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.
I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.