I had purchased this 2004 raw pu erh cake at the Singapore's Yue Hwa emporium in Chinatown. Costing me $50, this 357g Menghai pu erh came encased in very thick cellophane plastic wrapper. I could see that this cake came from Hongkong, as the Yue Hwa' distributor name was stickered on the back of the wrapper. See pix 2 and it states "Yau Shing native tea products co." in Hong Kong. It seems its distributor has individually wrapped the tea cakes securely with thick cellophane plastic before the cakes were distributed for sale. I believe the wrappers serve to protect the cake and to prevent unwrapping of the cake before it is sold.
Menghai 7542 raw pu erh is a very famous recipe from Menghai's stable of pu erh tea. This particular recipe has a strong following of tea drinkers, me included. The popularity of this tea is very good and prices for the older 7542 especially before 2005 have risen a fair bit. 7542 cakes before 7542 are very expensive. Tea drinkers.... be careful when you are buying old 7542, lots of fakes. I believe that there are already fakes for 2-3 year old cakes. One helpful hint, is when you buy the newer 7542, take a good look at the security sticker on the back of the cake. Examine the hologram strip on the sticker. You can see the "dayi" chinese words on the hologram strips. And......... always buy from reliable and reputable tea sellers when purchasing your tea.
The brewing results of this tea was interesting. The tea tasted like new raw pu erh brew, It has a very mild floral scent with a sharp finish. One of my conclusions on this taste is that the thick plastic wrapping, encasing the pu erh, making the tea cake 'breathe very slowly' and thus unable to achieve the aged taste (for its age) from natural fermentation. It is a known fact that raw pu erh will 'ferment' with proper ventilation, temperature and humidity. It will, over time, loose the sharp aftertaste and be a mellow aged tea. Pu erh tea tea drinkers and collectors enjoy this aged tea taste and many of these collectors store new pu erh away and drinking them after some years. Back to this 7542.....I did not have an opportunity to taste test this tea before buying and I did not know the storage conditions of this tea. I have no regrets buying this tea (I have put away the tea and will come back to it in a few years time) as it has taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to buying slightly older teas. I had written to the emporium, giving my feedback on the tea and some suggestions on the packaging of the tea cake.