The 2001 Simplified Character Cloud represents one of the last great productions under Menghai Tea Factory from the old era. This special batch is well known amongst experience drinkers and much sought after by puerh enthusiasts who value the proven lineage of older Menghai productions. The traditional style of processing does not try to beautify the characteristics of tea in the way of the modern production and this can be clearly seen in the retention of the raw and elemental nature. The 2001 Simplified Cloud was not made for easy access. It is a hardy tea with strength and an uncompromising ruggedness that lends itself favorably towards long term ageing. At this stage the tea presents a rich malty profile accented by musky and savory notes. It is a boldly engaging experience that exhibits a dark elemental appeal.
I take great pleasure in exploring Yiwu tea. Despite the diversity I can always be assured of an intrinsic softness in character that I find to be very comforting. The ease to which the brew flows down my throat is a pleasure I greatly enjoy in Yiwu tea. Considering its origins this humble teacake left me with a good impression. Sipping from my cup I took in the clean flavors, pleasant sweetness, smooth texture and darkening age characteristics. The brown tones were layered with sweet tropical nuances, wild plums, a touch of leather and light earthy minerals. I look upon this tea as an interesting and likeable aged Yiwu. My heart grows fonder for discovering that whilst famous Yiwu productions command high prices it is wonderful to know that some of the Yiwu charms can also be passed down to these more humble productions.
Over the past few decades the puerh tea industry has sky rocketed in growth. Much of that recent growth has been fueled by the new controversial trend surrounding “modern style puerh tea” alongside the popularity for “dry/natural storage”. Both have added excitement and a new layer of intrigue to the world of puerh tea. In this regard the comparative tasting of the traditional and modern style of puerh tea under natural storage becomes all the more compelling. This is especially so with the selection of these semi-age teas and the insight that can be gained from assessing the age development from both styles of puerh tea.
The Xia Guan Tea Factory is the second most famous puerh tea producer in China. Founded in 1941, Xia Guan (XG) is most renowned for its bowl shaped “toucha”. The traditional XG toucha has a long history and a proven track record for ageing exceptionally well under long term storage. Different vintages that stretch back multiple decades have become highly sought after collectables that have greatly escalated in value. However with the passage of time change is inevitable and the new trend for young drinkable puerh tea means that the modern style* of XG toucha was born.