Inside for the review and more pictures...
I purchased an entire tong of this cake from Yunnan Sourcing
on conjecture. I've always wanted to have a complete tong of a tea, and this seemed like a good candidate -- nice factory, good leaf, good method, small, organic.
Scott's description:Mengku Tea Factory Green label mini beengs are seven to a stack and 145 grams each. Like alot of the other Mengku Pu-erh tea cakes this one is not a blend of leaves but culled from one area on a grdually sloping part of the mountain. Quality Pu-erh. This cake was sun-dried (not baked) and is validated by the ATI Company of Fujian to be free of pollutants. Mengku Shuanjiang Tea factory is located in Lincang county, in the Wa Minority Autonomous region of Yunnan. The trees which provide the leaves for this cake grow at an altitude of 1800 meters. These cakes are still made by hand by the Wa and Bulang people. This cake has excellent aging potential, but can also be drunk right away.
Nice whole small leaves on the surface and back. Tightly compressed, but easy to pry off leaves with a knife without much breakage or dust. Nice shiny, lively leaves with a good mixture of dark and silver. Despite being small in size, this cake has a regal and elegant appearance.
Method: twice with ~5g in a 150ml gaiwan. Basic sheng brewing method (20, 15, 20, 25, etc) at 10sec off the boil.
1st: mild, slightly bitter and astringent, no smoke, vegetative, floral (orchid), lively and cooling aftertaste.
2nd: slightly more astringency and bitterness but well integrated with the other flavors, fresh pine, texture is smooth, the aftertaste continues to be cooling and lively -- very long lasting.
3rd: bitterness is fading, still astringent, more floral and a little sweet
4th: much sweeter but like light flowers, not sugar or grain, very floral. Saffron.
5th: levels out, could keep going but less to write about. It's tea.
This is a very well integrated and subtle tea. It has no overwhelming quality that stand out, yet like it's appearance, it has a silent and deceptivly noble presence. It has youthful green qualities, yet it behaves maturely without flash. Perhaps this is a result of it having been harvested from a single location -- a single focus and clarity that is harder to achieve with many of the 'recipe' cakes. If I had to compare it to another puerh, I would say that it is like a Xia Guan Te Ji TouCha without the harshness. It has that Xia Guan floral quality and complexity, but the bitterness is kept under wraps.
I look forward to getting to know this tea over time. It is quiet, and I picture spending time with it when I can slow down and listen to it.