Monday, June 10, 2013
2007 7542 701
Walk into a Chinese tea shop, wear your shades and whisper into the ears of a pretty tea lady '2007 7542 701'. She looks at you, smiles at you and will say "Its your lucky day". She opens a drawer, takes out a cylindrical disc-like shape thing with a paper wrapper and then says "$40 please".
You laugh. But that's how we tea drinkers buy a specific tea in a tea shop. If you a looking for a 2007 (the year of production), 7542 (name of the tea), 701 (1st production of the year), you can ask for the tea with this set of numbers.
Unlike wines where names like merlot or syrah are used, pu erh tea are named with numbers instead. 7542 happen to be one of the most famous pu erh blend in the tea market today.
This 7542 blend is supposedly concocted by the Dayi (Taetea) factory. In the Dayi 2010 tea catalog, this tea was described as " This is Menghai Tea Factory's largest production quantity raw tea product, and is made from fat tender leaves and young tips blended to perfection. The surface tea yields a mild color with tip hairs, while the center tea consists of fat mature leaves. The pure aroma of this tea is long lasting and laced with floral scents. It yields a strong flavor with a touch of sweet aftertaste and a bright yellow broth. When brewed, the tea leaves appear uniform and symmetrical. When aged, the flavor undergoes rich and complex changes. This tea is considered as the market standard for raw pu erh tea product." I would like to add that Dayi makes many production batches of the tea every year. I remember seeing a 908 - 8th batch for 2009.
But I digress. I know 2 Malaysian friends (no, they do not know each other) who have polarizing views on the newer Dayi tea. Friend no.1 believes that Dayi tea is the gold standard of pu erh. He believes that Dayi tea are very good teas and would make a good investment. He had bought a few tongs and cartons of Dayi tea and on paper, he has good positive returns on his tea investment. Yes, teashops will buy back his Dayi tea. Friend no.2 who had been drinking tea for 20 years thinks that Dayi tea, ever since the company went on a full commercialized profit orientation 7-8 years ago, developed and mastered the plantation pu erh tea production successfully. This meant that the tea trees are pruned and harvested for tea frequently, thus may require the use of fertilizers and pesticides to ensure maximum production. Friend no. 2 feels that the standard of tea does not compare favorably to pre 2004 levels. I have many other the friends that supports these 2 views.
What are my thoughts? Well..... 7542 tea blend is a very tasty tea. I like this blend very much. I would describe it as very refreshing yet with a light floral and herbal scent in the tea. I found it tasted better with more tea leaves (9-10 g for a 200ml teapot). This 2007 tea is better when drank warm or hot but I do not get any tea buzz when I finished my tea session. Maybe I am not sensitive to feel the tea buzz from this tea. I get 7 good infusions from this tea.
Through my numerous oversea tea travels, I had observed that there is a speculative element when it comes to pu erh tea. Generally, the 1st Dayi tea productions of every year are much sought after by tea drinkers, collectors and speculators. I suppose its like the 1st printing of a book. The demand for such tea is high enough that there are fake Dayi being sold in the tea markets. Many of these Dayi raw tea (1st yearly productions) - my guess- are purchased and hoarded away by drinkers, collectors and speculators. These tea do not appear in the market again unless the prices are high. Yes, there are serious collectors and speculators that store their tea in rooms and warehouses (yes you read correctly) but that is another story. Subsequent productions like 3rd production onwards are much cheaper but without any compromise in the tea.
So if you like 7542 and would like to try a older 7542 and would like to buy for drinking.....perhaps you should whisper to the ears of a tea lady : "2008 7542 803"