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2007 Kunming Dry Storage Zhongcha 6351 Menghai Early Spring Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2007 Kunming Dry Storage Zhongcha 6351 Menghai Early Spring Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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Description

November 7th, 2020

I purchased eight 380g cakes of this recipe last December, and have held them in my warehouse here in HK since their arrival. I wasn't intending to try this tea for another year, but based on the Chinese market's response to this pressing, I decided I'd give this cake a try today.

I pulled the eighth cake (in a plastic bag since last year, and separate from the other seven cakes, which are bound together as a tong) out of storage last night and opened up the bag to see what the cake smelled like. I was surprised that it smelled surprisingly sweet and floral. From the aroma of the cake in the bag, I knew today's session was going to be a good one.

The material used for this cake is early spring material from the Menghai area, and based on the flavor profile, I believe this is Bulangshan material. This cake has a classic flavor and processing profile that I truly enjoy! This cake appears to be a remake of (or at least inspired by) a traditional Kunming Tea Factory recipe created in 1963. I don't know if and when this recipe was ever commercially produced by CNNP, but there is definitely an old school feel to this cake, as you'll see below.

This tea seems to have aged very rapidly in my warehouse, partly due to my environment and the looser compression used for this cake. I was able to break a sample off with my hands (no pick needed).

The material used for this pressing looks great: until I did more reading after the session, I didn't know for sure that this was early spring material from the Menghai region, but now it is very obvious.

After the rinse, I got some sweet fruit and floral aromatics that reminded me of Lao Man'E gushu, which was a surprise. I also got character that reminded me of classic Dayi or Zhongcha productions (Dayi's plantation material for their classic recipes is all grown on Bulangshan in the Menghai area). There was also surprising smoke in the pitcher after the rinse, which made me somewhat wary of what was to come!

The aroma and taste of the liquor were both surprisingly sweet. There was definite aged smoke character in the first infusion, but it didn't detract from the experience at all. The aromatics almost reminded me of sweet peaches, and the astringency was extremely light. There was no bitterness at all. The distinct wildflower character was very familiar and nostalgic of CNNP and Dayi tea, so I strongly suspect this is Bulangshan material. The taste in the cup is full, sweet and pleasant, with date and cantaloupe both rising up after the swallow in the aftertaste.

I also noted an almost agarwood incense-like aromatic that is likely due to the combination of the smoke and the wildflower from the material itself. It was around this point in the session that I started wishing I'd bought more of this tea! I noted some striking similarities to the Zhongcha 6581 HK Handover commemorative brick from 2007, so I believe material from the exact same plantation may have been used. I'm a fan of both of these teas because of their old school flavor and I actually really enjoy how balanced the aged out smoke in these productions is at this point. If you are smoke averse, however, this may not be the recipe for you.

The second steep was incredibly sweet on both the palate and nose: again, like the 6581 brick. More astringency arose, which will of course mellow down with time, but it was definitely a very tolerable level of astringency.

As I progress through the session, the smoke becomes more dominant, but it is never intolerable for my tastes. The smoke on this old school Menghai material just works, and this is really a wonderful example of the classic CNNP sheng profile. The cha qi from this tea is energizing, but I was so happy with the quality of this tea that I'm not sure if my elation was from the tea itself or because I like this tea so much! In later infusions, the floral aromatics and wood smoke combine to taste saffron-like, which was unexpected, and very welcome. I also got mixed berry notes toward the end of the session.

This is a truly lovely sheng with a classic Menghai plantation profile. There is lots of complexity here, incredible sweetness and old school aged out smoke that just works with the material! I very much enjoyed my session with this tea, and would very happily keep it in regular rotation because of how nostalgic the experience of drinking this tea is, albeit without the old school bitterness some of the older productions had!



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