.

P.S.: one day I will smell some real orchids somewhere and as a consequence have to rewrite all my tasting notes.

Flavors: Bitter, Green, Orchid, Spearmint, Tobacco

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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This is a relatively nice tea but didn’t seem as good as other 7572s that I have drank. Perhaps that was because this was batch 807, the seventh batch of the year or perhaps it was because I was concentrating more on photographing my tea than tasting it and it had got rather cold by the time I finished it. Still it was a good tea with a lot of flavor.

I steeped this nine times in a 225ml Yixing Teapot with 17g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, and 45 seconds.

Boiling 17 g 8 OZ / 225 ML

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Bought this recently in a stash sale. It was such a good price I couldn’t resist. This is an excellent tea. There was a fair amount of fermentation flavor this being from 2014 but that flavor was neither fishy nor unpleasant and was somewhat sweet. The fermentation lasted about four or five steeps and what I was left with was a nice sweet ripe. This is the highest grade of ripe in normal production at Menghai Tea Factory and you can tell, it tastes that good. There was a bit of a fruity flavor at the end but not really sure what to call it.

I steeped this ten times in a 100ml teapot with 8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 minute. I could have easily gotten a few more steeps out of it but ten was enough caffeine.

Flavors: Earth, Sweet

Boiling 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This was a very tasty tea with a moderate amount of fermentation flavor to it. There was no fishy taste or even unpleasant taste to the fermentation. It was fairly sweet. I agree this tea did not seem overly complex but that may be because it is just on the cusp of being an aged shou. Ten years old is in my experience when teas begin to change. This one was beginning to lose it’s fermentation flavor and beginning to take on a flavor of aged shou. Sweet but not in my opinion chocolaty in this case. It did not seem fruity either. More a mushroom type of sweetness to it in the end. That may not be the best description but it is the best I can come up with.

I steeped this tea twelve times in a 160ml silver teapot with 13.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 minutes. This session was also an attempt to see if I could distinguish any difference between water boiled in my silver kettle and my ceramic kettle. The first steeps were in silver and the later ones were in ceramic. It did seem there was a slight difference with the silver kettle winning out overall.

Boiling 13 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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We ordered this 9-yr old shou based on the recommendation of John @ King Tea and our fondness for Menghai shou. We’ve finished this 357g cake a while ago. What follows is what stood out for us:

Taste – Full-bodied, & smooth. As one would expect with a 9-yr old Menghai cake, there wasn’t any bitterness, astringency, acidity, fishiness or funk.

Flavor profile – Typical Menghai shou flavor. There wasn’t anything that stood out as being particularly memorable. It’s less complex or more homogenous.

Impression – This shou is a good robust morning cup. It’s just not as satisfying as:, which is three years younger.

12g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 5s rinse / 20 min rest / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30 / 60 /120

12 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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The version of this I have is from TeaLife.HK and has Guangdong dry storage.

This is one of my favourite shou so far. It was very smooth right from the first steep, with a kind of black pepperyness at the end of a sip. Long steeps work absolutely fine, which I like.

It feels slippery in the mouth, leaving a gummy feel and a lingering taste (that I can’t identify but is not unpleasant). It builds up and has a tingly feel – not really pepper and not mint, but something along those lines.

I got a raisin taste on a new pot of water at steep 6 or 7, which I do not tend to get from teas that have it as a note.

I got 50g of this based on the description and would buy a cake. (I am mostly going for samples at this stage).

0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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[So sorry as again I am studying for finals I will post a better tasting note when I drink the other part of the sample in the bag]

I remember enjoying this tea a lot. At first, it gave me a smooth mushroom and earthiness with a dark typical ripe puerh taste. This was the first time that I have tasted earthiness, and to be honest it wasn’t too bad. Though, this earthiness faded after the second steeping and there was this pronounced cherry taste. Very smooth, and quite enjoyable! Unlike the other 2010 ripe I tried this one did not have as much of that “barn yard taste” and had a very enjoyable fragrance, but this was not with the ripe puerh meaty smell.

I loved this tea, all of the flavors worked well, and I found myself wanting another sip every time I tasted it. Very delicious indeed!

Flavors: Cherry, Mushrooms

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Courtesy of a very kind Steepster friend, my wife & I were able to experience this 10-yr old shou.

Color – Chocolate brown with some gold tips on surface.
Fragrance – sweet
Warmed leaves – refined puerh aroma, very clean
Rinsed leaf aroma – mild pleasing pu-erh aroma, I anticipate good things!
Brewed aroma – Very mild aroma – citrus
Liqueur – Amber, initally a little cloudy

Taste – Medium-bodied, very clean, ultra-smooth, & rich. As one would expect with a 10-yr old premium cake, there wasn’t any bitterness, astringency, acidity, fishiness or funk.

Flavor profile – I agree with mrmopar, this shou has a mild mineral flavor that was more obvious near the end of the sip.

Impression – This shou conjured up thoughts of a very refined introvert skilled in the art of diplomacy to win over your tastebuds and your smile. It isn’t a bold robust extroverted morning cup. This shou is perhaps best served at the traditional English afternoon tea time. This is an excellent shou.

11.6g / 6 oz / 205° / 60s preheat / 60s warm leaves / 5s rinse / 20 min rest / 5s / 5 / 5 / 5 / 15 / 30 / 60 /120

Flavors: Mineral

12 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I received a generous 7.4g sample of this from Liquid Proust. I’m not usually a ripe pu drinker but I’ll try any tea once, especially if it has some age on it and a fancy name on the label. This tea is quite compressed – I was surprised the scale read 7.4g for this little chunk. I broke it up a bit into larger flakes to speed up the opening of the cake. The rinsed leaf has a nice, earthy nuttiness in its aroma.

Despite my best efforts, the leaves look more like shou nuggets than loose tea after 2 rinses and some extended rests with the gaiwan lid on. That’s okay, I’ll let the cake open on its own time.

This stuff brews up very dark and opaque, almost coffee-like. The liquor is super smooth and easy to drink. It has some sweetness but the primary flavor is extremely soft earth forest floor. There are no off flavors or aromas to be found here – this is a very clean, well made tea.

The flavor remains much the same through the middle steeps but it does get a little bit of thickness to it. At this point I was about to set this tea off to the side and come back to it later BUT there’s some sneaky qi happening here. It’s relaxing but swimmy. I’m sweating and a bit numb in the face.

So, I think this shou is pretty good. It probably won’t change your mind if you’re like me and don’t really like shou, but I’m happy to have had the experience of drinking a higher quality shou like this.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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This is my second time sitting down with this tea. Rinsed once before tasting, infused for 10 seconds, and drank 6 infusions. The dry leaf has a warm earthy smell typical of ripe puerh. The wet leaf smells of earth, smoked tree bark, and moss. Taste overall is the same earthiness with smoky bark, but has a surprisingly fresh finish similar to mint. Enjoyed it overall, but once this brick is gone, probably won’t buy again.

Flavors: Bark, Earth, Mint, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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So I’ve participated in the last few curated puerh boxes posted by toby8653 and dug into one of these teas this week. I started this tea the day before yesterday and I’ve been steeping it out and taking progress notes several times since then. From the start, it was clear this came from a dense cake. 7g of material hardly took up any space in my gaiwan. The sample has a deep smokey aroma, so I’m prepared up front to get plenty of smokiness in the tea.

I give this a quick rinse and let the leaves sit to open up a bit before the first flash steep, which produces an amber liquor that tastes sweet with notes of tobacco and a hint of earth. The flavors are light, so I can tell the tea is definitely still opening up.

Some tannic sourness and astringency kicks in in steep two. I leave these and come back to the leaves the next day, and there is a very strong smoky aroma and taste to start. After a few more steeps, the taste becomes a bit more mellow and more defined with woody notes and a nice thickness. It’s still got a significant amount of bitterness and sourness going on, though.

I come back to them again today and the taste is significantly more mellow and balanced tasting, with a very long-lasting drying effect on the throat. This has been an interesting drinking experience, and though I gave this tea a couple of weeks to air out and pretty much flash steeped it every time, I’d like to come back to it after an even longer period of rest and to play around with steeping parameters, as well.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Drying, Earth, Smoke, Tannic, Tobacco

Boiling 7 g

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i’m a shou newbie but as far as i can tell this is pretty tasty. kinda bitter in a coffee-like way but mellows out after a couple of steeps. i did three rinses.

notes of earthy wood and fallen leaves. maybe a dark chocolate too.

i like it

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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I am not a big shou drinker, so I have been picking away at what I had of this for a couple years now. This past session took up the last chunk that I had left. This is a really great shou. The leaves are heavily compressed and give off no fermentation stank, rather they have high notes of spiced wood and earth. I warmed up my zisha, broke the chunk in half, and threw in both pieces. The warmed shu smells great with burly nuttiness, sweetness, and damp wood. Honestly, I was picking up a definite nutella tone. I washed the leaves three times and proceeded with brewing. The taste is somewhat thin with a slight dryness at first, but it builds in thickness and smoothness as the session goes on. The tones start with a great nutty base along with a great sweet syrupy background. Due to compression, this session lasted for quite a long time. The dark leaves became sweeter and sweeter with more pronounced earth, hazelnut, dry dark cacao. The qi is an intense warming sensation in the face and lower abdomen. I can feel brief bursts of energy the ebb and flow with the session. This is a great tea, but I think its a bit too high priced for me. I couldn’t see myself spending this kind of money on shou. However, it is a stellar tea, and it will always please!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Earth, Hazelnut, Nuts, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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Breaking this out as I love some BuLang teas.
I grabbed 10 grams off the cake. Easy to do as the cake was loose pressed for a Dayi. The leaves are a mix of chopped and some full leaf in there. I gave it a wash and let it sit a few minutes. There is some color in the wash so that is promising.
First brew 5 seconds. Golden color. Tastes , a bit smoky with typical shot of BuLang bitterness. It hits with smoke and mineral on the middle part of the tongue.
Second steep, 5 secs, more color getting golden now. A bit stronger on the bitterness with some hints of sweet coming through. Cooling down give some tongue tingle.
Third steep, 5 seconds, color dropping a bit. Still has a good punch some drying at first. Mint and cooling on the breathe intake now. Some more sweetness. Leaves unrolling now and able to see some color variance in them.
I did this tea nine times two days ago and didn’t do many notes. It finally tailed off for my tastes at nine. You may be able to steep it a bit more.

Flavors: Bitter, Mineral, Mint, Smoke, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I had a hard time reading the name on this sample at first, but glad to have finally figured it out. 5g in 200ml gaiwan. Nice, deep red liquor and the first steep is smooth and light, but has a clear, earthy richness.

Starting with the second steep, this shou becomes super smooth, rich and has a nice sweetness to it that lasts through the next couple of hours of steeping. No qi, but this this is easy to drink with a gentle, but rich flavor.

Flavors: Earth, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g

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I just updated this one after some research. It has older tea leaf in this cake. Stored as MaoCha and then they were pressed into cakes.

I pulled 9 grams off the cake to start with and gave a 5 second rinse. There is color in the rinse that would support the older material.
I started steeping at 5 second increments. The color on th e brews is a nice golden. The aroma has the camphor humid type note to it. This is confirmed upon drinking the tea. You can taste the humidity and the camphor notes along with some mineral in there. The leaf was pretty tightly pressed and there is some bitterness in there as well. This thing is very similar in profile to EoT’s Baotang. It has good storage without being too wet. It gives some tongue tingle and it exudes mintiness breathing it in and out for a minute or so. This thing feels almost like a supercharged ‘7542’ hits all the good notes for me.
This was loads better than the Menghai ’Old Tree Round" I had a while back. Maybe Menghai is something that can be drank without a 5 year or so aging process. I have a couple of more in this same style production to try as well from Menghai.

Flavors: Camphor, Mineral, Mint

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 200 OZ / 5914 ML

There are something like four versions of this in the catalog.


I like the comparison to the EoT tea, although I’ve not tried it. It shows you have pinned it down to something specific.


@tea123 it is very close. I think an initial tasting would be close. The Baotang has a touch more depth to it.


It’s a yearly series? Tried your 2011? It’s smoky and chop but not the worst I’ve had.


@Cwyn, I think this has had some emphasis put on it. It is very much different from the 2012 that I have. It is still chop and goes maybe 9 steeps before I tossed it but the age of the leaf is evident with the taste and color.


That Baotang is superb. I’ll have to look into this.


^I second Haveteawilltravel’s comment. mrmopar thank you for directing me onto Baotang a few months ago, so I’ll have to look into this tea too.


Is “Baotang” an alternative spelling of Bo He Tang? “Bohe” is mandarin for peppermint. Stuff from this terrior is extremely rare and pricey.


its two separate locations. Baotang 保塘 is in the Mengsong region of Menghai, and BoheTang 薄荷塘 is in Wangong region of Mengla


@mrmopar where did you buy this? King Tea?


Sqt, I did in fact get it from King Tea. I bought it on a whim for historical aspect but it turned out well so I grabbed another.


@mrmopar thank you, threw in a cake with my last order :)

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