Friday, October 20, 2017

The “New” Menghai Factory 2007 Recipes Meant for Dry Storage -2007 Menghai 0712, 0752, 0772 Recipes


In 2007 Menghai released a bunch of new recipes and used the Old School numerical system to appropriately number them.  I believe 2007 was the only year these “07” recipes were released.  I remember seeing them in the shops in Korea in 2007/2008 but I don’t think I ever tried them.  Currently, Tuo Cha Tea sells three of these which are still currently available (0712 $36.00 for 357g cake or $0.10/g, 0752$35.00 for 400g cake or $0.09/g , and 0772 for $32.00 for 400g cake or  $0.08/g). Yunnan Sourcing also carries the 0772 for $40.00.

Are you ready to try some Menghai Factory recipes that seem to be totally overlooked?

“0712”

Dry leaves smell of faint distant fruits and deep fresh vegetal notes.

First infusion sends flat, watery, slightly bitter, slightly sour, but nice and creamy fruit notes and dry wood notes into the mouth.  A mild caramel sweetness appears as well.  There is a simple, sharp vegetal feel to the tea- the taste is not long or strong.  A mild cooling appears in the breath with a slightly longan fruit taste.  Overall the taste is nice especially fruit taste which is dominant here and develops nicely over the mouthfeel which makes the tongue tingle.  The qi is strongly alerting.

The second infusion consists of a slightly tart, creamy sweet initial taste, a mild sour middle taste, and a sweet fruit finish.  There are edges of dry wood and sweet fruit in the profile throughout.  The tongue tingles and has a slightly dry and full mouthfeeling and even mild upper throat feeling.  The qi is still too strong on the stomach to drink this tea on a regular basis, it needs a few more years of storage.  This tea has very contained flavours which are not expansive nor complimentary but they are nice and clear and crisp.

The third infusion delivers smoother, less harsh fruit taste.  The initial taste becomes more fruity, if not mildly bitter, and the aftertaste becomes more dry wood now.  There is a nice bright cherry fruit edge to this tea as well as a stronger slight bitter astringency.  The fruit taste becomes long in this infusion with a slight minty coolness.

The fourth offers more in the way of fruitier tastes the bitter and wood tastes now fade a touch allowing for the cherry fruit to be the dominant flavor if steeped lightly.  If steeped more aggressively you will still get a measure of astringent bitter that seems to like to uproot cherry tastes in the profile, either way.  The tastes are simple, singular, and tight.

The fifth has the same but a longer cooler aftertaste now over a mouthfeel of soft and just slightly astringent coating.  The cooling lasts a while on the breath as does a nice cherry powdery taste.  The cherry taste is quite nice here.

The sixth has deeper, almost smokey, woody tastes up front which stretch through the profile of this steeping.  The strong cherry tastes of last infusion more linger in the background now.  The slightly astringent mouthfeel and throatfeel are not too much but root singular flavours firmly in their place.  A returning sweetness is slightly cooling, slighty sweet with a touch of powdery cherry taste.

The seveth becomes more harmonious mx of flavours with dry wood and soft cherry and a general slight woody forest feel now seen for the first time here. 

The eighth and ninth is much the same with a slight coco almost milky slight foresty bitterness that reminds me of Bulang.  The taste profile is very simple.  A cooling sensation is mild on the breath.

The next few infusions don’t hold much more than dry, flat, woody tastes with a barely noticeable cooling aftertaste. 

This tea overall has a standard taste and feel of decent young Menghai Factory puerh.  It still has a great deal of strength in this recipe and needs to age more to be drinkable.  I image this turning out to be a nice standard factory tippy blended tea with another 5 years of dry storage.


"0752"

Dry leaves smell of pungent, deep forest with a slight plum edge.

First infusion is of simple sweet melon tastes, crisp wood that evolves into a deeper cane sugar sweetness and metallic taste.  There is a subtle sour taste throughtout in this first infusion.  There is also a very faint smoke which adds a nice element to the taste.  The aftertaste is slightly cooling, and again clear and almost metallic and apple sweetness.  This first infusion is quite flavourful and has a nuanced layering of different flavours. 

The second infusion is a clear almost absent initial taste that has that same simple sweet onset.  There is flat metallic, dry wood, taste that evolves into a sweet green bean taste in the aftertaste along with a very mild coolness.  There are mild flashes of different faint fruit tastes as well.  Overall, the taste is very clear, pure, but a little lacking.  Some sessions I’ve had turn into a dirty turbid taste here where others do not.  The mouthfeel is quite weak and this is probably why.

The third has a flat single barely wood note than immediately interfaces to a sweet metallic cherry note which fades fast in the mouth.  The mouthfeel becomes just slightly sticky here.  The aftertaste is short and tastes of cherry fruit.  The qi is a very standard alertness.  There is definitely some qi that lingers in the chest opening it slightly.

The fourth has a medicinal onset turning into slight dry wood and then into a barely sweet aftertaste.  There are notes of beans and very mild cherry- more of a choke cherry finish.  The mouthfeel is weak but getting stronger, and is mainly dry and mostly covering the front of the tongue.  There is a very faint, lingering bubble gum and rubbery sweetness that lingers minutes later.

The fifth infusion has a medicinal wood start but the sweet rubbery bubble gum sweetness now lingers throughout the profile.  This note is really not very sweet but noticeable.  The taste profile of this tea is narrow but clear.  The body and mind feel slightly spacy on this tea but the feeling is good… a good spacy qi feeling.

The sixth infusion delivers a metallic sweet profile throughout over a barely medicinal and crisp newly chopped wood taste.  The sweetness swells slightly into a cherry taste in the aftertaste.

The seventh has a tight metallic, sweet, dry woody and slight medicinal taste.  There is still a slight cooling in the breath and slight edge of bubble gum sweetness.

The eighth loses a bit of the sweet flavors, metallic flavours, and medicinal flavours and is more of a thin woody taste with a slight cherry and cooling aftertaste.

The ninth becomes smoother and more round with slightly creamier malty fruit cherry tastes over a thin wood and bean base.  The initial taste is more full in the mouth here and the tastes mingle together much better now.

The tenth starts with sweet clean clear cherry note which lingers throughout the profile.  The taste is light, clear, crisp, and slightly sweet.  This tea is enjoyable and takes a while to get going.  The mouthfeel is now much fuller and leaves a slightly dry and slightly sticky coating on the tongue and even upper throat.  A gummy, rubbery cherry sweetness is left on the breath minutes later.

The eleventh is much the same, quite enjoyable here still a slight coolness in throat.  The sweet taste is now like an icing sugar sweetness with a nice bean and wood barely noticeable base taste.

The twelfth is much the same still quite vibrant, tasty and sweet.  The mouthfeel and throatfeel is a really slow buildup for this tea but now feels nice as flavours layer over top.

The thirteenth still has a long icing sugar and cherry sweetness over wood and slight metallic and flat wood tastes.

The tea is consumed like this for a few more sessions retaining a mild sweet cherry taste.

This tea’s taste is good but overall to muted and weak with still a predominant bitterness apparent.  My wife happen to try some of this tea and exclaims, “This tea is NOT good.”  When this tea is brewed in our large Yixing pot it pours too slowly and pulls too much bitter and dry wood out of the leaves.  Flash infusions from a small teapot deliver more enjoyable tastes. 

It seems like it should be good but its profile is really just too thin to do anything super interesting.  What is best about this tea is the later steeps.

"0772"

The dry leaves smell of distant forest- slight sweet and dry grassy crispness.

The first infusion delivers brisk clean fresh pine/ wood notes along with a slight edge of plums.  The taste is really clean and simple fresh wood and plums in a thin but lightly and airy mouthfeel.  The clean fruit taste strings out faintly on the breath.

The second is much the same with clean tight notes of slight wood to start then it now evolves in to a much longer and defined cherry/ plum taste with just an edge of cool sweetness.  I am already surprised by this puerh- its good.  Its sweetness is fairly strong here and feels like it sticks to the teeth and sides of the mouth.  The qi is clean and offers a clean head feeling, alerting but not overly so.

The third infusion is much the same very clean, crisp, clear, long, simple profile.  There is a certain completeness about this tea that I really like.  It starts with slight wood then is whisked away by long slightly cooling cherry fruits.  The mouthfeel feel is full, thin but has a light airy, satisfying stimulation.  It seems to softly open the upper and even mid throat.  A sweet almost tart cherry is left in the mouth minutes later.

The fourth infusion has a more of a creamier taste trying to attach itself to the long sweet profile of this tea.  The aftertaste becomes a bit rubbery even metallic tasting.  This infusion is a long line of clean cherry tastes.

In the fifth infusion the light, fresh, newly chopped wood taste shares equal space with the sweetness which becomes less vibrant here but just as long.  The rubbery and metallic taste remains in the mouth.  The tea’s qi brings a nice clean clarity to the mind, it seems to effect the body much less.

The sixth infusion is a nice, simple slight woody and watery slight fruit taste.  Traces of cherry fruit linger on the breath.

The seventh gets a bit woodier with a crisp clean cherry finish.  What this tea lacks in depth it makes up for in its simple and clean taste.  The fruity finish starts to kick up tropical fruit tastes on the breath here adding a bit more complexity to the finish.

The eighth gets more woody and flat in the initial taste where the aftertaste continues to offer nice clean sweet taste and slightly cooling aftertaste.

The ninth and tenth and eleventh have a nice long sweet and now even flowery sweet taste.  It taste like green grapes, a nice flavor nuance.  The wood taste is almost non-existent here so long sweet tastes rule. 

The 07 series recipes seem to be designed especially for dry storage and seem to thrive in those conditions.  They all have a clean newly chopped woody feel and crisp cherry fruit taste profile to them.  They all have a similar mouthfeel, taste profile and even Qi feeling.  These tastes remind me of the dry stored mainly 7542 recipes of the 90s that I tried 10-15 years later if you were to completely drop off the deeper base flavor, thin out the mouthfeel, and string out the high fruit note...  Hahahaha… maybe that’s too much of a stretch.  Although these recipes are way simpler in taste, they all have that resemblance.

Out of the three 07 recipes I seem to be drinking the 0712 the most but don’t intend to re-order any of these.

Peace

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2008 Menghai 7582 (802) and 2008 Menghai 8582 (806) Are Meant for Humid Storage


I used to drink a lot of these recipes in Korea.  Most of the ones I drank were stored under a humid Taiwanese storage then dried out a bit in Korean storage.  Most were from the 1990s and around 10-20 old.  I don’t ever remember tasting one that was completely stored in Korea.  My memory of these are earthy, dirt tasting, with a cool finish, these are both deep tasting teas, least in my memory.

I picked up both of these sample cakes in a recent order from Tuo Cha Tea ( 7582 357g for $26.00 $0.07/g 8582 357g for $19.80 or $0.06/gram )

Let’s dig into the 7582 (802) first….

The first presents with a sour, almost smoky wood taste.  It is a simple taste with a faint aftertaste transforming into barely coolness in the mouth.  The deeper lingering woody character is throughout.

The second infusion is less sour and has a more woody, barely sweet muted faint cherry fruit taste.  The woody profile is apparent throughout.  The mouthfeel is a slightly chalky and slightly dry on the tongue.

The third and fourth infusions have more of a deep woody creamy initial sweetness with edges of something fruity.  The woody taste is predominant.  It finishes into a creamy slightly cooling sweetness in the mouth and breath with pops of cherry and dates in the deeper profile.  In these infusions things come together nicely and show some glimpses of Classic Menghai Factory.  A sweet deep creamy woody taste is left in the aftertaste minutes later.  The Qi is nice softly alerting Qi. 

The fifth and sixth infusion are a bit more woody and less sweet.  The deeper woody body of this tea is now continuous throughout with a small wave of sweetness rippling through the initial taste.  My body can feel the mild effects of spraying by a slight itch felt on the surface of the skin.  There is a gummy, woody, almost rubbery sweetness that appears minutes later in the aftertaste.

The seventh and eighth mellow out considerably and start to fall into a standard steeped out taste of mild tastes of initial wood with slight edge of cherry fruit then woody dry rubbery sweet barely sweet and cooling aftertaste.

To me, this is very typical or standard puerh taste but these tastes are less full and vibrant than I remember in older 10 years aged 7582- too dry.  The storage of 7582 that I remember back in the day used to be more humidly stored probably from Taiwan then brought to Korea for some time in mildly humid storage.  If you order from Tuo Cha Tea expect quite dry and clean Kunming storage unfortunately this kind of tea will do much better in much more humid conditions.

I steep this one out for a handful more times as this typical puerh taste holds for quite some time.

Due to this tea’s cheap price it could totally be considered if you are looking for a super cheap/ mindless factory production.  A  bit of advice for this one would be to try to add a considerable amount of humidity to it for a few years before drinking it up- this is what I intend to do.

 8582 (806)

Okay let’s switch gears to the 8582…

The dry leaf smells of forested west coast woods.

The first infusion starts off with deep, creamier, throatier wood and slight brown sugar tastes then it hits on a weird sour note which disappears into the aftertaste of flat, almost briny wood tastes.

The second infusion has a dry woody, almost maple syrupy edge that slowly transforms in to a dry, flat woody brown sugary finish.  The initial off notes have disappeared leaving this deeper forest woody profile.

The third infusion tastes much the same with a more coherent and cohesive feel with brown sugar sweetness coming first then into a dry almost date like wood taste then on to the sweet brown suragy aftertaste.  The profile is full but not complex and lacks any off tastes.  It has a deeper autumn foresty feel to it.  This tea is giving me an unusual qi sensation of a stuffy and almost dizzy head feeling.  I take a break from this tea for a short time.

The third infusion is much the same again the taste seems to get more harmonious and have more of a flow but it is still the same initial woody brown surgar/ almost maple sugar sweetness initially then to a date and deep woody autumn leafy taste then the brown sugar again.  The mouthfeel of this tea is thin-medium but has nice coverage in the mouth.

The fourth infusion starts developing a medicinal taste to it which now takes the place of the wood foresty notes there are some barely sweet edges to it but it is primarily that herby Traditional Chinese Medicine taste.

The fifth and sixth is the same woody forest and medicinal tastes.  In these infusions the woody forest autumn leafy tastes and medicinal tastes share the space with the sweeter notes becoming muted in these new flavours.

The seventh and eighth has cinnamon and spicy notes lingering faintly in sweetness.  The woody foresty autumn leafy taste remains dominant.  Different but similar deep foresty notes are pushed out of this one for a handful more infusions.

Overall, this 8582, has a very similar feel to the ones I drank in Korea.  Out of all the Menghai recipes, the 8582 was maybe the one I drank most (that and 7542).  Again the storage was different in Korea and made for a deeper, richer, dirt tasting puerh but overall there is a lot of similarities here.  Out of all the Menghai cakes I tried recently this recipe seems the steadiest over the years despite storage differences.

Of the 7584 and 8582 I much prefer the profile of the 8582 and feel that it’s just a cleaner cake overall.  Both of these guys have some evidence of spraying and both could benefit from more humid storage so I will put these two in humid storage along with the 2008 Menghai “Nu Er Gong Bing”.  I hope to touch base with how these are doing years from now.

Overall, I feel like these are not worth really worth it but the price is so cheap that if your expectations are low enough you will find these to be a deal so really it depends on how you look at it.  For me, I won’t be ordering more simply because I have not really gone back for more since sampling these a month or so ago.  I really didn’t like the way they made me feel.  It goes without saying that “they don’t make em’ like they used to.”

Peace

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2008 Menghai Spring Green Cake 801 & Deliberately Purchasing More Expensive Puerh


Menghai Factory has been producing this recipe of 100% Menghai area spring tea since 2005.  It is a bit nostalgic seeing the wrapper because this cake was a common sight in Korean in the mid 2000s.  Holding it in my hands today, I flashback to a time when I handled it 10 years before.  I actually, kind of, remember the strong vibrancy in the dry leaf odour from way back then but don’t remember ever tasting it, if I ever did.

I purchased this 2008 version from Tuo Cha Tea for $36.00 for a 357g cake ($0.10 /g) not that long ago.  This puerh was also available at Puerhshop and is currently available at King Tea Mall.  Sometimes it actually makes more sense to purchase a cake at a more expensive vendor than a cheaper vendor. 

There are three scenarios where this might be more practical.  The first scenario is when you just want only one cake from a vendor.  It makes no sense by the time you include shipping on that one cake to pay less because after the shipping it is much more than the least expensive vendor.  The second scenario is similar and is just topping off a previous order of a cake when you know is a bit more expensive but is done to reach the free shipping limit on an order (vendors love when we do this).  The third scenario is when the more expensive identical cake could have better, different, or your preferred storage so you are willing to pay more for it.  The point here is that just because an identical puerh is cheaper with another vendor that doesn’t mean it makes more sense to purchase.  Anyhow…

The small leaves carry an odour of faint forest, slight sweetness and typical pureh odour.  These very small leaves are not too fragrant.

I decide to bring out my fat, slow pouring Yixing to push the small factory chopped leaves hard in the first infusions.  I stuff a ton of these little leaves in there as I grin.  I need a bit of a kick early this morning.

Expecting a big front, the first infusion the first infusion starts with a stiff slightly bitter and creamy vegetal barely sweetness.  The mouthfeel has an astringent body.  The returning sweetness is sharp and slightly cooling.  Bitter creamy sweet continues in the aftertaste.  This first infusion is nicely balanced and has a good taste, aroma, and mouthfeel.

The second infusion is more no-nonsense with straight up creamy-bitter-sweet tastes which evolve into a more sharp creamy taste which gives way to the aftertaste.  This infusion has a slightly longer aftertaste where sweet plum and pear tastes emerge on the breath.  The mouthfeel is nice and has a full coating in the mouth.  The Qi is almost instantaneously alerting.  This tea still could use a bit more aging before being consumed as a very mild rawness is felt in the stomach.  Menghai Factory teas tend to need a bit more aging than your average puerh due to an ever present bitterness.  This one is no different.

The third infusion delivers more creaminess and less but still significant bitter.  There is more of an evolving fruit taste here in this infusion.  There is a base taste of green string beans and vegetal notes.  The aftertaste comes together nicely with a swift slightly cooling creamy sweetness with a plumy and pear and other fruity finish on the breath.  The aftertaste is surprisingly long and the fruity interplay is interesting.  The mouthfeel remains solid allowing for the tastes to play out.

The fourth loses some of its bitterness but also some of its creamy sweetness as well.  Flatter vegetal notes are apparent.  The strength is in its long and still interesting aftertaste but a flat note is apparent throughout the profile of this tea now.  Shorter quicker infusion in a smaller pot push out a profile similar to the third infusion here.

The fifth is much the same but now flat fruity notes are apparent in the initial taste where previously there was little up front.  The profile continues to flatten out.  The aftertaste still remains somewhat interesting as a flat cooling sensation and fruit aftertaste is apparent.  A muscatel, grapey taste lingers in the mouth minutes later- as does nice floral notes.  Shorter infusions again fare much better here with a longer, sweeter, fuller profile.

The sixth is much the same very flat initial taste with still some mild tastes in the aftertaste.  The muscatel aftertaste is apparent.  The infusions in the smaller pot still have much vibrancy in them with a profile of sweet pear, florals, slight bitter, and faint muscatel.

The seventh continues the trend of becoming even flatter.  And so this is how it slowly fades in the following infusions.

I think this tea benefited from other sessions with my small, quick pouring David Louveau pot (not pictured).  It gave a totally different effect of stringing out the depth of this tea found in the early infusions in this session with the larger, slower Yixing.  However, today I very deliberately enjoy the vigorous energy pushed from these big factory leaves.

Overall, I like this tea for what it is, and enjoy it as such.  I think this tipper tea has done well with the dry storage and many of the high notes that make this tea interesting have been nicely preserved here.  I have dipped into this cake more than a few times since its arrival and I generally approve of its factory-esque Menghai deliciousness.

I haven't tried a Menghai 0622 in a while.  I think this Spring Green Cake would be a close second to that recipe for those who like the tippier Menghai factory recipes. 

Peace

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.

Peace

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tuo Cha Tea Order and Reacquainting With Menghai Dayi Tea Factory


The last of my large sample semi-aged orders came a few months ago from a classic Western tea vendor that has been quietly selling puerh since I started drinking puerh- Tuo Cha Tea.

Tuo Cha Tea is the place where you chance to purchase some lowly factory everyday drinker teas, least in a game of chance so as not to get burned with a puerh that is totally undrinkable.  However, the prices are so low, China low, that the gamble is one that is hard to resist.  Many a puerh drinker has found a great deal and many have been burned in this quest.

For me it’s all about the Menghai Factory raw 2007-2008 productions.  I ordered them all up in an attempt to 1- do what all puerh drinkers are destined to do, that is, own a Menghai factory cake 2- get a better understanding of the different and newer Menghai recipes 3- compare how these 10 years aged Menghai productions faired with the 10 years aged 90s Menghai factory stuff that I frequently drank in the early/mid- 2000s in Korean tea shops, 4- sample the cakes for potential re-orders in the goal of restocking some everyday drinkers.

Actually, I was kind of second guessing myself on this order which I have never ever done on a puerh purchase before… Do I really need more factory puerh?... Did I really just order THAT much Menghai Factory tea?... Why didn’t you just take the money that you spent on this order and put it towards one or two more quality puerh that I ‘m more used to drinking?... If you wouldn’t buy this tea 10 years ago why are you bothering to purchase it now?

But as soon as I opened the package, I was smiling ear to ear in a happy nostalgic mood about this order.  These were the teas in all the puerh tea shops in Korea when I first learned of puerh tea.  These were assuredly familiar to me.

Please join me on this journey through some semi-aged Menghai factory productions…

Peace

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Which Puerh Vendors Are Testing for Agrochemicals? They Actually Do This Now!


Another big change that occurred while I was away from puerh is that almost all the bigger vendors are testing for agrochemicals in their products.

This was always the elephant in the room with avid puerh drinkers/bloggers in the early/ mid- 2000s.  We knew that some of the stuff that we were consuming was sprayed (the plantation/factory stuff was most suspect) but no one really talked about it too much.  We just lived with it because, really, what were we to do about it?  The only real option back then was if you were concerned about it, then stop drinking puerh.  Todays puerh buying climate, especially from the most popular Western puerh vendors, is almost the opposite with buyers now expecting agrochemical testing done on the teas they are buying.  This is great news for someone who tends to be more sensitive to them than the average puerh drinker.  How did it change so quickly?

I think just before my absence from the tea world David from Essence of Tea was kind of pushing this agenda of the use of agrochemical through to the front of puerh drinkers consciousness.  I am so glad he was a part of this initial push.

When investigating why this happened I thought it was likely due to buyer pressure on all to follow suite.  Actually this seems to be driven by the vendors themselves to protect and defend their love and their livelihoods after a series of bad press in the mainstream media about the agrochemicals found in teas about 5 years ago.  This was really what everyone was talking about back then.  Interesting links can be seen here and here where many puerh vendors discuss this issue and desire to change.  You can kind of get a sense where they all stand on the issue as well.  One of the things they discuss is what they feel is the acceptable limit of pesticide residues in puerh. 

There was a lot of discussion back then and I wondered to myself what has changed since that initial surge in interest.  So I looked into the agrochemical policies of some popular Western puerh vendors for their 2017 productions and this is what I found…

Essence of Tea has a zero tolerance policy for pesticides and, I believe, they only accept a very small trace of the EU MRL agrochemicals.  In 2015 they posted the testing of 225 chemicals of all of the puerh they pressed on the product page.  Although they don’t explicitly state that the 2016 & 2017 have been tested, it is my understanding that they are all fully tested and the lab results can be obtained by contacting them.

Yunnan Sourcing started EU MRL testing its own YunnanSourcing brand label in 2013 and has increased the amount of chemicals tested to 191 and has even lowered the minimal acceptable limit of some chemicals to a zero tolerance as well over the years.

white2tea just started to test their teas this year.  They started with testing one of their lowerprice offerings from each category.  Theyalso mention that more and more teas will be tested each year.  I think the fact they seem to seek out some of the best leaf from year to year and rely less on the same sources and gardens suggests to me that it might be a lot trickier to ensure that agrochemicals are not used.  The fact that many of their cakes are blends can also complicate things.  For instance, if even one batch of leaves out of the blend is contaminated it will contaminate the whole blend.  I would like to see white2tea test a few of their blends next year.

I couldn’t find anything on Crimson Lotus, Bitter Leaf, Puerh.sk, Chawangshop, testing for agrochemicals.  Many of them take some kind of precautions to avoid agrochemicals but they don’t actively test their product.  I think it must be hard for vendors just starting out or for smaller puerh vendors to shell out the money for testing so, feel these vendors shouldn’t be held to the same scrutiny until they are more established but on the other hand, for them to grow consumer confidence they kind of need to test for these sorts of things.  So for them, it really puts them in a hard spot, I think.
The Tea Urchin has written a great article about the use of pesticides in puerh but I couldn’t find anything on their site that has anything on testing their puerh.  I get from their article that they assess the tea gardens by other means to reduce the likelihood of pesticide residues in their puerh.

Puerhshop does its own lab work to test its teas and I think might have been one of the first to start testing its puerh.  It doesn’t really go into detail about what kind of tests are preformed and for what type of chemicals.  The interesting thing is that they tested some of their semi aged puerh as well- the only vendor to do this.

It seems at the height of this discussion about 5 years ago even our dearest tea blogger, Hobbes of the Half-Dipper, covered this topic in a post with some nice commentary to follow.

To me I think it’s really interesting that there are still so many smaller puerh vendors that are not testing for agrochemicals.  I guess it must be quite expensive to do so.  But overall, I am excited about all the options of pesticide free puerh out there these days.  My wish is that vendors would have links to these reports right on the product pages just like Essencce of Tea did for their 2015 teas.  This would take transparency to the next level.

Thank you vendors for going in this direction!

Peace

Sunday, September 24, 2017

So What Should We Call “Wild Puerh” and How Should We Classify it?


Last post I put forth the argument that “wild puerh” is not really puerh.  So if we shouldn’t call it “wild puerh”, what then should we call it?  How should we classify this interesting, delicious, mind bending, and majestic tea of Yunnan?

I don’t really agree with how vendors are categorizing “wild puerh”.  The two Western vendors who sell “wild puerh” have it listed with their puerh teas.

Scott of Yunnan Sourcing has its own category which I think it deserves and also has a page on the disambiguation of purple teas which I think is very helpful to clarify this often confused topic.  He also has separate pages for the same wild leaf (“Yesheng”) processed as a white tea and a black tea.  But to keep it just a little bit of confusion going it also has a “yesheng” filter in its puerh section.  It is a bit confusing but Scott tries hard through his system of categorizations and explanations to make it clearer for the buyer.

Yunnan Sourcing states, “It was originally processed into mao cha and sold as a kind of Raw Pu-erh tea”.  Although this statement is totally true, it doesn’t go on to say that the raw material is not puerh, and that it is just the processing that is the same as sheng puerh.  I think it was originally sold as a “kind of Raw Puerh Tea” and vendors are still trying to market it as a “kind of Raw puerh tea”.

Why? I think there are two reasons.

First of all, they are trying to piggy back the success of puerh.  Puerh drinkers will be the most likely of tea drinkers to embrace Yesheng for sure.  Of all teas, “yesheng” or “wild tea” tastes closest to puerh tea when processed like puerh tea (and of course it looks like puerh all pressed into a nice bing).  It’s easier to sell someone a new product if it looks, tastes, feels, familiar in some way.  The wild trees even look identical to puerh trees so the familiarity is seamless really.

The second reason is that with prices of fresh quality puerh maocha rising year to year, “yesheng” or “wild tea” is a more affordable option.  As puerh drinkers continue to demand the same type of quality but are slowly priced out of the puerh market “yesheng” or “Wild Tea” seems like a great option.  As Jamesof TeaDB notes, it is a way to buy low and sell high.  Although, nowadays, quality "wild tea" is also demanding very high prices and continues to increase like puerh, so this argument doesn't hold like it used to.

David of Essence of Tea is the other major vendor of “yesheng” or “wild tea”.  He has his “wild tea”listings interspersed with his puerh listings which I think is a bit confusing (if not deceiving, but not deliberately so) especially for people who wouldn’t know better.  The teas always state “Wild” in their name- this is how you would tell them apart from real puerh.  I really think David should create another category for “wild teas” (just like he has for wuyi yancha, liu bao, and oolong) especially as he continues to delve deeper into the selling of this most wonderful tea.  I know from a marketing perspective this probably makes no sense for him, but I think he needs to make it more apparent for puerh drinkers somehow.

I have to say that both Scott of Yunnan Sourcing and David of Essence of Tea are the most honest and transparent of all the Western puerh dealers, so maybe there is no controversy at all, and I'm just reading into this way to much- What do you think?  After all, there’s already an established convention of calling this tea "wild puerh" in China.  Maybe both David and Scott are actually doing us puerh drinkers a big favor because these are very interesting teas even if they are not puerh teas.  Interesting enough that I hope you will join me in the next weeks and months for this detour as I explore “yesheng” or “wild tea”.  If a Korean puerh tea dealer had not marketed “wild tea” to me in 2008, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it now.

Peace

(in the middle of this article, I just started calling “wild puerh” either “wild tea” or “yesheng”, its imperfect but I guess it will due for now… it’s what the vendors are calling it and what it directly translates from Chinese… certainly it’s much better than calling it “wild puerh”)

Double Peace