Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2004 wild raw Yi Wu cake

Recently, I've received a lot of puerh samples from one of my wholesalers. One of the most promising was this wild raw puerh from Yi Wu. A look at the cake shows very large, clear and clean leaves like my 2003 Yi Wu qizi bing. However, this 2004 cake (357 gr) only costs 24 euros (or 29.5 USD)! Why is there such a price difference with my other wild puerhs? The wholesaler told me that this cake was made with leaves harvested in summer and fall, which are much cheaper than the more fragrant spring leaves.

I then tasted this tea at home and here are my observations:
- The color of the brew is not orange/gold (like the 2003), but green/greyish.
- There is very little astringency. My guess is that it was baked and that it won't age very well,
- The fragrance is not bad (no cigarette or ashtray smells), but dull.
- There was almost no aftertaste. No lingering on the tongue or dry throat. It was all gone in less than 5 seconds.
- The brewed leaves are nicely whole, but don't show signs of saiqing (drying in the sun).
Conclusion: this would be a great product for an eBay store: it looks very good (much better than it tastes) and it's price is attractive. But, for me, there is no price that would make me want to drink such a puerh. I will not have it in my selection, but I plan to give away free pieces of this cake to people who order young raw puerh from me so that they can learn more about how cheap puerh tastes like. It's sometimes good to be reminded of the bad. It lets you more appretiate what you have.


Axel said...

Comme quoi l'aspect des feuilles, le neifei, etc. n'en disent pas autant que le thé. Ça rejoint ce que tu écrivais dans un article précédant sur les précautions à prendre dans le monde du pu-erh

Anonymous said...

It's funny that everything you don't sell you will trash as crap. It's so predictable.

Stephane said...

Dear anonymous,
I didn't select this puerh because I think it's not worth it. So you are right to say that it's predictable I am not selling it.

However, you seem to imply that I am doing it in a dishonnest fashion. I strongly dispute this.

First, as I mentioned, I will give samples of this puerh to some of my buyers (as long as this cake lasts): it will be up to them to judge if I am made a truthful account of its taste or not. (I don't think I 'trashed ' it, by the way. Puerhs I 'trash' are those that "taste like cigarette butt and make me want to vomit", as I wrote one day. I just say this one is 'dull'.)

Second, the fact that I didn't select this cake doesn't mean I won't sell it at this price if you are interested in buying it and don't listen to my advice. I don't have it in inventory, but it would be no trouble getting it within a short time.

Third, I'm waiting for you to contact me directly to either order a full cake, a long of qizi bing (7 cakes) or a free sample (but you'll have to pay 1 USD for postage).

Anonymous said...

yeah, well, his tongue's too busy sucking teaparker's dick to taste the tea.

Stephane said...

I apologize to my readers for not deleting the rude comment written above. But I think it shows best what kind of person(s) is criticizing me. There is not much to add.

Don't feel sorry for me. Criticism is something normal when you start to have success and make an impact.

I don't think I'm perfect and i know I still have lots to learn. And maybe I should abstain to criticize teas now that I'm also a vendor. I understand there is a question of credibility and independence. But for me it's part of reporting about what I find out in my tea life (the good and the bad). I would only stop reporting on the bad if my regular readers thought it's without interest.

SoL said...

wouuhh, ça chauffe ! de mon côté, je suis toujours intéressée par la critique de Stéphane, car elle est toujours argumentée. A regarder partout où il se vend du thé, on flotte comme dans un monde idéal, où chaque bol d'infusion est rempli d'adjectifs qualificatifs presque exclusivement flatteurs. Je peux goûter moi-même, et garder le motif de mes désillusions sur un thé faiblard ; mais pourquoi ne pas en faire l'échange, tout autant que pour les bonheurs de dégustation ? Je suppose qu'apprendre à reconnaître le mauvais goût fait partie du perfectionnement de la technique... pourvu qu'on n'y dépense pas trop d'énergie, bien sûr !

Anonymous said...

I'm the original anonymous poster but not the one who said the rude comment. It's unfortunate someone wanted to say such idiotic things.

But anyway, it's just that everything you sell you praise to high heavens, while everything you don't sell, you will tell everyone it is crap.

I don't even need to read the rest of a post to know what you were going to say. Two lines, and that's enough.

It's just funny how self-promotional this blog is. Stephane, you crack me up.

Anonymous said...

And to respond to sol

Of course, it is important to learn to taste good and bad, but it is extremely entertaining to read Stephane's description of his own tea -- you'll never have a bad comment -- while reading his description of tea he isn't selling, and there is nary a positive note. The difference is striking.

Most tea fall somewhere in between those two extremes -- some good things, while other parts it might not be particularly stellar, which is fine. To Stephane, there's only black or white, and his are always white. That's why I think he is entirely biased in his own favour.

Axel said...

Sans vouloir commenter des propos anonymes qui visent une réaction (la bonne vieille technique du trolling) plutôt qu'un débat, je dirais que certains semblent lire un autre blog que moi. À ma connaissance, l'auteur de ce blog est capable de déceler des qualités dans des thés autres que ceux qu'ils vend, par exemple lorsque les gens envoient des échantillons. D'autre part, c'est un peu débile de s'attendre à ce qu'une sélection de thés basées sur des coups de coeur ne soit pas décrite en termes élogieux.

Anonymous said...

hmm. i don't have a problem at all with stephane promoting his own tea on his own blog. makes sense to me that he would (and should) think highly of the tea he sells. otherwise, why bother?

and, re: criticizing others' wares: i don't find this particularly problematic either--as long as it's done in good taste and in a collegeal way.

the problem for me is this: stephane's blog is clearly no longer an informational venue, but has truly become a promotional blog for his tea. this is different from what was formerly the case, but let's face it--at this point in time, the vast majority of stephane's posts (in english, anyway; I can't read the french posts) are either directly or indirectly letting potential customers know about the availability of stephane's teas and teawares, promoting the teas and teawares, or promoting stephane and/or teaparker.

this too is not really a problem for me. i think it's ok to promote oneself. i do, however, think it's necessary for stephane to state publicly that this is the nature of his blog--that it's no longer an unbiased educational forum, but now exists primarily to promote his products.

to me, if this is honestly stated, there's no problem with being critical of others's teas, etc. it's only a problem if stephane claims to be unbiased.


Anonymous said...

by the way, i'm the author of the anonymous comment immediately above, but am not the author of any of the other comments in this thread. sorry for the confusion--i know there are a bunch of anonymous posts now...

luc said...

" In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all of nature represented in its green color. Closing my eyes I find green mountains and pure water within my own heart. silently sitting alone and drinking tea, I feel these become part of me... and there is peace. This peace can be spread by offering a bowl of tea to another. I hope you will drink and share this peace with me. "
Quoted from " TEA LIFE, TEA MIND " by SOSHITSU SEN .

Stephane said...

thanks for all these new civilized comments. I welcome them as they give me an opportunity to improve and to explain a few things.

1. Not nuanced enough. Black/white view of tea.
Too bad you can't read French, because I think I was quite balanced on my post of April 25 about a 2003 cooked qizi bing, for instance. It's also a matter of what tea I taste. Recently, for instance, I have posted about my 2003 wild YiWu, which is THE star in my selection.

2. Self-promotional
even the best product, artist... needs to be described and promoted. Promotion can be very positive if it's done truthfully, which is what i try. And if I don't do it, then who will?
I'm very grateful for all the customers who mention my teas & ware in their blogs or in forums (fori would be better), but they also needed to know about them in the first place.

3. Hidden promotion
maybe this impression is due to the blog format. I chose it because it's free and easy to use for a non-techie.
If you think that it's necessary to say that the links to the products in my selection is promotion, then yes it is. But I think there is nothing hidden there and plain to see. There would be a problem if I would continuously marvel about the teas from a certain store without telling that both the store and the blog are mine.

4. Biased
I can't exclude some unconsious bias, which we all have (is someone unbiased when he talks about what he loves or dislikes?)

I do try to be honest and only propose teas and ware I really believe in (and that I use myself). I even think this makes most long term business sense, since you can only make customers happy with superior quality.

I also have this comment function to let my customers express their opinions about what they have received. If I were biased to the point of describing as great something which is not, I guess they would not hesitate to say so. But so far, the people who have trusted me by placing an order seem to have been rather pleased and in agreement with me.

5. Not informational
Then it seems at least entertaining, otherwise I guess the number of my visitors should be decreasing instead of increasing.
This week, for instance, I have posted about Sung dynasty tea preparation. So far in French, but since it's very important, I will also translate it into English when I have time.