Saturday, January 9, 2010

2007 Menghai "Golden needle white lotus" ripe pu erh

One of the most famous phrase said by Darth Vader of Star Wars was “The force is strong with this one”.  This saying sums up my thoughts on this ripe pu erh cake.  Produced in 2007 by Menghai Tea Factory, this new recipe cake is known as the ‘golden needle white lotus’ pu erh.  This new recipe was first released in 2005 and Menghai have continued to produce this cake on quite a regular basis. 

I was recommended by my Hong Kong tea drinking friend to buy this cake and I had consequently included this cake in my order with Yunnan Sourcing(YS) late last year. YS had described the tea as “This is a classic ultra-premium recipe from Menghai tea factory! The 2005 release has become a legend among Ripe Pu-erhs and has increased in value by more than 500% in just 4 years! The recipe uses already aged high grade Ripe pu-erh and brews an aromatic, rich and creamy.”  This 357g cake costs me about us$26 (inclusive of freight). 

This tea brews extremely well and fast.  I have already gone through 1/3 of the cake and the brewing results never cease to amaze me.  I found that the color from the first 5 infusions (5 seconds) was very dark, almost jet black.  You may consider reducing the amount of tea leaves used per brew or shortened the infusion times.  The tea produces a very aromatic and pleasant scent.  There is totally no bitterness in spite of the darker color.  There is hardly any ‘wodui’ (fermentation) scent that usually comes with newer ripe pu erh.  My Hong Kong friend commented that the leaves used in this cake are of a better grade and he agreed that good aged tea leaves were also added to this recipe.  I myself detected a mild sensation of sweetness in the tea and found the aftertaste good.  

Notice the recommended brewing method in the last pix.  I shall discuss about pu erh tea brewing in later blogs.

But I digress – during one of my tasting sessions of this tea, my daughter gave me a bar of chocolate.  I do not eat or drink anything during a tea tasting session as I do not want any interference with my taste buds.  Maybe I am getting older….I forgot and ate the chocolate and continued with my tea drinking.  The result was unexpected.  The tea went really well with the cocoa.  The tea seemed to taste sweeter and creamy.  I tried this chocolate test again and on subsequent tea sessions, the same results showed.  I have tried chocolate on other ripes but this particular Menghai ripe stands out best.  Yes, a quick google will show that there is commercial chocolate pu erh being sold and this is not a new idea.  My opinion is not mixing the chocolate in the tea gives the drinker the addition benefit or choice for the drinker.  You want chocolate  with your tea…go grab a bar, if not then regular pu erh.

Overall I find this Menghai “gold needle white lotus” good.  The appearance of the tea leaves (before and after brewing) are of good quality.  The strength, color and aroma of the tea will appeal favorably to ripe pu tea drinkers.  This slightly pricey tea cake is well compressed and storing it properly for a couple more years, as my Hong Kong friend confidently says “can only be better for the tea”.

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