Lovely story J. ... makes me want to pack up and get back there, especially these days (you know the story).Tead Off wrote:
I just returned from Yunnan and drank a lot of tea with a lot of people that know puerh well. These are people with money who have all the connections to get some of the top teas. One guy had a 500g bag of gushu Shincha from Bing Dao. This was maocha, not yet pressed. The wholesale cost of the tea was 4000RMB=about $600 for 1kg. The leaves were absolutely beautiful, unbroken, and big. The taste was delicious.
What impressed me more was the gushu shincha from Menghai. Wow. Such a fruitiness and delight it was in my mouth. Very impressive tea. All the maocha I had there was better than I had ever gotten from any online seller, and for someone who does not like shincha, I was turned around by the quality. Most of these teas were beyond my budget but seeing what was available was eye opening. Unless we pay the price, there is little chance to drink on this level. But in Yunnan, you can find exceptional teas for less than what we pay online sellers, in most cases. Of course, not everyone can go there to buy.
It is rare that you can find unmixed gushu unless you are buying direct from the farmers and have a relationship with them. There is a lot of monkey business in the tea business. The Chinese have a lot of buyers taking the best of the best. Kyarazen's Wuyi articles are very informative about how the tea biz goes.
Another thing that I came face to face with in Kunming was how dry the climate really is. My nose bled for lack of humidity so when faced with buying Kunming stored cakes, dry storage is really dry storage so don't expect much aging to take place.
Also, to my surprise, most drinkers were using about 7g of tea per 100ml, and in the case of Bing Dao shincha, 10g!
Back in the Himalayas I had the chance to sample some reserved, special invoices here and there but I'd guess when it comes to chinese teas the difference between the very best leaves and what ends up in the usual channels is even larger, maybe dramatically so in some cases.
Regarding the recent craze about BingDao I have a soft spot for teas from that area and I'm happy to sit on a couple kg of BingDao material; maybe not the best of the best but close and pretty darn tasty anyway
(Happily sipping some 2015 YS Bang Dong right now)