2009 Shuangjiang Mengku “Highest Essence”
The end of March is always an awkward time for me. Birds have not really starting migrating and the growing season has not yet fully begun, although we’ve started work on the garden, with seeds sprouting indoors and soil being prepared outdoors. I managed to have a tremendously active weekend, but yesterday found me in a haze, uncertain of what’s next. A focused tea session, where I take no pictures nor write any words, always helps. Often it is so important to only drink tea and do nothing else.
Today, as I settle into the first waves of a tingling theanine glow, I offer my thoughts on this tea and the four Mengku samples I have enjoyed as part of JAS eTea’s Mengku Raw Sampler. Today’s tea, the last in the series and like the others, is described as being composed of “first flush” material and it shows, as the leaves are covered in fuzzy white down. This youth shows in the flavor as a nutty, dry greenness. Brewing calibration yielded longer steeps early and a gentler touch through the middle to produce good balance. Notable aroma and flavors included that tomato-like orchid fragrance a la ’09 Yunnan Sourcing Wu Liang and a gentle warm honey, almond, cream mix. Less simple than the others, and durable, but again, lacking a striking character that seals the deal.
Overall, these teas held a similarity, not surprisingly, with an underlying plain, simple sweetness that was easy going, but forgettable. Only the ’07 Qiao Mu Wang suffered from noticeable variability in processing, in my opinion. My favorite were this tea and the ’07 Mu Ye Chun 002, both with better texture, finish, and theanine presence. I am on the fence about these Mengku productions. They are priced well, but are not exceptional enough to make you think you’re getting a bargain. They seem ahead of Mengku and Xiaguan in quality for young sheng, but don’t match the more well regarded (and more expensive) smaller productions. Solid staples, perhaps, but I will save my pennies for exploration.