Menghai (2005) 18 years old ripe Puer Tea
Leather. The feel, the aroma and the relaxing comfort of a favorite chair. That’s what this tea delivers and in big quantity. Sink in, kick off you shoes and unwind to a few cups.
Aging is one of the biggest factors for Puer teas on the road to balance—balance in flavor, balance in texture and balance in aroma. The ideal weather parameters are based on the high mountain climate in this tea’s birthplace of Menghai, Yunnan Province, which is exactly where this tea aged all 18 years of its life. The silky smoothness, the fine leather and the rich aroma are the rewards of the slow changes occurring during aging. Fermentation is the other critical step in making ripe Puer. Smaller antioxidants bind together to form larger ones which in turn link together and form theaflavins and tannins. Which brings us back to the leather.
Tannins naturally occurring in trees tan the leather used for chairs and give it that classic fragrance. Carefully fermented and aged ripe Puer has similar tannins that contribute to its fragrance and flavor making this a strong connection.
The fermentation process is strikingly similar to the fermenting process that starts cocoa beans on their way to becoming chocolate. That helps to explain the natural affinity this tea has for dark chocolate. Spicy oils, meats and desserts work well too.
The grower and his family are from the Hani ethnic group and have as much skill in the kitchen as they do producing Puer tea. Over the years they taught us a number of traditional cooking techniques (smoked corn individually popped in the hot ashes of a fire) and quite a few fine Hani dishes.
To ensure the highest quality drinking experience and maximum nutritional value, we keep all of our white and Puer teas in proper temperature and humidity controlled professional storage.
Storage: Store unused portions away from sunlight and odors in a moderately humid area between 70-80F/21-27C.
Brewing water: Poland Spring (called Origin brand in some areas) brand mineral water produces the finest results. See water recommendation list for additional options. Soft water, distilled water and hard water will ruin this tea. Tap water varies wildly and is best avoided as well.
Brewing method: 6g tea leaves (~2 heaping Tablespoons), 100ml (a bit less than 1/2 cup) water each time for 5 seconds in a Chinese gaiwan or a small pot. After the first 10 infusions, increase each infusion time by 5 seconds. To produce lighter tea, either decrease amount of tea, increase amount of water or decrease brewing time. To produce stronger tea, either increase amount of tea, decrease amount of water or increase brewing time. You can easily adjust to suit your individual taste.
Notes: Small quick infusions showcase the changing flavors of each cup. Longer brewing times in larger quantities of water (western brewing style) end up more homogeneous, but still very good results.