Monday, November 11, 2013
A Hong Kong Stored Pu erh Cake
For many pu erh tea drinkers round the world, pu erh stored in Hong Kong (HK) is a subject of interest that is commonly discussed over a cup of tea, in internet forums and in teashops. Traditional Hong Kong stored pu erh is..... pu erh that has been stored in Hong Kong warehouses where the humidity is much higher than a regular Hong Kong home. These warehouses are usually located away from the city and may even be found in the countryside. These warehouses, I was told, are only opened when the teashops add or remove pu erh stocks. As a result, the pu erh are stored in an enclosed warehouse or room, and the higher humidity had helped developed this Hong Kong stored tea. Hong Kong tea drinkers had nicknamed this tea as "yap chong" pu erh - literally pu erh tea that 'had entered a warehouse'.
The difference in this traditional HK stored tea is in the taste and aroma. The pu erh tasted older and more mature for its age. I had purchased a '06 CNNP ripe cake (see pix) in HK 2 years ago that is traditionally stored. The tea, tasted and felt more like a very old tea.....something like older than a 10-15 year old pu erh. It closely resembled an old ripe tea......aroma of the tea was an old, slightly musty wooden scent. The taste was very mellow and very pleasant to drink. I had also just finished a traditional HK stored raw pu erh and that tea had an old, wooden matured taste. It is my opinion that such storage in an enclosed high humidity room had accelerated the aging of the pu erh tea.
Wow! Wouldn't tea drinkers round the world rush to buy such HK traditional stored Pu erh teas? It is cheaper than real old aged pu erh. I had paid about US$50 for this '06 ripe cake (see and click on the above pix).
However......such teas are not aged tea. Yes, the taste somewhat resembled the very old aged pu erh that tea drinkers and collectors enjoy, but I would like to emphasize the word : "resembled'. The taste and aroma is close, in my opinion about 60% close. My opinion is that for such traditional HK stored tea....the herbal characteristic is much lower and for raw pu erh tea, the aroma and taste are not as pronounced as old aged raw pu erh tea. I could detect a very mild hint of dampness in the tea which I suppose is the reason why some pu erh tea drinkers do no like such tea. It is an acquired taste. I find that drinking HK traditional stored tea tasted best when hot or warm but is unpleasant when the tea had cooled down.
It is important that pu erh tea drinkers are able to distinguish the difference between HK traditional stored pu erh tea and aged pu erh. You may be cheated by an unscrupulous tea seller, trying to sell you 'very old pu erh' at very high prices.
I enjoy drinking HK traditional stored pu erh teas. Such teas are harder to find in Hong Kong as the prices of real estate are astronomically high and many of these old tea warehouses had made way for new housing developments. Do not be surprised that some Hong Kong tea shops do not stock the traditional HK stored pu erh, due to non availability but instead are selling the regular stored pu erh on their shelves. It is very interesting to note that a few tea drinker friends described the regular stored pu erh as having a 'clean' taste and aroma. You, the reader can conclude the description given to the traditional HK pu erh.
But I digressed. There are many occasions I had read from tea forums and blogs (mine included) about drinking a particular tea and giving one's thoughts on the tea. Many tea drinkers who owned such a tea would have different opinions on their tea. I felt one of the main reason, beside a personal taste preference, was that the storage conditions and climate may had caused the tea to taste different. A solution would be having a tea drinker to share his tea with 5-6 other tea drinkers. This tea drinker, when he opens a tea cake, would split this tea into 5-6 portions (about 50-60g per portion). No freebies of course, but the 5-6 other tea drinkers would pay for their share (and postage if necessary). This tea would then be assessed on the internet within a month of receiving the tea.......which would make the discussion more meaningful and hopefully more fun. I would like to be in such group.