19 October, 2012

2007 Shuangjiang Mengku - Muyechun "002"

This post marks the point at which I began to lose control over my own sanity, because, for the first time in my experience, I have found a cake that appears to have aged better with me (here in England) than with its Chinese-stored counterpart.

Barking mad, I tell you.

2007 Muyechun 002

Let's go back to the beginning of the heresy.

Some months ago, I found myself a-rummaging.  I was shuffling through the densely-nestled cakes in the nether-regions of our shelves, and came across my supply of "002".  

I always read the name of this cake in Sean Connery's accent, followed by the word "Moneypenny".  

I exshpect that you may now be doing the shame.
Double-oh-two, lishenshed to kill, Moneypenny.

2007 Muyechun 002

My 002 was rather surprising.  I bought it for around $10 back in 2007, which is not a very large amount of money.  I enjoyed the original, and, back in 2007, was impressed by its cooling sensation and strong base.  

In 2012, my old cake had developed in all manner of positive ways.  So much had it developed, in fact, that I was led to hit the ol' Google, and try and find some more.

2007 Muyechun 002

My searches came up with little, except for an outfit on the Electronic Bay, by the name of Western Yunnan Tea.  I had not come across this merchant before, but the price was more-or-less the same as when I bought it in 2007.

(There were more hits on Taobao, where it sells for around 60-70 RMB, which is approximately the same price.  I didn't fancy waiting for the long haul from Taobao, this time.)

It is not an expensive cake.

2007 Muyechun 002

My trial cake from Western Yunnan Tea (hereafter WYT) just arrived, and so I gave it The Treatment.  Sure enough, it looks similar to my own 002, but there are immediate differences: my own version has a decidedly humid, pungent scent that really put the lotion in the basket.  By comparison, the version from WYT was crisp, dry, and sharp.

At this point, I am reminded of Luke Skywalker saying "NOOOO, DRY STORAGE", while trying not to fall from his perch on Cloud City.

I have altered the deal.  Pray I don't alter it any further!

2007 Muyechun 002

Luke would not get on very well with this cake from WYT.  Poor Luke, he has such a hard time of it: fighting the galaxy, incest, and finally: dry storage.

I likes me my dry storage.  I also like rancidly damp storage.  I suppose, more generally, I like storage.

So, unlike sappy, whiny, limp-wristed Mr. Wet-Jedi, I didn't object to this cake.  It's just (and here's where the heresy sets in) not as nice as my English-stored cake.

silence, distant church bell, tumbleweed, a dog howls

2007 Muyechun 002

The China-stored cake has a calm scent of sweetness and it retains the super-cooling effect of the 002 when young, back in 2007.  That cooling effect is really rather obvious, and very encouraging.  It also has a long sweetness, which has been preserved and perhaps elongated by its dry storage.

2007 Muyechun 002

The China-stored version, paradoxically, seems a little more "aged" than my own version, but lacks the dense, humid pungency of the English twin.  Such were the delights of my version, that I was ready to buy a tong of this cake if it turned out to be similar.

2007 Muyechun 002

As it turns out, the China-stored version remains very pleasant, but, after a dozen or so infusions, seems rather ordinary and begins to run out of steam.  In parallel, my own cake seems to have plenty of puff left in it, and continues to doll out the humid darkness that attracted me in the first place.

Ultimately, I decided that (even at the microprice of $10), this cake was not worth buying in quantity.

Perhaps I should turn to some of the Taobao cakes to see if any of them are in a more similar vein to my own, for they would be worth grabbing tongtastically, if so.

It's funny: I don't actually feel insane, but then again I suppose that's what all the truly insane people say.


MarshalN said...

Um, Hobbes, surely you know China is a big place. If this cake has been stored in Kunming all its life (pretty likely) then it's really not a surprise that the storage is terrible. I have always found Kunming stored teas to be lifeless after a few years.

So, I think your observations may be true for Kunming stored tea. Using "China" as a substitute for "Kunming", however, seems a bit broad.

Jakub Tomek said...

Hello Hobbes,
it's same here with Czech/Kunming storage (the "Czech" is too broad here too, a lot of people here keeping their tea in 40-50% - ugh :( ) - I recently tried Peacock of Bulang and Haiwan Pasha which got here from Kunming and compared it to the pieces I have stored here and I like mine way more - deeper, sweeter, fuller and all that.

I would naturally think that Kunming/other really dry stored tea would be at least cheaper than "normally" stored one, but it's not always the case (on the contrary). I wonder if people really enjoy the dry storage that much or it's just vendor-stirred craze (coming from areas with low natural humidity).

May the force be with you!

Rayuela said...

Nothing to do with tea, but I was tring to say Shuangjiang Mengku Muyechun 002 in Sean Connery's voice (which is hard). Afterwards, I read on and realised my mistake.

Also, I know "put the lotion in the basket" is a quotation from The Silence of the Lambs, but does it have a specific meaning in contemporary British English that I'm unaware of? The émigré's life is one of constant struggle to keep tabs on the evolution of the lingo.

Hobbes said...

Hola, MarshalN,

I was rather hoping that it was obvious that I write "China-stored" because that's all the data I have. It's certainly been kept somewhere quite dry!

Agreed, Kunming is pretty dry. I think such things can be left unsaid. ;)

Dear The Jakub,

You are just as mad as me, then, which is encouraging and not entirely unexpected. :)

Dear Rayuela,

Putting the proverbial lotion into the proverbial basket merely reads as a synonym for "very good".

I am constantly amazed by the linguistic innovations of The Kids(tm). Just last term, I was pointing out how something was so trivial that it probably wouldn't appear in a final examination, to which one of my students raised his hand and asked, "Is it jokes, sir?" [sic]

Toodlepip one and all,


Vovic said...

Hi Hobbes,

No wonder, I have the same cakes from Kunming and Guangdong, the second - tastier. Just guangdong cakes have "watered" reputation. Kunming - safer.

MarshalN said...

Hobbes - given your vendor is from Kunming, it seems safe to say it's probably Kunming stored. Once teas leave Kunming they rarely go back, especially something like a regular big factory production like Muyechun. China is too broad a stroke to use, I think. I'm pretty confident a cake stored in a more humid and probably hotter climate will not be as bad as this one.

Hobbes said...

Dear Vovic,

How fascinating - I'm delighted to read that you've compared this cake between the two extremes. I'm certainly hoping to find a South-China stored version of this, and will happily and gratefully take any recommendation you might have!

Dear Marshaln,

You're probably right - Kunming is by far the likeliest option.

I hasten to add that it isn't a bad-tasting cake, by any means, from Kunming - it's just a little bit less exciting.

I was also surprised that it didn't seem to last as long as my version; drier cakes are usually associated with just being very slow - in this cake, it appears that something has been actively lost during the aging process, in comparison to its cousins.

It's definitely time to hit Taobao...



Jakub Tomek said...

Hi Hobbes,
the lesser durability of really dry stored teas is quite normal I think...

But, what's important about Kunming stored teas and such, is that they can be saved.

At home, I put such really dry stored teas into the bedroom with 80%-90% for a couple of weeks and to 70-75% after that. After half a year, the teas were more or less fixed, rebuilding complexity and stamina.

All the best!

shah8 said...

By and large, I think that the understated enemy is neglect, typically by stagnant air, moist or dry. The difference between traditional storage and simple humid storage is pretty big, for example. Attention and management matters. Not just what the humidity is. Atlanta shouldn't be all that much better than Kunming, but it seems like I don't have too much trouble, so far--maybe in part because I'm always nibbling that cake under another cake, and moving things around on occasion.

Anonymous said...


Looks like Scott currently has a supply on his YS webstore. Good hunting! - Charlie

NorberT said...

Hi Hobbes
Muyechun 1 and 2 were among the first shengs are tried several years ago and quickly become my favourites from the "cheap and cheerful" category. I bought recently a pair of them from red lantren and the storage is quite good.

Hobbes said...

Dear Norbert,

I'm glad to read that your cakes are coming on well - for inexpensive little chaps, they are doing quite well. :)