Friday, April 27, 2007

2007 MengYang Guoyan Yi Wu Zheng Shan Arbor Beeng 380g



The MengYang Guoyan Factory


Product Research

The Mengyang Guoyan Tea Factory, under the direction of Ms. Dong, produces some of the best pu-erh that Xishuangbanna has to offer for the price. Located in the village of Jinghong next to the famous Youle tea mountains, the Guoyan Factory has access to some of best pu-erh making materials. However, this particular product is made from leaves which were harvested from the famous YiWu tea mountain, which are regarded by some pu-erh collectors as the best in the world. If you will notice in the title, the the beeng was given the label of Zheng or "Original". In order for a beeng to recieve this label (in its orthodox usage), it must be made mostly of leaves from the given area - in this case, YiWu. - Of course there are dishonest producers -

- Interesting Factoid - The world famous pu-erh collector, Mr. Chen had commissioned the Guoyan Tea Factory to mold his mao cha into the now famous Xi-Zhi beeng.

The beeng is said to be made of 80% YiWu and 20% Nannou arbor leaves and produced in the traditional old method using a stone mold press. Stone molds creates a beeng that is loosley compacted, making it more permiable to oxygen, which ulimately faciliate the aging process. The picture above show's the factory's stone molds which are used for compression.


Initial Impression



The beeng is filled with fragrant arbor leaves of which are loosely pressed. Just a beautiful example. One unique feature of this beeng that I must mention is that each are assigned a hand written serial number on the neifei; truely a indication of pride and patience.

Brewing Parameters

Source - Dragon Tea House (Ebay Vendor)

Water-Bottled spring water. Source of water - Frontier Springs, PA

Amount – 5g

Water Temp - Boil then cooled for 3 breaths

Brewing Method - Gongfu

Brewing Vessle - Yixing Teapot 150ml

Infusion times
1-15s
2-12s
3-16s
4-17s
5-19s
6-26s
7-34s

Tasting Notes

First Infusion

Aroma - Powerfully floral; cooling to honey and fruit; suprisingly no smoke.

Taste - Very nice palate; execeptionally sweet with a balanced bitterness. A subdued flutter of dried papaya and honey.

Second Infusion

Aroma - Even more floral in the aroma. Less honey however. No vegetation or metallic notes. Soothing.

Taste - Slightly more bitterness; it compliments the sweetness quite well. Taste is consistant with the first infusion.


Third Infusion


Aroma - The floral notes are starting to wane. It really smells like a cup of tea and honey, cooling to sweet grass. No young assertivness whatsoever.

Taste - Nice playful acidity that excites the sides of the tongue. A hint of chamomile with subdued fruit.

Color Liquor Differential First and Seventh Infusion

First



Seventh




As you can see, there is virtually no difference in change; really potent.

Spent Leaves




As you can see the leaves are definitely arbor leaves, which range from 3 to 4 inches in length and almost 2 inches in width.

Overall Impressions

This is possibly one of the most balanced examples in recent memory. Just a pleasant brew with all of the quality indicators for aging with its excellent durability. Although not as feminine in taste as other Yiwu teas, the Nannuo leaves provide a great oomph and complexity. Furthermore, this particular beeng is significantly cheaper than many YiWu Zhengs on the market, making it an attractive choice for those who would like to try a YiWu tea without the having to empty out the entire contents of their wallet. All in all it was a great find! I will drink a beeng now, and save the others for the future!

Special thanks to Gordon of Dragon Tea House who has given me fantastic business and has become a friend.

15 comments:

Salsero said...

This certainly sounds like an attractive tea! Andy has also tried some of it.

Thanks for the nice review.

Hobbes said...

A great review, thank you. This is the first 2007 review I've seen so far, so double thanks!

I like the description of "feminine" for Yiwu tea. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Mary R said...

Lands! That is a gorgeous beeng! Nice large leaves, varied color...I have no idea what characteristics a great beeng should have, but this is certainly a pretty one to behold.

I like the 'feminine' description for Yiwu as well, and found it interesting as I've always thought of Wuyi teas as rather masculine in taste and character. I know they are just words (which I am constantly getting confused--damn you, lysdexia!) but I still found it happily fitting.

Bill said...

Thanks, It is a great beeng. It is considerably one of the best I have tasted in a long time. It will definitely do well. Thanks for the compliments on my wording. :) Just borrowed a wine industry term.

MarshalN said...

I've looked at this bing before, and it looks interesting. Never got around to tasting it though.

As far as I know leaf size has nothing to do with whether or not a leaf is from arbour trees. The size of the leaf is determined by what varietal it's from. Small trees can have pretty large leaves, and 2-3 inches long leaves are not uncommon, although in this case I suspect some of the leaves used are fall leaves from 06...

Bill said...

Hello Marshaln,

Yes, understandably so. I was commenting more on the look of the actual leave when compared to new plantation. I thought it would be nice for the reader to be able to gauge the size of the leaf with this handy measuring tool. Neat huh? :)

MarshalN said...

Bill,

I'm slightly confused -- where's the comparison you're talking about with the plantation leaves?

The leaf on the right looks awfully thin -- you can see the background clearly through the leaf. It looks limp. At least with respect to the right side leaf -- if it's arbor tree, it's a poor specimen of one...

Bill said...

Hi, Marshaln,

I am sorry for your confusion. The picture is not comparing plantation leaves. I was speaking in general terms. Perhaps it is hard to gauge the leaf from your end. I don't believe that it is a poor example; not the best, but it is easy to see that it is arbor.

Cheers :)

MarshalN said...

Could you tell me what are the things that make it "easy to see" that it's arbour? I'm not seeing it.

Bill said...

Marshln,

Obviously, It is mentioned in the title of the beeng. I know some producers are misleading, however, from what im able to gather from tasting, to personally handling the leaf, I am somewhat confident that this is arbor, not wild arbor, but arbor in the sense that they are not cultivated bush leaves. You, as an expert of tea, know that it is very difficult to be 100% sure. However, they have a rustic appearance with nice veins in the back of the leaf and are not as gracile as short - bush plantation leaves. Of course not as buldging as you would find in true "wild" arbor, but more so than bush. I am not suggesting that it is 100% Arbor, in fact there seems to be a blend of both types of leaf. But there is a generous helping.

Cheers,
:)

MarshalN said...

I'm hardly an expert, but I am a skeptic, and I've learned never to trust any vendor with their claims of "arbor" leaves, especially the bigger factories.

I've actually found dry leaves to be easier to tell (arbor or not) than wet ones. Wet leaves are more difficult, but the thinness of the leaf on the right makes me really doubt Guoyan's claim that this is arbor. And I'm at best 20% sure when it comes to appearances. It's mostly in the way the tea reacts with your mouth...

Bill said...

Marshaln, Your just being modest! I am an avid reader of your blog and in my opinion you have more tea knowledge than most. You've mentioned that you are about 20% sure using visual indicators from leaf. I am curious to know what indicators you are looking for in the dry leaf since, I always wet the leaf to unravel before inspection.

Cheers, :)

MarshalN said...

Well... I think with dry leaves, you can look at the amount and the way the fine hair is distributed, the colour, thickness of the leaf (also when wet) and the edge of the leaf (this is when wet only). That kind of thing. I am by no means certain unless I taste something, so I don't want to mislead anybody here...

Size is usually a poor indicator primarily because certain seasons have bigger leaves than others, as must be obvious. This cake is most likely a fall cake, or using mostly fall material, so leaves are naturally going to be bigger.

Bill said...

Thanks Marshaln,

This was very helpful!

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