REVIEW: Tip Top Tea – Menghai tuo-cha – RIPE pu-erh (2007)

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Tea: Ripe (Shu) pu-erh tea from Menghai County, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
Sample provided by: Tip Top Tea
Twitter: @tiptoptea
Link to Menghai tuo-cha on Tip Top Tea website

Pu-erh is an extremely complex tea that, if stored and aged properly, develops complex, refined flavours. While pu-erh is not for everyone because of its strong earthy notes, it can be a bizarrely addictive tea that is a great substitute for coffee or strong black teas. Once you find a pu-erh that you like, investing in a cake, nest or brick could provide you with years of brilliant tea.

So, how does Tip Top Tea’s Menghai tuo-cha stack up? Has it aged well? Is it a tea to invest in? Read on to see what I think.

Dry leaf:

– The dry leaf is pressed into a tuo-cha/nest shape

– It has a light earthy, woody aroma

Infused tea:

– The tea cups out a ruby to copper-coloured liquor – it is much lighter in colour than many ripe pu-erh teas that I’ve tried

– Unlike some ripe pu-erh teas that have an extremely (sometimes overpowering) earthy/wet wood aroma and flavour, the ageing has mellowed and refined the flavours in this tea. It has the classic earthy flavours associated with ripe pu-erh teas, but it also has subtle sweet undertones

Tips/conclusions:

– You can make this tea with the traditional Western method by using a teapot and infusing the tea for three to four minutes (two to three infusions). Alternatively, and this is what I’d suggest, you make this tea gong fu style. Wash the tea first, then make the first infusion with a 30-second steeping. Increase infusion time 15 to 30 seconds for each infusion thereafter. You will get four to six infusions out of this tea using gong fu style

– Time has been very good to this tea. The flavours are very refined, and the tea has almost no bitterness (too much bitterness is often a sign of poor quality). This tea is packed full of flavours. I am happy that it is not completely dominated by a mono-flavour earthy taste, but it has some sweet undertones that give it complexity

– Considering this tuo-cha is seven years old and it has developed complex and refined flavours through ageing, its £10 price tag make it a brilliant investment for both weathered pu-erh drinkers and beginners. In fact, it is a steal: I’ve seen and tried plenty of younger nests and cakes with the same weight that carry similar or higher price tags. You could age it longer, but it is ready to drink now, and the lighter earthy flavours give it a broader appeal to those unsure about pu-erh

Score:

5/5

Retail price: 100 gram tuo-cha (nest) for £10.00

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About teaxplorer

I grew up in the Midwest of the US and was introduced to tea at a very young age - unsweetened iced tea, that is! It was not until my early 20s, when I was seeking a lighter alternative to coffee, that I took tea drinking to a new level. I still remember my mother suggesting that I try putting milk in a cup of black tea (something that actually sounded a bit repulsive at the time, but I gave it a go). I quickly became tired of supermarket tea and started ordering teas from shops and companies all over the US. Throughout my 20s and now into my early 30s, pursuits in higher education studies, work opportunities and marriage have given me opportunities to live in the UK, Canada and Germany and travel around the world, which has sparked an even greater interest in tea and the culture of tea. This blog is my outlet to discuss my love of tea and show off some of my photos. All images and opinions on this blog are my own, unless stated otherwise. I retain copyright on all photographs, but please do not hesitate to contact me at teaxplorer@gmail.com if you wish to reproduce any of my images. Likewise, if you would like me to review and photograph any teas for you, please get in touch. I would be happy to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by my blog, and I hope you return many times! Happy drinking! Drew B (@teaxplorer)
This entry was posted in Chinese Puerh, Cooked Puerh (Shou), Tip Top Tea and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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