Thursday, June 21, 2007
2001 MengHai Yi Wu Zheng Shan "Special Order"
Special or commissioned ordered Pu-erh
I am certain that some of you have asked what is exactly meant when you purchase or examine a “special ordered” pu-erh. It is very simple really. As some of you already know, the big eight factories use a coding system where the combination of numbers will identify the year the recipe was developed, leaf grade and factory. For example the Sheng 7432 will tell the buyer that the recipe was created and used since 1974, composed of mostly 3rd grade mao cha and was produced in the Menghai factory represented by the number 2. However, in the case of “special ordered” pu-erh produced by the these factories the coding system is absent - for a good reason. Generally, “Special Ordered” pu-erhs are created at the request of a collector(s), a vendor, and at times the Chinese government for various reasons such as to celebrate or commemorate an occasion, for nostalgic purposes or simply because a vendor or distribution company are dissatisfied with what is on the market and want to try their hand at being crafters. Here are but a few examples of commissioned pu-erhs:
2003 Reproduced Dragon and Horse – Private Ordered
2003 Chiyuan Tribute Tea Cake – Ordered by Lam Kie Yuen Tea Co. Ltd.
2004 Reproduced Zhongpin Hao – Private Ordered
1997, 1998 & 2000 Huilian Sheng Zhuan Cha - Ordered by the Va Luen Company
In 2001, one of MengHai's special-ordered productions was the MengHai a Green Tea Leaf Collectible of Precious Grade or better known as the Yi Wu Zheng Shan "Special Order". Super premium Arbor mao cha from semi-wild old plantations which were located in the Yi Wu area were utilized. What exactly are semi-wild or half abandoned plantations you might ask? Well, they are called this because after the over-throw of the Qing Dynasty, and as a consequence of the political turmoil that insued, many of tea plantations were neglected. As a result, these plantations were uninhibited to grow without any manipulation my humans such as trimming, insecticides and so on creating a leaf that has different characteristics to that of plantation. The arbor leaves which went into this particular beeng were growing intermixing with other camphor trees, which according to experts this was a typical and early method for repelling insects.
There had been lots of speculation and buzz in regards to this beeng, and as a result, this particular beeng has become quite spendy and scarce. In fact, if it were not for David of the Half-Dipper Blog, who was generous enough to send me a sample I may have not been able to taste it. THANKS DAVID!!!!
Initial Impression - It was easy to see that the leaves were aged, however did still have some of its green naiveté. There was no indication that it was improperly stored.
Source - David of Half Dipper
Water-Bottled spring water. Source of water - Frontier Springs, PA
Amount – 4.1g
Water Temp - Boil
Brewing Method - Gongfu
Brewing Vessel - Yixing Teapot 120ml
Aroma - There was lots of activity in the aroma. The first infustion had aromas of Wet wood, suttle hints of leather, perfume, cigar tobbaco all with the slightest berry background.
Taste - Execptionally silky with a playful vibrance that tantilized the sides of the tongue. Its palate was just as complex as its aroma with coffee, brown sugar and buttery notes which were all beautifully sweet.
Aroma - More wood, however there seems to be hints of dried grass. The leather and cigar tobacco were still present.
Taste - Again, silky sweet, a nice palatable bitterness which complements the sweetness very well. Chocolate and spice notes are now comming through.
Aroma - The aroma is still filling my nose with great sweetness, less leather however still very noticable. Tobacco is still adding to the complexity of the faint fruit-berry background. There seemes to be a hint of raw beans now.
Taste - The sweetness definitely produces an active mouth, the notes are still the same as the previous infusion, however there seems to be what seems to be the taste of corn silk at the finish.
The mao cha was mostly buds and were quite masticated. Possibly as a consequence of its processing so I can't really compare it to other semi-wild arbor leaves that I have had the opportunity to inspect.
I really liked this pu. Its coffee and chocolate quailties did surpise me as I have never tasted these flavors in a Yi Wu sheng. It is so complex that at times, it was hard for me to grasp what I was drinking. Active is the only word I can think of that can properly define this pu. The subsequent rounds for the most part were the same however with variable difference. Closer to the exhaustion of the leaves, there seemed to be more of a greenish character consisting of the corn silk and raw beans notes.