Monday, February 9, 2009

2008 Menghai v93 Sheng Tuocha

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you're probably familiar with the buzz around the 2005 Menghai v93. I just acquired one of the 2008 release and I went into it with a very open, yet optimistic mindset. The only bias I have is the one that I believe 2008 was a good year for Menghai.

Initially, the tuocha had a very smoky aroma with a touch of mint to it. I expected it to taste a little new, but I had no idea what I was actually in for. As I opened up the tuocha, I was surprised to see some of the loosest compression I've ever seen. I put the puer'dao into the tuocha and leaf after leaf quickly enlisted to be sacrificed to my tastebuds. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in front of a gaiwan filled to the brim with a tea that definitely didn't hesitate to start rounding the bases with me.

I didn't even bother to measure out the leaf in this one. I figured I'd just feel it out as I went along. 3/4 full in a 125ml Gaiwan is the best approximation I can give you. Boiling hot water with a flash rinse and my usual times: 15s 12s 25s, 35s, 50s, 75s, etc.

I once read about a word called mitote in a book. As for the credibility of the book, I've found it to be lacking. However, as a friend pointed out, the word literally translates to "dance" or "ruckus" in Nahuatl. The way it settled into my head, the word was a dreamlike fog; a bustling coutyard with thousands of conversations going on all at once. With so many voices, it can be a mite difficult to hone in on the ones that really matter. That's kind of how I felt about the first few infusions of this tea. It has a lot of character. There is definitely going to be a bit of buzz with this, but since it still has a very new taste to it, a lot of what it has to offer is going to be initially masked.

Normally, this new taste isn't an issue, but I think because I haven't been drinking much in the panel of young sheng, it took a stronger hold on me; similar to the way a couple of beers will have you feeling buzzed much quicker if you haven't drank in a while. I even needed to stop to make food because I was getting a stomach ache.

Once I worked through those few snags, I really started to see what was going on with this tea. Leaves are still very green with an immediate kick. They fill out your mouth with a tangy astringency that recedes into a very welcome tarty flavour that eventually fades out but keeps tingling the back of my tongue almost a minute after my cup was empty.

It's got character, it's thick, it has a very up front punch that hangs around with ample amounts of astringent tang, and it's loose compression makes me hopeful that it will age quicker than most tuochas. I think that given a few months to mellow, it will show drastic improvements. I highly recommend trying this one. Thanks Scott for your generosity.


Hobbes said...

Great notes - I got thirsty reading them!

I bought one of these at the recommendation of "thanks" but have yet to try it - after your notes, I'll stop my dawdling. :)



Cecil Hill said...

Man oh Man oh Man. Do I have a lot of tasting to do. My wife is refusing to allow me to taste the last five cakes of puerh we purchased before going to Thailand. Says we should keep them for five years or so.

We got so much tea now that puerh will be off our list until we finish most of the others. She says it will wait and the green teas won't.

Can't wait to try a puerh with your descriptions in mind.

Man oh Man. Can't wait. Thanks for your new feelings and tastes.


Jamus said...

Glad you did pick one of these up. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks has some great recommendations and is a very dear friend of mine. Monday or Tuesday we're getting together for a session. I'll probably have some more notes on a few other gems I've been wanting to test out by that point.

I'm sorry to hear you're on pu-erh lockdown. I agree that the greens won't wait while the pu-erh will. Your wife is more sensible than I am for sure! That said, you must understand as a kid, I could never keep my fingers out of the cookie batter. I always made extra cupcakes when I had to take them to school, and I surely take pleasure in sampling my cakes throughout the years. Doesn't help either that we call them cakes...If I stopped buying tomorrow, I probably wouldn't run out for another ten years so long as I drink at the rate I do right now. I'll burn through everything else I have sooner or later and hopefully find I've done a decent enough job storing it all. That's the beautiful thing about pu-erh; it loves to be neglected. Even without it, there's still such a large world of tea out there. I'm not sure a person could ever truly get bored. Thanks for your comments!

Best wishes,

Bret said...

I thought a mitote was a peyote throw down. I guess that could be considered a ruckus.