Menghai Tea Factory (Yunnan Sourcing)Edit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewed in my porcelain gaiwan. Decided to try this after a horrible experience with some Mandarin peel Pu erh from “Yu Teahouse” (beautiful classy packaging, lousy tea – embodying everything I hate about receiving 礼品茶).
Dry leaf smells fishy in a bad way (neither of the other two cakes in my collection, the 2011 Xin Hai Bai Nian or 2007 Hong Zhuang, smell like this)
After 2 rinses, fishiness is gone. Wet leaf smells like sweet incense wood smoke and sweet baked wholemeal bread
First infusion: wet leaf intoxicating sweet herbal + baking brown-crust bread smell OMG.
Tastes clean, clear herbal + cacao flavour, not sweet. Light on flavour (normal for 1st infusion). No bitterness, but teensy bit of dryness / saliva-induction in the aftertaste (good!)
2nd infusion: Weak, not fragrant, maybe my nose was blocked or eclipsed by the noodles I was having for lunch. Ordinary cacao / tea flavour, medium body.
3rd infusion: Because the 2nd was so weak, I hit it hard (1 min+) and wow super strong aroma of red dates / jujubes! Body still a bit thin, but a bit of a tingly sensation (perhaps like camphor or menthol, though I’m not actually getting those notes).
4th & 5th infusions: red date aroma and tingly sensation are still there but the flavour is really really weak. This tea is done. Not too many infusions but hopefully it will get better with age… and if it doesn’t, then this is a perfectly respectable daily drinker for days when I don’t have time to do more than 2 steepings. Great value for money and still far smoother and more complex than any overpriced “fancy hotel spa”-type gift tea.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cacao, Dates
I received this tea about a 2 years ago and I’m just getting around to reviewing it. Brewed out of a medium sized gaiwan. I heard from some good things about Yunnan Sourcing on Reddit, but I was not impressed with this tea.
It has a heavy fermentation flavor, and didn’t give me a good feeling in my stomach. This flavor lasted throughout the whole 10 steeps I gave this tea. As with many shou puerhs, it has earthy flavors, but other than that I can’t make out anything I like about it. I will have to give another one of their shou puerhs a shot, but this one is not good.
Bouquet: The steaming aroma is very dark-ish sweet like dark chocolate and roasted hazelnut cream. Talking about roasted or smoked stuff there you might also discover a hint of grilled fish on stick with a fine marinade of soy sauce. This aromatic mist is highly mouthwatering and already foretelling a great tasting experience.
Liquor: This is one of those rare occasions where the dark side of the Force isn’t as dark as you might expect it. This fellow is very light within its coloration but not with its tasting experience. There you also meet up with a very unique dark chocolate more like hot chocolate taste plus a fine layer of roasted hazelnuts. What really amazes me is not the first infusion its the 2nd one! First and foremost – WOW! I experienced a lot but this is another new aspect I can now count to my tea journey. There are creamy and buttery teas but this is a completely other level. Its texture isn’t only creamy buttery its really actually thick like thickened like within a sauce. This is highly enjoyable and uplifts this whole experience. Beside this sensation other nuances are slightly subtle earthy notes but more important a very mineral stony feel within the aftertaste. Despite the fact that its darkness is weak its effect and taste is far from it. This is a highly warming Shou which gives a such tingling warm feel within your chest. If you are still waiting for the grilled fish to be served it is not available for our table but you can get a small taste of it some seats behind you on another table. What I mean is it is just very subtle noticeable within the echo after the last sip is done. There is also a certain sourness with a mixture of bitterness to it which really reminds me of dried fruits especially like figs – taste and effect-wise ~ Cheers
Now that I’m measuring out my Pu Ers more consistently (5g in 130ml gaiwan), they are tasting much better––surprise!
I think I used way too much leaf the first time. This time it’s much less “bold”, just smooth and sweet. This is currently one of my favourite teas to drink with food. Right now drinking it with a bagel w/ cream cheese and tahini, and it goes well when I add maple syrup to the make it a sweet bagel too.
A bit more bold and unique than the previous Menghai I tried (the 7562). In addition to typical Pu Er earthiness, this has a herbal / medicinal flavour and slightly salty. It’s not for everyone.
Compared to the 7562, which I think is more of a generic or “classic” Pu Er, the 8592 doesn’t go as well with milk or with food since it steals the show a little. It’s not one of those crowd-pleasers that works well in the background––you WILL notice this tea as you’re drinking it, and it might clash with what you’re pairing it with. I’m glad I tried it, I can’t see myself drinking this often.
Flavors: Earth, Herbs, Medicinal, Musty, Salty
tl;dr: Unoffensive, easy to drink, brews out quite a bit and forgivingly. Mostly a cardboard/pencil shavings taste in a soy-sauce colored liquid, mellows out into something sweeter. Not my favorite flavor profile to start, but if you’re into it this would make an excellent cake at the price, and the ending was worth it. 3.9/5.
6g leaf, 75ml porcelain gaiwan
98C, 10s rinse: Gentle smell of caramelized sweetness over earth.
98C, 5s: flat, watery, unremarkable.
98C, 20s: Can’t really get much smell off of it. Pensil shavings, cardboard/carton-y, flat mouth feel. Very unoffensive. Immediate qi (or maybe I just haven’t eaten yet xD). Basically soy sauce colored.
98C, 45s: gentle ripe notes finally appearing. mouth feel less flat, leaves totally opened up. Super easy to drink at this point, basically chug-able.
98C, 60s: mouthfeel really rounding out. some faintest fruity smells, currant?
98C, 90s: these leaves become more fun to smell the longer they’re brewed. cardboardy tastes are gone, simply a clean, unoffensive shou taste.
98C, 90s: sweeter smell, creamier texture/flavor.
98C, inf s: sweet….cardboard….? those are real flavor words….
98C, inf s: really loving these last few steepings. it’s still super dark, if no longer soy sauce level.
98C, inf s: third dead man steep, flavor starting to thin but I’m still enjoying it.
98C, inf s: probably done.
Flavors: Cardboard, Sweet
My very first ripe pu-erh. Didn’t like it. Much too bitter on first steep ( overtones of coffee, which is something I detest). Later, longer steeps were OK but didn’t have a ‘special’ taste. I can’t rate the tea fairly though because I don’t yet have anything with which to compare it.
Flavors: Coffee, Wet Earth
This was an excellent sheng with very little bitterness at all. It had a nice sweet note to it. I think the classic profile of apricots and stonefruits fits this one. I had heard this tea was somewhat bitter, maybe it was because I used a lower brewing temperature but I really didn’t get any bitterness or astringency. This was good stuff.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml Yixing teapot with 8.4g leaf and 190 degree water. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 seconds.
Flavors: Apricot, Stonefruit, Sweet
This is a very nice ripe puerh that has partially cleared as far as the fermentation flavor goes. The fermentation taste was not strong. This is well on the way to becoming fermentation free as far as the taste goes. I wasn’t really paying attention to the specifics of this tea as I was preparing to photograph it as I was drinking it. I was thinking about the way everything looked rather than the taste. I drinnking the last of it now, steep thirteen and would say it developed a bit of a fruity note. Don’t know about chocolate notes as far as this one goes. I just know I really liked this tea. It is not very different from the 2008 version which I have on sale in the Stash sale. This is one good ripe.
I steeped this teta thirteen times in a 175ml teapot with 12.5g leaf and boiling water. 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, 2 min, and 3 minutes.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
This is another winner from Menghai Tea Factory. Because they hold onto their ripes for a year or so it does not have that just fermented taste. There was a fermentation note to the tea but it was on the sweet side, not unpleasant or fishy. Another good note took over when the fermentation was gone. A strong taste, I am not sure how to describe it, perhaps deeply fruity would suffice. In any case this is a good tea.
I steeped this twelve times in a 200ml gaiwan 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.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
My first Menghai, my first aged ripe, also only my third shu overall. The bing looks quite gorgeous in person and as the 9 in the recipe suggests the leaf size is quite impressive. This being my first factory production ripe, I was expecting a potentially heavier compression, but instead the cake turned out to be incredibly loosely pressed. The bing is notably thicker than most cakes of this weight and the backside isn’t even symmetric in shape/thickness. Prying leaves off without causing additional breakage was a breeze and a pleasure.
I brewed 10.5g of this tea in my brand new 160ml Jianshui clay teapot. I’ve only had one session with it before, so it should be noted that it may not be performing optimally just yet. I rinsed the leaves for slightly over ten seconds and allowed them to rest for ten minutes before I started brewing. I did a total of twelve steeps for 10s, 10s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 65s, 2 min., 4 min. and 8 min. respectively. The last steep revealed the leaves to be utterly spent. Overall the longevity was about what I’d expected, if not a tad better.
The first infusion was sweet, perhaps a bit earthy, and pretty smooth. Very typical base ripe pu’er flavors. It had a rosé color, whereas the rinse had an orange hue. Throughout the steeps the tea produced a remarkably clear liquor. The second steep was very dark and blood red. It tasted very smooth and clean, almost like diluted coffee. It wasn’t as sweet as before, but left a roasted coffee bean type of flavor in your mouth.
The third steep was again perhaps a bit earthy. It was sweeter than before, with an almost berry-like flavor. The tea was super clean and easy to drink. It also made me salivate a lot, which may have contributed to the almost honey-like sweetness this infusion nearly reached toward the end (in flavor, not intensity). The following fourth infusion was a step backwards, presenting very simplistic flavors and tasting very reminiscent of the first infusion with its basic watery sweetness. Steep five was more of this same typical shu taste, with a hint of those berries I thought I’d tasted earlier.
In steep number six I finally got much more of those berries and that infusion was quite nice. I’m bad with berries, but steep seven tasted like redcurrant juice or something to me. It was juicy, with maybe a bit of sweetness. Overall very nice. The eighth infusion was sweet, but the other flavors were seeming to start to taper off. The sweetness persisted in the ninth steep, but the tea soup was starting to taste watery.
The tenth steep I brewed much stronger and the taste I got was the same as the manure type of smell I smell in most ripe pu’ers. I don’t mind the smell, but as a taste I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. There was perhaps some sweetness, but not that much. Wondering if the leaves still had more to give, I doubled the steeping time again and the soup I got had a vanilla flavor to it. One could say there was perhaps almost a cherry note as well, which isn’t all that surprising as the two often go hand in hand. The infusion was quite nice actually and had a nice aftertaste as well. For the twelfth infusion I tried doubling the steeping time one last time, but the resulting tea tasted practically like water, sweet water. It tasted like drinking the remainders of a strawberry slushie where it’s just melted ice at the bottom of the cup with a hint of color and flavor from the strawberry. If you had a big bottle of it, it would be fine for quenching your thirst during summertime.
So what are my thoughts on this tea? I prefer teas that are interesting, dynamic and grab my attention. Therefore this tea was not very interesting to me in the first several steeps. It was only in the latter half that the tea started to feel more interesting. Even though the tea does present many different flavors over the course of a session, compared to other types of tea ripe pu’er does seem to present much smaller dynamic swings in my still quite limited experience, and this tea was no exception. It’s easy to drink and such an inoffensive tea you could probably serve this to anyone from children to elderly. They might not say they like it, but they are unlikely to say they can’t drink it either.
For me perhaps the biggest shortcoming of this tea is the lack of bitterness. I’m not saying other ripe pu’ers are necessarily known for having bitterness either, but toward the end of the session I really found myself yearning for some bitterness or something, anything, to give the tea some bite, edge and character. This was especially apparent since I’ve been tasting Yunnan Sourcing’s fresh spring 2017 black teas over the past few days and enjoying the wonderfully elegant kuwei in some of them. Those people who think bitterness is a bad thing need to drink more tea. A lot more tea.
Despite some of the criticisms I can find for this tea, this might be the best ripe out of the three I’ve had so far, the others being “The New Black” by Misty Peak and “Green Miracle” by Yunnan Sourcing. At the very least it most certainly proved that Menghai is definitely competitive when it comes to producing ripe pu’er. Had this tea been more interesting in the early steeps, it would have been easier for me to recommend. As it stands, it is a tea that is very easy to drink through the day without having to pay too much attention to it, but for the price there are likely to be many other ripes out there that are cheaper and possibly better. I’m not aware of what exactly age has brought to this tea, but I personally wouldn’t say that it is worth paying such a premium for the age at least in this case. This is not a price point I mind paying for a full bing of tea, shu or not, but you could get a pretty nice sheng for the same price.
My journey to find a shu that makes me fall in love with ripe pu’er continues. The next tea I review is likely to be a shu as well, but after that I may start to miss sheng. In any case I have many ripes in the pipeline for me to try out and with this new Jianshui teapot I’ll likely be drinking a lot more ripe pu’er on a regular basis. This tea made me curious toward ripes made from Bulang material and whether some of them retain some of that more fiery nature. Don’t be surprised if the next tea I review comes from that region…
Flavors: Berries, Earth, Sweet
This tea was good. Just what you expect from a Dayi ripe. A moderate amount of fermentation taste that was not fishy or unpleasant and a sweet note from the beginning. I did not notice any bitterness. I used a little more leaves than usual because I over estimated the size of my gaiwan. I thought it was 180ml but I measured it and it was 150ml. The tea was still quite good just a bit strong. As to the specifics of the notes I really wasn’t paying attention so I am not sure.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 14.2g 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. Judging by the color of the tea there were another six steeps left at least.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
This is an excellent ripe that could use a couple more years of aging. There was a lot of fermentation flavor through the first four or five steeps. It was initially bittersweet in nature. The fermentation was not of the unpleasant sort. A sweet note developed after the bitter left. It was good.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml solid silver teapot with 14.1g 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.
This tea is a very nice ripe of the sort you expect from the Menghai Tea Factory. There was very little bitterness and a fair amount of fermentation initially along with a sweet note. You could say it was dark and rich in the early infusions. The fermentation taste was a factor until about the sixth steep. I really wasn’t paying attention to the specifics so I will just say this was an excellent puerh for a reasonable price. Yunnan Sourcing only gets $17 for this and it is definitely worth the price and more. It does need more time to clear a bit but I think in another year or two this will be really good. Of course by then Yunnan Sourcing will have raised the price.
I steeped this tea 12 times in a 150ml gaiwan with 10.3g 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 min. Could have gotten a couple more steeps out of the leaf but twelve was enough.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
Overall this was a fairly nice ripe brick. There was a lot of fermentation taste to it. That taste was a bit unpleasant and in the first steep what you might call fishy. This particular note was gone by the second steep but the fermentation continued until around the sixth steep. It was a sweet tea in general, no real bitterness to it. I think given another two years to age and it will become something quite nice and it wasn’t too expensive. The whole 660g brick only costs $42. It is definitely worth a sample and I think worth buying a brick to age. Menghai Tea Factory ripes I think tend to age quite well. We shall see how this one does.
I steeped this ten times in a 160ml Solid Silver Teapot with 15g 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.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet