[from an email to corax. posted by permission.]
Sheng puer, 1975 harvest
Factory: Meng Hai Factory; Item #7532
Parameters: Two very rapid, short rinses. 2 minute rest. Did not pry apart the piece of pu’er. This on the recommendation of Seb and Jing [[of www.jingteashop.com]] about a year ago regarding aged pu’er, under the assumption that leaving the pieces intact will allow more infusions. Will use about four ounces of water boiling, the first steep will be 5s, and the following five steeps will be instant steeps, i.e., water in and then tea out as soon as possible. Using a 5-oz glass gaiwan.
Dry leaf: black-gray and very dark green. Tightly compressed sample.
1st infusion. Liquor looks like Scotch whiskey. Clear and dark brown-red. Flavor notes: wood predominates. Pleasant forest. Taste is somewhat mild. Seems neither cooked nor wet-processed. I detect no wet-laundry aroma or flavor. No mold or mushroom. No leather. Very clean flavor for aged pu’er.
2nd infusion. Again, flash-infused. Liquor much darker. Almost weak restaurant-coffee colored, but still clear in the white cup. This is a joy to drink. The tea has a strong flavor with no bite. Mouth-watering. Stronger deciduous forest flavor, loam. More sweetness in this infusion. Some malt and molasses, but just barely. Big mouth feel: thickness remains in the mouth after swallowing. More aftertaste with this infusion.
3rd infusion. Perhaps even a little darker. In the fourth infusion I will fill the gaiwan to the top. Flash-infusions with a gaiwan takes more dexterity than I possess! This pu’er is both strong and mellow in flavor—a rare combination. The wood flavor is very strong.
4th infusion. Liquor remains dark. Flavor remains strong, but improving (wow). The loam subsides a tiny bit. Saliva still flows. The aroma from the cup is not strong. The aftertaste is stronger in this steep. There is a very faint fruitiness to the flavor now, like grape.
5th infusion. The color might be just the littlest bit lighter. The flavor is indiscernible from that of the previous infusion: excellent.
6th infusion: As an experiment, I used shrimp eye boil (tiny bubbles rising from the bottom) rather than full boil. Retained flash-infusion. The color is somewhat lighter now. The wood nuances and sweetness persist. The aftertaste strengthens. Rather than take the reader through at least seven more infusions, I will skip to a summary and then add more notes later as events require.
Summary: TeaHub enjoys the reputation of supplying authentic aged pu’er, albeit at prices that would beggar a personal injury attorney. This tea is in all likelihood thirty years old. I am the farthest thing from an expert on aged pu’er. For my modest collection, I buy very young pu’er, hoping to survive to see it age at least a little. Now and then I buy a small sample of aged pu’er, or a generous friend will work a trade with me. Sometimes I receive it as a gift outright. All that being said, despite my inexpertness, I would place this aged pu’er among the top four aged pu’ers I’ve had the opportunity to drink. I would not say that this is my favorite, and I would also add that I have tasted one or two aged teas that I did not love in any way.
The strength of this tea surprised me. So did the clean flavor. I do not doubt that one could drink this tea all day, infusion following upon infusion. As a collector of young, green pu’er, I appreciate having the opportunity from time to time to taste the future of my own collection. When I’m eighty, I look forward to discovering that some of my own collection tastes this good. I owe a big debt of gratitude to a good friend for providing this sample. Thanks for reading all of this. ~geraldo