April 12, 2010

1985 Menghai 8582

This is very exciting, Tim from "The Mandarins Tea" blog has opened an online tea shop of his own. Now, I knew as soon as I became aware of the tea shop that "The Mandarin's Tea Room" teas were going to be special. Superb tea's and tea wares offered up with such class and style. Here I will quote from the card attached to the packaging, " From fresh, seasonal varietals to sophisticated vintages of the past; we offer only the finest, handcrafted rarities that exemplify traditional tea cultivation and production" A chance for all of us to taste for ourselves what teas used to taste like before modern farming and processing became the standard. The packaging was well thought out, attached to each package is a removable strip that allows you to re-close the package between use, only a real tea head would think of such things. In addition, each package comes with a classy little card that states the contents and also gives recommended brewing parameters. I would recommend following Tim's suggestions, this tea brewed to perfection by doing so.

First of all I should start by saying that 1985 was the year that Menghai first introduced the 8582 recipe. The 8582 is made from larger, coarser leaves than any of the other numbered cakes that Menghai produces. Just look at the depth of color in the cup. In trying to describe this teas flavors and aromas I,m not sure where to start. It's so complex that it leaves me almost incapable of finding words to convey the tastes and sensations that this tea possesses. All the flavors you would expect are there, and in abundance. Woodsy, is an understatement. It's extremely woodsy but somehow it's not over the top or too much. Old and faded leathery scents and flavors. The slightest traces of camphor that have, over the years, transformed into a touch of mintiness. Such a gentle sweetness helps to mingle all the other flavors together. Tingly sensations on the lips and front of the mouth are found in the first several infusions, yet it is as smooth as silk.  But there is much more in the cup than these inadequate words can describe.

The above pic is taken on the first infusion, which following Tim's recommendations was ten seconds. Normally, for most puerh's, my first infusion time is around twenty seconds. You can tell by the teas color that it doesn't require normal infusion times. This tea is uber-durable, I stopped counting at around the fifteenth infusion, took a break of a few hours and came back to it, and there was plenty more to be had. The flavors already mentioned are a constant with this tea but with further infusions it's the underlying flavors that will surprise you. Sometimes I taste something slightly herbal in the cup and sometimes there is something that's a tad floral, not really a floral that is fresh but something more like a memory of something floral, think of your Grandmother and that's the kind of floral that I,m getting here. Sometimes there is something that's kinda bitter and citrus like in it's flavor. This tea is very satisfying, full rounded flavors that are buttery and rich. I actually feel like Ive had enough by the time Ive exhausted the leaf.

The picture (of the brewed tea) at the top of this post is on the tenth infusion, a testament to this tea's stamina. My kettle ran out of hot water long before this tea was done, that was a first for me, Ive never had a tea this durable before. I love the color of the dry leaf, it looks like a rusty, old antique. The dry leaf is thick and chunky and smells like old, dried out timber with a touch of old, dried out leather. Also a trace of something light and delicate is buried deep under the wood and leather, what that smell is I can't really say. It's familiar, but I can't put a name to it.

Amazing stuff! The Mandarins Tea Room is going to do very well. Expensive? Yes! The Mandarins Tea Room doesn't offer this tea as a whole cake, only loose leaves. Even if it were offered by the cake I,m not sure.....well, actually, positive, I could ever bring myself to spend that much money on a single cake, basically a dollar a gram. But the price of a small qty. doesn't hurt so bad. I always have in the back of my mind that I can just buy my own young cakes and forget about them for forever and they will turn out more or less the same as these cakes. But every once in a while I let a bit of reality slip in and have to admit that they will not age into something as sublime as this tea. But who knows.....they might turn out to be something equally good, just different. Maybe an aged teas flavor has as much to do with it's storage as the maocha it's made from.
Thanks Tim! Though this was my first time ordering I,m sure there will be many, many more orders in my future.

10 comments:

  1. Alright, Bret! I've been spying on the new Mandarin's Tea Room site from a distance and the 8582 was one of the teas I was most interested in...it's not cheap (unless you compare it to some of the other teas on the site--$130/oz 2008 Shui Xian, yikes!), but the price isn't unreasonable if the tea is as good as you describe. Looks like it's not the only one you picked up, either...are more reviews forthcoming?

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  2. Howdy Zero, I also have some of the High Fired Anxi TGY and some of the Yiwu. While I,m not normally a fan of TKY I still decided to give this one a try, Ive already had a go with it and it,s very good. Even though it's "high fired" the roast doesn't dominate, there is a definate grapefruit like flavor and aroma which is a perfect match for the heavy, buttery body that this TKY has. Go ahead, buy some samples, I,m sure you,ll agree that these teas are superb but the expense will put them into the "not for everyday" category.

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  3. Wowee, 10 seconds and that's how it looks? Amazing. Have tried a few more expensive tea samples and only wish I had the $$$$ to purchase more of them.

    Nothing like a great tasting tea, that can be used more than a few times, with the same delicate flavors coming through.

    Cheers!

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  4. Yeah, this tea has made it into my "Hall Of Fame" category. Superb in every respect....except for the price. Too expensive for anything other than an ocassional treat.

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  5. Hi Bret,

    May I ask you? Do you know according as the recepie of this tea is "8582" if that means that this recepie was created in 1985 (so for first time) or it is from 1982? I am only not sure if it is clear what I am asking ...

    Thank you and take care
    Petr

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  6. Hi Petr, 1985 was the year that Menghai introduced the 8582 recipe. So, this tea is from the very first batch that Menghai ever made. The 8582 recipe uses larger leaves than some of the other recipes, like the 7542 etc. This is a very special tea and I would encourage you to try some for yourself. This is a tea that requires you to allow plenty of time for your tea session as you can re-brew it many, many times. I do plan on getting some more of this and when I do I wpuld be happy to send you some. Thanks for reading Petr.

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  7. You reviewed a later 8582 some time back, how would you say the aging has effected this "simple" blend - it always strike me, when I drink aged Menghai, how complex their teas can get. I've, honestly, never tasted anything that really gets the better of aged Menghai. Of course, there are some single mountain cakes form the early 90' that are excellent and complex, but the prices!!!

    Give Tyson a treat from me!

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  8. Morning Terje! Lets see.... comparing Nada's 8582 with Toki's. While Nada's was a really good tea it was more of a robust and stout, woodsy tea without much in the way of underlying flavors, no surpises with continued steepings. With Toki's 8582, it's equally stout and woodsy but with many flavors that reveal themselves slowly with each additional infusion. Toki's is also much more durable and also much, much more expensive.

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  10. Thank You D, I'll certainly check out your blog. Thanks for reading.

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