08 May, 2007

1998 Menghai 8582

Today, just some notes: the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea.

It's a standard Zhongcha [China tea] wrapper, and comes from Houde, where it is labelled "Chung Cha". Guang has further labelled it with the characters "chuan gan cong qing bing" [pure dry storehouse green-cake].

~15cl Caledonian Springs @ 100C in 35cl shengpu pot; ~5g of leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaves:
Loose compression, what bliss after the Xiaguan-induced agonies of yestereven. The leaves are generally rich in colour, with the majority showing a fine leathery hue. The aroma is classical middle-age shengpu: earthy, leathery tones, with a touch of bitterness left over from its greener days. Quite tippy. The "dry storage" claim looks substantiated in the rich colour and non-damp aroma of the leaves.




15s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s:
Orange-red soup indicative of middle-age, with very little of the tippiness making it into the soup; I was expecting a fair amount of fine hair to be suspended therein. The lid-scent (have I coined "gaixiang" yet?) is heavy toffee, with some youthful shengpu strength. The leaves are surprisingly muted. What will this say about the endurance of the tea?

Very little in the wenxiangbei, as if I had suddenly lost my capacity for smell. Very pleasing soup, rushing to a pleasant sour/bitter at the arch of the tongue, and dwelling their with great patience. The huigan is long and pleasant, though the whole feeling of the tea is rather "tart". A broad base of flavours, following the aroma, lives below that interesting rush for the middle-ground of the tongue.

Very long and very sweet, with an almost alkaline finish - which Xiaomao once likened to Chinese steamed buns.

Later infusions see the aroma turn to long, sweet treacle. The flavour of later infusions is reminiscent of varnished pine.

Used leaves:
Rather a mess, as can be seen above. Considerably chopped, from a grade of apparently smaller leaves - interesting, given its "8" grade rating. Age is turning most of them a stable, sludge colour.

Overall:
I enjoy this very much; it's a pity that it is no longer available as I'd like to get a whole bing. It's a little ragged in the throat, particularly nearer the end, but is developing some of the richness of character that one would wish from an old tea. Plenty of youthfulness remains, and that sour/bitter charge for the centre of the tongue is fascinating. Very sweet indeed. Is this tea really unavailable?



Addendum
June, 2011

Four years later, I return to this sample from Houde.  Much has changed in four years.


1998 Menghai 8582


In the intervening years, I have started to suppose that I enjoy aged 8582, but that it doesn't thrill me.  In comparison with some beefier recipes, the 8582 can be sweet, appealing, but somewhat lacking in complexity, and a little underpowered.

Today's tea session confirmed that supposition.


1998 Menghai 8582


This is a very pleasant tea.  It is crisp, smooth, and sweet.  However, it is distinctly impotent.  I used a very large quantity of leaves, in order to use up the remainder of my sample.  The first two infusions were quite potent, in a charming pine-like manner, but they rapidly tailed away into a gentle, monotonic sweetness.

While very enjoyable, it isn't a tea that I can see myself paying large quantities of money to obtain.  8582 simply doesn't have the basic stamina required to become a big, complex cake in its age.  This is a conclusion that several samples of the same recipe from Essence of Tea, Skip4tea, and gifts from friends have led me to reach.

Fine, fun, but not a grand tea - I bid my sample farewell, but am not resolved to chase more of it.

9 comments:

vl. said...

I've tasted a sample of this, though I can't say I have any definite opinions on it.

I found it to be dry and oily, but it didn't have a lot of feeling, in fact it made me a little queasy... even for a very young Pu-erh, I can't really forget that. I think your description "varnished pine" sums it up for me.

Sludge indeed.

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Hi Vlad,

Thanks for the post. I wonder if you're using the adjective "dry" as one might with wine - in that sense, it would relate to the green feeling that I experienced in the throat: that raw, slightly ragged sensation from brusque young tea.

I must admit that this one didn't make me feel unwell... :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

MarshalN said...

Is the colour in the third picture slightly off? Looks awfully green to me for something that is closing in on 10 years. I can't find the product description (as it's impossible to find a particular tea on Hou De's website sometimes). Does it say where it was stored?

vl. said...

It's off the website now... but with the help of Google's Cache...

See here.

:)

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Vlad, excellent underhand tactics! Such skills... is my bank account safe, I wonder?

LZ, they are indeed that green - at least on top, there. Quite a few of the leaves are a little more aged. Vlad's ninja Internet skills have helped reveal the fact that this was apparently dry-stored in Taiwan. It does feel like a slow 10 years, it has to be said. For example, it's rather similar to that 2001 Menghai Zhengshan that we've recently been discussing.


Toodlepip both,

Hobbes

Anonymous said...

I come to the same conclusion sometime ago after I tried sample of EoT 1996 8582. I was thinking of buying a whole cake before that, but after the sample, I have second thought. Given aged 8582 from 90's is like this, I would be suprise if any post 2005 8582 will become great.

apache

Hobbes said...

Dear Apache,

I hope all is well - it would be nice to meet up at some point over the summer for tea! We can introduce you to "Xiaoban".


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Anonymous said...

Dear Hobbes,

Yes, that will be very nice to meet up for tea and let make it a 7542 theme, as I have various version from different years, 2009, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1996, 88 Qing.


apache

Hobbes said...

Your sessions are always amazing :)