With the recent purchase of a Chen Ju Fang Ming Yuan Luo Han Zini Yixing pot from Essence Of Tea came a gift. A sample of a Menghai sourced ‘Zhi Qing Dao He’ puerh cake composed of mao cha from 2008, 2010, and 2011. This from a new line they now sell produced by, Mr. Feng.
According to Mr. Feng: “This tea mountain is in Menghai region at an altitude of around 1700-1900m. I think the trees are around 200-400 years old, some of the trees are even older, but I’m not a scientist, so I can’t tell you the exact age. The village has 6-8 families. They have Han, Hani and Lahu minorities. The tea trees belong to 3 different minorities.”
As I sniffed the dry leaf, a heavily aromatic muddle of dried and ripe dark fruits settled into meadow fragrances. Once wetted, the leaves sweetened to ripe apricots, and tender grasses.
True to its product description, the first proper steep post-rinse presented little more than faintly sweet water. From there, however, the tea progressed nicely across the session.
Yielded broths presented a healthy surface tension in the cup, courtesy of a notably thick body.
The aromatics of the dry leaf carried into the liquor with its penetrating foundation of fruit tones. A whisper of smoke presented during the second and third steeps, along a note of butter and a faint trace of camphor. In later cups, floral notes, grain, and earthy mushrooms provided fleeting accents to the progressions between ripe and dried fruits in the dominant profile.
Honey sweetness secreted from the tongue by the seventh and eighth steeps.
Ripened meadow fruits altered to traits of dried as the buttery note once again came to fore before the leaves went flat. The final two cups tasted high and thin, with a base of waxed wood. The lid of the pot, however, still carried honey and sweet grass.
The initial movements of the tea were confined to the back of the tongue and mouth before filling the full cavity. The tea managed to push into the throat to the base of the neck.
A satisfying amount of vibrancy was present in the broth. It shifted from the forward arch of the soft palate, to the hard palate, and then opened up the sinus cavity.
The mixture of leaves from different years –2008, 2010, 2011– assuredly contributed to its progressions. The dominant foundation, however, prevented it from reading as disjointed, at least for me. I found it to be greatly enjoyable. It would be interesting to track how it develops in the coming 10 – 20 years considering the year variables in leaf composition.
The 357g cake now sells for 46 pounds sterling –roughly 74 US dollars. There are three other Mr. Feng cakes available on the site, which all look highly promising.
I thank David and Kathy for the gifted sample.