"Mangfei 2008" by Yongde Ziyu

Let me try this in English, as the first friend to discover my blog is from abroad.
(Auf Deutsch werde ich diese Verkostung im Forum Teetalk.de beschreiben - wenn's vollbracht ist, poste ich den Link dazu im Kommentar zu diesem Beitrag).

Which tea should I highlight by writing the first review in my blog?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to start with something I've become quite familiar with:
my trusty Mangfei 2008 from Bannacha.
When I took my first steps in the exiting new world of sheng puer this spring, I soon stumbled upon this vendor (or rather: tea enthusiast who is happy to share young sheng in exchange for small(!) amounts of money). His first shipment to me included a sample of the tea in question ... and I got instantly hooked. So I ordered an entire bing.

Tonight I had a session with this trusty fellow:

 Don't let the virgin looks up front deceive you - I've been busy on the other side. (By the way: why is the the side with the dimple considered a bing's reverse? To me it is the front, as it is the first to look at when opening the wrapper.)

Have a look at the progress I've made with this bing and at the quantity I've used for this session:

Didn't exactly measure the quantity of leaves used for my 80ml gaiwan - guess it was something like 6g.

My notes on the dry leaves say "very dark green with some hints of brown, especially the stalks seem brownish. Hardly any silvery buds, but even mature leaves show some downy hair" - the photographs appear less green than the tea actually looks. My nose finds "clearly apparent but not dominant smoke smell. Some saltiness (soy sauce aroma?) and slight hints of fruit. Somehow like grilled and pickled bell pepper."

All right, a quick rinse and the the tasting gets going:
Though only four years have passed since production, this tea brews amazingly dark - more orange than yellow.
It started amazingly sweet. Well, there was a mineral (almost metallic) impression, too, but the tea's sweetness easily dominated the taste sensation. Moving from taste to smell, we get across a weird fact: this tea smells of cows. Yep, might sound gross at first, but try to imagine walking by a pasture's fence, where friendly cows stop their grazing and come up to you to get cuddled. When you later smell your hand: that's it! So I'm not speaking of smelly dung, but instead of fond childhood memories.

To help those who might be unfamiliar with binary numbers: the matches indicate brew #3!

 Guess it would be boring to only show vertical close up pictures, so here you'll get a look at my complete set up:

What a wonderful steam - but by this cup the cow aroma has gone and only sweetness like a hint of toffee remains for the nose.

If you compare the picture above (brew #6) with the one below (brew #8) you find the colour has turned to a deeper orange. Reason: steeping time increased from a few seconds to nearly a minute.

 Then there was a turning point (never had a sheng where this didn't happen: a previously dominant taste characteristic receeded and another flavour came to the front):
After walking our dog I returned to the tea and made the 9th brew to find its sweetness hardly noticeable. Instead a cooling quality appeared, which didn't show up earlier.

From brew #13 the sweetness returned, but only for two more infusions, before the tea was spent. One final look at brew #15:
Final brew - not caused by the limit of my binary matches ;-)

So far I've written mostly on the tea's taste. But there is so much more: mouthfeel (quite thin, the quality of being slightly thicker than water was rather on the oily side, not syrup) and of course the sensations in my mouth throat and mood.
Strange how it all started: in the first cup I was totally distracted from the tea's taste by a sudden feeling of something clear and refreshing - like drinking cool water from a mountain spring. Then the mouthfeel was weird: increased salivation and a feeling of being more aware of my tongue and teeth ... but only in the front half of my mouth. Has anyone else ever experienced such a clear distinction between front and back? There was none of the "throatiness" my blogging heroes go on about - actually there was no sensation at all in my throat.
Strange as that locally limited sensation was, soon it passed and made way for a long and sweet aftertaste.

When Mangfei and I reached brew #13, suddenly a throat cooling feeling kicked in to last for the final brews. By this time I felt the tea's effect on my state of mind: both relaxed and envigorated.

Let me change the focus back from me to the tea - time to take a look at the spent leaves:
For the photograph I picked out the largest leaf (actually just a 2/3 fraction of what would have been a whole leaf) and placed it on top. No wonder the leaves were so fragmented: delicate leaves easy to be torn. A blend of smaller and bigger leaves, but all of the same type: slender veins and tiny serration. Internodes are quite short, isn't this a sign of leaves being picked in a dry season?

My conclusion:
15 good brews is a good number for a plantation tea! Okay, there was no great sensation of chaqi and I don't see myself getting teadrunk on this Mangfei. But it really is a decent tea with amazing sweetness coupled to its mineralic freshness. I am definitely happy I bought this bing! Did I mention the price? 13€ for the entire 400g bing is amazing!

I have tasted some teas which boasted to be "wild arbor" or "ancient trees" ... but failed to deliver. Then you stumble upon a humble plantation tea which gives you a pleasant 15 brews ... great!

Well, when speaking about the qualities of tea, there can be no objectiviTEA, as some people might not tolerate even the mild smokiness of the Mangfei 2008 or other water qualities will lead to totally different experiences you might make. So take this review with a grain of salt or two. Just my impressions, based on the meager experience of 6 months since I started drinking sheng puer.

Anyone out there who knows this tea? Whether you're a well versed tea sage or even newer to sheng than I am - I would be happy to read your opinion on this tea in the comments.
Or if you have any suggestions for improving my reviews - being the absolute beginner on blogging that I am, I will gladly read what you would like to comment.


Was ist Tee?

Okay, da gibt es soviele richtige Antworten: ein Getränk, eine Pflanze, ein Kultur- und Handelsgut - Anlass für politische Umwälzungen, viel zu oft übersteigerte Hoffnung in Wunderheilung ...

... aber was ist es für mich?
Genuss, Durstlöscher, Inhalt meiner Arbeit und ein ewig gültiges Ticket: Zeitreisen in vergangene Epochen, Ausflüge zu den Berghängen Nepals oder an die Küste Japans - all das und noch viel mehr erlebe ich in einer Tasse (oder typischer: in vielen Tassen) Tee.
Wenn ich eine Schale Matcha zubereite, kann ich die Ruhe und den Frieden erahnen, nach dem sich Sen no Rikyu gesehnt haben wird, als er gegen Ende des Sengoku Jidai ("Zeit der kämpfenden Länder", eine ca 100jährige Bürgerkriegsphase in Japan) es schaffte, mit seiner Form der Teezeremonie die streitenden Fürsten zusammen zu bringen und (zumindest für die Dauer des Teegenusses) die Schwerter abzulegen. Matcha schmeckt so herrlich frisch und belebend - doch trotzdem öffnet er mir ein Fenster zum Japan des 16. Jahrhunderts.
Oder meine neueste Schwärmerei: Puer-Tee. Tief im Süden der chinesischen Provinz Yunnan, nahe an Myanmar, Laos und Vietnam, wachsen zum Teil uralte Teebäume im Dschungel. Mit einem Gaiwan voll kräftig-anregender, fast schon berauschender Teeblätter von den Bergen um Yongde in Yunnan wähne ich mich fast an jenen sattgrünen Hängen ... ohne die drückende Schwüle und plagende Insekten ertragen zu müssen.

Mögen sich andere um Catechine, Polyphenole und EGCG im Tee kümmern - für mich ist die Möglichkeit des Träumens und Genießens ein so großer Schatz, dass der Tee keine weiteren Aufgaben zu erfüllen braucht!

Aber das ist nur meine ganz subjektive Meinung. Wie ist das bei Euch? Was ist Tee für Euch?