I just read a blog post about rating wines based on how fast they’re drunk. It’s actually a pretty good idea, and I noticed the same about my tea drinking habits. I bought, for example, a few cakes last month from Taobao. I judged them completely by the cover and nothing else — just the listing, description, with some pictures, and that’s it. It’s a risky way of buying tea, but when they are not expensive, it’s not bad. I’ve already talked about the Dingxing, which is not bad at all. This and this turned out to be quite nice. This, however, was horrid. It’s one of those cakes that is very bland, probably poorly processed and stored in a dry environment (Kunming) and just all around uninspiring. You can’t tell from the looks, however, as all looked somewhat promising.
Now, a few weeks later, the first two cakes are almost all gone — I sent parts of them off, but I drank a fair bit too. The last cake is almost entirely intact other than the two times I tried it, and honestly, I probably won’t try it anytime soon again. It’ll stay around, probably for a few years, and I’ll hope and pray that by then, it might have done something, but generally speaking if a tea is weak, it’s going to stay weak. “How fast do you drink it” seems to be a good metric for measuring a drink’s quality. I do the same for my oolongs as well — the better stuff get drunk faster, and the worse ones stay around forever.