05 September, 2007

2005 Mengku Rongshi Green Label Xiaobing

Checking my search terms, I note with some concern that the Half-Dipper is receiving quite a lot of traffic from the Google search term "crusty jugglers". Is this a good sign?!

Many thanks to CB for kindly providing an entire bing of this attractive little tea - and for the stowaway prisoner [pictured]! This is what happens when technophiles package tea...

Surely some vital part of the Incredible Machine with which you work is now not functioning correctly?

Quite a bit has been written about this tea already. It formed part of a community tasting event last year, with notes from Bearsbearsbears, the Davelcorp Foundation, and Toki at The Mandarin's Tea. They predominantly noted floral aspects, and it seemed to meet with a welcome reception. It was priced at around $10 when it was on sale at Yunnan Sourcing, making it relatively inexpensive.

To quote the product page, this claims "pollution-free" status, as "validated by the ATI Company of Fujian" - I'm uncertain how much that means. The leaves are supposedly single-region, from the Lincang area.

"Scottish Mountain" @ 100C in 10cl shengpu pot; ~7-8g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Small leaves, in small pieces. This looks rather old-fashioned, given the trend for big-leaf cakes of late. It has a lovely, sweet aroma with a hint of tobacco.

4s, 5s, 7s, 10s, 20s, 40s, 70s:
The soup is light orange, and a touch cloudy. It opens with a grassy, sweet beidixiang, and ends in a brown-sugar lengxiang.

The first impression is the fairly smooth texture. The character is quite "low" and pleasant, but it has a slightly acidic ku that keeps it interesting. While the character is reminiscent of flowers, it is more akin to the dark, low nature of chrysanthemums (which Lei likes to brew), rather than the bright floral aspects of some gaoshan wulong.

Like CB, I find the chaqi to be quite significant: my neck and arms are flushed with warmth, and tingle noticeably.

This tea needs pushing on - it is quite understated, indicating a certain weakness in the leaf - perhaps due to their small, spring size. The aroma departs fairly quickly, after perhaps three infusions, but the gentle chrysanthemum notes continue until the sixth infusion, by which time it has collapsed into basic "tea" flavours.

Wet leaf:
Tiny spring leaves, which account for the requirement to brew heavily, I also find that it lacks a solid, decent base of flavour. What is present is enjoyable and fresh, and the decent quality of the leaf can be determined from the good texture, and the chaqi. The low price might tempt me into acquiring a few, if I come across them in future. It's a borderline call.

I get the feeling that I didn't achieve the best results possible with this leaf - do please share your brewing advice, if you have familiarity with this one.

Thanks again to CB for giving me the opportunity to taste this little fellow.


Unknown said...

I like the background...

speakfreely said...

Hahahahaha! The stowaway is a much-antiquated set of wire-wrap pins. You'd position it in a perforated substrate, and the IC would plug into the side you've got facing down, and a poorly-paid technician would spend hours with a wire-wrap gun following your schematic to connect the pins correctly. 1970's vintage. Too bad electronic technology doesn't age as well as Pu-erh! The box I shipped your tea in was pulled at random from our stockroom which is full of obsolete electronics as well as more useful stuff. I guarantee it will not be missed.

I can't add any brewing advice; my notes indicate that I kept upping the infusion times like you did to see if I could overbrew the tea, to a maximum of about 40s, but it weathered my abuse and delivered it's smooth mouthcoat, gentle flavors, spicy ku and strong cha qi regardless of what I did to it. I noticed it fading after about the 8th infusion, but the flavors never collapsed suddenly on me as you note it did after the 6th. I'm glad you noticed the cha qi in this one. My notes wax poetic (or perhaps sappy) here: "It is really the qi that stands out, shines from within, resonates with my spirit. It feels not heady like some qi, but balanced, refined, silently melding its scholarly wisdom with my intuition. At this moment I really do feel posessed by the gentle spirit of an ancient
Confucian scholar."

Hobbes said...


I think this is the first time Lei has ever left a comment on this blog - do please make her feel welcome. :)

Dear Carla,

I'm glad to hear that meltdowns are not occurring in the absence of this little part.

Thanks for the notes - poetic indeed! Did you have any particular Confucian scholar in mind? They all look rather well-fed, from the paintings!



MarshalN said...

Your blog is the #1 hit for crusty jugglers. Congrats! :)

Hobbes said...

Is that the sound of popping corks I can hear?!

speakfreely said...

Hello, Lei! I suppose one day I'll pop in on the news groups my husband frequents, just to freak him out.

No particular Confucian scholar. For me "Confucian scholar" is sort of a vague, romantic notion put in my head by J. Blofeld's "City of Lingering Splendor", as well as snippets of Confucian thought I've had exposure to in that book and others. Sorry if this truthful answer dissapoints.