06 July, 2010

2003 Menghai - Dayi "Yiwu Zhengshan"

This is a tea of some history, it having been rather popular back in the Dark Ages.

I have never encountered a good book on tea - yes, this includes Okakura

Thanks to Jing of London for providing this sample, where it sells for £135 £132.50* ($200).  A mighty price, but, as I wrote before, I'm sure that Jing aren't interested in selling to the likes of me and thee.  They do a decent job of getting tea through to the masses (i.e., the sane majority of the population that has no interest in reading about tea via the internet, which rules us out), and they've been in the national press a few times here in Blighty.

2003 Dayi Yiwu
"Sweet tobacco and blahblah flavours with a blahblah mouthfeel"

Though I don't have an image of the wrapper, it's one of those old-fashioned Dayi with a big, chubby red "Dayi" in the centre, and large simplified characters around the edge that read "Yiwu Zhengshan" [Yiwu proper-mountain].

This tea cooks up a straight orange, and tastes malty and woody.  It has some sticky tar in the nose, reminiscent of huangpian [yellow flakes].  With some length to the body, ending in a very decent kuwei [bitter note], and almost possessing a huigan [sweet aftertaste], this is enjoyable.

2003 Dayi Yiwu
My teapot, Zidu [purple belly], has developed a nice patina over the years

By the third infusion, it has become rather monotonous, and so I pack up the leaves into a flask to continue brewing in the background at work.

*Jing Tea has asked me to correct my price from £135 to £132.50.


五行雲子 said...

Althought the cost of the bing is enormous, rather unusually, the price of the sample has not been marked up any higher. So I felt it was worth a few quid to give it a whirl.

I have fonder memories of this tea, I recall it having a pleasent camphor component.

DK said...

Hi, I've been enjoying the blog for a while, but never thought to comment until now: I just finished reading Okakura's "Book of Tea". It was disappointing; the lack of information about tea makes sense if it's considered to be a book about Japanese aestheticism, not about tea, but the cringe-worthy style is hard to overlook.

I was hoping there might be better tea books out there. Have you read Lu Yu? Or John Blofeld?

Hobbes said...

Dear Wuxing,

I wonder if this is one of those teas where 357g of samples cost less than the bing? :)

Dear DK,

I have, for my sins, read dozens of books on tea, and I remain quite adamant that I have yet to find one that isn't:

- written by someone who doesn't have the writing skills required to stretch themselves to an entire monograph;

- riddled with errors (see the wonderful last Chadao post from Corax as an example of a book from this genre, in which Corax identified the typically vast number of errata in a recent tea publication);

- is pompous to the degree that I find it hard to read more than a page or two without becoming mildly irrirated (Okakura, and others);

- is written in the vein of a New Age self-help book, with teenage-girl levels of Zen (mis)understanding - the latter of which are literally heretical in Zen terms.

...or some terrific admixture of the above.

It seems that merely enjoying tea seems to convince people that they are qualified to write a monograph. I don't buy tables from people that can't work wood; I don't buy clothes from people that can't sew; I don't buy books from people that can't write.

I'm still waiting for a charming, beautiful, insightful, engaging, witty, well-written book on tea. Do please let me know if you come across such a rarity!



Giri Mandi said...

You should write the first good one! We all look forward!

sasi said...

Dear Hobbes,

How are you doing?

I really love your teaware, especially your tea-tray.


Simeon ( Tofu Miso ) said...

Hi Hobbes , I sampled this a couple of months ago . I brewed it in a zisha pot using Volvic mineral water heated to around 85 degrees centigrade . I must admit that I enjoyed the session that I had with it very much - my review for it is on page 201 of Badger and Blade's " sheng of the day " . Have you ever seen this any where else with a more sensible price tag ?

Hobbes said...

Dear Giri,

I can send you some tedious articles on statistics and machine learning if you'd like the opportunity to see just how unenthralling my writing can be... :)

Dear Sasi,

Busy. Perhaps not in a good way - it's proving to be quite hard to get all of the house renovations completed before childbirth. All these things are sent to test us, are they not?

Thanks for the kind words - we're particularly proud of our teatray! You have to get such purchases right first time, given that you have to look at them for so long afterwards!

Dear Simeon / TM,

I remember your notes! It's a solid tea. I had a cursory look for it on Taobao, but couldn't find it. However, I have a similar big-red-Dayi cake from 2004 which was about £30, to give you an idea of the ballpark figure. I'll keep it in mind when I'm next trawling Taobao and let you know what I find.



Anonymous said...

you noted that your average tea-author doesn't understand Zen. Is there anything in English worth reading on Zen? Or do we have to learn some languages to find out?
Everything I have read has been a bit disappointing, and it would be lovely if you could recommend something.

Hobbes said...

Dear Sam,

There are plenty of first-class books on Zen written in English. Perhaps the most important, to me, is "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", by Suzuki. It is very clear, like drinking a glass of cold water.

For a fun, but still very authentic, Western take on Zen, "Hardcore Zen" by Brad Warner is enjoyable (as are its two sequels). They are irreverant, as Zen should be, but Mr. Warner knows his stuff, and communicates the spirit of Zen very well. Chapter headings such as "Lucy Liu's Panties" should not be taken as an indication that this is book is a joke!

They are all good tasters of Zen. Ultimately, your time is best spent sitting on your black cushion, but books can be a good way of motivating oneself to sit when the ardour flags.



Matt said...


The new translation of three Korean tea classics in the recently released book "Korean Tea Classics" ISBN: 978-89-91913-66-0 is a truly amazing tea book.

You and your readers might be interested in the "Online Book Club" on Mattcha's Blog:



Hobbes said...

Most kind, Matt - thank you!