Sunday, January 12, 2020

Extra Dry 06 Menghai San Ji Pu

When I visited my parents over the holidays, I was confronted with the box of various puerh samples I had left for them to drink in 2014. Unsurprisingly, none of it was consumed so I flew it back across the country. The desert like conditions of my parent's Virginian heated home in winter is epic, I've gotten a nose bleed from the dry air.  Needless to say, I got an unintended 5-year experiment of XXX extreme dry storage for shu.

In this motley collection was one of my favorite Menghai ripes- the 2006 San Ji Pu, a special batch produced with mostly grade 3 leaves. Alarmingly, the texture of the extra dry beeng pieces are different than the one stored in Berkeley.  It's got a disturbing hollow crunchiness like layers of dry husk. It barely smells. I should condition it in a ceramic jar but I'm curious how it tastes now.

The tea brews up tasty enough with that unmistakable Menghai quality you can trust. I guess it's harder to kill shu with just aridity. Unlike the silky feminine charms of the Golden Needle White Lotus, the San Ji Pu after the initial brews develops  a more stately profile like mahogany. The lovely lingering licorice finish of the 5th brew makes me immediately want to procure another cake.  I know Scott still sells it so I run to the website.  I actually growled.  To use a Hobbesian phrase, it's now sporting an eye-watering price tag of $95.

Bagging pretty satisfying shu for $16 a kilo makes you forever an unsufferable shu cheapass.  Considering I still have 10 kilos of pretty good shu crammed in the tea closet and my rate of consumption being less than 1/4 pound per year,  I'd have to be pathological to want to order more shu at a premium.  (I hope my husband appreciates this reformed sensible turn to purchase maturity.)    Actually if I had a choice between overpaying for aged sheng vs shu, I would go for sheng every time. I've enjoyed plenty of above-average aged shu, but have yet to encounter aged shu which makes me close my eyes in rapture or have the tea linger on the palate hours after a tea session in a way that aged sheng can. No surprise for a refugee in shulandia, I'm here until I can start drinking my aged shengs.

I got my original San Ji Pu from YS in early 2007 for $28 during the '07 run up.  Considering HLH Lao Banzhang was $40 in 2006, $28 was a stinging crazy price for shu.  This was one of my last puerh orders for many many years.   Do the elevated prices of even my ripes make me  behave differently as a shu drinker?

I also had brought back a 2009 Menghai Dayi 99 Square still unopened. I was going to just let my husband take it to work as the chocolate bar form of individual squares would be convenient for him to brew.  Out of curiosity I looked it up and was shocked, just shocked to find it selling for $380HKD or USD$49. It mentions being a lucky collectible for numerology reasons.   I got it for $6.50 from China Cha Dao but now I'm definitely going to store it away.  As my husband grumbled, "What, I'm not worth it." I gamely insist we must enjoy it Sept 9, 4719(2022 in the Chinese calendar) to obtain heightened numerology benefits.
Was going to let husband take this little guy to work for casual convenient drinking...

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