; Cwyn's Death By Tea: April 2017 ;

Friday, April 14, 2017

2016 Red Monkey Yunnan Sourcing

Old Cwyn jumped off the wagon briefly one day this week for a puerh quickie in Madison, Wisconsin at Macha Tea Company. I had to travel there to the sheriff’s department to serve my ex-husband, so I planned ahead and went off my aspirin therapy the day before. Macha Tea Company provided some incentive via their Instagram posting of new puerh orders in from Yunnan Sourcing. They also sell white2tea, so basically this lone Wisconsin tea house has the good stuff, tea drugs for the chronically theanine addicted like myself. Luckily, my sheriff’s visit went quickly so I could get over there and into my cups without much to-do, my car helped along by the school spring break week reducing the amount of traffic downtown.

Macha’s posting of a shipment of Yunnan Sourcing’s 2016 Red Monkey puerh cake was the goal at hand. This tea is a small 50g cake which sells for $4.50 at YS China website only, or at Macha Tea Company in Wisconsin. Click the blue link if you are having trouble navigating the new YS website. I know I had a moment of panic at the new, unhelpful side categories when I briefly couldn’t find the Yunnan Sourcing brand labels easily. Along with that we have lost all our past doom cart invoices on there, but I am certain with time passing I will have new ones and forget my old ones.

2016 Red Monkey, photo by Yunnan Sourcing
Macha is charging $11 for the 50g cake to recoup their shipping costs and also a small premium toward the tea shop. As of this writing, tea economics makes ordering this single cake from China too expensive by itself, because of the shipping costs. On the other hand, if you plan a big tea order already from Yunnan Sourcing, adding one or two of these cakes won’t add much if anything to the shipping you already will pay for your order as a whole. So, the opportunity to  buy just this one tea for $11 is actually a decent deal, since I can’t get it for that from China reasonably without buying anything else. Anthony confirmed that after posting an Instagram photo, five cakes “flew” out of the shop over the weekend. So I arrived just in time to score one, and enjoy some tea chat with him.

Behind the bar at Macha Tea Company.
“I just have one thing to ask you,” Anthony said as I sat down. “Who is Allan Keane?”

Never expected to chat about my friend Allan who probably has the largest tea collection of anyone I know. He is now one famous tea character on tea social media from his efforts, which inspired some of the cartoons I have drawn for my blog here. We talked about how puerh tea draws some very smart people into the hobby. I sipped a session of an autumn 2014 Yunnan Sourcing tea, and I didn’t write down which tea it was because my real reason for stopping in was the Red Monkey cake. Anthony served me a gaiwan to try, and I drank both at once. Why not, right?

Red Monkey is a retail cake which tea shops can purchase from Yunnan Sourcing and re-label if they choose, but the wrapper is cute on its own. The tea is a combination of autumn and spring Lincang teas. I much prefer this tea over the other one I sampled, because the Red Monkey opens up quickly to one punchy and astringent brew. Autumn leaves tend to taste smooth and mellow, however the addition of spring tea adds serious aging potential. The tea leaves used are Bang Dong, Xiao Hu Sai and Da Xue Shan plantation material, and cleared testing for 191 pesticides, according to Yunnan Sourcing.

Red Monkey brew.
I found this tea to have mouth-puckering astringency, followed by a quick sweet huigan. This is not terribly floral which I like. The tea requires at least six steeps to get to the salivary gland curdle sensation. We discussed the merits of this cake. It’s an excellent drinker tea, and a deal at the tea shop and even more so if you add one to an order from YS. The small size at a tea shop like this allows people to try puerh for the first time without a huge commitment. You can buy a small cake this like via Macha Tea Company and don’t need to place a massive order of tea you are not sure you will like. Try it once and tuck it away somewhere for a few years. A person can tell whether or not puerh tea is worth exploring, because you will know from this small cake whether or not you really like this sort of tea. Along with this, try a session of Macha’s stash of 2007 CNNP if you want some idea how a more aged tea will taste in a decade. Macha is well-appointed for people experienced and new to puerh tea. And if you don’t like the tea, well they serve other tea types too.

Double fisted gaiwans, Red Monkey at bottom.
In fact, Anthony wanted me to try roasted coffee leaves. I felt my stomach turn over but agreed to a small cup.

“It tastes like white tea, doesn’t it?” he said.

“Well, a bit of barnyard, yes. Would make a good iced drink, maybe.”

Err…not for me. Tastes a bit like white tea with Splenda, a gold/orange brew that looks something like what you would get if you run water through an empty Mr. Coffee basket. Here is a tip for you. Don’t mix puerh with roasted coffee leaves, ever.

Tilt. Tea drunk view from the floor.
After two-fisting two gaiwans for at least twelve steeps in a half hour, I needed to leave alas having barely opened up the teas. Mr. B. was out in the car by himself, having refused to join me in the tea shop and I couldn’t leave him out there for too long (he is a coffee person). He wanted to join me on the trip in case one of my car tires blew out, something that worries him lately. We were on our third day of cops and courts, with him working plea deals from all the cases he got up to last summer, and then my civil process trip today. All this gets tiring and I really needed a good tea drunk to forget everything. I teetered against the car as I stepped off the curb, with my cake of Red Monkey tucked away in my purse.

Macha Tea Company
823 E Johnson St, Madison. (Shenk’s Corners area)
Small batch baked goods, full dinner menu Friday p.m. and brunch Sundays.
Teas and accessories.
Online or phone orders accepted, will ship.