When I was in China in 2006 doing research, I was a poor grad student and generally couldn’t afford to buy a lot of tea. I sampled a lot, and tried as many things as I could. I bought some things that I thought I liked. Looking back now, the biggest regret from those days is probably me not being able to buy enough of what I like. Some of the teas I bought obviously turned out to be crap. Others, however, I wish I have more of. A more experienced tea friend in those days told me that whenever she was buying stuff, she liked to “hit hard with the hammer,” meaning buying lots of the tea. Otherwise, you run the risk of not having enough of it when you want it.
Having learned that lesson, these days when I run into a tea I like, I tend to buy a lot of it. There are a few teas like that that I have. This is why I recently ended up with 50 of these.
This is a tuo that is supposedly from 2003, 250g each. It’s something a local store sells here for a measly $10, which is an impossibly low price in this day and age. The tea is naturally stored, and when they open that little cupboard storing the tea you can smell it – as you can also when you open the wrapper. With these early 2000s teas one’s never quite sure exactly what it is, but at least the wrapper and neifei suggests its Dayi, and it does taste like Dayi. It’s still a bit sharp, but that’s mostly because it’s a tuo – tuos tend to be slower to age, and it also has that nice, robust Menghai area taste. It’s a little similar to the Menghai early spring, but minus the smoke and a little bit lighter. I like these teas that have a bit of age on them – you’ve weeded out the ones that are going to turn bad. Usually within two years you can tell if something is going to be bad or not – if it’s already getting bland, yellowish, or just bad. If it gets past that point unscathed, then it’s probably going to be all right. If it’s good ten years down, then it’s going to be just fine to age. Finding these at an attractive price – it’s a gift. I can’t let this gift go.
It’s risky to buy a lot of the same thing when one’s not sure, but if you are sure, don’t hesitate. Hit it hard. Otherwise you’ll regret it.