What was your first tong purchase?


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

What was your first tong purchase?

Postby Exempt » Jul 22nd, '13, 22:08

I have had absolutely fantastic experiences with the yunnan sourcing house cakes and the cakes that Scott has recommended to me so I decided I will buy a tong from him. I asked for recommendations of a tong for aging and purchased a sample order which will arrive in the next week or two. This will be my first tong for long term aging and I was wondering what the first tong you purchased was and do you regret the purchase or has it been improving well so far?
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby shah82 » Jul 22nd, '13, 22:33

Never got the chance to really buy tongs. The only tong I've ever bought was the 2007 An Xiang shu, which was worth every penny and then some.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby Exempt » Jul 22nd, '13, 23:17

shah82 wrote:Never got the chance to really buy tongs. The only tong I've ever bought was the 2007 An Xiang shu, which was worth every penny and then some.

Have you not bought tongs due to personal preference or monetary constraints? I want to see how one ages and I can get them from Scott for under $200 dollars or near $200 dollars.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby shah82 » Jul 23rd, '13, 00:03

I only had money to spend on puerh tea during 2010 and 2011. Had I started buying puerh tea in 2009, I would have bought tongs. I did strongly consider buying tongs of the 2002 Tai Lian and 2005 Ming Yuan Hao Yieh Sheng, but I wussed out and only bought three more of the first and three total of the second, because it was a steal at 3 bings for $90 at the time. I spent much of my money on really, really good puerh, which mostly meant that two or three cakes of those==tongs of a decent, but cheap tea. That worked out alright because those tea went up a lot, and very, very, very few truly good teas are hitting the market anymore. However, this has left me very short of daily tea after sustained unemployment. When I get money again, I'm focusing on getting a lot of good not great tea that will last years of drinking!

I think I should advise you that tongs that cost about $200 today are probably too cheap. The tea is too low in quality for you to want to hold onto it and drink it, or sell some later on. What were you interested in?
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby Exempt » Jul 23rd, '13, 00:24

shah82 wrote:I only had money to spend on puerh tea during 2010 and 2011. Had I started buying puerh tea in 2009, I would have bought tongs. I did strongly consider buying tongs of the 2002 Tai Lian and 2005 Ming Yuan Hao Yieh Sheng, but I wussed out and only bought three more of the first and three total of the second, because it was a steal at 3 bings for $90 at the time. I spent much of my money on really, really good puerh, which mostly meant that two or three cakes of those==tongs of a decent, but cheap tea. That worked out alright because those tea went up a lot, and very, very, very few truly good teas are hitting the market anymore. However, this has left me very short of daily tea after sustained unemployment. When I get money again, I'm focusing on getting a lot of good not great tea that will last years of drinking!

I think I should advise you that tongs that cost about $200 today are probably too cheap. The tea is too low in quality for you to want to hold onto it and drink it, or sell some later on. What were you interested in?

I asked scott what tongs he recommended for aging and this is the list he sent:

2013 Yunnan Sourcing "San He Zhai" Raw Pu-erh tea cake * 400 grams

2013 Yong Pin Hao "Bu Lang Qiao Mu" Raw Pu-erh tea cake

2013 Yunnan Sourcing "Feng Chun" Blended Raw Pu-erh tea cake

2013 Yunnan Sourcing "Xiang Ming" Wild Arbor Raw Pu-erh tea cake

2013 Yunnan Sourcing "Ai Lao Mountain" Wild Arbor Pu-erh tea cake

2012 Yunnan Sourcing "Nan Nuo Duo Yi Zhai" Ancient Arbor Raw Pu-erh Tea cake

2012 Yunnan Sourcing "Wu Liang Mountain" Wild Arbor Raw Pu-erh Tea cake

2012 Hai Lang Hao "Yuan Sheng Xiang" Raw Pu-erh Tea cake

2010 Yunnan Sourcing "Autumn Jie Liang" Raw Pu-erh tea cake * 400 grams

2010 Yunnan Sourcing "Big Snow Mountain" Raw Pu-erh tea cake * 250g

2010 Yunnan Sourcing "Nan Nuo Ya Kou" Pu-erh Tea 250g

2009 Guan Zi Zai "Jing Xuan Bu Lang" Premium Pu-erh tea

I just bought samples of most of them to try. I don't feel that these teas are too inexpensive and will age poorly. Hobbes has reviewed some of these teas such as the San He Zhai and Wu Liang, recommending both for aging. I am not purchasing to sell later but to drink myself over the years.

In fact, I have owned two beengs of the 2012 wu liang in my pumidor for about 6 months. I loved them at first and they have continued to get better
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby shah82 » Jul 23rd, '13, 00:50

Well, first of all, I think you should buy blended tea or reasonably good banna tea for any sort of long term storage. The blended tea should be with strong rolling, chopped, and firmly pressed.

This tea, for example, is something good for aging: http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... ts_id=1433

You can find something that might be similar enough here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/2006-Taipei-Mem ... 2eae5b3b63

There are others, but I guess the point here is that Scott's blended tea is fairly too whole leaf. Some of them will do alright, I suppose, but that's going to be a bit more of a matter of luck.

When it comes to single area tea, it's Banna, Banna, Banna broadleaf. We're talking about lots of one tea. Some things like that Yongde Da Xue Shan might do alright, but most things north of Jingmai will age into a crusty top taste with not too many layers of flavors or real depth. I've never been enthusiastic about Jiangchen or Wuliang aged samples, for example. This is sort of true even for Jingmai, Yibang, and anything else small-leaf. As a practical matter, when you're thinking about keeping so much tea, you really have to think about keeping higher quality tea than the stuff you'll drink casually at work or something. It is worth your money to spend it on *good* tea. Not the really expensive things, of course. I think the two Nannuos are potentially good ideas. I think his Bada may be a good idea. Don't just look at Scott, though. Maybe Peter over at puerh.sk has some fresh tea you'd like, or TwoDog2 has some older tea that might work for you at white2tea, so forth and on. Many, many choices out there.

Also, if the Wuliang really work for you so well, go ahead and buy the tong, but do so with the realization that this is probably going to hollow out, and be crusty woody and herby, so drink most of it while it's good.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby Exempt » Jul 23rd, '13, 00:59

shah82 wrote:Well, first of all, I think you should buy blended tea or reasonably good banna tea for any sort of long term storage. The blended tea should be with strong rolling, chopped, and firmly pressed.

There are others, but I guess the point here is that Scott's blended tea is fairly too whole leaf. Some of them will do alright, I suppose, but that's going to be a bit more of a matter of luck.

When it comes to single area tea, it's Banna, Banna, Banna broadleaf. We're talking about lots of one tea.


2 questions
1. Why do you think that firmly pressed chopped blends will age better than scotts whole leaf stone pressed teas? From what I have been reading, many people seem to be transitioning to aging looser pressed single mountain teas.
2. Why do you think banna teas will do so much better than other areas such as simao or lincang? It is kind of funny actually, I talked to Scott about my flavor preference favoring the simao/lincang areas and he said that he thought they would age well and " I would not put to much stock in people that say Lincang tea does not age well. I hear this from people who sell Banna tea all the time. I strongly believe there is an ongoing smear campaign against Lincang tea and it's motivated by fear of competition from non Banna tea. I think Banna tea is great but I am not convinced Lincang teas aren't."
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby shah82 » Jul 23rd, '13, 01:37

1) Basically the same reasons as must for wine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Must . You need the juices and oils out there being fermented by microorganism and gradually oxidized. Loosely compressed, weakly rolled cakes will tend to age like maocha, and loose maocha ages about as well as oolongs do. You'll get some, but it's nothing like optimum. That's why you see 70's loose maocha relatively cheaply compared to the bings.

2) Well, because lincang teas are totally a scam. Has nothing to do with the actual qualities of lincang teas, but because tea traders can get much bigger margins by buying cheaper lincang maocha and selling it at higher prices, oftentimes as Bingdao or Xigui or whatever the latest hype is. In practice lincangs probably could age pretty well; some of Xiaguan's famous cakes probably has plenty of it along with Dali, Baoshan, and Wuliang leaf. Some Dayi could be said to have lincang as well. However, they won't age as well as something with a great deal of Banna leaf. What does that mean for the collector? I'm perfectly willing to buy, say 2002 Tai Lian, which I *think* is mostly lincang. I'm perfectly willing to think that my nice JingGu teas will age pretty well. I think those things because they are really, really good, and will hold onto and elaborate many of their flavors as they age.

Just because anything north of Banna won't age as well as Banna leaf does doesn't mean that they are not worth aging. It does mean that you have to have higher standards to buy lincang or lancang leaf, and a higher willingness to take losses if they don't work out. For example out of a number of aged Jingmai older than 2009 I've tried, only two, a 1998 Evening Fragrant Jade that costs like a thousand dollars at Bana tea, and a sold out HeShiHua 2001 Jingmai from Sampletea has amounted to very much. You want to reach for as high a quality as you can afford, if you want to age Jingmai, and you should still expect it to be somewhat hongcha after about seven years.

About the competition? There isn't one. Banna is totally, absolutely, locked down. Anything truly good is insanely expensive (and unavailable), and those farmers there know it. North of Jingmai, the ancient tea groves are much smaller. In practice, there is very little great JingGu, Kunlu, Bingdao, Xigui, various Da Xue Shan, etc out there. And much of that top stuff never enters the market, not even for those $300 Bingdao cakes. There is just not that much great lincang out there that you'd want more than a relatively comparable banna tea. So most lincang you see out there is touted to be better than it really is.

It is better if you take the time, get to know how to drink tea and taste a few older examples, get those puerh-legs underneath you, and scrounge in the bargin bins for forgotten stuff.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby JakubT » Jul 23rd, '13, 08:10

Exempt: I think that good aging of Wuliang is largely a belief... not enough aged Wuliangs to support that, in my opinion. Besides, I think that Wuliang tea is either an acquired taste, or not for everyone. I think that shah might be right in suggesting it might not age greatly too. Besides, I would never buy tongs blindly or after one or two sessions.

Also, why to buy recently made tea when there are teas from 2005-7 for similar price, but a lot easier to understand?

I think my first tong purchase (2 tongs, I think) was Haiwan Pasha from 2006. Never regretted it since. I almost wish I had bought more.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby whatsinaname » Jul 23rd, '13, 09:03

Right out of the gate.

I bought several tongs of Menghai blends for cheap in 2008-2009, back when 8582-901 was $8/cake.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby puerhking » Jul 23rd, '13, 10:53

Bottom line is that if you do not have really good storage conditions...temp and humidity....they are basically only going to oxidize and that will not bring out the best in the tea.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby MarshalN » Jul 23rd, '13, 11:10

JakubT wrote:Also, why to buy recently made tea when there are teas from 2005-7 for similar price, but a lot easier to understand?


This, pretty much.

Why buy new tea when you can have older tea for the same price? You at least weed out the ones that are going to turn nasty in a few years.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby whatsinaname » Jul 23rd, '13, 15:01

MarshalN wrote:
JakubT wrote:Also, why to buy recently made tea when there are teas from 2005-7 for similar price, but a lot easier to understand?


This, pretty much.

Why buy new tea when you can have older tea for the same price? You at least weed out the ones that are going to turn nasty in a few years.
puerhking wrote:Bottom line is that if you do not have really good storage conditions...temp and humidity....they are basically only going to oxidize and that will not bring out the best in the tea.


These comments are why I've stopped buying young puerh. I fear my results in 20 years will be subpar.

On the other hand, I'm always on the lookout for good value 10 year old traditionally stored tea cakes. Always open to suggestions on where to find some!
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby MarshalN » Jul 23rd, '13, 21:20

whatsinaname wrote:
These comments are why I've stopped buying young puerh. I fear my results in 20 years will be subpar.

On the other hand, I'm always on the lookout for good value 10 year old traditionally stored tea cakes. Always open to suggestions on where to find some!


What's good value? Hong Kong has an endless supply of these things.
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Re: What was your first tong purchase?

Postby gingkoseto » Jul 23rd, '13, 21:45

I like these guys and some of their same/similar age "brothers"

shah82 wrote:This tea, for example, is something good for aging: http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... ts_id=1433

You can find something that might be similar enough here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/2006-Taipei-Mem ... 2eae5b3b63


Not sure what's the standard of "good for aging" though, whether it's "not so great now, better in future", or "great now, greater in future". By the same token, there could be various standards for "not good for aging". And there are different standards for how great is great, and how far the future is.
But one thing for sure is, the creator of these cakes didn't expect drinkers to break the cake in the same year of the production. It calls for delayed gratification.
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