Expectations

After drink­ing a cer­tain num­ber of puerh sam­ples, we start to develop a cer­tain set of expec­ta­tions about stor­age and dif­fer­ent recipes. Two of the most pop­u­lar –7532 and 7542 — are today’s focus.

This blog has usu­ally eschewed dis­cussing a sin­gle spec­i­men of tea. These teas are excep­tional in this regard not because they are unique or have any par­tic­u­larly out­stand­ing qual­ity, but because they chal­lenged my expectations.

When Pamela arrived at the house for tea, we started with some­thing that was a known quan­tity for me.

This 7532 copy was pro­duced in 1996 by the Fu Hai tea fac­tory accord­ing to the recipe devel­oped by Meng­hai Tea Factory.

It is tra­di­tion­ally stored, and aligns very well with my past expe­ri­ence with 7532 from this period.
(In fact, I have had 4–5 exam­ples from the very same year — it is one of my favorites.)

I thought that we would breeze through this tea and ded­i­cate most of our atten­tion to the gen­uine Meng­hai arti­cles — a pair of sam­ples from gen­er­ous tea chum Will. I had been sav­ing these for some time, wait­ing for the right moment to share them.



Want­ing to exam­ine both sam­ples in depth, but also com­pare their dif­fer­ences, I pre­pared them in match­ing teapots (40ml Yixing).

We tried 6 infu­sions of each alone, before begin­ning to brew them side by side. After 3 or 4 infu­sions both teas began to show more bal­ance and sweet­ness, but the “7532” remained a bit more robust.

How­ever, the smoke and tobacco of the 7532 sur­prised me, hav­ing come to expect some­thing thick, creamy and mel­low. Per­haps there was a dras­tic dif­fer­ence in storage.

Sev­eral infu­sions on, I started to find that the two teas tasted extremely sim­i­lar — not just in the late infu­sions, but through­out. Was my small sam­ple actu­ally 7542, or had these two teas — pro­cured in sep­a­rate shops — been stored in just the right way to achieve such a sim­i­lar result?

We decided to award the round to the 7532 — or what­ever it is — by a small margin.

But we really pre­ferred the smoother taste of the “knock off” — 7532 from Fu Hai Tea Factory.

I trans­fered it from a gai­wan to a larger teapot to enjoy the later infu­sions of this tea at a leisurely pace.

Before the cha qi of all this aged tea could send us into a deep sleep, I sent Pamela off with a pick-me-up from this win­ter har­vest Tie Guan Yin.

A bit later on, I asked Will about the prove­nance of the tea. He men­tioned that the shop stock­ing the 7532 had quite a few items that didn’t seem entirely right — but tasted good nonethe­less. “It doesn’t really mat­ter what it is … It’s just tea,” he offered.

So which teas here were real or fake? The Fu Hai? The “7532” that didn’t match our expec­ta­tions in taste? They were all deli­cious and calming.

Most of us are not exis­ten­tial enough to stop seek­ing infor­ma­tion about our tea, but as long as it is good tea, per­haps that is all that matters.

6 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. Nice post. I love all the pix of teapots in seduc­tive poses. Very lovely. Where are they all from?

  2. Pic­tures of wet leaves, by any chance? That might yield some infor­ma­tion (assum­ing they’re not still in the pot!)

    7542 vs 7532 aren’t all THAT dif­fer­ent, in my past expe­ri­ences, although 7532 are some­what less pop­u­lar and harder to come by.

  3. Mar­shalN:
    Dry and wet leaf com­par­i­son.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrongfucha/5440700815/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    “7532” vs 7532??? — sim­i­lar infu­sion # and leaf ratio
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrongfucha/5439698428/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    It is pretty clear that the 2nd group of sam­ples are of a drier stor­age, but I had in mind that it would have had more affin­ity to other 7532s of the same year than to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent recipe. Per­haps the stor­age fac­tor won this round.

    (We no longer have pho­tos or notes, but Will’s descrip­tion of the wrap­per as Dayi Big Pur­ple Stamp does not ring a bell with the 96 CNNP 7532 orange or green CHA stamp we usu­ally see.)

    Salsero:
    Very glad to see you my friend. The red and blue pots are cour­tesy of our very own Toki. So use­ful in cases like this where one wants to drink over 15 infu­sions of a tea, but not get their friends too drunk or burst their stomach.

    Toki:
    :)

  4. We tried the Dayi big pur­ple stamp one today at Jason’s; it was a lit­tle flat, though def­i­nitely cleanly stored. Not bad, but didn’t blow me away either (my first time try­ing it). I looked online, and there does seem to be a Dayi branded 7532 (vs. stan­dard Meng­hai wrap­per), but not clear when they first started mak­ing it.

    We did try another tea — a 1998 brick from the same source — which every­one (and we had a big group today) really seemed to like. So just hop­ing that I can still get more of that one!

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