16 January, 2009

2008 Menghai "Dajingdian"

I've been getting back to the classic producers recently - though there have been some good counter-examples from new factories. As part of my re-acquaintance with Menghai, today's article on the 2008 "Great Classic".

I can't remember where I read about this one, but I bought it on the recommendation of a post somewhere! I was after something a little more unusual that the benchmark, numbered blends, and this cake fit the bill. Menghai claim that it was made in order to commemorate the selection of the Dayi brand as "national cultural heritage". Amusing though the notion of being awarded a label of heritage may be, it's applicable enough in this case. Something inside me winces whenever the Chinese government discusses heritage, given its previous stance to "the four olds" (a list that includes customs and culture), but at least they appear to be on the right track lately.


2008 Menghai Dajingdian


As I'm sure you know, Menghai have started using seals to close the backs of their wrappers these days (pictured below). These things are a pain, as it becomes very easy to tear the paper.


2008 Menghai Dajingdian


Once the security measures are carefully circumnavigated, the bing (below) is attractive: solid in compression with a homogenous blend of small leaves, which are around "grade 3". Menghai cakes look and feel hearty - and they're easy to separate without being too loose.

Opening the wrapper throws an aggressive scent of young, green leaves into the far corners of the room, beneath which is a slower undercurrent of deep sweetness that suggests this cake has much to give.

The leaves are quite dark for a 2008, and the description tells us that they are "semi-aged", presumably meaning that older maocha was used.


2008 Menghai Dajingdian


Pictured below, with our constant calorific companion, the yellow-orange soup that turns deeper orange as it contacts the air. It does so quite rapidly, giving the impression of being active.

The kougan [mouth-feel] is thick indeed, as noted in the product description, and it has a rich mushroom character that reminds me of classic Menghai cakes. A rapid huigan [sweet aftertaste] builds quickly, in concert with an aroma of wild flowers in the nose: sweet, rough, floral. Beneath it all, the bedrock of sweetness that holds my attention.


2008 Menghai Dajingdian


This is a solid, complex little tea. Menghai have a habit of being able to produce good things at a low cost, making them very hard to beat, and keeping the industry's feet on the ground. It has plenty of potency, and running from the dry leaf to the final sip, that mushroom Menghai sweetness that continues to please.

I've added a few more of these cakes to our shelves to see how they do - they've got quite a bit of content, and some good legs, so we'll see what happens. However, given the enjoyment I had from these tasting sessions, they might not last too long.


Addendum
April, 2013

I bought these cakes for around $10-15 in 2008, and have not tried them since.  The price was higher than the Taobao equivalent as I bought them from Yunnan Sourcing.  The current Taobao price is around 100-150 RMB, which approximately represents a doubling in the past five years.  They are, however, inexpensive to this day.  Scott of YS sells this for around $30.
 

2008 Dayi Dajingdian


My stacks do have a good scent, which is encouraging.


2008 Dayi Dajingdian


The leaves, always small and dark, have become darker, as shown below.


2008 Dayi Dajingdian


The scent in the wenxiangbei [aroma cup] is the huge, old-fashioned aroma of Menghai mushroom, which lasts forever.  I am reminded of the reliable quality of this old brand - even its fairly basic cakes, such as this.


2008 Dayi Dajingdian


The blend is quite proper, and has a deep, dense sweetness with a lovely kuwei [good bitterness].  I appreciate its resonating shengjin [mouth-watering].  Sweet straw, mushrooms - it is instantly recognisable and very welcome.  Its texture retains the thickness of its youth.


2008 Dayi Dajingdian


Storage here in Oxford has been kind: it has the clean, aged sweetness of some of my older cakes.  It is not aging rapidly, but I am in no hurry.  Overtones of an old cake are beginning to show, but it is challenging and charming in its current form.  The power of its youth, which I somehow remember after five years, has consolidated into this density of sweetness.

It is only Dayi, but it is so definitely "classical" that I am enthralled.  It tastes just like old tea, young.

10 comments:

Bryan said...

I ended up buying a tong of this. After the "secret handshake" price, I couldn't afford not to! One of the more solid Menghai releases this year (even though there were a few.) I also highly recommend the Dayi Hong. Does that literally translate to great benefit red? Either way it's a fine cake at a fine price. Gotta love big M in 08!

Hobbes said...

Dear Bryan,

A tong of most 2008 Menghai is so attractively priced, I fully understand. I try not to buy more than 3-4 cakes of any one particular Menghai line given that I enjoy quite a few of the various lines (particularly 7432, 7542, 8582, the Peacocks, and some of the more esoteric productions).

Thanks for the tip with the Dayi Hong - I'd not even heard of it before, and will duly seek some out! Looking at the product description at Yunnan Sourcing, it is "red", yes. I'm hoping that's because the wrapper is printed in monochrome red, not because they've turned it into hongcha. :)

Good ol' Menghai.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Tan said...

The security seal comes with a "S" shape perforated tear-line between the two Dayi logos. Tough to find at first. No more torn wrapper in the future ;-D

This is a good but very affortable tea. I paid less than US$6.00 a bing over here ^_^

Tan

Hobbes said...

Hi Tan,

Thanks for the pointer! I've found that, while there is a cut in the middle, it's usually so haphazardly placed as to server no useful purpose. That said, I'm getting better at removing them without tearing too much wrapper after much practice!

$6 per cake is a great price :)
Where are you writing from?


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Tan said...

Hi Hobbes,

I am writing from one of the puerh's second home, Malaysia :-)

Keep up your beautiful blog. I love reading it.

Tan

Hobbes said...

Thanks for the kind words, Tan - it's good to know where readers are reading from!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

SpikeSpeedwell said...

Since they are both made with grade three leaves, what are the differences between the 7532 and the Dajingdian?

Hobbes said...

Dear Spike,

Your first comment, I believe! Welcome aboard. It's always nice to have new commenters.

Though they are made from the same grade (i.e., size) of leaves, that really is all they have in common. I guess it's like any other recipe that has a common ingredient, say "medium-sized free-range eggs". The Dajingdian is not totally dissimilar to the 7532 (they both taste rather "Dayi"!), but the blenders can choose to use leaves from older years, or choose to process those leaves differently, according to different cakes' recipes.

The quick answer is: try them both and see! They're very inexpensive, and both the Dajingdian and 7532 from 2009 were mighty fine. They are easily worth $10 each, in my opinion!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

SpikeSpeedwell said...

Yes, thanks this was my first comment: I tend to just lurk here and on other sites such as Badger & Blade as I grow in my appreciation for pu'. I very much appreciate your (and others) comments and observations. Did you really mean 2009 in your comment above? I recall that there has been an amount of dialogue in the blogosphere (including B&B) about 2009 7532 not being found anywhere. I certainly can't find either product in a '09 vintage at the sites I go to for purchasing (YSLLC, Jas-ETea, Puerh Shop). I do have both from 2008, but haven't opened them yet.

Thanks,

Spike

Hobbes said...

Dear Spike,

I am very glad that youre reading and enjoying the old place.

The 2008 Dajingdian - quite right. I think Ive only had the 7542 from 2009, in fact.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes