A Tea Addict's Journal

The later, the better

March 8, 2011 · 3 Comments

Sometimes some teas behave oddly, or rather, they behave in unexpected ways.  I had two “white paper” puerhs in a row, both of which are from no-name makers, purchased off taobao and claiming to be “Yiwu” of the 05/06 vintage.  One of them looks like this


Nothing too fancy, clearly, even though the seller claims it’s from Mahei and used old tree leaves.  Both teas share a similar characteristic – they are both slightly sour, not very pleasant, but get better, not worse, as I continue to brew them.  The first is, I think, the better tea, with a stronger taste and better longevity, but it also has more off flavours in the initial infusions — sourness, mostly, but also some odd flavours.  The second one is much cheaper — by a factor of 7, in fact, and a little weaker, but still quite good, as long as I keep brewing.  The initial infusions, once again, disappoint.  Both brew a similar looking cup.


It’s things like these that throw me off.  I can never quite tell whether teas like these are really worth buying more of.  On the one hand you have things like the Yisheng, which you know, right away, that they’re made of quality material and will do well.  Then you have the clear losers that are just terrible in one fashion or another, and can be written off almost immediately.  Then you have stuff like this — pleasant, decent, but having enough negatives to make you wonder if they’re any good at all.  The fact that they have some legs seem to suggest that they’re not all bad, but it’s also hard for me to say that they’re indeed all good.  Price often becomes the primary deciding factor — I may not buy the first one, but might buy some of the second, simply because it’s dirt cheap.  Shipping would cost more.

Categories: Teas
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3 responses so far ↓

  • Hobbes // March 9, 2011 at 2:10 am | Reply

    This sounds like a 1-2 cake buy to me. If they turn out to be aging well in a year or so, it’d be easy enough to buy more, non? That’s my usual rationale, anyway.

    Just for the record, what were the cakes?



  • beh // March 30, 2011 at 3:43 am | Reply

    ah, you had moved and i didn’t notice till i dropped by your old site!

    will try to follow and keep up, must admit i fell off reading most tea blogs over the years … why? umm i guess the blogs don’t seem to relate to my direct experience with tea … its hard to relate to the written words the taste something like that – and whereas many talk of the tea in flavours and wine like impressions in the english speaking world, the people i drink tea with mainly relate to it differently.

    but its still interesting! keep it up! you don’t travel to china and taiwan as much now it seems?

    • MarshalN // March 30, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply

      Hi there! Well, I don’t talk about flavours and what not very much these days 🙂

      Travel will pick up again soon enough!

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