19 December, 2008

2008 Puerh Shop - Meiguohao "0801"

More winter chills settle on the garden. By the standards of some readers' environments, I'm sure the English winter is tame - but for us, it's brutal.

Frosty Ouseley

Let's get cosy with Puerh Shop's "Meiguohao". I am unashamedly biased: I love home-made (or hand-selected) cakes. I loved the 2007 Daxuashan from Maison des Trois Thes, I loved the 2008 Nadachayuan "Chachanyiwei". I even have a soft spot for those silly commemorative cakes, made as special-runs from the large producers. Home-made is great.

The vendor description reads, "These are our finest pu-erh teas, definitely the premium class reserved for collectors and true tea drinkers." I admire Puerh Shop's humility!

2008 Meiguohao

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

It's tempting to think so. However, the name "Meiguohao" [America Brand] sticks in the gullet like a painful fishbone.

There is something uniquely unpleasant to me about products named with some sort of phoney nationalism. I'm sure this is a character flaw on my part. I walk the aisles of Chinese shops and see product after product with the stars-and-stripes on, or sometimes the British flag, or even the German flag, and it makes me sad. For the English, the act of naming something after the nation, or even putting an image of our flag on a product is rather uncomfortable. It's approximately as bad as naming tea after a banking plaza, or calling it (you guessed it) "scholar tea". Gnnhhhggnnng.

That's all I'm saying.

2008 Meiguohao

However, 'tis the season to be jolly. Forgive and forget, that sort of thing. I wonder if that bias induced by the tea's name balances out my bias towards hand-made cakes?

The compression, shown further up, is very loose, and the leaves look sumptuous. Lots of silver fur is to be seen, and the Mansa leaves are well-handled, large, and mostly whole.

If the first bite is taken with the eye (see ranting above), the second bite is taken with the nose, and it is infinitely more palatable. Quiet, but sweet.

2008 Meiguohao

Into the mouth, and the magic is dispelled: the cloudy brew is thin, has the character of chunky mushrooms, and is devoid of any huigan.

By the third infusion, the single tone of mushroom has left me bored, and I am looking out through the window planning my day. This is good, fresh maocha, but that's really all it is: maocha, squished into a cake. For monochrome leaves such as this, with no complexity to be found, the tea has to be blended in order to give it some character. This experience is absolutely akin to drinking 1-dimensional maocha.

So, I started excited at the prospect of hand-made tea, became sad when looking at a packet that sports a badly-printed image of the stars-and-stripes, became happy again at the sight of the leaves, but, ultimately, became bored by a simple mushroom tea.

I read that there's a new version available at Puerh Shop, which I look forward to trying. Unfortunately, it's still called Meiguohao, but a man can't have his cake and eat it...



Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

I keep too many tabs open, should really avoid posting comments in the wrong place.

England is such a depressingly cold place, having known a colder climate, I can safely assure you that it felt "less cold". There is no scientific reason behind this, though I've always been told it's more "humid" here. Don't know what that means, at least exactly.

Just about the only positive side of a lack of snow is that they don't spray salt everywhere on the pavements, though the icy roads and lack of winter tyres make the British transport system amazingly prone. Oh and I'm waiting till the day that I hear a train has been stopped due to icy leaves on the track :)

The tea leaves look a bit dull in this, I'd immediately think it is sweet lacking depth, acidity and soupy thickness that young Pu-erh should have. Amusing name, though. America is really a world apart...


Anonymous said...

American Hao is to be sinked!

American carrier 'American Hao' (Carrier CV66) was bombed to sink into Atlantic on May 14th, 2005.

Perhaps I should read a bit more history before naming a product.

In any event, only time would tell, I still liked my American Hao 0801, thinking it would be turned into something in the future.

Puerh Shop

Hobbes said...

Dear Vlad,

I think you're right - the ambient temperature a few nights back was low, but not extreme, yet it was very humid - and it felt so much colder than it actually was.

The same effect happens in reverse during summer: I have a friend from Bagdad who says that 50 degree summers there are tolerable, because they are dry, whereas a 35 degree summer in England is intolerable, because of the clinging airlessness brought about by the humidity.

Not bad for aging pu'er cakes, though. :)

Dear Jim,

If it does age into something, you'll definitely have the last laugh. :)



P.s. CV-66 was the "USS America" - unconnected with "America Hao", unless you know otherwise!

Arcane-Dissonance said...

I too, love home made cakes, or at least lesser known ones, but the idea of buying a cake with America in its name does make my stomach cringe somewhat.

I suppose tea is my escapism in a country that is... well, you know how we are... and spending USD33 for a cake named as such just doen't appeal.

Good luck surviving the cold! It's a balmy 23 degrees centigrade here... :-)


Hobbes said...

I'll take 23 degrees!

I have a colleague from South Africa who is leaving for Christmas and expecting to get a sun-tan...



Stephen Shelton said...

Thanks for your review. I had been looking at this tea and wondering... No need to wonder any longer. Crossed off my list of potentials. I also did not realize the translation of the name. Your rant is well justified.

Hobbes said...

Dear Stephen,

Just think "decent maocha", and you're there. No more, no less.

I've been finishing up the remainder of my sample in the office, and it's fine as a daily brightener.

Damning with faint praise? :)



Anonymous said...

It is almost 2.5 years since you posted this blog, and I had inadvertently purchased a couple of rounds and the supposedly same maocha from PS. I tried the maocha yesterday, using a bit more leaf than the prescribed amount - and I was pleasantly surprised at the taste of this tea. Quite assertive and pleasant (at least to my uneducated palate). I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this one again - if you are up to it!


Hobbes said...

Hi, Bandito -

Thanks for the comment. I just checked my lists, and it seems that I don't have any of the 0801 in my collection - just a few of the earlier productions in 2009.

The various Puerh Shop maocha can be excellent; I remember enjoying most of their loose-lead pu'ercha that I've encountered.