18 November, 2013

Holidays in the Sun

I am guessing that Mr. and Mrs. Essence have been to Malaysia, because there follows a trio of genuinely delicious teas that all seem to have Malaysia in common.  I may be there (sadly, only on academic business) during the winter vac, and would be oh-so-delighted if my trip turned up any of these bad boys.

First out of the Malaysian starting stalls: a "special order" version of the standard 7542 recipe, which was given "humid" (heh) storage in Hong Kong before being wrapped and put out for sale for a year.  It was bought in 2003 and stored in Malaysia since then, which has, we are told, seen to dissipate the "dank, rancid skankiness".  (That quote may not quite be verbatim.)

Silly, silly me: I glanced at the price before drinking the tea, which is a capital crime.  No tea can live up to four-hundred-and-ninety-five pounds sterling, in my opinion, unless it is tremendous.  This is, invariably, a great way for me to feel extremely negative about a tea before the session has started, which is a completely daft thing to do.

I try to rinse out those negative thoughts with some up-beat chiptune/dnb from Sabrepulse.  You should try the same, trust me.

Aural cleansing thus performed, I commence the libation.

I use the whole 10g sample, which results in a big, fat scent that is almost "plummy".  There is something of red dates about it.  "All signs point to yes", as the magic 8-ball might say.

Note to self: purchase magic 8-ball ready to answer student questions when they arise.

Note to reader: if you are from a culture that has no exposure to the magic 8-ball, it would behoove you to get your Google on.  You have NO idea what you're missing, in terms of human wisdom.

The mineral shicang [damp storehouse] character is present, but the decade in Malaysia has been beneficial.  The result is fresh and crisp.  It is, however, too late to buy cakes like this, due to the prices.  I need some further Sabrepulse thought-cleansing.

The body of this tea is smooth vanilla, gentle warmth, and comfort for my own body.  As you can tell from the photographs in this article, this is a fine, heavy, dark tea that is really very good.  The soothing and energising nature that it exhibits are fine indeed.  I just wish that I hadn't looked at the price before drinking it. 

Silly, silly me.

A cake without neifei [inner ticket], wrapper, or known region of origin, this enigmatic tea sells for  £76.  I really, really need to stop looking at the prices before I drink.

As its name suggests, it was ordered in 2004 by a Malaysian collector.  The leaves are dark and dusty, and have a very gentle scent of humid storage.

Likewise, there is little to detect in the wenxiangbei [aroma cup].  Its soup is a very heavy red-orange; the character in the mouth is energetic, but filled with the basic red malt of humid conditions, with little else available.  The kuwei [good bitterness] has been sacrificed in the fires of hot Asian storage in humid conditions.  It is, at least, thick and smooth, as Nada writes in his description of the product.  It is fair to describe this as "basic".

I find it to be heavy and calming on the day I tried it.  Looking at the date of its origin, 2004, I am reminded of June in that year, when I went to a machine learning conference just before I started my doctoral degree and met a pretty Chinese girl who was one year into hers.  We spent all night out on the beach, trailing wine-glasses and empty bottles as we returned to the conference hotel, which surprised the conference delegates.  We were married one year later.

Now this could be more like it!  A "special order" from Bulangshan, from the year 2008, this was ordered from (and this may not be a surprise) a Malaysian.

The red-orange soup seems comforting at 5.36 a.m.  For some reason, I woke early, and decided to squeeze in a session before the morning routine of washing, feeding, playing with, and reading to children begins.

Malaysian storage has been good to this tea: it has a sharp edge of kuwei that has not been trampled into humid redness.  There is a strong, beefy body much beloved of Bulangshan, and it draws water into the mouth in "shengjin".  There is even some woodiness, something that I enjoy in the less heated storage of Singapore (and even here in England).  Its solid, thick texture immediately commends itself.

The soft woodiness develops yet further in the third infusion, revealing hints of wildflowers, of all things.  It is a captivating tea, and rewards attention.  The more I drink this tea, the more enthused about it I become.  Pu'ercha can be a true delight.  I won't spoil this tea with talk of prices.  It's a nice one.

- with thanks to Mr. Essence for the introduction to three Malaysia delights.


Unknown said...

have you tried the 00 purple stamp that Nada has? I am having a tough time deciding whether to order the that or the Bulang.

Doomster said...

I have tried all of the "Malaysian stored" cakes and for me the 7542 is the best followed by the Purple Stamp and then the Bulang.

I had the 7542 yesterday as sample and it was really very good. Lovely mouthfeel, yummy taste and excellent finish. However I am reluctant to get a cake because of the price. It's a lot of money to spend, and I can get loads of other puerh that I want to try for the money.

I really like the Purple Stamp, nice thickness and cooling aftertaste, and also good finish. If I were you Bradley I would get a sample of both cause they are both really good. The 2004 is pretty basic, but has a very nice, relaxing qi. However I have to be in the mood for the 2004. In my opinion you cannot go wrong with the Bulang and Purple Stamp.

Hobbes said...

Hi, chaps,

I've not tried the purple-stamp ("Kai Yuan", by the look of the web-site), but you're making it sound very appealing. It's also a fifth of the price of the 7542. :)



Nick Herman said...

Still, would you trade even a $30,000 bing for such a serendipitous love story?

This chiptune stuff is funny. Check out Blondes: https://soundcloud.com/blondes/sets/blondes-disc-1

Adp said...

Now I did splash out on a whole cake of EoT's '91 7542. Here's how I justified it to myself ( I haven't told my better half yet!)
a) I love it.
b) I worked out it costs about £8.00 per pot, out of which I will get about 8 infusions / cups. That's £1.00 per cup.
c) A cup of brown sludge at a chain coffee shop costs about £3.00.
d) Bargain!

Hobbes said...

Dear Adp,

I like the justification - it is a process that we have all been through, I am sure. :)

The difficulty I have is the reverse: buying bad coffee from a chain shop may be more expensive / less enjoyable, but the resulting payments are diffuse in time - if I had to pay my Starbucks bill for three years "up front" in a single payment, I would probably balk at it in a similar manner. ;)

You are in possession of a fine cake, it must be said!



Hesicasta said...

(I know this sounds slightly confrontational, but it's mostly me thinking outloud. Hope it's ok.)

I understand the overall feeling, these prices are hard on everyone, but how fair is it to focus on them in this way, really? It's not like these cakes are expensive because of some crazy mark-up; I'd even say that balancing out their quality, storage and age at least two of them are very much below the expected market price. I'm sure one can find better bargains here and there, but are they out there in a significant number? Slightly younger and worse stored 7542 of inferior quality frequently fetches higher, or much higher, prices than this in the Mainland now, and elsewhere. To use an imaginary realm of ideal prices as some sort of measure will just leave descriptions of any tea dry and riddled with needless negativity. If money must be accounted in this way, why not take whichever orange in orange, 88 qingbing or the like as point of comparison? If not, than in a couple of years no cake that isn't taidi will be worth talking about much.

Hobbes said...

Respectfully, I consider prices of GBP500 to be significant, and worthy of reasoned discussion. :)

Each to one's own, naturally!



Doomster said...

In my comment above my indication of the price has nothing to do with me doubting the integrity of EOT.

Money is all relative and for me £500 is a lot of money...whether it be buying tea, making a bills payment etc. I also look at cost vs quality vs quantity. I decided to recently splash out on a 2013 Taochaju LBZ which cost a tad over £200 for a cake. It has impressed me just as much just as the 7542 did. Ok one sheng is old and one is young, however I enjoyed both of them equally. So in terms of cost vs quality vs quantity I can buy 2 and a half cakes of LBZ for 1 of the 7542's. In terms of what I could afford the LBZ remains the better bargain.

Either way I thought the 7542 was a fabulous tea, easily the best aged taste I have had thus far in my limited experience of drinking puerh.