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Monday, August 28, 2017

2007 Liming Golden Peacock Qi Zi

2007 Liming Factory "Golden Peacock Qi zi Bingcha"
Here is a tea I bought last spring. Back when I purchased the 2005 Yellow Mark from Yunnan Sourcing, I needed $7 more to qualify for free shipping, which amply justifies adding another $31 beeng to the order. The Liming factory located in the Menghai region is known as a plantation tea factory, and the reputation for quality tea declined somewhat among collectors after 2004, I suppose a rumor stemming from the overpicking in the years that followed. Yet I cannot help but wonder if such a rumor is premature, after all any tea produced over the past decade or so is still a young tea. Can we decide now and forever that a factory produces lesser quality tea? Maybe we need several decades to make such a determination.

This 2007 Golden Peacock refers to a tea which has more buds in it than usual. Back in the early 2000s, farmers had trouble selling their puerh leaves apart from just tea buds, they got paid only for the buds. The surface of the cake shows a generous sprinkling, though not so much on the underside, rather typical of a factory offering in a lower price range. Yet today a bud tea may price for more new, given all the puerh hype going on. The wrapper bears a blue 2007 date stamp on the back. Alas, just within the past few days the price of this tea increased on the US site to $34, and remains $32 on the China site. I was hoping Mr. Wilson would not notice the US site tea cost $1 less, but he caught it. The tea is still in the budget price range, however.

Nice clean storage.
The cake underwent nearly a decade in Guangdong storage which is good news for people who want a little moister aging, but the tea aired for three months in my possession has no storage odors and qualifies easily for Guangdong “dry” storage classification. The heat and humidity are just enough to loosen the edges of this machine-pressed cake and allow some tea to collect inside the wrapper. This is definitely one tough long-haul production, despite ten years in Guangdong storage the beeng still appears rather green to me. I keep my expectations low for a budget tea.

Surface shows lots of buds.
I brew 8g in 80-100 ml, mostly I collected up the loose leaves from the wrapper and pried a few loose leaves off the edge of the beeng. When you find a lot of loose tea in a beeng, sometimes it is best to just scoop all that out, dump the dust clean off the wrapper and re-wrap for storage. This tea makes a good sample for tasting but loose leaves will give off everything they have early on. Indeed I am rewarded with a hefty and bitter drink.

Underside not quite so pretty, but ok.
A Menghai production like this has the whiskey barrel profile, with strong bitterness, sour mash, aged oak barrel, caramel and a bit of incense. This profile is good for people who do not want any floral bizness in their puerh. We rest assured that we have a traditional Menghai beeng for our money, and rather clean with not much char. I see a bit of cloudiness from what appears to be bud fuzz small enough to go through my fine mesh strainer. One steeping removes all that to reveal a clean drink.

First steeping showing the storage color and clarity.
The storage shows a bit of turning with a red ring to the cup, so I know this tea is fermenting quite nicely. One cannot really drink this tea fully as it is in the middle of fermentation and tastes like half done whiskey mash but the oak barrel is already developing. I get a bit of tea qi behind the eyes and a relaxed body feeling, nothing very intense but I mostly taste and swallow maybe twice with each cup, just to see where the tea goes. Again, this is not really a drinker right now. I stopped at six steepings with the tea hardly opened up yet. The leaves show a long way to go before steeping out, but I am satisfied with the strength and the developing fermentation. Also, the brew thickened noticeably after the third steep.

Third steeping shows a nice clarity.
We are fortunate to find budget teas like this in the Yunnan Sourcing catalog, of course it is a product of the Liming tea factory and not a Yunnan Sourcing production. Thus we know nothing about any testing for pesticides, and I doubt Liming really tested anything. Yet I recall a couple of years ago white2tea’s Liming 7542 from the late 1990s, now that tea retailed for over $1100 a beeng and sold out too. Nobody who bought that tea needed to know more. The college student of today should snap this Liming up for the future and then can say “I bought this for 30-odd back in the day.” When a brand new Menghai 7542 costs $40 to import, we have a somewhat upside-down market in factory teas.

Lots of buds, and still fairly green.
Yes, the discussions go on about pesticides in plantation teas, mostly by people who surely rely on others for food production and are not yet out skinning their own muskrats. I always just think to myself well, some puerh heads with fully outfitted, survivalist tea storage caves are trying to scare off the new buyers because they want more for themselves. I guess I am firmly in this camp: more tea in the shop means more for me. After all, I have a dirt floor in-ground storage garage for when the world ends and I need a tea to drink on the way out.




1 comment:

  1. It's a good tea and an excellent value. Sorry I had to raise the price a bit... the first case I bought was a little cheaper than the one I got more recently. Your comparison with a new 7542 is very astute... ;-)

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