čtvrtek 1. listopadu 2012

2005-2009 Menghai TF Spring of Menghai

I'm currently bogged down by samples - still about 20 to go from Finepuer, some 20-30 came from YS recently and today another 15-20 from Chawangshop, not mentioning some others from fellow bloggers. And I wanted to have all the spring stuff sorted out before autumnal teas appear. On the other hand, I've heard that the autumn season won't be much good and not that much tea will be made probably - so I may actually end up well having all these samples. But what to taste now? It all looks so good. I guess I'll run a Round-Robin.

This serie of five vintages of Spring of Menghai is yet another excellent thing available from Finepuer - it is rare to get such a consecutive serie of a tea without paying crazy money. 

I think that such an effort helps a) to observe the effect of aging, b) to look for subtle differences between vintages - after all, the tea should be "the same", so one has to pay greater attention to details.

Nevertheless, I was not only happy about the set because it is a set, but because the Spring of Menghai blend seems to be quite a pleasant one. I like it a lot actually (certainly more than Peacocks). I wonder where it comes from. I'd say there is a lot of Bulang, but there is definitely an Yiwu-esque element, which is unlikely as it is "Spring of Menghai", not a "Spring of Menghai and Yiwu" (right, that would be a weird name. 

In general, there is a good deal of honey sweetness, sweet granary taste, fruitiness (which gradually changes to nuttiness), no smoke at all. The tea loses bitterness with age reasonably, the liquor is quite thick and "embracing" - that is the Yiwuesque part I guess. The sweet Bulangs I know tend to sort of lack that feature to an extent. The sweet aroma of cup is present in the taste too.

What I lacked (only the 2007 sort of had it) was the feeling of cooling/activity in mouth. The qi is also quiet. I guess the teas are mostly about taste now and further perks may appear in future.

Now, with the general description of the tea finished, let's get down to details.

Please pardon my ignorance when setting up the camera - I fixed the exposition parameters too late (in the 2007) so the {2008,2009} and {2005,2006,2007} are not really comparable.

I used 3g in 200ml, steeped for 5 minutes.

2009 is on the top, 2005 is on the bottom (click to enlarge):

In reality, it is interesting that the 2008 is lighter than 2009 and 2006 is lighter than 2007. Also, the 2005-2007 leaves are a lot more broken than the 2008-2009 ones. One could hypothetize that the more broken will be more bitter, but the opposite is true - it seems that the aging factor contributes more to the loss of bitterness than breaking up the leaves contributes to bitterness gain. There is slight residual bitterness which, I believe, will contribute to the meizi aftertaste which I like so much. The hints are there already. 

What I noted about the teas:
2009: Light honey sweetness (meadow honey) and a good deal of mixed garden fruit (spiced with bitterness). The bitterness does transform rather slowly, but it is not a huge deal, especially not if you're used to young puerh.

2008: The honey, although still light, becomes deeper and meadow flowers appear. It is less fruity and with the exception of the honey, lighter and gentler than the 2009. The bitterness is weaker and "not as full" if you know what I mean. It's like if you took a wide-spectrum bitterness and removed most of frequencies.

2007: Darker than both 2008 and 2009, it is the single tea from the serie with a bit of camphor taste in it. The honey has changed from meadow flower to forest honey - that is an important observation to me - I always thought that these two tastes were different qualities, but now it seems than the former can become the latter via aging. The fruitiness in the 2007 gets slightly weaker, it becomes a bit more nutty. And certain hints of clay start appearing - I guess that this will eventually make stronger sweet granary taste in the future, or it may be starting tones of agedness. There is slight cooling feeling after swallowing. It is possible that it has something to do with the camphor taste, it seems really connected to it. 

2006: It gets more nutty, it is clearly in the aroma and rather in taste too. Compared to 2007, it feels like 2008 to 2009. It is good, but I prefer the odd year.

2005: The darkest overall from all, with a bit more bitterness than 2006 and 07. However, what semi-ruins the experience to me is the presence of wooden smoke. It is not really that bad, it does not make the tea disgusting or anything, but I clearly prefer the more recent versions without that unwanted feature.

This is a most commendable serie - I wish more vendors had series like this - of 7542, 8582, etc. One learns a lot this way. And the Spring of Menghai seems to be a genuinely fine blend, if you give up the mouthfeel and more powerful qi, it is really quite good.

I got to rush off now, another tea session with a teachum!

6 komentářů:

  1. My first experience with puerh was after buying a cake from a shop in Beijing some time ago -- I have no idea of the source, but it was lovely, and so I knew I wanted to try more! Based on your reviews, I decided to spring for a collection of 30 or so samples from finepuer. The 2007 Spring of Menghai happened to be the first sample I opened. I am actually in the middle of trying a series of short (30 second) brews today. I am not sensing the same honey or camphor that you do, but my inexperienced tongue would describe it as mildly earthy/leathery. Still a few more steepings to go, yet!

    Anyway, thank you for creating and maintaining such a thoughtful and thorough collection of remarks on tea! I look forward to reading more.


  2. Hello Danny,
    thanks for writing!

    Well, first, different parts of a cake may taste a bit different, also water has tremendous impact on a taste. I did some experiments and quickly realized that two different waters on the same leaves may produce liquors I'd never guess to come from a single tea.

    And the second thing is, that the naming of tastes is (in my opinion) somewhat subjective and one can call a taste in several different ways. E.g., until a year ago, I never thought of certain Yiwu cakes a of leathery in taste. However, when someone wrote that the teas were leathery, I realized that he's actually right and that there are several views on how to name the taste, none of which is entirely wrong.

    I'm glad you find my writing enjoyable, I hope not to disappoint in future :)

  3. Hey. I recently tried many of these same teas from sample tea-- I also did not enjoy the 2005 as much as I hoped. I don't know if it was "smoky" but there was something about it that made the qi fall flat for me. It tasted very green and young, then with this other taste that seemed layered over and almost not natural. The more recent years didn't have that, Maybe something was off with the production that year?

    1. Hi! Nice to see you here.

      Yup, not really natural, completely agreed. I don't know, they either had problems with the production process or something could have went wrong during storage.

      I'm looking forward to trying the 2012 Spring of Menghai. Scott has these for $14 and if there's a chance they'd get as nice as the 2006-9, then $14 is a bargain.

    2. futurebird: Menghai factory was purchased by BoWin company in 2004 and the quality of their sheng puerhs went to the dump. That's why.

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