17 June 2010

1997 Menghai 8582

1997 8582 - wrapper

In the mood to drink tea tonight, and not in the mood to stay up late, I pulled out an acquisition bought via Will of teadrunk.org, a 1997 8582 he purchased on my behalf during his recent trip to Asia (thanks, Will!).

1997 8582 - back1997 8582 - face

Upon inspecting the tong of tea Will bought, we quickly discovered the tea housed some insects. Evident in the photos below, but also by a couple of live ones found crawling around the packaging, and even a little critter in one of the cakes. Pictures of bug damage are below.

From upper left to lower left: wonky compression (my guess is, wonky decompression from stuff crawling around and/or wet storage), bug holes in wrapper, bug egg (?) casing on leaf, bug holes in nei piao. (click for larger pics)

1997 8582 - side1997 8582 - wrapper detail 2
1997 8582 - nei piao closeup1997 8582 - closeup front 2

Evident in the photos far above, the cakes face and back show the clear evidence of Menghai blending: tiny buds on front, big chunky leaves on the back. Da huang pian (big yellow leaves) and the occasional twig show the blender wanted to round out the tea. Forget your two-leaves-and-a-bud, sans-yellow-leaves, twigless, single-mountain fancy productions of today: this relic of the 1990s looks to have a bit of everything.

As far as the taste: the tea tastes younger and less wet than it looks. 13 years later, there's still a hefty amount of bitterness that ends in a classic hui gan. The woodiness of age appears early, sweet and aromatic, but not yet dark enough to have become earthiness. It gradually fades to a sharper floral note, which combines with the woodiness into a cedar flavor that reminds me of adolescent banzhang/bulang teas.

The tea makes me hot; perhaps the materials, perhaps the bug droppings, but something has made my hands into fleshy radiators and my brow perspire.

1997 8582 - brewed

12+ infusions in, this 8582 continues to yield potent infusions. The tea is good, but needs more time.

More interesting photos: a dry huang pian leaf in the middle of this pic shows signs of being eaten; a wet leaf in the pot shows the telltale hole of feeding larvae.

1997 8582 - closeup back
1997 8582 - wet leaf in pot


Maitre_Tea said...

you didn't mention the actual bug that we found in the tea...afraid to scare people away from pu-erh? (as if that's such a bad thing)

Bearsbearsbears said...

"...a little critter in one of the cakes."

i did so euphemistically!

If the idea of larva eating through tea doesn't turn them off, that indeed might! :)

toki said...

No matters what's in a 'Real' early 8582 (before 2000). It's still my favorite MH recipe. The challenges and the vigor it shows (moving or not) always a pleasent surprise.

Nicolas Tang said...


zendjn said...

And of course some folks pay top dollar for tea bug poo! :)

You're description of the experience of this tea is very similar to my notes from a couple years ago for an '02 8582 cake I have.

Although, the '02 cake is very tightly compressed, almost completely dry stored and the leaves seem a bit more uniform. It definitely left a strong impression and I'm looking forward to trying it again around 2016.

(Btw, my current favorite MH recipe is 7542.)

Will said...

The thick, rustic paper is the part that I found odd (and the thickness / loose compression of the cake itself). The paper is a different style from most of the 90s / 2000s recipe style cakes I've seen. Don't know if it's likely to be fake, a special production, or what (don't know why you'd fake something that isn't that rare or famous).

I'm not sure these are the same kinds of bugs that make the poop. The good news is that after vacuum sealing the tea for a month or so, I don't see any evidence of any critters, alive or dead. A source that I think would know says that the bugs are normal and just to brush the surface of the cake. So sounds like maybe they don't typically burrow deep into the cake itself?

Will said...

ps - I agree that, even without airing it out, it doesn't taste as wet as it looks. There's some white frost, but the taste is fairly lively and a little bitter / astringent still, even though the 4th through 7th infusions brew pretty dark, and the tea gives way a little early, like wet-stored tea can.

Will said...

One other thing... the folks I was picking this stuff up for specifically wanted wetter stored stuff; I could have bought a similar, but a little cleaner stored tong for the same price.

Kort said...

It has been a while Will. I'm jonesing for more blog post of yours!

Anonymous said...

Btw, how much would a cake of this tea cost in Asia?

Will said...

re: cost, I think ~ $112 US / piece (but I bought a whole tong).

Jeremy said...

Anyone know of a cake of this for sale?