Maliandao day today, although I had some errands to run so I didn’t get there until a bit later than usual.
I wanted to get some gaiwans — two, to be exact. Two small ones. This way, I can brew two teas together, and have a comparative tasting using the same water, same infusion time, etc, to let me better compare teas. This will also mean buying new fairness cups, that sort of thing. I should probably also invest in a scale. However, I never got around to shopping for this.
The other goal was to taste the Meng Pasha from Haiwan factory, which BBB seemed to like a lot. Since I finally located their factory store, I went there. It’s in a new building behind the Beijing Tea Corporation mall — tucked in the back. That’s why i never found it. I already need to update my map of Maliandao, and it’s been less than two months since I blogged about it!
I was pretty straight to the point and asked to taste the cake right away. It was brewed… and to my surprise, it tastes a lot sweeter than I imagined it to be. I thought it’ll be a somewhat bitter and harsh tea, but powers down my throat. Instead, it’s not quite that. It’s bitter, of course, but not THAT bitter. The tea is a little thin, and while there’s a certain amount of huigan… I’m not sure if I want to pay that much for this tea. It’s quite expensive for what it is, and the looks of the leaves, at least in the one cake I saw, wasn’t terribly good. It was pretty broken up. I’m not sure if this is due to the way they broke the leaves, but it seems like the leaves themselves aren’t very complete… there are also lingering doubts about the temperature it was processed, as I got some notes of sourness as well as green-tea like bitterness from it (i.e. bitterness that doesn’t really go away)
The price/quality ratio calcualtion is made after I also tried the “Deep Mountain Old Tree Tea”. It’s half the price of the Meng Pasha, but more than half as good. I generally liked the way this cake tasted a little better than the Meng Pasha. I ended up with two. Probably not the greatest buy, and it’s 1kg of tea…. I am quickly buying too much tea.
I then walked around Tianfuyuan. There’s a store with Chamasi’s teas in there, so I walked in. They were doing some calligraphy thing in there. The whole place is very well decorated…. almost too well. Then I realized that they really just sell older puerhs, and the Chamasi stuff is just a sideshow (and discontinued — just really their leftover teas). The owner sat me down and gave me a cup of what they were brewing. I tasted it… it’s weak and a little thin. The aroma is like a cooked puerh, with that slightly ricey taste. I asked if this is a cooked puerh…. the owner and another guy laughed.
I looked at the wet leaves… then I realized that this can’t be cooked puerh, but some really old stuff. According to the guy, it’s a 50 years old loose tea. The pot was too big, not enough leaves were put in, and while the tea is very good quality — I started feeling the coolness in the throat about two cups after the fact (there was no initial feeling, thus meeting all the criteria for a cooked taste) — it was too weak to taste the nuances. Too bad. They’re almost wasting the tea.
After chatting with the customer who was sitting there and having a few more cups, I left. It was about time Tianfuyuan closed, and I decided to call it a day. So much for the teaware….