čtvrtek 22. listopadu 2012

2012 Mingshan TH Mangzhi Huan Shan

This is a very interesting tea. When I tasted it for the first time, it felt to me like a blend of Yibang and Xikong - it is not, but Mangzhi is very close to these two so the similarity is quite natural (even though it is closer to Xikong, it feels more similar to Yibangs I had than Xikongs I had). This is a white label cake, pressed for Mingshan teahouse. 

The issue with small productions/unknown producers is that they are plentiful and of very varied quality. What I appreciate about Chawangshop is that Honza takes the time and filters a huge amount of these. Of course, some are good only for someone (e.g., Mengma 2002 or Menghai Gu Cha 2005 tend to be loved or hated in general), but I'm quite sure that some of their offerings are all-around good. This little cake seems to be an example. It's from a region that is not that well known, but it is near Yibang which is quite famous. Yet it costs only $12.5 per 200g. What is it like then? The short version is - like today's fancy $50-$100 cakes, but much cheaper (tasted it along YS Yibang and Xikong, it's not only cost-conscious noob talk). 

The long version...

The leaves smell distinctly like young puerh, but it isn't just that green aroma of young Bulang/Mengsong/Nannuo - this Mangzhi has much better fruity depth to it.

The wet leaves smell positively great. The aroma is sweet, embracing, quite lovely, a lot like YS Yibang. It's a mixture of fruitiness, floralness, without the annoying greeniness which a lot of 2012 teas posesses. An interesting and unusual component is spice, mostly clove which makes this tea different from any Yibang or Xikong I know.

When the liquor (ordinarily yellow) enters the mouth, it immediately coats it in super-thick gushu sugariness with light fruitiness (Yibang style). This slowly transforms towards slight "chewing-gum-ness" I know from Xikong. This quickly transforms into fruitiness again - I'd say it's closest to pineapple. In later steepings, the progression is not as dramatic, it sort of blends all these components together.

The taste diminishes very slowly, it changes into flowery-fruity aftertaste (quite correlated to the aroma of dry leaves), the whole process being accompanied by good cooling of older trees. Fast huigan follows shorly after. An interesting feature is warm sweetness which stays in throat for a while after swallowing.

There is pretty much no bitterness; some astringency is present, but nothing too bad. It certainly does not get in the way of pleasantness.

Some of the leaves look like from older trees (no wonder, it's quite obvious from the taste), a part seems more ordinary. However, the overall performance of the tea does not diminish with further steepings, it's not like some "gushu" cakes which feel remotely gushu in the first three steepings and then you get harsh plantation.

As I said at the beginning, I think that this tea is quite comparable to other fancy cakes of that area, while being much cheaper. I won't say it's a super-bargain in general because I think that being a lot cheaper than today's fancy cakes can mean that it's simply reasonably priced. For what it gives, I'd gladly pay $20 per that 200g. However, comparable teas cost $40-$60 per 200g, being a lot more expensive. Thus - if you like young Yibang/Xikong and are willing to pay the money, have a look at this one.

2 komentáře:

  1. The price of big tree tea from Mengla County, Xishuangbanna is very unlikely to be less than $45/kg. Rule of thumb is that maocha kg prices is equivalent to a standard finished 357g or 400g cake price. It is very unlikely to be gushu.

    That doesn't necessarily detract from the narrative here, because well cared for plantation tea is usually pretty good--and there's lots of it in supposedly gushu bings.

    1. Well, I think that if you look at the small leaves to the left, you'll agree that plantations do not produce such kind. Also, the leaves are quite thick and strong, more than plantation leaves of the small leaf varietal I know from Jingmai. Besides, plantation tea does not have that old tree sweetness, nor the cooling feeling in mouth/throat.

      Honza says it's probably from cut old trees so it's not big tree. Nevertheless, it feels like old trees and tastes as one - good enough for me.