Monday, April 29, 2013

1994 Menghai Tea Factory 7542 bĭng chá

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雲南勐海普洱茶生茶7542青餅

In 2009, I was fortunate to acquire a bing (饼茶, "Disc Tea") of 1994 Menghai 7542 relatively cheaply when the financial crash was favorable for Korea to import puer from Hong Kong. The Tea Master strongly suggested that I buy a disk, explaining the reputation of the tea and the unique opportunity that had arisen.

Still, $350 dollars was much more than I'd ever found myself sane enough to spend on tea but on a per gram basis, it was actually par with many other teas I regularly purchase. After being served a few cups, the 'tea drunk' did the rest of the convincing. My senses were acute yet my body very mellow, like after an ideal meditation.

Menghai is one of the best known producers of puer tea. They are one of two original puer factories, and even with current tea trends veering toward smaller factories, Menghai remains highly respected. '7542' is sort of a code for this specific disk. 75 is the year the recipe was first made, 4 is the grade of leaves used, and 2 means that the disk is from Menghai factory. 1994 was a particularly good year for this recipe, though any given year, it is a tea that other puer may be compared to. It is also one of the few remaining sheng puer, ('raw' puer). 90% of the puer produced these days is shu puer.
The flavour of the '94 7542 is complex, holding all five flavours, which alternate in prominence through the first few steeps. Though it's still a middle-aged bing, there are already hints of a fully-aged tea. Its smoothness is quite mature and the underlying flavour is reminiscent of an old tea. The colour of the liquor is more fitting of it's age, starting off a slightly dark reddish-brown, but quickly progresses to a golden orange. The taste is very durable though, lasting well into a dozen steeps.

Now that it's about to turn twenty years-old, it's already worth nearly three times what I paid for it four years ago, and now that I'm down to the last I realize that the tea master was telling to buy it not to drink, but as an investment... But, I can hardly regret the treat it's been enjoying this bing. If another opportunity presents itself to acquire such a tea again, I'll be sure to purchase more than one!

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