'Oolong Puerh' processing


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

Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby thanks » Feb 15th, '13, 22:02

shah82 wrote:Well, no, puerh vendors generally assure you that everything ages wonderfully, even silver tips.

Broadly, if you want to get stuff that will usually age nicely, my opinion is that you need to draw a line from ancient gardens on Badashan, through Manlushan in Mengsong, though Longpa, and ending up at Guafenzhai, and buy high quality products from there south from reputable vendors. This is expensive, however, and there are still places in the south you wouldn't really want to get for aging. For instance, there are plenty of not very good Bulang villages out there that's mostly useful for drinking relative new. Any Hekai, you'd better try for top of the line, 'cause Hekai gets mellow and sweet, but it doesn't seem to age into anything interesting, so you really want to get as interesting a Hekai new as you can.

As for blends, most of them that are any good and can be relied to age well are really expensive, and even those will pale against high end single area tea. Frankly, I think blends are oversold, mostly because the old blends that really worth treasuring had some really good material that doesn't really go into blends anymore.

As far a price goes, I think you should try for around $60 a bing, and get yourself a tong. Of course, you'll need to sample with that purpose in mind. Try for something reasonably well known and liked so as to assure yourself of some kind of resale value should you not like the tea, or the idea of storage. For example, I suppose getting a tong of 2010 Manmai or 2011 Mansai from Essence of Tea (or comparable tea from YS) isn't a totally unreasonable bet. You can try for something cheaper, like the Boyou Manlushan from 20007 that you can get for about half the price. However, it's really risky to buy cheap puerh unless you know what you're doing, especially in asking yourself "why is this tea cheaper than it should be?" Anything trustworthyly good is going to be $60 or more, by and large.


A Guafengzhai tea processed poorly will not age as well as a $12 Menghai Dayi recipe cake if at all. What's being discussed isn't quality over quantity, and at the same time I find your recommendations very interesting. I have dozens of Menghai cakes from various years aging along very nicely, does that mean I have awful taste?
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 16th, '13, 00:02

How much legit spring Guafenzhai from the actual old plantations do you think people dare to poorly process? Perhaps this happened in the days of yore, but GFZ today is a pretty settled taste, with expectations of right taste. Said tea, though is probably about $180 a bing, minimum, since 2012 spring GFZ was about 1200RMB/kg.

If a tea is badly processed in this day and age (hey, remember now, most of Dayi's single area tea, including Wild Single Leaf, High Mountain Bada, and Banzhang Eco-tea, usually feature significantly fermented leaf, and people still pay ungodly amounts of money for them), it's almost certainly a sign that it's processed to cover up inferior leaf quality. Or a merchant just wants you to pay more than a tea's worth with very fragrant tea that you don't test-drive fully enough to realize unpleasant aspects.

As of now, my sentiment on factory tea is that the vast majority of them aren't really very good, post-2003. They aren't awful, and they can be quite tasty, to an extent. However, most of them lack any sort of compelling narrative. They don't typically have qi. They don't really change in flavor or aroma over the session. Their aftertastes are usually only tidy at best. What's more, people have a nasty tendency to overpay for well known teas by Dayi because they tended to buy what is promoted. I bought Secret Fragrance sheng for $21 at Jase-teas in 2010, for instance. Why? Because I loved the shu. Why did I know about the shu? Because I bought a bunch of random shu trying to figure out what I liked, and a sample of SF shu won over items like the 2007 GNWL. When I eventually bought cakes of shu at Dragon Teahouse, I bought one of those, and I wound up still liking it alot. I only knew anything about An Xiang purely out of path dependent luck. Now the sheng is generally somewheres above $50. And in no way do I love that tea. I like it to some degree, but I don't think much of it outside of comparisons to other Dayi tea. The shu, relative to other shu, is a better tea, Dayi or not. And you can still buy that shu on Taobao at a reasonable price.

More than that, Dayi is a very conservative outfit that delivers a typical flavor with a thousand minor variations in their blends, depending on the leaf size grade. Consumers are forced to swim a broad selection of not particularly different products, and people tend to follow what's being promoted. Hence the frenzy for Jin Dayi and the current iteration of JinSeYunXiang, and merchants are asking for prices that aren't really reflective of the genuine leaf quality. It's usually sold between $45-$60 or so. There aren't a whole lot of $12 Dayi cakes out there, you know, and most of them are terrible--prices for standard stuff seems to be about $18-$25. Ultimately, do you think people will get great aging at a good price from Dayi? Or from places like Creamofbanna.com or white2tea.com? It's not that I think your taste is bad. It's that most blended factory cakes, whether that be Dayi, Fujin, or Guangya et al, tend to be very overpriced for what it is. Moreover, said cakes almost certainly will not match good single estate tea in terms of qi, huigan, dynamicism. There is a reason, for example, that I'm enthusiastic about the 2006 Taipei Memorial Jingcha that Houde offers. It offers all of those things in a blended leaf format, and it's capable of some aged tastes, and the kuwei clearly promises an aged taste with some power in the future. And you can get it for 10.4 cents a gram if you buy 750 grams worth. A blended cake with real performance (of 7 years, natch) to its name would be worth more than $41/400g in my book! The An Xiang sheng does some of that, but not as well--and that tea is one of the best sheng post restructuring Dayi has done, so far as I'm aware.

The central point to buying and aging puerh, is for the 3D performance, including the psychotropic effects. Folks need to be seeking out these teas because they are getting rarer in terms of access by Westerners, and they are becoming every higher priced for everyone. It's easy enough to get teas that taste and smell good. Just buy a Xiaguan Happy Tuo. It's harder to get one that rocks your world, though.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Tead Off » Feb 16th, '13, 01:12

Honestly, all these generalizations make me yawn. It's like discussing Yixing pots without really understanding the clays, how they are processed, and who made them. To take a tea from a particular mountain or village and generalize about it defeats the whole point of trying to narrow down cakes into well processed vs badly processed, old leaf teas/plantation teas, etc. There are exceptions to every generalization.

In talking about young Puerh, how many of you really have the experience to pronounce that a particular Guafengzhai from 2011 will not age well? How many have actually aged the new single farm/estate teas for 10 years and given an accurate account of their progress? Not with just one example, but several? I'm just saying, soke. For some reason, people like to talk like experts and convince others to think like them. It's not going to work. And, for people new to Puerh, it confuses them even more. It's a nice discussion but what passes for fact is in fact, not fact, just opinion and mostly deductions that can be refuted.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 16th, '13, 02:09

Somewhere, Cloud grins.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 16th, '13, 02:24

Ultimately, do you think people will get great aging at a good price from Dayi?

i have to say that i do like some 7542 batches from late 2000s and i think some of them are very good for the price, and with potential… of course it's not the case of all of the batches... I’m probably wrong but some recipes seem luoshuidong and naka based (yes, I know, it's probably not the case…)
Just my 2 pesos.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 16th, '13, 02:59

Specific batches? Like 803 or something? I remember hating the 801 8582 and 901 7542. And hatin' on the 2008 Peacock set. This was way early in my puerh drinking, though.

Funny thing is, Yunnan Sourcing doesn't seem to offer one 7542. Dragon Teahouse, unusually for them, has reasonable prices (from a western standpoint) for their 7542 70X on...

I don't think Dayi ever did too much oolong processing. They've never really tried to hide the plantation nature of their teas. I do think that they like to go for a "pleasantly" smoky aroma, taste, especially for their special productions.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby nada » Feb 16th, '13, 03:38

futurebird wrote:Wow, nada thanks for this post. Are there any producers with lines created especially for aging? How can a bewildered Westerner identify them?


I think most producers would hope their teas age well. Whether they do or not, only time will tell.

In terms of identification - I don't think there's any shortcuts. Drink a lot of tea - of a wide variety. Drink good tea and terrible tea. Meet others who know more and try to find reliable people to learn from - in person preferably. Take a lot of what you read on the internet with a healthy pinch of salt.

You'll make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them, but that's all part of the fun.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby Tead Off » Feb 16th, '13, 12:45

shah82 wrote:Specific batches? Like 803 or something? I remember hating the 801 8582 and 901 7542. And hatin' on the 2008 Peacock set. This was way early in my puerh drinking, though.

Funny thing is, Yunnan Sourcing doesn't seem to offer one 7542. Dragon Teahouse, unusually for them, has reasonable prices (from a western standpoint) for their 7542 70X on...

I don't think Dayi ever did too much oolong processing. They've never really tried to hide the plantation nature of their teas. I do think that they like to go for a "pleasantly" smoky aroma, taste, especially for their special productions.

Plantation nature as a description of Dayi seems true. Today, I prepared some 2003 7542 which I bought 5+ years ago and have been storing here, drinking some year after year. When I first got it, I could hardly stand to drink it. Bitter and acrid tasting and taking too long to get anything enjoyable out of. Drinking some today and looking over my tasting notes, the tea resembled nothing that I originally wrote. It was like a total makeover on every level, like a description of a completely different tea. It had become fully drinkable, smooth, with no bitterness. There was never ever any smokiness to it. However that tea was stored before I bought it, was not in its best interest. Which brings me to the point of buying semi-aged teas from questionable or unknown sources who do not know what the life of a cake consisted of before they got their hands on it. How many different environments the cake has been through? Any random contamination (odors, air purity, etc.)? I'm willing to bet that different cakes of 7542 of the same year, kept in different unknown environments will taste differently. And, if I love that tea now (which I don't, it's just ok) and wanted to buy more, I would bet that I couldn't find another cake that tasted the same as the one I have at present. Which means that storage is a huge factor in the game and many vendors cannot account for the previous storage of their cakes when they have some age on it and they've bought it from a supplier (distributor), which many vendors do and 'believe' what they are told about the prior histories of said cakes and hand it down to us and we repeat these things as fact. I find so much of what is said here, hearsay. We hear things from others and we repeat the words as truth. We are all guilty of this.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby TwoDog2 » Feb 16th, '13, 21:58

Tead Off wrote:Which means that storage is a huge factor in the game and many vendors cannot account for the previous storage of their cakes when they have some age on it and they've bought it from a supplier (distributor), which many vendors do and 'believe' what they are told about the prior histories of said cakes and hand it down to us and we repeat these things as fact. I find so much of what is said here, hearsay. We hear things from others and we repeat the words as truth. We are all guilty of this.


From my own personal experience, storage is a big factor for the early and mid 2000's menghai 7542. Some will be stale or have even a dry straw flavor. Others with be fairly vibrant. I am not sure if it is a difference in batches or storage or material or whether the production manager had a headache and wasn't paying attention when the cakes come off. All I can attest to is that there is a wide range of results from what is ostensibly the same formula.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 17th, '13, 14:33

From my own personal experience, storage is a big factor for the early and mid 2000's menghai 7542. Some will be stale or have even a dry straw flavor. Others with be fairly vibrant. I am not sure if it is a difference in batches or storage or material or whether the production manager had a headache and wasn't paying attention when the cakes come off. All I can attest to is that there is a wide range of results from what is ostensibly the same formula.


you're probably right twodogs: i've been drinking a couple of 7542 this week end and it was more or less the same... i guess i'm putting wrong labels in my mind to differentiate them... however the compression is not always the same. The 901 is not a hit, no great potential either, i think it's decent everyday puer even if it's a bit expensive for what it is, it has a simple licorice flavor, meghai-ish, already drinkable. i know the 803 is good but i have some 805 that i really like... i'm not shure to remember the number correctly, but i think the 806(?) is very nice too...IMO a well stored 502 is much more interesting than the Tai Lian 02 at a similar price, even with less durability... also, i was including a 8542 from 2005 thinking it was a 7542: very good calming qi and more banzhang-ish than the others...

The central point to buying and aging puerh, is for the 3D performance, including the psychotropic effects. Folks need to be seeking out these teas

I agree, but IMO the Taipei 06 is only a nice little sheng that is aging well and gives a few nice cups and some umami, nothing very psychotropic in this... Maybe you can give a few examples of shengs with real psychotropic effects??

[EDIT: i was talking about the cake version of this Taipei 06, the mushroom is different actually... less attractive at first glance but with more energy]
Last edited by fdrx on Dec 19th, '13, 07:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby shah82 » Feb 17th, '13, 15:18

It's so nice when someone talks smack to me about the teas I like...?:~)

I think that it's hard to compare Lincang/Lincang blend with Menghai blends. I know that I have trouble weighing whether the Simplified Yun is better than the Tai Lian simply because the styles and the experience offered are pretty different. On an ad hoc basis, I would be extremely surprised if I enjoyed the the 502 more, simply out of the fact that the Tai Lian does have real qi and stimulates all the way to the gullet. I've had a number of teas from Dayi from around that time, all of them premium, and I've never had anything that had even more than a touch of qi. Or, by and large, did much better than taste good for 6-10 cups. There is a very big difference post-restructuring, in terms of what the nicer teas are like. In a sense, Dayi has had its own developments in processing their more expensive teas, but this processing is about tasty smokiness, it seems to me.

The Taipei was accused by Aaron Fisher as being a good example of oolong pu, actually, in those Huangshan tea testings. It one reason I find this general topic interesting. No, it's not very psychotropic, and I don't expect a cheap tea to be very psychotropic. That's why I yip for joy when I have one of those An Xiang shu session that settles me into my seat. The point for me was that there was a bit of it, and it generally was a well rounded (at least a little of everything that should be there, is there) young sheng that has already proven something, and it's something I think I could trust to be excellent in another decade or so. And it's something I could theoretically buy a tong's worth of.

As for bamf sheng... It's hard to beat LBZ, *old tree* xiao JingGu, Da Xue Shan. Everywhere else, it's a bit more spotty. It's generally pretty hard to get *anything* with real power.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby bannacha » Feb 17th, '13, 15:37

My best Chaqi experiences were with Gua Feng Zhai/Ding Jia Zhai area, Lao Banzhang, and Lao Man E sweet tea. I think Yiwu tea is the best example of tea which is mild in the taste but powerful in the body.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 17th, '13, 16:00

It's so nice when someone talks smack to me about the teas I like...?:~)

i just googled "talk smack" and it looks strong: you've recommended the Tai Lian 02 in the "WANTED aged 7542" and since you asked me about precise batches i try to give examples and not generalise too much... About the Taipei 06 i think you just can't come to your conclusion with this tea, even i agree with what you said and even if i'm not an expert at all...

serious Luoshuidong/Mahei can be very narcotic and age quickly, like GFZ of course, ZhiZheng Xin Yu Qiu Lan '11 has strong qi, Guangya yiwu '11 too if i remember correctly, aged teas that i know so little, some bulangs are a have very euphoric qi, LBZ of course...
Last edited by fdrx on Feb 17th, '13, 16:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby fdrx » Feb 17th, '13, 16:13

I think Yiwu tea is the best example of tea which is mild in the taste but powerful in the body.

+1
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Re: 'Oolong Puerh' processing

Postby BioHorn » Feb 17th, '13, 17:02

fdrx wrote:
From my own personal experience, storage is a big factor.

you're probably right twodogs: i've been drinking a couple of 7542 this week end and it was more or less the same... i guess i'm putting wrong labels in my mind to differentiate them... however the compression is not always the same. The 901 is not a hit, no great potential either, i think it's decent everyday puer even if it's a bit expensive for what it is, it has a simple licorice flavor, meghai-ish, already drinkable. i know the 803 is good but i have some 805 that i really like... i'm not shure to remember the number correctly, but i think the 806(?) is very nice too...IMO a well stored 502 is much more interesting than the Tai Lian 02 at a similar price, even with less durability... also, i was including a 8542 from 2005 thinking it was a 7542: very good calming qi and more banzhang-ish than the others...


As there is a tong of it in my basement, I hope your observations of 901 7542 does not speak for the production in general. It may be time to break some out and see how it is doing!
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