30 December 2008

2008 Mengku Banmu Bingdao Brick

The 2008 Mengku Banmu Bingdao brick sample was sent to me with the American Hao sample. The tea shows tight compression and flosses silver buds:

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick

The compression made the tea not open up until the third infusion. The first two infusions, sweet and bland, released little aroma and seemed more like extra rinses. It carried the sweetly herbal aroma of good older tree pu, similar to that first whiff of American Hao (amongst others), so I figured the tea would be good.

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick -

The qi was great. At the 4th infusion my body was burning up, and by the 5th both me and my guest were tea drunk. We noticed a fleeting minty freshness in the 3rd infusion, not quite camphor, and the usual green pu flavors of fresh cut plants, straw, and bitterness. My guest noted "green bell pepper." I couldn't place most of the flavors, but the long finish and good qi made me think highly of this tea. It lasted longer than we did. We gave up around the 15th infusion.

Mengku Banmu 2008 Bingdao Brick - brewed leaf

I wrote these notes not having checked the price of the tea. For zhuan cha, it's pricey at $22.75. But it's darn good, whether it is or isn't what it claims to be. Bingdao is the 2008 pu'er buzzword, and lots of vendors are claiming teas young and old come from that region.

Another tea I wish I could afford right now, but b-school application fees are piling up. Maybe in February...

Next reviews won't be Puerhshop teas. They'll be trades from ABx and teas from other vendors I have sitting around, hopefully oolong. Yum!

29 December 2008

Merry Xmas Will!

Black basaltware body with foam glaze:
Black Foam Jar

I threw this piece with Will of the Tea Drunk Forum in mind. He, a few other teachatters, and I had discussed various lid designs and how easy or difficult they were to seal. Will had decided to seal away some oolong, and I thought this lid style might seal well. So, the jar is in his hands, waiting to be filled.

It's a very tight fit, and the lid has an irregular shape: to get the lid off, you have to twist it out. I will report any thoughts from Will should he seal away more oolong using this jar.

His efforts instill me with copycat desires, but first I need to find some ageworthy oolong, or at very least oolong that inspires curiosity about its future. At this point, I would only be experimenting.

Your comments on your experiences in aging oolong would be appreciated.

Black Foam Jar - foot

23 December 2008

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" Cake

This was a sample of the 200g and 400g cakes sourced in late summer / early fall by Puerhshop's Jim Liu. It comes from the same village on Nannuo Mountain where I sourced the maocha for my Bearsbearsbears cakes, Ban Po Old Village, but this cake is fall materials where mine was spring.

Intrigued, I wanted to dig into this sample as soon as I received it, but was waylayed by a cold. Mostly recovered, I shared the sample with friends.

The leaves are medium sized, and folks and experience have shown me Nannuo leaf is relatively small compared to arbor or old tree leaf from other regions.

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" - dry leaf

The fragrance off the first rinse intoxicated me. I could tell from first whiff that I would enjoy this tea. It had the candy sweet herbal smell of Nannuo. The first infusion I unintentionally underbrewed, yielding a bland, herbal, sweet and thin character.

The subsequent 2-3 infusions had a smell like dry waxy chocolate bars or carob, which seemed odd for young tea. It tasted more "green", sweet and herbal, but finished like that waxy chocolate smell. A friend remarked it tasted like lemon leaf or lemon verbena, not sour but fragrant. It began to dry our mouths, but I think the water could be to blame.

Around the 5th infusion it began to lose complexity, becoming mostly fragrance and metallic flavor. Maybe this is the autumnal element coming through. While it lost complexity, it didn't lose in strength. We gave up before the tea did, after more than 10 infusions.

The qi was rather mild. Don't know what to make of that.

But for $20, this is pretty darn good tea. It's bitter in the right places and displays good Nannuo regionality in its fragrance. I'm considering a xiao bing purchase...

2008-0802 American Hao Nannuo "Ban Po Lao Zhai" -  brewed leaf

13 December 2008


In Taiwan, teachers sometimes invoke luck for their students at college entrance exams by serving them baozhong tea, because baozhong is homonymous with "guaranteed to win".

So, tonight, I'm drinking some 1970s baozhong for some of that island luck.

GMAT is tomorrow at quarter past noon. Send good vibes my way.

05 December 2008

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Bing

A gift sample from Puerhshop, I brewed this tea once and thought it forgettable. Appropriately enough, I forgot I had it. Upon rediscovery, my opinion has changed.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - leaf


1 Malty, stronger on sides of tongue. Clean, simple. Aroma is walnuts and soil. Guest co-reviewer Davin remarks it reminds him of dried bamboo.
2 More complex: grains, the flavor of black pepper without the bite, still not as earthy as it smells.
3 Davin, not knowing anything about the tea, had to ask if it was shu or sheng--a good sign! Mellow but not weak. Soil creeps in.
4 More soil and earth, but still clean. Oddly enough, no aroma in the empty cup or pitcher!
5 Best infusion. Sweet like a gourd (winter squash?), leaves a tingly feeling on my tongue.
6 Consistent flavor as 4 & 5 despite slight decline in strength. What a friend calls "rocky" flavor. This infusion drinks cold with no awkward acidity or aftertaste.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - infusion 5

Verdict first: this shu impresses. A great buy for someone who's only had bad, fishy shu pu'er, Dayi's Yin Xiang cake redeems the name of shu. And for any doubters, this tea's traits define why I love Menghai Factory shu pu above all others. Pricier, but worth it I think. When I'm in the market again for cooked tea, this cake is on my list.

Menghai 2007 Dayi "Yin Xiang" Shu Pu - spent leaf

04 December 2008

Good pots

Click photos to enlarge.

I'm rather proud of these!

Stepped cup in red clay:

Grogged red clay, layered glazes, wax-resist decoration

Stepped cup in red clayStepped cup in red clay - alt. viewStepped cup in red clay - interiorStepped cup in red clay - foot

Stoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze:

Thrown & carved/altered brown stoneware with varied surface decoration.

Stoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 1st pairStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 1st pair foot detailStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 2nd pairStoneware Whisky Cups with Snow Glaze, 2nd pair foot detail

Carved tea bowl with Snow Glaze:

Carved winter tea bowl in buff-colored stoneware, snow glaze, wax resist "windows" and carved texture.

Carved tea bowl with Snow GlazeCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - window closeupCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - interiorCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - interior detailCarved tea bowl with Snow Glaze - foot detail

Black pitcher, "Bled Foam":

Black basaltware pitcher, thrown & altered, foam glaze with iron bleeding.

Black pitcher, "Bled Foam"Black pitcher, "Bled Foam" detail