; Cwyn's Death By Tea: The Upside to a Late Season ;

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Upside to a Late Season

Really I just don’t know what’s taking so long. Now, I know we’ve had blah blah blah excuses as to why so few puerh cakes are released thus far in 2016. But I’m at the end of my tether. Getting new puerh is so slow I’m watching the summer ticks crawl. By the time I get any fresh tea, the hot weather will be gone and I will no longer require any. Not to mention the fact that my tax refund is spent and gone, and this brings up an important point. Puerh season is timed with tax season for a reason, when people have money to spend and yes that means me and mine which is what puerh season is all about for everyone.

I know, I know. Blah blah about the winter season this year and blah blah the old trees are late, but think about this, people. Aren’t we told that “old” tree tea really isn’t old tree anyway, and that labels are a bunch of lies? Okay, so hurry up with my plantation already. Really, can’t somebody water the bushes? What about those elephants supposedly wandering old trails into tea gardens, haven’t they peed enough to make up for a shortfall? We’ve been watching videos of bamboo tea tossing for months. Even Dayi has cakes out, and the World Tea Expo is over. I’ve stopped “liking” IG photos of fresh puerh tea, I’m worn out on the heart button already.

As for “factory time,” how much money does one of those stone press rocks cost, along with a pair of flip flops, an empty coffee can and travel stove? Old Cwyn can get the job done with tools found at home and Walgreens. As for wrappers, got that covered. My Art Studio app has no fewer than 10 wrapper designs saved all the time, I can crank a dozen in an hour or less. As for folding, I started origami at 6 years old when my mother was only on her first marriage. I folded my way through John Montroll having skipped his easy courses because my aunt sent me books and paper from Japan. I was reverse folding when many tea vendors today had grandparents in high school. I can wrap those beengcha in a jif. As for the bamboo, might as well skip it.

Tea vendors are spending their time drinking is the real reason, along with the conspiracy to withhold tea from the market in an attempt to derail the “early” vendors marketing winter tea for spring and appearing more legit, more “Old Tea,” like Southern Democrats trying to turn out the carpetbaggers and we all know how that turned out. But this is an ill-conceived move. Tea drinkers who haven’t spent their money on huge group buys or the Tea Urchin $700 Club are running a campaign of “no tea buying until Black Friday,” and puerh people are joining in droves. This is a serious trend of anorexia that we are seeing across rich people everywhere in television shows.

Today’s trend is all about self denial in order to appear less guilty of misappropriation when one spends money, in an era when a huge gap exists between rich and poor. The mark of class right now  is buy nothing, no clutter, eat nothing, empty white white white no value furniture, minimalist clothing and blank tea wrappers, tiny dogs, all the things antithesis to what tea hoarding is about. These puerh hoarders think they are following a trendy austerity plan to convince significant others and society as a whole they won’t buy anything. No one is fooled at such behavior, although we have no way of knowing the kinds of straitjackets they are in behind closed doors. Still, vendors might want to hurry. Try and remember your customers living in a country that had no qualms whatsoever about dumping tea in the harbor for far less personal reasons than a late puerh season. We can revert back at any time, and coffee shops with designer foams are right here, right now to pick up the slack and they have their Christmas cup designs already on waitlist.

Not that any of this applies to me. I shouldn’t really complain because in the end, especially with the No Tea Buying campaign circulating the forums, this just leaves more for me. I can relax this year and buy up what I want in a leisurely fashion with my weekly benefit checks while the other suckers try and hold out their credit cards until November, even though Black Friday won’t have deals anyway. Do you really want to wait for a free 25g sample along with your order? I can guarantee the shipping won’t be free. In the meantime, the obsession continues for sensible buyers like me, so I’m just buying aged stuff.

Like this one from Yunnan Sourcing for $36/38 (China/US sites) for 357g. 

Yunnan Sourcing's 2006 Chang Tai Hao
This is 2006 Chang Tai Hao "Tian Xia Tong An" sheng. How does Bulang in Guangdong storage sound to you? How about bug-bit wrappers? Enough to break a sweat for most of us and hit Buy, especially when Old Cwyn is gonna say this one ain’t bad.

Nice bug bites.
This 2006 CTH shows the browning of wetter storage, but arrives fairly dry and the edges are flaky. No real odor of mustiness, in fact not much odor to the cake at all except a whiff of minerals. I gave the cake a good week in my warm and humid summer three season porch just to see if I could get it to open up more. 

I didn't notice the insert fell out until I took the photo
After a week or so, I took off 7g from the reverse side of the cake for about 100 ml. I gave the leaves 3 rinses, mainly because the tea gave off a darker color at the outset and I didn’t feel like tasting someone’s warehouse. 

So my session started on the fourth pour.

The nose initially is a bit of wood and medicine along with minerals. The medicine/camphor is not that noticeable in the cup, however. Storage here is perfect, at least the kind of storage I love. 

This tea has that old book flavor I’m always looking for. Initial steepings are brandy brown with a red ring, however the tea is by no means completely sweated out. This is Bulang, and bitterness is still very apparent in the first four cups I drank. Along with this is a bit of sour lemon and minerals around the mouth, indicating to me that the tea has fermenting left to go. Processing on these leaves is excellent which is really what tempers that medicine taste in the end, not much char.

Second steep (fourth pour). Tea takes awhile to open up.
Despite the aging left to go, the tea is warming and I sweat like a dog on the Sunday I started drinking. Three steeps were enough, the tea is warm in the stomach. I continued again yesterday with another four steeps. I notice some astringency, tongue drying and plaque cleaning off my teeth. The old book and wood flavor carries along on Monday’s steepings. The tea still wasn’t done yet and so on Tuesday I fired up the kettle again. I needed to add steep time but the tea is still brewing up golden brown. After a total of 10 steeps, the green is now showing on the leaves, and they smell somewhat like menthol and old books.

Ten steeps for the green to emerge.
I feel like this tea has very distinct flavors which have not yet blended together fully. The lemony bitterness will turn sweeter over the next few years and the potential is there for deeper bass notes along with a bit more thickness from the remaining green cellulose. But the excellent storage on this means all I need to do is to maintain the current condition, and this is the sort of tea we in drier climates should look out for. If you missed out on Chawangshop’s 2005 Old Bada with the wetter storage from last year, this cake from Yunnan Sourcing is a more than adequate choice at a similar price. You can find about 2 dozen cakes on the US site, and another 65 cakes or so on the China site.

So the upside to a late season is finding an aged tea I might have overlooked had I focused all my attention on new spring teas. And I confess I found other teas and teaware during this time as well, and managed to hide most of it from my son. The one other thing I bought that I couldn’t hide though, is the orphaned shelter kitten.



  1. OMG KITTY!!!!

    And old books is an awesome note for tea, I will have to give this one a try.

    1. Unlike the kitten, the tea is very budget friendly.

  2. these 2016 puerh lineups are taking forever. i looked at my instagram feed from a year ago and already had new ones for tasting.

  3. I picked this tea up after seeing the first few reviews on instagram, Drank it about twice now and had a similar experience to yours. Strength left for aging, but quite tasty now.

  4. Well, Two Dog's 2016 Pu's are now listed. Some of the prices seem a bit eye-watering. Can't wait to see what 2016 will bring!

  5. Boo yah!!!!

  6. I've gravitated to humid stored middle-aged puers, so I read this post with interest. That 2006 Chang Tai is still available at YS, now for $78. Interestingly, there's also a 400g "Gold Edition" made for the same Hong Kong tea house available now for $69. I'll sample both and suspect I'll be buying one of them. Thanks for your review.