Friday, November 23, 2018

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Puerh Cake

2005 Changtai Bulang Raw Pu erh cake.  400g cake at $74.  18.5 cents/gram.

The above 'information' are used by tea reviewers to give the readers a summary overview of the cake that is being discussed.  

This information is good and is important to the reader.  You get to know the age of the tea and the tea factory that made the cake.  You can see that this cake is a 400g size.  And.... finally you get the price of the cake including a technical price per gram basis.  You can 'calculate' the costs per brew if you buying this cake.  If you are using 7g our session, you are looking at about $1.30 per brewing session.  

I think we can do more.  

When you buy pu erh tea, you are not only buying the tea, you are buying the storage.  

This 2005 Changtai is 13 years old.  This tea had been Malaysian stored for more than a dozen years.  This 13 years of storage should be an important feature in a assessment of this tea.  13 years of storage, in my opinion, is a pretty long time.  The tea would have some age in taste and aroma.  I would expect that the storage would comprise at least 40-50% in an overall assessment of the tea.  

And this 'assessment' is not easy.  There is the issue of different storage consideration.  This tea would taste and smell different under different storage conditions.  Such conditions would include different climate / countries where the tea is stored or even whether the tea cake is broken up and stored in a tea caddy or if the drinker chipped off a piece of tea to brew.  I myself find assessing a tea difficult.  When I sample a tea stored in Hong Kong, Kunming, Taiwan, Guangzhou, a same year Xiaguan tuo has considerable differences in taste and aroma.  It is not better or worse, but it is the result of the storage....and I would present the tea to the reader as it is.  I learnt / try to appreciate the tea and the respective storage.  It Is this uniqueness that should be appreciated and enjoyed.  The storage of pu erh tea should be / must be highlighted.  

Yes, my perceptions of the tea with regard to sweetness or bitterness or feel of the tea is subjective.  As a reader, you will also realise that your taste preferences are different and may change with time.  So I can only suggest - when you like a tea, it is a good tea.  And....a cheap tea can be a good tea.    A $1/g tea does not mean that it is 5 times more aromatic and tasty than a 20 cents/g tea.  For me, giving the reader the price per gram is just telling the reader how much a tea brew would cost to brew.  It does not indicate a bargain or quality.   Never use price to judge a tea.

But I digress. I would not mail out tea for about 2 weeks before Christmas.  No Haiwan spa for me this time as I will helping out in a poorer community in Vietnam.   If you are getting tea or exchanging tea with me during this time, please exercise some patience.  Thank you. 


Cwyn said...

I think the prices and per gram are addressed to people with budget concerns and a way to compare with other teas when one cannot buy everything on a wish list. Sadly, price is often the greatest factor for blog readers, even more than quality. Everyone would love better quality than we can afford.

wilson said...

Thank you Cwyn for your insight. Agreed. You can also add a little more to the price to include freight charges so the costs of buying a tea is more accurate. And hold on to your wallet.....its Black Friday shopping today.

Massilia said...

I think storage is one of the most important things in the taste of puerh. I started drinking puerh some five years ago. In the beginning I had luck to taste some great good aged blended teas from late 1990s/early 2000s. After it was influenced by western faced bloggers a and vendors, who are focused on younger, single area puerhs - mostly dry stored in Kunming. Now I´m bit more experienced and I´m not sure about this way. I´m looking for more aged blended teas now, because good blending can give tea interesting depth. And there is another important thing - such tea has to be aged adequately. Hong Kong is bit too wet for me, Taiwan is very nice area for aging, but I prefer malaysian storage right now. And I cannot drink too much dry stored teas now - they are missing something for me.