neděle 16. prosince 2012

2004 Shi Kun Mu Manzhuan

MarshalN has sent me, several very interesting teas along the lovely set of TGYs and this is one of them. I'm very grateful for all of them: first, the teas would be impossible for me to obtain otherwise. Second, it's a very good opportunity to "taste a fellow blogger" (especially one whose opinions I value so much). People have different preferences - some prefer dry storage, some prefer normal one. Some do not believe in aging of Jinggu, some of Yiwu. And I think that when one reads about a tea on someone else's blog, it's good to have a calibration (e.g., if someone who likes dry sour mummies recommends a tea, I know what not to buy). If I read about a tea which MarshalN has blogged before and drink it alongside, it will (hopefully) give me more insight into the rest of his posts.

Now, this tea is available from Sunsing and it costs about $130. I believe it's priced fairly.

Looks yummy, does it not? And smells too - light storage aroma and nuttiness.

The tea had some issues in a tester so I decided to go for gongfu with stove today.

The wet leaves smell sweet, lightly aged, somewhat like chocolate with nuts, maybe sweet barley. I could be easily talked into spiciness. In the first couple of steepings, there's a light storage aroma. Overall, the aroma is reasonably complex and "wide", surprisingly aged, given the age, but very clean. At times, some youthful aspects appear too, but are not really that noticeable, I'd say.

The taste also starts a bit musty in the first 1-2 steepings, but not enough to make it unpleasant. It seems to me that Manzhuan has a tendency to acquire some aged tones earlier than other areas. There is plenty of nutty agedness, along with some sweet barley and chocolate.

It is nicely sweet and thick. The taste is not as intense as it could, I'd prefer it a bit more intense, but it is very nice and rich nevertheless.

It's good to keep it in mouth for a while as the tingling gets stronger. When I quickly gulped a cup, it did not bring that much enjoyment from the point of mouthfeel. Hui gan is good and long, feels strong even in throat. There is a long term aftertaste. It is not yet as strong as in more aged tea, but the tea seems to be well on the way to it.

The long term aftertaste was more pronounced in a tester, but I probably should have rinsed the tea more before putting it there as the mustiness was maybe a little strong for a tea of this quality. 

The tea posesses light qi which (at least for me) worked very nicely with the whole tea session. This tea was not explosively tasty, nor surprising, but it just felt good. And "right", I might say. A lot of tea has some weird aspects - this one does not. To me, it feels clean and kind. Also, it did well to my stomach. 

$130 is, in my opinion, a reasonable price for such a pleasant and all-around positive tea.

Along with the SKM's 2004 Yibang and 2004 Menghai from Chawangshop, I'd put it probably after the Yibang, before the Menghai. 

On the other hand, I had a bit of the 2004 Yibang after the session (to compare it to the Manzhuan) and thought it was a bit too dry. I asked Honza about it, he told me it comes from the same warehouse, but different altitude in there. It probably had less humidity than the piece I wrote about some time ago - as a result, the Yibang I have now is good, with potential, but needs more time to be as good as the one I had before. I think I'd rather have this Manzhuan for immediate drinking on most occasions.

11 komentářů:

  1. I have never been a fan of Manzhuang tea. I think they are popular with a set of drinkers because they age darker, quicker, than other teas, with a rather tobacco bent. The XZH '10 Manzhuang, the XZH '07 Yuanshilin, which is currently described as a Manzhuang from Manlin, and a number of others, just do not have a particularly strong character other than agreeable tobacco, chocolate, vegetal notes. A good Youle is slightly more boring in flavor (and thinking of it, in various stages of aging, so are Yiwus if compared to, say, XZH '10 Manzhuang ), but they have far better structure and are more well rounded in overall puerh performance. Then again, maybe I've just never had a good Manzhuang, but I've sure tasted some expensive ones!

    If one is shopping at Sunsing with $130 burning in the pocket...well, I probably wouldn't buy anything. Puerh inflation really conflicts with my sense of how much things should cost.

    1. Hello,
      I guess I would not call myself a fan of Manzhuan either - as you say, it does not have a really strong character (the ones I had). The YS one from 2009 was nice, but not particularly awesome. Then there were a couple of lightly aged, cheap and fine, but hardly awesome ones from Chawangshop.

      On the other hand - I sort of like how calm and balanced the tea is (and it is not "calm" like stale or boring), it is very pleasant now, which can not be said of many 2004 teas yet. And it is markedly better than most teas of similarly "young-aged" characters. E.g. the 2001 Gu Puer set, although also probably not priced badly, is, in my eyes, a lot below this one (below enough to justify the price jump).

      I'm not sure that Youle has to be boring. Rather, it seems to me that Youles from 2001-4 are badly processed, with smoke imparted to them via drying, etc. I think that some newer ones (YS, may become quite nice. For older, I like the production of Jinuoshan TF - they are (imo) very pleasant and their 2004-5 cakes are still below $50 mark.

      I thought you yourself were one who said that good tea from famous producers can't be cheap :) I think that for $130, with today's inflated prices, you may easily get a worse tea. And even if it's not clearly worse, it may go wrong via aging and all that.

  2. You can easily do a lot worse buying a brand new 2012 cake of tea and be out for more than $130 - we know plenty of places to buy those things. I'm not sure why anyone would think $130 is unreasonable for a tea that's 8 years old and well stored when there are terrible new teas sold for more.

    1. I know a couple of local dry-storage fanatics who'd dislike this tea altogether just because of the taste. Plus they could be scared by qi, because their dry mummies generally have none :)

      Well, if there were similarly good teas from 2004 for $50, the Manzhuan would not be priced too well, despite being better than similarly priced modern tea - because the prices of 2011-12 teas are hugely bloated. Nevertheless, as there are, afaik, none $50 cakes of similar quality, I'd conclude the tea is priced reasonably indeed.

    2. This isn't traditionally stored. It's just a touch moist, and is the product of very natural storage conditions in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Malaysia, even. If they can't handle this, they shouldn't be drinking aged tea at all.

    3. Well, that's what I told them. However, some people speaking of dry storage make it sound that earthy tones are bad, result of "bad wet storage, faking real aging,..." and that dry stored teas will be clean. Then they buy tea, storing it home at 50%, believing it will somehow mysteriously improve over time and praising the god of "proper dry storage".

      I guess that after 10 years, it will be too late for some people to realize they do not like aged tea actually. Well, bummer.

    4. Yup, but I guess that's how life is. Have they even tried real aged teas yet? This is 2004, barely starting to age, really.

    5. I think it's safe to say they did not, mostly (I do not consider dry stored 2000+-3 years old teas aged at all). Nobody carries a whole lot of aged tea around here. Longfeng did have a couple of them and Slavnecaje has a good deal of aged heicha - but I dare say that all of them are too expensive for most people (despite being priced ok, given prices of EoT, Sampletea, etc.).

      I think it's really appealing, this idea "buy tea now, make it age into a wonder. You don't have 70% humidity at home, but only 40%? It will age slower, but better". The reality is whole another thing, of course :)

      I had a fellow here a couple of months ago and since he wanted to try an aged tea, I treated him with the last piece of the bamboo wrapped tuocha from EoT... and he did not like it, thought it musty, moldy shu-like and all that. I'm not sure if you had it, but in my opinion, it is quite clean and good (definitely not what I'd call wet stored). Then I prepared him the 98 Menghai tuo in a tester (quite dry, too dry imo) and he did not like it at all either.

      I think that you yourself have touched it on a couple of occasions - people should first try some aged tea before they start talking about how aged tea is an ideal and all that. It does, after all, need some getting used to (and learning how to appreciate the non-taste effects).

      P.S. Is Taobao worth looking at if one looks for aged tea? My experiment with Skip4tea went horribly (took the money, did not send anything at all) so the options of buying aged tea are quite limited.

    6. I thought I'd try some cakes from that shop where you got that 95 Chen Shun Hao. The prices are probably too low for the Menghai stuff to be genuine, but that does not mean that the tea has to be bad.

  3. Interesting resulting convo, and I just got a sample of this tea, which I'll drink at some point.

    One thing I *will* add is that it's possible to be careful shopping for $130 newer tea from 2008 and 2009, and come out with a really nice deal. It's much harder to do that with older tea, however. Think about it this way--A YQH GuShuChawang is 35 cents a gram. It's just two years older than this Manzhuang, which is 36 cents a gram. Given what I know, I'm pretty sure that the YQH is much, much, better, regardless of how old it tastes (and I will confirm later). I know I can go on Taobao and be able to buy more aged and probably better tasting tea for about that much, simply because I already have a good suspect list. For example, if I'm not going to drink it anytime soon, then I will bet you just about anything, that buying Tai Lian Youle 04 on Taobao is a better value, at half the cost. When it really comes down to it, what I'd want to buy from Sunsing are the 90s tea. Sunsing's storage is generally impeccable warehousing--and that seems to be harder to get than some other things. It's a waste of $130 to buy most of the items in the 2000+ range of Sunsing. Those 90s cakes cost a lot more, but, well, they'd be more worth it.

    There are better things to be introducing people to than some random tuos. Come to think of it, I have not ever had an old tuo. Closest is that Wistaria tuo and some liu bao. You certainly don't want to be giving out anything too musty, either.

    I do think that well stored, but dry, tea is excellent too, and doesn't taste truly young once you get to know it.

    Taobao is, by and large, not safe for buying recognizable older tea. Fine for more obscure stuff. Get someone to help you in Taiwan or HK.

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