Friday, May 18, 2007

Two aged teas

Yesterday and today, tried two aged puerhs. One is a 90's yiwu maocha from Houde (thanks to Salsero), and '96 Menghai "orange in orange."

The 90's yiwu supposed to be proof that maocha can age well. I haven't tried enough aged puerhs to know if it did indeed age well or not. The parameters I used was 4g in a 8cl pot, did a quick rinse, and brewed the first 10 infusions for 15 seconds, and increased it untill it died around the 13 or 15 infusion (I lost count). The flavors that was noticeable was wood, an aged flavor, and possibly even the slightest hint of floral. It didn't seem like the kind of tea that blows you away with complexity, more of just a pleasant sweet tea, almost like shu.

Looking at the leaves, they are still quite green. Maybe this tea was stored in a fairly dry climate, or maybe that's just how maocha ages. According to Zhou Yu in the second art of tea, compressed puerh actually ages faster and better than maocha (it's starting to feel like I'm writing a paper for school now).

Now for today's tea. Today was my last day of exams, and my last day of high school, so when I got home, I decided to brew an aged sample that I've held onto for a few monthes. I've tried the Menghai orange in orange before, but I don't believe I ever wrote down notes on it.

Going back to maocha vs. compressed, this is a compressed tea, and is a couple years younger than the maocha, but tastes much more aged. Maybe this was wet stored like many other 90's teas. If it was wet stored, it doesn't have any musty, or off flavors.

Just before my scale battteries died, I measured 4g of leaf, and brewed it in the same 8cl pot. After a quick rinse, I brewed it for 15 seconds up to the fifth infusion, but it started dying, so I upped it to 60 seconds which didn't really pull much more out. It only got 8 infusions.

Overall, this tea was similar to the maocha, mostly an uncomplex, but pleasant sweet flavor. The leaves have a faint camphor aroma, but that didn't show up in the tea. Other than that it seems like it was a weak shu. There is still some green left, and I'm wondering if it will become like a full flavored shu with more aging.

While I enjoyed both very much, I'm starting to wonder if aging my puerh for so many years is worth it. So far, it seems like puerh ages into something similar to shu. So, if that's all I have to look forward to, maybe the risk involved in extended aging isn't worth it. I could just drink shu and enjoy it just as much, and I wouldn't have to worry about accidentally ruining my raw puerh over the years. The storage conditions here are questionable, and since I already enjoy young puerh a lot, it's not worth the risk.

But there is still so much stuff to learn about puer, and maybe I'll eventually decide it's worth the risk to store some long term. The teas I've tried might not have been stored the best (apparently it was common to wet store tea in the 90's), so maybe I'm just forming an opinion from only trying wet stored teas.


Salsero said...

You're asking some pretty basic questions here that I have been asking myself lately, like "What's the big deal?"

All I can conclude is that we are not drinking old puer that is of the same quality as the young sheng we are drinking. After all, we aren't exactly paying through the nose, and given the demand for aged sheng, we may not even have access to the good stuff, half-way around the world from it's source and its biggest market in China.

However, even if I'm wrong and the stuff we are aging turns out to be mediocre, at least we are having a lot of fun aging it, and that alone may well be worth the price of the ticket (or neifei).

Meanwhile, I'm not too shy to drink today any young pu that tastes good!

Ido said...

A bad young puerh is most likely to be a bad (if not very bad) aged puerh.

of course this is not to say that good young puerh will age well, as I am sadly begining to realise... .