Laoman'e Puer

Puer Scents and a 2011 Laoman’E Gushu

Laoman’e Puer & Young Teas with Floral Scents

Young teas have a tenuous grip on their high pitched floral scents. With an (almost) three year old Laoman’e raw puer tea, you can feel the lighter floral character slipping from the tea’s fingers, to be lost forever as the Laoman’e spirals out into the low tones of bitterness and other mysterious developments that the region is famed for. The floral aspects of the tea are the first thing to be shed when aging sets in, but still many people search out puer teas with heavy fragrance. If the goal is to buy raw puer tea with the intent of aging, this sort of methodology is folly. In 10 years, most of those fragrances will be gone. It is the same logic of why one ought to marry a best friend instead of the beauty pageant winner. Surface beauty is fleeting, but substance lasts.

Laoman'e Puerh
Dry piece of a Laoman’e puer cake

This 2011 Laoman’e gushu [old arbor] still has a loose hold on the flowers of youth. The initial steeps are roses dipped in a satisfying bitter tar.

Several cups pass and the roses become blacker and blacker, until the eventual penetrating kuwei [pleasant bitterness] begins to dominate the character of the tea and the roses are nowhere to be found. They are lost in the thick and engrossing body of the tea.

Laomane Puer
Laoman’e gold soup

The core of the this tea is like an opaque black stone. Orbiting around the bitter gravity are flecks of cream and sweetness.

An intoxicating tea to drink young, for bitter devotees such as yours truly.

For cultists of the floral, perhaps puer is not the right refuge. Oolong teas, fresh green teas, and scented floral teas all hold better claims to the flower throne. I often hear casual tea drinkers in China gripe about the lack of xiangwei [fragrance] in raw puer teas when compared to other teas they drink. This is like complaining about the lack of incense in a temple. Sure, the fragrance of incense in a temple is pleasing to the senses, but if you show up to the temple to meditate and all you can manage is a complaint about the lack of perfume, perhaps you’ve come to the wrong place.

Laomane Puerh
Laoman’e spent leaves
Jin Dayi

2011 Jin Dayi (Gold Dayi)

 Jin Dayi and the Golden Ticket

Apache introduced me to the new darling of the Hong Kong internet forums, the 2011 Jin Dayi, with a sample packet (signed with beautiful penmanship, as shown above). The first time I had checked the price of this tea was several months ago, when it was hovering around 215 RMB. By the time I drank the tea, it was nearer to 300 RMB. As of the writing of this article, it is above 300 RMB – or 380 RMB at the flagship store. Some pretty active climbing for a newish tea from a big factory.

Menghai Gold
Wrapper (golden ticket inside)
Jin Dayi
One cake, Zero trips to the Chocolate Factory

This runaway freight train price increase is due in no small part to the accolades doled out by Cloud, Hong Kong tea aficionado. The Hong Kong tea forums have been bustling with praise over the last year, with prices rising commensurately.

Jin Dayi Soup
Soup (maybe brewed on the heavy side, should be lighter than this pic)

To be perfectly honest, most Dayi raw puer after the early 2000’s has been a bit of a drag. There are bright spots here and there, but in general, nothing to rave about. After seeing the enthusiasm over this tea, I had to try a bit and jump on the bandwagon.

The first cup is a bell tolling. A loud declaration of presence. There is kuwei [pleasant bitterness] and a syrupy coating in the throat from the outset. There are bones and guts and body. These are high compliments, as most Dayi sheng from recent years is a bit lacking in the skeletal department.

Jin Menghai
More accurate soup

The gold dayi also has fortitude. Deep into the session, there is still a strength of kuwei and full body that is not present in most of the recent Dayi teas I have tried. It is clear why Cloud and the HK tea forum crowd are backers of this tea.

Puerh Tea
Leaves in the gaiwan

The Jin Dayi is typical in its menghai character, but it is done better than any I have had in previous years. As for what I mean by menghai character, Hobbes described it as

dark-mushroom with malt, and plenty of hardcore bitterness.

This is in the ballpark of how I would describe Jin Dayi, if I could swap out mushroom for raw tobacco. The darkness, malt, and hardcore kuwei are all there in force. Altogether these components combine for a very intense and pleasurable session.

Puerh Tea
Spent clump of chop

One last note, the 2011 Jin Dayi blend has a fairly wide range in leaf size. Some buds, some larger broad leafs. Ages of the material also ranges, but in general seem to be a few years old. It drinks more smoothly than several other 2011 Dayi blends I have sampled. Some details on the leaves in pics above and below.

tea buds and broad leaf
Big leaves and buds

If you plan on purchasing this tea, probably better to do it sooner than later. The price will probably climb into farcical territory soon, if it is not there already.

Special thanks to Apache for allowing me to sample a tea I might not have otherwise gotten around to!