pátek 14. prosince 2012

One-eyed genius and factory worker: 2003 Menghai Dayi Red Ribbon Jia Ji & 2003 Jiang Cheng Brick

Both teas are available from finepuer/sampletea. Let's start with the less interesting one to have some gradation, shall we?

2003 Jiang Cheng Brick - the worker
This tea is, in my opinion, an example of a really common, unsurprising tea. It's like a "chum", someone you meet in a bus, have a nice talk for 15 minutes, then you leave and soon forget that you have met someone on that day.


The wet leaves smell rather good than bad - although smoke sort of dominates in there, it's an agreeable smoke - like burning fallen leaves (not tea leaves, those smell horribly when burnt). Some pleasant animality is also present; the overall aroma is sweet.



The taste is quite alike those 2003 Xiaguan Red Mark, Blue Mark, etc. These have a certain sort of smokiness (which is not entirely like modern Xiaguan smoke, although it may be the same sort, mellowed by aging) and something extra on top. Well, some of them do not, rather. This brick falls into the latter category - not offering a whole lot extra on top of that (admittedly rather nice) smoke.

It performs all right, but is entirely unexciting. There is no tingling, no real qi, nothing. Tester steeping brings out some weird tones and some of that wild-tree bitterness.

The leaves are bruised, torn and all that.

Finepuer offers much more exciting teas at the equivalent of $72 per 400g. That's price level when one expects something extra, methinks.

2003 Menghai Red Ribbon - the crippled genius
Right, I'm exagerating, the tea is not really a genius, but it is an example of a tea which has many very good qualities, but then a couple of features which kill the experience. To continue with human examples, it's like if you meet this beautiful, intelligent girl, you talk, enjoy yourselves, you feel like soulmates... and then she pulls out a cigarette and lights it. Or she's a lesbian (nothing against them, but for purposes of mating, it's not an ideal).



At first, I thought the tea would be downright bad, but its qualities appeared after a while.

The wet leaves smell sweet (not entirely naturaly, it's a touch weird sweetness, a bit similar to that Guan Yun Gong), spicy, with some hemp string and certain sort of red fruitiness which suggests sourness of taste. After a couple of steepings, the aroma shifts to much more agreeable light honey and sweet granary (though not nearly as exciting as other teas possessing these features).


The taste... 

Bitterness and astringency are medium, the bitterness is not really that strong, but persistent and unpleasant (Man'E style). I find it difficult to describe the taste, because it changes a lot - some sweet wood, some red berries, some grain, some chemicality... In the tester, it all mingles together in a not really natural, nor really pleasant thing. 

The main issue is the sourness though. The tea can be either steeped strong-ish, when it has some definable taste - but it is heavily sour then. Or it can be steeped weaker, but then it tastes like sweet water with some weird  aspects. The sourness is of the dry-storage varietal (the leaves do not see too green though), but I do not believe that this sort of sourness can be imparted to a tea only via aging - I think that certain sort of leaves has the potential to get sour if dry stored, but if you store another tea in the same way, it won't get nearly as sour. 

Using less leaves and longer steeping times helps a bit with the sourness, but all the strange aspects of the tea get mixed up together anyway and it adds together to something not too pleasant.

So far so bad...

Let's get to the good stuff now, shan't we? 
First, there is a rather clear feeling of old trees in mouth, that cooling/tingling (in general, some of these may be simply pesticides, but the difference is quite clear). There is a hint of calming qi, were not the taste as perplexing, it could feel quite strong I believe. This way, I'm too distracted by the taste to get calm.

Also, the tea does possess very good long-term aftertaste. That lovely fresh plum tones you may be acquainted with from 7542s and that sort - it's here. I highly value that aspect, especially in aged tea. It's like an old and esteemed professor making "fresh" jokes, you see how he is still spiritually young and in perfect shape.

So - this tea is rather awful taste-wise, but performs well on other important fronts. I wonder if more humid storage could fix the taste (or, at least, bring it to the earthy, inoffensive spectrum), for the tea could become quite excellent after that.

I believe it costs something like $110 per 400g. There is a couple of very good teas below that and a whole lot of good tea. I'd rather pick these.

12 komentářů:

  1. Hi Jakub, I really like your blog and style you write it:). I'm big fan of tea and recently sheng puerh, actually I'm drinking it just now (2009 Yiwu Dingjia Zhai Gushu from Peter). This maybe sounds stupid but how could I send you a message? Thank you very much. Jan

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    1. Hi,
      thanks a lot!

      Peter did a Ding Jia Zhai? Could be nice to try.

      You can drop me an e-mail at jakub.tomek.mff[at]gmail.com.
      Best,
      Jakub

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    2. That particular Ding Jia Zhai, I do not think is good. It *is* fruity, so you may like it, but I found it less meaty than it needed to be, making the fruity aspects rather mawkish.

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  2. Hi, how can you tell the tingling is from old trees and not pesticides?

    Regards.

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    1. Hi,
      well, it's statistics mixed with semi-educated guesswork. Basically, most old trees has a sort of tingling/cooling, which is pleasant and while it was scary when I started feeling it, I felt it was good and natural.

      On the other hand, some taidi teas had a different, not so pleasant (more astringent) tingling. And then a friend sent me a sample of tea as an example of pesticide tingling - it was very much alike what I thought earlier to be the pesticide tingling.

      Thus - I have a set of teas which I (possibly incorrectly) labelled as gushu-tingle or pesticide-tingle - and when I drink a new tea, I just check which cluster of tingling is more similar to it...

      Hope I answered your question a bit...
      Best,
      Jakub

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    2. Remember, ALL tingling is about anti-microbial and pesticide action. The difference is in whether it's natural, like black pepper, and tested to be harmless by ages of experience, or whether it's added--and most such additions are extremely toxic. We are, by and large, dependent on effective plantation management, with access to newer pesticides and newer methods, such that most of the stuff is gone when the leaf is chopped or picked. Theines are the primary pesticides, though, and the stuff that makes this stuff worth drinking, so keep everything in perspective.

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    3. All tingling? Why? Is there a study about that?

      Gushu tingling has nothing to do with pesticides (the "bad" ones), however, is it anti-microbial? Could be, I just never read anything like that.

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  3. Yep, I think I got the idea. Any tea that you think has the taidi astringent tingling so I can try it?

    Tnaks for your help

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  4. My last question was not clear, sorry.

    I meant if you could recommend a tea from plantation that has the astringent tingling so I can identify it?

    Thanks again.

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    1. Oh, it was clear actually. I'm just thinking :) The teas where it is really clear are not sold by the people I buy from. I'll continue scanning my memory for a tea with that property.
      Best,
      Jakub

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  5. Tento komentář byl odstraněn administrátorem blogu.

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