Thursday, September 29, 2022

The end of good aged puerh abundance

Mid 1980s loose aged raw puerh from Menghai Tea Factory
This mid 1980s loose aged raw puerh from the Menghai Tea Factory is the puerh I've had in my selection the longest. I introduced it on this blog 11 years ago. Because it's such a special tea and is so much steeped in old times, I had the idea, then, to brew it in the Lin Garden, just like today. These 2 articles are linked by the picture of this bridge that you can also see on the first picture of that first article! 11 years later, a lot of things have changed. The least important, but the most funny, is that this time I've chosen a spot where I can sit comfortably! Stiff joints are not really funny, but when you feel your body getting old, it's best to take it with humour! 
And while you are not interested to read about my aging and finitude (and I don't blame you!), the theme of this article is about the end of an era, the end of abundance in good aged puerh. After 11 years of carrying this 37 years old tea in my selection, I'm close to selling it out. So, don't let this appearance of availability fool you. I don't know when it will happen, but it could happen sooner than you expect!
However, there's a good news for tea drinkers looking for a bargain! I always tried my best to keep the leaves I sell as whole, intact and long as possible. So, instead of mixing the broken leaves with the whole ones, I would collect the bottom of each bag over the years. I have several hundred grams of this aged sheng puerh in broken leaves and I'm selling them at a steep discount. (over 55%!). This is a unique opportunity to discover or enjoy a sheng puerh of such an age at a reasonable price. And since broken leaves release their aromas faster than whole leaves, this tea that should be steeped with a low tea to water ratio. 
11 years ago, the top puerh names were already getting expensive in the aged puerh market, but you could still find such bargains in the loose leaves. Now, the top red marks from the 1960s, the 7542 and 8582 from the 1980s are priced out of the normal world. Tea drinkers have educated themselves and have learned to trust their own palate. If they find a loose tea that smells and tastes almost like a famous Menghai puerh, but costs 10 times less, they go for it even without a brand.
The time for aged teas dating back to before the privatization of the tea market in China is coming to an end! For privately made puerhs (after the year 2000, roughly), the situation will be even more confusing than it was before. There's still a lot of forgery, but there were many more brands and quality varied much more from one producer to another!
This fact is also contributing to the popularity of Menghai puerhs made during the monopolistic times of the CNNP. It was a safe and good choice if you could avoid fakes. So, what are the tricks to select aged puerh? It helps to have tasted a real aged sheng puerh of good quality. Then it's simply a comparison to this high standard. And you can also judge the quality of an aged tea by evaluating the clarity, color and transparency of the brew, the scents and the purity of the long lasting taste. The safest way is to start with a sample before committing to a larger quantity.
This aged sheng brought back a lot of memories in this Chinese garden. The old times might be gone, but, thanks to the experience of this tea, the past can come alive again!


Anonymous said...

You could try some Qigong before or after the session and see how each inform the other while keeping healthy!

TeaMasters said...

Thanks a lot for this good idea. There are some qigong groups in the nearby park, but their routine is around 6 AM! So far, I can continue my routine of swimming three times a week!