; Cwyn's Death By Tea: 1996 CNNP 7532 and Nugs ;

Thursday, March 5, 2015

1996 CNNP 7532 and Nugs

Recently I received a 10g sample of the 1996 CNNP "Green in Orange" 7532 with my paid order from white2tea. Always a lucky event to get an "aged" sample in a tea order! My order included the new 2014 Lao Cha Tou ripe nuggets and so I'm juggling two gaiwans to continue drinking both teas, thus causing and curing cold feet at the same time. I cannot help but feel grateful to have such good teas available to me, and given the long steeping of the ripe nuggets, they will be perfect for the moment I take the plunge and begin bathing in puerh.

As unreservedly swell as I feel about white2tea's ripe nuggets production, the opposite is true for any label tea. We puerh hoarders have our favorites, the teas that get us to push that Buy button every time. Even when we can agree on taste, the decision to purchase remains subjective, or at least highly variable in the factors we consider. I've talked a great deal about my age and health as large factors in my tea purchasing decisions. As a result, I never feel in a position to judge another tea drunk for what he chooses to purchase, because  splaying out across the bar in the tea tavern equalizes one tea drunk with another. And my cup rises for the fellow tea drunk who thinks he's got the time to wait out the aging of a tea cake, especially when that tea cake is wrapped in a Factory Label.

For me, Label Teas carry too much expectation. I get into an odd obsessive-compulsive frame of mind about label teas. Instead of focusing on the buds in this CNNP 7532, and there are some in my cup, I pick out and stare at the sticks. I second guess myself not only on the leaf quality, which here is rather chopped, but I'm staring at the sticks feeling a kind of bother that I never apply to white label teas. Truthfully, my frame of mind with label teas contains a Whole World of Bother in which I question authenticity: the Label, the Year, the Leaf, the Storage, my ability to discern quality, etc. But for the reader wanting some info on this tea, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.

1996 CNNP 7532 shown at white2.tea
A 1990s CNNP 7532 surfaces every so often on tea websites and on forums, and has been sold as a 7542 but the cup doesn't lie in the end. We do know that the Orange Label from this era changed over several years so you might see more than one label type floating around. By coincidence, this week new puerh blogger VP happened to post photos of his 1990s Orange label, a rather humid cake in contrast to the one currently selling at white2tea. Comparing these two cakes, even with the explanation that labels can differ, I'm feeling the World of Bother already.
My lucky sample.
As for white2tea's available cake, the storage is fairly dry, which is something that cannot be faked. So I feel fairly comfortable in the Aging here, even if the Leaf Quality is isn't going to jolt me into liking that $390 beeng price tag. The cake wears its post-teens age quite well, and hasn't been forced. A collector won't like the green neifei, unless you don't mind spending the money for an oddball cake, but for most people this will be a pricey drinker as opposed to a collector's item. I brewed up 5 grams so that I will have a second session of another 5 grams with this tea.
5 grams dry stored
Most noticeable for me is the long sweet finish on the back of my tongue. Overall this isn't the thick mud I want it to be, and the 7532 lacks the wake-up punch of the 7542 recipe, but the first few cups give me a bit of caffeine jitter. I think the cake is perfect now, and while the leaves look a little green I'm just not seeing anywhere for them to go in aging except to fade out more as time goes on. After 8 steeps I'm lengthening steep times and past 10 the color actually fades before the flavor does. A pleasant enough cup, and if money isn't an object I wouldn't mind drinking up a cake of this, and I'd drink it up fairly quick too given my high tolerance levels.
First steep
But my brow is still knitted over this tea, even now writing about it, because I'm getting hit squarely in the face of my buyer preferences. I'm in a place where I question my own taste. I want to like Factory Label teas better than I actually do. I want to drink them free of the nagging thoughts. 

Fourth steep
Removing the label and considering the cake, I ask myself, would I buy this on a blind test? I don't think I would. Here's why:

As a buyer I'm not in a collector position, I'm in a drinker position where I want something unique. I'm also likely the Other Type of Buyer that white2tea gets, which is the one who prefers white2tea's own productions. The Other Type of tea buyer is the one who wants to feel like they "found" something, discovered something, a tea with no label, or no significant label, which is priced right based on the leaf quality and lack of provenance. When their 2002 White Whale cake generated some excitement last year, I believe the "discovery" factor is part of the reason so many people ordered that cake. We found a little cake with a little price, and big on flavor and potential for further aging. In other words, a small gem. I feel the same way now about the 2014 Bulang-material in the Lao Cha Tou nuggets currently selling for the very tiny price of $5.50 for 50 grams. This tea is a gem, and a bit of a discovery. Some of us got it in the tea club box, others by word of mouth.

These tea nuggets are insane. Insane. I actually posted a Twitter of my cup and old ladies should never be caught tweeting, it's like having my pants down. But after 15 steeps and two days these nuggets won't quit. And I'm informed I can boil them later to get yet more tea. 

2014 Lao Cha Tou ripe, also by white2tea
Just a few of these nugs and I am awake at 5 a.m. in a full-on tea drunk. I get some of the mushroom flavor I liked so much in Yunnan Sourcing's 2009 Lao Cha Tou I wrote about last month. The mushroom and port flavors are less intense in white2tea's production, but the number of steeps are also twice the total. I get chocolate flavors. Thus I have an unreserved enthusiasm for this production that I don't feel for the Orange Label, a happy feeling over a whole bag of tea that costs the same as a single sample of the aged factory tea. The tea nuggets leave me with a sense that I've found truth, as opposed to questioning my own taste and observation as I do when confronted with a label tea. If I take the LV logos off a Louis Vuitton bag, would I still like the purse? Probably not, LV is really rather ugly. The label is everything. In the end, I prefer the Emperor not to wear any clothes, because once I know who he is I can't say anything when he turns out to be boring in bed and comes too fast.

This is where the puerh industry puts us. We have a world of too many fakes, too many factory cakes, labels, leaf pretending to be better than it is, fake aging, and trying to find the honest purveyor in a sea of shysters. An experience like Nicolas Tang's box of 4 fake Dayi 7572 ripe tongs casts a long shadow over us all as we decide what tea we want to buy, guessing and second guessing. Even though the Orange Label isn't fake aged, and I trust white2tea, I can cut through all the bull of my own general doubting to a real tea when I don't have expectations and "discover" something with no name but superb flavor. Dunno what you'll decide about the 1996 CNNP, but I do hope at the very least you will buy yourself a bag of those 2014 Lao Cha Tou nuggets, because I know you'll feel happy.

Requiescat in Pace.


  1. The nuggets are amazing - a bit like the tea equivalent of perpetual motion. I can't imagine how that much colour and flavour gets in there. And it seems you can't over brew it either. I made pot a little while ago then got called away and distracted. 15 minutes later I remembered it. I tried it expecting to have to throw it away but it was fine. A little cold, but still smooth and sweet, and not too strong.

    1. After 3 days of steeping I just boiled up the leaves and got a very minerally cup. Plus I'm wired on just one cup of that boil brew.

    2. The gaiwan is new, it is now my second gaiwan and is the Ruyao by white2tea. My Hagi cup is not new, but I suppose I haven't shown it in the blog for awhile.

  2. Got the same gaiwam from white2tea, except in blue instead of white. Really an awesome piece of teaware. I love how it looks, its fit and finish, and its smooth texture.

    Plus, it looks good even when it's dirty, so I don't feel bad letting it turn more brown every day.

    1. That is just my thinking too. Tea ware I don't have to wash. An occasional rinse maybe. And I don't need to designate only one type of tea. I also love the smooth and substantial feel. Debated between this one and the travel Ruyao that Oolong Owl has, which I also love. May still pick that one up someday but Hster's writing steered me toward this one for now.