Never Say Never, ManSong 2001 Raw Puer

Cloudy Tea & the Trappings of Conventional Opinion

After countless experiences being proven dead wrong when speaking in puer absolutes, I should know better by now. Today’s tea, a 2001┬áManSong raw puer pushes back on a couple of puerisms that many people toss around:

  1. Aged teas tend to lose their youthful fragrances over time in non-dry storage
  2. Cloudy soup is an indicator of “bad” tea

Both of these pieces of knowledge are generally true. An aged tea will often leave it’s floral scents of youth after a decade, or sometimes much faster, depending on the storage. And cloudy soup can be an indicator of a variety of woeful situations, like tea picked after rain or even poor processing, both things which tend to impact the quality of the tea.

Nine times out of ten, these things are right. And then you have the tenth tea.

Zisha Teapot

Dry Maocha about to go into the pot

This tea is roughly a decade old, but smells more fragrant than most young teas.

The first rinse left an intoxicating aroma in the gongbei [shared cup], but as you can see from the image above, it is very low on the clarity scale. Once in awhile you get some fall teas picked after heavy rain which are less cloudy than this. I have no idea where this opacity comes from, but most puer snobs would scoff at the color of the liquor.

Mansong Puerh Tea

Cloudy Tea (Partly to my bad camerasmanshipbility)

I am a snob and I scoffed as well. Then, I took a sip, followed by a bite of humble pie. The first steep had remnants of astringency, but was smooth and thick in the back of the throat. A mix of fruity caramel flavors and a fast huigan [sweet aftertaste] that followed a light bitter body. Don’t judge books by their covers and all that.

Mansong Puer Tea

The soup, getting a bit less cloudy and more red in color

Speaking of prejudice, I was a little bit down on ManSong tea and several other teas from that area before this Spring. Probably because I had a few bad encounters and wrote it off. After visiting several areas around Xiangming and ManZhuan I changed my opinion. Just another re-learning of the lesson to keep an open mind and two open eyes when looking for good tea.

Mansong Pu-erh

Spent leaves, all very hearty

* Might be wrong on the date here, but that is what the farmer wrote on a slip of paper in the bag

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2 Responses to “Never Say Never, ManSong 2001 Raw Puer”

  1. The Essence of Tea September 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    One possible cause of the cloudiness can be from the leaves not being shaken out and cooled properly after kill-green and/or rolling. I’m not sure of the exact chemical process that makes the soup turn cloudy but, from all accounts, this can occur if the leaves are not allowed to cool and release moisture sufficiently at this stage. I agree though – it doesn’t make the tea automatically bad. I’m sure that good quality leaves can still brew into a good tea, even with a bit of cloudiness!

    • TwoDog2 September 24, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      I agree – cloudy tea definitely doesn’t discount tea from being good. That bias occurs sometimes when people are after a certain visual aesthetic. Personally, I care more whether it is good in the cup.

      Interesting about the shaking out and cooling. The most common cause for cloudiness (which could be related via humidity/cooling) that I have found is tea being picked or processed when it was particularly rainy or humid. Mostly summer or early fall teas.

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