04 October, 2009

2008 Mengku Banmu - Bingdao "Qiaomu" Zhuancha

It was my lucky day when I opened my last package from Puerh Shop: Jim had been excessively generous, and had thrown in this whole brick as a gift. Thanks very much!

This presents me with rather a conundrum, because I automatically feel very obliging towards this tea. However, I shall attempt to separate my great gratitude to Puerh Shop for the generous gift from my notes on the subject, and hope that both readers and Jim understand.

As it happens, this brick was already on my list of teas to sample, after a recommendation from serial pu'er drinker and young Alec Guiness lookalike, Scotto.

2008 Bingdao Qiaomu Zhuancha

This unmarked brick follows hot on the heels of a rather delicious "for Korea" zhuancha [DJOOAN CHA, brick-tea] from the Gujun factory, a brick that many of us rather love. The two bricks look rather similar in their austere, simple wrapping (of which I wholeheartedly approve).

2008 Bingdao Qiaomu Zhuancha

The brick is firm, but the mixture of small and large leaves (pictured above and below) are easily separated. The aroma is quiet, spicy greenness, which seems pleasant enough. The brick itself looks rather appealing, I think.

2008 Bingdao Qiaomu Zhuancha
The pu'er tray in action, sorting the leaves from the dust and fannings

As you can see below, blessed be thy pouring, it comes out a lovely yellow shade. The aroma is surprisingly long, and is not separated into distinct beidixiang [initial cup-bottom scent] and lengxiang [cool-scent] - instead, it is a big, blocky scent of white sugar throughout. This makes it rather unusual, in my limited experience.

2008 Bingdao Qiaomu Zhuancha

"Very genteel and smooth", notes Lei. It has a sweet, wild-flower character that is noteworthy, and a gentle huigan. The cooling sensation on the tongue swells during later infusions, becoming slightly numbing (in a pleasant way). It is often said that Bingdao [Ice Island] tea has a numbing quality.

It is sweet, active, and highly aromatic - indeed, it is a most agreeable brick that I wouldn't mind buying myself. Factory tea, such as Menghai and Xiaguan, could not be as gentle and sweet and this unassuming little brick.

2008 Bingdao Qiaomu Zhuancha

Perhaps simple, and a touch thin, it's aromatic sweetness overcomes the slight roughness that creeps into later infusions.

I can feel its presence in my body: warm, calming, and very positive. Thanks again to Puerh Shop for an undeserved, yet very pleasant, gift.

(A quick web-search reminded me that Bears has previously discussed this tea, and came to similarly positive conclusions.)


Bret said...

What a coincidence, I had ordered a couple of these bricks the other day. It,s a relief to know that yjey are at least pleasant, if simple.

Hobbes said...

They're not the kind of thing that I'd usually order, being from such an unusual manufacturer, but it turned out rather well - I hope that you enjoy it.



Salsero said...

I ordered one of these "bar of gold" bricks last year after having a sample. My notes are inconsistent, as probably was also my brewing technique! Since I haven't been into it since March, I guess it's time to revisit.

Do you always separate leaves and fannings/dust like that? The dust goes into the dustbin, not the pot?

Jim (Goose) also wrote one of his hallmark, terse reviews of this tea back in December http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showpost.php?p=914838&postcount=590

Hobbes said...

Dear Salsero,

I seem to remember that Scotto and Ouch's "Bar o' Gold" was the Gujun brick. Both were nice, but I think the Gujun was a touch better.

I usually keep the fannings in a separate tub of assortments, in fact!



Unknown said...

To Hobbes

Where did you get that teapot? I've seen it so many times and it has that simplicity which I like so much. It's a nice pot, but I bet it would never distract me from the important matter at hand - tea. To me, this is a proper everyday teapot.


Hobbes said...

Dear Terje,

Isn't he lovely? His name is "Zidu" (zer-doo, purple belly), and he came from a shop in Maliandao. Lei and I love him for the reasons you mention - he's very heavy, dense, retains heat well, and looks simple, yet solid. My favourite pot, and he makes good tea.



Anonymous said...

The positives of a wildflower-gentle tea. I find it interesting that a factory tea couldn't be this gentle on a person. That's why the fancy wrapping isn't impressive--it's really deceiving about the harsher spirituality of that kind of tea. --Teaternity