1997 CNNP Wild Yiwu Camphor (Zhang Xiang) Raw Puerh
This was produced by a small (unknown) factory under CNNP branding.
Back in the late 90s, this tea was kept and sold by a Chinese medicine shop in Malaysia. In those days, Chinese medicine shop besides selling herbs sells Chinese tea (Puerh, Liu-Pao and Oolong) as one of their products.
When the tea was new, I was told that it was very smoky, bitter, astringency, nasty, not drinkable and nobody wanted it. The Chinese medicine shop couldn’t sell much. So one day, the current owner tasted it and he knew that it has potentials. He bought all the cartons from the Chinese medicine shop. Guess how much it was? Early 2000s, about MYR 30 (USD 10).
Over the years of Malaysian dry storage, it has changed naturally into a beautiful and tasty Camphor (Zhang Xiang) taste tea. The Camphor taste is hardcore according to the tea drinkers. Though 13+ years of age, it is still very strong and gives the kick. Probably need more aging but it is very nice to drink now, just that you have to brew it right. This can be brewed as many as 20 times. If you like strong, the initial 10 brew gives you the potency. But from 11th onwards, when it gets lighter it gives you the light and soothing camphor taste. A lot of tea drinkers after drinking this have set their standard higher in Raw Puerh (mid term age). This tea is like an ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan. Guess how much it is now? Today, about MYR 1,000 (USD 333) and is still increasing as the quantity is getting lesser.
Camphor taste is one of the sought after taste in a mid term age Puerh. Unfortunately, not all Puerh will end up having the taste. If lucky, some will have some mild Camphor taste but for this Puerh that is introduced, many said it is really strong Camphor. This is a good benchmark for others. So how does a tea gets the Camphor (Zhang Xiang) taste?
I don’t think there is scientific research on the facts, but here are a few sayings of why the tea has Camphor taste:
-Because the Puerh plant is planted nearby Camphor trees, and the Puerh plant roots crossed with the Camphor tree
-The tea somehow just changed to Camphor taste naturally from agingHow to brew this?
-Brew like a new young Raw Puerh. Don’t soak on the initial 5 brews. Then increase the steeping progressively.
-Combo mix with other Puerh (Raw or Ripe)
-Take a few grams and put it into your other Puerh to get the Camphor taste. You have to mix and match to get the right taste you like.Can this be aged?
Yes. The older the better. This have so much potentials for further aging.Some pictures:
There are 2 cover versions. The tea shop says it is from the same batch, same price and it tasted similar. I have tried both and find it quite similar (probably couldn’t tell the difference) but according to my seniors there is some difference. They said Cover A version is slighter better and could perform better in long brews.
Cover A version
Cover B version
Naked version (of the Cover B version). Due to aging, the cover for these are badly destroyed. The owner is selling this at discounted price based on weight. The 20 x 5g samples are from this. We have tried it many times and the taste is right. A lot of this have been sold, currently not much left.
Naked version (of the Cover B version) - Beeng Close-Up