04 May, 2008

2005 Mengku Chengguan "Qingchengfeng"

I have long been an admirer of Chinese poetry, since we studied some bad translations at school - the sensitivity towards natural processes; the understanding that life is in the detail, in the insignificant. To "see a world in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a wild flower", as one of my own country's poets wrote.

It also doesn't hurt to know some basic Chinese poetry when you meet a pretty Chinese girl you rather fancy for wifely possibilities.




This tea has something poetic about it. I'm not one to jump into such claims lightly, as I'm sure we're all equally numb to reading hyperbolic vendor text (quiet tears flow every time I read about a "scholar tea"). That said, there is something very lovely, honest, and natural about this cake.

It sells for £30 from Puerh Shop, which is getting towards a more serious price (on my scale). The vendors rate this as their best acquisition of the year. I was initially sceptical - who are the Mengku Chengguan [Mengku fortified city-gate] Tea Co.? The name of the cake, Qingchengfeng [Green City Peak] reminded me of an old poem, and so my interest was piqued and my straying mouse-finger ordered some.

It turns out that such serendipity is rewarding in this case.



I have spent the day talking with a technology company about their "world-changing new technology", which was apparently so revolutionary that they could not tell me how it worked. A quick search reveals a 58-page international patent application filed in the name of the company's Chief Technical Officer, and the distinctly unrevolutionary nature of their technology is revealed in glorious detail, with accompanying diagrams. So, I am in absolutely no mood for tolerating bogus claims.

Happily, this tea is honest and pleasant: a solid yellow soup (below) reassures me. The dry leaves (above) are large, pretty, and dark, with a sweet and decent aroma.



This is a solidly "mushroom" tea, which is one of my favourite genres. It has an good acid sharpness that leads me to believe the qiaomu [arbor, big-tree] claim. Floral, lavender hints and some old honey make this a real evening treat.

"Very nice, it has something in it. Not too complex, though. Very clean."

An enduring scent is left in the pinmingbei [little tasting cup].




Later infusions emphasise the sweet honey, and retain the fine acidity.

I would like to buy more of this tea. As with many modern (non-Banzhang) pu'er of late, this gives me a profound feeling of calm. It is most welcome on a warm spring evening.



(Notes added to 2006 Liming "Tuowang".)



Addendum
10 May, 2008

This tea appears to be currently available for £15 at Yunnan Sourcing.


Photobucket

18 October, 2008

Revisiting this tea makes it clear that it is a pleasant, mushroom-filled treat, but it is definitely plantation tea. Cheap but very cheerful, it has a solid, thick texture and lasts very many infusions when brewed in my office, after the main session.


Photobucket

8 comments:

vl. said...

Ikea rug!

Interesting tea notes, as always. You seem to be able to tolerate a lot more Lincang than me...

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Oi oi, that rug's from "Boswells", our resident jack-of-all-trades tourist shop!

I think you'd like this one, I don't know if it was too brutal. Did I send some of this to you in that last parcel?

(Weren't you the man that sent me the face-meltingly acidic Dehong?! Hehe...)


Toodlepip,

D

vl. said...

Eh well, Ikea it isn't then...

-vl.

Hobbes said...

Infinitely worse than Ikea ;)

I use Ikea shelves for my tea, come to think of it...

tiequanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,
First, you have a fantastic tea blog. I always enjoy reading it. I have a sourcing question. Do you know of any good online merchants who sell tea pets? I have been thinking about acquiring one. Certainly, the pictures of your tea companion have been helpful reference :)!

Have a good tea,

Alex

Hobbes said...

Dear Alex,

Thanks very much for the kind words - I'm very glad to read that you're enjoying the site.

Regarding tea-friends*, I haven't seen very many for sale. There are a few at Yunnan Sourcing, but those seem to consist just of the "lucky Buddha foot" and a few others. Buying a chachong is not something to take lightly (like buying a plant!) and so I suggest that you might like to try waiting for someone to go over to China, and asking them to get a nice one for you. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

*Called "chachong", literally "tea insect", but the last character, chong, really refers to the idea of a "little lifeform".

Lewis said...

Sorry for the belated nitpicking, but I think Chengguan means "area outside the city gate[s]".

Lewis said...

Come to think of it, "Qingcheng" may be a reference to the Taoist tea mountain in Sichuan.