I was going to meet Tim from the Mandarin’s Tearoom today at this place, but by the time I got there Tim had to go already, so missed him. On the menu today:
1) Some random, new puerh that’s pressed into these chocolate shaped squares. Awful, awful tea. Tastes like green tea, and completely lacking in any sort of real aftertaste. It’s probably Lincang tea. Not sure of its cost, but this isn’t going to end well. Avoid newfangled pressing techniques, really.
2) Chenyuanhao 07 Laobanzhang – this tea is a disappointment. After last week’s pretty awesome Yiwu, I was expecting quite a bit, but this tea, well, isn’t that good. It’s not awful, but it doesn’t compare to the Yiwu offering. Well, I guess Mr. Chen does spend all his time in Yiwu overseeing his productions there, because clearly he wasn’t in Lao Banzhang.
3) Mid 2000s private pressing Yiwu from some shop in Macau. This is a private pressing, made with probably Yiwu materials. It’s nice, expensive, but also a bit off – it’s a bit rough and thin, and not very interesting. The person who brought the sample said this is not how it usually tastes, and we suspect the prolonged wetness in the weather recently has something to do with it. I wouldn’t buy it based on this one tasting, but maybe there’s more to it than that.
4) 2003 Henry Trading “Serious Formula”. Hou De had this tea for a little while. This is not a bad tea. It’s punchy. This is a naturally stored version. It’s still relatively cheap, I believe, for a lightly traditionally stored version, but I’m not sure how much it is now for the natural storage ones, but I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper than some newfangled gushu cakes from 2012. It’s nice, but there are lots of teas like it and so if it’s expensive at all, might not be worth the trouble.
5) 1992 Brick, unknown origin. Nice, decent aged taste. Not the best thing in the world, and considering it’s a brick… not much you can ask for. Supposedly a private pressing, although seems a little early for that sort of thing. I only got to try the tail end of the tea, so my comments on this is skewed.
6) 1950s Red Label. It’s hard to comment on something like this, since it’s THE benchmark for all subsequent teas. This is probably the driest stored Red Label I’ve had – no hint of traditional storage. It’s very refreshing, still, and quite nice. Reminds me of some of the gushu stuff that you can get now, but of the best quality – really a tea that is worth drinking, but maybe not at the price that these things now go for. It was brewed a bit weak. Nevertheless, good tea, obviously.