I'm probably just a misguided American, but I got to thinking recently...
Consensus among many puerh aficionados is that many factory sheng cakes 2003 and prior can often be pretty darn good, since this was before
the big puerh craze. Before demand for great maocha was really outpacing supply, and before factories were putting out a lot of junk cakes to meet that high demand. Of course, this is not to say that all cakes 2003 and prior are good, and those after suck, but it's a general concept. After the puerh bubble burst, maocha prices started to go back down a bit, but in the last couple years they are really skyrocketing again. Could be China's economy, more Chinese becoming tea connoisseurs, more international demand for sheng, etc, etc, etc.
Anyway, with 2003 and prior tea cakes at a premium due to their pre-puerh-bubble perception, and current offerings of those trendy $100-$500+ village of the month cakes, it made sense to me that the years 2004-2009 must have some really great hidden gems from known factories that are selling for a lot less than the current market for great maocha would allow.
I'll get things started with a cake from one of my favorite regions, Bingdao
. This is a pretty well known cake, but considering this already has 6 years of aging under its belt, and it clocks in at 500g, I think this is a very nicely priced tea. The flavors are complex and strong without too much of the bitter rubbery taste found in many young shengs, it has a lot of stamina, a long sweet finish, and some powerful warm Qi.Please share what makes your list for high-quality-for-a-fair-price post 2003 sheng cakes! Thanks.