2008 Menghai V93 Take 2 January 17 2014
I've been going over the tasting notes I put down for the 2008 Menghai V93 Shou Puerh Tuo Cha, and I don't feel that this venerable little tuo cha got a proper review. The week I was tasting the V93 I began to notice more of my puerh having a stronger metallic taste with higher than normal mineral notes. Some of these puerhs I have been drinking for quite some time and know how they feel and taste. After some research I came to the conclusion that some medicine I was on had introduced temporary dysgeusia to my palate. That's a big word that simply means "distortion of the sense of taste". That's not the best way to prepare for a tea tasting!
I was pretty worried that the changes were permanent. I did a lot of reading that week on taste buds and how the human body perceives tastes and smells. It's quite an interesting science. Thankfully the medicine was temporary and soon my taste buds were returning to normal. I don't have the world's greatest taste buds by any stretch of the imagination, but I would miss them if they were gone. I greatly admire those individuals who have such heightened senses that they can sip a glass of wine and immediately recognize what breed of dog the winegrower had let play in the vineyard.
One of my favorite comic books recently has been "Chew"; the story of FDA inspector Tony Chu. He is unique among his peers for his uncanny ability as a 'Cibopath'. In the world created by this comic book a cibopath is a person who gains psychic insight from things they taste. In his case it's a HUGE problem since if he eats a hamburger he can actually see the cow being slaughtered. As an agent for the FDA though he can immediately know where food was smuggled from illegally just by putting it in his mouth. Fantastical for sure, but it makes for an entertaining story! I can only hope that my taste buds some day mature to the point that I can determine deeper puerh particulars from my tastings.
All that to say that my previous review of the 2008 Menghai V93 was being incorrectly skewed by the introduction of a dysgeusia inducing foreign agent. Since my taste buds are back on track I have had a few more tastings with the V93 to get a better sense of this puerh. What I have found is that my initial review was fairly close if I removed mentions of metallic and mineral notes. Additionally I've begun to notice some aroma hints of dried fruit like raisins or prunes.
This tea does brew dark with a quickness which I like in a shou puerh. It gives fast and lets you sit back to enjoy it. There is a full and smooth mouthfeel that is both thick and comforting. It's easy to drink this tea. I can still taste a slight bitterness, but that is intentional. Menghai set out to introduce a shou puerh that felt like a raw puerh. They cut short the additional fermentation that shou/ripe puerh goes through to keep the final product biologically similar to sheng/raw puerh. That is readily apparent in the brew. It probably also indicates that this puerh has some room for aging. The bitter/astringent notes will mellow with time.
The final results is that this is a very drinkable tea that is a great bargain at the price. It is definitely smooth and balanced and easy to drink. Pick one up and let me know what you think.