futurebird wrote:So far every sample that I have enjoyed enough to want the whole cake has turned out to be out of my price range.
Well except for some of the younger shengs. There are a few of them that I like, but I don't know if the sheng that is good today will be better tomarrow.
I wish I could go back in time and taste the old cakes that I liked when they were young.
It's all a bit of a gamble.
Ancient and old trees have a larger chance to turn into complex aged teas, but not necessarily so. That's why i would not spend huge amounts of money on very young Sheng (that is one of the reasons why i straight away bought a couple of cakes of the Wu Liang - and so far the gamble turned out very well).
Some of the very famous tea areas are now so expensive for the better quality leaves that i am not going to buy them, and better look for less famous areas, which are still somewhat affordable.
It is easier to see with teas that have a few years of aging behind them, there it is already clearer how they gonna turn out - there i am also more willing to spend more money on. Well, on occasion, very rarely...
But you gotta start sometime - and best is to spread it a bit. Buy a few younger sheng, such as the Wu Liang, buy some that have some age, but will not be too expensive, and buy some better quality blends.
Don't hesitate to buy some inexpensive tuo cha's from Xiaguan, or similar. While not awesome teas, they still can turn into very pleasant every day sort of Pu Erh's, and are very inexpensive.
One thing that you may find out once the better cakes of your young sheng reached a good age - 10 years or so - that many of the older teas you like now will very likely not be teas that you will still like then.
For example - several teas of the 80's, etc, where samples were somewhat affordable, that have been recommended here i have tried, and found them to be not very nice at all (i don't wanna name names and shops, i don't like bad mouthing shops unless they are dishonest, which these shops weren't - these teas were just not as good as my own home aged teas).
You don't need to buy thongs (unless you can easily afford to spend a lot of money). Two or three cakes of each younger and not too expensive sheng is perfectly sufficient, and of more expensive cakes one is enough. Even then within a relatively short time you will accumulate many teas.
Don't forget - you don't live forever
But if you want to get into collecting and aging your own Pu (which in the end is the only affordable way to one day have a selection of very good aged Pu Erh) - you should better start soon. Prices are rising steadily, and all people in the business i talked with said the same thing - this time now it does not seem to be a bubble, but a driven by the growing Chinese market, and are not likely to come down.