Identification of Plantation Leaves


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

Postby heavydoom » Sep 29th, '08, 18:14

i respect fatman for posting this thread. i was having some fun, that's all.

personally speaking, i have never sat down and stared at my spend leaves and tried to ascertain where this particular leaf came from. it's like looking at maple syrup and try to guess what what maple tree from what area in canada my syrup came from. just getting a bit anal.
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Postby Salsero » Sep 29th, '08, 18:20

nada wrote: (2007 Spring Yiwu Old growth Maocha was in the region of 300+RMB/kg - price can also tell you something about the leaves)
As in so much of life, money is a good measure! 300RMB is about $45. So with processing and distribution costs, how much does that make the price of the finished tea? Maybe something like $45 for a 357 gr cake, a 3 times increase? More? I think the market from the field to the consumer for most US food products is a lot more than 300%.

Is it true that some teas are good even when the Yiwu or LBZ or Jingmai or whatever is mixed with something else? Where does the something else come from?
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Postby nada » Sep 29th, '08, 19:58

Salsero wrote: I think the market from the field to the consumer for most US food products is a lot more than 300%.


Yep, I think it's fair to say that it's probably more than 300% once the factory has bought the maocha, pressed the bing, made it's markup, the wholesaler buys it & makes a profit, the vendor buys it, ships it to the US, then makes a profit.

Salsero wrote:Is it true that some teas are good even when the Yiwu or LBZ or Jingmai or whatever is mixed with something else? Where does the something else come from?


Yep, of course - tea doesn't have to be from a famous place just to be good. One would just hope that the tea that it's mixed with isn't some low grade tea from an overharvested, over fertilized/pesticided plantation. Plantation tea is much cheaper though. I was quoted prices of ~35RMB/kg of 2008 Nannuoshan plantation tea from a farmer who doesn't use chemicals. I think it's fair to say that it can come much cheaper than that!

TomVerlain wrote:I think it is worthwhile looking at the leaves.


Me too - they can inform you of a lot... You can see clean mechanical cuts on the stem when a plantation tea was machine harvested or tears when hand picked and definately strong healthy leaves say a lot about the health of the plant. You can see signs of oxidation in the leaves when perhaps the leaves were left for too long before the kill green process. You can see burnt edges when the kill green was done for too long. You can see the grades of leaves that go into your puerh. The list goes on - I think there's a wealth of information here for the curious.
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Postby hop_goblin » Sep 29th, '08, 20:40

I have to second what Nada has stated. It is indeed difficult to ascertain with 100% accuracy if they are plantation or old growth from just looking at the leaf. Nevertheless, more often than not, old groth will appear much more robust than your plantation. However, as Nada as stated, this alone is not a good indicator. Price certainly can tell you if a product is what it claims to be. But again, this is China, and I can get a pretty conviencing Rolex for 50$ as well. This is why i cringe when some think it possible to buy a Lao Banzhang beeng for under 30$. No way No how. Nada is correct, the only true way to evalute whether it is old growth is to judge the cha yun a skill I am also trying to become proficient.
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Postby Fatman2 » Sep 29th, '08, 21:40

Woah, i went to sleep and wake up to see so many replies. Thanks everyone.

Just to clarify, I am not hoping to identify where the leave came from; be it which mountain, which farm, etc.. I am just wondering if it is at all possible to set some basic criteria that will enable me to say with a high percentage certainty that this are plantation leaves. Why plantation and not old tree leaves, I am guessing that plantation leaves are still most common in making puerh.

If we take the leaves shown in Sal's pic, can we say that it is plantation given the light color? A tea buddy told me that the dark green and thick leaves are non-organic plantation leaves as the farmers would have used loads of fertilisers and pesticides to get maximum yield. Possible?
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Postby hop_goblin » Sep 29th, '08, 21:51

Fatman2 wrote:Woah, i went to sleep and wake up to see so many replies. Thanks everyone.

Just to clarify, I am not hoping to identify where the leave came from; be it which mountain, which farm, etc.. I am just wondering if it is at all possible to set some basic criteria that will enable me to say with a high percentage certainty that this are plantation leaves. Why plantation and not old tree leaves, I am guessing that plantation leaves are still most common in making puerh.

If we take the leaves shown in Sal's pic, can we say that it is plantation given the light color? A tea buddy told me that the dark green and thick leaves are non-organic plantation leaves as the farmers would have used loads of fertilisers and pesticides to get maximum yield. Possible?



Big Factory fare is generally plantation. Yes, I have heard that darker leaves are a sign of old growth but still not a good indicator. You can bet that anything Seven son tea cake made before '97 is plantation. using old growth for pu is relatively a newer concept which started after privatization. However, some masters suggests that the old vintages were old growth but no ones for certain since records were not kept.
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Postby Fatman2 » Sep 29th, '08, 22:08

hop_goblin wrote:
Fatman2 wrote:Woah, i went to sleep and wake up to see so many replies. Thanks everyone.

Just to clarify, I am not hoping to identify where the leave came from; be it which mountain, which farm, etc.. I am just wondering if it is at all possible to set some basic criteria that will enable me to say with a high percentage certainty that this are plantation leaves. Why plantation and not old tree leaves, I am guessing that plantation leaves are still most common in making puerh.

If we take the leaves shown in Sal's pic, can we say that it is plantation given the light color? A tea buddy told me that the dark green and thick leaves are non-organic plantation leaves as the farmers would have used loads of fertilisers and pesticides to get maximum yield. Possible?



Big Factory fare is generally plantation. Yes, I have heard that darker leaves are a sign of old growth but still not a good indicator. You can bet that anything Seven son tea cake made before '97 is plantation. using old growth for pu is relatively a newer concept which started after privatization. However, some masters suggests that the old vintages were old growth but no ones for certain since records were not kept.


Guess we have to limit our assessment to the new bings that are coming out.
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Postby Salsero » Sep 29th, '08, 22:51

Fatman2 wrote: Woah, i went to sleep and wake up to see so many replies.
Corn grows even while the farmer sleeps!

Anyone else have some picks to put up? Should I dig around for some more?
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Postby teakid » Sep 29th, '08, 23:11

I agree playing with the spent leaves is always fun. The only downside is discovering crap buried with the leaves which totally ruins the outcome of the session for me. I try hard to separate my dry leaves as much as possible without breaking them too much inspecting for hair or what not before the session.

I'm also skeptical of the so called arbor cakes. There's just too much blending of arbor and plantation leaves going on in cakes . Even the more costly $50+ cakes contain a noticeable 10%-20% thin yellowish-green leaves in them.
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Postby teakid » Sep 29th, '08, 23:15

A tougher question: How do you identify plantation leaves in shu?
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Hard question

Postby Jim Liu » Sep 29th, '08, 23:25

Just returned from the top of Nannuo mountain, back to Kunming.

I examined the plantation tea at the bottom of Nannuo mountain, and then went up to the top of the mountain, checking a bunch of arbor trees and their leaves. In the end, I was still bit confused.

If a plantation tea has chemical sprayed, it looks just as fat and meaty as arbor leaves!

'Hou yin' is not something you learnt overnight, and it's hard to define. And everyone's feel of 'Hou yin' is different.

One thing is for sure, a 7542 cake is made of plantation tea leaves. Both plantation and arbor leaves are from the same species, the only difference is their age. The price cannot be a good indicator either, many, including myself bought some plantation teas at arbor tea prices.

Jim
in Kunming, China
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Re: Hard question

Postby Salsero » Sep 30th, '08, 00:19

puerhshop wrote: Just returned from the top of Nannuo mountain, back to Kunming.
Wow, Jim, great! Are you bringing back some photos or video?

To continue with ignorant questions:
    Does the name of a mountain always at least suggest wild or semi-wild? That is, the plantation teas are not the mountain teas? There are no plantations on Yiwu or Nannuo mountains? Only in the lower areas?

    Does "arbor" mean wild? semi-wild? something else?

    Are wild teas really better?
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Re: Identification of Plantation Leaves

Postby Salsero » Sep 30th, '08, 02:21

TIM wrote: sal- this tea looks way too green? I think is a good quality semi wild plantation. Tree might be around 40-80 yrs. old. Is the brew way bitter if steep for 20 sec. +? More like over steep green? my 2 cents
Tim, I forgot that Bears reviewed this tea. He finds exactly what you predict, and he also has a more detailed description of quite a varied mix of mao cha leaves. His review is HERE.
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Re: Hard question

Postby Jim Liu » Sep 30th, '08, 06:39

Salsero wrote:
puerhshop wrote: Just returned from the top of Nannuo mountain, back to Kunming.
Wow, Jim, great! Are you bringing back some photos or video?

To continue with ignorant questions:
    Does the name of a mountain always at least suggest wild or semi-wild? That is, the plantation teas are not the mountain teas? There are no plantations on Yiwu or Nannuo mountains? Only in the lower areas?

    Does "arbor" mean wild? semi-wild? something else?

    Are wild teas really better?


Yes, I have made some movies, but I had hard time to upload to YouTube. Luckily I could still access Teachat.

The plantation tea and arbor tea are co-existed on the same mountain, either in Yiwu, Nannuo or other areas.

The word 'Wild' should really mean that the tea trees are not planted by human being but grown by nature. The real 'wild' tea is actually un-drinkable with some kind of weak poison element. But nowadays the term 'wild' tea was referred as the tea plant without human care. The semi wild means that the tea trees got abandoned for a number of years. The 'arbor' means that the tea plant looks like a tree. The arbor tea are usually not subject to chemicals.

Hope this answers your questions.
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