Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cupping Two 易武之道 Puer Cakes

I have in my collection two 2009 sheng puer tea cakes (生普洱茶餅) from Yunnan Sourcing. They both have the same pretty black and white wrapping paper, printed with the words Yi Wu Zhi Dao (易武之道), but they are different teas.

I purchased the first cake back in September 2009 (along with these three other cakes: Guan Zi Zai Zao Chun Nan Nuo Shan, Wu Liang Lan Shan, and Banzhang Chun Qing). This cake was called Da Qiu Feng (打秋風) and has a production stamp of August 1, 2009. According to Yunnan Sourcing it was one of just 120 cakes pressed.

Da Qiu Feng

Naked Da Qiu Feng

The other cake is called Man Zhuan Gu Hua (蠻磚谷花) and was a gift from my new friend Israel. It has a production date of October 26, 2009.

Man Zhuan

Naked Man Zhuan

Today I did a comparison cupping of these two puer cakes using 5 grams of dry leaf in two identical mugs. The teas were steeped five times with 200 ml boiling water for 2 min, 2 min, 3 min, 4 min and 5 min.

Weighing the leaf

Tasting the teas

In my opinion, both of these cakes are delicious. Some key attributes such as body, clarity and color were all quite similar, but their flavors and aromas where notably different.

For me, the Man Zhuan cake was a little bit brighter, fruitier and sweeter. My tasting notes for this cake included: grassy meadow, dandelion flowers and clover honey. The Da Qiu Feng cake had a slightly smokier aroma, and a little more malt and nut flavors. My tasting notes for this cake included: baked peaches, mint and cacao nibs.

Da Qiu Feng on the left / Man Zuan Gu Hua on the right

As I previously chronicled in my '06 Long Yuan Hao, '08 Awazon, and xiao tuocha cupping posts, I often learn a lot when I cup two similar teas together at the same time. I highly recommend conducting your own similar cupping sessions once in a while.


Sir William of the Leaf said...

Very strange to have the same wrapping for two separate teas.
Could one be a knock-off or fake?

And I agree with you on doing side-by-side tastings! It is a great way to educate one's palate!

MayKingTea said...

That was my thought too, Sir William of the Leaf (lovin' your name by the way).

Many thanks for sharing your blog entry though. The pictures and post were very descriptive. Thank you!

Alex Zorach said...

Both of these cakes sound like something I would really enjoy.

I know what you mean about comparing two teas side-by-side. Often, I notice differences much more clearly when doing that than when comparing from memory alone.

It's interesting though; I rarely brew two different teas (even similar teas from the same region) the same way. Usually, after experimenting individually with each tea, I settle on subtle differences in brewing times or temperatures. Sometimes it makes little difference but in other cases something as short as 30 seconds can make a huge difference. I like to experiment to figure out how I like to brew each tea, and then compare the two teas at what I see as their best.

Brett said...

Thanks for the great comments everybody!

I'm not worried about either of the cakes being a knock-off or fake. They are both legitimate. I believe Scott Wilson (of Yunnan Sourcing) produced these cakes using maocha he selected, and they are both part of his "Road to Yiwu" series. You can see the red Chinese stamps that identifying each cake.