Mengku Ripe Pu-erh Pearls (勐库普洱熟龙珠), as the name suggests, is a pearl-shaped pu-erh that is ripe (shu) and comes from Mengku, Lincang of Yunnan Province. The flavours are rich, with woody, mineral and fruity notes but also feature a very clean taste. These pearls were produced in the spring of 2017, each pearl weighing between approximately 7 grams. This makes them very convenient to use – one pearl per one 1/2 litre tea pot if you are brewing this Western style. Or one pearl per gaiwan or small teapot if brewing gongfu style. 14g sample pouches contain 2 pearls, while 50g pouches contain around 7-8 pearls in total. We also have a 2015 version of these pearls still available!
Pu-erh tea undergoes a unique production process, during which the tea leaves are dried and rolled after which they undergo secondary microbial fermentation and oxidation. This unique processing sets it apart from black tea and means that pu-erh fits within the separate dark teas category. The tea is most commonly pressed into various shapes (domes, disks, bricks, etc) or can be left loose and the gradual fermentation and maturation process continues further during storage. These Mengku Ripe Pu-erh Pearls have been pressed into small round shapes, which are like large pearls. As this is a ripe (shu) pu-erh, the ageing process has been effectively sped up during the production. This means that this tea can be either drunk straight away or, if desired, can be left to mature for longer to mellow out even more.
When it comes to individual serve compressed pu-erh, pearl or ball shapes are generally seen as more favourable when compared to the very popular tuo (dome) shape. This is largely due to pearls typically consisting of larger or whole leaves, as you can see when you brew these ones from Mengku. Compare that to a tuocha, which typically consists of lower grade smaller leaf. The larger leaf is certainly of higher quality but it also adds complexity and results in more infusions when compared to the smaller, more broken leaf teas.
This tea has been shaped into pearls, then wrapped in paper for storage. When you remove the paper wrapping, you can see rather large leaves with plenty of golden tips. Mengku Ripe Pu-erh Pearls break apart when brewed, producing a deep dark liquor that is almost black. The flavours produced are satisfying, rich and warming. The deep and complex character of this tea is woody, a little mineral and with pronounced peppery notes of tart fruits and walnuts. This is a very clean tasting and easily approachable pu-erh, perfect if you are just starting to explore the world of ripe pu-erh.
This tea is best brewed with water at 95°C for 3-5 minutes and can be brewed multiple times.