Sunday, January 24, 2010

The 2009 Menghai Silver Peacock

It’s mid-evening as I write this, and the trees are swaying to the pulse of a cold, damp wind that is following a rainy deluge.  Given the glum weather, It’s time to have some tea.
The Trusty Goldfish Gaiwan
Today’s sample is the 2009 Menghai Silver Peacock acquired from the wonderful Yunnan Sourcing.  The pleasant aroma of leather and dense air from a cold autumn night had already put a smile on my face as I begun working on loosening the leaves from the chunk.
The leaves are larger than that of the 7542, so the leaf "grade" might be slightly lower.  In many cases, the leaf grade doesn't matter too much - if it tastes good, then it tastes good.  Even very careful removal of the leaves saw broken looking leaves, so the leaves were sitting like this in the cake, fortunately.  
I’m using five grams of leaf in my trusty goldfish gaiwan.  Given the choppy looking leaves, I’m expecting some bitterness, so I sift out the fannings and dust to help keep some of it at bay. 
The rinse started out normal enough, using freshly boiling spring water straight from my kettle.  I looked at the leaves sitting in the bottom of my gaiwan, pouring the water on them for their rinse.  As I poured the rinse into my cha hai to look it over, I noticed a rather deep orange color.  I understand that Menghai uses mixed maocha from different years in this blend, but the color tells me there might have been a little pre-oxidation before the shaqing, or kill-green process, was carried out.
Because of the unusual rinse color, I decided to cut the first infusion time down to 7 seconds.  Fortunately for me, I timed it pretty well.  The bitterness in the first four infusions was mild enough so that I could detect pleasant, strong notes of leather, mushroom, and sweetness, which is pretty much the standard for Menghai.  The aftertaste changes constantly from infusion to infusion, ranging from sweet flowers to pumpkin as well as cedar wood and ripe tropical fruits. 
By the end of the fourth infusion, I felt rather sleepy.  I’ve had some teas that energize and relax me to a small degree, but never to such a degree as this one.  I actually felt slightly dizzy from the intense qi of this pu-erh.  The fifth through the eighth infusions gradually mellowed out into a gentle background sweetness with a hint of mushroom.  They also put me to sleep.
Overall, this tea was enjoyable, given the good balance of bitter and sweet flavors.  The flavors were strong, but not quite as strong as say, the 7542 or any other similar product.  The Silver Peacock could have some potential for aging, but I will just have to wait and see, won’t I?