Menghai Ziyun 2009 Ripe Pu’erh — Mandala Tea — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #2

Inbetweenisode Episode #2 from James. The tea is 2009 Menghai Ziyun Ripe Pu’erh from Mandala Tea. Topics include the ripe pu’erh market and buying from a big factory in general.

20 responses to “Menghai Ziyun 2009 Ripe Pu’erh — Mandala Tea — TeaDB James InBetweenIsode Episode #2”

  1. Nice discussion for us beginners. Thanks! What do you think of the teas from mandala? I know that they have a very loyal fan base, and am wondering if that level of loyalty is justified.

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the comment! I think Mandala is a very decent company, especially if you are based in the US. I haven’t sampled everything, but it seems like their ripe selection is more interesting than their raw selection. The prices don’t compare as favorably once we compare it with international vendors, but it’s a somewhat unfair comparison.


  2. Dear James,
    I love the In-betweenIsodes!! This was especially interesting and helpful. I like both ripe and raw teas, but I am still learning about both. Your podcasts and the Ripe Pu-erh reports have been hugely helpful.

    I do have a question. I have both an older ripe tea and raw tea that have kind of a taste of tree bark, for lack of a better desciption. I am assuming it is a storage issue, but want to know if you have had this experience and if there is anything that can be done to correct it.

    Thanks again for all of the time you put into this website. I think I am a beginning student and you and Denny are my Tea Masters!!

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you found this episode useful.

      What steeps are you tasting the tree bark? My guess would be the same as yours (storage). This would especially be indicative if that particular taste is coming out in early steeps. To correct it, you could try exposing the tea to air for a week or so to get some of the funk out. Alternatively or perhaps in addition you could give the teas a few additional rinses.


      ps. I wouldn’t call myself a teamaster at all. Just a person learning that loves tea and learning like everyone else!

  3. James,

    Since you are tasting the ripe, i wonder how come you have not done an episode on the ripe nugget (lao cha tou). Also, this is becoming interesting because i saw Central Market at Mill Creek have Dayi Lao Cha Tou selling much cheaper than the typical market price. This is the same importer as the one at Uwajimaya. If this turn out to be a true Dayi, i think we might have a good bargain at Seattle. If you have a chance to try them, i appreciate it if you can let me know your thought.

    • Hi Mengchiu,

      Thanks for the comment and very good point. I’ve only sampled a few different nuggets but have had generally decent experiences. The one that Hster covered recently here from Yunnan Sourcing was one of the standouts. Denny also has an inbetweenisode coming up covering that tea.

      Interesting re: Mill Creek. I’m afraid getting up there is quite a challenge for me (no car) or I’d definitely check it out. Have you tried them yet?


      • There is another Central Market at Shoreline, maybe closer.
        I am afraid I am a bit hesitant this time and watching my tea budget. However, if you tried the Dayi at Uwajimaya, we can compare note and see how authentic this could be. Just like the price you saw on 7576 and what I saw for the nugget, these teas are selling significantly below the market price. I need more tasting and comparison to pull the trigger.

        • Hmm interesting. Perhaps we do. Now all we need is Yunnan Sourcing to start selling their gushu at a farmers market!

          I’ll report back once I get a chance to pick one up and try.


  4. Some notes:

    1) I consider Ziyun, along with the ’07 An Xiang among the “cut above” shu, in a way I would not GNWL, Star of Menghai, or Dragon Pole. I consider it to be a pretty unusual shu, though, because the nature of the fruitiness and astringency has fairly strong darjeeling element. Mandala Tea’s website seems to be offline, now, but you can get it at jkteas if you’re willing to pay an obscene $29 for a 100g puck.

    2) I was a little bemused with the shu of the month listing because there were few particularly boutique shus on that list. Of course the Ziyun would have only one or two similar caliber teas in the month and the month would be rather boring! would have given you seven days of teas with a little more umph to them. This tea: is extremely expensive as a cake these days, and it’s not really on the shelf at Sanhetang, either. However, in general, I have found that shu teas made with something approaching serious leaves tend to be harder to appreciate and differentiate from more normal shu. Even so, shu made from gushu leaves tend to be quite fascinating.

    3) Yongde tea factory is the gold standard for cheap lincang shu. I was very satisfied with the 2009 version. Carolyn, I typically think that coarse leaf lincang leaves tend to promote a bark quality in the finish product, especially if high fermented in the wodui process.

    4) Riffing off of that, James, don’t give up on all Menghai area shu. It may very well be that the issue is the water used to make the shu, rather than the materials (granted, Bulang tends to have a savory-herb barnyard, but people generally care a lot about stronger deep flavors in shu). Part of Menghai Dayi’s success in making reliably acceptable shu is usually attributed to controlling the best water source for the fermentation process.

    5) The yellow box shu needs to be labeled as the 2009 Gongting Tuo shu, just remembering from that ToM.

    6) I strongly suggest : for your mature tea of the month thread. Maybe with These teas have been around for a while, but most reasonably mature tea really suck in my book, for original leaf quality reasons, and since I have superb shu, whenever I want that fermented taste, I can easily get a better experience than bad 8582 from the late ’90s. The teas I suggested might not be that old, but frankly, very little truly good mature tea from the ’90s ever leaves the far east. Never mind the 80’s. You have to air the Yuanyexiang out for a week or two, but it should blow almost everything else you can find away, fermentation on par.

    Heh, I had some late ’90s DaXueShan maocha today. Good, fermented top taste, a slight bitterness, and it had pretty good qi, but the aftertastes weren’t that consistently compelling. As opposed to the ’05 Dayi Mengsong Peacock, which I took my crumbs from close the middle of the cake. This was unexpectedly strong in bitterness, astringency, and smoke, compared to the easygoing stuff on the rims, but very good qi, and late infusions leaves excellent plummy coats. It’s the better tea for the long term. This is something I really consistently find–Good tea from the mid-aughts should be able to beat everything else, except the early 80’s stuff and before. 70’s Conscientious Prescription is just wildly better than any ’90s tea I have had, and the only thing that comes close are the ’06 XZH, YQH. What was interesting was that it had very little “maturity” when it comes to fermentation, since it was quite dryly stored. Maturity tends to be about a certain sort of gloss rather than woodiness or soil, and ultimately, that’s what shu fails to get at. While I get a teensy bit of that gloss every once in a while, in other teas, this is something that only really shows up in teas with thirty years or more of age (and maybe only of a certain leaf quality, too). The Yuanyexiang’s aroma is sort of calculated to approach this sort of aroma as well, actually. Just not nearly as good.

    • Hi shah,

      Thanks for the detailed comment!

      You’re right. My shu tea of the month was a bit haphazard. I haven’t really consumed a whole lot of shu in 2014, so I used the month partially as an excuse to save some oney and brew what’s just been lying around.

      Good point re: water. That’s not something that I considered, but it makes alot of sense. I know when I spoke to Glen of Crimson Lotus, he had mentioned the importance of quality water in the ripening process.

      Thanks for the recommendations from Hou de. I’m close to budgeted out for the year but might be able to squeeze a few of those teas in.

      I’ve also seen that the Ziyun is available for under $10 at Angelina’s Teas. Cynically, I’ve believed (without much reason beyond the low price) that they’re probably fake.


    • James, I know this was one of your more well rated ripes on your “Ripe Pu’erh” tea report. Like Shah, I also saw JK Tea’s $29 dollar “Zi Yun”…

      In your opinion, how “obscene” is this price?



      • Hi bellmont,

        That’s a good question that I’ve also considered. Frankly, I think alot of it depends on how you frame it in your mind. I don’t think $29/100g of tea is too ridiculous when you compare it with other tea types or even raw pu’erh. When you change it to compare with other ripe tea, it does seems quite expensive.

        Sorry for the ambiguous answer, but if your main goal is to learn (and not necessarily ultimate value) then I think the tea is worth it. I will say that I personally skipped it, my main reasoning being that I go through ripe extremely slowly and have alot lying around.

        Hope this helps!

      • My guess is that the $29 is probably about 1.5-2x as much as it would be on the Chinese market. At this point, it’s not necessarily a cheap tea no matter where you shop.

  5. Heh, you covered that Yongde ’12 already, nm–but Mandala Teas have sold what was a very popular ’07, though I imagine that’s long sold out.

  6. Hi James,
    it seems YS does not sell this tea under this exact name ” 2009 Menghai Ziyun”. Could you please advise with their spelling?
    Many thanks. Stefan

    • Hi Stefan,

      Sorry. My mistake. I picked these tea up from Mandala Tea. Unfortunately it looks like they’re sold out too! You could try either JKTeaShop, an ebay vendor, or Taobao.


  7. How many pots of tea [not infusions] do you drink a day?
    I personally drink an aged raw then a ripe at the very most.
    I guess I’m in the Lu Yu side of drinking tea.

    • Hi Larry,

      I’m pretty similar. When I drink alone it’s probably use 1-2 pots. At least one of them will be brown/fermented (i.e. aged raw or ripe), while the other one varies.

      Denny has somewhat different habits than me, and I’ve seen him with 3-4 teas going sometimes just for himself.


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