13 February, 2008

2007 Maison des Trois Thes "Mengkuxue"

Deep in the heart of Paris lies a tea-house with more fabulously expensive tea than anywhere else. Or so the story goes, as I've never made it to Maison des Trois Thes myself.

However, Nada has, and very generously left this whopping chunk of shengpu with us after his visit.

The proprietor of La Maison, one Madame Tseng, has overseen the production of a number of cakes from 2007. Being a canny fellow, Nada posed her the question, "If you were to put your name to one cake, which would it be?" The answer was this Mengku cake...

First experiences are pleasant ones. This is a cake chock-full of lovely leaves, and has my favourite shengpu aroma: sweet tobacco. Delicious. I almost took a bite out of it. As ever, you can click on the photos to expand them, and take a good bite yourself.

The soup is a solid yellow, and the aroma lingers forever in the wenxiangbei.

Flavourwise: it's caramel and rich tobacco, with a pronounced huigan. The texture is gloopy, just the way I like it. I'm coming to understand that tea is a very personal affair, and I strive to find teas like this.

So, is this the perfect tea for me?

Not quite. After one or two infusions, it became much more simple, retaining its quality of texture and huigan, but losing much of its complexity in the mouth and nose.

It seems that the leaves are lacking a little "oomph", and it would appear that Madame Tseng has been as hard-pressed to find such examples from the 2007 crop as everyone else.

That said, I'd happily buy this cake, if only for those first few infusions in which it really is "my cup of tea". Thanks again, Nada.


MarshalN said...

From what I know, the prices for M3T's teas are astronomical (no other adjective will suffice, I fear). Would you still buy it given such lofty numbers?

Hobbes said...

It's not worth extortionate amounts, so maybe not - but it's "my kind of town" :)



P.s. Could you please e-mail me your current US address?

Nada said...

the price of this (200g bing) was €65, making it in the same price region as the higher end 2007 xizihao's.

It felt an expensive purchase at the time, but after speaking to Madame Tseng for some time I was curious to taste the best of the teas she was able to produce last year.

I've been travelling since I bought it & am looking forward to trying it with some known brewing variables now that I've reached home again. On cursory first impressions though I'd have to say I agree with your views on this tea (both the positive and not so positive aspects of your tasting).


Anonymous said...

Hi everybody
For this kind of very young sheng
do you use boiling water at 100° celsius or is it better to use water around 90° for not burning the tea ?
Thanks for the blog

Hobbes said...

Dear Norpel,

€65 - I had honestly suspected that it would be more, given my prior assumptions at the pricing of "M3T"! Though paying €130 for 400g would be a bit much, I find that it is easier to digest spending smaller amounts - even if the price-per-gram is higher.

For example, if the top-end Xizihao cakes were available in 200g formats, at the same pricing, I would find them easier to palate - and I might actually buy one!

Dear "Anonymous",

Thanks for the question, it's a good one. Even though young shengpu are very green, I always use hot water, and keep the pot warm by pouring water on it before and after infusion. They are hardy leaves, and do not turn into stewed spinach the way that delicate small-lead green teas might do.



Anonymous said...

@ marshall'N

It's clear that M3T prices are expensive. But compared to the quality, I'm not sure it's the case.

For instance, their (sold out) 1992 "loose leaf" was 25€ / 100g and nowhere else it was possible to find an equivalent to for less than 70€ / 100g.

You should go to Yunnan and try to find good 1950 puer, and compare to theirs. You'll be surprised : all what can be found in Yunnan is 3 times more expensive with less complexity and with less infusions...

I never find elsewhere better young ripe than their 1998 or 2000 new ones, which are around 13 € / 100g ...