Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby whatsinaname » Jun 18th, '11, 15:35

Well, it has taken me some time to get there but I have finally come to realize the truly special nature of old tree puerh. Like fine single malt, pure laoshu is an experience worth much more than the money required to purchase the tea.

I have been fully engaged by the yearly offerings of old tree tea from Nadacha, and I know many of you all are as well.

Besides Nada, are there other boutique producers making pure old tree tea these days available to the Western market? Unfortunately, even the finest commercial productions of HLH, Douji, XZH have only a portion of old tree tea blended with plantation dreck.

Is Nada the only one doing it this way, bings of unadulterated pure old tree puerh tea?

Are there other producers of pure old tree tea that you good folks of teachat believe produce new cakes of the same quality as Nadacha?

My only problem now is what to do with all this Menghai sludge. Here's hoping it ages into something drinkable...
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby MarshalN » Jun 18th, '11, 17:22

There are hundreds of others engaged in the same trade, just not marketed to the West directly. Taobao allows you access to some, but by no means all, of them. Many of the best tend to be very small scale and are deeply connected to the farmers -- they live there for half a year, know everyone in the village, have been doing tea for years, etc, and the releases tend to be snapped up by pre-orders and that sort of thing. Do keep in mind many teas that are advertised as "pure old tree" are not necessarily so, and it takes some practice and experience to know if what you're drinking is "right". I've known many who think they got old tree teas but which turned out to be blended in some fashion or another.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby TIM » Jun 18th, '11, 17:28

MarshalN wrote:There are hundreds of others engaged in the same trade, just not marketed to the West directly. Taobao allows you access to some, but by no means all, of them. Many of the best tend to be very small scale and are deeply connected to the farmers -- they live there for half a year, know everyone in the village, have been doing tea for years, etc, and the releases tend to be snapped up by pre-orders and that sort of thing. Do keep in mind many teas that are advertised as "pure old tree" are not necessarily so, and it takes some practice and experience to know if what you're drinking is "right". I've known many who think they got old tree teas but which turned out to be blended in some fashion or another.


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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby apache » Jun 19th, '11, 08:08

Like fine single malt, pure laoshu is an experience worth much more than the money required to purchase the tea.

Very appropriate comparison, I always find there some similarity between whisky and young sheng.

My only problem now is what to do with all this Menghai sludge. Here's hoping it ages into something drinkable...

Just hang them up on wall as ornament ..., that's what some tea shops do.

More seriously, I think you can find some good laoshu teas under YS own label as well.
With Douji, HLH and others similar teas, a mixture between plantation and laoshu, is still better than 100% plantation even though it's a halfway house, and I for one is not rich enough to drink laoshu everyday, I save those teas and savor them at weekend under my undivided attention.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby nicolas » Jun 19th, '11, 09:02

whatsinaname wrote:Are there other producers of pure old tree tea that you good folks of teachat believe produce new cakes of the same quality as Nadacha?

My two cents:

Same or similar quality
Da Chang Hao
Douji
Guan Zi Zai
Mengku
Yunnan Sourcing
Yiwu Zhengshan
Legend of Tea (Malaysia)
Hailanghao

Superior quality
Diancha (marketed as Summit in the U.S.)
Cloud (2010 A Beauty in New Phase)
Best Tea House (1,000 and 400 year old trees)
Da You (Malaysia)
Te You Tang (Malaysia)
Chen Sheng Hao Laobanzhang
Changtai Laobanzhang

Lesser quality
Chen Zhi Tong (Taiwan)
Sun Sing (Hong Kong)
Xi Zhi Hao (Taiwan)
Zhi Zheng

But these vary from cake to cake, estate and vintage, so YMMV.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby apache » Jun 19th, '11, 10:03

In case some of you want to find URL for Diancha, here it is:
http://www.dc-tea.com/
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby auhckw » Jun 19th, '11, 10:23

I have access to few tea shops here that are specialized in these. They custom produce their own tea. Depending on which estate and how old the tree is the price can easily range from RM150 (USD48) to RM600 (USD193) / piece... for current year tea. :roll:

I have drank them many times, like them... but have not purchase any... Y? $$$$
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby shah82 » Jun 19th, '11, 14:11

/me raises an eyebrow...

1) Along with what MarshalN has said, I would add that serious laoshu of very high quality is generally not available to us proles. Outfits like XZH caters to bourgie teanerds who spends a little more money than they should on tea. So much of the appeal of certain things are about exclusiveness, unlike all those East Asian women with Louis Vuitton bags and stuff. Brand awareness is big, but so are secrit meetings, indirect coversations, and special leaves for special friends. I've only had one sample of such tea, I think, and I think it was only ever available because it had gotten really sour.

2) Xizihao is not inferior to Nada's tea. It seems pretty cheesy that I'd have to say that, but nicolas is really wrong on that point. I am drinking the 2009 Jingmai right now, so it was with a sense of irony that I read that. Nada's Bangwai might be better than the Douji Jingmai, but both would get crushed by this tea I'm drinking now. The best XZH is way better than anything Nada has ever produced. It's only this year, I suspect, that Nada has ever produced more than one tea remotely in XZH, YQH, the rest's league. It might be fun to poke fun at XZH, and examine closely at its flaws, but you really have to be careful about finding something that is cheaper and better because it's really easy to wind up paying more for less, as I've discovered recently.

3) There are better quality laoshu from better areas and lesser quality laoshu from lesser areas. I think for example, that the 2004 YangQingHao Special Reserve is made with arbor leaves and not exactly stuffed with ancient tree leaves. That doesn't mean it isn't, eh, rather good. Don't get hung up on old tree leaves, eh? The good stuff, the truly good stuff, rarely ever enters the market at all. Don't get hung up on status or how expensive/cheap a tea is, because that is an awesome way to get tea you don't really want. The good stuff will cost more, but only use that as a rule of thumb, and not hard and fast. Sample this stuff, and do your best to enjoy it.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby MarshalN » Jun 20th, '11, 03:59

shah82 wrote:
2) Xizihao is not inferior to Nada's tea. It seems pretty cheesy that I'd have to say that, but nicolas is really wrong on that point. I am drinking the 2009 Jingmai right now, so it was with a sense of irony that I read that. Nada's Bangwai might be better than the Douji Jingmai, but both would get crushed by this tea I'm drinking now. The best XZH is way better than anything Nada has ever produced. It's only this year, I suspect, that Nada has ever produced more than one tea remotely in XZH, YQH, the rest's league. It might be fun to poke fun at XZH, and examine closely at its flaws, but you really have to be careful about finding something that is cheaper and better because it's really easy to wind up paying more for less, as I've discovered recently.


XZH has its share of duds, so I wouldn't put a blanket recommendation on XZH -- or any vendor/maker, for that matter.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby shah82 » Jun 20th, '11, 14:36

No doubts about it, MarshalN. It's also a matter a taste too. I like XZH, other people might like Yichanghao or something. Makers have philosophies--Nada prefers to make very "clean" and "pure" puerh, for example. Some people like that, and other people don't.

What has me agitated as a consumer advocate is that Chen Guanghe Tang and XZH are in no way of comparable quality--it's easy (at least for me) to see and taste the difference--if you run the gamut of products. A couple of CGT products will be of enough quality that personal preferences dictate whether they like the CGT or the XZH. Hobbes reviews of ZhiZheng tea reveal the one essential fact that *all* of (at least the youngest ones) the tea had unsatisfactory processing. I can tolerate the hongcha in the XZH DinJin Nuer because that part isn't the whole of the session, and other people can deal with the Xiaguan'ed nature of the Ban'E, for their personal reasons. But *all* of the teas? XZH has perfectly decent processing on most of their teas. And if you then examine one of Nada's not so great teas (Banpen) with something like, oh, Xue Shan Chuen Lu, people will more or less decide on their own preferences, because XZH's under-performers aren't *that* weak.

The thing is, XZH is, what I think, a reliable brand. And you pay for it being a known quality. I would never have bought that huge Youle bing if that said Changtai instead of XZH, because I know I've loathed some Changtai, and I know that Changtai likes to be excessively gentle and verge onto blandness. I know I don't mind XZH processing, and I know I'm at risk for the soup being too thin. I'm a XZH fanboy because I've tasted enough tea to know it caters very much to my tastes. I mostly buy Nadacha because the price-quality in 2009 and 2010 was very, very, very good, even though Nada, by and large, doesn't cater to my taste. I very much lucked out by buying the Man Nuo because I wasn't going to buy something I didn't know--then had a sip or two of 2010 Bulang and decided I'd better get another from 2011. If I was going to do that, I might as well buy Man Nuos, and Man Nuo wound up *really* being what I wanted out of a puerh, but it isn't really a characteristic Nadacha tea out of the gate, knowhatimean?

In the West, one almost *has* to judge a tea by reputation, because you have to buy the tea you like right away, because if you like it alot, chances are, other people do to--without even a chance to sample first! That's why you have to sample teas and broaden your sense of what you like and who offers it every chance you get. There are always a ton of people who say that Dayi shu or XZH sheng is too expensive for what it is, and offer up alternatives that winds up being a worse. Cheaper, yes, but you lose more hedonism points than the money saves, and given the capital-intensive nature of puerh, that's no bargain at all. That doesn't necessarily mean you should go out and buy $45 Dayi shu or $96 250g XZH sheng. It means you have to wear down the leather on your metaphorical shoes--look for places that sells Dayi or XZH cheaper than others. Read reviews, check prices (on Taobao and elsewheres) for interest and speculative activity, and figure out what other brands can get you what you want, for the prices you're willing to pay.

Also, understand that there are *reasons* why things cost what they cost, other than profit motives. Nada can sell at the prices he does because he's focusing on one area and on building his own network. He also doesn't buy more leaves than he can reliable oversee. The flip side is that he sells out and fast, most of the time. XZH is buying leaves from all over Yunnan, and at quantities (tho' small by Dayi standards) that makes achieving high quality a real task. The big money helps open high end acreage, but the more you try to do, the less successful you wind up being. However, you need to sell a lot in order to have enough money to get that quality maocha. There are tensions here. Modern Douji resolves that by an emphasis on blending. XZH also blends on some of their products. Low end products that are sold at higher prices than they are really worth also compensate. CGT just doesn't give a bleep, last I checked, and there are many brands that do the same. But there are no reliable bargains. Tea generally costs what they are supposed to cost. If they don't cost in cash, then they cost in attention to the marketplace or networking with the people who's got the good smack at not extortionate prices.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby apache » Jun 20th, '11, 16:11

shah82, that's a very interesting analysis, thanks for sharing your thought.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby MarshalN » Jun 20th, '11, 21:09

shah82 wrote:
Also, understand that there are *reasons* why things cost what they cost, other than profit motives. Nada can sell at the prices he does because he's focusing on one area and on building his own network. He also doesn't buy more leaves than he can reliable oversee. The flip side is that he sells out and fast, most of the time. XZH is buying leaves from all over Yunnan, and at quantities (tho' small by Dayi standards) that makes achieving high quality a real task. The big money helps open high end acreage, but the more you try to do, the less successful you wind up being. However, you need to sell a lot in order to have enough money to get that quality maocha. There are tensions here. Modern Douji resolves that by an emphasis on blending. XZH also blends on some of their products. Low end products that are sold at higher prices than they are really worth also compensate. CGT just doesn't give a bleep, last I checked, and there are many brands that do the same. But there are no reliable bargains. Tea generally costs what they are supposed to cost. If they don't cost in cash, then they cost in attention to the marketplace or networking with the people who's got the good smack at not extortionate prices.


Yes, there are reasons why things cost what they cost, but there's also no stopping someone from selling inferior grades of tea (or anything) at superior prices. Buyer beware, really, and it's a game of intelligence and information between the buyer and the seller.
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby odarwin » Jun 21st, '11, 01:48

nicolas wrote:My two cents:

Superior quality
Diancha (marketed as Summit in the U.S.)
Cloud (2010 A Beauty in New Phase)
Best Tea House (1,000 and 400 year old trees)
Da You (Malaysia)
Te You Tang (Malaysia)
Chen Sheng Hao Laobanzhang
Changtai Laobanzhang

But these vary from cake to cake, estate and vintage, so YMMV.


hi! thanks for the insight, is there any cake from BTH that you could recommend? something that is still available in their shop?
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Postby whatsinaname » Jun 21st, '11, 19:53

I *love* you guys!!!

Seriously, the replies here are some of the best posts I've ever read on the subject of puerh tea. Tons of wisdom and perspective here. Thanks for sharing.

MarshalN describes my wildest puerh wet dream, living in the mountains for six months every year to pick and process the world's finest puerh tea.

So, none of that ultra-premium puerh tea for us 'mericans, eh? Bummer, man. Other than Nada, one has to fish the shark-infested Taobao waters?

If anyone knows one of these tea monks who exports their tea to the States, feel free to share or send me a PM.

Shah8, thank you for taking the time to write as you do. Highly informative and thought-provoking, as always. Cheers, mate!
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Re: Pure Old Tree Pu Erh Tea

Postby TIM » Jun 21st, '11, 22:07

odarwin wrote:
nicolas wrote:My two cents:

Superior quality
Diancha (marketed as Summit in the U.S.)
Cloud (2010 A Beauty in New Phase)
Best Tea House (1,000 and 400 year old trees)
Da You (Malaysia)
Te You Tang (Malaysia)
Chen Sheng Hao Laobanzhang
Changtai Laobanzhang

But these vary from cake to cake, estate and vintage, so YMMV.


hi! thanks for the insight, is there any cake from BTH that you could recommend? something that is still available in their shop?


If you have the cash to burn Odarwin, I highly recommend this one:
(WARNING..... AT YOUR OWN RISK)

http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 ... -tree.html

http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 ... -pots.html
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