A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...


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

Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 2nd, '12, 02:10

SFLouis wrote:If you had a time machine and could go back in time to like 10 years ago, plus some of the aforementioned language skills, you might be able to find truly cheap tea that was truly good. Maybe :mrgreen:



I began enjoying Pu Erh a bit more than ten years ago, and have bought about then my first batches of tea which i have aged, and am drinking now, stored here in humid and hot Bangkok. They were about as inexpensive as new shengs are now, and i would not be able to afford them now, if i would buy them now aged in a warehouse.
A few cakes i have laid aside, to one day have 20 years plus aged teas. In between i have bought many more new cakes, slowly aging on my shelves.
I can only say that aging teas is worth it.

There is also a less costly way to get good aged tea a bit quicker. If you go to places such as Malaysia, where the climate ages teas much quicker than in drier climates, you can buy semi-aged teas of 5 to 7 years for much less than fully aged teas, and cut down the waiting period. Some hyped Pu Erh's are prohibitively expensive after a few years aging, but often teas from smaller factories can still be very reasonably priced. You just gotta try them.
For many people aged and aging Pu Erh is an investment where they expect returns, but there still are choices for drinkers to get semi-aged tea for reasonable prices that won't break the budget.

And i would suggest to age your tea yourself as well, you buy them and lay them aside. After ten or twenty years you will be glad that you did. I try to buy a larger variety to increase the choice of having some good teas one day - i have some traditional blends of plantation teas, some wild arbor, and some ancient arbor, of different areas.

The ones i bought ten years or so ago, now all in age of somewhere between 12 and 15 years, have all developed very well.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby needaTEAcher » Aug 2nd, '12, 03:10

theredbaron wrote:
SFLouis wrote:There is also a less costly way to get good aged tea a bit quicker. If you go to places such as Malaysia, where the climate ages teas much quicker than in drier climates, you can buy semi-aged teas of 5 to 7 years for much less than fully aged teas, and cut down the waiting period. Some hyped Pu Erh's are prohibitively expensive after a few years aging, but often teas from smaller factories can still be very reasonably priced. You just gotta try them.
For many people aged and aging Pu Erh is an investment where they expect returns, but there still are choices for drinkers to get semi-aged tea for reasonable prices that won't break the budget.


I agree, and I did just that. However, I must throw my two cents here: I found teas aged in Malaysia to be deceptively matured (2-3x), but with a drop in the complexity and overall quality. There is always a trade-off somewhere! But perhaps a few years in Malaysia, followed by a few years drier would be better?

Also, in Malaysia, there is a sharp increase somewhere between, maybe, 7 and 10 years, and suddenly the teas are more expensive than other places. I find, for some reason, that mid-range tea, mid-range teapots, and even (my wife discovered this) mid-range pearls are waaaay cheaper for the quality then we could find in other places! There is something magical about the economy of Malaysia that keeps high-end products relatively expensive, low-end products anywhere from a bit cheaper than other places to much more, and mid-range products at a beautiful, low, sweet spot. I don't get the economics behind it, but I am going back to Malaysia this winter!
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 2nd, '12, 03:39

needaTEAcher wrote:
I agree, and I did just that. However, I must throw my two cents here: I found teas aged in Malaysia to be deceptively matured (2-3x), but with a drop in the complexity and overall quality. There is always a trade-off somewhere! But perhaps a few years in Malaysia, followed by a few years drier would be better?



One thing i found to be careful with here in this high humidity/heat climate is to be careful of teas that went off. Last time in Malaysia i tried many teas, some of them had that stuffy off taste which i do not like. I had the same with a tea i forgot for many years in some closed cupboard here in Bangkok.
I keep my teas here on an open shelve, well ventilated, and regularly smell them, especially in the rain season.

Dunno yet about SEA followed by a dry climate, but i guess i will know soon as i am going to move back to Europe in a year or so. I don't buy any new sheng anymore, mostly look out now for semi aged teas that have a few years of humid climate storage behind them, to give them at least a headstart.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby tenuki » Aug 2nd, '12, 14:15

SFLouis wrote: Judging from the teas I have had, it would seem that this is true.


The rest is noise - ignore it. Drink what you like, like what you drink.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby wyardley » Aug 2nd, '12, 16:54

theredbaron wrote:
needaTEAcher wrote:
I agree, and I did just that. However, I must throw my two cents here: I found teas aged in Malaysia to be deceptively matured (2-3x), but with a drop in the complexity and overall quality.


One thing i found to be careful with here in this high humidity/heat climate is to be careful of teas that went off. Last time in Malaysia i tried many teas, some of them had that stuffy off taste which i do not like.

I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I think it's important to note again. It's hard to know the entire history of a tea; don't assume that because you tried the tea in Malaysia that it's spent its whole life in natural storage in Malaysia - it may have been intentionally "traditionally" stored, or even improperly stored.

Even if a tea has some off tastes, in many cases, they will recede if the tea is aired out a bit.

Also, I haven't visited, but from what I've heard, Malaysia, while definitely hot and humid overall, has a range in terms of climates between different areas.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby needaTEAcher » Aug 2nd, '12, 19:37

wyardley wrote:Also, I haven't visited, but from what I've heard, Malaysia, while definitely hot and humid overall, has a range in terms of climates between different areas.


Not positive, but I think that KL is the tea hub, specifically China Town, and I think that most of the puerh and aged dark teas (lots of Liu Bao) come from the city.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 3rd, '12, 03:01

wyardley wrote:I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I think it's important to note again. It's hard to know the entire history of a tea; don't assume that because you tried the tea in Malaysia that it's spent its whole life in natural storage in Malaysia - it may have been intentionally "traditionally" stored, or even improperly stored.

Even if a tea has some off tastes, in many cases, they will recede if the tea is aired out a bit.

Also, I haven't visited, but from what I've heard, Malaysia, while definitely hot and humid overall, has a range in terms of climates between different areas.


There is not a very high range of climate in Malaysia - it is hot and humid, and on hill stations such as Cameroon Highlands it is a bit cooler and still very humid - over the past 25 years i have been there more times than i can count.
Thailand has a slightly larger range of climate - in the north the cold season can actually get quite cool, but overall the humidity is still very high.
This makes for excellent aging conditions, but especially in the rain season we have to be very careful here with storage - one tea that i have forgotten in a closed space for several years went off, and even after airing it for two or three years the taste did not improve significantly - this tea i bought fresh in China, no Hong Kong storage. During the rain season i check on my tea regularly, and shift it around often.
During the rains the humidity levels here can be beyond believe - everything is damp, book pages are almost wet, leather goods stored in enclosed spaces is almost immediately covered in a layer of white rot.

I believe that the ever present air-condition can be especially dangerous here for tea - when it is switched on it artificially dries the air, and when switched off condensation will occur almost immediately, and then suck humidity into the tea.
That is one of the reasons why i prefer to bear with the heat, and do not have aircon in my house.

I would always first try tea stored in Malaysia, Thailand or Singapore - it can be excellent, far more aged than comparable teas stored in drier climates, but it can easily be off as well.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 3rd, '12, 03:13

needaTEAcher wrote:
wyardley wrote:Also, I haven't visited, but from what I've heard, Malaysia, while definitely hot and humid overall, has a range in terms of climates between different areas.


Not positive, but I think that KL is the tea hub, specifically China Town, and I think that most of the puerh and aged dark teas (lots of Liu Bao) come from the city.


KL's Chinatown indeed is the hub of tea! :D

Many shops have long standing relations with growers and suppliers in China. I would dare say that unless one has excellent tea connections in China (and speaks the language), the tea you can get in KL is of far higher quality than a normal person could hope to get access to in China.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby needaTEAcher » Aug 3rd, '12, 04:32

theredbaron wrote:
needaTEAcher wrote:
wyardley wrote:Also, I haven't visited, but from what I've heard, Malaysia, while definitely hot and humid overall, has a range in terms of climates between different areas.


Not positive, but I think that KL is the tea hub, specifically China Town, and I think that most of the puerh and aged dark teas (lots of Liu Bao) come from the city.


KL's Chinatown indeed is the hub of tea! :D

Many shops have long standing relations with growers and suppliers in China. I would dare say that unless one has excellent tea connections in China (and speaks the language), the tea you can get in KL is of far higher quality than a normal person could hope to get access to in China.


I have heard so many people complain about the dark tea in China. Though I have yet to go (2013!!!), the impression I have gotten is that tea is shipped out quickly, and there just isn't a whole lot of aged dark tea to be found. Sad. :(

But I really, really loved KL. We went three times in four months (Air Asia hub :D ), and we just couldn't get enough. We are looking forward to our winter visit in December.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 3rd, '12, 05:01

needaTEAcher wrote:
I have heard so many people complain about the dark tea in China. Though I have yet to go (2013!!!), the impression I have gotten is that tea is shipped out quickly, and there just isn't a whole lot of aged dark tea to be found. Sad. :(

But I really, really loved KL. We went three times in four months (Air Asia hub :D ), and we just couldn't get enough. We are looking forward to our winter visit in December.



I have never been in Yunnan's tea growing areas. When i traveled through China's tea growing areas i went through the Wu Yi mountains and several of the Green Tea areas. Which even though the stress was great.
I have been ten years or so ago at Guangzhou's large tea market, which was not a particularly great experience. I guess it would be great if i would speak Cantonese, live there, and know a lot of people. Which i don't.
I would love to one day travel to Yunnan's tea plantations and have a look at the factories.
But for aged Pu Erh - i do it myself, and/or stick with the market in KL.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby SFLouis » Aug 3rd, '12, 16:54

theredbaron wrote:

I have never been in Yunnan's tea growing areas. When i traveled through China's tea growing areas i went through the Wu Yi mountains and several of the Green Tea areas. Which even though the stress was great.
I have been ten years or so ago at Guangzhou's large tea market, which was not a particularly great experience. I guess it would be great if i would speak Cantonese, live there, and know a lot of people. Which i don't.
I would love to one day travel to Yunnan's tea plantations and have a look at the factories.
But for aged Pu Erh - i do it myself, and/or stick with the market in KL.


Is there a good place to look for high quality young, raw puerh & ceramics/teaware in Bangkok? I'm going to be visiting in about a week. Ong's tea has been recommended to me, and I've also heard that chaozhou pots can often be found at some of the markets. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: A Question About Old/Big Tea Trees...

Postby theredbaron » Aug 4th, '12, 01:33

SFLouis wrote:
theredbaron wrote:


Is there a good place to look for high quality young, raw puerh & ceramics/teaware in Bangkok? I'm going to be visiting in about a week. Ong's tea has been recommended to me, and I've also heard that chaozhou pots can often be found at some of the markets. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



Good quality Pu Erh (or any other high quality tea) - forget it.
Ong's tea is always worth looking into, nice people, but their main business is (or was the last time i was there, which is now a few years ago) expensive young artist's tea pots for their moneyed clients, who to the most part do not know much about tea, or even care about it.
If one likes Chaozhou pots, there are many around here. But i do not know much about them.
Bangkok was well known for older Yixing pots, but nowadays there are so many fakes around that you really have to know your stuff. I wouldn't dare to buy anymore. Don't forget - for the past 20 odd years Taiwanese, Singaporean and Malaysian horders have emptied the markets.
What you can look for in Bangkok is unregistered and smuggled shipwreck porcelain much cheaper than in the famous auction houses, lots of antique shops at River Side, also at Chatuchak - the weekend market. But again: far more fakes than real stuff.

Unlike KL or Singapore the renewal of Chinese tea culture has not been picked up in Thailand. I guess the main reason for this is that Thailand's Chinese minority is far more integrated into Thai society than anywhere else in SEA - partly through force during the 50's to 70's, partly because of similarities in culture. The advantage is that whatever political problems we have here (and we have many), the last thing we can expect here is ethnic problems such as in Indonesia or Malaysia.
The old Chinese, who brought their way of drinking tea from China are mostly dead now, and young Thai-Chinese are culturally mostly Thai.

Bangkok in terms of tea is a far cry from the vibrancy of KL's tea scene. If you have the time to hop over to KL - just an hour's flight - i would suggest to drop by there for a few days.
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