I had purchased this ripe pu erh cake during my visit to KL, Malaysia last month. I had purchased it from JDX tea distributor Sdn Bhd. JDX is an official Menghai Dayi (officially called 'Tae' now) distributor in Malaysia. I will write more about JDX in my later blogs.
This is the Menghai Dayi 7572 ripe cake. This is the 2007 (702) version. The '7572', which you see on the front cover of the wrapper (pix1) is the recipe name of the pu erh cake. Many popular pu erh cake uses a blend of pu erh tea leaves that are harvested from the various regions of Yunnan, China. Instead of giving a name to a blend of tea leaves, a 4 digit number is used. This is unlike wines where names like Merlot or Chardonnay are used to describe wine 'recipes'. There are many recipe numbers used in making pu erh cakes and some pu erh recipes like 7542 and 7581 are examples of popular pu erh cakes today.
Pu erh tea factories will make a number of batches of the same tea in a year. In this case, for a 2007 cake, the 1st production of a 7572 cake will be given an addition code - 701. The second production batch will be 702, which I had purchased. You can see the production batch number on the reverse of the wrapper (last pix) or in recent cakes; on the front of the wrapper itself. Is there a difference in the tea, lets say between 701 and 703? Yes, you can see the difference in the pricing of the tea. A 701 (1st production) will be more expensive than a 703 (3rd production). Tea collectors and speculators will tend to purchase the 1st production of the year (something like a 1st printing of a book). This cake is a 4 year old tea, and the prices for a 701 is almost 30-40% more than a 702. Is there a difference in the taste? I cannot tell you. I do not have the privilege to try the various production batches of a year. My tea friends, even in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, have no experience in this matter, although it is an urban legend that 1st production has better grade leaves than later productions. I will try to find out more though.
But I digress. There are sadly fake pu erh cakes being sold at tea markets and tea shops. I have gleaned some information about the fakes and I used the following visual checks to assist me in my purchase of Dayi cakes. Firstly, the wrapper fold should be something like in pix 2, where the final fold of the wrapper has printed information. Secondly, the security sticker should be clearly printed and you can feel the printing on the sticker. Thirdly, there should be 'Dayi' Chinese characters on the silver strips of the stickers. Finally, when you opened up the cake (usually at home, after you had purchased the cake), the inner label should have the silver strips with "Dayi" characters with a line of colored numbers running down vertically on each side of the inner label (pix 5). I know all these pointers I had mentioned are not complete or fool proof but I am currently using these pointers to assist me when I buy the slightly older Dayi cakes.
This 7572 cake which I had purchased, is tightly compressed and you need tools to break up your cake. It is important that you let this tea air out in your tea caddy for a couple of weeks before drinking the cake. This cake will be 'awaken' after a few weeks and the taste difference is much better than if you had brewed the tea leaves immediately after breaking a cake. Some tea drinkers had emailed me expressing their doubts about 'awaking the tea'. I only made this conclusion after drinking through more than 40 pu erh tea cakes. I may be wrong.....may be imagining things....
Back to this cake. The aroma is very pleasing. I can understand why this 7572 cake is very popular among the ripe pu erh tea drinkers. The scent seem to signal that the tea will be nice, sweet and pleasing. It has a subtle scent of nice chinese medicinal herbs as well. Overall, a nice fragrance and pleasing sweetish aftertaste. This tea brews fast and strong, so adjust the tea leaves and infusion times to your preference.
I have no regrets buying this 2007- 702 Dayi 7572 cake.