Thursday, January 15, 2015

2001 Simplified Character Cloud (Menghai Tea Factory)

The 2001 Simplified Character Cloud is a special production from the Menghai Tea Factory. It is a tea that appeals to both collectors and investors due to its quality and popularity (from being referenced in tea publications and discussed in tea forums). Personally I find the quality of the tea to be good and superior to Menghai’s regular productions. That said it is not a tea to be enjoyed now as its maturity is likely to be decades away.

Drinking the tea now as a case study, it is obvious that the tea has developed and aged but what is impressive is that it is still holding on to its shape and form very well. The compactness in the feeling of the brew gives me confidence that the internal substance and integrity of this teacake will hold for a very long time (multiple decades long). It is a raw recipe that brews darker and provides a fuller sensation than many Menghai productions from the same period. The dark malty profile and deep sweetness that settles in the lower jaw and throat is a nice feature to the tea. However do not let this fool you into thinking that the brew is soft and pleasant as the plantation roughness is still present and as such you will need to be watchful when brewing this tea. If you are patient and studious, I find following the development from the first to last steeping of this tea an interesting experience that touches on similarities with older Menghai productions. This raises my excitement and expectation for the future.

List of publications 1) First Step to Chinese Puerh Tea by Chan Kam Pong, 2) Profound World of Chi Tse 1950-2004, 3) The Art of Tea Magazine No 4

Additional Note: It is my impression that Menghai Tea Factory production remains the most liquid and heavily traded brand within the puerh market to the extent that the Menghai brand is the closest to tea money a compressed teacake will get. The pre 2004 productions have undergone much speculation and hype in recent years and as a result become money makers for investors. At the same time for those who wish to procure pre 2004 Menghai it is important to be aware that this category of tea will always likely command an inflated price. The attraction herein rests in the puerh history that this era of Menghai represents, a comfort of mind in relation to aging from knowing that past vintages from this era have been highly successful, and perhaps an exciting opportunity to root for (by owning) a tea that may one day develop into the class of the highly acclaimed 1950-60s Masterpieces.

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  1. mrmopu again. I agree the liquidity of older Menghai products is amazing. I have been trying to buy tea "early" to age in the States in an artificial "pumidior" environment. The general temperature is 68-75f and the humidity is almost always between 68-71%. I have noticed some of the edge coming off stuff stored for about a year but the highly compressed cakes/tuos i.e. XiaGuan have been much slower to have any difference if any at all. I have been buying some looser compressed private cakes that I hope will age gracefully as well.

    1. Mr Mopu, you are a pioneer! … paving new roads in new territories for us less braver souls. It is exciting times now that I see puerh collections and storage being setup everywhere all over the world.

      In my opinion plantation leaves that are compressed hard into a toucha or teacake needs to be forgotten about for a few decades or every 5-7 year interval if you want to check on their progress and see any noticeable changes. I find traditionally processed, stone pressed, big tree material teacakes age and mature quicker than any other type of puerh tea I have in my collection. Both the Banzhang and Nannuo teacakes produced by the Gan En factory are great examples of this. They have a depth in them and what is becoming more of a settled age character that makes me sleep well at night.


    2. Thanks you are a pioneer as well. Thanks for your notes and I hope we both learn from each other,