lordsbm wrote:I think best way to ID an old tree is tasting it
Tead Off wrote:My point: There has to be a way to identify these trees even if it doesn't lead to superior tea drinking. I would like to hear from many of the seasoned tea drinkers here on this forum. Don't be shy.
Tead Off wrote:do you really think that Shah's response is useless? The point is to communicate and share your ideas. If they turn out to be erroneous, you stand to gain, not lose. We are not discussing ego but tea. Every drinker has their take. Some more seasoned ones may be more deluded but I think there lurks some discriminating drinkers here who can put forth some things to think about as Shah has done with his last post. Thank you, Shah
shah82 wrote:1) Defining old tree as basically over 150yo.
It depends as there's no fix standards even in books. But safe to say above 100years.
2) Most serious old tree tea is not very available, and very expensive when they are. Doubly true when we're talking anywhere north of Jingmai. There are not-so-great old tree tea trees (and areas) as well.
Mainly cause those seriously old trees are pass of as gushu by sellers, so they command gushu prices even if labelled as old tree. How great they are also have other factors like wet or dry years. Quality varies from year to year, no sure confirm way that it'll be as good as previous year.
3) Other old tree tea is quite overpicked (or stumped for easy picking) and is a poor performer relative to what the performance should be.
True that some popular areas are more over picked, result to poor quality. Those unknown, unpopular areas won't be over picked. Just too much a hazy to travel there.
4) Many brands seem to use arbor grown trees (da shu cha) in place of lao shu cha. Or they cut with that leaf.
It's just a name, like you can't seriously believe XG Jia or Te tuos are made of Jia and Te quality leafs right? Or maybe just have some content of old/gu tree in them.
5) Therefore, there is really no way to tell from observing dry or wet leaf whether that's a quality leaf or not.
You can't, I can't, but I believe there are people who can. I'm open minded to these things. 一山还有一山高.
6) In the mouth, unless you are pretty experienced (or you get a stunning example), it can be hard to tell or prefer old tree tea, especially as people have upped their game to get quality leaf from younger trees.
Side by side, a lao/gu tree with young tree, I think most can. But that needs to be proven. Part of tea education, no?
7) If people want to educate themselves, I suggest getting samples of normal 7542 and special grade 7542 from between '96 and '03, with similar storage. Many of the special grade teas should have some old tree teas sprinkled in. Good tea was very, very, cheap back then, particularly before '02, and only started to be expensive from about '04.
Not good example, as there could be storage issue. It's better to compare same year tea from same area, just that one is from a reliable source the other is from less reliable source (like passing off young as old tree). The result will be much more educational.
Broadly speaking, after 2009 and definitely after the late spring of 2010, great examples of old tree tea became rare. Sanhetang's product quality fell by quite a bit after 2009 for the run of the mill tea, and to get the nice stuff, well, that was over $200 a bing in 2010, and almost $300 in 2011, and now, about $300+ for the tea with some buzz in the mouth and throat. There are still some quality old tree teas normal people can buy with some oomph, but they mostly come from areas like Bangwei, which cannot hope to match the best Mengku, JingGu, or Jingmai teas. Unless you're buying the leftover teas from various shops--and they're leftovers because they aren't from top areas, the top stuff, or they're blends, you really shouldn't assume most tea you get is exalted unless you paid lots of money to people you're pretty sure has the connections (particularly wrt to anything from Banna, it's locked down).
There's so much pu erh out every year. Ya you need connection to get the best leafs which is normally from 1-3 tree in a village, but it MAY not mean you are paying a heafy premium. Which area is better depends on individuals taste, can't assume all the same. Of cos those without real connections, can only use money, but that doesn't mean you'll get the best. I think majority here are just happy to get a old/gu tree they can believe and be happy with it. Having the best doesn't mean you'll be truly happy, it's the content of the heart that u'll be truly happy.
9) I talk about the "good stuff" because, well, there are plenty of old tree teas out there. What people who aren't trying to flatter themselves and who want to buy great tea ask for, is for quality old tree. I've had the XZH '09 Diangu and the XZH '11 Diangu. Same place, same brand, not nearly the same quality. Old tree, though, in both cases. If your priority is price, what you really should look for is da shu or shengtai, given that most "affordable old tree" is either not so or from dead cheap areas. Sometimes, if the brand is good, old tree is simply an indicator of quality.
Quality as in it taste good right? Old tree source from a less popular village processed by experience people can be better than those popular village processed by inexperienced.
What I mean is good or bad, really need to taste, before you can comment. Also tuition tea really means you aren't getting what u are paying for. So in this sense those who pays a premium over an illusion of getting the best but aren't is actually buying tuition tea. I think safe to say the DY snake cake at current prices is a tuition tea
10) Will a plantation tea ever beat an old tree tea worthy of the name? No. Certainly not over a number of sessions. If a plantation tea is beating an old tree tea, there are a number of reasons that could be so. First of all, you may not like that particular old tree tea for some reason not relevant to all old tree tea. The tea might not be good, or it might be poorly stored. You might simply not have developed a consistent means to appreciate old tree tea. Tea drinking is about expectations. If you're expecting plantation tea, you may drink plantation tea qualities and miss old tree tea qualities from your session. Plantation tea is what it is pretty much because it's rather limited. The aroma won't really endure. The taste hits narrowly. The aftertastes are rather short. Typically, young plantation tea has an obnoxious green edge. Better cared for plantation tea can approximate good gushu, but they simply don't have the registers gushu has.
That's your view, and I can respect that.