Well, maybe the title is a little dramatic, but it seems like this year truly is the spring that never came, at least when it comes to puerh tea.
What I am referring to is the fact that till now, spring teas have not arrived en masse in Maliandao, nor elsewhere, I believe. While here and there, there are some spring teas from this year, by and large they are still sitting in Yunnan, in various factories, in many cases unpressed yet. The ones that have arrived this year are mostly small productions pressed by individuals or what not. It’s already almost June, and most of the stuff from March or April should’ve been ready by now, but they just haven’t showed up and everybody is waiting in anticipation.
I first dropped by the Douji shop. Douji, if you may remember, are the folks who supplied that wonderful six-pack sample of maocha. I went to ask if there might be a few more available, and indeed, there might, although I might have to wait until June, because the owner of the shop won’t get more of them until later, and even then, it comes in pretty limited numbers. The guy has an amazing memory though, and even remembers what I bought last time despite the fact that it was quite a few months ago. We chatted about teas, tried a few of his, and such. Douji’s spring teas are not ready yet either — only one tea, from the Bada mountain, is produced. Everything else is not even pressed yet, so they probably won’t show up until at least late June, if not later.
I tried the Bada, which was ok, and then a Yiwu pressed by the store owner himself. It’s from Guafengzhai, and commands quite a premium price (I think something along the lines of $70 USD). Guafengzhai is also the place where the raw materials for the Chen Guanghe Tang Yiwu Chawang was made, and it’s actually a little away from Yiwu proper. I tried it… there’s some more Yiwu taste than the CGHT version, but still a little off, which I can understand now because it’s simply geographically off a little. Yet this is a spring tea, and I think it’s not bad, if not for the very high price. I don’t think it’s worth it.
Since there wasn’t much of interest, and the new teas haven’t arrived yet, I used that as the excuse to duck out. I then went to L’s store in Beijing, which is run on a day to day basis by his business partner Xiaomei. She was debating about whether to make a purchase decision for some Yiwu teas they got samples of earlier, from some place supposedly a bit away but less harvested…. one of the cakes I suggested no, because it tastes just like a green tea (with that characteristics bitterness that won’t go away). The other… we tested against the Yiwu cake I bought in Shanghai.
The two cakes are remarkably similar. In fact, I’d say that the base characteristics are more or less the same. The different between the two is that mine has an added layer of something… something a little darker, a little heavier. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. It tastes a little odd… a little ricey? The one she has is a little lighter, and a little brighter in its complexion. The aroma is more pronounced, although when cooled, hers produce a slightly disconcerting green-tea like bitterness that isn’t that obvious when hot, while mine doesn’t. Both seem to have slightly different problems, and I honestly have no idea which one will age better. Then again, this Yiwu that she has is also from the same guy who supplied the green-tea cake to her, so I’m really not too surprised to find a bit of green mixed in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, there’s another cake of stuff, the Orange Label, that has us puzzling. L wants to sell this tea, but I have some reservations about it, as I feel like there’s a mustiness that I don’t like at all and that pervades through the tea. I don’t know, other people’s business, really, and I guess I shouldn’t get too involved.