The exact date/factory of this cake are a bit difficult to peg (our best estimate is early 2000's), but the tea has a smoothed out aged taste, clean storage, and quality material. The cakes are made of jiaji (甲级 - grade A material) and are very bud heavy. The fragrance and flavors are already well into a middle aged woody sweetness. Suitable for drinking now or further aging for the long term.
For those new to aged Puer tea, the cakes are often oddly shaped, have stray bits of this and that, and the wrappers have bug bites. Nothing unusual for a cake with a bit of age, but worth mentioning.
This Yiwu tea is made from 2009 Yiwu material, pressed and then stored in Guangzhou natural conditions soon after pressing. It is just nearing middle aged character, with a lingering sweetness and strong presence. The tea is already fairly smooth for those who prefer to enjoy it now, but would also benefit from long term aging.
The wrapper says "Yiwu Gushu" [old arbor tea] among other claims, all of which should be taken with a grain of salt. (Actual Yiwu Gushu would add a zero to this price) However, the tea is a very well priced quality tea for those looking to drink middle aged Yiwu or seeking to build a collection. A tong of this tea is quite affordable to put away for the years to come.
We have never been so confused by the wrapper of a cake in relation to its material. The label boasts that the puer cake is:
Xishuangbanna (and from Menghai)
Made for Export
Of that long list of claims, we can verify that exactly zero of those things are 100% true. However, the tea is good and that is all that we care about. The tea is sweet, soft, smooth, and an excellent daily drinker - it resembles Yiwu character more closely than typical Menghai character. For around $50, this over ten year old tea with clean storage is a great value.
This cake is made from the Menghai factory recipe 7542. This production was made on private order at a smaller factory in 2001. The tea is already fairly smooth and easy to drink. There is some humidity that still shows up in early steeps, as well as a minimal amount of sharpness early on. The fragrances of middle age are still apparent, and there is a lingering sweet aftertaste in the mouth.
This Little Yellow Mark 2002 cake was produced as a private order (special commission) for a Taiwanese customer in 2002 and stored in Guangzhou dry storage soon after production. The soup is soft, sweet, and smooth. Flavors or honey and gentle flowers sit atop a woody base. An excellent example of quality dry storage. This tea is ready to drink now as a middle aged tea, or could be aged further into a beautiful old puer tea.
This 100 gram tuo [nest shaped] tea from Lancang Tea Factory was first produced in the mid 1980's under the trademark jianshen [健身] which translates literally as "fitness". The brand was created as a way to promote Lancang county teas and it was promoted as a healthy tea, hence the name. Ideal for the budget minded drinker, as this tea has a decade of age and is economically priced. Still very strong in flavor and character, with burly wood and tobacco notes scotch drinkers will enjoy.
Naka raw puer tea pressed April first of 2005. Stored in excellent humid, but not too humid conditions. The first couple of steeps retain some astringency. Depth of feeling in the throat and slick texture in the mouth. Our opinion is that this tea generates an uncommon body response of deep calm.