|Puerh, I'm looking at you!|
The aging potential of puerh has done wonders to the fame and reputation of this type of tea. The auction records for old cakes of TongQing Hao, Song Pin Hao... have attracted the attention and money of new investors, famous writers (like Yu Qiu Yu, 余秋雨) and rich tea drinkers in China. William confirms that Yunnan is quickly changing and modernizing thanks to the wealth created from high quality, old arbor and wild puerh leaves. Taidi, plantation puerh, is stagnating or is even being replaced by other cultivations. A big reason for this focus on quality is, I think, that puerh drinkers understand more and more clearly that it's only the best leaves that age well.
|3 different aged puerhs. Can you tell the difference?|
We brewed the leaves in a gaiwan, using a similar amount of leaves and time. The next 3 pictures show that the color of the brew was quite similar. What changed the most were the scents and taste.
1999 Menghai Tea Factory '7542'. This classic raw puerh has a scent of humid storage. This type of storage develops storage smells that we typically associate with old puerh. Some people like this smell very much. Others will choose to air such leaves before brewing them (I belong more to this group). What's important is to feel the level of energy in the taste to conclude that it's raw.
The mid 80s raw, unblended, loose puerh. These leaves were stored in a drier environment and the open leaves look still quite young. But the color of the brew is more brown. And while it still has a wonderful energy, it feels somewhat more mellow and rounder in a subtle way. It feels this tea still has lots of potential to improve (while the first felt more limited).
sampler of these 3 puerhs so that you may also learn to identify what's the taste and scent of genuine old raw puerh. Such teas can also be used as benchmarks to evaluate other old puerhs.