Menghai Tea FactoryEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This review is for a cake ordered and opened in mid January 2019. Firstly with it fresh opened and secondly after a two month resting period. I have a second cake that is going to age at least an additional 2 years but it will be a while before I can taste that of course.
Fresh out of the packaging the cake had a nice earthy scent to it and a dark brown coloration to the cake.
After rinsing the tea in my gaiwan the Earthy scent was stronger but not to the point of being overpowering. The first several brews had a nice earthy taste with a Fishy back note that while there, was not intolerable. After about brew 5 the Fishy flavor faded and gave way to Oak and Mushroom notes with the barley as a back note. Steeps after steep 12 saw the mushroom notes intensify and the Oak notes to shift to more of a bark note. I stopped at steep 15 with this batch.
After a two month resting period I tried it again and did see a shift in the flavor profile. The Fishy back note faded much quicker and was absent after around the 3rd steeping. This gave way to a more complex blend of the Oak, Earth, and Mushroom flavors. The Barley notes did make an appearance but mostly in steeps past around the 5th. These flavors actually stayed consistent until the late teens. As an experiment I pushed the leaf all the way up to 30 steeps. Steeps 22-30 only saw a medium earth tone with not much else of note, though it never got bitter and was just generally easy drinking at that point.
I have come to the conclusion that while this cake is fine as is in my very unprofessional opinion I would left it sit for at least 2-3 months after receiving it for maximum enjoyment.
Both times that I tried this cake it was very “high energy” and left me wide awake, even a bit jittery so keep that in mind when you are considering when to have a session with this tea.
Flavors: Bark, Earth, Fishy, Mushrooms, Oak wood, Roasted Barley
This tea is pretty one note. The tea starts out pretty strong, the drops off quickly after the fifth steep. The taste is creamy wood, with some very small fruit undertones. The smell is very standard for a puerh. The tea feels pretty energizing and calming, though. This is something you could drink for breakfast, but not for much else. Would not recommend, as there are much better options for the price point, although it is a pretty decent daily drinker.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Wood
One of my favorites.
This tea is good to have around. The soup is relatively thick, taste is mellow, creamy, and pretty consistent throughout the sessions. My preferred brewing method in general, and specifically for this tea: gongfu style, relatively little water, in order to sip small amounts each time.
The base notes are pretty consistent throughout the sessions: cream, caramel, brown sugar, some cocoa, tobacco notes.
It’s hard to drive this too hard: from the moment the tea opens, I generally keep steeps at 30 seconds, maybe closer to 1 min. by the end. You can oversteep it and it will still be drinkable. It will just bring the nori-like notes at the forefront. Some dried fruit notes: plums, cherry. Not much astringency, though it develops with the last sessions. You can easily get 6 good sessions with this tea without being a gongfu expert. You might get a little more out of it if you keep the gaiwan very warm, or if you let it simmer in a pan (yes, I’ve tried it).
This tea is not as creamy as other references, such as Hong Yun or 7572. It’s a little drier too: less red fruit-like, more bark or even hints of leather/tobacco.
Definitely a good ripe pu er tea. Since this is from 2009, I would say it’s a “drink now”, but it comes in a pretty compact brick, so you can probably store this for a few more years. This is something I will definitely order on a regular basis.
Flavors: Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Cacao, Caramel, Cream, Dried Fruit, Pleasantly Sour, Plums
This tea is from the first batch of 2016 (hence 1601). I bought this from moylor.com, just to see how they operate, and I must say I’m impressed: speedy delivery, nice packaging, no nonsense. I was more of a raw pu er fan till now, but I am becoming addicted to ripe pu er too. My references are Hong Yun and 7562, both from Menghai. This tea comes fairly close to either of these references: creamy, with hints of red berries, no astringency to speak of, no bitterness even when you drive it a little too hard. And this is from 2016!
It is a little less sweet and red berries-like than Hong Yun. It’s a little rounder, sweeter and creamier than 7562. A very nice tea for the price (I got this for 27 euros, it’s cheaper now). Some hints of camphor can be found, but I’m not sure whether they come from the tea itself or if they are due to how moylor store their tea. I’ve noticed incense on other tea cakes from the same vendor, but it might not be their fault, since they probably acquired a lot of tea from many different operators. No wet pile taste at all. Hints of sticky rice or purple rice.
The good thing is that you can still find 7572 cakes at affordable prices, though Hong Yun is hard to come by, and 7562 seems generally more expensive.
My brewing method of reference is gongfu style, with a smallish gaiwan, 6g to 60 ml. I like to sip this tea, not gulp down a whole mug of it. This tea is pretty easy going: you can get away with sloppy timing of the steeps and just concentrate on enjoying the whole thing.
I would highly recommend this tea. I’m not sure storage will really improve this tea, therefore I would classify this as a “drink now”, though it could probably be stored for some time, in a proper environment. But why go through all the trouble?
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Chocolate, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Molasses
My first 7542 experience. Didn’t take notes but a great session, lasted many steeps deep with many different elements unfolding in each steep. Nice clean Taiwan storage (c/o Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.) that has really developed the tea but doesn’t have any of the off/musty elements that can turn me off from tea that’s been stored in really humid conditions.
I ordered a 25g sample from Yunnan Craft. They sell an entire cake for $53* (edit) as of 6/30/2018. Their description of their particular cakes follows: “Very well stored tea cake. Scent of the walnuts crushed on the old wooden table comes out from gaiwan within first brew. No any unpleasant taste or throat feeling of dry storage. The dark ruby red tea liquor is thick and sweet with very slight citrus sensation on sides of your tongue which gives nice boost of existing nutty flavor. Tea can be steeped many times. This tea comes from an authorized Da Yi supplier!”
Overall, the sweetness is noticeable – fig, molasses, chocolate toffee. It is a taste I only associate with Menghai ripes. This particular cake has a very developed and multifaceted sweetness. However, I did find the aftertaste to be remarkably light and fleeting. It is a good tea, and an excellent candidate to get to know the Menghai ripe flavor profile.
Dry leaf – molasses, stewed plums, cherry wood, chocolate toffee. Noticeable syrupy sweetness on nose
Smell – hazelnut, prune, dried fig, fig newton, molasses and chocolate toffee, coffee grounds. Fruitiness is noticeable
Taste – fig newton, hazelnut and Brazil nut, chocolate toffee. Creamy in mouth, finishes dry with light woody nuttiness. Aftertaste is light and fleeting
Ok, so I will caveat this review with this brick probably didn’t have the best storage conditions, likely too dry. I have tried to rehydrate it some, and has has improved the flavor, but not enough to really like still. It is mostly a wet wood and wet autumn leaf flavor, with some straggling hints of sweetness. Can’t drink through too many infusions before I want to dump it.
The 2010 V93 are hitting a good sweet spot for taste. Nice rich cocoa flavor with some sweetness and pleasant flavors. This is a different tuo from a different source and different batch, so I wanted to compare the two. This one needs a little more time brewing to hit the same flavor notes but it still lasts nicely.
Though I am a Dayi Ripe lover, I hadn’t tried a V93 until today! I just ordered a tong of the 2010 version from King Tea Mall since it has been reviewed so well. Then I was going through my stash this weekend, and lo and behold, I found a 2008 tuo! It was probably acquired from Mandala or Yunnan Sourcing several years ago. So I was excited to try it. However, I was disappointed. I might just have a bad tuo, but it tastes very astringent and lacks good flavor, and maybe has a bad aftertaste as well. Has anyone had this happen, where a very well-reviewed tea tastes off? I assume this happens sometimes, particularly in large batch factory teas. I know it has happened to me in the past (even though I have good storage, I use a closet pumidor). I am still looking forward to trying the 2010 tuo, hopefully it will better represent this recipe.
An old tea
Feeling: (Background introduction will be in the most below)
1) Earthy ★
2) Ripened flavor (near medium fermented ripe tea) ★★★★★
3) Mellow. Soup like. ★★★★★
4) Fruity near tart fruit (slight acid mixed with fruity, pleasant feeling personally ) ★★★★
5) Lingering sweetness from aftertaste. ★★★
6) Near none smoky from taste but a bit obvious on brewed leaves. (I like some smoky flavor but it is not necessary to judge one tea) ★★★.
7) No bitterness and no astringency at all. ★★★★★
8) Smoothness like sleek silk. ★★★★
9) Brownish brewed tea leaves with softness.
Background of tea session.
1) I joined it from the halfway around 10th steep.
2) Tea has ever been lightly processed according to HongKong storage method(做仓). Depending on introduction from host.
3) The oldest and most expensive tea has ever been taste by me till now. Without comparison of other 88 Qing cake.
I love this tea, but it is so far beyond my affordable.
Absolutely love the rich aroma of this Pu Er.
1st infusion: 212˚F, 20s
Now that I’ve brewed it properly, it tastes sweet like malted barley, coffee, and caramel on top of the peaty earthiness. My favourite of the “Menghai Classic” sampler pack.
Tastes fine with milk, slightly salty/savoury but quite similar flavour to the milk tea you buy at bubble tea shops.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Malt, Peat, Wet Earth
1st infusion at 211˚F:
Very strong peaty, mossy, lush dank forest aroma, but also a smoky burnt undertone. I really like the way this tea smells. Flavour is mellow, usual blunt rounded Pu Er with a tiny sharp edge.
2nd infusion, 212˚F:
Stronger flavour now. Really pleasant. Goes okay with milk.
Flavors: Peat Moss, Smoke
First infusion brewed at 208˚F for 12s
Dark rust-red colour. Aroma is nice and earthy, what you’d expect from a Pu Er. But flavour kinda bland, mellow. Goes okay with banana bread but nothing remarkable. Goes very nicely with milk.
Second infusion 212˚F for 18s
Liquid is BLACK in the 公道杯 and dark brown in the cup like coffee. Still very mellow flavour, nothing bold but very smooth and drinkable. Goes really well with food. Again, really nice with milk. Nothing special on its own but really addictive when pairing with food. Given the affordable price point, I can see this being a solid everyday Pu Er but this is the first of many samples I have to try.
Rating: 75 on its own, 80 when taken with food
Overall Rating: 77
tl;dr: excellent tea that’s already aging well. sweet scents give way to delicious “dirt, but in a good way”, with subtle undercurrants of sweet, creaminess throughout. Don’t oversteep this one, the fun is in the subtle-teas!
Dry leaf smell: lots of fun. I swear I spent 10min trying to place the smell with my partner and got nowhere. but very pleasant.
5g, 75ml porcelain gaiwan.
98C, 5s rinse: clear orange color. delightful creamy, sweet, milky smell. I’m excited!
98C, 15s: Nice amber color. More ripe smells and sweetness is gone. Quite a bit of stemmy material floating at top. No exciting flavors, but will probably take many steepings to open up since I didn’t really break up the clumps. Some mild creaminess. Light but full mouthfeel.
98C, flash: Chasing the sweeter aromas, found them again. Good ripe flavors of lush earth nicely compliment an increasing creaminess in a smooth, light but full mouthfeel. Really enjoying this. I hypothesize that this one shouldn’t be oversteeped less it lose all the subtleties. Not as full in mouth as last steeping though, so I’ll probably increase time a little.
98C, 5s: Rich red brown color. Mildest of fishy tastes.
98C, flash: cooling, camphor-y smells starting to dominate. leaves have totally opened up, and liquid is turning black basically on contact with the leaf. mild fishiness remains, but dominated now by good lush earth taste.
98C, 3s: Plummy smells begin. Very strong cha qi hits me like a truck in the head. Mellow/happy qi for me.
98C, flash: camphor smell slowly being overpowered by dry dirt smell. maybe I hallucinated plum. color becoming more light brown. Flavor nice an even, everything I like in a ripe all in one. Mild dry dirt, fishiness is long gone. Reminds me of later steepings of their 9012 cake after it aged 20 or so years. I see this tea aging very well.
98C, 10s: settled into dry dirt smell. dry dirt taste with the occasional hint of sweetness to keep things interesting.
98C, 3min: dead man’s steep. mmm. delicious. really brings out the sweetness and creaminess hiding under the nice dirt tastes. bottom of the steep has a little fishiness returning.
98C, inf: ultra dead man’s steep. it’s not dead yet. fishiness is gone again. I’m not sure whether it correlates with longer steeps or not now xD
Man, what a great experience, especially at the price point, 4.5/5. Extra 0.5 for price.
Flavors: Creamy, Dirt, Sweet
5g, 7ml gaiwan. 98C, 15s rinse.
98C, 10s: Liquid got pretty dark right away. Mildly cooling smell. Standard ripe smells, but maybe some floweriness. Great, chunky mouthfeel. Leaves are still clumped.
98C, 15s: Leaves totally opened up. Still cooling, honey/flowery smell. Some “sour” bitterness, like coffee. Pretty darn dark.
98C, 20s: nice dancing lid during the brew. middle of the road ripe taste in every category.
98C, 25s: definitely some rotten fish. nothing else to be said. most of the other tastes have already deteriorated.
98C, 35s: definitely, definitely rotten fish. I own enough tea that it’s not really worth finishing this one.
Some energizing qi was definitely there. I guess there’s still some caffeine in this one!
If you’re looking for a middle of the road tea, maybe. But my girlfriend later commented that the tea smelled of rotten fish a whole steeping before I tasted it. If those notes are still around after seven years of aging, I have some trouble recommending this tea. Maybe other years productions were cleaner?
I’m not one to cuss in a review or say anything after the first few steeps… but damn
THIS IS SPECTACULAR.
I now understand why this cost what it does. Super excited that I get to pass this experience on to others too.
It’s pretty awesome that i had the 2006 Spring of Menghai a few days before this too because it just proves what I’m starting to figure out: Dayi’s aged stuff gets $$$ for a reason.
tl;dr: A thin, but easy to drink tea. Wet→Dry wood with hints of grain as you steep longer. Opens up quickly and brews cleanly, no fermentation tastes. 3.5/5
5g, 75ml porcelain gaiwan.
Smell: Spicy (as in cinnamon), mostly wet wood, hints of something I can’t place. Plum?
98C, 10s: Good “seal” on gaiwan lid. Scent was same as after rinse. The liquor is an average, ripe brown-red color. Maybe, more yellow than usual. Flavor is thin, with medium huigan, but a pleasant, lasting aroma in the nose after drinking. Very easy to drink.
98C, flash: Leaves opened up quickly, but I used small chunks of cake. Color more rich and dark, flavor is same but aroma that follows sipping is more full.
98C, 10s: liquor is now rich brown, with more “fast” huigan and some notes of more dry wood.
98C, 20s: Some light grain notes I don’t recognize. Still full flavor.
98C, 30s: .. 98C, 30s: Now the taste has finally mellowed out.
98C, 1m30s: Liquor much brighter/redder. 98C, inf s: .. 98C, inf s: .. 98C, inf s: becoming bronze colored, 98C, inf s: flavor dissipating.. 98C, inf s: … could probably squeeze out a bit more, but the flavor is thinning enough that I’m done for sure.
Qi of the tea is mild, I would say cooling and calming…maybe mildly disorienting even.
The tea is mildly “absorbent”. As in, during brewing, it creates a strong enough vacuum inside the gaiwan to cause the lid to feel slightly “stuck” when you lift it up. Historically, I’ve found the absorbency of a ripe pu’er correlates with the strength of it’s qi and how much I like the tea reasonably well. On a scale from not absorbent (0) to “can pick up the gaiwan with the lid due to the strength of the vacuum created” (5), this tea is a 1.5/5.
If anyone knows the name for this phenomena, I’d love to hear it!
Final impressions are: for the price, a great tea to brew while sitting around during the day. Not gonna knock off your socks, but for $25 a cake I’d stock this around for poor weather. Taste was rather thin but clean, would probably pass the “mom test”.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Grain, Wet Wood, Wood
tl;dr: Woody shou with pungent, sweet presence. Dominated by notes of dry wood and bark with a leathery finish in a clean, mid-mouth feel. Easy to overbrew at first at the cost of a very, very mild astringency, but also easy to make too thin if underbrewed.
4/5, easy to drink, but not “full” enough for my tastes.
5g leaf. 75ml gaiwan.
98C, 5s rinse.
Smell: Extremely sweet, like sweet potato.
98C, 5s steep.
Smell: Less sweet, more forest floor with some subtle tobacco notes.
Light mouth-feel, clean, thin.. No bitterness. Brown, brown-amber color. Taste of clean, dry wood. As the leaves cooled, the smell went back to full strength pungent/sweet from before as opposed to immediate post-steep clean/wet wood.
98C, 10s steep (wanted 5, burnt thumb)
Smell: Even less sweet than after first steeping.
Mid-mouth lingering, mild astringency, otherwise similar to before. Color is now dark as night, and was so as soon as the water hit the leaves. Some forest floor flavors, some mild cooked flavors. Definitely oversteeped.
Curious about the smell disappearing with the higher temp water.
80C, 15s steep
Smell: Sweetness didn’t stick around much more than first steeping, but returned more quickly.
Flat, thin flavor. Probably understeeped at that temperature. More decayed wood than previous “wet forest” flavor.
80C, 1min steep
color definitely didn’t appear as quickly when the water was added, so extending the steep even further than normal.
Scent was still the same as the 98C steepings, so I guess my experiment didn’t go as planned, and it took 1.5min+ to reach the the same color/viscosity as before.
Mmmm. Strong earthy flavor in a medium, mid-mouth feel, relatively viscous liquid complimented well by the mildest of sweetness and woody notes. Best steeping so far. Some after-taste of leathery-ness, not quite astringency I think.
Smell of sweet potatoes is still accessible, but I have yet to taste it in the tea itself. More leathery notes in the smell the more steeping I do. No leather in the flavor, however. Hint of leather in aftertaste, but dominated by woody, bark notes.
After three more steepings it sizzled out into a generic, mild shou.
It could definitely have gone more than 10 steepings, but I had to get to work.
Flavors: Decayed wood, Forest Floor, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Courtesy of an exceptional friend, we’ve tasted this 10-yr old shou twice. Briefly, we agree with Rich, this is a much lighter shou compared to most other Menghai Dayi shou.
“Hou Pu” (thick pu-erh) appears to be a complete misnomer! If you’re looking for a full-bodied, thick, rich, breakfast shou, Dayi offers several other choices.
Hou Pu is dark, smooth, and pleasant without any astringency or bitterness. It also provides a noticeable relaxing qi. And since this is a decade-old shou, there isn’t any hint of fermentation flavor. This unique shou would be a good choice as an afternoon tea when one has time to notice and enjoy the subtleties of this very refined ripe pu-erh.
9.2g / 205° / 60s preheat/ 60s warm / 10s rinse / 20m rest/ 5s /10/20/30/40/60/120/240 every two steeps combined. This session produced six reasonable steeps instead of 8 as with most other Dayi shou. I would recommend more leaf. Perhaps this is why Hou Pu is only available in a 500g cake?
The infamous Golden Needle White Lotus. I acquired a cake of this a while back through Yunnan Sourcing and after giving it a few months to sit in my pumidor I finally decided to give it a taste. The cake is very similar to the Yong De Blue Label I reviewed a while back in that it consisting of predominantly very small grade leaves the bing feels like it’s going to come apart at any moment, and thus the bottom of the wrapper was covered in a record amount of loose leaves.
I prepared a fairly standard amount of 11.3g in my 160ml Jianshui clay teapot and after a brief 10s rinse and a 10 minute rest I got to brewing. I did a total of eight steeps, for 12s, 12s, 12s, 18s, 25s, 48s, 90s and 2 min. 30s according to my mental clock. The smell of the cake, the dry leaves in a hot teapot and the wet leaves after the rinse were all extremely classic examples of a typical shu pu’er. The rinse liquor, however, had something atypical about it. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was interesting.
The first infusion brewed a cloudy reddish brown, like muddy lake water. It was a strong steep, with a dominant earthy character and a grainy texture. Some might say it tasted like muddy lake water. There was no sweetness. The next infusion brewed darker as is to be expected. There was less earth now, a hint of chocolate in the background, and the tiniest amount of sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea. Overall the second steep had a rounder, more balanced taste. The tea was still very strong, but a nudge below the first one.
The third steep was even darker reddish brown, but not even remotely close to black as I’d expected from such small leaf grade. The strength ended up being weaker than the last two, however, because I flubbed trying to extend the steeping time by a couple seconds and the infusions ended up being about the same time. But it wasn’t weak by any means, just weaker in comparison. The tea had a very distinct flavor of coffee, one that has stood on a hot plate for a while and then cooled a bit before drinking, but without the bitterness. The taste of coffee was especially noticeable in the aftertaste.
The fourth brew produced a clearer, less dark liquor with most of the cloudiness now gone. I was getting a very typical shu pu’er flavor now, with maybe a hint more sweetness without there being any actual sweetness in the tea still. For the first time, and I think for the only time, there was now maybe a bit of body. I was disappointed at first by the sudden super generic flavor, but in the end the infusion wasn’t bad actually. As I was sipping the next steep and noting the flavor dropping off a tad, I recalled that I learned from brewing the Yong De Blue Label that I need to extend the steeping times much more aggressively with these really small grade ripes. There was nothing noteworthy about the steep itself. It was similar in flavor to the last one, but managed to be far less enjoyable.
Despite practically doubling the steeping time for the next infusion and the strength being adequate, the flavors were starting to get thinner. The tea had a very mindless shu flavor to it, with once again a degree more sweetness without being what I’d actually call sweet. I may have also noticed a bit of minerality pushing through in this infusion. Despite the front flavors being disappointing, the aftertaste was pretty okay actually. I can’t be sure about this, but I may have also noticed some very, very mild cha qi in my chest/temples.
For the next infusion I nearly doubled the brewing time again and now most of the other flavors had dropped off very sharply with a lot of sweetness emerging in their stead. Despite being actually sweet for the first time, the tea still wasn’t terribly sweet for a shu pu’er. Besides the sweetness, there was still some discernible shu base in the background. Flavor-wise this infusion was pretty decent, not great, but not terrible either. Like with the previous steep, I thought I may have noticed some qi building in my chest/head. The tea also made me sweat a bit at this point.
The eighth steep was the last I did. It had an acceptable level of strength to it still, but the flavors that now leaned more towards the darker end of the spectrum weren’t very appealing to me. The brief prior sweetness had nearly completely dropped off, although you did get some of it in the aftertaste. One could probably have continued steeping the leaves still, but I suspected I might not enjoy where this tea was headed or that it might turn flat out nasty, so I decided to stop here.
Overall this was possibly the most underwhelming shu pu’er I’ve had so far, but granted I’m still very new to ripe. It’s not bad, and I wouldn’t mind having it once in a while, but the flavor profile didn’t really appeal to me and at least in its current state the tea feels like it’s lacking something. For me that something is sweetness. This is clearly a quality product, but at least right now it lacks something that makes it stand out and feel special. To me some of the flavors feel perhaps a bit underdeveloped, which is something that will hopefully improve with some more age, but I will admit I have zero knowledge let alone experience about how shu pu’er can be expected to develop over time. I’m hoping this one will develop some sweetness as right now that is my biggest gripe about this tea. Granted I did not fully steep out this tea and I did a poor job of brewing it, but still even for a gong ting style tea this one seemed to not have that great longevity. I could be mistaken about that though.
I sensed more potential for improvement in this one than in some others, but at least in its current state I find this tea difficult to recommend based on my initial impressions. I will have to revisit this one at a later date, but I doubt brewing it better will make enough difference to change my thoughts on it. A couple more years of age will hopefully have a positive impact on this tea. Some small changes might make a difference.
Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Earth, Mineral