Have you seen Star Wars Holiday special? Well, unless you are perfectly fine with tearing yourselves apart with cat'o'nine tails and putting salt into the wounds, don't. I did not believe the critics that it could be THAT bad. It could. It is.
I needed to have some pick-me-up afterwards and thought I'd have the 98 Menghai Tuocha that MarshalN sent me. You may rembember me writing about the unpleasantly dry 98 A grade tuocha, well, this should be similar, to an extent (it is)
This tuo is, as the A grade 98 thing, quite young, although the aging process is certainly in progress. I did not perceive any dry storage unpleasantry in this MarshalN's version, however, it is still quite green. I must admit I'd have guessed it to be early 00s, rather than 98. I believe that the heavier pressing led to the relatively young feeling of this.
The wet leaves emit a pleasant aroma of aged camphor and ripe fruit. A very little amount of woody smoke can be found, but it's really subtle and does not appear in taste.
I thought the taste rather unimpressive when I had this for the first time, but came to appreciate it more as I had it more times. It is not as sweet as the aroma; it is woodier, but well in harmony: wood, camphor and some fruit. No aged nuttiness or earthiness. The tea seems (tastes) to be actually before entering the young-aged phase of its life.
The taste does not last as long as it could, the tea is probably not thick enough for that. The aftertaste is a bit muffled by bitterness (if the tea is pushed a bit; if not, there is no real bitterness, but no significant aftertaste either). Also, the performance after swallowing seems muffled, I did not feel any larger activity or energy. But, rather similarly to the recently written about Xiaguan from 98, these aspects seem to be asleep, rather than absent.
Paradoxically, even though this tea is not exactly young, it still feels to me a lot about its taste (which is very nice, even though not really top-class-style). It is also good for my stomach - not many greener teas can say that.
I definitely enjoyed it more than the 98 A grade tuo from Finepuer/Sampletea which had some seriously negative aspects to my tastes. The MarshalN's tuo does not, I believe, despite being maybe a bit ordinary. But it takes the tastes in the 98 tuo, omits/dampens the unpleasant ones and develops the nicer ones. It seems to be at about the level of the recent 98 Xiaguan loose leaf - winning slightly in taste, losing slightly in areas outside taste.
The leaves are mostly smaller grade and fragmented. They are quite similar (in the way of color&size histogram) to the 98 A grade tuo:
Many thanks to MarshalN for this enjoyable tea! It was certainly a good experience to (not only) try it along the dry 98 A tuo.