Monday, September 01, 2008

Good things come in small plastic bags...

Presents from VL
No, not drugs, something much more innocuous (but still very much appreciated): six photo prints and three shu puerh samples from VL. Also included was an envelope containing the teas' identities, which I was not to open until after I finished tasting.

Dry leaf
From left to right: sample A (2007 Menghai 0532), B (2005 Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus), and C (2006 Menghai Li Li Xiang).

Sample A, which I now know by its preferred name of 2007 Menghai 0532, was quite nice. It was dark, though I think I used too much leaf; I haven't brewed puerh in a while, so I'm not exactly at the top of my game.

Still, it tasted surprisingly light and fruity for such a dark, opaque tea. There is very little off-flavor to speak of: almost no pond, and no "industrial" taste. It is malty, sweet, and delicious if brewed right, and has good oiliness and mouth-feel. It also lasted quite some time, though again probably due to my inept over-stuffing of the gaiwan.

Sample liquors
Clockwise from the left: Sample C / 2006 Menghai Li Li Xiang, Sample A / 2007 Menghai 0532, and Sample B / 2005 Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus.

Sample B, the 2005 Menghai Golden Needle White Lotus, was my favorite of the three. It was lighter (reddish-brown, not dark brown like the others), had good clarity, and tasted much more like aged sheng than most shu. It had a clean woodsy flavor (like a "forest after rain" as I recently saw Salsero put it), and no off-flavors at all. It also had a lovely minty/cooling hui gan, and lasted a number of infusions.

Sample C, the 2006 Menghai Li Li Xiang, was probably my least favorite of the three, but it was still quite good for shu, if my memory serves me. This was also a pretty dark brew, though I am certain I used too much leaf this time— far too much. I pulled out a good half-gaiwan full, which fortunately had only been brewed once or twice, and the tea improved dramatically.

Samples revealed
It was sweet and "soupy," for lack of a better word. It was also woodsy and had a nice hui gan, though not as clean or as nice as what sample B offered. It wasn't pondy at all, but perhaps a bit salty/marshy... still, that description doesn't do it justice, as it was not an unpleasant flavor at all. Looking back a few days later, I want to use "savory" or "umami" to describe it, but I can't be certain. The tea seemed to be a little muddled, not very crisp, though this improved as the flavors diluted in later infusions.

Thanks again to VL for the prints and the samples!

7 comments:

vl. said...

Lucky I filled out the customs form, those do look a little like drugs...

Golden Needle White Lotus is the best in my opinion too. It really has something in common with aged sheng when not overbrewed, while the 0532 is the best shu I've tasted which tastes like a shu. Never made my mind about the Li Li Xiang, but it's probably a class below the others; still good, but not the same clarity of taste. The latter is a very heavily compressed, weapon grade beeng, its really a struggle to break up for drinking.

Glad you enjoyed the tea...

-vl.

Hobbes said...

I thought I recognised that script!

(Superb photos, Brent, by the way. You and VL are excelling. Just don't go buying any dodgy Russian SLRs, though...)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes :)

Brent said...

VL,

Haha, "weapon grade beeng." It's a good thing you didn't write that on the customs form. :) I read your notes on those teas after I opened the secret envelope, and I was relieved to see some similarities.

Hobbes,

Thanks for the compliment, and the tip. ;) Since you mention it, one of my uncles has a collection of Soviet photo and video equipment. But don't worry, I'm not getting any ideas. :)

Thanks for the comments,

Brent

Salsero said...

I stole "forest after rain" from someone, just can't remember who. I think the source said that one tea was like walking in the woods and another tea was like walking in the woods after a rain.

Mea culpa (= my bad) for the plagiarism.

~ Phyll said...

I'm here for the tea notes AND the photographs. Brent, the pictures are just sensational, honestly!

Brent said...

Salsero,

Well, thanks for relaying the analogy, anyway, and thanks for the clarification. :)

Phyll,

Thanks! I love feedback, especially good feedback... :D

Brent

Georgia said...

The deep color of the Menghai Li Li Xiang in the photograph evoked a taste. Thank you for sharing.

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