I spent a week in KL and Penang and it has been educational at least for me to hear from various vendors on the history of pu erh in Malaysia and learn about the storage methods adopted in the hot and humid country.
In KL, I managed to visit a number of shops along Jalan Sultan. On the outskirts of KL in Serdang and Kepong, many tea shops abound that I also visited and ended up buying some kilos of loose early and late 90's teas (the early 90's gong ting had so much lingering hui gan that it's scarily addictive) that was very clean and well stored, and a toong of Mengku Big Snow Mountain and Xiaguan from a reputable vendor.
In an earlier trip, I had bought a tube of 90's Xiaguan tuo, and I was also shown the Guangdong tuo (in an earlier post) which I gave it a miss. I think the black stuff sticking to the paper of the Guangdong tuo was spidery like and it was probably insect excrement and not worms (my Mandarin is not so good).
The owner of a shop in Penang's Beach Street was very kind and patient to brew multiple samples of teas for us, cleansed only once for some of the samples and infused the teas for a very long period, though dark red to black, it never tasted bitter or foul smelling. She gave me good advise on how to store teas in hot and humid Malaysia, the shelves and containers to use, reason not to mix storing raw and ripe teas and the need to rotate them regularly.
She never pushed me into buying anything, but it's not my style to walk away empty handed if I have been given such warm service from a vendor.
This is my first Haiwan. My experience with this brand in Beijing has been awful. This one changed my perception of that brand somewhat.
Along Rangoon Road, I also visited 2 stores that had a range of old tea bings but the taste did not appeal to me. One of the stores had outlets in the malls in Penang. Another shop was not too keen to interest me to buy something.
One was having a sale on some items but I did not buy any...how could they specifically state the YEAR (yes) the tea was produced?
Is it possible to be that accurate? I would not fork out a reasonable price for a 1985 tea that tasted weird or new. Some teas that I sampled even had the medicinal taste, others "cockroachy" or "termitey" (I was a village boy so I know how it smelled).
The Malaysians are rather lucky to have the best of both worlds, reasonable priced well stored supply of teas, both old and new.
Their luibao's are legendary as well given that it has been consumed heavily by tin miners many years ago in Ipoh (a mining town in Malaysia).
Looking forward to get back again sometime soon. Meanwhile, I will need to rework on the pu erh storage at home.