09 December, 2008

1996 Menghai - Purple Dayi

Changing gear on the Menghai front, this 1996 example produced for their Dayi brand comes from Skip4Tea.

This is a mid-to-late 90s cake, and so 1996 is believable. The silver tips (shown above and below) have turned a bright copper, while the basis leaves have become rusty. The compression is relaxing a little, especially around the edges, in line with its supposed age.

The aroma of the dry leaves is noticeable shicang [wet store-house], but in the distant manner that suggests it has been stored in drier conditions in more recent years. I love a bit of shicang, it has to be said, and I don't have very much of it to choose from on my shelves.

The soup moves from deep orange to rich red as the leaves open, with that welcoming aroma of almonds and shicang. It's quite a tea to behold.

Surprisingly energetic in the mouth, it causes instant effervescence on the lips and tongue, followed by a strong cooling sensation. These are striking - by comparison, the flavour takes a back seat. However, the flavour is pleasant: good, old honey.

From two small cups, I have flushed skin and bright eyes. Just recently, I read that historical health claims for pu'er included "improved eyesight", and it is interesting (though perhaps coincidental) that I observed a tangible, sharpening effect when drinking this.

Even from the first infusion, it is thick, and adheres to the roof of the mouth. "The coolness is obvious on my tongue, even if I do not draw air into my mouth!" notes Lei. The whole gamut of sensations ends up nicely in the throat, and dwells there for some time.

Menghai made good tea in 1996.

Is it worth over £200? You decide...

ABC Woods

Say goodbye to autumn...


Leatherdykeuk said...

Fascinating. This is another world of tea drinking that I could never afford to indulge in, so thank you for the glimpse.

Hobbes said...


Yes, it would be difficult to justify 200 for a cake for me too. Two tongs of excellent 2008 tea, or one cake of excellent 1996 tea? I usually come down in favour of the modern stuff, as you can tell. :)



P.s. Welcome to the Half-Dipper - your first comment, I think!

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you can describe the taste of it? (ie. the first steeping, second..etc.)I am curious on how it changed over the different steeping.


Wes Crosswhite said...

And just over a year ago, this cake was selling in the states for $100 US. :o

Circle Community Acupuncture said...

Based on your first photo it looks as if you did buy the whole cake. So, WAS it worth the price? Would you trade it in for a tong of premium 2008 bings if you could turn back time?


p.s. I've gone both routes. Sometimes you want the tong of new cakes, and sometimes you want the overpriced aged cake. Most of the time, I just hold on to the money and live vicariously through blogs.

nada said...

hey hobbes,
is this the Purple Dayi bing?

Hobbes said...

Dear TC,

The flavour was surprisingly quiet, but the sensations were excellent, and seemed to remain solid as the infusions marched on - long after the honey-like flavour had weakened into the background, in fact.

Dear Wes,

Yes, quite a change :)

Dear Dave,

I find that it's almost never worth the money. That's just my personal taste talking, of course, but I'm happy to have small quantities of older teas, and drink them on special occassions. To that end, I'd much rather have loads of great modern tea than a single, somewhat-aged example, and that's my strategy most of the time. I'm with you!

Dear Nada,

Sure is :)



nada said...

As chance would have it, I tasted this a couple of times in the past week & found it quite enjoyable and thick.
I was worried though about a tightness I got in the back of my throat when drinking it. I occasionally get this tightness when drinking lower grade plantation teas & though I haven't worked out concusively what causes it, I have a feeling that it may be due to some pesticides. The other people I was drinking it with didn't experience this, so maybe it's just me.
Did you experience any of this when drinking? I guess many people don't, since it's so famous, sought after and expensive (it sells for much more than GBP200 in Guangzhou at the moment).

This hesitation aside, I think it's a pretty good tea & wouldn't be disappointed to own a bing. I am more and more of the school of thought that owning a small amount of good old tea is vastly preferable to owning many tongs of new tea. As I'm sure you remember from our tea meeting there's really something special that a new tea can't provide.

Hobbes said...

Dear Nada,

Alarming! I hadn't noticed any tightness - I suspect you're right, thinking about a tea plantation, and Mainland agricultural practices. Lei has even stopped buying Chinese food because of such things. It's not a hard stretch of the imagination to think that plantation farmers in the 90s could have been attempting to increase yield through whatever means necessary...

I'm happy to drink old tea with friends - maybe it's too much of a treat for me to own amounts in any quantity. :)



nada said...

I know what you mean - some special teas I've bought months ago and not even drunk yet... it seems too much of a waste just to drink by myself.

Karlos said...

Hi there,
omg! from 1 year only 100USD? relly ? where?:) I know Lao Bang Zhang Mao cha go up with prize...

Karlos said...

Hi there,
OMG! really from 1 year its prize 100 USD? I know Lao Bang Zhang Mao cha go up with prize...

shah8 said...

The link needs to be labeled Purple Dayi, so people can find it for reference purposes. It's an important reference taste, after all.

Hobbes said...


Hobbes said...

...as an added bonus, I enlarged the images. :)