|2007 Menghai Tea Factory “7262 Ripe” Pu-erh
Tea cake – up close and personal!
Tea plant leaves have to be harvested and then processed. This processing is usually done in a tea factory. When you hear the word “factory” you probably think of a big building with lots of big, loud machines, smokestacks billowing who knows what, and hot, tired workers. Well, tea factories are a bit different.
To begin with, many tea factories are located where the crop is grown and harvested. Plus, many that have been around awhile still process by hand, especially when creating teas such as fine whites, greens, and pu-erhs. One such factory is the Menghai Tea Factory.
The Menghai Tea Factory is located in Menghai County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. Tea gardens abound. Leaves from those gardens are mixed according to recipes, indicated by a four-digit number where the first two digits are the year the recipe was produced, the third is the grade of leaves used, and the last is the factory (2 for Menghai Tea Factory). For example, 7542 means a recipe from 1975 using fourth-grade tea leaf made by the Menghai Tea Factory. Some of the newer series the factory produces are not referenced by recipe number.
|Menghai Tea Factory entrance gate (Source: Yahoo! Images)|
This factory specializes in pu-erh tea, being well known for its old raw pu-erh cakes and having a high reputation in the tea industry of China. They also produce pu-erh in other shapes: loose leaf, tuocha which are sometimes called bird’s nests, bingcha which is a disc shape, zhuancha which is a brick shape, and others.
|Racks of tea cakes, labeled and ready to be wrapped. (Source: Yahoo! Images)|
Bingchas produced in the 1970s and 1980s are highly prized by collectors. Even current productions are said to fetch some of the highest prices for pu-erhs, resulting in a lot of fakery or counterfeiting. This prompted the factory to start mircoprinting its tickets in 2006 to give buyers a way to spot these fakes.
The tickets also carry the factory brand “Dayi” (大益) which it adopted when transitioning to a private company in the 1980s-1990s (in 1996 the factory went fully private). (From its founding in 1940 until the 1980s, the factory was government run.) The brand was officially registered in June 1989 and became the exclusive one they used in 1996. The Bowin Company purchased Menghai Tea Industry Co. Ltd and Menghai Tea Factory in October 2004.
A Menghai Tea Factory pu-erh to try:
2007 Menghai Tea Factory “7262 Ripe” Pu-erh
A classic recipe from Menghai, but the first production of 2007 (701) where the highest grade material is always used, making this highly sought after by collectors. This is an average blend of 6th grade material fermented in 2006, so the cake does not have that just fermented taste but instead has already mellowed a bit. Date: 2007 batch (701). Net Weight: 357 grams per cake.
More info about the Menghai Tea Factory can be found on our store site:
Menghai from space courtesy of Google: