1993 Menghai 7542


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

1993 Menghai 7542

Postby Drax » Mar 9th, '09, 21:07

So... I ordered a couple of aged (or "more aged") pu-erh samples from Nada and they came on Saturday. Although I've been having terrible allergy attacks, I've had some respite thanks to a claritin knock-off, so I thought I'd try to tackle one of the samples this evening. As the title of this thread suggests, I went for the 1993 Menghai 7542.

Has anybody else had this tea?

The oldest pu-erh that I had up to this point was a 1998 Lincang "green wrapper" which was pretty disappointing (e.g. hardly tasted any more 'aged' than a 2007 I had tried) -- so I have been really looking forward to trying these!

The leaves in the warm pot smelled like shu. And my first cup and everything about it reminded me of shu -- so much that I had to go back to the website to verify that indeed it was under the raw aged sheng section (i.e. not ripened). And it appears so.... though it does not explicitly say it.

So I'm sure somebody will come along and tell me otherwise, but I'm working off of the assumption that this was a raw/uncooked pu-erh that has been aged to the point that it's aged into more of a shu-taste. I suppose that is the point, that being why factories make cooked tea in order to simulate the aged taste.

We've had plenty of jokes/discussions that cooked pu-erhs tend to have extremely similar flavor profiles. So I guess I was expected a correctly aged puerh to have a shu-taste but with something else. I certainly am getting a great earthy flavor, but... I'm not getting "something else" with this tea.

Or maybe I am? This tea has a couple things that I think my experiences with cooked pu-erh have lacked. First is a dryness. I might also be sensing a buzz/energy here, but my experiences with that have been dubious (and I have yet to try a tea where somebody says that the tea has a great energy to it, and I can actually agree). Second, it's lasting a very long time. I'm on my 9th infusion here, with a 5 minute steep, and I'm still getting a pretty earthy cup of tea. The infusions were never the 'black amber' I get with cooked pu-erh, but the cooked pu-erh usually backed off sooner (although maybe not that much sooner upon looking at my notes...). Third, the leaves actually look like normal pu-erh leaves, but chocolatey dark -- but not the mulch/pulp of cooked pu-erh.

Okay, babble, babble, babble. I would appreciate any thoughts or guidance on my experience here -- other peoples' experiences with this tea, or thoughts on what I sensed, or ideas on what I might try next (or try differently with this tea).
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Postby shogun89 » Mar 9th, '09, 21:19

Thanks for the review Drax! The shu taste/smell could be because of wet storage? IDK. But it sounds good and I hope your enjoying it. :D
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Postby wyardley » Mar 9th, '09, 22:32

I don't believe I've had this exact tea. edit: From the pictures on the site, it doesn't look super wet-stored, and the tea broth is still pretty red and clear. So if that's the same tea you tried, I'm surprised it smelled / tasted so much like shu to you. Can you post some pictures of the tea broth, dry leaves, and wet leaves?

so much that I had to go back to the website to verify that indeed it was under the raw aged sheng section (i.e. not ripened). And it appears so.... though it does not explicitly say it.

7542 (as opposed to 7452, which is shu) is always sheng.

A dry or somewhat humid stored sheng pu'er from the 80s or 90s isn't going to be even close to tasting like shu (and I wouldn't really consider a 90s tea to be "aged"; maybe a 25-50 year old aged pu'er will start to approach shu in some ways). A really clean stored tea from the late 80s / early 90s should probably be like a clear, dark reddish brown in color.

Wet stored sheng has (to me) a somewhat different flavor profile to (non wet-stored) shu. If the sheng is mildly wet stored, there will usually be more aggressive and woody notes coming through the storage taste, and if it's very wet stored, that sharp wet-stored taste will be almost the only thing you can taste, and the soup will be very dark and thick with an oily sheen on the top.

I agree with Tom Verlain's point about durability, at least based on my experience. Shu will usually drop off pretty sharply at some point. And yes, you'll definitely see some difference in the leaves -- wet storage will make the leaves break apart a little more than dry stored sheng, but not usually to the degree of shu.

Wet storage means different things to different people. I'm not trying to bring up the religious issue of what type of storage is ideal, or how "wet" is too wet. But I do think that no matter what your preference, it's a good idea to try and find some credible examples of different teas with different degrees of compression aged in different climates and see what tastes good to you and makes your body feel good. Personally, I've had some teas that other people thought were too wet-stored that I liked quite a bit. On the other hand, I've had some teas that (to me) are overly one-dimensional or have too strong a wet-storage taste to be really interesting (though some of those are still smooth and pleasant enough to drink).
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Postby Geospearit » Mar 9th, '09, 22:42

I had that one recently and loved it. If you have more than a 5 g. sample, try it again and you may have a completely different opinion. I only had 5 g. and it was a few weeks ago, so I can't really say much except that it was complex and not very wet tasting to me. Of course, I was also comparing it to a 99' 7542 that I recently got from Sampan which had a much mustier wet-stored flavor in earlier infusions. Personally, I am thinking about the 8582 from Nada. It seems like more bang for your buck at the moment, and I enjoyed it's unique and somewhat rough taste (in a good way... Hobbes got it right when he referred to the 8582 as "the older sister"). Though I was able to get significantly more infusions out of the 7542 than the 8582, the 7542 is more than twice the price.
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Postby Drax » Mar 10th, '09, 20:43

wyardley wrote:7542 (as opposed to 7452, which is shu) is always sheng.


Ah, very good to know!

Actually, all the comments have been very useful, everybody, thank you!

I picked up either 15 or 20g of this tea, so I will be having another 2 or 3 tries at it. When I do, I will be sure to take pictures of all the steps to share. I did note that the liquor was quite clear, by the way.

Also, I've read about the whole wet storage issue, but unfortunately I don't think I have a good reference point to say "oh yeah, wet storage taste." If you know of any, I'd be curious to try (I'm all for trying out stuff that people can say "this is a great example of XXXX"... whatever XXXX is!).

I think I'll put the 8582 on my 'to try' list (:
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Postby vibrantdragon » Mar 10th, '09, 21:00

One thing to make sure your pictures pick up is uniformity of the color. Shu is much more uniform than aged Sheng. I do not know what wet storage does to the color uniformity.
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Postby wyardley » Mar 10th, '09, 21:19

Drax wrote:Also, I've read about the whole wet storage issue, but unfortunately I don't think I have a good reference point to say "oh yeah, wet storage taste." If you know of any, I'd be curious to try (I'm all for trying out stuff that people can say "this is a great example of XXXX"... whatever XXXX is!).


To me, it's kind of a sharp wet leaves kind of smell / taste, but I don't know if that's a good description. While there's a wide range of storage conditions as mentioned before, I think the 2001 Menku "Yuan Ye Xiang" - Wet stored version from Hou De. (1 oz sample here: http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... cts_id=799) is a pretty good example of what the taste I'm talking about is.

There's also an image in the product description that has a good contrast between the thin and thick papered versions. Also worth a read (though the contrast isn't as obvious)
http://phyllsheng.blogspot.com/2007/09/ ... a-mtn.html
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Postby hop_goblin » Mar 10th, '09, 21:21

Well, I think it is important to understand the differences are between 'wet storage' and pu that was stored in a more humid climate. They are not the same. Wet-stored pu is pu which was intentionally stored next to a source of humidity or that it was actually sprayed with water to faciliate and expedite the aging process. Hoewver, pu which was stored in much more humid climates without intention such as in Macau or HongKong is not wet storage perse. In fact, if you buy pu from HK you are almost guaranteed that it will have what is referred to as "HK storage". Storing pu in these climates doesn't cheapen it whatsoever. It is just that some places in China are much more humid than others and it is totally acceptable. Remember, that "dry storage" pu is relatively a new concept in the world of pu starting in the late 80s. Chances would have it that, that if you purchase aged examples they will have this profile.
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Postby brandon » Mar 10th, '09, 21:28

I don't mean to offend you, but if you think that 7542 is anything similar to young shu, you just have a lot more tasting to do.

This 7542 has many layers and not very much "wet stored" taste to speak of.
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Postby wyardley » Mar 10th, '09, 21:55

hop_goblin wrote:Well, I think it is important to understand the differences are between 'wet storage' and pu that was stored in a more humid climate. They are not the same. Wet-stored pu is pu which was intentionally stored next to a source of humidity or that it was actually sprayed with water to faciliate and expedite the aging process.


I don't think "wet storage" always refers to storage that's intentionally wet. It really depends who is describing it and what they're talking about -- there is no uniform definition. The way you describe it is certainly not the way I use the term, and not the way many other people use the term.

Also, while pu'er has traditionally been stored in humid climates, from what I understand, there's quite a difference in the climate in Guangzhou / HK and the climate in, say, Northern Taiwan or Malaysia. And the place the tea was stored (basement? 3d floor? ground floor warehouse? damp cave), the ventilation, and the seasons has a lot to do with it.

I don't really see why people get so worked up about someone calling a tea wet-stored. To me, it's just a way to describe the way a tea tastes, and not a value judgement. Plenty of people like, and even prefer wet stored tea (and if I had to drink young sheng pu'er all the time, wet stored is the way I would want to go). However, I do think that a lot of expert's opinions on what type of storage is good is based on what they are used to, and (maybe more importantly), what they sell.

One other thing... as many people have pointed out, most teas older than the late 80s will have had some degree of some sort of "traditional" storage. However, I don't think it necessarily follows that all wet stored teas will one day be masterpieces. No matter what words you use to describe the type of storage, the storage condition of a tea very much influences its taste. Most likely, pu'er can recover from various types of storage problems to some degree, but to what degree is anyone's guess.

ps - Anyone who hasn't already read:
http://www.xanga.com/MarshalN/682032582 ... t-storage/
should go do so now.
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Postby hop_goblin » Mar 10th, '09, 22:18

wyardley wrote:
hop_goblin wrote:Well, I think it is important to understand the differences are between 'wet storage' and pu that was stored in a more humid climate. They are not the same. Wet-stored pu is pu which was intentionally stored next to a source of humidity or that it was actually sprayed with water to faciliate and expedite the aging process.


I don't think "wet storage" always refers to storage that's intentionally wet. It really depends who is describing it and what they're talking about -- there is no uniform definition. The way you describe it is certainly not the way I use the term, and not the way many other people use the term.

Also, while pu'er has traditionally been stored in humid climates, from what I understand, there's quite a difference in the climate in Guangzhou / HK and the climate in, say, Northern Taiwan or Malaysia. And the place the tea was stored (basement? 3d floor? ground floor warehouse? damp cave), the ventilation, and the seasons has a lot to do with it.

I don't really see why people get so worked up about someone calling a tea wet-stored. To me, it's just a way to describe the way a tea tastes, and not a value judgement. Plenty of people like, and even prefer wet stored tea (and if I had to drink young sheng pu'er all the time, wet stored is the way I would want to go). However, I do think that a lot of expert's opinions on what type of storage is good is based on what they are used to, and (maybe more importantly), what they sell.

One other thing... as many people have pointed out, most teas older than the late 80s will have had some degree of some sort of "traditional" storage. However, I don't think it necessarily follows that all wet stored teas will one day be masterpieces. No matter what words you use to describe the type of storage, the storage condition of a tea very much influences its taste. Most likely, pu'er can recover from various types of storage problems to some degree, but to what degree is anyone's guess.

ps - Anyone who hasn't already read:
http://www.xanga.com/MarshalN/682032582 ... t-storage/
should go do so now.


Well, I was referring to wet stored and not the mild or slightly wet variety. Sure there is a gradient. What I do mean is that wet stored to me means "getting pu ready for consumption faster than you otherwise would in a much more drier climate" . I like to differentiate between wet stored and the others only because there is a difference. If there were not, tea circles would not be having this academic discussion. I agree with you about humid storage. I find it quite pleasing and if humidity is properly applied, rotated and venilated it can be quite tasty :o

Oh, and if we are giving plugs, Not as indepth as LZ but may help a few who have never been exposed to it.

http://ancientteahorseroad.blogspot.com ... engpu.html
Last edited by hop_goblin on Mar 11th, '09, 11:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby teaskeptic » Mar 10th, '09, 22:44

The topic of shu vs. old sheng is a fun one. The more I taste the clearer the distinction grows, but I still find it tricky sometimes. The main thing I look for is that the old sheng is a more complex smelling, and is less one-dimensional. It's also usually much thicker in the mouth.

It would be interesting to setup some sort of blind shu vs. old sheng taste test.
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Postby Drax » Mar 11th, '09, 06:04

Again, thanks for all the discussion, folks. We've apparently stumbled into a ... lively topic about wet storage. :D

And just for reference, this is actually very useful information, and I appreciate it:

teaskeptic wrote:The topic of shu vs. old sheng is a fun one. The more I taste the clearer the distinction grows, but I still find it tricky sometimes. The main thing I look for is that the old sheng is a more complex smelling, and is less one-dimensional. It's also usually much thicker in the mouth.

It would be interesting to setup some sort of blind shu vs. old sheng taste test.


But this is not:

brandon wrote:I don't mean to offend you, but if you think that 7542 is anything similar to young shu, you just have a lot more tasting to do.

This 7542 has many layers and not very much "wet stored" taste to speak of.


I don't disagree with you in the least. Again, I have said many times that I am new to this. I am not offended at that, but I will admit that (yet again) that I find your statement as useful as if I went to a hospital and told the patients, "Wow, you just have a lot more healing to do."
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Postby brandon » Mar 11th, '09, 06:59

Point is we can go for 3 pages on this thread about what wet stored means. It is going to train your pallet exactly zero. I recommend the 100g 90s tuo often, it is very rare that you can get 100g of decent stuff for under 20 bucks. Any sample you can get your hands on right now is great - even if it is super-wet-stored loose leaf crap! The only thing you can do in my mind (if you are interested in it, of course) is to drink it over and over and try to pick out the different layers, changes between infusions, etc.

When it comes to aged and aging puerh, an internet forum is often going to give you just conflicting opinions. We have an intense academic interest in what might seem like minor details at this point. You might learn a few facts, but it won't help you taste anything.
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