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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

2008 Mengyang Guoyan "Queen of Yiwu"

Interesting enough, the Chinese name for this is Yiwu Cha Huang, which translates to "Yiwu Tea Emperor." Modesty and humility are certainly not traits of pu-erh factories when it comes to naming schemes, I believe. Sadly, this tea is neither a king nor a queen, but rather it's more like a pretender to the throne. This is merely the review of a humble pu-erh neophyte, so maybe I'm not "getting it," or once again, this tea just doesn't sit well with me.

I had heard good things about this cake from the folks over at TeaChat (specific thread here). I mostly agree with the sentiments there, but whereas these qualities are described positively by that reviewer, those same traits are negative qualities of the cake in my mind. The leaves look gorgeous, and compression was nice in my chunk of a sample. It seemed like a nice tea: floral, sweet, a touch woodsy. Like many things in life, looks can be deceiving.

If only the tea tasted as good as the leaves look

The first three infusions did not bode well in my judgment of this cake. The mouth feel of the infusion is decent which borders on being thin, while the smoothness borders on blandness. Frustrated, I recalled that a lot of leaf was needed to make it tasty, so added about two grams of new leaf after the third infusion. It did little to help, and even when pushed hard, the tea still had little to give. It's a bit fruity and there's nothing offensive about it, but it lacks the punchiness that I like in my pu-erh. Soft and rounded, it might be tasty to people who like that sort of thing.

Disappointment seems to be the trend of these samples, and I'm only considering ordering four or five cakes of what I've tasted thus far. Thank goodness I didn't subscribe to the cake = sample theory, because even if a cake is relatively cheap, when it's bad it's just sitting there, serving as a reminder of how stupid I was. I was actually thinking or purchasing this cake right off the bat, just based on what I've heard. So glad I didn't. I've also vowed to myself that I won't purchase a cake outright unless it's a recommendation coming from people whose opinions I trust. Though I'm more likely to take the advice of what cakes to avoid, than what cakes to get.

Hopefully the trend of disappointment will end when I receive a spur-of-the-moment pu-erh purchase I made from Seven Cups, their 2001 Winter Yellow Green Cake. Looks ugly, doesn't it? I would never had even entertained the thought of ordering such an expensive cake, but a combination of things were at work behind this spontaneous decision: 1. BBB's glowing review (see here), 2. their 20% off sale (who can't resist a good deal) which is ending this month, and 3. staying up until 2 AM thinking about pu-erh. I hope this wasn't a rash decision, but I trust BBB and his taste (and I hope his opinion of said cake hasn't changed too much in the three years since that review).


Bearsbearsbears said...

the yellow-green leaf cake is very strange cake. I tried it again about 6 months ago has not lost its energy or oily feel, but the aroma-taste of herbal, fresh cut flower stems has changed into something else. Can't nail it down.

The cake's price makes it an expensive experiment, but it still feeds my curiosity. :)

Bret said...

Hey, Thanks for the samples, I got the package in the mail today. I,ll get started on them asap. I should be able to get back onto my yahoo acct. by tomorrow AM. I,m very intriqued by the Seven Cups sample, strange looking.