One of puerh's most fascinating characteristic is its ability to improve with age and command prices on par with prestigious old wines. To learn about the greatness of such old puerh, there is nothing like experiencing it by yourself!
I'm adding this 1990 old arbor raw loose puerh from Yiwu to my selection!
One of the advantages of the loose form is that there are many whole leaves to be found. This makes studying the origin, type and quality of the leaf material easier. It's also easier to prepare small samplers. And the price per gram is also lower than for pressed cakes, because it comes without any wrapping paper and neifei. It's like a 'no label' product. (Unfortunately, even mao cha, loose leaves, have seen their prices rise sharply in recent years).
To test this raw puerh, I opt for a gaiwan and my pine and bamboo Cha Bu. Such a rare tea deserves better than a simple competition set! Nevertheless, for any first encounter with a tea, I still recommend to use a standardized approach. Here, I use 3 grams and a 6 minute first brew. (It's a tea that can be brewed many more times).
The result is a very clear and clean cup of light brown tea. This is a sign that this puerh has been stored in a pretty dry place. Also, there are no wodui, fermentation smells. The camphor and old wood scents are sweet and bright. The taste is deep and pure, sweet and long. So long that it remains in my mouth until my next cup!
The tea's energy is potent, warm and harmonious. The mouth is cool and clean.
It feels young and old at the same time! I would wish that it would feel
even older: a more refined, concentrated taste and darker scents. In 10
years? Only the slow passing of time can preserve the incredible energy
of this tea. Attempts to hasten the aging end up diminishing the tea, destroying what makes it so wonderful. Phil Collins sang 'You can't hurry love'! You can't hurry aging raw puerh either!
At 23 years, these leaves still feel and look very young. They all open up after brewing. The buds and small leaves almost turn green again, while the big, mature leaves and stems are dark brown.
You can notice how the stem below is progressively becoming darker below:
(The taste of this tea is so pure that I'm enjoying it brewed in my silver teapot!)
Amazing old puerh...
My name is Stéphane Erler. 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.