01 April, 2013

Proto-8582

My relatively recent conversion to the inimitable joys of the classic 8582 recipe is a tale that has been told before (cf. 1, 2, and 3).
 
This particular cake pre-dates 8582 (which, as the name suggests, is from 1985), and, as noted by Essence of Tea, is probably the recipe that was later standardised as classical 8582.  In some way, then, we might consider this to be one of the cakes that gave us modern 8582*.

*Appreciating that modern Dayi 8582 is probably an "evolution" of the classical recipe [1], [2]. This is the kind of statement that causes angry Internet types to start pounding their keyboards.


Early 1980s Proto-8582


The sample kindly provided by EoT looks, to me, as pictured above: a sea of small- and medium-sized, quite fragmented, including some tips and sections of stem.  Should you be comfortable investing > $2,600 in a cake, the return on your investment would look like the following:


Early 1980s Proto-8582


I was about to write "I am not, on principle, comfortable spending that amount of money on tea", and yet that would be hypocritical: I had a rather sobering moment recently when I summed the "purchase price" column of the spreadsheet that I use to keep track of which teas we have. 
 
My advice: ignorance is bliss.  There are some things that mankind was not meant to understand; some truths that are simply too jarring to be contained by our "small mind": the limitless expanse of the cosmos, the behaviour of matter at the lowest level, the total amount that we have spent on tea over the years.
 
Price and place in the modern mythology of pu'ercha aside, this is a tea and it demands to be brewed.


Early 1980s Proto-8582


This is a solid, smooth, and enduring old tea, which lingers well in the throat and provides a revitalisation that cannot be ascribed to caffeine alone.  I enjoyed its robust pleasures for many hours, at the end of a recent term, about to embark on the blissful journey through the Easter vac: a period of pure research, without any teaching commitments.  This fine old tea was a marvellous way to start the season, and I am very grateful to EoT for providing me with such a generous sample.
 
The wayback machine tells me that this was priced at the equivalent of $1,300 in October, 2010, which represents a doubling in price in two years.  The 10g sample that I enjoyed at the table today was, at the current price, worth $75.  The sheer magnitude of the price is stunning.

8 comments:

Charles T. Draper said...

I am drooling....

Hobbes said...

And rightfully so! It is a delicious tea.

I do not mourn the passing of this sample, because, in many ways, the fact that I cannot own this cake makes it all the more enjoyable. I am grateful to have been able to try it along the way.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Tofu Miso said...

Hi Hobbes , back at the start of 2010 when I purchased a 7 gram sample of this - just enough for one session - it cost me just a mere 2.70 GBP / 4.1 USD per gram ! Today's price - just had a look on the E.O.T. website - 8.33 GBP / 12.66 USD per gram . Looking back , I wish now that I had bought more at the time as this is a really lovely aged tea ! Which is now unfortunately definitely out of my price range . I posted a review for it at the time on the badger and blade "sheng of the day" - page number 212 ( username TOFU MISO ) - if you're interested .

shah8 said...

Always try to max out on your affordability early in this hobby. Particularly for the older cakes. I could never afford the 2001 7542 cakes I have with today's prices of $400-$600 on Taobao. If a rich n00b can afford a cake like this, but isn't a multimillionaire or something--sooner you have guidance and sampling, the sooner you can buy, and the better off you'll be.

On that note: Hope you're staying warm, Hobbes, even over here, weatherfolks have been amazed at the kind of winter/spring you guys have got.

squaretooth said...

I agree shah8. Guidance and sampling are very critical. Another thing I’d like to add is to develop your palate. Experiment and learn a bad tea from a good tea. Don’t worry about making mistakes. It happens. That’s why it’s great having merchants like Yunnan Sourcing (and others) that offer samples, great photos, and fair assessments. I spent a lot of time and money buying only new teas before realizing I’ll never be around in 30 years to enjoy them. Maybe 15 if I’m lucky. Now I find myself spending money on 10 – 15 year old cakes. Buying less and spending more. There are some nice teas one can purchase around this age and not break the bank. Having this wonderful blog has really helped me learn, part of which means passing on my knowledge to others. Thanks to Hobbes and all of the other wonderful tea blogs. You certainly have made a big difference.

Hobbes said...

Dear Tofumiso,

To be fair, I understand that this cake has dramatically increased in price over the years, and this was one of the first cakes that Nada bought in his Essence of Tea era.

Speaking generally, not necessarily about this tea, do you feel that such price rises are beyond the scope of these teas? When I sat down and enjoyed this very pleasant cake, I concluded that there was absolutely no way that I could imagine it being worth anything close to the asking price. The demand from the market for "legendary" cakes has pushed even the sample price out of my comfort zone. Drinking the cake, and others like it, I often think, "Despite its price, this is just tea." It is important to keep a sense of perspective, I think!


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Hobbes said...

Dear Shah,

It is cold! The advantage is that I get to wear my winter suits for longer than I would otherwise. The disadvantage is that my pu'ercha is still in its winter slumber, and is only beginning to wake up in the last week or so. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Hobbes said...

Dear Squaretooth,

Thanks very much for the kind words - I am always delighted to read that someone out there is finding some small value in this humble web-site!

I agree with drinking widely. There really is no substitute for drinking lots of tea, skewed towards the better quality if possible - but even bad cakes can teach us a thing or two, to a lesser degree.

On the subject of ageing, I was just putting together an article on the ageing of my own cakes - even five years of ageing has had a significant effect on their profile. More to come! The bottom line was that I have become very pleased with those chunks of tea that I bought even five years ago.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes