Sometimes some teas behave oddly, or rather, they behave in unexpected ways. I had two “white paper” puerhs in a row, both of which are from no-name makers, purchased off taobao and claiming to be “Yiwu” of the 05/06 vintage. One of them looks like this
Nothing too fancy, clearly, even though the seller claims it’s from Mahei and used old tree leaves. Both teas share a similar characteristic – they are both slightly sour, not very pleasant, but get better, not worse, as I continue to brew them. The first is, I think, the better tea, with a stronger taste and better longevity, but it also has more off flavours in the initial infusions — sourness, mostly, but also some odd flavours. The second one is much cheaper — by a factor of 7, in fact, and a little weaker, but still quite good, as long as I keep brewing. The initial infusions, once again, disappoint. Both brew a similar looking cup.
It’s things like these that throw me off. I can never quite tell whether teas like these are really worth buying more of. On the one hand you have things like the Yisheng, which you know, right away, that they’re made of quality material and will do well. Then you have the clear losers that are just terrible in one fashion or another, and can be written off almost immediately. Then you have stuff like this — pleasant, decent, but having enough negatives to make you wonder if they’re any good at all. The fact that they have some legs seem to suggest that they’re not all bad, but it’s also hard for me to say that they’re indeed all good. Price often becomes the primary deciding factor — I may not buy the first one, but might buy some of the second, simply because it’s dirt cheap. Shipping would cost more.