Tuesday, June 20, 2006

TN: 1985 Best Tea House Loose Raw Pu-Erh [茶藝樂園 1985 生普洱散茶]

When I was in Guangzhou a few months ago visiting my relatives, I had the chance to explore the tea shops in that big, polluted ancient city (this was before I knew the existence of Jing Tea Shop, otherwise I would have looked for it and Sebastien). One particular day, while shopping for some gifts at one of the mega shopping malls in the Tian He area, I came across a few posh looking tea shops standing next to each other. One of the shops offered me to taste this 21-year old raw loose pu-erh, which I found quite appealing in color, smell and taste.

According to the polite salesperson, this loose raw pu-erh had been stored for 2 decades in Hong Kong. Looking closely at the external packaging recently at home in LA, I realized that it has the emblems of Best Tea House and Chan’s Tea House. Both of those emblems, as you can see from the picture above, refer to the same well-known Hong Kong proprietor / tea guru that Marshaln and THSU raved about.

The sticker price of this 21-year old pu-erh was RMB 1600 (roughly USD 200) for the 500gr package, though due to other purchases I made, they gave me a 20% discount. Relatively speaking, the price is quite alright for such a well-stored old tea, although I can never know for sure.

Tasting Note

Brewing method: 200 ml Yixing, 99/100’ Celsius, flash rinse twice, 2m rest, then 5s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1m… (Good for 9 brews, more or less)

Dry leaves appearance: dark red and blackish in color, small whole leaves and some stalks

Dry leaves' nose: woody and sweet

Wet leaves appearance: dark red and black mostly

Wet leaves' nose: woody and floral, with some amount of camphor quality on the 3rd infusion and thereafter

Color: Deep red/brown with oily appearance and the yellow/orange bao goang (halo) around the rim of my cup

Taste: Mellow, smooth and sweet. More “cha-qi” is to be desired. Not overly complex, making this a relaxing tea to drink in the evening after a long hard day. Sweet aftertaste that lasts a long time

Overall impression: This tea may not be the epitome of complexity and grace for an old tea, though it’s quite pleasant in casual settings. Food friendly.

3 stars (g)


davelcorp said...

I recently tried a sample of loose aged puer from Best Tea House provided by Marshaln. It sounds very similar to the tea you have, perhaps a little more complex. Here are my notes:

The first infusion had a strong aroma and taste of bread and yeast. It quickly filled the mouth and left a slight metallic tingle on the tongue. The next infusion tasted more of roasted sweet grains, wood, and a background hint of acid or something a little bright. On the third infusion the acidic taste came forward and presented as a citric flavor, similar to aged tangerine peel and a woody background. Some Qi, but no strong sweats or chills like I've experienced in other aged teas. I'm enjoying the changes this tea is going through as it brews. Fun.

I got 8 or 9 infusions depending on my brewing times.

toki said...

The Best Tea House in Guangzhou is different then the original shop in HKG, althrought they are both own by people last name as Chan. Master Chan in HKG did not authorize the selling of his tea in Guangzhou yet and they do not have an commerical link.... Beware.

~ Phyll said...

David, thank you for the TN! Yes, my old pu-erh, while pleasant, is not as exciting sounding as the one you had. No acidic taste in mine either. I've sealed about 100-150gr of this tea in a ziplock bag so that I can do a comparison test in a few years time.

Toki, the Best Tea House's website lists the Guangzhou branch in Tian He as one of their own. However, I got this tea from a different vendor (in Tian He as well).

MarshalN said...

Actually, the stuff I gave to Davelcorp is NOT from the Best Tea House, but from somewhere else in HK. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Toki, I'm now rather confused as to the status of the BTH in Guangzhou, because I see a reference to it on the BTH website, which is definitely maintained by the HK people. I think I am going to call Tiffany and ask in a few days. I have something else I need to ask her anyway.