This past Sunday, Will of the Teadrunk Forum, Roy, Davin and I met up to taste a lot of sheng pu'er while drinking as little of it as possible. After doing a a blind competition tasting of eight young sheng bing, we moved onto these three 1999 Menghai factory teas:
The setup was three competition tasting sets. They were preheated with boiling water and decanted in the succession they were filled. We used 3g of tea brewed for 5 minutes. We attempted to create roughly equal samples in terms of the proportion of chunks to loose leaves.
This is the result, from top to bottom the teas are A, B, and C.
We all remarked that A's darker color probably meant it underwent the most humid storage. Unsurprisingly, it gave off some mold smell on the tasting spoon. However, it did not taste as wet stored as it smelled until it cooled significantly, which was nice. Will and I instantly felt a rush of energy on our first sip, but otherwise the tea didn't offer much. Its flavors were relatively flat.
Sample B tasted dry stored and young. Despite its age, the flavor had developed some fruit and just a bit of wood. It easily tasted the most complex of the three and had a good aftertaste. The dry storage made Will remark that of the three, this was his favorite.
I liked Sample C best. It underwent slightly more humid storage than B and showed more development of wood and earth notes, but still complex enough in young ways (straw, a little smoke, bitterness on the tongue root).
Here are their brewed leaves. It might appear the white balance is off between photos, but it's a trick of the eye. Sample A's leaves are darker, B's the lightest, and C's brown.
Unfortunately for me, tea C is the most expensive, over $400. Teas A & B are roughly equivalent in price, around $150-$180.
The teas are:
A: 1999 Menghai 7542, Sampan Tea
B: 1999 Menghai Big Green Tree, Sampan Tea
C: 1999 Menghai Big Green Tree "Dark Blue Piao", Hou De Asian Art