Yesterday I went with a friend of mine to a local Dayi store to drink the new 7542s. We had three – from 2019 to 2021 (left to right). The reason we went is simple – the new 7542s are priced to the heavens. The new 7542 this year, for example, is well over 1000 RMB a cake. On Taobao it is selling for roughly 1500+ per cake, which is about $230 USD. The green wrapper version of the 7542 from last year is now double that at 3000+. It was a “special” year, some 80th anniversary cake, basically. The 2019 is about the same price as the 2021. None of these prices make any sense.
They especially don’t make sense when you drink them. The 2021 one feels insipid, high fragrance, but lacking in body. The 2020 one is better – obviously so. It’s got a solid mouthfeel and rounded profile. The tea is decent, but at $450 USD a cake, you have a LOT of alternatives and the 7542 does not stand out as a good purchase. Likewise for the 2019 – the tea, which is pretty standard factory fare, has no real business being this expensive. The 2018, funny enough, is only a fraction of the price.
It’s clear that Dayi has switched strategies once again. Long gone are the days when they do 10+ pressings of 7542 a year. These years it’s just once, and they limit the production amount. This is, I think, mostly to drive up prices. For the price of one of these cakes you can find a tong of some older 7542 with 10 years of storage on it. There isn’t that much immediate demand to consume this tea – nobody’s drinking this for fun. In fact, any kind of blemish on the packaging on these teas immediately result in a discount, so people are loathe to even handle them lest they lose value. God forbid there’s “tea oils” on the wrapper or a tiny dent on your box. These are, now more than ever, vehicles for alternative investment and not for drinking. If you want to drink something, find a not-sought-after Dayi recipe from like 2009 and buy away. If well stored, they offer good value for money. These 7542s are for people who have too much cash and nowhere to spend it.