04 December 2011
"Lipstick Red" Aged Sheng from Su
Su sent over a cake of a tea that she indicated Malaysians know as "lipstick red" for the color on the wrapper. Will Y. and I decided to share the cake and sawed it in half.
Upon opening the cake, I noticed it had the familiar compression of Shuangjiang Mengku tea factory productions: a compression that leaves an inner ring (visible immediately below) but keeps the edge of the cake thick (farther below).
I was delighted to think this could be an example of one of the factory's first productions before they broke off from the state-owned China Native & Natural Products (CNNP) firm. I have not had an example of this factory's tea from the years before their privatization, and so I felt some delight when noticing this.
Another way I know that the tea is not by Menghai Factory is the inclusion of these two fellows: an unthreshed piece of rice and a tea seed. Menghai Factory has, in my experience with their aged teas, not allowed such riffraff into their cakes.
Describing the tea in one word, I would say "fruity." The wet leaves smell like raisins in a box, which brought back the memory of my childhood when a small box of raisins was in my lunch bag seemingly every single day of elementary school. Moreover, the taste--aside from its Lincang-proving "rancid in a good way" sour notes--is of dried berries or raisins for many of the infusions. Davin even called the tea a "holiday pu'er"!
Somehow it lacks the earthiness I associate with older pu'er. None appears to be developing here. In fact, the tea doesn't taste of other typical aged pu'er flavors such as wood, mulch, etc. And yet, it tastes like pu'er in a dark grainy sweetness. Later it shows the remainder of its youth in greener flavors like fresh pruned bushes and bitterness.
The tea has an aftertaste of moderate length, and though the mouthfeel is thin, it travels all around the mouth. It lasted a full kettle of water without weakening too much, which I appreciated.
I'll be curious to hear from Su if my guess hit the mark. Nonetheless, I am thankful for the opportunity to try a tea that matched the fall season so well.