Friday, July 28, 2017

Same Tea Different Years 2013 & 2014 Shuangjiang Mengku “Sprit of Tea”

I purchased a sample of these two with my tong of 2008 WildArbour King cakes and a 2008 Nan Jian 912 cake.  An interesting thing to note is that when Yunnan Sourcing has a sale on a certain puerh, not only does the whole item go on sale but also the samples as well.  I usually don’t care to purchase samples unless I am sure that I would probably never buy the actual cake.  Basically, I sample for education purposes only.  If I think I might like the puerh, I usually just take the plunge and purchase the whole cake, brick, or tuo.  I think this is opposite than most of my readers… hahaha.

I decided to pick up a few samples of some common Shuangjiang Mengku cakes that didn’t exist when I was heavy into my puerh drinking.  One of these “newer” regular productions is the “Spirit of Tea” cake.

"Spirit of Tea" is the most premium regular production that was produced by Mengku Rongshi since 2009. It is entirely wild arbor tea! (link)

Let us try the 2013 first…

Dry leaves smell of fresh distant fruit and hay.

First infusion starts with strong sour tones which turn to powdery ice sugar like tastes in the mouth.  The mouthfeel feels full, soft and powdery.  The aftertaste is reasonably round and sweet.

The second infusion starts sour again then transitions to more of a dry woody and vegetal taste.  The aftertaste is slight cooling and ice sugar sweetness.  The wood note is carried throughout the profile of this tea.  The mouthfeel remains fairly full and powdery.  Minutes later there are some floral notes that come out in the aftertaste and linger on the breath.

The third has a more pronounced floral sweetness up front.  The sweetness evolves into that creamy cherry fruit sweetness.  This infusion is full of different layers of sweet tastes floral sweetness, creamy cherry and dragon fruit sweetness and mild barely sugary sweetness on the aftertaste.  The qi of this tea is relaxing with a mild floating feeling in the head.

The fourth infusion has more of these sweet tastes blended into each other.  It is more cohesive than previous infusions.  A creamy cherry sweetness dominates the profile.  The mouthfeel is chalky enough to hold these tastes and let them evolve in the mouth.  On the breath is an interesting play of florals and fruits minutes later.

The fifth infusion shows some watery melon and white grape notes up front before turning into subtle florals and layered sweetness.

The sixth infusion has more creamy full icing surgery sweetness in the profile with an slight drier wood taste sneaking up.

The seventh infusion has less of a lighter profile but is still quite light.  A mild vegetal sourness shows up but as does some interesting tropical fruit and icing surgary tastes.  These tastes show on the breath even minutes later.

The next batch of infusions are pushed stronger to yield floral and creamy surgary taste that mainly appears in the aftertaste.  This tea has decent stamina for yielding light tastes.  The sugery floral taste is evident even minutes later.

This tea has nice stamina and can carry these flavours for many infusions.  If it is pushed too hard at the end overly sour notes come out.

This is a $72.00/ 500g cake ($0.14/gram).

Dry leaves smell of strong licorice root and distant sweet fruit with a slight hay edge.

The first infusion is a nice round buttery, creamy taste with a slight edge of sourness and a slight buttery floral in the aftertaste.  There is a citrus/ lime note that appears last on the breath as well as a mild surgary taste.

The second infusion has some creamy sweetness mixed with slight bitter and more sour notes.  It has a creamy longer aftertaste and slight cooling surgery taste on the breath.

The third infusion is much the same with the creamier sweeter notes more apparent and long.  The mouthfeel is slightly stimulating effect that is mainly found in the mouth.

The fourth infusion is much the same.  This 2014 still is more on the youthful side and carries a sour taste as a result.

The fifth and sixth infusions have even a more turbid bitterness and slight sourness over the slight creamy sugary simple tastes.  A mild floral taste is left on the breath with a very faint cooling.  Most of the profile is bitter/sour with very little play of interesting top notes.  The mouthfeel remains thin in the mouth.  The qi of this tea is mild, a slight lightness in the legs and arms.  It is still young enough that it gives off a slight rawness in the stomach.

The seventh has more of a turbid/ rubber taste to it.  It has a vegetal floral aroma on the breath that lingers.  There are some interesting tastes that attempt to push through minutes later.

The eighth the sour and bitter start to dissipate under still short infusion times and a dry slightly flat base taste delivers faint florals and barely surgery sweetness.

The ninth infusion becomes flat with a slight floral aftertaste.  This tea is infused another handful of times and still manages to hold on to some of that slight floral aftertaste.

The difference between the 2013 and 2014 is notable.

The 2013 Sprit of Tea has not only much fuller mouthfeel but it also has a more vibrant taste to it.  They both have good stamina and at least something worthwhile can be had for many infusions a good indicator of wild arbour.



Mr Prissy said...

Hi Matt,

I'm intrigued by your experience with these two 'Spirit of Teas', because I ordered a sample of the 2013 version from Yunnan Sourcing a few months ago myself and like you liked it a lot, despite normally avoiding younger sheng puers. I didn't try the 2014 because it didn't make sense that it was dearer for being a year younger, and am glad I didn't after reading your notes. For a big-factory production the 2013 seemed outstanding, and I ordered a few cakes on the strength of the sample. Did you end up getting some yourself?

Since then, I've bought a cake of the 2011 'Spirit of Tea' from a Taobao vendor, which I haven't yet tried. It allegedly won some kind of Chinese tea show award, and I'm curious to see how it compares with the 2013, although of course coming from Taobao who knows how authentic the 2011 will turn out to be.

Matt said...

Mr Prissy,

I agree with you and have similar feelings about the 2013 cake. I also don't order much young sheng but thought I would give these samples a try and quite enjoyed the 2013 for what it is.

It passes the test for wild arbour material for me and for the price is quite good. Big factory production or not, wild arbour is wild arbour right?

I didn't buy any cakes mainly because I just purchased so much Mengku wild arbour 2008 and older stuff. I promised myself next purchases will be heavier Xishuangbanna cakes.

Feel free to share any thoughts on the 2011 here- that might be interesting.


sam kim said...

Not using your Korean tray lately?

Matt said...

Sam Kim,

Hahaha. I planned on getting it to work so I can drink tea in the loft but it hasn't got there yet!

I'm still using a bamboo tea mat there and this bamboo monstrosity at home.

I think I need a bit more flowers and Korean teawear in these posts eh?


Mr Prissy said...

So I've had a chance to taste the 2011 Spirit of Tea from a Taobao vendor. It was an interesting contrast, probably because it was pretty obviously wet-stored, and surprisingly developed as a result. The aromatics that were so obvious in the 2013 version from Yunnan Sourcing were more restrained and there was a shift towards earthier characters. I'm pretty sure it was authentic — the leaves looked similar and there was enough in the taste profile that recalled the 2013.

It also lasted through a lot of steeps, and I found myself liking it more the longer it went. I'm not an expert on judging how cakes will age, but I'd guess from the complexity and residual bitterness in the background it will do pretty well.

Matt said...

Mr Prissy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this 2011 "Spirit of Tea".

If you care to share any information on the Taobao Vendor go for it. If not, thanks for adding to the conversation about this Shuangjiang Mengku puerh!