This is a 2003 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi raw pu erh cake. I had purchased a few of these cakes locally and had kept them for 4 years in my study. I opened one of these cakes for 2 reasons; to check the condition of the cakes and to find out how a brew of this pu erh cake would taste like.
One observation from the pictures seem to me that the cake had turn sightly brownish. Compression of the cake is not as tight as new cakes. Many tea dealers and tea friends had also told me that older cakes tend to lose their tight compression over time and a tea drinker may pry off a chunk of tea by hand especially for the older stored teas. And....was also told to use less leaves as older teas tend to brew on the stronger side.
This cake came out 'fruity'. This positive designation of 'fruity' as a description of raw pu erh tea refers to the subtle taste and aroma of fresh fruits. No its not the stronger scented fruits of mangos or pineapples. It rather like putting your nose in an apple where if you sniff deeply, and there is a light fresh fruity scent in the fruit. This smell is more pronounced in an organic apple than a non organic one (so is the sweetness actually). Perhaps many of the pu erh tea drinkers now prefer to buy and drink from gushu, or old tree pu, than plantation pu (aka tai de pu). Many new pu erh tea are now being marketed as gushu or old tree pu, and it takes experience and time in drinking to distinguish a genuine gushu pu erh.
Back to this tea. As said, the 'fruity' element in the tea is subtle. Is this a gushu? I am not sure. I found that this tea is mellow and calming, with a very light sweet finish. Non smoky. It did not 'wow' me. Maybe I had recently came across some older raw pu erh teas that had a camphor and a stronger and robust taste and aroma that I currently enjoy.
Older pu erh tea has a very wide spectrum of taste, aroma, feel and aftertaste. I look forward in enjoying this wide array of taste and aroma every time when I drink a cup of older pu erh tea. I consider myself lucky I have in my collection a few of these cakes, that possess this nice 'fruity' characteristic.