Aged Teas: Exceptional Grands Crus

October 21, 2021
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Jasmin, choosing Pu Er in Hong Kong

Since the very first time I took to the road in China I have had the privilege to taste numerous rare and precious teas.  I feel very lucky to have regularly tasted green tea freshly transformed and straight out of the artisan’s pan, or a Wuyi rock tea that had won the all-China national competition, white teas plucked with precision timing in Fuding or maocha from thousand-year-old trees in the Yunnan.  That said, when people ask me about by most memorable tasting experiences over the many years in the business, my mind always goes back to the tastings of really old Pu er…. My colleague Hugo and I once spent a week in Taipei with well-known Taiwanese collector and teacher Mr.Lin as we worked out the techniques and logistics for our own Pu er cellar project.  Mr.Lin ended the week with the tasting of a Tong Xing Hao 1934! Then, a few years ago in Hong Kong, after many years of business and friendly exchange, one of our suppliers presented us with a tasting of the legendary ‘Red Mark’ from 1950, very highly prized by collectors. These two teas are great examples of extreme rarity in the Pu er universe, both are now practically impossible to find and extremely valuable. One cake of 375g of either of these teas would now be worth a few hundred thousand dollars.  

Each year a few of my friendly suppliers, send me small samples of fancy rarities to taste with the Camellia Sinensis team and the clients of our workshops on Old Pu er.  Until now we have never had the clients to buy such teas in our stores.  The market here is very different to that of China so despite the memorable tasting experience they offer, the price has always held us back from adding them to the catalogue.  But recently, during a tasting of one of these favourite treats with the team, we came to the conclusion that the time had come to share this fascinating aspect of the tea world with our clients. Price aside, this tea promises a rich sequence of many memorable quality infusions.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that we announce, an online exclusive, of the most precious aged tea we have ever offered here at Camellia Sinensis: Pu Er Sheng 1988 Menghai.

Tasting Notes :
A rare pearl, an exceptional batch of Pu er sheng (raw) and a vintage sought after by the most serious collectors. Aged in traditional Hong Kong storage conditions, these leaves come from a cake that was pressed over 30 years ago in the famous Menghai Factory of China’s Yunnan Province. A great example of how the Da Ye cultivar is just perfect for this style of tea, improving with age due to its tannic qualities.  Also, a great example of the importance of attention to detail at every single step of the transformation process.   Since its pressing, the tea has improved slowly with time, giving rich complexity and a generous capacity for multiple infusion, the signs of a great aged tea.
The dark liquor has a beautiful density.  The attack is gentle, with earthy, woodsy and mushroom notes that progress to fallen leaves, bark and lichen.  This multilayered profile evolves rapidly with lively briskness, mineral, wet-rock features and a menthol effect in both the mouth and throat.   The balance between tannins and the sweet finale of root vegetables (beets) and dark chocolate, is quite exceptional.

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