Yi Wu Mountain, Wild Leaves, Menghai Product Company, Year 2005 (Green/Sheng)
There's one reason and one reason only that I don't exclusively buy 30+ year old puer, money. That said, I've quite enjoyed an eight year old bingcha from The Chinese Tea Shop that I purchased after finding Daniel's description intriguing:
"This recipe uses many tips, although the flavors are a bit more aggressive than expected. Rich camphor accompanied by mossy and earthy tones dominate the first brews. The camphor notes eventually fade allowing the moist rich mossy earth flavors to broaden out. Lightly flowery taste with honey overtones. Smooth, rich character if made with care. Excellent potential."There are two things to pay attention to in his description, "excellent potential" and "if made with care". Let me emphasize that "if" one more time...
My love of oolong tea has left my tea making skills disproportionately developed and most of my experience with puer has been either well aged or shu puer. So, unaware of the kick in the mouth I was about to be steeping in, I filled my pot with a nice large chuck of wild leaves, with a few loose crumbs for balance, rinsed, and eagerly poured the first cup.
The sent was much as advertised, mossy, smoky, camphor. The moment the drink wet my mouth, though, wow, a mind-shattering bitterness took over my consciousness to the point that I nearly felt nauseous. I took about half of the leaves out of the pot and tried again, and though it was tolerable, it was still very strong. After tolerating the first few over powering steeps, it eased into a very nice tea. The amazing thing about the initial blast of overzealous infusing was the residue of tea oil built up in my throat. Throughout the whole day, and late into the night, the aftertaste emerged, as strong as if I'd just drunk a few cups. It's the only time I've had an aftertaste out do that of Phoenix Dancong, and out-did-it it did by a lot.
I've since tried this tea with varying amounts of leaf, and even a small chunk is very enjoyable but I actually enjoy a but of the harshness so I don't mind a medium sized piece. I haven't experienced the everlasting aftertaste of the first experience, but I also haven't been nauseated by this tea since, either. I'm actually not sure if the cake I ordered will ever get to reach its potential, I've already gone through half of it in a few months. For only $20, though, I can easily get another one, or three!