Thursday, August 25, 2005

Smoky pu-erh from Singapore

Lucky me, I received these 8 pu-er samples from a tea friend in Singapore:

a. Hong Tai Chang Cooked Pu'er, 1980s(?), Cooked - Hong Tai Chang Tea Company
b. Xia Guan Iron Pu'er Cake, 2002, Uncooked - Xia Guan Tea Factory
c. Chongqing Tuocha, early 90s, Mix(?) - Sichuan
d. Xishuangbanna Pu'er Cake, 2003, Uncooked - Chang Tai Tea Company
e. YiWu region Wild Grown Pu'er, 2003, Uncooked - Xinghai Tea Factory
f. Long Yuan Label Pu'er, 2002, Uncooked - Dadugang Tea Factory
g. Dayi Label 7542 Pu'er, 2000, Uncooked - Menghai Tea Factory
h. Jingmai Region, wild Grown Pu'er, 2003, Uncooked - 6 Famous Tea Mountain Co Ltd

So far, I have tasted half of them (d, e, f and b) and found them very different from what I usually drink. I was told some would be 'smokey', and some definitely are. d, f and especially b all smell like cigarette butts in an ashtray. Holy smoke! I felt like I was going to throw up when tasting d! What undrinkable shit is this company producing?! Don't they know China has the biggest number of capital punishments in the world? Or is the communist system now turning soft on those businessmen committing crimes against Chinese culture for profit?

b and f also displayed these flavors. Very concentrated for b and much lighter for f. Maybe I got used to it by now, but I was not that upset as yesterday. But I still threw away most of the tea and didn't finish the tea. b, with all its concentration, has a lingering taste that slowly turns dry and then a little sweet. I guess it has a chance to become drinkable in 20 years. But if you live in a crowded apartment like me, I wouldn't keep it. I'd rather buy what I have now: good raw pu-er that is already drinkable and that will continue to improve.

I am lucky with these samples, really. First, I didn't have to buy them. Whatever the price, I would feel disappointed. Second, I now more cherish the teas I have. Thanks to Teaparker, I never tasted such bad pu er. I knew they existed, but I was spared the experience until yesterday. Third, I have gained new insights in the world of puer:
- uncooked pu er is not necessarily better than cooked pu er,
- wild pu er (e) is not always better than plantation puer,
- you can't be wrong if you buy a young puer that already tastes good. However, chances that bad tasting young pu er will evolve well are slim and, in my opinion, not worth taking.

I'm eager to see what I'll find out with the other 4 samples. Like always, I'll keep you posted!


TeaMasters said...

I have been thinking about it also. I'll definitely let the tea breath a little bit before my second tasting. But the ash smell has different concentrations from tea to tea and the very last one I tried was actually OK (the Menghai).

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