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Shuang Jiang Meng Ku Rong Xi Tea Co.

After I posted the Mother Tree’s Tea on Hou De, I did a bit more research on the tea producer – full name is Shuang Jiang Meng Ku Rong Xi Tea Co. “Shuang Jiang Meng Ku” is the location of the tea company, “Rong Xi” is the last name of the owner’s family. I have always liked their offerings – and honestly think the CP-value of their teas is (should probably say “was”) very good.

Meng Ku Ring Xi official website: http://www.ynmkrs.com/

I searched for the Bing Dao Village on Google Earth, and soon realized the village is just upstream of the Meng Ku Tea Co. on the Meng Ku River:

Their information on BaiDu says (here is the link):

(勐库戎氏茶厂)的前身是创办于1993年的勐库茶叶配制厂,1999年该厂收购了竞价拍卖的国有企业“双江县茶厂”,公司已经发展成为固定资产3000万元、年生产量700-900吨、产房2万平方米、占地63亩的茶叶精致加工企业,并注册有“勐库牌”、”青岗牌“、‘忙波牌’三大品牌商标,主要的茶区为勐库大雪山和半坡冰岛山

Translation:

The predecessor of Mengku Rong’s Tea Factory was the Mengku Tea Preparation Factory, which was founded in 1993. In 1999, the factory acquired the state-owned enterprise “Shuangjiang County Tea Factory”, which was auctioned and auctioned. The company has developed into a fixed asset of 30 million yuan and annual production An exquisite tea processing enterprise with an output of 700-900 tons, a delivery room of 20,000 square meters, and an area of ​​63 acres. It has registered three major brand trademarks: “Mengku”, “Qinggang” and “Mannbo”. The main tea area is Mengku Big Snow Mountain and Banpo Bing Dao Mountain.

I don’t know about you … but I notice the last sentence: “the main tea area is MengKu Big Snow Mountain and Banpo Bing Dao Mountain”! Before Bing Dao became very famous, Big Snow Mountain already gained popularity. Xi-Zhi Hao’s 2007 Dian Gu used raw tea leaves from this region – and after Lao Ban Zhan, 2007 Dian Gu is my most favorite XZH pu-erh!

Guess that’s why I’ve always liked Meng Ku offerings. Premium quality, premium CP-value. I know the Mother Tree’s Tea has become kind of expensive – and unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to buy more in 2006. Other Meng Ku’s offerings are still more reasonable than big names like Meng Hai Tea Co, or Xia Guan Tea Co.

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US$ 85 a Pot of New Bing Dao Pu-erh! White Tea!?

As I was posting the 2005 Meng Ku 1st-generation Mother Tree’s Tea, Youtube somehow picked up my interest and randomly suggested some videos. Now this is an interesting one from a Taiwan tea merchant Mr. Chang who travelled to Bing Dao:

@ 3:01 of the video, they showed the pale green liquor of the tea .. OMG, I can feel my stomach hurt just by looking at such pale green pu-erh liquor:

How much did it cost to brew one pot of Bing Dao tea? US$ 85 @ 3:47:

I remember when I was still buying pu-erhs before 2012, the liquor from a new pu-erh was never this light pale green. I had noticed, however, the liquor and taste had gradually become more green-tea like – one of the reasons I lost interest in buying any pu-erhs since then.

This white tea-like Bing Dao pu-erh is simply … eye-opeing.

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Old Hou De Sample Packs

Yesterday when I was digging through a box simply labeled as “Puerh Black Tea Samples”. It’s a box full of tea samples, either we received from tea producers like XZH or Chen Guang He Tang, or Hou De sample packs that were not sold. Most samples are pre-2012 – that was about the time when we stopped buying any pu-erhs at all.

I found one sample pack that still has our previous house & Hou De Asian Art address on it – and it is a 2005 XZH Lao Ban Zhan sample pack, still sealed! Since we no longer live in that house, I masked the house address. If you still have sample packs with this old address (zip code 77077), then you are really a long-time customer of Hou De : ) We rented a PO Box later (I think around 2006) to represent Hou De.

Imagine a time when we were offering samples of XZH (1) Lao Ban Zhan (2) You Le Remote Mountain and (3) Nan Nuo Purple Tips …

The XZH Lao Ban Zhan sample has been sealed since 2005. After I cut away the heat-sealed line and opened the zip, a very concentrated ripe fruity aroma rushed to my nose. Of course, I could not wait to make a tea out of it. It was surprisingly young – I guess due to the fact it has not had fresh air and always kept indoor – but very concentrated in fruity aroma and camphor-like spiciness. What was most interesting was the whole body sensation out of the tea – normally I don’t like to describe cha qi, as it is a very personal feeling and can be misleading. But there was a sensation “climbing” all the way from stomach to my head and left a tingling feeling in the scalp! So very strange and interesting.

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Opened up an Original Tong of XZH Yin Cakes

Last Friday evening, everything was still good and calm …. Saturday, you started to feel the trembling in the air …. and on Sunday evening, we received almost like an organized attack … all available 2006 Spring Xi-Zhi Hao Taichi Yin cakes were gone! And this was after I had to persude at least two customers not to buy too many – or buy up all – of the Yin cakes. Sweat .. sweat … sweat …

So here I want to share with you the painful task to break open an intact Taichi Yin cake Tong … step by step …

There were two nei fei in between the first and the second cake:

For those of you swooping up the Yin cakes … here is another good news: its price in Asia is like > US$900 a piece, Yin or Yan cake:

27,000 Taiwan Dollar is about US$ 940 in today’s exchange rate. Before shipping.

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Books that I use for Pu-erh Identification and Research

Want to share with you several common books that I frequently use to identify and cross-checking the vintage and producer of each puerh tea with our own purchase or storage records.
Top row from left to right:

  • Xi-Zhi Hao Yearbook 2005 to 2010, San Ho Tang
  • A Complete Collection Guide of Meng Hai Factory 1994 – 2007, WuShing Publication
  • New Born Pu-erh Tea Yearbook 1998 ~ 2003, WuShing Publication
  • New Born Pu-erh Yearbook 2004, WuShing Publication
  • Pu-erh Xin Yun, Tang Ren Publication

Bottom row from left to right:

  • Storage of Pu-erh Tea, Mr. Wu Te-Liang
  • Profound World of Chi Tse 1950 ~ 2004, Mr. Chen Jr-Tung, WuShing Publication

We used to carry yearbooks and magazines from WuShing Publication on Hou De, but eventually the shipping cost from Taiwan and to our customers getting too high. It’s quite sad, as the pu-erh information available in US, really anywhere outside SE Asia and China, is seriously anemic.

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2005 Yang-Ching Hao 楊慶號 Yunnan Yi Wu Harvesting Trip

Found a photo album that was sent from the owner of Yang-Ching Hao 楊慶號, Mr. Yang Shi-Nan, of his 2005 harvesting trip in Yi-Wu region of Yunnan. Mr. Yang had started traveled to Yunnan to monitor and purchase the raw leaves to make his Yang-Ching Hao cakes since 2004. In 2005, the year my first daughter Yuan Yuan was born, I started to search for premium pu-erh teas to buy and save as Yuan’s “birthday tea”, or you can say as Nu Er Cha 女兒茶. That was when I got into know Yang-Ching Hao and Xi-Zhi Hao – and ended loving both to offer on Hou De and save some as Yuan’s Birthday Tea!

2005 Yang-Ching Hao 楊慶號 Yunnan Trip

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2006 Xi-Zhi Hao Yunnan Harvesting Trip

We put together a photo album and a series of 5 documentary videos to celebrate our beloved XZH cakes – although they are getting too successful and pricey ^__^ Hope from these records you can also appreciate the time and sweat that were putting in to produce XZH quality.

Photo album

This series of 5 videos document the effort of harvesting and the supreme growing conditions of these old/ancient tea trees – the raw leaves from them produced the 2006 XZH cakes.

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The Story of 1999 Green Big Tree – an interview

The interview of the originator of the legendary 1999 Green Big Tree Mr. Yeh was from No. 32 The Art of Tea:


葉炳懷與「綠大樹」的故事
「綠大樹」,在普洱茶界是一個響噹噹的名字,被茶家譽為「茶中珍品」。最近,隨著該系列「十年經典回顧版」的面市,「綠大樹」更是聲名震耳,與之相反的是「綠大樹」系列產品的創製人——茶人葉炳懷,卻依然和往時一樣,安靜地在他的茶店裡賣茶。
葉炳懷在普洱茶界是個很有份量的名字,茶人們提起葉炳懷總是與他的茶聯繫起來,這是因為其為人甚為低調,其訂製和收藏的茶品卻甚珍貴,有「餅王」、「炳倉」之稱。雖被業界同行尊稱為「炳哥」、「炳叔」,葉炳懷 先生卻一再強調:外在的東西不重要,「低調務實、以質取勝」才是至關重要的!這也是他做茶的一貫宗旨。2009年金秋時節的某個下午,在廣州芳村南方茶葉城裡,記者一邊品茶,一邊聽「餅王」葉炳懷先生講述與茶結緣的故事,細味茶人的苦與樂。

從搬茶到賣茶
葉先生很清楚地記得,如今人來人往的廣東芳村茶葉市場一帶,在上個世紀七、八十年代的時候還是一片片的農田。因為當時廣東省茶業出口公司就設在附近,所以周圍就零散地聚集了一些買賣茶業的個體戶,最早到此從事做茶葉的則是廣東廣寧地區的茶人。1982年那時我們的「炳叔」,還是一位眾人眼中的「小弟」,平日的工作是給廣寧的茶商搬茶卸貨。雖然只是一名打雜的小工,但因為本身喜歡喝茶,所以葉先生快就對茶葉買賣過程有了些瞭解。利用身為當地人的地緣優勢,他不久也在芳村做起了茶葉的買賣。當時廣東省茶葉進出品公司每年的茶葉出口量都相當大,有較大的需求缺口,於是有很多個體戶就自己去收茶料讓茶廠加工後再賣給省茶葉進出品公司。葉先生就是當中的一個,憑著努力刻苦,加上頭腦靈活,他的茶葉生意慢慢做起來了。

從紅茶到普洱
飲用茶葉是中國人延續千年的飲食習慣,廣東人因為有「歎早茶」的習慣,對茶葉的需求量一直都很大,茶葉的流行種類則不斷變化著。在上個世紀八十年代初,廣東人比較喜歡喝烏龍、綠茶、紅茶、花茶等。 葉 先生說他最初的主營項目就是紅茶,那時人們喜歡喝紅茶,英德紅茶、民樂紅茶都很受歡迎,而他本人最喜歡滇紅,正是這個原因,使他跟雲南那邊的茶廠很早就建立了聯繫。葉先生很確切地說,喝普洱茶的風潮最初也是由廣東人帶起來,繼而傳播出去的,他記得大約在上個世紀八十年代末,喝普洱茶的廣東人就慢慢多起來了,也因為這樣,他做起了普洱茶生意,而這一做就是十數年。回首這一路走來,也是幾經沉浮的,1992年他在雲南某茶廠訂製了數十噸普洱茶,因為未能親自監製,恰巧製作過程中出現了問題,導致整批茶出現了較嚴重的質量問題,欠下很大一筆債務。幸好危急中有朋友相助,得以很快走出困境。早幾年的國內茶葉市場的那場「普洱瘋」,葉先生也受到了波及,還好都捱過來了,他認為普洱茶市場要走出低迷還需一段時間,但他相信前景仍是美好的。在普洱茶市場遇過的挫折,亦令他深深明白到:普洱茶,需要一種認真平和的態度,切忌盲目和瘋狂;像普洱茶,時間存放越長越醇香,價值越高,必須以質取勝,走穩每一步;另外,同行間的守望相助也很重要。

從緬甸到易武
現在說起普洱茶原料,大家想到的是雲南,葉先生說他最初做普洱茶卻是到緬甸收茶的,因為那裡的茶產業很落後,所以茶菁特別便宜。他以每公斤幾毛錢的價格收購茶料,再運到雲南當地的茶廠加工,製成的茶品則運回廣州批發給來自各地的茶商。後來,市場上對普洱茶的需要量越來越大,對茶的品質也有了更高要求,他也開始到雲南當地收茶。1999年雲南勐海茶廠面臨轉制,引發了重重問題,陷入了連工人的工資都發不出去的困境。剛上任的阮殿蓉廠長經人介紹找到了葉先生請求幫助。他親自到茶廠瞭解到真實情況後,留下了一筆預付貨款,讓茶廠得以暫解燃眉之急,這段雪中送炭的情分,也讓茶廠的老工人至今仍念記。留下大筆的預付款後,葉先生卻沒有在茶廠裡找到很滿意的茶,惟有親自去雲南的各大茶山找茶料。當他來到易武時,看到「瑞貢天朝」的牌匾,瞭解到易武貢茶的故事,並經過實在的考察和親自的品飲後,葉先生萌發了要把遺失的貢品茶從歷史上重拾回來的想法。當他把這一念頭轉化為行動後,自此就與易武茶結下不解之緣,並通過芳村茶葉市場這個商貿平台,把易武茶的好滋味帶給了五湖四海的茶家茶人。

從綠大樹到敬業號:
近年來,眼看著普洱茶的大熱,茶家茶迷們卻是喜憂參半:喜的是普洱茶的製作工藝更趨完善,普洱茶文化也得到了很好的傳播;憂的是過量的開採,使珍品減少,好茶難覓。到得許多茶家茶迷口裡,真正的好茶不多,早期的易武茶難得地被一致推祟為「珍品」。而提起易武茶,都少不了葉先生的「綠大樹」。「綠大樹」其實只是一個別稱,品名其實為「易武正山野生茶」。葉先生於1999年在勐海茶廠訂製了他的第一批「易武正山野生茶」,此後,他每年都會訂製 一兩 批,而且一直延用同一設計的包裝紙。因為包裝紙的中間有棵綠色的茶樹,「綠大樹」的名稱就此隨著易武茶醇和鮮爽的滋味傳播開去了,成為茶人茶家眼中的經典茶品。葉先生訂製的茶,除了「綠大樹」之外,「一片葉」也是一個響噹噹的名字,其標識是包裝紙中間有一片綠葉的圖案。自從當年對包裝紙上那棵綠色的大樹「一見鍾情」後,葉先生每收到一批他自己認可的易武野生茶,都會以這個設計作為包裝標識。以致後來他註冊自己的品牌「敬業號」時,設計的標識中間也是綠色的大樹,因為大樹外面有個圓環包圍著,所以他自己也喜歡稱之為「綠太陽」。從做茶到做人,葉先生說自己是個很念舊的人,因此一直延用舊的包裝設計;店舖選址在洞企路後,十多年來也沒變遷過,連店名都沒換過。不僅如此,跟勐海茶廠、下關茶廠的合作關係,也是延續了多年,採訪當日,他還拿出許多舊照片給記者看,說起舊事娓娓道來。
低調、簡樸、念舊,葉先生的做人做事態度跟他做的茶竟有異曲同工之妙。普洱茶是越陳越香,一名成功的茶人亦需要在歲月流轉中積累智慧和藏茶。

Source: 普洱壺藝32期,專訪廣州知名茶商新業茶行老闆 葉炳懷先生 綠大樹來由與始末

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How to Brew Aged Taiwan Oolongs

Aged oolongs are so precious. Thinking how unlikely for the teas to age “safely” for 30 or 40 years without being consumed, trashed, or damaged, you would know they deserve our utmost attention in brewing and serving.

I am here to share with you my brewing method that has suited me well.

There are some keys to bring out the best of your aged oolongs, to prevent failures or waste.

Key#1 : A Quality Time – You don’t want to multitask here. The brewing time we are going to talk is measured in seconds. Any distraction will easily make you over-steeping your tea. So, don’t start unless you are sure of being able to spend a quality time with your tea, like 10 minutes.

Key#2: Teaware – You can get good results with either teapot or gaiwan. Although smaller size (like < 150cc) will likely make more efficient steeping – less amount of teas required, easier to control, you can make good teas as long as you pre-warm the teapot/gaiwan like we did hereAroma cup helps you to enjoy the aroma of the tea separately from enjoying the taste of the liquor – and you should try to smell the aroma cup at it gradually cools down to experience the layers of teas’ fragrance.

Key#3: Water Temperature – Boiling water, especially for the first or second steeping. Sometimes you will find the aged oolongs (or, any aged teas) act quite stubborn – kind of refusing to open up. Boiling water really helps to open up the teas and brings out the aroma. You may use slightly cooler (like 200F) water in following steepings. But I like to use boiling water all the way.


Suggested Brewing Method:– 6 gram dry leaves to 100cc boiling water

– (Optional) A quick rinse with the boiling water

– 1st and 2nd steeping: 45 seconds

– 3rd and 4th steeping: 50 seconds

Then add 5 seconds to each following steeping. I can usually go to 7th or 8th steeping easily.

You may find the best aroma/taste happen in the 2nd~5th steepings. With later steeping, you may get “sweeter” feeling in the liquor, especially with aged bao zhong.

Same brewing suggestion can be applied to aged pu-erhs as well, except I may use 5 gram to 100cc boiling water.

In the end, you should fine tune the suggested method to best suit your taste.

WAIT! Before you dump the used teas, I like to boil them in a kettle or saucepan to squeeze out the last bit of juice, then enjoy hot, cool or icy! You may be happily surprise how much it still left.

Guang : )