30 July, 2012
27 July, 2012
The cake is quite dark already, as may be seen above. You can also discern that the blend is quite well compressed, and that it contains everything from tips to larger leaves, in fragments of all sizes.
Robust, reliable tea at a robust, reliable price; what's not to like? For such a weeny extra outlay, the "Special" really is worth the money.
Many thanks to Mauricio for the introduction to these solid little blends.
25 July, 2012
23 July, 2012
Thanks to one and all for the lovely gifts, which are most sincerely appreciated - and most frequently enjoyed.
16 July, 2012
I bought plenty of tea, around four years ago, that I don't think I'd buy again. I was a humble doctoral student*, and was therefore a man of limited means, and so tended to keep to more mainstream cakes, with their more down-to-earth prices.
This taught me a great deal about what not to buy. The result is that I have plenty of cakes on my shelf that I wouldn't buy again. Thankfully, the "peacock" [kongque - kong ch'ooer] range from Menghai Tea Co. is decent.
*I'm still equally humble, except I'm no longer a doctoral student.
I clearly took this photograph some time ago
Back in 2008, this range was available in five colours; I have previously written about the green (Menghai region) and the blue (Mengsong region), both of which were pretty good, and having been settling into their age quite well in the years since.
Will this yellow-labelled Badashan cake keep up the standard?
The full name of these badboys is "wucai [wu-tsai] kongque bingcha", "five-coloured peacock" bingcha. I recall that one of the remaining colours is red, and my tea records indicate that the other regions covered by this series are Bulang and Nannuo.
Depressingly, my spreadsheet also tells me that I paid $10 each for these cakes. How prices have risen, even in the past four years! I defy you to find any reliable cakes for $10 these days, let alone Menghai (the produce of which seems, inexplicably, to have been priced through the roof).
Funnily enough, I seem to have four or five cakes of this yellow "Bada" version, which suggests that I rather liked it, along with the Menghai and Mengsong, which perhaps explains why articles exist for those two on the ol' Half-Dipper.
You may recall the compression of Menghai Tea Co.'s mainstream productions: the leaves are quite small, and pushed together using hydraulics (unsurprisingly), which leaves me chipping away at a granite-like cake for some time. I am reminded of "Dwarven bread" from the Discworld novels of my childhood.
You know the drill with Menghai: safe, solid, and by-the-numbers. We are not likely to be massively impressed with complexity or character, but we will be, at least, interested in a solid collection of regional flavours.
This Badashan cake fits the bill: its body is cooling and fresh, and it has the straightforward, unabashed, unadulterated kuwei [good throaty bitterness] that gives me that patented Menghai kick. The grassy, springtime character of Bada is present, beneath all that Menghai house style.
This isn't a grand tea, but we wouldn't expect that for $10. I am surprised that, for such a small amount, so much can be delivered - this is the particular genius of the original Menghai Tea Co. They know what they're doing, and they do it well. They are rightfully famous for their mastery of unexalted blends, and this is recognisably Menghai.
Strong, clean, punchy, and aging nicely - what more can one hope from $10?
13 July, 2012
Bannacha is run by a Frenchman (I think) by the name of William. Has that been anglicised from Guillaume? We may never know.
*I recently saw Soulfly at a tiny gig in Oxford. It's rare that my favourite bands come here, because it's a quiet little university town. Max Cavalera is an impressive man. I was less convinced when he invited his two Justin Bieber-esque sons to come on-stage to sing Sepultura numbers.
09 July, 2012
My wife's instantly-given comment does, I'm afraid, rather sum up this tea. It is so very hard to make good Mengla tea, and ensure that the leaves go the distance. I fear that this Manzhuan, weighing in at the equivalent of a sizeable $61.50 / 357g, can't deliver on its promises.