This is a 2001 Menghai ripe cake. I had purchased this cake from Amoy Tea (see previous blog). The proprietor had told me that this 2001 Menghai was sold by them to a regular tea collector customer in 2001/2002. This tea collector had kept this tea and have now recently sold back the tea to the shop.
I have never owned any Menghai earlier than 2003 for 2 main reasons; the higher costs associated with old teas and that I am no expert in telling apart the real old Menghai from a fake, which I believe is on the rise due to the high tea prices. Its no surprise that I have broken up this cake for my drinking pleasure.
I noticed that there was no manufacturing date on the wrapper. In addition, the smaller label encased within the case was 'too entrenched' that it broke to tiny pieces when I tried to extricate this label. The compression of this tea cake was quite high and it took quite some time to break up the cake.
This Menghai 2001 ripe cake has a distinct aged raw pu erh tea aroma. I could not exactly pinpoint or fully describe the taste; it seem to have cereal and a chinese herbal aroma as well as a hint of a cooked rice flavour. It also has a mild scent something like an old leather bound book which I actually enjoyed. I found this tea to be an extremely smooth and pleasant drink. I used a shade less tea leaves for brewing as it was very strong during the 1st 3 infusions. Can easily make 10 good brews.
I can tell that the previous owner of this tea kept and stored the tea well as there was no foreign smells and scents (like smoke, cooking smells, detergent).
How does this tea compare to my current stash of ripe pu erh (cakes on average 2-5 years old)? It is obvious that every ripe cake will have its own taste characteristics and even those cakes will the same recipe but different production years will taste different as well. This 2001 Menghai cake has that unique aged raw aroma. The other 2000 ripe brick I opened (and finished -13 Nov 09 blog) has a red dates (the fruit) aroma with a sweetish sensation. I will be going to Penang soon to visit a tea friend and pick up an old Menghai cake which I had purchased. I look forward to its unique aroma and taste.
As I write this blog, the YOG (Youth Olympics Games) held in Singapore will be ending this week. I enjoyed watching the many sports events and I am sure many of these athletes will be stars in the future.... like good pu erh tea.