This is about as strong a tea as you will encounter. I think this episode is enjoyable, when it becomes obvious that Denny and I are completely taken aback from the power of the tea. This was the 3rd episode of the day filmed consecutively and in TeaDB vs. the 2012 YQH Yegu, we easily lost.
The tea itself is strong, potent, bitter, and substantive.
One pumidor-related topic I contemplate is the correct way to think about the chosen container. Given we store a tea at identical temperature and humidity (say 70F/65RH), if we store the same tea for five years in two different ways, a food-grade plastic box versus an old wine cooler, how much will they differ? What about an odor-free wood cabinet or a crock? Or a natural solution in a humid place? Should we just be thinking about the container and methodology as a vessel to get the desired temperature and humidity, provided it can hit a few checkpoints (dark, odor-free)? Or is there something inherent with the choice we make here that can make a substantial impact to the finished product even if we’re able to store the tea otherwise identically.
Recently, Char (Oolong Owl) joined me for an inbetweenisode to discuss aging and aged white tea. Aged whites have become a topic of increasing interest in the west, and while Denny and I have brought a few onto the show it has not been a principal area of interest for us. Here’s a few of the big points and takeaways I had from that conversation with her. I highly recommend checking out Oolong Owl’s blog and reading up on white teas. She’s written as extensively as any English-language blogger on different aged whites. I recommend watching the original video for those interested in this topic. This is my summation and interpretation of much of the material discussed in the video.
The history of storing pu’erh.
Pu’erh storage terminology.
Storing pu’erh in the US or Europe.
Pu’erh is a tea grown in Yunnan for export to Hong Kong and other parts of southern China and southeast Asia. Here it was stored by vendors for consumption. For many decades, this was done in a process that is referred to as traditional storage. But at some point this changed and people began to store pu’erh in different climates with different methods.
There are a few common pu’erh terms typically used to describe storage (12:57). I also explore a few of the major challenges in storing pu’erh in an inherently different, colder, and drier climate.
This episode features an inexpensive, but flavorful huangpian production. If you like the flavor, this is an excellent value coming in around barely over $0.05/g. Friendly but not weak, this is a solid young sheng to enjoy.
In this episode, we drink an aged Gongmei white tea from Yunnan Sourcing. The tea is semi-aged and while it retains younger white tea characteristics it’s starting to develop other flavors. I particularly enjoy the later, stronger steeps.
When I’m buying cakes of tea I tend to gravitate towards certain price ranges and have a mental ceiling of how much I’m willing to spend on tea. It’s not really based off of anything well reasoned or rationalized and I’ll occasionally break it, but more of an innate psychological barrier. This $/g line ends up being a pretty modest $0.25/g-$0.30/g. Occasionally I’ll spend up but if I look back at the purchases I’ve made in the past few years, the vast majority fall in this range or lower. This to me, seems like natural behavior and I think most folks will have impulses on what they’re willing to spend, especially once they’ve had a couple years of drinking and buying. People’s own price tendencies and intuitions undoubtedly vary person to person. Many have yet to convert to the $/g school so these decisions may manifest itself in $/cake numbers as well. For some, this could be $30 cakes or $100 cakes. For those who think in $/g, this may be $0.50/g or $0.10/g.
In episode 334, Denny and I drink a 2009 raw pu’erh stored in Guangdong. This is from a well-known brand Chensheng Hao and is one of their earlier productions. They’re well known for their Xishuangbanna tea but this tea is from Yiwu. It’s a relatively burly Yiwu production and has good strength that has allowed the more humid storage to create something fairly interesting. Thank you to Meng for providing the tea!
In episode 333, Denny and I drink a high-quality ripe from Scott’s 2017 line. The Huirun has been a blend Scott’s made since 2011. The tea is nuanced, flavorful, and complex with a fuller range of notes than you’d expect from an average ripe.
If you follow what gets said about prices each year, you would end up with the impression that the average price of tea has gone up. But more specifically the price at the most sought after regions (say Lao Banzhang, Bingdao) have gone completely through the roof. A lot of this narrative is anecdotal. Tales of rich Chinese buying up all the top-end product from X area. Part of it can also be seen when someone in the Sinosphere posts the maocha prices per location. These lists come with all sorts of contextual caveats, but the trend seems real. I don’t see any red flags to really doubt this storyline, but I was curious if it’d show up by looking at some of the data of prices on production by western facing vendors.