Friday, November 4, 2016

Bitterleaf Teas: Moose Crown 2004 Meng Ku Private Stock Ripe Puer, A Tea Review

Thank the sound fidelity gods for noise canceling headphones! My mom got me a set of fancy Turtle Beach gaming headset for an early birthday present after my usual Xbox headset died, turns out I need an adapter to use them for gaming (oops) but at the moment they make excellent headphones! I am using them to blast Abney Park into my ears to block out the incredibly heinous sound of lawn mowing and leaf blowing outside my window. I swear when I do get around to owning a house there will be no grass, just moss, gravel paths, and garden patches. I truly hate grass.

Today's tea is seasonally appropriate as the cooler weather (slowly) approaches, Moose Crown 2004 Meng Ku Private Stock Ripe Puer by Bitterleaf Teas! This Shou comes from the same year I escaped High School, so you know it will be good, made from Meng Ku big leaf material and pressed in Meng Hai Facilities. It also has the distinction of being the most expensive Shou on the BLT website at a whopping $0.48 a gram with the total 250g brick being $119.50. Most the hardcore Pu heads won't balk at that price and will buy a tong to hoard...but I am not a Pu Head, partially because I am a bit on the poor side and that price makes me die inside a bit because I really liked this one! It was love at first sniff, with notes of sweet dates, sweet rice, peat, distant camphor, wet loam, and a touch of wet leather. It is very sweet and earthy without a hint of dirt, it is one of the cleanest smelling Shous I have sniffed with only a hint of leather, which I like. A lot of Shous I have run into have stronger either dry or wet leather and I prefer my leather well used, wet, and light if it is going to be present at all.

My beloved Djinn pot (as I call this peculiar shaped yixing) had the honor of steeping this one up for me, the aroma after a rinse and first steep is flooring, there is just so much going on! Notes of camphor, dates, peat, loam, pine sap, wet pine wood, rice water (as in the exact smell of the starchy rinse water from making sushi rice) molasses, and brown sugar. Oomph, it is like being inundated with sweetness while nesting in a hollowed out log on a summer day in a mountain forest. The liquid of the first steep is surprisingly intense with sweet and starchy notes of rice and molasses, dates and baking cocoa, an earthy finish of peat, loam, pine wood, and molasses. I correctly suspected that this was going to be a crazy session that would stick in my memory for quite a while.

This tea starts dark, even for a first steep Shou, and then by steep two it is an inky void. it is like drinking a thick pile of hot night sky, it is intense! Ok, I am going to be honest, what the color really reminds me of is Nuln Oil that has dried out a bit so is super thick, Nuln Oil is a Shade/Wash type paint I use for painting miniatures and it is one of my favorite things, I call it liquid talent. Enough about color and thickness though, the taste, oh my stars and garters that taste. It is like molasses and dark chocolate, dates and pine wood, and a touch of mineral at the first steep. The second and third steep bring in an intense pine loam taking over for the mineral, with a building camphor that manages to make the tea both warming and cooling at the same time. It was so nice to drink a shou and not get the sweats and hot flashes, because I am weird.

Somehow, by steep four, it manages to be even thicker, I almost feel like I am drinking warm honey with that thickness. The sweetness in both aroma and taste increase as well, stronger date and molasses notes with a creeping rice starchiness that reminds me a bit of mochi. Towards the end of each sip a building dark chocolate (like the really dark stuff) and pine loam creep in with a finish of camphor and lingering wet leather note that only really shows up in the aftertaste. I love how this tea really doesn't mess with my internal temperature too much.

I didn't really notice much of a taste change until steep ten, where the earthy notes start to fade and is mostly sweetness and now a touch of malt and woodiness. It lasted a total of fifteen steeps, finishing with distant molasses sweetness and rice starch with a date aftertaste that lingered long after I had finished. Not only did this tea taste good it felt good, it was gently warming similar to a Yancha more than a heat power station that some Shous can be, meaning I could drink this one when it was warm out and not wait til the cold weather. I also find that Shous are either very relaxing putting me into a nice stupor or incredibly energizing, usually the hotter the Qi the more energized I feel. Since this was not overly warming it was more like taking a hot bath before sleep or snuggling under a fuzzy blanket...yeah this is definitely the fuzzy blanket of tea. If it wasn't for that massive price tag I would buy a tong and make this beast my daily before bed drinker!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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