After doing dim sum with a friend and his colleague today, and hanging out with them a little afterwards, I went to L’s place to see him and drink some tea together.
As usual, we went through quite a few teas today, only we also went through the pictures he took of his trip to Yunnan. Looked like a lot of fun, and I wish I had the time to go.
Among the teas we had were:
97 Fengqing Tuocha
07 spring Nannuo maocha (two of them)
90s “orange label”
The two Nannuo maocha, which they got this time to Yunnan, were quite interesting. One was supposedly from hundred year old trees, while the other one was from ancient trees of even older origins. By the way things looked, the ancient trees one did look better. The taste of the teas, when compared with each other, had the 100 years old tree ones being slightly floral and vegetal, while the ancient trees one tasted a little less potent and present up front, but I think had a bit more character in the end. Both had a Nannuo taste to it, which I personally am not too fond of. Yet, to distinguish the two between one of good and the other of excellent quality was really quite difficult. I don’t think I could tell you, independently of one another, which one was better. Maybe if I had drank them even more carefully, it would’ve been a little more obvious, but the bottom line is it’s very difficult to tell.
It’s not difficult if it’s between plantation and old tree tea. I think the different grades they have between old tree teas, however…. is quite difficult.
The 97 Fengqing Tuo is best described as mediocre. It’s presenting some of those Fengqing flavours at this point, and you can tell it’s a bit aged, but neither was it aged long enough to deliver a really sweet brew (and lose the astringency), and it was not really interesting enough as it is. All in all, a very mediocre tea.
The 90s Orange Label is a little more interesting, because the owner of the tea, who is a friend of L’s, think it quite good. It’s obviously a dry stored tea, although as soon as one drinks it, it calls into question the authenticity of the age of the tea. If it were stored in Shanghai most of the time, then I would say this is definitely not something from the mid-90s (as they seem to think it is). In fact, I think it could be the case that this is one of those teas produced after 2000 using older wrappers. It just doesn’t taste quite right, with no sweetness and lacking in all forms of aftertaste. It’s not great now, and I don’t imagine it will turn better given that it already has had a supposed 10 years of aging. If it doesn’t, then of course the merchant is lying….
The problem with this tea, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Fengqing, is that both are very rough and quite bitter. I think, especially in the Orange Label case, that if it really were real, the bitterness should at least be starting to give way to sweetness, and the astringency should be subsiding as well. Instead, I got so thirsty at the end I could physicall feel uncomfortable with the tea. I think that’s where I stopped… The point though, is that teas bought in such markets and also sold (to merchants) in such markets is just quite crazy and can be quite bad.. sigh, we might have to enture a permanent rise in tea prices…..