This is a 2006 Mengku 'old tree' ripe pu erh tea cake 400g. I had purchased this pu erh during my last visit to Guangzhou. A tea dealer friend there was packing his tea storage room,installing some new shelves, after 4 years in the tea business. That was when he discovered that he had one unopened carton of this 2006 Mengku ripe tea. He had remarked that this was one of his earliest purchase when he started his tea business. He wanted to keep 2 tongs himself and sell the remaining 6 tongs. He tore opened a tong and did a sampling test on one of the tea cakes. My decision to purchase this tea was easy after sampling the tea.
Notice from the pix(click for enlarged views) how the tea cakes are packed and wrapped; 7 cakes in one tong, with natural bamboo wrappers. The bamboo wrapper appears brittle when I opened a tong of tea. Even the cords binding the tongs are also bamboo cords. You can even see faint red chop marks on each tong (translated as 'old tree ripe cake'). There was a green sticker found on the inner label (called the neifei) that has '2005' printed on it.
Brewing this pu erh was enjoyable. The wodui, associated with newly produced ripe pu erh was no longer present. The aroma was warm and toasty, woody and fragrant. Subtly sweet. The color of the tea was pleasing to the eye. This is a straight forward tea that ripe pu erh drinkers will appreciate.
Why did I buy 6 tongs of this tea? 2 reasons. Firstly, I like this tea. I felt it was a good ripe tea; to drink now and hopefully it will get even better with a few years of storage. Secondly, the price offered to me was good. Price was inexpensive, per cake basis, when I compare with some of the new 2010 ripe pu erh cake offerings by the more well known pu erh tea manufacturers. A few tea dealers there have noticed that more people are buying new pu erh and new tea drinkers and collectors are indirectly pushing up the prices of the popular brands of pu erh. I personally believe that about 40-50% of the new pu erh (raw and ripe) produced are purchased and stored away and are not consumed (at least for a couple of years).
Whenever I have the opportunity to travel, I would try to buy tea especially in China and Hong Kong. Buying chinese tea in Singapore is more expensive and the choices here pretty limited. Moreover, the many varieties and options buying from especially China gives me substantial savings in terms of price and postage (if I ordered online).
Any readers (residing or coming to Singapore) reading this can email me to share this tea loot with me - 2 tongs only.