07 December, 2008

2008 Menghai "Peacock of Mengsong"

Mengwhat?

Mengsong! An appellation unknown to me, it is apparently an area in Menghai County with "plenty of forest cover and misty weather". I fully approve of meteorological data in tea descriptions!

(Note: the "Meng" in "Menghai" and "Mengsong" rhymes with "bung".)


2008 Menghai - Mengsong Peacock


As you can see from the image, this is the blue peacock from the series of five. Menghai Peacock teas have long held their sway over my affections, but these are the first peacock bing that I've come across, and perhaps they are new for 2008.


2008 Menghai - Mengsong Peacock


Look (above and below) at that fine springtime growth. As always, a good blend from tips to basis leaves, occassionally fragmented for similarity of blend throughout. This one has the colour of a traditional Darjeeling, and, like the other teas in this series, carries a mighty aroma. This particular cake has a low sweetness, broad and beany.


2008 Menghai - Mengsong Peacock


The flavour is deliciously fruity, ending in a low complex of leather and tobacco. For what is presumably plantation tea, it's very good. It has solid body, being thick and substantial - a far cry from the waif-like ethereal character of other inexpensive teas. It is young, and has some ku, but it is not overbearing, and adds to the strength of the huigan.


2008 Menghai - Mengsong Peacock


Even the colour of the brew, pictured above, testifies to its low, beany character, being that charming brown-yellow that I love in young shengpu. The bitterness builds in later infusions, but it is accompanied by an increase in tobacco. It's quite a pleasant exercise.

I like this one a little less than the fine "Peacock of Menghai", but it's still jolly good, and I have a few tucked away for the future. Again, so absurdly inexpensive that one really must do quite well in this price range to beat these Menghai benchmarks.


Headington Hill




Addendum
April, 2013

This was the first cake from the now-popular Mengsong region that I ever tried - the above article makes me smile.  Five years later, I am curious to determine its progress.  The wrapper has faded, but the naked bing smells fantastic.  I bought these at around $14/big, and the price for the "peacocks" has not risen greatly since then.

This tea is clearly aged: it is smooth, rounded, and beginning to take on the woody characteristics of age.  The "big" Mengsong scent fills the wenxiangbei [aroma cup], and its colour is now a definite orange, where once it was yellow.  Some kuwei [good bitterness] remains, but there is a triumphant sweetness that builds in the throat.

It is clearly plantation tea, but it is very good nonetheless - such is the Dayi genius.  I love its bitter-sweet character.  Not "dry storage", nor "humid storage", but somewhere between.

6 comments:

Will Slack said...

I was about to correct you and say that Dayi made peacock bings before this year, because I could have sworn I saw an advertisement In a magazine I bought last year for them. Fortunately I looked it up first. http://www.myttc.cn/market/96122.html
This site here says the bings are in celebration of the 68th anniversary of the Menghai factory. Maybe the advert was an advance ad, or my mind is playing tricks on me and they were the tuochas you mentioned.

Will Slack said...

but then I just saw this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28366671@N04/3086838534/sizes/m/
It is also a mengsong, and the wrapper is different from yours.

Hobbes said...

Dear Will,

I do love the way that tea companies will celebrate absolutely anything. 68th birthday! 50 years of liberation of China by the PLA! 120 years since the landing of the Gotheberg in Hong Kong! 3 years since we started this new factory! 2008 China year, prosperity year (my personal favourite)!*

Bless 'em. A shame it doesn't tend to make the tea taste any better...

Thanks for the links - the peacock bing in that second one from "ChaHai" at Flickr definitely looks like an old peacock, so there we have our answer. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

* The Chinese for "2008" is "er ling ling ba", which I like to chant while dancing around the house, much to the immense annoyance of my ever-tolerant wife, who considers it unspeakably vulgar. :)

Anonymous said...

You will also find photos of 2005 Menghai peacocks on Mike Petro's site. See his "stash" page 5.

I've very much enjoyed your blog over the last many months. Thank you!

Scotto said...

This is an odd tea, and one that doesn't yield its charms as easily as the Menghai origin Peacock. The sensations in the mouth are bizarre; very cooling/numbing. Drinking hot tea which at the same time feels ice cold is a strange sensation. Kind of hard to explain unless you have tried it. Not unpleasant, but different.

The aroma and taste are quite unique - quite flowery and fruity, but in an exotic way. There is medium bitterness, fairly light body. Not sure yet whether I really like this or not. Might be a good candidate to put down for a few years, whereas I felt the Menghai was a "drink it now" tea.

Hobbes said...

Great notes - thanks again, Big Man.