Monday, March 12, 2018

“The Prices Are Rising, The Prices Are Rising”

“The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling”

I’m very nervous… actually quite scared.  I try not to think about it (take deep breaths I keep telling myself and this too will pass).

But I just can’t.  How could I? How could you? If you keep getting bombarded with emails over the last few days.  It seems like as soon as it’s out of my head then BOOM I see another email in my inbox!

Oh my God! …. It’s happening again…

The prices are rising! The prices are rising!

Depending which oracle or deity you consult- the end time is nearing.  We have days, just hours, to act! Doom’s Day will be either March 13th or 15th depending on which way you read your doomsday calendars.  

That’s right… Burger King and White Castle are raising their prices!  My friend Ted (who is actually an opening DJ for Ed Sheeran) told me to keep calm.  He said this happens every year… There are some Nostradamus people out there who will predict the end of days.  He says its best to focus on life 10 years ago, when things were good, cheap, life was more simple.  But I keep asking myself “How am I going to afford my regular fast food fix?”  He reassures me with graphs that the prices are not actually rising… But blog posts and emails from my favorite fast food restaurants tell me differently!  Spin me something relaxing DJ to calm my nerves please.

They say it can be predicted by the currency exchange and the markets, its in there the Chinese Yuan and the USD... its all in the cards man... perfectly explained... are you saying you know something about the markets????

Get this….White Castle is even raising their prices of their small fries and I don’t even like small fries!  But this has me really really concerned because just like the Beastie Boys say “White Castle fries only come in one size!”  Not only that, but their yearly promotion is ending… How will I get my $5.00 All Barbecue Chicken Meal… not until next year or maybe they won’t even be running that promotion next year… who knows how long I have to wait for a deal like that?

Who out there will reassure me?  I’m begging you people.  I can even meet you at Macha Tea Company near by for some tea… its actually not on Norris Court at all but in a new lot by the Freeway and is Open all night long for those who are will to step out of their comfort zone.  I know It’s not the same now that John went away but I’m beginning to like it more…. Nah there’s no time for that…

I was getting real weak so I went to White Castle for the $5.00 meal but they sold out! Ahhhh….

Ok, scrap that idea… run to your closest Burger King or White Castle- drive through is fastest.  Now is your only time to act.  So don’t hesitate and act now... Take out your wallet or puerhse and follow the links. 

Don’t miss out! Don’t miss out! Don’t miss out!


Friday, March 9, 2018

Storage Lessons Comparing 1997 & 1999 Teamasters’ Menghai Factory 7542

Out of any tea from the 90s, I have consumed the 7542 more than all others combined (here and here and here).  This classic recipe from Menghai Factory is by far the most popular and famous of all 90s puerh.  In Korea in the mid 2000s every tea shop that sold puerh pretty much had some.  Inevitably I drank a lot of it at the tea tables all those years back.

In fact it was so abundant that, it is a guarantee that many must have been fakes.  Either way, they all tasted fairly aged and delicious- some more than others.  The quality of these cakes depended mainly on the storage and whether they were true Menghai factory vs. fake.  Sometimes a fake could even taste better than a cake that seemed real.  So even early on in my puerh tea education I learned that the taste of a long session of tea rarely lies.

These 7542 sample recipes came included in a recent order from Stephane of Teamasters.  If you are looking to avoid the fakes altogether the first thing would be to find a very reputable vendor, Teamasters is one such vendor.

Well, as I said there is only one way to know if these guys are the super delicious 7542s or just the normally delicious 7542s.  Let crush these samples with some gong fu and deep meditation…

Earlier this week received a few feet of snow, it is a blizzard out there today, the whole family is out of the house so I ‘m breaking out this sample and having a great tea session… Sigh… I forgot I broke my old small, cheap shui ping pot… and my other small volume David Louveau pot is at work… well this will be a first aged puerh in this Korean ceramic pot … with no other great option in mind…. Let’s do it!  It is actually perfect volume for all the sample!

The dry leaves smell of dry wood with a very faint odour of distant fruit that is overwhelmed by a dusty odour.  As the leaves hit the warm tea pot woody notes and cherry almost orangy notes emerge.  The leaves seem medium-higher humidity stored with decent humidity exposure likely Taiwanese stored.

First infusion has a smooth velvety creamy woody slight orangy taste.  The taste is deep, rich, and coats the tongue, mouth, and throat with a slightly simulating, but thick coating.  It opens the mid throat nicely.  There is a nice cooling menthol aftertaste present along with deeper dried cherries, orange peel, and wood.  This tea imparts an immediate warming penetrating qi and makes the mind release into immediate reassuring calm.

The second infusion starts to show that this is Menghai Factory because even with significant age it still has an edge.  It opens with chalky almost talc cherry fruits and old dry wood, like that of an old library.  It has both a viscus feeling in the mouth as well as a slight astringency.  The astringency is enough to push a gob of saliva up into the throat to entrap all the aged flavours of aged camphor and oak, slight cream, distant cherry and talc.  They sound simple in writing but deep in the mouth.

The third infusion returns to a denser, richer presentation with the more astringent aspects dropping slightly.  The rich profile gives us deep layer, nuanced aged wood taste, very slightly creamy edge, with cherry talc distant tastes and a slight orange peel taste distant in the throat that follows aged wood and slight menthol.  The mouth and throat feel are spot on for Menghai Factory of this age.

The fourth infusion has a lighter fruity burst initially that was shrouded deep in richer wood tastes in the previous infusions.  The wood tastes are drier and more astringent in this infusion.  This astringency seems to capture more fruity tastes in the mouth.  The fruit tastes are distant, almost like dried cherries, orange peel, and pomegranate.  The shift in profile could have been due to me fetching new water as well.

The fifth infusion is much the same as the fourth- dry wood, talic, distant dried cherry, old aged wood in the library taste.  Slight cooling even a mushroom like taste in the finish which I’ve never encountered before in 7442.  Has anyone out there ever tasted mushroom in 7542?  Mouthfeel and throatfeel remain full, slightly astringent.  The qi is big, nice, warming in the whole body, mind is very relaxed but sharp and present.  The strength is apparent as it still seems to nudge the digestion.  I rest the leaves for 30 minutes…

The sixth infusion has a robust layered wood taste that is very full in the mouth the high notes have again yielded to the aged wood.  The mouthfeel is not as astringent here more of a rich astringency.  A chalky feeling in the mouth with slight cooling in throat.

The seventh lightens up more than the sixth and is much the same.  I added 5 more seconds to the flash infusion here.

The eighth infusion 10 seconds is added to the flash infusion and it yields pretty much the same flavours as previous.  Of note is still the strong menthol aftertaste, full mouth- and throatfeeling.  There seems to be more fruit notes in the mid profile in this infusion.  I step away for an hour or so then I’m back to enjoy…

The ninth infusion tastes of wood and almost date fruit taste.  The sweeter fresher cherry taste is gone in this infusion. Everything is deeper and more coalescent.  Wood, slight dates, leather.  The cooling sensation is less.

The tenth infusion is of woody, leather, aged taste. slight cooling aftertaste in a full, slightly astringent/drying mouthfeel.  The taste beyond this point is just basically the above aged taste.  When makes it still enjoyable is the engaged mouthfeeling, almost sweetness as a counterpoint to the deeper, earthier woody aged tastes and traces of a cooling aftertaste in a simulating throat.  As a result it can play out for many many infusions much like this.

After a few more infusions I put this tea into long overnight steepings and I am greeted to dried fruity, leathery wood infusions the throat feel holds somewhat giving these longer infusions some depth.  I enjoy this tea for the next few mornings like this.

Overall, this 7542 has lost almost all traces of youth.  I would image that this tea had heavier humid storage for the first 10 years then it was direr stored.  It has suggestion that this came from a herbal medicine distributor in the 1990s with a slight aged herb feel- it is possible.  Nice tea for those who prefer their 7542 with deeper humid storage and more of an aged taste and feel.  This 7542 very much resembles the stuff I drank years ago in Korean Puerh Tea Houses.

The shear amount of snow has really slowed down a place that is used to having lots of snow.  The result is another perfect morning for a great tea session and just days from the 1997, I sample this 1999.

The dry leaves smell of creamy fairly intense sweetness with undertones of wood.  The creamy rich sweetness surprises me a bit.  The leaves are not as compressed as the 1997 and much much lighter and more vibrant.  This 1999 is much more dry stored Kunming or shrink wrapped or true dry storage.

The first infusion has a very creamy sweet initial taste with notes of fruity wood that descends into very mild and creamy wood almost talc like taste.  The mouthfeeling is light and thin creamy and talc.  The aftertaste is light on the breath with a very light cooling sweetness.

The second infusion’s initial taste dries the lips with creamy sweet slightly astringent fruity wood flavor.  The base taste is clean wood with a noticeable undercurrent of creamy sweetness throughout.  The vibrancy and creamy sweetness of this 7542 is quite nice. The cooling aftertaste is nice and strong the mildly astringent mouth and throat feel hold it there and keep it on the breath.

The third infusion starts with a creamy sweet more cohesive taste with the fruitier sweetness overtaking the creamy sweetness.  This infusion tastes more broth-like, more contained, more juice-like, with the fruit taste almost equal with wood tastes here.  The creaminess is still there too.  The dry wood tastes seems more intense as the astringency continues to grow here.  It’s not drying in the mouth or throat, its medium astringency.  A very noticeable classic Menghai note of pine wood or resin start to develop.

The fourth infusion has the woody pine like notes dominating now with the creamier sweet notes entrenched almost equally now.  The pine comes initially then greats the creamy sweet taste quickly.  The sweetness is long on the breath along with a bit of cooling.  This is a classic 7542 profile.  There is less talc and more cherry-plum sweetness in this infusion now.

The fifth infusion has a cohesiveness pulling all the tastes into one and they start to be more mild.  The aftertaste remains big with sweet creamy notes and an almost menthol like pine taste.  Overall the mouth and throat feeling are easy to ignore- they are still very full but not standoffish.  The mouth- and throatfeel have a full slightly powdery consistency with a medium astringency.  This infusion also tastes puerh like almost camphory in taste.  The qi of this tea is not as strong as other 7542 but it has a very cooling qi in the body not warming.  This speaks to its still relative youth and dry storage.  In the body you can feel it lingering in the stomach slightly.  Overall it’s relaxing and gives on a mild, focused mental sharpness.

The sixth is much the same as the fifth as all these tastes pull together in the initial taste and following taste.  These infusions have a plum and camphor taste.  There is also pine especially on the breath.  The aftertaste remains active and evolving, the mouth- and throatfeeling unwavering.  There is a talc taste on the breath minutes later, lots of sweetness returning with coolness.

The seventh infusion you can taste a subtle smokiness, could taste it very faintly in the sixth but more here.  This infusion has much less sweetness and more of a smoky woody taste throughout.  The aftertaste is mainly woody slight returning coolness.  Not as much sweet here.  Not as complex over the whole taste profile.

Eighth infusion I start adding 5 seconds to each subsequent infusions and starts with a clear woody taste, slight, faint almost flowery/powdery fruit taste.  Cool aftertaste with chalky finish sweet and creamy slight woody.  Long aftertaste.

The ninth infusion I drop back to flash infusion and am gifted with a very nice result that almost talc rose like sweet chalky taste that is classic dry stored 7542 initially.  It slightly numbs the lips the evolution in the profile is complex, interesting.  Pine wood appears in the aftertaste next to creamy sweet undertones.

The tenth I flash infuse again and the taste is much like the ninth.

The eleventh another very enjoyable infusion that is just as complex and very similar to the above.

I have to leave for work but I understand that these leaves are at their prime right now in the infusion.  I throw them into a container and put them into my one cup Korean tea maker at work but, I’m not sure if it’s the different, softer water there, the exposure to cold, or the steeping vessel but I can’t keep the momentum going with this tea.  Infusions at work I start adding more time to the infusions but get tastes of sweet creamy plum cherry but more muted than before.  Now mainly the tastes are of wood with a still full mouthfeeling and nice astringency of the throat which nicely hold the returning sweet menthol coolness.

The Qi really starts to build until it is almost of a talkative, jittery type.  Someone at work asks, “Did you have coffer today?”  Its that type of intense factory style qi that lingers within these steepings. But it really builds up very slowly to this point.

I steep this tea from morning to night and I am amazed at the stamina of it.  The throat feeling is unwavering and the menthol like returning sweetness will not resign.  This is a great example of dry stored 7542 and shares a certain resemblance to the Manghai Factory Qingbings I’ve sampled in the past.


These two Menghai Factory 7542 are quite interesting to compare.  Only 2 years separate these two identical recipes from identical factories, as far as puerh from 20 years ago this is almost nothing.  Meaning there is no one I ever met, no teamaster, that could guess which puerh is older by tasting a 19 year old and a 21 year old so this age difference, doesn’t mean much.  Although the price difference between these two is more due to the age difference.

The huge difference between these near identical teas is basically storage.

Neither is really better, it’s just a matter of preference.

I doubt that there are many readers out there who are going to shell out the money for these full cakes but I highly recommend ordering the samples.  Especially if you are new to puerh and want to see how different storage conditions effect a puerh 20 years down the road.  Or those drinkers out there who have never experienced Menghai (Dayi) Factory back when it was still great puerh.

I quite like the 1999 myself although just a bit out of my price range. 

Thanks Stephane for these memorable sessions.


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Growing Pragmatic Movement in Puerh

Upon my return to puerh, I first thought it was a little unusual that there were more than a few people calling my recent posts “pragmatic”.  Well, these days I try live my life minimally and pragmatically.  I feel it’s a good way to think and live and enjoy the wonders of life.  So, quite naturally, my puerh drinking and buying should reflect this I suppose.

It occurred to me recently that my pragmatic position on buying puerh tea may have been influenced by a larger pragmatist movement taking place in Canada right now and spreading quickly globally.  In Canada there seem to be political, academic, and general philosophical branches in the current pragmatic movement gaining steam here.  The first two branches seem to come from Canada’s recent history of pragmatic conservatism and a fringe academic, Jorden Perterson, who apparently is currently the bestselling author globally.   I can’t say that I prescribe to any of these types of pragmatism.

I think the growing popularity of the pragmatic movement is a response to the recent “Post Truth” and “Sunny Ways”  governments in the US and Canada as well as the general philosophy of those voters who elected them.  To me, in a general sense, it speaks to looking at things matter of fact instead of getting caught up on emotion, marketing, philosophy, political correctness and branding.

How does this apply to puerh?

I think a pragmatic philosophy is especially needed when buying puerh outside of Asia.  We are more at the whims of marketing and branding because the way most of us buy puerh here is online.  I can tell you from experience that it is far easier to walk away from buying puerh in a teahouse in person than it is to resist the marketing of online vendors.

I actually think there is a pragmatic movement occurring in the puerh drinking world right now in the West.  Just the last few weeks, for instance, there were two puerh bloggers suggesting to drinkers to use a more pragmatic perspective on buying puerh.  Marshal’N of A Tea Addicts Journal lauds us to Buy Less, Buy Better and James of TeaDB suggests that we should focus on buying less and enjoying what you already have by Setting Down into Tea.  Both of these posts challenge the current consuming culture of Western puerh purchasing habits.  I think both offer great pragmatic wisdom to puerh buyers out there.

I think there is something to be said about pragmatic wisdom.  It speaks to both a pragmatic approach and long enough experience to back that up.  Essentially, the above bloggers are speaking with pragmatic wisdom and asking us to perhaps tap into our own.

This pragmatic movement in puerh circles indirectly challenges the Post-Truth construct of puerh consumption and marketing.  I guess to some extent it is a challenge to all puerh vendors to step it up.  In Cwyn’s Death By Tea’s yearly predictions she predicted that 2018 will be the year of the Testy Tea Customer as puerh market experiences decreased purchasing power.

Instead, I think 2018 might be the year of the Pragmatic Tea Customer.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Drinking Aged Puerh, Drinking Memories

When we drink aged puerh we are imbibing not only the teabut all the memories associated with it.  Puerh tea is an aged tea.  Our experience with it has a definite start point, when we first acquired and tried the tea, and a definite end point, when we have completely finished the cake, brink, tuo, or tong.  In between our sense of taste and smell, our tactile senses of our mouth, and the feeling of qi in our body and mind are tethered to every experience with that particular puerh.

They say our sense of taste and smell is closely intertwined with our long term memory.  These connections are wired together along with what we were doing at moment in space and time.

Every time we drink pureh we are building a story, adding to these experiences, storing them.  Along with the experiences of puerh, we are attaching our life’s experiences.

When we dig out an old puerh cake, the puerh allows us to sensually access the memories, sensations, and life experiences (not just tea experiences) stored along with it.

In this way, when we are drinking aged puerh we are, in fact, drinking our memories of times long ago.  At the same time we are depositing new life memories in that moment in time as well.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

We Are All Puerh Tea

One of the reasons puerh is such an incredible tea, is because it is actually alive.  It has a beginning and an end.  In between puerh matures, grows, changes, and evolves as it ages.  It is a product of its origins, its nature, but influenced by its lifespan and how it is nurtured into maturity.  Although identical to its many twins from the same batch, no two aged puerh will actually be the same.

In many ways puerh is like us and we are like puerh.

Puerh tea is so incredible, so are we that drink it.  This is especially so for those in awe of its wonder.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2017 white2tea Pussy vs 2017 Yunnan Sourcing He Tao Di

This comparison came to me after sampling 2017 Yunnan Sourcing Brand He Tao Di because the He Tao Di had, in some way, a somewhat similar taste and very similar feel and qi as 2017 white2tea Pussy. 
White2tea’s philosophy is that a tea should stand on its own merit without leaning on its namesake, location, or backstory.  Yunnan Sourcing has brought us a tea from an area that likely no one is familiar with, He Tao Di.  Everyone is pretty much experiencing He Tao Di for the first time, expectations are non-existent with no previous experience to dwell on except Scott’s description the Yunnan Sourcing website.  In the 2017 Yunnan Sourcing blind tasting, lots of other bloggers drew a comparison to Yiwu/ Manzhang area with the He Tao Di.  Alternatively, whie2tea’s Pussy mentions nothing about where the raw material was gathered but it is widely thought tobe YiWu among puerh drinkers.

For me this comparison is a value comparison to see if white2tea’s Pussy ($0.45/gram pictured left or forward) was really more than 2.5 times better than Yunnan Sourcing’s He Tao Di ($0.19/gram pictured right or back).  If He Tao Di could close this gap a little in value or offered something more interesting than Pussy, I can see myself ordering a cake or two.

It can be argued that just because something is twice as expensive something else, it might not be twice as good.  The price of puerh is a complicated issue- What determines the price of puerh?  It’s hard to answer and probably a topic for another post.  Also price/ value are not a ratio and at some point potentially the price might skyrocket in the high margins of quality and languish in the lower quality.  So there isn’t a clear mathematical equation to work out value to price.

I did this side by side comparison at work with some nice Korean ceramic single cup makers the remaining Beta sample (later found to be 2017 He Tao Di) in the Yunnan Sourcing blind tasting event and a similar sized chunk from one of my 2017 white2tea Pussy cakes.

The Pussy’s leaves were larger and darker and more stemy where He Tao Di’s leaves were more varied with some hairy buds and a variety of colors (Scott explains this variability in this video here ).  When the boiling water hit the dry leaves Pussy was much more fragrant while the He Tao Di was still very fragrant but slightly less intense.

The first few infusions saw Pussy with more fragrant tastes and high notes with less low notes and depth in a lighter mouthfeel.  He Tao Di was still very fragrant with some deeper notes to add depth in a noticeably thicker mouthfeel.  In these first few infusions I feel that the Pussy is bit better overall but He Tao Di is showing more depth and range.

Then I steep a few more infusions and the leaves start to open up.  At this point Pussy really starts to pull away from He Tao Di.  Pussy has a very very intense perfume fruit cotton candy sweetness but more monotone in flavor, the mouthfeel is fuller than He Tao Di.  Pussy’s taste is much more vibrant and much longer, deeper, and evolved throughout the taste profile.  He Tao Di is still quite sweet but less so with less pure taste but deeper woodier tastes.  The Yunnan Sourcing offering is more balanced but less clear, pure, and alive.  He Tao Di’s mouthfeel is not as full but has more dynamic movement and change in the mouth.

Overall the He Tao Di mouthfeel is still complete but not as full, thick or stimulating as the Pussy’s mouthfeel.  In these infusions, I feel that Pussy is probably 2.5 times better than He Tao Di if strength, intensity, vibrancy, mouth and throatfeel, and aroma are the metrics by which we evaluate.  However, He Tao Di does have some points which make it interesting.  The deeper woodier notes gives it a bit more polarity in a resoundingly high note profile.  This results in a less monotone taste and a mouthfeel which also changes in the mouth a bit where the Pussy is more of just a thick all-encompassing wave. 

I feel that both of these teas could go quite a while but stop at about 5 or 6 infusions because the qi sensation is very intense.  It is also late afternoon and I want to be able to sleep before mid-night tonight hahaha.  This is the real problem about doing side by side comparisons you really cannot compare the cha qi.  This is one of a few reasons why this is one of the first side by side comparisons on this blog.  I am a Qi guy.  I can tell you this- when doing the blind tasting, the qi sensation of He Tao Di reminded me a lot of Pussy.  In my memory He Tao Di was similar in sensation, but slightly less alerting than Pussy, but gave a good head qi feeling.

The next morning at work, I get back to this back to back comparison…

The next day the He Tao Di showed more variance in taste, profile, and mouth- and throat feel but Pussy still had much more thickness, depth of monotone taste and sustenance to it.

After a few more steeps the He Tao Di’s mouthfeel becomes stronger and woodier with still some subtley of sweeter notes in there as well. The Pussy becomes more watery here with a more expansive sweet aftertaste and cool menthol finish.  At this point, the Pussy is maybe only 1.5-1.75 times better than the He Tao Di.  I steep these teas for a few more infusions.  Then start to put them into longer steeps.

The longer the steep, the better He Tao Di preforms, it actually tastes much better than Pussy now.  He Tao Di has more dynamic, more intense sweetness now.  It performs a bit better than Pussy here.  As the steeps even go into 30 mins in continues to out preform Pussy.

When I started this comparison, I imagined that the Pussy was better but only slightly better than the He Tao Di (maybe Pussy was 1.75 better than He Tao Di but not the 2.5 times better as the price per gram suggests).  So this was really an exercise in seeing if I will purchase He Tao Di.  However, after this comparison I find myself more compelled to purchase more of the Pussy than any of the He Tao Di!

The He Tao Di is still a great tea for the price, let me emphasize this.  It is interesting and even surprising to me that when comparing these two teas that the price/ value actually seems about right.  This rarely happens with puerh but, I think it’s true in this situation with these two teas.

Truth be told, next time I order from Yunnan Sourcing I may still have a cake of He Tao Di in my cart but I am really trying to resist the purchase of younger puerh and put my dollars toward some nice semi-aged stuff.  It is even plausible, that I might throw a few more Pussy cakes in a white2tea order if a sale is good enough to lure me in but really I am more curious about Paul’s white2tea blends which I have not sampled extensively.  So, it is most likely that I will purchase neither…. Or more of both….
Thank you for Paul and Scott for pressing these two beauties. 
I guess, I'll let you know if I end up ordering any.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today is MattCha’s Blog’s 10th Anniversary!

The sharing or knowledge.

The absence.

I believe I am currently waning again…

Ten years… this is a big thing.  The very first blog post I wrote was on Febuary 17, 2008.  Tea blogs that I read when I first started are almost all inactive or have considerably slowed down or have started selling tea.  I don’t buy the fact that some old tea bloggers say there is nothing interesting to blog about anymore .  There is so much to say.  After all, puerh tea is the Black Hole of Tea.  I feel I have so much more to say.  This is evident from pages and pages of blog rough drafts or unfinished posts I have kicking around on my word processor which cover a broad kaleidoscope of puerh topics written over the past year.

Wait, I don’t know if you could even consider it a 10 year anniversary- I had a 2 year absence… maybe it’s technically only an 8 year anniversary… oh well… I’ll take it.  Hahaha

Lately, I’ve been in “Zen mode” with my tea drinking again.  It was a big year and I’m currently sitting on a bunch of good drinkers and enjoying them on a deeper level

 I just let my body feel the treasure of tea.

This is “busy season” for me and things are about to get busier with work, an ever expanding family, and life.  I welcome this change.  My puerh drinking will undoubtedly change with it.  This is life, being, puerh- it will change with age.  Right now, I'm just enjoying the process with puerh tea in the cup just as I am enjoying writing out this post now.

Most importantly thank you reader for all your love.  Without you, what would I have learned?  Thank you for sitting across from me thousands of kilometers away at my tea table.  MattCha’s blog has always been, and will always be, “yours and the teas”.