Saturday, August 7, 2010

2006 Mengku 'Gongting' Ripe Pu erh Cake

This is a 2006 Mengku ripe cake. The beautiful wrapper of the cake indicates that this cake recipe won a gold award from a chinese tea expo. The wrapper describes the cake as a 'gongting' ripe cake.

When a ripe pu erh tea fermentation process is complete, the tea leaves are sorted according to their size. Sorting of the tea leaves is done using a blower and by hand. Leaves that are blown the furthest are usually the smallest and is a custom to accord these leaves the highest grade or gongting. These leaves are usually the smallest leaves. These leaves are further sorted by hand and tea stems and broken leaves are usually removed leaving the whole leaves or buds. Good quality gongting tea are usually very expensive as the taste of a gongting tea have a reputed creamy and sweet taste.

This Mengku cake incorporates gongting tea leaves into the cake composition. When I made a brew( I recommend a stronger brew) of this tea, I am pleased with the Mengku aroma which is a very pleasant, intense wood and 'fresh herb' scent. The taste has a nice sweet finish with a hint of cream and nuts. Can make 8-10 infusions of good tea from one brew.

But I digress - I have a friend who recently started to enjoy drinking chinese tea esp ripe pu erh. He followed me by brewing his pu using a teapot (about 160ml with 7/8 gms of tea). He had some difficulty achieving his preferred brew. We solved the problem together and our findings are that when you pour out your tea into a pitcher or teacups, the initial start pour is diluted compared to the end pour which is a stronger brew (applies to gaiwan as well). A tea drinker's preferred brew strength is also dependent on the teapot size, amount of leaves, speed of pouring out the tea and the time the water stays in the pot. As I have mentioned many times, there is no right or wrong as long you are happy with your tea. My tea friend used the brewed tea color as a guide and his start pour as his gauge (it did not help when he had used dark colored teacups) not knowing the tea would be darker when the pour was complete. He tried to adjust the amount of tea leaves and the timing of the water instead and achieved mixed results. I would like to stress that my tea brewing method may not be right or suitable for you. Do let me know your brewing technique and share with me (video would be nice).

Back to this cake. This is a very delicious 400g ripe cake. I appreciate the larger size (normal size 357g), as it allows me to make a few brews to determine my preferred brew strength of this tea and still have lots of tea left to enjoy this inexpensive pu erh (its about us$18 when I checked last month).

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