Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2008 Menghai “Nu Er Gong Bing” and Sour Puerh

This tea is a premium offering from Menghai Factory using very small tippy leaves.  I paid $19.90 for this 200g bing ($0.10/gram) in a recent order from Tuo Cha Tea.  The name “Nu Er Gong Bing” suggests that this tea could be used as dowry.  I have read somewhere that tea was often used as dowry for some minorities of Yunnan.  I noticed that this little bing has since sold out at Tuo Cha Tea (It is available at King Tea Mall for $34.99).  I guess lots of people are getting married these days… or maybe the tea is real good… or maybe people are just suckers for xiao bings these days.  I guess there is only one way to find out..

Dry leaves smell of sweet light florals in a light forest puerh like odor.

First infusion starts with a very sour initial taste which transitions to mild creamy vegetal sweetness of honey in the mouth.  Followed by a floral and slightly creamy aftertaste that is only cooling when you inhale deeply.  The mouthfeel is thin in the mouth and the throat feel is pretty non-existent. 

The strong sour taste dominates the whole profile of this tea from initial taste to aftertaste making this first infusion unpleasant.  It’s not that the tastes are unpleasant, it’s just that this dominating note is unpleasant.  This is a sure sign of a semi-adolescent puerh being in an awkward stage of aging and will pass with further aging.  Some really dry stored stuff tends to gets like this whereas other dry stored tea never really develops this sour note.  I haven’t really figured out why yet…

Let’s see if this over the top sour taste dissipates any in the second infusion… The initial taste opens with a flat, empty, less sour now, vegetal taste which slowly evolves into a singular vegetal creamy floral taste.  The mouthfeel is weak and feels a bit dry.  The qi presses on the stomach a bit, still a bit too much youthful energy in this one.

The third infusion is very similar but flatter still.  The aftertaste in this infusion is much more vibrant with distinct floral notes.  The mouthfeel is very absent, a hole that can’t hold any evolving depth of taste if there was any in this tea.

The fourth infusion becomes emptier- the sourness is now diminished but there are no flavours to take its place.  The creamy sweetness is gone too and the aftertaste is a flat floral taste with a slight melon fruit edge to it.

The fifth infusion is even more fleeting.  The qi of this tea is also empty and a turbid feeling slightly stuffs up the head.  It fails the bare minimum by not even offering much of an energy boost.

This tea will never be great but will be drinkable once the sourness turns into an aged taste but for now I put it into deep storage- I will need to add some considerable humidity to this one.

I am surprised by the weakness of this tea- it kind of caught me off guard.  This is definitely below the Menghai Factory standard.  If someone gave their daughter away and only got this puerh, I think it would, in fact, leave a sour taste in their mouth.



Peter said...

Hello Matt,

I'm surprised by your review. I have had this tea for a year now and like it very much. My initial impression was a powerful concentrated tea that needed some time, but for me a really nice example of the Dayi style. I didn't touch it for a year and have recently found it has aged considerably in my hot humid storage (I'm in SE Asia). A nice tea at a good price, unfortunately it has sold out and not a buy at $40. The more Dayi tea I drink the more I like it. It's fashionable in the West, online at least, to criticise it, factory tea etc, but they have been delivering quality and consistency for many years. Maybe it's not the same as the old days but what is? Interested to see what you think of the others. I plan to acquire the Big Classic, its a good price.

Matt said...

Peter Robertson,

You have the right idea with this tea. As I said, its the kind of tea that really needs the humid storage to thrive and without it, is not very drinkable. Convenient for you that you are stationed in South East Asia!

I actually only had one session with this tea and based this post on that. There is only 200g here, unfortunately, and I feel that it really does need that humidity so didn't give it a second go.

We will see how it does in a year or so of dampness.

I agree with your assessment of Menghai Factory puerh as well. It is what it is.
I passed on the Big Classic years ago and pretty much have the same feelings toward this tea but as you say "The more Dayi tea I drink the more I like it.". (Look for a post coming soon on that one)

So maybe an order of this is in the cards after all.

Thanks for your continued discussions on these Menghai teas.


Peter said...

I am in Myanmar