A strawberry plucked before the crimson coat is woven.
This tea cake was part of a gift box. A large, bright box with two identical cakes inside. Apart from the box the cakes are identical to other Menghai cakes. Dated 2007 these cakes feature the older labeling and security stickers. The cakes are wound tight and show no sign of spoilage. The label bears the mark “7592.” Meaning they used the 1975 recipe in making the cake. The leafs are grade number 9. (Lower quality) The fourth number represents Menghai factory number 2 in Yunnan, China.
The compressed cakes show no sign of damage when packaged. This is an unfermented tea unlike other Menghai pu-er. Meaning these are whole leafs packed into a cake with the hope of aging in a container. The leafs appear fresh. I don't think they were exposed to much air.
After gentle pressure the cake unfolds and the leafs separate with ease. A fermented pu-er will have been aged artificially. Meaning the leafs created in hot, damp conditions. Called a “wet-piling” technique. This will cut the aging and increase the flavors. But this is an un-fermented pu-er. The leafs were not processed apart from drying and pressing. Unraveling the cake I find the tips were cut. It is a uniform cut and hints at machine processing. I think they took the best parts of the leaf, the tip, for a green tea and left the rest for this cake.
After washing the pu-er I started the first brew. (Washing means immersing the leafs with 100C water for 20 seconds then discarding the water.) The first brew gives a hint of sweetness with a bitter aftertaste. The tea has not awakened with this brew and the mouthfeel is not present.
The second brew gives a change in color. It goes from fresh green to a mellow yellow hue. The fresh taste has disappeared. There is a strong leaf taste with increased bitterness. The tea is reminiscent of old green tea. There is heavy mouthfeel, bitter and astringent, it has not developed a pu-er flavor. I get the sense this tea is still maturing. It makes you feel energized, and it’s not filling like a fermented pu-er.
The third brew is full of leaf flavor. Bitterness is omnipresent. I find this is not offensive but more astringent in feel. It does not combine well with sweet or savory snacks. This tea still has a lot of maturing to do. The flavors will mellow and an earthy taste will enter the leafs. Breaking the cake and storing the leafs in a purple sand container will speed aging. The purple sand is recommended for its porous nature. This helps control air flow and moisture. As an added benefit the jar will absorb the scent and become fragrant for many years.
The tea gives off a fresh smell like a green tea you find in markets. It seems like new leafs as compared with most pu-er. The second brew gives off a faint, musty smell. I think this is a hint at the earthy aromas developing in the cake. It reminds me of tea that has been sitting too long. Old tea, like a “house tea” you get at a Chinese restaurant.
This is a unusual cake. With a hallmark number “7592” it shows great promise for aging but it’s unappealing now. The flavors are bitter with little complexity. The best thing would be to store this cake in a purple sand container for a few years. The leafs will darken and the flavors will transform to a much deeper pu-er tea.