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|
|My lucky sample.|
|5 grams dry stored|
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|
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.