Sunday, January 19, 2020

PSU Gongfucha Tea Club - Time Machine

Lunch at a tea house after the Lin Mansion visit and before the 'time machine' puerh tasting. Notice that we all had a roasted Oolong to accompany our meal! (More on that subject in my next post).
So, after lunch, we first tasted the 1999 '7542' and then the early 1990s LuYin.
The 1999 puerh already has nice aged flavors and it's one of the most affordable way to enjoy/collect the famous Menghai 7542 from the CNNP era. The early 1990s luyin leaves look quite similar to the 1999, but the taste is more refined and the scents have more brightness. The difference in quality (and price) was pretty obvious to everyone!
We then continued with the mid 80s loose puerh from the Menghai Tea Factory. It was greatly enjoyed for its energy. We had had it in the Lin Garden, but this time it was interesting to compare it to the pressed cakes from the 1990s and see the advantage of having much fewer broken leaves.
Two lucky and happy tea guests from Italy joined us for this tasting. I think they really paid attention to the puerhs how we brewed them.
The large Yixing zisha was a great fit for this large group and these aged puerh leaves. The 'skin' of the teapot is particulary soft, just like the skin of a baby (or one's skin after spring showers!)
We don't throw the first brew away, because the taste of that first brew is often as good, if not better, as the next!
And it takes a great concentration and a skilled hand to pour directly in so many cups. It would be so much easier to use a gongdao bei that one would lower his attention level. And being fully aware is the best way to taste the little differences in taste between 2 teas and 2 brews! This also allows you to control the speed at which you pour the tea out, which determines the concentration of the tea. And, beside reducing the number of wares, this direct pour also ensures a higher temperature in the cup.
I finished the 'time machine' puerh tasting with a puerh cake even older than myself: this 1960s Hong Tai Chang puerh cake! It has been very well aged, first in Hong Kong and then in Taiwan. The neifei informs us that this company was originally founded in Yiwu (in 1888) at the time of the 'Hao' era. It could survive during communist China, because a Thai affiliate had been created in Bangkok in 1930. This firm continued to make puerh cakes with a peculiar pressing (like a disc) during the CNNP era. The origin of the leaves is a little bit of a mystery. Did they still come from Yunnan or from regions bordering Yunnan? Actually, this doesn't really matter as long as the gushu leaves are from the same kind of tree. (Also, the borders of Yunnan have moved in history: why should a tree be considered one thing or another depending on a political border?)
What matters the most are the taste and the scents! And they were fantastic, adding even more depth and finesse to what we had experienced with the previous aged puerhs. There seems to be a threshold of character and quality every 20 years. A puerh from the 1960s (or 1970s) has undergone a significant transformation compared to one from the 1980s (or 1990s).

A puerh of such age is naturally very expensive, but I think that it provided a very valuable lesson about the evolution of puerh with time. As Teaparker noted in the title of one of his books, 'aging tea is turning it into gold'!
Tasting aged puerh is so relaxing...

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