Help identifying vintage of a tong!


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Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Oct 21st, '12, 02:14

Hello all,
I know you guys are probably busy and I'm sure I didn't need to address all of you to get an answer to this question, but I figured the more people I asked the faster I might get some good answers. Ok so I often frequent a local Chinese restaurant in my area and speak with the owners quite often. The owner's husband also loves tea so we have been having some great conversations lately (although as soon as I finish learning Potonkwa they should be even better). So one day he comes over my place and brings with him various teas of different categories, but then goes back to his car and returns with an unopened tong (metal wire over bamboo casing variety) of puerh. I was immediately intrigued but also skeptical. He claimed that he bought it for $500 U.S. seven years ago in Hong Kong (at which time the guy who sold it to him said it was already 20 years old) making it possibly 27 years old at this point. I told him the only way I knew how to find out for sure if this was valid or even close to accurate was to open, smell, taste, and feel it. He wasn't too happy about opening the tong but eventually he did after I promised to buy a cake if it was somewhere close to the vintage its claimed to be. So as we opened it I saw that the wrapping on the Beengs was the traditional Chi Tse Beeng Cha with green Cha stamp in the center (which doesn't help much in identifying because so many different puerhs are wrapped in this). I then smelled the dry leaf and it smelled a touch green still exhibiting extremely minute traces of youth through scent. I then tasted it and quickly found that the Qi was explosive in nature and it made me sweat in various places that seemed to signify greatness. The traces of youth as bitterness were all but gone and the mouthfeel was very thick on it's way to the gluelike consistency of the immortal nectar. The liquor was a deep dark amber-brown with a dominant golden rim and the clouds feet were plentiful and ever changing. I have only two teas in my personal collection that could even be possibly close in terms of comparison for possible age clarification and those are the 96' Orange-in-Orange and the 88' Qing Beeng but this tea is much closer to the 88' and in fact has much less signs of youth than the 88', which makes me want to assume that it is older than it, however, this is finally where my problem and questions arise. How do I tell if this tea is dry stored from the mid-late 80's versus traditionally stored late 90's or older? What I mean is if you had two of the same teas side by side, one wet stored and one dry that had almost identical liquor colors and almost the same amount of youth bitterness left how do you tell if the one tea in question still has that bitterness because its young and not wet stored long enough or because it is dry stored and dry stored takes longer to eliminate youth? I sincerely apologize for this disgustingly long essay of a post but this is how I'm livin' and I figured if anyone can answer this I know you guys on teachat can. I appreciate any responses. Thank you!

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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby wyardley » Oct 21st, '12, 04:17

If the "cha" character on the front and the neifei aren't both orange (you said it's green), it's not orange-in-orange. However, pretty hard to guess from your description. If you post (good) pictures of the wrapper, both sides of the cake, neifei and neipiao (which mayat least give you the factory name, though could be faked), dry and wet leaves, and brewed tea, people may be able to make some guesses or rule out certain things. But even so, would be hard for most people to identify it completely.

Are there any markings or tickets on the tong wrapper?

If he'll sell you a piece for, say, $300 and you like the tea a lot, just buy one or more pieces, and worry later about what it is.

The level of staining on the paper and tickets, and the approximate leaf size may give you some ideas about the storage and the type of tea. The fact that it's in a bamboo tong may help a bit too in hazarding a guess.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby MarshalN » Oct 21st, '12, 07:10

How much does he want to sell it to you for?

If it tastes good and if it seems old enough, what's the worry?

ImmortaliTEA wrote:ow do I tell if this tea is dry stored from the mid-late 80's versus traditionally stored late 90's or older? What I mean is if you had two of the same teas side by side, one wet stored and one dry that had almost identical liquor colors and almost the same amount of youth bitterness left how do you tell if the one tea in question still has that bitterness because its young and not wet stored long enough or because it is dry stored and dry stored takes longer to eliminate youth?


Why does this matter? I can't see why this matters at all. Traditionally stored teas are not inferior. The vast majority of older teas we have in existence are traditionally stored. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

If you want to tell the difference, the difference is in the notes you get from the tea, and also the wet leaves' colour. There are other signs too, but it's hard to explain it with just words. But again - if the price seems reasonable, the tea is, as you say, one of the best you've had, then.... why does it matter?
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby wyardley » Oct 21st, '12, 16:00

I don't think the OP was saying that traditional storage was inferior; but that the storage and age will obviously inform the price (especially in the case where the seller doesn't know exactly what he has). Depending on the quality and storage, the tea could be worth a pretty wide range of things, whether it's 80s or 90s. I doubt that this is the 88 qing bing (for one thing, it would have already been pretty expensive in '05)

http://teadrunk.org/topic/255/50s60s-mystery-cake-id/

has some pointers that may help rule out certain possibilities (in terms of some things you can look for on the ticket, for example, whether 出 is wide base or not). These kind of details can exclude things, but it's a lot less often that they prove anything affirmative conclusively. Unfortunately, I still haven't had a chance to sample the tea in question, though it is pretty clearly not as old as my co-worker's in-laws thought it was.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Oct 21st, '12, 17:40

MarshalN wrote:How much does he want to sell it to you for?

If it tastes good and if it seems old enough, what's the worry?

ImmortaliTEA wrote:ow do I tell if this tea is dry stored from the mid-late 80's versus traditionally stored late 90's or older? What I mean is if you had two of the same teas side by side, one wet stored and one dry that had almost identical liquor colors and almost the same amount of youth bitterness left how do you tell if the one tea in question still has that bitterness because its young and not wet stored long enough or because it is dry stored and dry stored takes longer to eliminate youth?


Why does this matter? I can't see why this matters at all. Traditionally stored teas are not inferior. The vast majority of older teas we have in existence are traditionally stored. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

If you want to tell the difference, the difference is in the notes you get from the tea, and also the wet leaves' colour. There are other signs too, but it's hard to explain it with just words. But again - if the price seems reasonable, the tea is, as you say, one of the best you've had, then.... why does it matter?


The reason why this particular part is important to me is because of part of the story that I failed to include. After tasting the tea I informed the guy that the 27 year old claim is most likely false based on my previous tastings of similarly aged teas, however, I almost always drink wet stored teas (and agree 100% with you MarshalN that they are in no way inferior as they are actually my favorite) and it didn't occur to me at the time to even think about dry stored (as a matter of fact it completely slipped my mind as I have only had maybe 10 dry stored teas in my life) when I told him that. So after he left, a light bulb went off and I remembered that if a Dry Stored tea was aged 27 years it might still have the bitterness and other traces of youth as a much younger wet stored tea. So I guess it all comes down to money in the end just as Wyardley said because I didn't want to pay as much if it was a 90's wet stored tea as a 27 year old dry stored tea would be a 1985 and would cost a pretty penny in comparison to a 90's wet stored tea that were hard to distinguish because of the amount of youth left. I hope this makes sense. I realize I am rambling but would like to know what good prices for a tong of 90's wet stored vs. 85' Dry stored because based on what I have learned and seen around it would seem that they wouldn't even be in the same ballpark of a price. Thank you!

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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby wyardley » Oct 21st, '12, 17:56

ImmortaliTEA wrote:So I guess it all comes down to money in the end just as Wyardley said because I didn't want to pay as much if it was a 90's wet stored tea as a 27 year old dry stored tea would be a 1985 and would cost a pretty penny in comparison to a 90's wet stored tea that were hard to distinguish because of the amount of youth left. I hope this makes sense. I realize I am rambling but would like to know what good prices for a tong of 90's wet stored vs. 85' Dry stored because based on what I have learned and seen around it would seem that they wouldn't even be in the same ballpark of a price.

I would not presume to judge a tea's value without seeing and tasting it, but in terms of a ballpark range, based on what limited knowledge I have, I think you'd be looking at $150-350/cake in the case of 90s tea, and maybe double that range for 80s tea? Maybe folks with more extensive knowledge of current pricing would have some other ideas.

I don't think there is much pure or any pure-dry stored tea from 1985 or before. The concept of "dry storage" as such didn't exist til probably the mid-90s, and most tea not stored at someone's house would probably have seen some level of traditional storage at some point in its life.

I think it's very common for vendors to throw around rough terms like "this tea is 20 years aged" about a tea that's nowhere near that age, so even if the person with these teas is being totally truthful, it is definitely possible (and even likely) that the tea is not quite as old as it was sold to him as.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby beecrofter » Oct 21st, '12, 20:38

It sounds to me that the cost per serving would be around the same for this beeng as for coca cola.

So even if you overpaid, if you can afford the outlay why not go for it ?

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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby TomVerlain » Oct 21st, '12, 20:43

beecrofter wrote:There are no luggage racks on a hearse.


Yes, but thankfully, there is bier.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby MarshalN » Oct 21st, '12, 20:58

Well, did the guy offer you a price, or did he give you a "name your own price" option? Then we have something to work with.

If you are talking about 25 years old dry stored 88Qing, one cake will set you back $1000 these days, USD. Wet stored 90s? At least a few hundred bucks a piece, depending on where you buy it from, what condition its in, etc etc etc. So, unless this guy is asking for $1000 a piece, you're not going to be overpaying.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby beecrofter » Oct 21st, '12, 21:14

TomVerlain wrote:
beecrofter wrote:There are no luggage racks on a hearse.


Yes, but thankfully, there is bier.


Three chairs for Tom!
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby shah82 » Oct 21st, '12, 21:40

If someone in the West was willing to part with an 88 for $1000, I'd be dubious. BTH wants $5k. EoT wants $1.6k, and that is less than what I usually see it go for, online. The East might be a different question.

The $500/tong 7 years ago, hmmm...

Cloud said that 88 QingBing was about $600 if you bought the tong in 2003 in HK. It's possible for something of 88's like to be available in '05 at $500 a tong, but it's close to pushing it. Mid-eighties old tea...I have to say, that's a dubious prospect. Flat out, any obviously decent tea from the 80's that's well stored, regardless of whether it's dry or wet, is going to over $1k now. Really wet stuff would be less, but still... Well stored '90s tea would be pretty expensive as well.

The big burn here is asking yourself why he would sell to an American, when there is a totally, ridiculously, liquid selling environment in China. It's not as good as it used to be, given the current economic struggles, but...well...well stored tea that's plausibly 1996 or before is going to get snapped up in a hurry, given the sometimes explosive interest in even late-90s lanyins at places like the jt4u.com marketplace. If you honestly know your aged tea, and you can reliably figgure equivalent hedons/tea age, set about $500 for o.k., bought, and anything above $800 or so, I'd have to think about it.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby ImmortaliTEA » Oct 21st, '12, 21:49

MarshalN wrote:Well, did the guy offer you a price, or did he give you a "name your own price" option? Then we have something to work with.

If you are talking about 25 years old dry stored 88Qing, one cake will set you back $1000 these days, USD. Wet stored 90s? At least a few hundred bucks a piece, depending on where you buy it from, what condition its in, etc etc etc. So, unless this guy is asking for $1000 a piece, you're not going to be overpaying.


Yes it was a name your own price type of scenario but at first he was trying to sell me the entire tong for the same price he paid for it 7 years ago ($500) because he is a native of Anxi and only drinks medium roasted Anxi Ball oolongs and knows nothing about Puerh tea, until I told him it didn't seem as old as he was told at which point he said to name my own price and I told him I would buy that first cake for $100 and seek further knowledge about it on the internet (you guys) to back up my hypothesis based on the tasting. He promised to hold on to the rest of the tong exclusively for me when I found out more information and decided whether or not I wanted the remaining 6 beengs. Now I am stuck in a moral battle with myself because a part of me wants to inform him that he has some tea that's worth a pretty penny, in which case I wouldn't be able to afford anymore cakes. However, the other part of me thinks that all of this happened to me for a reason and since he doesn't know what he has his hands on, I should just buy the entire tong for $600 more. What would the true tea master do in this situation? (Subjective but curious nonetheless). Thank you!

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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby shah82 » Oct 21st, '12, 21:57

a hundred dollars for a cake that could credibly fake for something ten times more in cost, let alone be an old tea. Let's just say he will remember you if he's so naíve.

Man, no. I would just have that $100 cake and tell him that his cakes are worth much more than that, and have the savings as a finder's fee. No way you can really lose.
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby TIM » Oct 21st, '12, 22:09

Well, do you enjoy and like this tea? If you do, paying for what he asked for and have something in the collection that you can always enjoy is the way to go. Good Luck ~ T
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Re: Help identifying vintage of a tong!

Postby TomVerlain » Oct 21st, '12, 22:10

be honest. it pays in the end. Pascal's wager and all that.
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