As with every value question, the answer really is – “Yes, if it’s worth it to you.”
Or perhaps, how much tea could that $25-$45 buy you elsewhere?
I was recently in the exact same position – a relatively newcomer to puerh jotting down my teas to work out what I had, what I liked, and the areas of my experience that were completely lacking.
Following this, I bought a 2008 Menghai 7542 for $29.50
shipped (to Canada). By the way, I highly recommend the vendor, tuochatea.com – fast, secure shipping despite my taking the slowest option. Clearly, it never was going to be an 801 batch at that price, let alone a vintage.
For my $30 I got a good-but-not-great tea. It’s somewhere on the mushroom-straw axis. I’d say my modern 7542 is a subtle tea rather than a bland tea, but it’s not particularly challenging. It’s what you would make for a tea drinking friend who had never sampled puerh before. So it’s social rather than meditative, if that makes sense.
Personally, I prefer the forest floor taste of a Ban Zhang; I’m also quite partial to the Xiaguan leather and tobacco. . . the 7542 delivers none of these elements. But I like my teas to be different, to give me more variety. Also, I'm sometimes drinking teas in a noisy house or when I have to work, when I just want a sippin' tea.
My own take on all this – I’m happy with what I got for $30, but glad I didn’t pay more. I do intend sampling an ‘80s 7542
, which, incidentally, is on sale two blocks from where I work. (By comparison, I’d get 10 grams of this for my $30.)
My take on it all: someone who already owned a lot of tea, or who would rather infrequently drink a more challenging tea, could overlook the newer Menghais; I don’t really see the point of owning all of them, but neither do I see them as bad teas.