Friday, November 9, 2012

2006 Mengku Ripe 145g - a revisit

My first encounter with this mini cake was in my Oct 24 2009 blog.  

This is the 2006 Mengku 145g cake.  The wrapper indicated that this was a gold medal award winning cake at a tea competition.  Since I had purchased a few of these cakes and had quite good impressions of this tea, I did a revisit and opened up a cake.

It was a big surprise that when I broke off a chunk to brew; this tea tasted quite bland; nothing impressive.  It was a worrying moment.  Was my storage conditions not good for tea?  Were my expectations of this tea too lofty?  Maybe this was just a regular ripe cake?

I had brewed this tea by breaking off a 9g chunk and started my tea session.  This had deviated from my current practice of breaking up tea cakes/bricks and putting it in a tea caddy for a few days before I start drinking the tea.  I cannot give you a clear explanation on why the pu erh tea would taste much better if the tea chunks had a few days to 'breathe'.  I had consumed a good number of pu erh cakes for the past few years to arrive at this conclusion.  I find that the taste and aroma improvements are more pronounced in ripe/shu than raw pu erh.  Perhaps this is what tea masters call 'tou-chi', a chinese term to describe taking a breather.  Some tea experts have also mentioned about 'waking the tea' (aka xin-cha).......perhaps this is what I might be doing.  I even have a Malaysian friend, that had advised me, that he unwrapped his tea cake (for drinking), enclosing the cake in a biscuit or mooncake tin for a week before he break up the cake.  

Yes, what I have just said would have sounded like a 'believe it or not' urban legend.  I may be wrong.  I may be imagining or bluffing myself.    Anyway, let me know your thoughts. 

So, after a few days of storing my broken up chunks of this Mengku tea cake, my tea session of this pu erh became a very pleasant experience. The aroma and taste of this pu erh is strong and highly aromatic.  This tea would brew to a darker color but its not bitter and its very enjoyable - a very comforting sensation when I drink up every cup. 


Hector Konomi said...

Hey Wilson, do you break off completely into leaves the amount that you are about to drink, or just cut off a big enough chunk and brew it? Which way do you recommend?

wilson said...

When I break up a cake/brick to store in my tea caddy, I try to break into chunks of 9-10 g per piece. Its guesswork but I refer to a mini digital scale to check on a few occasions before I brew a tea. For brewing, I would break the 9g chunk into about 5 smaller pieces.

I do find that breaking up a tea cake will result in lots of broken up 'loose' tea........i tend to brew these loose tea leaves in my initial brews......shorter infusion times for these loose tea leaves.

These is how I brew the tea......its not a standard by tea drinkers or teashops......everyone has their own methodology . Enjoying your cup of tea is most important.