Tuesday, February 3, 2009
2005 First South East Asia Pu-erh Trade Memorial Cake Fair produced by ChangTai Group
The Changtai group was commissioned to produce this beeng to commemorate the 2005 First SE Asia Pu-erh Fair that occured during the weeks of 10/28-11/6 in Malaysia. At 300g it is a medium sized cake which is composed of single estate MengHai wild big-leaf material. Impressive! It has a very luxurious feel.
The beeng itself has this dense feeling to the touch coupled with am attractive but simple yin and Yang symbol that is printed on the thin cotton fiber wrapper. My speculation is that this symbol has become the brand mark of the Fair since subsequent beengs share the same design, albeit in different colors. As some of you know, I have become quite partial to Chang Tai products since they are very consistent in production where their products are an equal trade off between quality and price. It appears that this particular beeng is no exception.
For being a 300g beeng, it feels hefty. Hard to explain unless you hold it yourself. The cotton wrapper, as previously mentioned appears to be of choice - thin, yet sturdy. Nothing more I hate when storing a beeng is ripped wrapping! The beeng does not contain the ubiquitous CNNP nei piao but an attractive custom print, and like the wrapper, also made of quality paper.
The leaves appear to be hand arraigned on the face of the cake and stoned pressed. Nice elegant touch. After 4 years of aging, the mao cha seems to be darkening a bit, yet is still providing a very fresh young scent. As you can see from the face of the cake, the leaves are long with long stems and intact. Generally, intact leaves is what you would expect for a single estate example as there is no need to masticate them for blending purposes. Additionally, they appear to be quite glossy - a good indication of quality. Definitely a departure from big factory fare.
Amount - 6.2g
Brewing vessel - Yixing Teapot 150ml
Water Source - Natural Spring MI
The first infusions aromas were very sweet. The notes were quite floral which transformed into dried fruit and corn silk as it cooled. There was absolutely no hits of smoke or must; very soothing and refreshing. The latter aromas were quite consistent with the first few; however I could detect a hint of citrus laced with musk, coupled with an almost berry like whiff. Indeed a nice and interesting change.
The sweetness was also the predominant theme in the first infusions. It had a very acidic quality which seemingly refreshed the palate after each cup. After the fourth infusion, you can certainly tell that you were drinking something potent. The liquor became thick with a nice silky viscosity, which consequently had caused the flavors to linger on the palate considerably. It was bitter, yet pleasing. You can say it's comparable to orange zest, not in flavor of course, but in sensation. In the latter infusions the liquor became less floral and and less sweet, and transitioned into hints of rubber, dried grass, toasted oak, and raw legumes.
It is definitely and active tea. The sensations were wonderfully apparent. Quite active on the sides of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. I was afraid that the youthful quality of the liquor would subsequently numb my palate but this did not occur.
The liquor had the wonderful color of a slightly aged example. What was remarkable however was its clarity.
When it comes to wild big-leaf I tend to get excited when viewing the spent leaves. For the most part, I try to find ways to distinguish wild or semi-wild fare from that of plantation. However, I should preface this in suggesting that examining the leaf is a terrible way of discerning between the two. The appropriate method is to taste the leaf. A skill which I have yet to master (sighs). But I try. The leaves do have a robustness to them. JUST LOOK AT THE MIDDLE RIB! It is definitely stocky. The veins also look rustic. The underside of the leaf also exhibits a considerate amount of down. I have yet to see this in pure plantation material. Although this does not mean that plantation mao cha does not exhibit these qualities I just have yet to stumble across it. I must also note that the initially it was suggested that the beeng was made of spring material. However, I am not so sure. Some of the leaves appear to be of fall harvest so it could be a blend of seasons.
What can I say, it was a wonderfully produced item. The huigan and chayun were impeccable; the flavors were penetrating and appears to be aging nicely. Boy, for a memorial cake it sure ranks up there with the sacred cow producers' items.