A Tea Addict's Journal

Hitting hard with a hammer

June 19, 2013 · 11 Comments

When I was in China in 2006 doing research, I was a poor grad student and generally couldn’t afford to buy a lot of tea. I sampled a lot, and tried as many things as I could. I bought some things that I thought I liked. Looking back now, the biggest regret from those days is probably me not being able to buy enough of what I like. Some of the teas I bought obviously turned out to be crap. Others, however, I wish I have more of. A more experienced tea friend in those days told me that whenever she was buying stuff, she liked to “hit hard with the hammer,” meaning buying lots of the tea. Otherwise, you run the risk of not having enough of it when you want it.

Having learned that lesson, these days when I run into a tea I like, I tend to buy a lot of it. There are a few teas like that that I have. This is why I recently ended up with 50 of these.

This is a tuo that is supposedly from 2003, 250g each. It’s something a local store sells here for a measly $10, which is an impossibly low price in this day and age. The tea is naturally stored, and when they open that little cupboard storing the tea you can smell it – as you can also when you open the wrapper. With these early 2000s teas one’s never quite sure exactly what it is, but at least the wrapper and neifei suggests its Dayi, and it does taste like Dayi. It’s still a bit sharp, but that’s mostly because it’s a tuo – tuos tend to be slower to age, and it also has that nice, robust Menghai area taste. It’s a little similar to the Menghai early spring, but minus the smoke and a little bit lighter. I like these teas that have a bit of age on them – you’ve weeded out the ones that are going to turn bad. Usually within two years you can tell if something is going to be bad or not – if it’s already getting bland, yellowish, or just bad. If it gets past that point unscathed, then it’s probably going to be all right. If it’s good ten years down, then it’s going to be just fine to age. Finding these at an attractive price – it’s a gift. I can’t let this gift go.

It’s risky to buy a lot of the same thing when one’s not sure, but if you are sure, don’t hesitate. Hit it hard. Otherwise you’ll regret it.

Categories: Teas

11 responses so far ↓

  • su ming // June 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply

    That’s what I do too , and have been doing over the years. Old tea that is good is never going to be cheap and for the normal person, is not easy to afford. So I am glad that over the years , there have been instances , when I did hit hard.

  • James // June 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply

    Thank you for this article. I often find myself out of a tea that I truly enjoyed, only to find it now unavailable. One question I have is about the proper conditions to store tea, and age pu er teas. I live in Colorado where the humidities are pretty low (regularly under 10% in the winter and almost always below 40% at all other times). What temperatures and humidities are best for storage and aging? Should the tea just be stored in its original paper/packaging?
    Thank you in advance for any advice you have.

    • MarshalN // June 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply

      I’m a bit worried about those conditions. It sounds far too dry, and I think too-dry weather is going to be trouble for puerh. You could try some kind of self-humidifying mechanism, but that carries some risks.

  • psychanaut // June 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Reply

    Strikes me as another selling point of puer over greens or other types of tea that can not simply be accrued and aged for the long-term without first chemically changing their properties.

  • Petr Novák // June 25, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply

    Just a silly and a bit personal question here: Are you going to drink it up someday? When making quick counting: 50pc*250g=12500g of tea. If one will drink it every day, using 5g of leaves=2500portions/days it means 6years and 310days of everyday joy. Unless you have many sons and daughters to share with 🙂

  • john roupe // July 14, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply

    If you ever decide to get rid of erh.. sell a few I would help alleviate the overstock problem.

  • HC, Cleve @ teazap // October 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply

    Wonderful post, L. That means you have to keep your gunpowder dry, so to speak.
    Thank you!


  • Alain Gaskin // March 2, 2018 at 10:45 pm | Reply

    Well said.

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