So I was the one who helped subsidize Needa's purchase of this beeng -- I was intrigued by the premise and thought it would be an interesting opportunity to test out a potentially poorly stored tea (or at worst case, a bad knock-off).
Needa was kind enough to subject me to a blind experiment. Along with half the cake, he sent me two packages, A and B. One package had this purported 1999 7542 in it, and the other had a 1997 7542 from his friends in Korea (they were out of their 1999) -- so I got to try a blind tasting, and I thought I'd share my experiences with it.
To be honest, the comparison was no contest upon opening the packages. "A" had very little aroma to it, and at best had a light hint of tea aroma; but "B" had a very nice, strong woody aroma. Brewing the two confirmed the aroma test -- "A" brewed a lighter color than "B" for the same amount/water/time. "A" tasted light; had some notes and qualities of aged pu'erh, felt muted, slight hints of tobacco. Meanwhile, "B" was forthcoming with woody, slight medicine hints, and a bit of a twinge of youth to it.
I was able to brew "B" my usual way with pu'erh, but with "A" I had to really brew it much longer, much earlier in the steep sequence. Even with longer steep times, I turned up the flavor slightly, and also got more astringency and bitterness. Had I not known beforehand, I might have pegged "A" as a 2005-2008 CNNP (something much younger), though much weaker than a tea of those years would be.
So, I (correctly) chose "A" as the Malaysian stored cake that was the topic of this thread.
One other note -- when I first *looked* at the leaves, the "A" leaves actually had more of rusty-red tint to them. "B" leaves were dark, but still more on the very dark green side. So it seemed to me that "A" had the appearance of an older tea.... I also thought "A" might look a bit more twiggy, but that could have just come from random sampling.
In any case, I am going to see if it is possible to "revive" this dead cake at all. I will be sticking it in my pumidor, and we'll see in a couple of years if it gets back on track. I have a feeling that because it brews so weakly now, the answer will be no... but it may still have a chance to gain some better aged qualities. Either way, I'm interested in the experiment, and all I have to do now is wait...!
Thanks to Needa for setting up the fun!