Friday, April 16, 2010

Menghai Dayi Elephant Mountain

This sheng puer tea cake (生普洱茶餅) is called Menghai Dayi "Elephant Mountain" (勐海大益象山). I bought it in February 2006 for $20 Canadian at Daniel Liu's shop Arts de Chine in Vancouver, BC. I remember he said it was produced in 2002 (like the identical cake pictured in Chan Kam Pong's awesome book "First Steps to Chinese Pu-erh Tea.")

The dry cake has a pleasing "peppery-smoky" aroma and the plump leaves have a nice mix of orange, brown, gold and forest green colors.

Today I enjoyed about ten infusions brewed in a 100 ml gaiwan. I used about 5 grams of dry leaf, boiling hot water and very short steeping times (the first couple infusions were around 5 or 6 seconds). This session took place at my work where I didn't have my camera.

Wispy currents could be seen snaking around in the reddish-orange liquor. The aroma was spicy and smoky but the infusions were thick, smooth and fruity (just the way I tend to like it). I picked up a tart blueberry note in the first three cups.

I have sometimes seen experienced puer drinkers referring to a distinctive "Menghai flavor." I don't know about it myself, but if it has anything to do with herbaceous, peppery and/or smoky, I'd say this tea has it.

An unpleasant tobacco taste hit me in cups 4 and 5... but after that it mellowed back out and behaved itself all the way to infusion number ten which was sweet, clean and light.

I think that this is a nice cake to have around because it showcases a little bit of aged tea flavors and a little bit of young tea flavors. Plus it gave me a pretty intense puer buzz.

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