01 December, 2008

2007 Shuangjiang Mengku "Qiaomuwang"

ABC Woods

It is absurdly bleak today. To make matters worse, I decided it would be a good idea to have a menthol, minty pu'er before heading out into the howling Sunday morning winds towards church. Combined with the mintiness of the Proraso smeared gratuitously all over my freshly-shaven chops, this meant I was minty on the inside and on the outside, in the icy wind. Highly painful.

2007 Mengku Qiaomuwang

This is quite a famous cake, as far as I can tell. I've seen photographs of it all over the place, at least. I'm often happy with the higher-end output from Shuangjiang Mengku factory, so thought that this one would be a safe bet.

2007 Mengku Qiaomuwang

This cake ($24 for 500g) allegedly won the "2006 Expo Tea Award" in Kunming. I take Mainland Chinese tea competitions about as seriously as claims to being "arbor king" [qiaomuwang], and this tea has both such attributes! The leaves are from Bingdao [Ice Island], that area famed for its minty terroire. I had high hopes of detecting any real qiaomu leaves in this cake, given their mintiness.

2007 Mengku Qiaomuwang

Above: it is the superfine product among Pu'er (crude).

Chinglish makes me very happy, and I speak it on a regular basis.

What a funny tea this is. I don't actually like it, per se, but it's got some graces. Foremost among these is its trademarked Shuangjiang Mengku sweet-mushroom nature, which I enjoy. This is imparted from some lovely leaves, being a blend all the way from tips to yellow-leaves and stems. It's an eclectic mix, and all the better for it, giving a straight yellow brew.

Good texture, good huigan - so far, so good.

2007 Mengku Qiaomuwang

Unfortunately, it is also quite sour. The sourness starts in the base of the tea, underneath all that Mengku finery, then swells to dominate the back of the throat. It's not very pleasant, and in many sittings I have not found a configuration that manages to avoid it - no matter the variation of leaf quantity, water quantity, or brewing times, that sourness sits atop it all.

I have not come across a cake with any age that has this particular variety of sourness, and so I hope that it ages out - there is plenty of real content waiting underneath to provide complexity of flavour and texture in the throat should it do so.

It's active and energetic, and has a certain low-level mintiness to it, but the sourness prevents me from enjoying it - and enjoying tea is my priority. So, au revoir, Qiaomuwang, and see you in a few years.

(Cf. MattCha.)


nada said...

I also was disappointed with this. I had high hopes of this for some reason and tried it several times in different shops, hesitant to believe it wasn't good, but was let down each time.

I didn't buy it, but I'd love to read your impressions in a few years. Let's see how it turns out.


Hobbes said...

Behold, the traveller!

I hope everything's well, wherever you've reached :)

The thought of going shop-to-shop sampling pu'er makes me want to book a flight right now...

With bestest best wishes,


Matt said...


The 2008 cake seems to also carry this sour profile that one described as 'harshness' in a post a few months back ( http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-china-yunnan-shuangjiang-mengku.html ). One found that if one lowered the amount of leaf used, it became a bit tame and was enjoyable especially after many infusions.

How many infusions did you push it through?

As usual love the photos and verse.


Hobbes said...

Dear Norpel,

I'm sure plain rice is highly complimentary to a diet of tea. :)

Dear Matt,

I remember reading that from you, yes indeed - thanks for the reminder. I have tried with quite a few sessions, varying the leaf quantity, but have yet to find a configuration that really does it justice. It's heartening to read that you've enjoyed greater success! My initial notes indicate a certain thinness if the leaf quantity is reduced such that the sourness is dimmed. A feisty one!



Bryan said...

I tried the 06 about a year ago and was fairly disappointed with it. The 06 seemed super light to me, like some other Mengku teas.

Might have been a vendor storage issue, though :-/

Hobbes said...

Dear Bryan,

You know, even this 2007 is quite light. If you use a "normal" quantity of leaf, and attempt to avoid the sourness, the actual power of the flavour is fairly quiet. I can't imagine that it would be a vendor-related concern, as this is consistent from year to year, as you say.

There are some tasty Shuangjiang Mengku teas, though - still available are the 2004 Bainian and the various 2007 Muyechun 001 and 002, of which I've bought plenty of both.

As you say, they're definitely light, though!



Anonymous said...

Tea master Mr. Ai Tian at Bai Cha Tang was behind this, I was told by his niece at Bai Cha Tang.

If you say it's Bingdao material, I hardly think so.

I did not get it when these Shuangjiang Mengku teas tasted great when they were fresh, but turned somewhat bland in a year or two.

Jim at Puerh Shop

Hobbes said...

Dear Jim,

Who said the pu'er industry in the PRC was nepotistic? :)

Thanks for the information, I'm happy to have tried my first Baichatang cake - they look to be producers of mainly Lincang offerings, as far as I can tell.

Information regarding the provenence of the leaves comes courtesy of Yunnan Sourcing - I'll let you take it up with him. :)

I'd be surprised if this one petered out to nothing within a few years, simply given its rather hefty backbone, but we'll see. There's only one way to find out!



Anonymous said...

Is this a relatively fresh tea?
I have one disk that was only fermented for 3 months (20,000won/250g). It has a similar problem, overwhelmingly bitter, no matter how it's steeped.

By far my favorite Pu're is "San Cha" (Shatered Tea) It taked the fun out out breaking it up yourself, but the 35 year age makes up for it! It's hard to find Pu'er these days that's actually over 30 years.

How are the shops in Daegu? I'm always there on Sundays and they are always closed! I've only looked through the windows.

InSadong is a waste of time unless you want to buy crap, pay too much, or you're looking for herb teas.

Have you been to KkikDaGeo in Soeul? Close to Jogyesa...
I've been visiting them for years, they don't have the largest selection of pots, but what they have is nice, and their taste in teas is impeccable.

They supply CheongSeokGeol green tea, from HwaGyeDong, the only Korean green tea I really find worthwhile drinking. They have GuJeungGuDo NokCha(I might be wrong about that name)hand made by monks in JiriSan. They steam and roast the leaves nine times. It's the only Korean green tea that can match a high quality Chinese green tea. The leaves have a bluish-green tint and smell almost like dried apricot. I've tried it a couple times, but 400,000won a box is a bit out of my range!

吉道 Giuseppe said...

Sorry, I confused this blog with someone's who is living in Korea...
The Korea references can be disregarded... ^_^

Hobbes said...

This is very fresh - it has lots of "green" about it.

I've never even visited Korea, but I'm sure Matt can advise us. :)



Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

I tried this quite a while back, but maybe not this version, the wrapper was the same though! Tastes like all Mengku to me, the sourness is always possible with these teas, I get it quite a lot of the time.

Might retry it this weekend as it happens, will post about it if I do.


Hobbes said...

Do please, Vlad, though I've been enjoying your recent photos, of course.



Tom said...

In early 2011, I found this tea not particularly sour. Faintly so, but not overbearing. I did find the leaf blend variable in quality.

Hobbes said...

Perhaps I should revisit it :)