A few months ago I drank up a few cakes of this tea and it was delicious. It served up big fragrant floral tastes in a punchy slightly bitter base taste. It had a simple unpretentious mouthfeel but carried the taste well. It was definitely one of my favorite daily drinkers over the last year. I had initially split a box of this tea with my Victoria, BC puerh drinking buddy, Antoine. He read a review on the Half-Dipper and convinced me to go half-half on a box of 3 cakes. This was back in 2011 (I think) when these cakes were terribly cheap from Yunnan Sourcing. Since then it was stored in Victoria, BC for 2 years, then 4 years of ultra dry prairie storage.
It was the only cake of mine that I could even find a replacement for when I realized that I will be soon out of puerh. I was relieved to find out that not only does Yunnan Sourcing still stock this Mengsong iron bing but also that it has gone up very little in price. So it was easy for me to add a box of 3 400g cakes for $139.00 ($0.12/g) to my cart along with my order of 2006 Mengku Shuangjiang Wild Arbour King bricks. I was also excited to compare the exclusively Kunming dry storage cakes with my storage.
When the tea arrived I brewed it up gong fu style as I had for month previous but I was surprised at what Kunming did to this one…
The dry leaves smell of fragrant orchid, peach, and honey. Very light and delicious smelling.
The First infusion has an empty watery taste up front which attempts to carry some of those fragrant notes found in the dry leaf such as peach, honey, and orchid. In this lighter first infusion the mouthfeel is more watery and weak and the tastes are empty in the mouthfeel.
The second has sort of a fragmented feeling to it. The tea opens up with slightly bitter barely smoky vanilla notes with slight suggestions of a menthol/ medicinal taste then they slowly transition into faint fragrant floral notes that present over the initial notes. A gummy, slightly drying, aftertaste is left on the tongue. This tea has a small throat feel and has a hard time holding on to interesting tastes as a medicinal vanilla clings on. There are faint suggestions of orchid and honey underneath.
The third infusion some creamy honey tastes transition quickly into medical vanilla notes then some florals strengthen in the aftertaste. This infusion comes together better and is held together a bit better by the thicker, slightly drying mouthfeel that mainly resides in the front of the mouth. This tea really lacks a significant throat feel. The qi of this tea is a big caffeine burst which is quite strong and very alerting. It almost gives a jittery feeling due to its strength that is mainly felt in the limbs. This tea makes a groggy, stagnant mind race.
The fourth transitions smoother still with creamy vanilla notes presenting first over bitter notes. They slide into a more medicinal taste, a barely menthol and mainly medicinal flavor, and then to malty aged, faint florals. The bitterness is ever present throughout the profile. The floral suggestions continue to try to push their way out even minutes later on the breath. The floral suggestions have a heaviness, a slight perfumery, agedness to them.
The fifth presents first with a melon note in a watery bitter base. The strong vanilla and medicinal base taste is muted in this infusion and there is a certain emptiness that develops before the florals attempt to push through in the aftertaste. There is a faint metallic taste left in the mouth minutes later.
The sixth infusion displays melon tastes over bitter which turn into creamy nice lighter florals now. This tea really opens up with the floral notes in these middle infusion. The throat also starts holding a glob of saliva now which helps retain these high note tastes. A soft tobacco note is in there as well.
The seventh is more watery with melon and soft tobacco over a very soft bitter base.
More time is added to this eighth steeping and a very watery infusion sees some faint florals and melon in the hallow soup.
The ninth and tenth under long steeps push out a nice short, cool floral taste minutes later. The aftertastes in these late infusions are enjoyable.
This tea is currently in an awkward stage of ageing. The thick, large and long lasting floral notes that once dominated the ultra-dry stored tea are now fleeting in this Kunming stored tea. It is revealing how unstable these tastes can be if not firmly planted over a solid mouth- and throat-feel. The moderate bitterness of this tea on the other hand has not changed nor has the cha qi. Just a month ago the slow, dry aged version of this same puerh was one of my favorite everyday drinkers- fragrant, floral, sweet, punchy, bitter, very alerting. This more humid stored (Kunming storage) version is too awkward to drink and doesn’t even look as promising to age.
Since the above tea session, I have actually gotten much better tastes out of this tea lately. I have used a technique to push out more full tastes from sheng puerh that have entered that awkward adolescent, semi-aged phase in their aging. Often puerh at this age drop off their high notes and aromatic essences and their lower, more aged, base isn’t there to support this dropping off of higher elements yet. What results is a tea like this one that feels lacking. The best way to steep these teas is stronger- with more leaf and longer steeping time. This stronger push can often fill the gap by forcing more prominent tastes and attempting to shore up a weak mouthfeel. This works great for most teas but will backfire if the tea is too bitter.
It worked great for this Mengsong and since doing so I have managed to drink through about 1/3 of the bing in the last few weeks. I think I will put two cakes into deep storage and leave one out when I am craving that factory tea push.
There is a likely reason this tea’s price has not moved too much (its price has gone up to just $147.00/box of 3 since purchase). It’s potential to develop into anything great is unlikely. For a daily factory puerh feeling daily drinker it is fine and is probably priced about right for its quality. Somedays this tea is really off putting while other days I crave its factory edginess.
This tea is heavily reviewed by tea bloggers. Check out some other tasting notes here:
Yes, this is a good daily drinker. The wrapper is the most attractive among my pu-erh teas. The only negative I can say is that the cake was compressed too hard and I have difficulty in dislodging it.
Thanks for commenting about your puerh. The wrapper and box are so pretty to look at- I really enjoy this too.
This cake is an iron pressed bing. The compression is very deliberate and is supposed to age slower this way.
But if you are trying to take leaves from it daily I can see it being a bit challenging.
I enjoy iron pressed bings and have developed a method of using the angled force of the iron bing on a hard surface to free the leaves. It works much better then a pick or knife.
Thanks again for bringing up these two good points.
Feel free to mail it on over. ;)
Two days ago I had a beautiful session with this tea. Pushed out lots of fragrant depth. Its one of those teas, if steeped right and I'm in the right mood- its lovely... but other times not as great.
You know these puerh, I'm sure.
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