I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification


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

Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 27th, '12, 13:04

apache wrote:I think it's only possible when they bought the tea new and aged it some years before selling it....Sound like you find a very good tea vendor.


Exactly! They bought most of their stock about 10 years ago, so some of it wasn't new, but was much cheaper than it is now. They also bought in bulk, and from trusted friends. the prices increase every year to pay for the staff of 6-8 people than run the warehoused, and to insure that the company continues to make enough profit to stay open. The owner is a bit of a philanthropist, and his whole business model isn't based on making as much money as possible, but rather on spreading tea culture (today's big thing is low-volume, high-profit business; these folks run the opposite, and run it well!). I didn't really understand how special it was until I left, traveled around a bit, and came back!
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby apache » Jul 28th, '12, 04:57

needaTEAcher wrote:
apache wrote:I think it's only possible when they bought the tea new and aged it some years before selling it....Sound like you find a very good tea vendor.


Exactly! They bought most of their stock about 10 years ago, so some of it wasn't new, but was much cheaper than it is now. They also bought in bulk, and from trusted friends. the prices increase every year to pay for the staff of 6-8 people than run the warehoused, and to insure that the company continues to make enough profit to stay open. The owner is a bit of a philanthropist, and his whole business model isn't based on making as much money as possible, but rather on spreading tea culture (today's big thing is low-volume, high-profit business; these folks run the opposite, and run it well!). I didn't really understand how special it was until I left, traveled around a bit, and came back!


This lead me to another question I really want to know beside how to contact this particular tea vendor, PM me if you could.

What is the climate of Korea? Does it has a hot and humid summer and cold and dry winter? What I like to know is the storage condition of their tea and how do they age it. As most aged tea I come across is from South East Asia and I would like to compare it with other aged tea I know.
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 29th, '12, 02:51

Apache, I'll PM you.

I have a few things to share. 1st, storage. This company, GU Myeong Cha, believes in 4-season storage, and they believe that a "natural" climate is better than an artificial climate. This means that the warehouses have some small heating units in the winter (it gets dry and very, very cold-lowest temp in 2 years here was around 0f (-18c), which they move around to keep the temperature above freezing in the warehouse, but otherwise the temperature and humidity are natural (no central heating or air, no humidity control-though temp and humidity are closely monitored). They box up all the teas in cardboard in the winter as well to further control the temp. Otherwise, the warehouse only shelters the teas from the from the elements, and that is it. The summer is hot and humid, upwards of 95f (35c), with humidity bouncing around in the 60s and 70s, sometimes even 80s. So the tea ages quickly in the summer, and dries in the winter.

After a lot of time learning about "Dama" storage in Malaysia, which is hot and humid follow by hot and humid, and after drinking a lot of Dama tea, I really appreciate the balanced nature of the Korean-stored teas. Smooth and aged, but complex without that "rushed" feeling. Keep in mind though that the company has been storing tea for 10 or 12 years, and a lot of these teas are older, so they had their early years in Taipei or Hong Kong or Beijing. Does this answer your question?

OK, other info. I did some shopping. I found two shops that have reasonable reputations (one is an official Tae Tea retailer) selling 1999 7542. The Tae Tea folks sold each disk for 700,000 won ($615), and the other one (Puerh Jae on Insadong) sold the same disk for 900,000 won ($790). Compared with GU selling a 1997 disk for 300,000 won ($264), and a 2001 7542 for 350,000 ($307). I asked why the 2001 was more, and they said it is because they didn't get as good of a deal from the seller. I asked if 1999 was a better year than 1997, and was told "similar, but both were good years". I have read in Cloud's book that 1997ish is the end of the 7-Sons era. Just an interesting side note.

Finally, I tasted the 1999 7542 from the Tae Tea dealer. It was good, and tasted legit to me, but it just didn't have the.....for lack of a better word....soul. Something vital was missing. It was great tea, but it didn't give me that elevated, happy feeling, and it was also a bit bitter. Just not as good as the tea being sold for less than half down the street!
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 29th, '12, 03:38

JakubT wrote:Seems quite dry stored indeed.

Another slightly suspicious thing is how much sense makes the certificate - they usually are way more obscure :)


Oh ya, and I found a 1997 bing that "sweated" through the paper, so I could read the certificate inside. Check out the English!

MarshalN wrote:
needaTEAcher wrote:
Thanks for the link. That is great. As per the second part, there are definitely vendors selling at less than market price, just few and far between. I have mentioned more than once my "guys" in Korea, who sell for 50-80% of the market price,


Korean market prices, or Chinese market prices? The latter is not really possible - Korean customs duties alone is 20% extra.


Sorry, I missed that before. They imported them mostly 10-12 years ago, and only raise the price to keep up with the cost of storage. Back to the whole, they want to spread tea more than make money thing. I am usually comparing to the Chinese market price as I understand it, and the Korean market price I find is something like 110%-130% maybe? It makes sense though to buy in bulk at wholesale prices under the market value, pay the 20% tax, and then sell for any price that brings in profit. Ultimately, I am still learning all these figures and values, so please take it with a grain of salt. I haven't found a solid "Becket's" of tea to use to make sure my understanding is right.
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby apache » Jul 30th, '12, 06:54

needaTEAcher wrote:Apache, I'll PM you.

I have a few things to share. 1st, storage. This company, GU Myeong Cha, believes in 4-season storage, and they believe that a "natural" climate is better than an artificial climate. This means that the warehouses have some small heating units in the winter (it gets dry and very, very cold-lowest temp in 2 years here was around 0f (-18c), which they move around to keep the temperature above freezing in the warehouse, but otherwise the temperature and humidity are natural (no central heating or air, no humidity control-though temp and humidity are closely monitored). They box up all the teas in cardboard in the winter as well to further control the temp. Otherwise, the warehouse only shelters the teas from the from the elements, and that is it. The summer is hot and humid, upwards of 95f (35c), with humidity bouncing around in the 60s and 70s, sometimes even 80s. So the tea ages quickly in the summer, and dries in the winter.

After a lot of time learning about "Dama" storage in Malaysia, which is hot and humid follow by hot and humid, and after drinking a lot of Dama tea, I really appreciate the balanced nature of the Korean-stored teas. Smooth and aged, but complex without that "rushed" feeling. Keep in mind though that the company has been storing tea for 10 or 12 years, and a lot of these teas are older, so they had their early years in Taipei or Hong Kong or Beijing. Does this answer your question?

OK, other info. I did some shopping. I found two shops that have reasonable reputations (one is an official Tae Tea retailer) selling 1999 7542. The Tae Tea folks sold each disk for 700,000 won ($615), and the other one (Puerh Jae on Insadong) sold the same disk for 900,000 won ($790). Compared with GU selling a 1997 disk for 300,000 won ($264), and a 2001 7542 for 350,000 ($307). I asked why the 2001 was more, and they said it is because they didn't get as good of a deal from the seller. I asked if 1999 was a better year than 1997, and was told "similar, but both were good years". I have read in Cloud's book that 1997ish is the end of the 7-Sons era. Just an interesting side note.

Finally, I tasted the 1999 7542 from the Tae Tea dealer. It was good, and tasted legit to me, but it just didn't have the.....for lack of a better word....soul. Something vital was missing. It was great tea, but it didn't give me that elevated, happy feeling, and it was also a bit bitter. Just not as good as the tea being sold for less than half down the street!


Thank you for sharing, it's very interesting to hear about this. It seems they store their cakes just above freezing during winter in Korea. When you say "Dama", I think you mean "大馬" which is Malaysia.

There are a lot of different opinions regarding the 'right' storage conditions. I'm no expert on this except to know that it needs a bit humidity. I once talked to a tea shop owner in HK, he said, "UK? No problem, as long as there's enough moisture in the air, that's o.k.". Well, I cannot tell whether it's because he just want to sell me more tea so he said this. After storing some of my cakes for 3 years, I do notice there are some changes, but not all the cake age at the same rate, some age better, some hardly changed!
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 30th, '12, 10:41

apache wrote: Thank you for sharing, it's very interesting to hear about this. It seems they store their cakes just above freezing during winter in Korea. When you say "Dama", I think you mean "大馬" which is Malaysia.

There are a lot of different opinions regarding the 'right' storage conditions. I'm no expert on this except to know that it needs a bit humidity. I once talked to a tea shop owner in HK, he said, "UK? No problem, as long as there's enough moisture in the air, that's o.k.". Well, I cannot tell whether it's because he just want to sell me more tea so he said this. After storing some of my cakes for 3 years, I do notice there are some changes, but not all the cake age at the same rate, some age better, some hardly changed!


I think those characters are right. I am learning some Chinese, but it is slow going. I remember Dama meaning Malaysia. Da is big, right? What is Ma?

Ya, they store it right above freezing in the winter. Really surprised me. But the summers are pretty muggy, and, again, their tea is better than few other teas I have had the privilege of trying (the same teas from other companies I mean--7542s, 8582s, and a few yellow stamps, though I don't think they were the same recipes). From what I have seen and read, it seems like there is a general spectrum of storage ideology, internationally. Some lean towards slow, dryer aging, arguing that the longer method is worth it because it lends more complexity to the tea; others lean towards wetter storage, arguing that it make the tea drinkable faster. The downside to the former being the time it takes, and the downside to the latter being that when it matures too quickly, the quality drops (to the point that it can have too many microbes and become dangerous). The Korean style, which is certainly not only or even originally Korean (I assume--I don't know for sure) seems to me to be a step to the side from that old spectrum. Cloud writes a few really good articles on this, as does Bearsbearsbears I believe.

Ultimately, when I am assessing a new tea Master to figure out if I can learn from him/her, I always bring up storage as a part of a series of questions. If s/he say "This way is correct and that way is not," I usually stop listening and leave whenever it is polite. I don't have time to learn from people that don't get the bigger picture! I am usually only interested in Masters who know when to say, "It depends" or "I don't know." Kind of a tangent there. :?
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby apache » Jul 30th, '12, 12:01

'da' 4th tone means big and 'ma' 3rd tone mean horse or horses. Combined together is the short form of transliteration of Malaysia, but I didn't come across Malaysia being called Dama very often while I was in HK.

Well, might be I should simulate the Korean storage by keeping my pu inside the fridge during the winter months! :wink:

Probably all different storage conditions do have their own merit, as long as they're not in the extreme regimes.

Most people I know in HK would much prefer wet storage as most people there would not like any hint of astringency. Bitter taste does get some effort to get used to.
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby MarshalN » Jul 30th, '12, 12:06

Without defining what you want out of your storage condition, it is impossible to say what's a good storage condition. Having said that, almost all people, when they say they want to have nice aged tea to drink down the road, are not envisioning teas that taste like they just came out of the factory. So when certain people propose extreme conditions like vacuum-packing pu as a storage method, you can indeed say "this is wrong". Not to mention there's a real cost involved in storing tea yourself in money, time, energy, and space.
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby iovetea » Jul 30th, '12, 15:05

MarshalN wrote:Without defining what you want out of your storage condition, it is impossible to say what's a good storage condition. Having said that, almost all people, when they say they want to have nice aged tea to drink down the road, are not envisioning teas that taste like they just came out of the factory. So when certain people propose extreme conditions like vacuum-packing pu as a storage method, you can indeed say "this is wrong". Not to mention there's a real cost involved in storing tea yourself in money, time, energy, and space.


Still if you can handle the nervs, guess its really fun and rewarding. I at least always liked to hear the stories about storing Pu Erhs from Cloud??
( I'm not sure but i think it was him)

Also isn't it nice to have a piece of history of your own life always aging with you?? even so its probably really depressing, to see how much older one get....

btw: is Wetter storage always save, can you see when you examine the tea if its still save to drink and that it was stored correctly??
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 30th, '12, 19:25

MarshalN wrote:Without defining what you want out of your storage condition, it is impossible to say what's a good storage condition. Having said that, almost all people, when they say they want to have nice aged tea to drink down the road, are not envisioning teas that taste like they just came out of the factory. So when certain people propose extreme conditions like vacuum-packing pu as a storage method, you can indeed say "this is wrong". Not to mention there's a real cost involved in storing tea yourself in money, time, energy, and space.


I love me a good two-hundred year old, vacuum sealed bing that has been sitting in the snow on a mountain. :lol:

Ya, point taken, there are many right ways, but also some wrong ones. I mean I dislike when people say that this or that way that is generally accepted by a major percentage of the pu drinking crows ir wrong. Definitely don't store your vintage cakes in the oven!!!
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Re: I need fast help on a 1999 Menghai 7542 Identification

Postby Drax » Aug 5th, '12, 14:55

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...! :D Thanks to Needa for setting up the fun!
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